HIT News

  • Starting Out In IT Contracting

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    While some tech pros like the prospect of full-time employment (and the benefits that come with it), others appreciate the flexibility that comes with freelancing. The latter can even prove more lucrative than working for an employer, at least according to a recent survey by Upwork and the Freelancers Union.

    If you’re thinking of heading out as an independent contractor, however, there are some key things to consider. First and foremost is your skills base: No matter how good the economy at a particular moment, potential clients only want to pay for people who can actually do the work. (This is in contrast to full-time employment, where a company will sometimes give an employee the time and resources necessary to pick up a new skill.)

    Even with sufficient skills, it can prove difficult to build a strong client list, especially in competitive areas such as security, programming, and analytics. Here’s how to stand out in contracting:

    Build the Brand First

    Building a brand is an important—and often overlooked—step toward building up a contractor business. Blogging, participating in online forums and Webinars, and even creating instructional videos on YouTube are all solid methods of building a reputation. If there’s a downside, it’s that few of these activities pay substantial amounts of money; but it’s a bullet you might have to bite in order to get your contracting name out there.

    Build Out Your Network

    Former co-workers and employers are an immediate and obvious choice for network connections (and possible future clients), so start there. If you haven’t done so from the outset, create a Website with a “Contact Us” form, and a regular newsletter—not only will those help you build your brand (see above), they’ll give new clients an easy way to reach out to you.

    Be Patient (and Collaborate)

    Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say; creating an awesome client list sometimes requires years. It also takes time to build a great relationship with new clients, especially if they’re unclear about their own project requirements; you may need to spend a lot of time helping them solidify their workflow and desired outcomes. With every new client, you have an opportunity to provide customized service that will ensure they stay with you for years.

    Keep Improving Your Skills

    It’s easy to neglect learning new skillsets. When you’re contracting, though, falling behind on your industry knowledge can quickly translate into lost opportunities. Carve some time out of your monthly schedule for professional development.

    The post Starting Out In IT Contracting appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Web Development: Key Languages to Know

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    Web programming is a desirable skillset—and a lucrative one. Earlier this year, Dice reported that, when it comes to return on investment in education, Web developers rank among the top jobs, with the average annual salary hovering at around $77,000.

    Better yet, the Bureau of Labor Statistics believes the number of Web developer jobs will continue to grow through 2022. And according to a report issued late last year by Wanted Analytics, global demand for Web developers is high.

    That demand makes it harder and more expensive for companies to hire top talent. It also means that those skilled in Web development can demand a premium in salaries and perks.

    “In today’s professional world, it’s important to stay on the cutting edge,” said Zach Sims, CEO of Codeacademy. “Programmers who learn many Web languages are able to stay versatile and keep a pulse on the evolving professional needs within their field.”

    But which languages are essential for any Web developer to know, especially if they want to lock down a good salary?

    CSS Still Matters

    Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style-sheet language that provides the backbone for how Websites should look and behave, and ensures proper spacing, alignment and the integrity of other key design elements.

    Those without in-depth CSS knowledge will have a hard time designing a Website, since the language dictates so much in terms of look and feel. Anyone who wants to develop for the Web can’t overlook it.

    PHP: The Basis of Key Platforms

    PHP is a server-side scripting language that acts as the foundation for many of the world’s most popular Web platforms, including WordPress. Although periodically dogged with security issues, PHP boasts a flexibility that makes it useful in everything from standalone graphics applications to generating HTML code.

    Anyone who learns PHP should do their best to become as familiar as possible with the platform’s open-source libraries, as well as how it interacts with database servers such as MySQL and PostgreSQL. If you’re interested in boning up on your PHP knowledge, check out these Dice articles about the difference between it and .NET, some programming basics, and how to answer job-interview questions related to it. From conditionals to arrays to loops, there are all kinds of things to learn about PHP, but once you know what you’re talking about and how to fix issues, you’ll be far ahead of competitors for many must-have jobs.

    JavaScript for the Masses

    JavaScript regularly tops the lists of most-popular programming languages, and with good reason: alongside CSS and HTML, it helps power the vast majority of Websites around the world.

    The interpreted programming language allows programmers to create critical workflows, apps, games, and just about everything else they can think up; it combines a series of items, including data structures, objects, and countless other elements, to help users build whatever they desire. So it’s a versatile platform, but also one with a lot of moving parts—programmers interested in learning more about it will need to explore everything from choosing the right frameworks to advanced tools such as strict mode.

    JavaScript knowledge can also be parlayed into mobile development. “We often encourage learners to start with JavaScript,” Sims said. “It’s one of the most versatile programming languages around. Learners can utilize their knowledge of JavaScript to build a wide-range of products for both web and mobile use.”

    HTML as the Basis of Understanding

    HTML has been around forever, and it’s arguably the easiest of any Web language to learn. It remains important as the Web’s standard markup language.

    Given its age, discussions on HTML and its importance are old and staid. That being said, any newbie getting into Web programming should learn the basics of HTML, understand how to create different tags, and design simple Websites for practice.

    Conclusion

    Focusing on just one of these languages is not enough to be a successful Web programmer. As Sims said: “A flexible mindset is the key to success.” The key is to not only learn thoroughly, but also put yourself in a flexible mindset that will allow you to adapt to the inevitable changes in languages and methodologies.

    As seasoned Web programmers know, there’s always something to learn, and no shortage of languages worth pursuing.

    The post Web Development: Key Languages to Know appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • The Art of Voluntarily Quitting Your Job

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    The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that droves of tech pros continue to voluntarily quit their jobs.

    Roughly 493,500 tech employees per month said sayonara to their current positions in the first two months of the second quarter (the latest data available). While that was a bit lower than the monthly average of 514,700 employees who left their jobs during the first quarter of the year, it was somewhat higher than the 444,700 employees who left every month during the second quarter of 2014.

    Considering the overall unemployment rate for the technology sector stood at 2.1 percent in the second quarter, that high level of voluntary quits isn’t surprising: If you’re a tech pro with the right combination of experience and skills, chances are good that multiple employers want to speak with you about a gig. The low unemployment rate means that tech pros don’t feel trapped in their current position by a bad economy—if they want to leave an unsatisfactory job, they can do so with comparatively little fear.

    But there’s a good way to quit a job. Even if you hate your current position, there’s little sense in burning bridges: You never know when you might end up working for someone again. Instead of storming out, give two weeks’ notice (at least), and don’t use your remaining time to settle old scores or grudges with colleagues who might have done you wrong. Instead, make sure to wrap up lingering projects and settle outstanding issues—that way, you leave on good terms with as many people as possible.

    If you’re going to quit, it’s also imperative to keep the rumor mill under control: You don’t want your superiors to hear about your plans from someone else. Say nothing to anyone until you’ve submitted your resignation note to your boss. Make sure that note expresses gratitude for your service with the company, even if you’re actually ambivalent about your time there.

    While you don’t have to reveal anything about your future plans—in fact, it might not be a great idea, at least until you’ve signed your contract with your new company—it behooves you to remain as honest and transparent as possible. Work to preserve your workplace relationships before you head out the door, and remember: The exit interview is not your time to vent your grievances.

    The post The Art of Voluntarily Quitting Your Job appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Hacking Job Interviews

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    Want to improve your chances of snagging the tech job you want? At the recent BSides Las Vegas conference, which attracts information security pros, Adam Brand (an associate director for Protiviti’s Security and Privacy practice) discussed the common mistakes he’s seen from tech candidates in job interviews.

    Brand is in a position to know something about hiring: This year alone, he’s conducted more than 60 interviews while searching for pros who are qualified to do fairly complex security assessment work, including forensics and penetration testing. Here’s his advice:

    Tweak Your Resume

    Brand recommends providing context around the technical skills you list on your resume. “People need to fix the wording on their resumes and they need to think of the resume as a roadmap for the tech interview,” he said. “It’s a roadmap for the technical interviewer to know what are the areas this person is most likely to have experience in.”

    Adding phrases such as “some exposure to” or “significant experience with” before skills—such as Windows administration or Cisco firewall management—will help the interviewer know the candidate’s areas of deepest experience. In a job interview, that will also help you avoid being hit with a really technical question in an area that you don’t know really well.

    Study What You Know

    Brushing up on topics you already know can jog your memory, Brand pointed out, especially when it’s a subject you haven’t worked on in a while: “Your brain needs a warm-up. You can’t just go cold on a topic you haven’t touched in a long time.”

    That means a bit of studying before the interview. “I think the mistake people make is they assume that they’ll be able to remember something in the moment of an interview,” Brand said, “and that’s a pretty high pressure situation. Everyone gets a little nervous in a tech interview.”

    If you were a Linux sysadmin five or six years ago, for example, and were really good at your job, spend a little bit of time looking up commands to configure IP tables or compile programs from source. “You really need to refresh yourself so that your brain starts making those connections ahead of the interview,” Brand added.

    Answer Questions Smartly

    Much like Tiro Security CEO Kris Rides, Brand acknowledges the possibility of interviewees being hit with questions to which they don’t know the answer. And like Rides, he warns against making up answers; a better choice is to explain what you do know about a topic, to show the interviewer that you at least have some relevant knowledge.

    Another mistake? When asked how they’d go about finding an answer, some people say they’ll just Google it. “I can Google how to replace a light switch, but that doesn’t make me an electrician,” Brand said. Nobody should ever tell a real-world client that they’ll “just Google” a problem, especially when the problem in question involves security. “If you don’t know anything about that area, just be honest about it.”

    The post Hacking Job Interviews appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Finding Software Jobs When You’re Over 50

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    Quarterback and place-kicker George Blanda was a rarity in his sport. He played professional football for a record-breaking 26 seasons, retiring in 1976 at the age of 48. Most athletes would have long since transitioned to a post-football career as their speed, strength, and recovery diminished.

    Luckily, software engineering is nothing like football. It doesn’t take superior genetics to stay in the game past the age of 40 or even 50. If you’re an older software engineer struggling to find work, the problem often isn’t a matter of diminishing skills but of employer perception. The challenge is leveraging your strengths and experience to remain in demand despite economic downturns, poor hiring decisions or age discrimination.

    Always Be Learning

    Database administrator and software consultant Roger Ruckert started his career programming in Fortran and COBOL. He balanced delving deep into the Oracle database (in which he now has 30 years of experience) with picking up new skills. Databases on the backend all look pretty much the same, but as a contractor, Ruckert, who began his career at Medtronic in 1982, had to make sure to keep his skill set current. He learned to code in Java and HTML and PROC and other technologies, all with an eye to how they related to the database.

    “I’m a contractor, so when the contract’s up and I start looking for new ones, the big thing for me is to make sure that my skills are up to date,” he said. “I spend quite a bit of time investing in myself. I go to technical conferences, user groups and meetings. I stay current with my certifications. I think that’s important, so that you can show prospective clients that you’re relevant and investing in yourself.”

    Tim Jahn, co-founder and CTO of Matchist, a company helping businesses find quality freelance Web and mobile developers, agreed that with the sentiment. “My advice would be for people of that demographic to always be learning. Stay up to date on recent technologies using niche technology forums or message boards, blogs, and trade publications,” he said. “Go to relevant meetups and networking events in your local area to learn more about the technologies and also about how people are using them in your area.”

    Leverage Your Experience

    Having a few decades of experience in the industry is a strength, not a weakness. “If you’ve been programming in Java for 10 years and are competing against someone who’s younger and doesn’t have that experience, you should be able to use that as an advantage” for a Java job, Ruckert said. In other words, don’t be afraid to play to your strengths: “You can cite different programs you’ve written, applications you’ve been involved in and projects you’ve worked on.”

    Additional experience in the industry also gives you more of an opportunity to network, which Jahn recommends for software engineers of all ages: “Whether you’re 55 or 25, your network is always your strongest asset, and you should never stop meeting new, interesting people. You never know what opportunities you might exchange with them at some point in the future.”

    Pace Yourself

    The best strategy for software engineers in it for the long haul is to invest in themselves. “If you’re in it for the long haul, you don’t want to be exhausted and wear yourself out,” Ruckert said. “You want to pace yourself. I take three to four weeks of vacation a year. You have to live, too.”

    The post Finding Software Jobs When You’re Over 50 appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Why Tech Pros Aren’t Happy

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    In a bid to keep top tech talent in the building, some tech companies have resorted to extraordinary perks, from free sushi at lunch to in-house gyms and dry cleaning. But is the talent actually happy? According to a new survey, software engineers, developers, and sysadmins are pretty miserable in the office.

    The company conducting the survey, TinyPulse, asked 5,000 employees in the tech space about their individual experience on the job, including overall happiness. Only 19 percent of respondents felt overwhelmingly positive about their work life; another 17 percent said they felt valued at work; and a mere 47 percent believed they had strong relationships with co-workers.

    Compared with the responses from employees in marketing and finance (also surveyed by TinyPulse), those numbers are dismal. In addition to generalized unhappiness, only 36 percent of tech employees felt their promotion and career path were clear—compared to 50 percent of non-tech employees.

    “There’s widespread workplace dissatisfaction in the tech space, and it’s undermining the happiness and engagement of these employees,” TinyPulse concluded. “The problem goes beyond workplace satisfaction—Gallup found that engagement is one of the key ingredients for employee innovation.”

    These survey results indicate something that should be obvious to any company, large or small: While conventional perks are great, employees are also looking for a broader sense of mission, and want to feel that they’re valued by the larger organization. Encouraging strong relationships between co-workers can also help mitigate feelings of unhappiness. Free sushi only goes so far.

    The post Why Tech Pros Aren’t Happy appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Networking: It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

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    There are some tech pros who believe in the networking equivalent of saturation bombing: They not only pack their schedule with meetups and professional gatherings, but make a point of shaking hands and collecting business cards from literally every single person at said events, including the bartender and random folks in the elevator. If you find yourself in conversation with one of these Type-A networkers, you might feel that the only way to pry them away from you is with a crowbar.

    While that type of networking certainly expends a lot of energy, it’s not necessarily the best way to build out your social network. And yes, your network is a vital element in your success, giving you access to information and jobs.

    Networking involves a lot of “soft skills,” including the ability to empathize and make conversation, as well as knowing when a conversation has reached its natural limit. If it’s been a long time since you deployed your networking abilities, here are some tips for cycling back up to full power:

    Bring a Friend

    Nobody likes marching into a room full of strangers alone. By taking a friend (or friendly colleague) with you to networking events, you’ll feel braver about starting conversations—but you must talk to new people, and not just the person you brought.

    Set Some Goals

    Before arriving at a networking event or meetup, set some goals for the session—and make them reasonable. “I will collect three business cards and have two conversations” is an example of a reasonable goal. Once you rack up more experience in networking, you can embark on increasingly ambitious missions, but starting small will ensure that you make some progress without getting discouraged.

    Share Information

    Walking up to a stranger and demanding their contact info isn’t a reliable way to build a long-lasting social network. Given how people prize interaction and an exchange of information, it’s much more productive to share your thoughts and opinions on the job market, query about their interests, and generally engage in conversation before asking for an email or invitation to link up online.

    Reach Out

    Many people make the effort necessary to network, only to neglect to follow up afterwards. If you have a successful networking session, make sure to reach out to your new contacts afterwards, telling them how much you appreciated the conversation and how much you look forward to interacting with them in the future. That will be the first step in building a deeper bond with them.

    Stay Strong

    Creating a solid network is a time-consuming process, and everybody expends a lot of effort in doing so; don’t be discouraged if you have a bad event or can’t seem to connect with anyone. Following the above steps, and taking the time to build a rapport with individuals, will ensure you slowly build out a strong web of contacts who are actually willing to boost your career.

    The post Networking: It’s About Quality, Not Quantity appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Why In-House Tech Pros Are Still Necessary

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    Remember Nick Burns, the Computer Guy on SNL? He was the computer geek who knew a lot about PCs, and embarrassed computer users on a regular basis; he made people feel bad because they didn’t understand why something didn’t print, or why their PC froze.

    Proclivity for embarrassing people aside, could a guy like Nick get a job today at a small business, or are sysadmins and their ilk in danger of losing out even more to automated systems and the cloud? When I got my start, the real-life version of the Computer Guy was essential if you wanted to add a user to the network, or even fix a paper jam. (Eventually I ended up building PCs, adding document management, and so on; after I got a handful of certifications, I left for a team at a larger firm.) To set up a new printer fifteen years ago, you needed to create a print queue, a print server, and a printer in Netware; today, it’s plug and play—and even the most technologically inept can always consult Google and YouTube for advice when things go wrong.

    In other words, the dedicated sysadmin is potentially out of a job if a business owner uses a consultant to build the network and check in for occasional maintenance. Ever since the gig economy came to the tech industry, an office can turn to Geek Squad or Geekatoo to connect a printer or install a workstation.

    Despite that flexibility, however, networks are more vulnerable than ever. And therein lies a significant challenge for those businesses that think they can manage without a tech pro (or a team of them) in-house.

    New Challenges and New Opportunities

    The needs of the network are far different than fifteen years ago, simpler in some ways but far more complicated in others. Now there are threats such as zero-day exploits, malware, and ransomware. The effort of keeping a network running today is just as much about making sure it isn’t compromised, and developing a contingency plan for if the worst happens.

    Security represents a collection of services that the gig economy has a hard time providing. An in-house person can:

    • Develop a Plan: What will your business do if the network is attacked with a DDoS, or if a user clicks on a malware link? The plan should define the roles of each stakeholder in responding to the attack.
    • Educate Users: Users represent the network’s greatest vulnerability. Users need tech pros to help them change their mindset about emails, and become more questioning about suspicious messages.
    • Create and Maintain Backups: A network is important, but the data is priceless. A dedicated sysadmin or other tech pro can make sure that data is backed up.

    Today’s network failures often come from external attacks that are posing an existential threat to the business. According to Symantec’s recent Internet Security Threat Report, 45 percent of small business found themselves spear-phished in 2014—up from only 19 percent in 2013. (Spear-phishing is especially pernicious because the hacker has taken the time out to learn something about the people working in the company, making malicious links very tempting to click.)

    For many tech workers, becoming the in-house sysadmin is a particularly promising career route, as a lack of a higher education isn’t necessarily an impediment for obtaining a position; last year, The New York Times reported that half the IT workers in New York do not have a college degree. Citi, according to the article, has “a huge team,” many of whom weren’t formally trained as computer scientists or engineers. Hackers willing to put on a white hat can also find a job waiting for them at a firm, even if they have no previous corporate experience.

    In other words, the in-house computer person is very much needed today—just more in a security role.

    The post Why In-House Tech Pros Are Still Necessary appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Will Tech Unemployment Keep Declining?

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    The U.S. unemployment rate hit 5.1 percent in August, the lowest in seven and a half years, although actual job growth seemed to slow.

    Those in the technology industry know it’s a robust labor market; the unemployment rate for tech workers hit 2.9 percent in August, a decline from 3.4 percent in July (and a tad below the 3.1 percent hit in August 2014).

    Over the past several quarters, programmers and software developers have enjoyed some substantial dips in their respective unemployment rates, although the numbers have been far more mixed for Web developers, network and systems administrators, support specialists, and others. Computer and electronic manufacturing continues to lose jobs, thanks in large part to slackening demand for hardware such as PCs.

    “The continuing trends of ‘everything-as-a-service,’ ‘software-defined everything’ and the proliferation of devices and applications requiring integration and support have spurred hiring by a wide range of IT companies,” Tim Herbert, senior vice president of research and market intelligence for CompTIA, wrote in a statement accompanying that organization’s August report about the state of the tech industry.

    CompTIA’s data suggested that the tech industry had managed to generate jobs in 14 of the 18 months between January 2014 and June 2015.

    Does that mean the unemployment rate for tech pros will continue to dip? It’s impossible to predict; while the tech industry remains strong, it’s still subject to macroeconomic trends. At the same time, it doesn’t seem as if the appetite for tech pros who specialize in cloud-based services or software development will slacken anytime soon.

    The post Will Tech Unemployment Keep Declining? appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Mapping Out Your Career ‘Finish Line’

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    A long time ago, when I worked as a comedian, other comics would tell me their goals. One guy wanted to perform on David Letterman; he worked toward nothing else. When he finally landed on the show, he had no idea what to do next: He hadn’t mapped out a more comprehensive future.

    Likewise, too many people who get into tech are aiming only for that next job, and not envisioning the larger picture—their career picture. What most people call a goal is really a milestone; they’re not mapping out a “finish line” or endgame. While it’s difficult to predict the future, it’s more important than ever in these evolving times to plan for multiple outcomes, and to hold a top-level view of where you want your career to actually go in the end.

    Vanessa Corchado, associate director of career services at Plaza College in New York, agrees with that sentiment: “Everything changes… New developments are upgraded all the time, so I believe backup plans are always needed.”

    Whether or not you intend to stick with the same job your whole career—which is a long shot, given the rapidly evolving nature of tech—or plan on job-hopping until you end up at your dream company, you need to consider the skills and tactics you’ll need along the way.

    Donna Shannon, career coach and author of Get a Job Without Going Crazy, suggested that developing non-technical skills can prove immensely beneficial in preparing for your career arc. “Planning for later stages of your career goes beyond just developing your technical skills,” she said. “Far too many IT professionals get wrapped up into obtaining the latest certification or learning the latest systems that they may forget to work on their soft skills.”

    The first real milestone in a career is your degree or certifications; the next is to secure a job that puts you on a desired career path. As you progress, you learn new technology skills and take on new challenges. But if you’re not learning, your jumps will only be half as “high” as they need to be; you might land in good places, but you can jump higher and further with the right long-term planning. (I had been planning a transition from desktop applications to information security for years.)

    Not Just for the Young

    Students sometimes confuse their first job in tech with a profession in tech. Your first job in tech will look nothing like your last job in tech, and you need to proactively prepare along the way. If you’re at the start of your career, keep your mind open to all the possibilities the technology field has to offer.

    Never Stop Planning

    Bestselling author Charlene Li once said that the best advice she received while attending a career-management course at Harvard was to evaluate her career status every 18 months, because it takes about that long to master a job. For those of us in tech, however, active career management should be baked into everything we do; because our world changes so fast, 18 months may be too long to wait for a self-evaluation. I would suggest every three months; put it on your calendar to evaluate yourself and adjust your plan.

    How do you actually plan for that next step? Here are some pointers:

    • Perform a Self-Assessment: To start, you may want to use your company’s employee evaluation form. (Doing this regularly will also allow you to provide a more complete assessment during year-end evaluations with your supervisor.)
    • Consider Career Planning Strategies: Look at the skills and qualifications required for jobs you covet, and learn accordingly. Add a Dice JobAlert Search and Google Alert to your desired jobs, so you can get a sense of what’s going on in the industry as a whole.
    • Develop Your Personal Network: The best time to network is when you don’t need something. Build that network by helping people with information, assistance, or contacts. This will all pay off later.
    • Market Yourself: Social tools are out there for you to deliver and receive specific expertise in your field. Use them.

    You can also employ a professional career counselor. The better ones are members of the National Career Development Association (NCDA). It can make all the difference.

    Whether you spend the extra money for a career counselor, or plot out your career on your own, make sure you spend the effort to delineate your career arc.

    The post Mapping Out Your Career ‘Finish Line’ appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Building Your Tech-Pro Brand

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    Personal branding is a bit like fashion: The themes and attributes that resonated with tech recruiters and managers last year are no longer in vogue. Refreshing your image and value proposition is vital, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for a while.

    So is your branding on the rise, or do you seem a little stale? Here’s a look at the latest branding trends for tech professionals.

    In: Technical Skills
    Out: Soft Skills

    OK, so soft skills aren’t exactly out of style. “But they’re no longer a top priority,” explained Jessica Hernandez, president and CEO of Great Resumes Fast, a resume-writing service based in Callahan, Fla. “Recruiters and IT managers want to see your tech skills up front when they glance at your summary.”

    In resumes and online profiles, the headline and opening lines are the primary vehicles for conveying your brand and value proposition to impatient reviewers, so make sure they advertise your tech skills and relevant certifications.

    “Communication, teamwork and other soft skills are secondary, so weave them into your work history on your resume and profile,” Hernandez added.

    In: Technical Specialists
    Out: Technical Generalists

    During the last recession, tech professionals highlighted their cost-reduction skills and ability to wear multiple hats to compete for newly created generalist positions. Now, managers and recruiters are looking for technical specialists who are experts in their field. In other words, narrow and deep trumps wide and shallow when you’re crafting your personal brand.

    In the same vain, putting your technical skills summary or toolbox at the end of your resume is out, especially for midcareer professionals, Hernandez said. Placing it in the top third of your resume is in.

    In: Simple, Straightforward Headlines
    Out: Unclear Titles

    Calling yourself a data janitor or nebulous guru or rock star is out. Why? Because a simple, keyword-rich headline makes it more likely that your resume, website or profile will come up when recruiters search the Internet.

    “Your headline should be relevant, compelling and include your title, keywords and zing,” said William Arruda, a personal branding expert based in New York City.

    Use simple titles such as senior software engineer. Your tagline, which a single short phrase that conveys your brand to reviewers, can be more creative, but it should be relevant and specific… as you’ll see in our next point.

    In: Facts
    Out: Fluff

    Fluffy adjectives and pointless narratives are out. Great brands are clear and convey your value, attributes and strengths to colleagues and prospective employers.

    “Use specifics to back-up your branding statement and main message,” Hernandez said. “Employers want to know how many projects you’ve worked on, how many dollars you’ve saved and so forth. Reviewers disregard ambiguous statements or unsubstantiated claims.”

    In: Multimedia Branding
    Out: Text Only

    A text-based brand is no longer enough, especially for tech professionals, Arruda said: “You must use video, images, SlideShare presentations, infographics and so forth to tell your story and to build emotional connections with the people who are making decisions about you.”

    In: Friendly Photos
    Out: Aloof or Cold Images

    Whether a recruiter initially spots your resume on a job board, or your profile on GitHub or Stack Exchange, he or she will dig further into your background by searching the Internet. And suffice to say, your headshot is worth a thousand words.

    “Your image supports your brand,” explained Jason MacDonald, an Internet marketing expert based in San Francisco. “Your expression and pose say a lot about who you are as a person and what you’re like to work with. Nobody wants to work with a curmudgeon. Straight faces are out. Smiling is in.”

    The post Building Your Tech-Pro Brand appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • From Hacker to Obama’s CTO

    Harper Reed

    Harper Reed is most famous for his role as CTO of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, but he’s served other prominent roles over the past several years, including CTO of Threadless (the t-shirt company) and CEO of e-commerce startup Modest.

    In order to operate effectively in such high-profile roles, you can’t just be a great developer—you need to have people skills, including the ability to wrangle some strong personalities. How did Reed develop those skills?

    Through a bit of trial and error, according to a new Medium posting where he describes his formative years. Reed got into computers early, becoming obsessed with not only hardware and software but also Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), the ancestors of today’s social networks. At first, Reed didn’t exactly use his newfound know-how for good; in one early hack, he made his school’s computers display profanities, a stunt that cost him school computer privileges for the rest of the year.

    After a local kid used instructions Reed found on a website to build a bomb, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms came calling. “Thankfully, I didn’t get kicked off the computers again — because I had already parlayed my experience into running IT for the high school,” Reed wrote, “and thus knew more about the school’s computers than any of my teachers. They needed me.”

    Reed believes those early experiences gave him the attitude necessary to run the tech side of Obama’s re-election campaign. “Somehow knew I could do the job,” he wrote. “I attribute that confidence to my experience as a hacker and the subsequent willingness to take risks. If you never break through that wall of doubt, you will never see what might’ve been possible.”

    Obama’s campaign deployed dozens of data scientists, developers, and engineers to analyze and work with huge mountains of data gathered from Facebook and other online sources. The data-analytics initiatives included Project Narwhal, which made voter information accessible to campaign workers across the country. It was the sort of job capable of intimidating even the most experienced tech executive, but Reed was evidently well-equipped to handle it, thanks to a hefty dose of hacker attitude.

    The post From Hacker to Obama’s CTO appeared first on Dice Insights.