Using agile programming ideas in your IT recruiting

149134795I’ve led and been part of agile development teams for over a decade – and have been hiring developers for even longer.  Through both types of experiences I’ve been able to apply agile development ideas to IT recruiting, interviewing and screening high quality tech candidates. And now, I’d like to pass that experience along.

Let’s talk about agile programming

My introduction to agile programming was from Kent Beck’s eXtreme Programming books. If you haven’t read them, his core idea was that software development needs to embrace change, and he suggests that there are certain practices that are so helpful in the face of change, that they should be used in the extreme. Beck based his work on best practices, but many readers saw the ideas of pair-programming, unit-testing, simple designs, refactoring and continuous integration for the first time in his books.

Creating an agile IT recruiting process

Just like in programming, it’s important to be agile throughout the recruitment process. So, to follow Beck’s lead, I took a look at what was working in my personal recruiting process and tried to figure out how to increase its effectiveness by doing more of it.

In programming, the point of being agile is to react to change, but in recruiting, the point of being agile is to see more candidates. Rather than rushing towards filtering and only deeply interviewing a few candidates, I tried to figure out a quick way to get to know as many candidates as possible.
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Why the job market needs optimization

475333221_reTNot only does it feel daunting for younger generations to find the right job, but those who are active in the workforce today are often disengaged or feel that they haven’t found the right job. The job market search relationship displays a challenging disconnect for both job seekers and employers, but focusing on what is causing the central inefficiencies in this process can shed light on possible solutions for hiring managers and job seekers alike.

Talent misalignment

This is one of the biggest — and most challenging — inefficiencies in today’s market. Even today’s most successful companies often lack a strong talent identification strategy. Employers who attempt to hire without the support of external guidance will likely find that locating top talent for the role they hope to fill can become a full-time job in itself. Today, technology has introduced a new level of transparency for job seekers that is both good and bad for hiring staff. On one hand, job seekers may display projects they’ve contributed to, tangible examples of past work, and links to information about previous companies they’ve worked for or positions they’ve held. Unfortunately, this type of transparency isn’t always accurate when the information can be worded and displayed in a less-than-accurate manner.
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June BLS report: 288,000 jobs added, jobless rate drops 0.2%

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Source: June 2014 BLS report

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its June 2014 unemployment report, which showed an overall monthly gain of 288,000 jobs, considerably higher than the 215,000 economists were expecting. The unemployment rate also saw an impressive decline of 0.2 percentage points, dropping from 6.3% to 6.1%, which is the lowest we’ve seen since September 2008.

This data confirms the continuation of positive job growth in 2014. June is now the fifth straight month in a row in which we’ve seen gains in 200,000+ new jobs, and the unemployment rate is also steadily declining.

Revisions to prior months showed that both April and May had seen growth of 29,000 more than previously reported. The May payroll number was revised from +217,000 to +224,000 and the April numbers were revised from +282,000 to +304,000.
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Stay relevant in today’s job market

OJP0024151For those who have held the same position for a longer period of time or are seeking employment in the middle of their career, here are a few important things to do to keep up with competition while diversifying your skill sets for a rewarding career path.

Brush up on the most widely used applications

Sometimes, staying up to date in the job market is simply a matter of keeping pace with technology. Thomas Kamber, founding executive director of Older Adults Technology Services, says: “The most important skills and technologies for older adults in the workplace are actually the least esoteric. Applications like Microsoft Word, Excel and Gmail are essential for functioning in the modern workplace, and many older adults need to brush up on or develop new skills in these mainstream tools.”
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The root of a STEM career: Introducing Chandler Burke

Future Engineer Scholarship Winner_Chandler BurkeAs I sit down to write my introduction, I realize that I’m really excited to have this opportunity. Truthfully, I’ve never blogged before. It’s not that I’m shy or nervous or anything. It’s just that I’ve always been lagging behind in social networking. Of all my friends I have been the last to get a phone, and certainly the last to sign onto Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat.

But through this blog I will relate my experiences at Rice University and hopefully encourage students to sincerely consider a major and career in an engineering and technical field.

By this time, you’re probably wondering who I am, so here it goes. My name is Chandler Burke, and I’ve just finished my first year at Rice University as an Electrical Engineering major. My long-term goals are to earn my PhD and perform research as either a college professor or for a company in a Research & Development capacity.

As Electrical Engineering teaches one skills that are applicable in a wide variety of fields, I have multiple options for specialization such as MRI imaging of the brain to more “standard” electrical engineering applications such as designing circuits, improving computer hardware, signal processing, system design or even device physics.

For this blog, I plan to simply share my experiences and observations. I’m not one to pass on too much advice—most people seem to know what they want, and advice from a random stranger isn’t going to do convince you to change your life, nor should it. Heck, my parents would argue that I hardly even listen to them, so if that’s the case why should I expect you to listen to me?
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STEM skills gap: Now is the time to act

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The demand for professionals with STEM backgrounds – meaning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – is steadily rising. Currently, there are 1.4 vacant STEM jobs for every qualified STEM job-seeker. If this rate persists, by 2018 there will be a projected 1.7 million STEM jobs without qualified applicants to fill them.

Filling this skills gap presents an education challenge for the American job market. A recent article cites that “In 2013, there were 5.7 million total postings in STEM fields. Of those, 76%, or 4.4 million, require at least a bachelor’s degree, and 41%, or 2.3 million, are entry-level jobs requiring less than 2 years of experience.” To that point, only 28% of undergraduate students presently partake in STEM courses in college – even with an abundance of available jobs on the rise in these areas.

Yet, the STEM gap doesn’t begin in college; the fact remains that by the time job-seekers are in college or post-college, it’s too late to develop the necessary background to support open STEM job functions. As such, another route must be taken to fill the growing STEM gap – and it must begin early in the academic journey. To truly impact the STEM gap, students and educators alike must begin looking at earlier education for the foundation of a solid STEM background.

So, we have a solution. But does the majority of the American public know that this serious issue even exists? Does the public know that American children’s proficiencies in math and science are shrinking? And that only 18% percent of all college engineering majors are female?

If the answer to these questions is no, then how do we get the American public on board with early STEM education? The short answer is to educate our public on the STEM skills gap issue and what the crisis means for our future.
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