What You Need to Know About Key Industries: Data Science and the Job Search

What You Need to Know About Key Industries: Data Science and the Job Search

Data science is a relatively new industry, although the core concepts behind it (statistics, data analysis and business analysis) have existed for decades. After being dubbed "The Sexist Job of the 21st Century" by Forbes, everyone from corporations to college students has been eager to get on the big data bandwagon. But if you really want to work in the industry, there are a couple of things that you need to understand about the job search process.

Job Description Over Job Title

Take a look at any job board and you'll see that there is no shortage of listing for Data Scientists. However, since most companies are still in the nascent stage of building of their data science department, job descriptions for Data Scientists often vary significantly from one business to the next. If a job listing mentions tools like Excel, Google Analytics or Tableau and little or nothing about programming languages like Python, R or SQL, these companies are looking for a Data or Marketing Analyst and not a Data Scientist. Conversely, if a job says Data Analyst but requires knowledge of the data science stack (pandas, numpy, scipy etc.), algorithms or natural language processing (NLP), this is really a data scientist position and the compensation should reflect the complexities of the job.

Expectations vs. Reality

Due to the multidisciplinary nature of data science, and the strong desire many companies have to quickly get into the industry, expectations rarely meet with reality. As a result, you will see many job descriptions requiring a PhD, advanced machine learning knowledge, experience deploying production ready algorithms, and five years of full-time work experience in the industry. This is often referred to by job seekers as a "purple squirrel", or someone with a mythical array of skills which few possess. Solid programming skills, a master's degree in a quantitative field and some hands-on experience with machine learning, demonstrated with projects or Kaggle competition participation, are often enough to get you to the interview stage.
As data becomes an increasing integral in our lives, the need to process and make sense of this data is sure to continue to grow. Now that you know what it really takes to work in the field, you are that much closer to realizing your dream of being a Data Scientist. Please contact us to learn about relevant career options.

3 Networking Tips to Grow Your Influence

It's not what you know, it's who you know. That phrase is truer than most of us realize. Everyone you ever meet, from classmates and coworkers, to managers and customers, is a potential addition to your network. That's why it's important to always take the extra step, and to make sure you approach every interaction like it could be a game changer. Because you never know... it might be.

3 Networking Tips to Grow Your Influence

Tip #1: Offer to Help
There are few better ways to get your foot in the door, and to make a good impression, than to help someone out. Perhaps your company has a popular blog, and you offer to interview a potential client on it? Maybe someone you've dealt with is having a special event, so you boost their signal on your company's Twitter page. If you help people, they'll remember that, and it buys their goodwill. This makes them more likely to return the favor, when they have the opportunity.

Tip #2: Always Say Thank You
Remember when you were a kid, and your parents made you sit down after every gift-giving holiday to write thank you cards? It was a chore then, but it instilled a valuable lesson; people like being thanked. It makes a good impression, and it can be the think that gets you remembered fondly. Whether you're working with a publisher, endearing yourself to a client, or wrapping up an order with a materials provider, always send a thank you card. Or at least an email. It goes further than you know.

Tip #3: Always Be Ready
The best opportunities will come out of nowhere, which is why you need to be ready for them when they show up. Maybe you're being introduced to your partner's college friends, and you find out halfway through the evening that they work for a company you'd like to tie-on with. Perhaps you're at a convention, and you strike up a conversation with someone looking for the exact skills you have, or product you sell. Every meeting has the potential to drop opportunities right in your lap. Will you be ready to catch them?
For more ways you can grow your network, simply contact us today!

How MSPs & HR Recruiters Can Keep Candidates Interested

As applicants continue to apply to job postings and your email inbox becomes overwhelmed with resumes, it is a challenge to keep the best candidate’s interested. MSPs and HR recruiters can streamline the recruitment process and improve candidate engagement by following the techniques below.

The Initial Welcome
Once a candidate’s resume or application passes the screening criteria, this is the golden opportunity to provide critical information about the recruitment process and the company in general. This could be a personable phone call, but email is preferred because of time constraints. A welcoming email should congratulate the candidate on being selected and highlight their relevant skills and experience. Use the email to explain the hiring process, the interview format, who is involved and what’s expected of the candidate. This will naturally increase the person’s comfort, confidence and commitment to the company.

Status Updates
After the interviews are completed, it may take days to weeks before a final decision is made. This often occurs because of internal changes, background checks, managerial disagreements and bureaucratic decision-making processes. The key to maintaining a good relationship and keeping candidates engaged is to be transparent through periodic updates. Even if the candidate already learned the interview process details, they still need to be reassured about the current stage, any holdups and what their next step will be if they are proceeding forward. Candidates who haven’t heard from a recruiter after a week will naturally start pursuing other job opportunities.

The Rejection
Well-written rejection emails and well-presented denial conversations must be properly handled to keep the runner up candidates feeling respected and enthusiastic about the company. Regardless of how far the candidate makes it through the process, thank them for their time and interest in the company. The fear of frivolous complaints or discrimination claims causes most HR professionals to avoid discussing the rejected candidate’s flaws, skill gaps or lack of knowledge. Instead, focus on the objective attributes of the successful hire in order to discuss improvement opportunities. Encourage qualified candidates who have stable jobs to reapply and if possible, ask their permission to follow-up with them every month.
Continual communication and encouragement are essential to maintaining a steady pool of solid candidates who will patiently wait for the right job opportunities. Recruiters’ emails to candidates during the screening and interview processes will engage and retain the top and second-best candidates. Contact us to learn more retention tips for prospective hires.

How to Make Your Resume More VMS-friendly

More and more companies are adopting software to manage their labor, sourcing and hiring functions. A vendor management system (VMS) is a centralized solution that provides workforce data, metrics and functionality. These systems use standardized rules and customized protocols for screening applicants, so it’s important to ensure that your resume is VMS-friendly.

Why Companies Like VMS Software
VMS software, which is typically accessed via the Internet and stored in the cloud, allow HR managers to ensure that HR management and procurement staff are following business policies and practices. They eliminate the inherent errors that come with managing geographically diverse work forces. VMS systems offer HR department enforceable rules and clear standards, so this increases compliance and mitigates risks. However, automatic resume screening and complex application rules mean that job hunters are more likely to experience rejection for irrelevant reasons.

Leverage Keywords
First, seek the help of a mentor or someone who works in the industry who can specify the skill phrases and experience keywords that matter the most. Ask what licenses, procedures, responsibilities and industry certifications are expected. Be sure to repeat the important keywords two or three times throughout the resume and cover letter. Using too many keywords may trigger the VMS’ spam filter and it may turn-off the HR manager who must read the content. Next, add the job description’s wording in your resume, but avoid word-for-word matches.

Re-style Your Resume
Avoid using headers and footers in your Word document because this may confuse the VMS’ algorithms. Resumes that are embedded with fancy logos, images, tables and graphics will also confuse the VMS filters. Use bulleted sentences instead of paragraphs to describe your work skills and experience. This is easier for robotic and human eyes to visually digest. Use both acronyms and the full form of titles, organizations and professional lingo together. Use a familiar document font, such as Calibri and Tahoma, with at least an 11-point font.
There are online resume services available that help job hunters identify the right keywords to use in their resume. There are also helpful staffing and consulting firms available that provide job search and placement services.

Interviewing Tips for Software Engineering Positions

According to a recent Forbes article, the average interview lasts around 40 minutes, but most hiring managers decide if they will hire the candidate within the first few minutes. In additional to making a perfect first impression, job candidates must demonstrate initiative, creativity and problem-solving skills. Hiring managers in the software engineering sector will likely verify the candidate’s technical competency and applied knowledge.

Prepare for Whiteboarding
Whiteboard coding is a standard part of software engineering interviews. Job candidates often focus on preparing questions, but forget to practice the delivery of their responses. Interviewers use whiteboard coding problems to evaluate how clearly, quickly and concisely candidates verbalize their designs. Hiring managers pay close attention if candidates write messy code, run out of space or forget essential parts. Always write down the entire problem, create a few samples, use double-spaced lines and write slowly to improve legibility.

Interview Preparation
Hiring managers will ask technically tough questions to find out if job candidates are practicing professionals or theoretical thinkers. They do this to determine the software engineer’s type, capacity and potential. The candidate’s answers to these questions may impact if they are offered a desk job with a pencil or a leadership position over a unit. Technical questions will require candidates to apply software engineering principles to real-world situations. Research the company to understand their programming preferences and practices. Hiring managers may ask casual questions about interests or hobbies to survey initiative and ambition.

Interview Questions
There will be questions about the candidate’s experience with industry standard software engines, platforms and packages. Avoiding sharing surface-level knowledge by discussing past successes, useful shortcuts and advanced techniques. Demonstrate that you are actively keeping up with technology changes and applications through professional development activities. This could be maintaining an Oracle, Cisco or Microsoft certification, or it could be consultant training through qualified staffing firms. Either way, be prepared to demonstrate your soft skills, such as collaborative teamwork, project administration and client relationship management.
Software engineering job interview questions may ask how candidate’s negotiate changes, meet deadlines, adjust priorities, resolve conflicts and handle simultaneous projects. It is best to practice sketching models, explaining algorithms and presenting programming solutions.

HR/MSPs: How to Get Better Qualified Candidates from Vendors

HR managers that work with managed service providers (MSPs) for their staffing needs often make the mistake of assuming a hands-off approach works best. However, mutual success can only be achieved when the HR manager works alongside the MSP to achieve goals, execute strategies and maintain open communication. An HR-MSP relationship requires ongoing follow-up and problem solving.
Understand MSP Specializations
When organizations employ an MSP, they may choose which staffing services and HR activities they will outsource and which they will keep internally managed. Using an MSP does not relinquish overall responsibility and accountability. MSPs usually excel at performing complex, repetitive and time-consuming work at competitive rates with reliable efficiency. They may specialize in business functions that are non-customer facing, such as IT, staffing, payroll, compliance, human resources, contract management and workforce procurement.
The Initial Assessment and Ongoing Feedback
Experienced MSPs will offer opportunities to their clients to meet and discuss candidate profiles, performance expectations and general staffing decisions. Many organizations participate in the initial HR discussion, then ignore follow-up appointments at their own loss. HR managers should schedule formal, face-to-face check-ins to discuss current concerns, future plans and potential opportunities for improvement. MSPs know how to take care of their clients, but they cannot read people’s minds, nor can they predict hiring preferences without factual information.
Track and Measure Performance
MSPs always provide their clients with regular reports, but HR managers who fail to track and trend how things are going will be unable to quantify long-term success. MSPs should have their own goals to establish accountability and guarantee transparency. HR managers should collaborate with MSPs to share ideas and information. They should regularly discuss what is and isn’t working in terms of staffing referrals, meeting deadlines, resume reviews, quality candidates and new hire feedback.
The best way for HR managers to achieve relationship success with their MSPs is through open and regular communication. As the MSP better understands the organization, their results and recommendations will be better. Contact us to learn how outsourcing IT and staffing solutions will drive cost savings, process efficiency and risk mitigation for your organization.

Where to Find Online Jobs

The days of meticulously poring over newspapers in search of work are over. If you have an internet connection and a well-charged smart phone or computer, you've got millions of potential new employers at your fingertips. Companies seeking to streamline the hiring process do so by posting their positions to a number of job boards on the internet. This is a brief review of some of the common and niche job boards that you may encounter online.

• CareerBuilder. CareerBuilder is a simple site whose goal appears to be to get your resume in as many employers' faces as possible. Its most prominent (and useful) feature is Quick Apply. After you manually submit a job application, which is a simple three-step process, CareerBuilder finds you literally dozens of similar jobs to which you can mass Quick Apply. Instead of spending valuable time and energy perfecting one job application, you can send several of them simultaneously.
• Indeed. Indeed is one of the more well-known job boards online. It's got a variety of jobs available and has a very no-frills user interface. You can sort by estimated salary, type of employment, location, and business. It also offers a quick apply option that is similar in form to that of CareerBuilder, but a bit simpler.

• Monster. Monster is essentially a more graphically heavy version of Indeed. It's got a lot of moving parts (literally), so can be a bit overwhelming for the inexperienced job searcher. But it offers a wealth of resources, including horoscopes, career advice, and resume templates.

• LinkedIn. LinkedIn, while it can be defined as a way to find jobs, is more of a way for jobs to find you. Posting on this "vocational media platform" makes you searchable by who you know and what you've done. It can feel invasive for people who just want to find jobs, so be wary of this. It also offers an "EasyApply" function that is better than Monster's but not as sweeping as CareerBuilder's.

• Github Jobs. GitHub is a development platform that allows users to create and view software code. As such, it's a great opportunity for software developers to find jobs. GitHub Jobs offers a very limited pool of jobs with the company, most of which are limited to GitHub's most prime locations. So unless you're willing to relocate, GitHub Jobs may not be for you.

Effective Career Management Strategies for IT Professionals

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that field of IT services is rapidly growing and creating high-paying jobs and excellent opportunities. In fact, the subfield of computer systems design and services alone employs over 1.5 million people. However, the IT industry is quite unique and competitive, so IT professionals should follow the tips below to effectively manage their careers.

Career Planning

First, college students and entry-level IT job candidates should research individual IT disciplines and their potential for future growth and opportunity. There are limited benefits in pursuing a career path that lacks long-term growth and development potential. The next step is to consider the associated economic viability and stability because the demand for certain technology products and services fluctuates according to market, innovation and industry trends. Research shows that the fastest growing IT jobs include web and software development as well as systems and cybersecurity analysts.

Continually Cultivate Skills

The technology sector is very fluid and agile, so IT professionals must continuously refine their knowledge and update their skills. The actual rate of technology progression depends on the sub-field, but all IT professionals who want to be successful in their careers must proactively increase their qualifications and expand their abilities. The easiest way to accomplish this is through maintaining industry certifications and membership in professional organizations. Attending technology events, conferences and trade shows are the best ways to stay up-to-date with market changes, emerging solutions and real-time trends.

Expand Business Acumen

Technologies like Big Data, sentiment analysis, machine learning and predictive analysis are transforming how business leaders conduct research, understand situations and make decisions. Many companies are striving to integrate departments and expand technology solutions, so IT professionals have many opportunities to become involved in new projects outside their expertise. Most companies that engage in e-commerce are aligning their sales, marketing and product management departments in order to centralize and streamline operations. They need IT professionals who understand their concepts and concerns in order to identify traffic, increase conversions and encourage click-throughs.

As a final note, IT professionals should maintain a strong network of industry contacts and associates. This will provide viable employment opportunities, but it will also establish credibility and guarantee future growth. IT professionals should also utilize appropriate resources in order to advance their careers.

Tips for Handling Consultant Employment Issues

No matter whether it's an in-house employee or a consultant hired from a staffing firm, issues are eventually going to arise with your employees. Job performance, team dynamic problems, and even hygiene are issues that every employee is going to be prone to from time to time, no matter what flavor they are. Handling these issues properly is important, especially when it's a consultant. Here are a few tips to help the handling of consultant performance issues go a bit more smoothly.

  1. Notify the staffing firm. When you plan on having a sit down with one of the firms' employees, it's best to let them know in advance what's going to be taking place. Who's going to be sitting down with them, what the talk is going to be about, and what outcomes you expect to happen as a result of the meeting, are all key pieces of information the firm needs to know. They can back your decisions up, and provide proof that the meeting took place should there be a need for it.
  2. Know when to send the issue directly to the firm. For times when you have a repeat offender, or a serious offense such as substance abuse, violence, or sexual harassment, it's best in these cases to send the employee directly to the firm so they can handle the disciplinary actions.

If you're in the tech industry, it's much easier to track the work performances of both your in-house employees and consultants you've hired in. In this case, it is in your best interest AND highly recommended to treat any consultants like you would a regular employee when it comes to performance monitoring and job issues arising.

In a perfect world, you've never have to worry about job performance issues. Unfortunately this isn't a perfect world, but you do have us here at Akraya on your side. Let us know how we can help you!

Six Steps To A Successful Career

Six Steps To A Successful Career

You know you are good dealing with people, but you are not sure what that means for your career. You love analyzing data, but you don’t know how to build a career on it. You are an entry-level employee at a big company and job opportunities keep passing you by. Even if you were to get one of them, you are not sure how it would fit into your long-term goals, or even if you have long-term goals. What's your career plan?

So many people go about looking for “jobs” without considering that they are letting opportunities for a satisfying career pass them by. Often, they don’t know what they really want to do, and if they do, they don’t know how to get there.

If you need to build a career for yourself, no matter your age or situation, consider the following tips:


1) Know yourself – The first step is to know who you are. If you don’t like dealing with strangers, don’t go into sales. If you are energized by people, look for a collaborative work environment. If you are not comfortable directing others, don’t aspire to be a manager. So often, we allow our preconceptions about which jobs are desirable (or lucrative) to dictate our decisions. People who do this find themselves very uncomfortable in their employment. Know your strengths, know what you bring to the table, and seek opportunities to showcase those skills.


2) Build your brand – This advice has been given so often that it almost has lost its meaning. However, brand-building is important especially now, because employers can discover information about applicants much more easily than in years past. Consider how you come across in person and online. In person, be amiable, professional, well-dressed, non-judgmental, and hardworking. Every time you deal with a colleague or potential employer, or anyone really, be your best self. You want employers to see you as someone who consistently delivers. And, don’t allow your online persona to detract from your brand. In fact, it should strengthen it. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. Make sure the information you send out into the world via Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and so on, is appropriate. Employers can and do research their potential employees online, so make sure your online presence represents your brand.


3) Consider the lattice instead of the ladder – Your goal position may not be something you reach by ladder. These days, you may instead need to try out different areas via the “corporate lattice.” Be willing to try different things. Consider how your strengths may translate into different roles. As your career moves forward, you may be surprised to discover various career paths that you were not aware of when you started down the path.


4) Instead of networking, build relationships – Networking is the buzz term that often translates into quick conversations and meaningless handshakes. Networking is not something that you do a few hours a week to build your career. Instead, you should be building relationships with people on a daily basis, with people who seem important now, and people who don’t. Being an authentic person with a genuine interest in others will get you much farther then attending networking events where you never actually get to know anyone. The people who know you, your brand, and your skills, are more likely to assist you in your career than someone you tossed a resume to at a networking event.


5) Make yourself indispensable – Even if you are in a role you dislike, make yourself the best employee your manager has ever seen. You are far more likely to earn your way to a better role by exceeding at the one you have than by underperforming out of disappointment for your current situations. And, don’t forget the importance of building those relationships. A co-worker now may be a manager somewhere else later who is hiring for a job you desire.


6) Be bold – If your dream job is on the other side of the country - move. If you aren’t qualified for a role now because you don’t have the education – go back to school. If a bad working relationship with someone is holding you back – fix the relationship. This is your career and your life, and sometimes getting what you want may require a bold move.


You can have a satisfying career, but your success is up to you.  Follow these tips, and you'll be surprised how good work can be.