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Friday, December 4, 2009

Introducing Kareforce Bear, the unknown Care Bear



That’s right, just like the Jonas Brothers, the Care Bears have an unknown, very rarely talked about additional member. Blogging world, please meet Kareforce Bear (or just plain Kareforce for short). Kareforce (Gaelic for: Provide exceptional service on a consistent basis) was first introduced to me on November 6th of 2006 when I first joined the Kforce family and has been a pretty big part of my life ever since. In addition to being known for being the best staffing firm in the universe (just ask Robert Half), Kforce is also known for its quick wit, creative way with words, and mind blowing ability to impose the letter “K” in front of every word or saying to make it part of the Kforce brand (ex: KDay, Kforce Khronicle, Kyou’re fired…and…wait for it…Kareforce.)

Kareforce or kareforcing is one of the most important responsibilities a Kforce recruiter has. Kareforcing focuses on building and maintaining a relationship with your consultants as you put them to work, once they are working, and ultimately, when it is time to redeploy them. This seems like a pretty easy concept (and it should be) but often times it is neglected after a consultant starts an assignment. In any event, the basis tenets of kareforcing are assist the candidate with on-boarding, interview walk-ons, first day walk-ons, hug and a brown bag lunch (kidding…kind of), first day check-in phone call, first week check-in call, (lather, rinse, repeat for a month), one month mark check-in call, lunch, “I know you hate your manager. I hate him, too.” check-in call, etc. You get the idea. Because I feel like I spend half of my life kareforcing, I thought it would only be fitting that I take this opportunity to kareforce myself and debrief about my first month with Kforce’s San Francisco office.

I’m not going to lie. My first day was kind of rough. Being new to San Francisco, I anticipated some first day hiccups…but I did not anticipate said hiccups to start as soon as I woke up. Waking up so early was a huge shock to the system. In Orlando, I’d wake up at 7:00am and be in the office around 8:00pm. Sometimes I’d hit snooze (and when I say “sometimes” I mean “more often than not”) but it took me an hour (tops) to walk the dog, eat breakfast, get ready, and drive to work. Not so much the case in San Francisco…not even close. I woke up at 5:00am (with the thought that it’d give me plenty of time to get everything done and still get to work early). As I rounded up our dog to take her out for a walk she decided she couldn’t hold it and proceeded to take a crap on the neighbor’s doorstep. Beautiful. After I got that cleaned up, I went about my routine.

Fast forward about an hour and a half to me standing at the bus stop. I have a two step commute: 1) take the EmeryGoRound to BART and 2) take the BART into the city and walk to work. Simple, right? Yeah, not so much. After standing on the corner (insert inappropriate joke here) for a few minutes, a bus rolled around. Assuming it was the EmeryGoRound, I got on, took a seat, and started to read my book. About 20 minutes into my bus ride, something started to bother me. The drive was taking way too long. A little freaked out, I decided to ask the bus driver how far away the BART station was….and that is when it happened. I was informed that my dumb self had gotten on the wrong bus. Fortunately, the sweet driver felt so bad for me that he drove me (and only me at this point) to the BART station so I could catch my train. (Ironically enough, the same thing happened to me on my first day of high school…except I went all the way to the wrong school before I realized I was on the wrong bus.)

It was only 7:30am. I still had ten more hours to go.

Fortunately my BART ride went smoothly and I arrived at work relatively unscathed. Right off the bat, we started to whiteboard. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to whiteboard so my time in the office was off to a good start. Everything was pretty similar to Orlando…except that instead of recruiting on entirely technical positions, I would now be working on functional roles. After the whiteboard, we went into a conference room and had a huge brain dump on all of our clients. This was pretty intimidating because our clients out here are huge and no joke. There is a process for every process…and then another process. After the hour long client debrief, we got straight to work and started recruiting. My first position was some extremely rare skill set (and functional, to boot) and I spent the entire day leaving voicemail and voicemail, the occasional email…and more voicemails. I left at 6pm with absolutely nothing-not a candidate interview, not a submittal…hell, not even a returned phone call-to show for it. I was off to a great start.

The majority of my first week went by just like this until about Thursday when I started to make some traction. By Friday, I had submitted a few people and by that following Monday, I had an interview request from a pretty big client. (And when I say pretty big, I mean huge. We are one of 60 vendors fighting for the same one or two spots every single time.) The interview was set for that Thursday and I was stoked. As soon as I got home, I shared the good news with my boyfriend, Kevin, and we celebrated with some wine. Things were looking up. I actually was good at my job.

The interview request was cancelled the next day.

And so it went for the next few weeks…so many near misses. I thought about pitching myself out of our 18th floor window but then I quickly decided against it. After all, what would Kevin do if I was no longer around? What about our dog, Lexi? What about Dave Dunkel?

Though my recruiting efforts were an epic fail, I did manage to make some friends in the office pretty quickly. I already had my best buddy Alysia sitting across from me (reunited and it feels so good…) and I actually really liked everyone on my team. I quickly found my geek recruiter soul mate in the form of tiny Aileen (but you can call her Baby Einstein), my almost-as-weird-as-me-but-not-quite BART buddy, Jessica, and super successful recruiter by day, super domestic homemaker by night, Eva. AnneMarie left pretty quickly for maternity leave but I liked her already and my boss/Account Manager, Lindsay is a riot and pretty much runs the Technology Healthcare market in San Francisco.

I also met Jack. And his piranha. In my pocket.

One Friday, (I believe it was my second week), I was hanging out at the BART station with Aileen waiting for our train. It had been a long week and we both just wanted to go home. The train was running a little late (shocker!) and it was beyond cold. My hands were freezing. I stuck them in my coat pocket with hopes of warming them. My cold, nearly numb hands touched something…something strange. I looked in my pocket and saw something resembling rawhide hanging out of my pocket. I was beyond grossed out because if it was rawhide it had been in my pocket for a year, as this was the first time since last winter that I wore this coat. Freaking disgusting.

Fortunately, it wasn’t rawhide. It was something must worse. It was a petrified piranha body, dried fish eyes and all. The scream that escaped from my mouth would have made Hitchcock proud. I was terrified. How in the hell did a dead fish end up in my pocket??? Aileen, who stood witness to the entire thing, immediately recognized it as Jack’s piranha and told me that it is a joke that he plays on all of the girls in the office. Apparently, that fish had made appearances in bars, on airplanes…and now, on BART, in my pocket. Because it was Friday, I had the great pleasure of riding all the way home with the fish, now in my purse, and spending the weekend with it.

I took the weekend (as did the fish) to think about what kind of relationship I wanted to have with Jack? Would I hate him? Would I smile at him and curse him behind his back? Or, would we work past our issues and be friends?

My answer was loud and clear on Monday morning when Jack walked in wearing an argyle sweater…to match mine. It was then decided that I could not hate Jack and we would be friends. Our relationship has progressed since then to sharing the occasional elevator ride, talking about Brooks Brothers, sharing sideways glances during recess (or not), picking out the name for his soon-to-be-born baby, and the occasional conversation when he cube-hops over to my “office”.

But anyway, I’m running off on a tangent…

To summarize, there are so many things about this office that differ from Orlando and I am still getting used to the change.

I do miss my coworkers in Orlando and all of the fun we used to have. The environment here is very different and often times I have to remind myself to take it down a notch and be a little more politically correct. If you’ve met me (and definitely worked with me!) you know this is not an easy task. I miss my user groups and having a developer community that felt like family. Rebuilding that part of my life is not easy but I’m optimistic. I miss recruiting on highly technical positions but I know I’m gaining so much more experience here. (Fortunately, I get my fill of “techie talk” from the mister when I come home every night so I’m not completely out of the loop.)

Inspite of everything, I think this was a very good move for me (even though I have to wake up early). I know that while the ramp up might be slow at first, I’m going to flourish professionally. I’m fortunate enough to have the chance to work with some of the best in our company. (Intimidating, yes. Inspiring, absolutely.) Being reunited with my former Account Manager and best friend, Alysia is a HUGE perk and starting a new chapter in my life with Kevin in the most amazing city in the world was pretty appealing, too.

Day one started off rocky. Week one was questionable at best. Week two was a little better with a few notes of disappointment and lots of stress. I’m at the one month mark now and I’m starting to see things come together. Even though starting over from scratch is beyond scary and nerve-wracking, I think, honestly and truly, I’m going to be OK.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Orlando Woman Gives Birth to Two Feathered Babies!



Just when I thought Kforce couldn’t give me anything more, I was completely surprised. About a month ago, Kforce made me a mom…in a very unusual sense of the word.

That’s right, a mom…to Carl Dunn and Jordana Valle, my little baby technical recruiting birds.

Tweet. Tweet.

To most of you, it is no secret I am in the process of moving to California to embark on a crazy (and exciting!) journey with our San Francisco office. (To the rest of you, get with it.) Because of this, our Orlando team was in desperate needs of some new, insanely good recruiters. There was a lot of fretting, lost sleep and appetites because my greatness is very hard to replicate. There were even rumors that Big Brother was toying with the idea of closing Kforce all together; after all, what is Kforce Orlando Tech without Megan “Hoppy” Hopkins? Fortunately, they recognized that it was very shortsighted to throw the baby out with the bath water and instead, focused their efforts on finding someone almost as impressive as me. After scouring the world (or just Orlando) and interviewing countless people…they succeeded in finding some awesome talent…and that awesomeness came in the form of 5’7” (3/4) Carl Dunn (who, you don’t know, but…) and Kforce’s own OnStaff rock star, Jordana Valle.

At first, I was overwhelmed at the idea “training” anyone. (Ok, who am I kidding? I loved it. Not only am I a great recruiter, I’m an even better bosser-arounder.) The idea of molding them into the technical recruiters they needed to be was intimidating; everything I did they would mimic and I was going to greatly affect their moral compass and help them become responsible recruiting adults. If I said a foul word, I was afraid they’d pick it up, too. If I lashed out and hit a candidate, would they do the same? Was spanking appropriate? Lord help them. (No, seriously…Lord, help them.)

Fortunately, after about a week I realized these two fledglings had a pretty good understanding of recruiting and they were going to mature just fine. There were a few times where I had to help young Carl fly straight, but for the most part, he was dying to jump face first out of the nest and get recruiting. I even had the pleasure of being around for his first word, (“mythology” and his first sentence, “My name is Carl Dunn. You don’t know me but…”). Being a mother was definitely proving to be a very rewarding experience.

As time progressed, things got better and better. My two birdies grew stronger and wiser…until finally….

…the time came. I had to stop feeding them worms in the form of great candidates, contacts, and unknown technical knowledge and let them leave the nest.

That time was today, folks, at 2:34pm, when I left the Orlando Kforce office (after 3 years!) and hit the road for the airport…and San Francisco. Though I will miss my two feathered young, I know they will do great and will make their mama proud.

…Ok, enough weirdness.

In all seriousness, today was my last day in the Kforce Orlando office and I have turned over the recruiting reigns to Carl Dunn and Jordana Valle. Though both are new to the Kforce Technology team, they have been recruiting for years and anyone that works with them is in GREAT hands.

Carl Dunn joined Kforce about a month or so ago and can be reached at cdunn@kforce.com. He is a wealth of technical knowledge (just ask him...) and is equally as street savvy. He enjoys horseback riding, fly fishing, Indian food, Greek mythology, and classical music. Rumor has it that he is plays the harp in his spare time but that has yet to be verified.

Jordana Valle has been with Kforce for over three years and has experience recruiting everything under the sun. She can be reached at jvalle@kforce.com and is anxiously awaiting your correspondence. She has a great nose (for food…and BS) and is a great recruiter to have in your corner. In Jordana’s spare time, she enjoys classic literature (she is an old soul), day trips to Disney, hiking, children, and has a particular interest in telecom.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You’re going to wear WHAT? Carson Kressley hits Orlando…



I’m not the most coordinated person when it comes to dressing myself. In fact, it is a running joke in my office that I ALWAYS wear a dress to work…and not because I’m exceptionally girly. Instead, I am borderline lazy when it comes to clothing and dresses are easy. There is no matching involved (other than your shoes…and I almost wear the same pair everyday so that’s simple enough) and you only have to throw one thing on in the morning and you are ready to go…and look quite cute to boot. Dresses are my thing.

Recently a lot of my posts have been inspired by crazy stuff my candidates do…and this one is no different. I harp a lot on looking presentable for interviews (with a staffing firm and the “real” company), first day at work, etc. and there is a reason for that. When you dress the part, it makes a good first (second, third…seventh) impression. In my three years with Kforce, I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff. (And when I say “crazy”, that means plain freakin’, WTF were you thinking doing that/wearing that NUTS.)

Let me take you back to the beginning of my wild and crazy career with The Force.

It was a dark and stormy night…ok, not really, but a little added suspense never hurts.

I had been working with Kforce for a few months and I had recently recruited a killer candidate and he was going to come in and meet with me for an in-person interview. I was excited…very, very excited. Not only was his resume absolutely freakin’ awesome, he was articulate, and I was positive that he would present wonderfully in person.

WRONG.

I got a call from the front desk and she told me that Nameless Candidate #1 had arrived for his interview. I walked out, anxious to meet my .Net stunner and I was stopped dead in my tracks. For a split second, I thought I was being punked. As I looked at his outfit and tried to make sense of what was before me I couldn’t help but…laugh (terrible, nervous habit). Before me stood a pair of corduroy pants about six inches too short (almost capris, but not quite) riddled with holes, tube socks, (if I hadn’t known better I would have sworn he was sharing socks with my little brother), some rockin’ Velcro shoes…and a Guy Harvey shirt adorned with a big marlin. For the record, I love Guy Harvey and I was still turned off. To top off the look, he was sporting the Prince Charles all-the-way-to-the-ear part and some HUGE glasses. He looked hot. Immediately, my opinion of this candidate changed. Though I was very excited about his background and the way he presented verbally, I was terrified to put him in front of a client. I had been pretty clear that professional dress was required for in-person interviews and if this was his idea of professional dress…Dios Mio, I was in trouble. Against my better judgment, I took a chance on him anyway (after some serious wardrobe counseling)…and he showed up wearing the same freakin’ pants to his client interview. My client actually called me after and asked me if I had found him on the street. (For the record, no, I found him on Monster.com…the other street). My client did recognize that he had the skills to do the job but couldn’t get over his appearance. As a result, Nameless Candidate #1 remained unemployed.

About a year later, I met Nameless Candidate #2 and unlike Nameless Candidate #1, he looked awesome when he came in for his in-person interview with me. This guy was sharp and to top it off, was a technical wizard. I was extremely excited to get him presented to some of my clients. I presented him to a few things that didn’t pan out and finally to a job that he eventually got. The only crappy part was this job wasn’t slated to start for over a month from the time of the interview. Fortunately, it was a big love fest between Nameless Candidate #2 and my client so my candidate agreed to wait and start the job in about five weeks when it opened up. Everything was perfect.

Or so I thought.

The five weeks passed pretty quickly and I went to walk Nameless Candidate #2 on for his first day (and give him his brown bag lunch…or not). As soon as I walked up, I noticed something was off but I couldn’t quite place it. He looked different.

And then it hit me.

Nameless Candidate #2 thought it was a stellar idea to put gauges in his ears.

Awesome.

So Awesome, in fact, his manager called me about an hour or so later and told me that HR had big issues with the gauges (shocker!) and I needed to counsel my candidate. Again with the damn counseling! Perhaps he could wear Band-Aids over the large holes in his ears? In any event, I gave him a ring, informed him that gauges didn’t scream “Hello, I’m a professional” and told him that he would have to wear Band-Aids over his ears during the workday. Very awkward situation...

…but certainly not the most awkward one I’ve been in. No, no…that honor is reserved for Nameless Candidate #3 that decided to dye her hair bright red (Lucille Ball has nothing on this lady) after I advised her to groom herself a little.

I met Nameless Candidate #3 much like the others and while she didn’t come dressed like a frump to her interview with me, she wasn’t overly put together. She was average and a little bit of a hippie…and that was f-i-n-e with me. I love hippies…I am moving to San Francisco, after all. She interviewed telephonically with a client of mine and he liked her enough to bring her in. She went in for her first in-person with the client and did reasonably well. His only criticism was that she was a bit of a “naturalist” and she might need to clean up a little before the final round of interviews (panel). Though I was not thrilled about advising someone to brush their hair etc. (should be common sense, but who am I to judge?), I told her to spruce it up a little and she should be good to go.

And thus began the breakdown in communication. Apparently, when I said, “Spruce it up and brush your hair.” she took that as, “Dye your hair the most obnoxious and unnatural color you can find…oh, and don’t use gloves…and pay no attention to your hairline.”

You see where I’m going with this, right? Yeah….

The day of the final interview rolls around and I meet Nameless Candidate #3 onsite at my client’s. She is dressed appropriately (kind of)…but wait a second…what is all of that red stuff all over her???? Has she been sacrificing animals in her spare time? (She is a proud PETA advocate so I quickly ruled that out…and noticed her flaming red hair.)

Instead, it seemed that she thought it was a wise idea to sex it up a little and color her hair and take no care to wash her hands…face…neck, forearms…etc. It was awful. No, it was beyond awful it was a train wreck…and a half.

I was inclined to spit on my finger (mommy style) and start rubbing the stuff off of her but I had no time. Mr. Client came out and escorted my little hair dye warrior into the interview room. To her credit, she held her own in the interview…but did not get the job. Before I received any technical feedback I was asked, “Was she in an accident?”

“Define accident”, I thought. If you mean she covered herself head to toe in dye because she wanted to spice it up, then yes, she was in a terrible, terrible accident.

Sadly, this stuff seems to happen all of the time and I guess channeling my inner “Queer Eye” is part of my job description. While I think it is common sense to dress appropriately (translation: wear a freakin’ suit) and not make any drastic alterations to your appearance before interviewing or starting a job, it isn’t as obvious to a lot of the people on the job market. I sincerely wish that candidates could get a job solely based on their technical prowess but there are so many other factors that are considered, namely team fit, environment fit, and appearance (and when I say appearance, I just mean look normal). So, for what it is worth (and I know I sound like a broken record), always remember to dress appropriately and maintain a “normal” and professional appearance.

Corduroy, red hair dye, gauges, and Guy Harvey (especially Guy Harvey) are hot…but save it for your house…on the weekend…when you are all alone…in the dark.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

...But Now I can NEVER be President of the United States!



I consider myself a pretty fortunate person. I have a great job, a freakin’ stellar boyfriend, a roof over my head, food on my table…and three of the most awesome little brothers a girl could ask for. Other than being their mentor (who wouldn’t want to be like me?), punching bag, maid, alibi, and co-conspirator, my job description also requires me to be a little rat. Sometimes. (Oh come on, who doesn’t like to get their brothers in trouble…on occasion?) Of course, I like to think that I only rat my brothers out when it is absolutely necessary…or when I am bored. For example, it was imperative for me to tell my mom that Ryan was trying to teach Kevin how to smoke at the age of 14, or that it was Ryan that broke my doll bed (when, in fact, it was actually me…oops), or that I was pretty certain that Ryan was the one sneaking the bottles of wine out of the cabinet. So naturally, when I saw my youngest brother, Casey, using some rather foul language on his Facebook posts, I had to step in and show him the error of his ways. Before I reported him to Big Brother (aka MOM), I tried to have a nice little sisterly chat with him. I told him that while he thought his naughty posts were funny (and I have to admit it…they were hysterical), it was possible for someone to find them and while he was trying to get into college, find a job, etc. it probably wasn’t the wisest idea to have F bombs flying left and right for the world to see. I wish I could say that he immediately recognized that his all knowing big sister was right but such was not the case. Instead, Casey, the magical wordsmith, fought back. I believe he even mentioned the First Amendment. (Our parents are lawyers so falling back on the Constitution and Bill of Rights is natural.) In any event, after bickering back and forth, I decided that it was time I released my secret weapon...so I picked up the phone and called my mom. She put a stop to Casey’s antics very quickly. Within an hour, he was off of Facebook (on a temporary basis), grounded, and without his beloved Fender guitar for an entire week. I felt bad about his temporary separation from his guitar, but sometimes, you have to hit em’ where it hurts to get the point across.

While I’m pretty sure not much harm would have come to Casey because of his posts (I don’t think the UCF Gestapo even knows who he is) , I thought it was important to point out that small things like that could (and do!) hurt a person’s college/job search.

A few days ago, one of my dev buddies sent me an email about a candidate he was thinking of hiring. In this email I did not find a resume or dynamic executive summary. Instead, I was presented with a listed of inappropriate sites this candidate was on, crude blog posts, and trashy tweets overrun with obscenities. Though this candidate’s technical background was beyond reproach, his extra curricular activities and posts quickly took him out of the running for a job. As soon as my buddy found this information (and it took all of ten minutes), he put everything in an email, forwarded to the interviewing committee, and the candidate’s final interview was cancelled.

I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence, but this kind of thing happens all of the time. About a year ago, we have someone interviewing for an internal position with Kforce. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but because I am a quasi stalker, I decided to do a little research anyway. I typed his name into Google (this was before Bing, so please don’t judge me) and the first three hits were inappropriate adult sites. Way below that (like at the very, very bottom of the results page) was his LinkedIn profile. I forwarded this to the person doing the interviewing, and he was eliminated from consideration. Now, I know some of you might think I am terrible for doing that, but frankly, I’m not jazzed about having a XXX model as my sales partner, since we rely on our reputation a lot in this industry. Correct me if I’m wrong, but naked internet pictures do not scream, “Hi, I’m very professional. Let me be in charge of staffing your team.”

Whenever I work with candidates, I always, always, ALWAYS tell them to make sure to do a little research…on themselves. Bing is your friend and you should use it whenever you are thinking of making a job change. I stalk myself (almost obsessively) because I like to know what other people are seeing when they look me up. While I’m not sure other firms do (since I’ve only worked at The Force), but I imagine pretty much recruiter would advise their candidate’s to do the same thing…and even if they don’t, you can bet your butt that the end client is doing their research. I’ve had a few clients come back and cancel interviews because of some questionable material they found. Losing out on a job always sucks (particularly in this economy), but it sucks twice as much when you lose it because of a mistake that could have been prevented. Just like in any thing else you do, doing your due diligence always pays off…and if you insist on posting naked pictures, tweeting foul word followed by foul word, or doing something else just as stupid, do it AFTER you got the job. Kidding.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I pledge allegiance to The Force....



Some say it takes a certain kind of crazy to working in technology staffing (or any type of staffing/human trafficking ring, for that matter) and I absolutely agree. Not many people in my industry grew up wanting to be a recruiter. I know I didn’t. (We’ve already covered my wacky childhood ambitions in earlier posts….I had my sights on much cooler things…) When I started my sentence at Kforce I wasn’t sure what to expect. For all purposes, Kforce was my first real job and to say that I wasn’t intimidated by the massiveness of this company would be a HUGE lie. I assumed that everyone at The Force was assigned a little barcode on their first day and when the powers that be were done with you, the floor would open up and your fancy rolling chair would disappear into Kforce oblivion where you would then be turned into glue.

My first week at Kforce was interesting. I was assigned to our “Search” team (full desk, direct hire) and I didn’t know what in the world was going on. I knew nothing (seriously, NOTHING) about technology and I was put in a corner and told to recruit Java people. “Java???? What in the hell is Java?”, I thought. After a day or so of calling these mysterious Java people and sounding absolutely retarded, I decided that I was going to recruit .Net people instead. To my pea-sized woman brain (its science) this seemed the better route to go. Fortunately, I was right and I started to have more fun in my little cube. I actually met one of my best friends on my second .Net recruiting call. He took pity on me and took me under his dev wing. Slowly but surely, I was becoming less and less clueless. (Thank God for Luis.) In any event, after I got on the .Net train, I started to love my job more and more. The people I worked with weren’t half bad either. I was starting to bond with the other people on the tech team and I quickly saw what a great group of people I worked with. We were all in this crazy staffing thing together. But still, I thought, there was no way the entire company could be as cool as my immediate group of Kforcers. We all had a bond. We had matching barcode tattoos.

About a month or so after joined the staffing elite, my personal life hit the skids. I was getting a divorce. I tried to handle this as quietly (and quickly) as possible but at some point I had to be out of the office to deal with all of the fun and excitement that accompanies the big D. Being the newbie to the Orlando clan, I was very nervous about how my latest adventure would interfere with the staffing arts. Not only was I surprised with the support of local management, I also had quite a few cheerleaders at corporate. I was encouraged to take as much time as I needed to get things situated, to mourn (…or celebrate), and just to get my life squared away. I was assured that my fancy rolling chair would still be there waiting for me and that I would be granted a stay of execution. Little did I know, this was just a preview of how great Kforce is as an organization; apparently, the awesomeness was not limited to just the local Orlando office.

In the months to come, I was continually surprised with how great, supportive, and accommodating everyone at Kforce was. Whether I was in need of something small, some additional training and support, someone to vent to, or some major accommodations, my direct boss, along with my Market VP, National Champs, etc. were right there to help. A few months before my one year mark, my father, who had been ill with cancer for a few years, took a turn for the worse. As soon as I mentioned this to my boss, he immediately went to work getting me set up to work remotely and told me to go home to be with my dad. I didn’t have to ask permission and I didn’t have to worry about my job and what would become of it. Everyone assured me that I could take as much time as I needed and the important thing was to be home with my dad. He ended up passing away a couple of weeks later and I am forever grateful to The Force for their understanding and compassion. Now, in all fairness, I’m sure that most companies would allow their employee to go home and be with family during something like this. I get that. What I’m not certain about is that most companies would tell said employee to take off as much time before and after and really mean it. I received no guilt trips, no stressful conversations about my numbers (or lack thereof), and no whip cracking when I returned. And once again, my rolling chair was still there.

Two more years have passed and I am still impressed with The Force.

I am asked a lot why I love working for Kforce so much and for me that answer is pretty simple. Kforce is very big on taking care of their people and that message starts from the very top. Whether you be a Kforce internal employee or a contractor, we try to treat everyone like family. Crap happens, of course, but at then end of the day, Kforce is a company that (TRULY) cares and tries to do the right thing. Though we are a sales organization, we are not run by a heavy hand and we are encouraged to have a life outside of our jobs…just not during prime time. All in all, The Force is made up of people that really like what they do, the industries they represent, and transferring their passion to others with the staffing bug…and I’m so proud to be apart of that.

So, Dave Dunkel, if you are reading this…(or your assistant…or your assistant’s assistant), hats off to you for growing such a great company and placing an emphasis on values that really matter. I always say that I will never leave this place unless someone packs my desk up for me…so…please…stay away…and leave me and my rolling chair in peace. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Booyakasha! Today we's goin' to talk about interviewin'



Job interviews can be a lot like being on Da Ali G Show. You think you know what you are getting into and then the interviewer throws something in about drug-sniffing dogs and WMD and completely messes you up. Next thing you know, you are tripping all over yourself and your interview ends…and you do not have a job.

Ok, so maybe the drug and WMD talk is a bit of a stretch but you know what I’m getting at. Job interviews have a tendency to be stressful anyway (even when you think you are prepared) but can quickly go downhill if you aren’t acquainted with the ABC’s of interviewing.

There is no earthly reason why KForce should have hired me; I bombed not only one interview, but both of them. To be honest, I stumbled upon KForce on accident. I had just finished school and was working as a paralegal (for my ex-husband’s friend so I’m not even sure it counts as a j-o-b…) and I was beyond bored and didn’t really know what I wanted to with myself. I was a Forensic Science major in college (following my dream to be a deer when I grew up, I decided to be a medical examiner) but eventually decided that I did not want to work with dead people and bugs. I don’t think I am too high maintenance but that was still a little too gross for me at the end of the day. My buddy, Thomas (now in our Denver office), worked at KForce and for some reason, thought I’d be a good fit so he floated my resume over to the Director of the Tech team, where they had a few openings. Sounded good to me, I thought, though I really had no idea what KForce was and what the entire staffing industry was about. In fact, other than Thomas, the only other person I met in staffing was wildly obnoxious and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work with his “kind”. Besides, I was already obnoxious enough; I didn’t need any help in that department. A few days after Thomas gave my resume to my now old boss, I got a call from the KForce internal recruiter, Sean. Apparently, they were interested enough to interview me and we set a time for the following day.

I’d like to say that I rocked the phone screen, but that’d be a lie. I’m pretty sure I bored the living hell out of Sean. We talked about running for a few minutes (good job getting me to warm up to you, Sean) and then he asked me, “So why do you want to get into staffing?”

“Ummmmmmm….” Why can’t you phone a friend on questions like this???? I thought to myself, “Because I want a job…” but I had enough sense (thank God for small miracles) not to say that. Instead I said something super lame and we chatted for a few more minutes and hung up. I was pretty sure KForce was going to shred my resume and I’d never be invited to join the world of the staffing elite.

And then, I got a second interview request and this time it was a face to face request with the two managers in the local Orlando office. I was as excited as a clueless 23 year old could be and started to do the natural thing…plan my outfit (not a suit, by the way, mistake number one…). The day of the interview rolled around and I did a little research, put on my most professional looking getup, and made the mistake of letting my ex-husband drive me to the interview…at the Bank of America building. He let me out on the curb (such a gentleman) at the BOA building and I quickly realized that KForce was nowhere to be found. My first thought was, “Boiler room, I knew it!!” and was quickly followed by, “Megan, you’re an idiot. You wrote down the wrong info.” I called The Force and realized that KForce was actually in the AmSouth building a couple of blocks down the road. Naturally, this would not have been the end of the world but…I was already five minutes late and it was insanely hot so I was guaranteed to show up sweaty and gross. Not so awesome. In any event, I hoofed it down the road, arrived 15 minutes late, visibly flustered.

Things did not get better. I was off my game (What game??? Who am I kidding???) and I had nothing to contribute. I had no questions to ask, I was horribly timid, and I didn’t know jack about technology. I thought I was almost done with the interview and I could go lick my wounds privately and then I was put to “the question”….

“So, Forensic Science?? What prompted that?”

Ok, how do I answer this and not sound like a complete freak????? Ah, I know.

“I wanted to be a coroner and I love crime scenes….”

WTF? Yeah, I really said that. There was a dead silence and then it got worse.

My interview eventually ended and I went home to fasten my noose. Then, I got a phone call and they wanted to hire me! Apparently, KForce was looking for a 23 year old flake that had not-so-secret dreams of working with dead people and I was the answer to their prayers. Never mind the fact that I was late, not in a suit, had nothing to contribute, didn’t engage the interviewer, was extremely boring, and had the communication skills of a four year old. They wanted to hire me!!!!

I accepted and rode off into the KForce sunset and for some reason, they have kept me around.

I lucked out BIG TIME (partially because I was an internal referral and partially because I was young and blonde) and they took a chance on me even though I sucked. Thank goodness they did because I can’t imagine doing anything else (and I’m not just saying that because “Big Brother” might be reading this). I will never leave this place unless my desk is packed up for me (please do not get any ideas, boss man) and during the course of my KForce dog years, I have learned a thing or two about interviewing.

Here is my top ten list of interviewing tips for a successful (or at the very least, less crappy) interview:

1)Don’t dress like a fool. Suits, suits, suits. I know some of you might disagree with me, but for an interview, wearing a suit is a must. You can wear your short shorts and flip flops when you have the job and they say it is ok…and not until then. And when I say “suit”, I mean a dark suit. Everyone wants to express themselves and get creative, but an interview is not the time.
2)Research the company. Know what they do. Be prepared to talk about what they do and why it appeals to you. Also know a little about the people that will be interviewing you.
3)Have a list of questions prepared for the interviewer. Even though “Ummmm” and “I don’t know” worked for me, it probably won’t work for you. Hell, it barely worked for me…and I’m a cute girl.
4)Write down a list of questions you think they will ask you and practice your answers beforehand…so when they ask about WMD you’ll be ready for it.
5)Be engaging. Don’t yawn. Don’t act disinterested. At the same time, don’t get overly emotional. Stay cool, calm, and collected always.
6)If you want the job, say so. If they say, “No”, storm out. Kidding.
7)Be on time. No, scratch that. Be a little early….but leave the tent and sleeping bag at home.
8)Do a drive-by the night before. Know where you are going so you aren’t cursing the day MapQuest was born the day of your interview.
9)If you are asked to provide work samples, make sure they are good. Framed pictures of unicorns need not apply. (And yes, the unicorn really happened…and no, the guy did not get the job.)
10)Say, "I don't know." If you are asked a question you do not know the answer to, admit that instead of beating around the bush…but be prepared to talk about what you would do to find the answer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

JACKSONVILLE. J-A-X-S…….



“Can you use that in a sentence, please?”

“Yes. Megan will be speaking at Jacksonville Code Camp on August 29th and will try her best not to faint out of nerves.”

Faint, you ask? Yes, people, true freaking story coming right up!

Let me take you back…way, WAY back to ninth grade. OrlandoTechNuts had just started a new school (performing arts!) and she was THRILLED to be among her “kind” finally. For years, Mama and Papa Nuts made little TechNuts go to a stuffy private school and she hated it…seriously HATED IT. Everyone was catty and overly concerned with having the latest and greatest (thanks mom and dad for raising me in Palm Beach…ick) and we had to wear uniforms. Uniforms, in theory are a great idea, but when you have an overly creative child (me), it is never a great idea to force a crappy polyester uniform on them. Not to mention, I was chubby and those damned uniforms were constricting. In any event, I hated that place. All I wanted to do was go to art class and creative writing, but instead, because it was the “HOT” school to blow your money on, I had to sit in Latin. I sucked at Latin. I failed every test and sucked so much that my teacher actually made an appearance at my house and asked my parents if I, nerdy, chubby, 11 year old TechNuts, was doing drugs (designer, of course) or having sex. What???? For the record, when I was 11 years old, my grand dream was to become a deer when I was older. I’d come home from school (I can’t believe I’m revealing this to the blogging world), watch Sailor Moon in my room with a snack (I did mention I was chubby), and then go outside and think about what it would be like to be a deer and how I could make that happen. I always was a dreamer. If Napoleon Dynamite had a younger, stranger sister, I fit the bill.

Private school hell continued until one day I heard about this performing arts school down the road…on the other side of the tracks (read: with the normal people in Palm Beach County). I begged my parents to let me audition for the Visual Arts department, one thing let to another, and Voila! I was in! I was already beyond elated that I didn’t have to wear a uniform and I could proudly sport my AC/DC shirt (courtesy of my dad) but I was even more excited that I could pick my classes. No more Latin…instead, hours of painting and creative writing lay ahead and I couldn’t have been more excited. On my first day in my creative writing class, I walked in to Mr. Johnston’s room (one of the best teachers I’ve ever had) and he announced that our first assignment was to do an introductory speech, no more than five minutes in length, talking about, well, ourselves. No big deal, I thought.

Yeah, no big deal until I mentioned the assignment to my crazy, creative, over the top mom. Immediately, she started brainstorming wild ideas (now you all know where I get it) and came up with something great…in her mind. I was fully prepared to get up and talk off the cuff about me, my hobbies, etc. No, No. By time my mom was done with me, my speech began with, “Single, white female: In search of self.” (Yes, I was so traumatized, I still remember it.)

The “BIG DAY” rolled around and I felt like I was going to vomit when I walked in the room. I did not want to make my big appearance in class as the weird girl that talked about herself in terms of a personal ad. A few kids went before me and, shocker, their presentations were all normal. They were beyond normal…and the teacher liked them. I then decided to do something normal, too. No point in standing out now…until freaking Luke Wiley got up before me (Luke now is a principal dancer with a huge ballet company in NYC), did a perfect fouetté rond de jambe en tournant (for those of you not in the dance know, look it up), and blew everyone out of the water. Shit. I guess I was going with the personal ad after all. I’ve always been competitive and wasn’t going to let this guy do better than me. I also got that from my mom.

It was my turn. I was sweating bullets. I felt like I had cotton balls in my mouth. I instantly wanted to be back in Ms. Lovell’s Latin class. I opened my mouth and spoke. I got, “Single, white…” out and then…well, and then the room went dark. Man down! That’s right. I fainted. But I couldn’t even do that gracefully (damn you, Luke Wiley and your perfect ballet ways!). On my way down, I clipped my head on the side of a desk, requiring several stitches. Great first impression speech.

After this incident, public speaking has never been high on my list. In fact, I avoided it at all costs. I even put the required speech class off in college until it was the very last class I had to take to graduate. I hated it and I was terrified I’d have a repeat of Mr. Johnston’s ninth grade trauma all over again. Fortunately, I had a wonderful teacher in college that helped me get over that so now I like to talk in public…perhaps a little too much.

With that said, OrlandoTechNuts, in all of my glory will be speaking at Jacksonville Code Camp on August 29th. My session is Why and How to Partner With a Staffing Firm and I’m hoping it is well received and doesn’t bore the living crap out of everyone in the room. I’m also hoping that I have more than 3 people in the room. That’d suck, too. In any event, my Code Camp speaking debut will go down at 11:00am…and hopefully I don’t go down (a la ninth grade) with it. I’m really excited about this opportunity and I think from my (dog) years at KForce I have a lot of insight to bring to the table. (If you disagree, nod your head anyway and stop trying to crush my dreams. My ego needs to be at least partly intact on August 29th.)

For more information on Jacksonville Code Camp, click here! Please be sure to check out all of the other speakers and sessions. Code Camps always make me excited but this one is going to be freakin’ awesome and all money goes to a great cause: Wolfson Children’s Hospital!

Hope to see everyone there!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Barbara Walters, eat your heart out: Russ Fustino is joining The View!



Ok, not really but close. Kind of.

Tonight, Russ Fustino will be filming the 4th episode of his hit show, Russ’ Tool Shed. Due to some unfortunate scheduling, the ABC studio was already booked so Microsoft and the Tampa .Net User Group was kind enough to lend Russ some space for his Emmy winning drama. Tonight’s episode is called “It’s All About the Tools” (no, they aren’t referring to my exes…surprising, I know.) and it promises to be an exciting time.

For all of you “shedheads” out there, you will pleased to know that tonight’s episode promises some very special guests. First up on the roster are Bret Michaels and Ashley Simpson. Rumor has it they will be “singing” a new single from Bret’s new album, inspired by his tumultuous journey in search of love. After this epic performance, Nikita Polyakov will take to the stage and perform a monologue about the hardships of being Russian. This will be a tear jerker so please so bring your box of tissues...but be sure not to cry in front of him since Russians dislike emotion. After Nikita presents his thesis on nuclear weapons, human trafficking, and the difficulty of purchasing bread on the black market, he will run through some Windows Mobile stuff. His past presentations (as seen on Letterman and The Tyra Banks Show) have received glowing reviews so this should be performance of a lifetime. Russ Fustino, Bill Reiss, and Stan Schultes will also be speaking (though their topics are “top secret”) and will round out the night’s show.

Tonight’s festivities kick off at 6:30pm and are being held at the Microsoft office in Tampa. For more information or to check out the latest Russ' Tool Shed videos, please visit: http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/toolshed

Hope to see everyone there!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What’s that, Robin? MVC is in danger? Quick! To the bat cave…


Oh wait, wrong guy.

What I meant to say was, “It’s a bird, It’s a plane, It’s Super…Megan!!” (What? You didn’t know Superman was secretly transgender?)

So last week, I did the unthinkable. (No, I didn’t buy a Mac, calm down. I’ll never stoop that low.)

Instead, I did something slightly less brazen. What’s that you ask? I permanently traded in my Ann Taylor twinset for a super elegant, super trendy…cape. Yep. That’s right. I’m now sporting a cape. (And it looks pretty freaking good, too.)

Don’t be jealous.

I bet you are thinking, “Really, Megan? Everyone always said you are weird, but really, why do you have to take it to the next level? A cape? How did this happen?”

Well, my three readers, funny you should ask. It was a dark Wednesday afternoon…or maybe it was Thursday (all of my days at The Force tend to run together) and I was minding my own business and doing a little tweeting on Twitter. Nothing exceptionally great was happening that day and I was anxiously waiting for the day to end. I was tired from rescuing a few children from a burning building the night before. I think I might have even deactivated a few bombs, too, but I can’t be certain. Like I said, I was tired. So anyway, I was just about to wrap up for the day when I saw an innocent tweet for help from David Hayden!

Fortunately, he was not stuck under a car….unfortunately, it was much, MUCH more serious.

POW! ZAP! WHAM!

“KForce is not sponsoring this month’s meeting, so MVC needs a new sponsor!”

BANG! CRASH!

“Who wants to sponsor Tampa MVC for the next six months straight?”

Sh*t! Hit! The! Fan! W...ango, T…ango, F...oxtrot, Batman!!

I felt my face go green with anger (and trust me, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry), my lilac cardigan started to get tight on my biceps, my feet began to pop out of my heels…and…crap, wrong guy. Again. Seriously, though, I was pissed. These were my people and I didn’t like anyone messing with my people. (You say territorial, I say love.) I had to get to the bottom of it…and fast.

Before I set my sights on discovering the identity of my very own Lex Luthor (I had a pretty good idea where to find him, anyway), I put out a bat tweet to my damsel in distress, David Hayden, and told him to worry not…for I, Megan “look at me in my bada** cape” Hopkins, would provide MVC with all of the pizza and coke they desired, even if I had to trade my bat mobile in for a Kia to pay for it. He was most appreciative and graciously accepted my offer. He even let me address the crowd with a homework assignment so they could get to know me (the real, I wanted to be a deer…and Hulk Hogan… when I grew up, me) better. Usually whenever I save the world all I get are people hounding me trying to snap photos and vilify me so this was a real treat. Mr. Hayden knows how to pay it forward. Maybe I’ll let him wear my cape next time I’m in town.

In any event, now that the sponsorship crisis was solved, all I had to do was locate Mr. Luthor. Rumor had it that Luthor has recently packed his bags and relocated to the busy city of Tampa. Apparently, he thought Smallville was lame. The folks at my office say one of my best talents is stalking (nice, huh?) so I decided to put that to good use, and in no time, I located my nemesis sitting in his evil cube. What happened next is too gory to blog about…but you can use your imaginations.

By time the clock struck 5:00pm, MVC had been saved from certain disaster and all was well in the world of Microsoft technologies once more.

Ok, in all seriousness, I had the great pleasure (I’m serious. It freaking rocked my world.) of attending the MVC meeting at Microsoft’s office in Tampa. At this meeting, the topic covered was ASP.Net MVC Extensibility…and how awesome KForce is. During this two hour MVC love fest, four speakers spread the good word (referring to MVC, of course) and explained how to customize and extend the MVC Framework for real-world development. The four gurus that took the stage for the MVC variety show were: David Hayden, Jim Zimmerman, Will Green, and Kevin Wolf. All four of these gents had an interesting topic but the one that caught my attention the most was Kevin Wolf because he spoke about two of my favorite things in the entire flipping world…any guesses??? (Keep it clean, people. Keep it clean.)

Geeks….and bars!!!!!! What else could a girl want??? (For me, absolutely nothing. Except for my cape, of course.) Kevin came up with the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen and you can check it out at www.geeksatbars.com. If you like to talk tech…and you like to drink, well, Kevin should be your new favorite person because this site has it all. Plus, it features web slices….and that is enough to please even the toughest critic. Check it out!!!!!!

I can’t stress enough to anyone that actually reads this blog (hopefully more than three people but I don’t want to get too greedy) what an awesome group MVC is. I sponsor a lot of groups in Central Florida and this is definitely one of my favorites. Everyone that knows me knows I get completely jazzed when I meet folks that are passionate about technology and the MVC group offers a huge room of tech centric people that I can call my new friends and teach me something new about technology….and it is at the Microsoft office which makes me even more smitten. Meetings are held once a month (next month’s date is TBD) and KForce provides pizza, coke, and phenomenal entertainment. For more information on this FREAKIN’ AWESOME group, please check out http://www.tampadev.org .

If you haven’t checked this group out before, please make sure you give it a shot at least once. After all, you know what they say…once you go MVC you never go back.

And if you still refuse to give MVC a whirl, well, please don’t count on me to come rescue you next time you are stuck in a tree or under a semi. I may be nice...but a girl has got standards.

PS. Thanks to @NikitaP for the wicked Photoshop job!

Monday, June 29, 2009

She's Just Not That Into You



Staffing is a lot like dating.

You spend countless hours perfecting your profile (Match.com, Dice…tomato, tomahtoe) to attract the perfect mate and then….right when you are about to throw in the towel….you find “the one”….at least the one for now. You exchange emails, phone calls, the occasional full body shot, and finally agree to meet for the first date (otherwise known as the candidate interview). You haven’t experienced butterflies like this in SO long-this must be right. God doesn’t hate you after all. So, you email directions (provided by Bing, of course…you Microsoft people love that), and then you wait. And wait.

And wait.

Still freaking waiting.

WTF. Am I getting stood up???????

After your swallow your pride, you get up, sit by the phone (where you resume the art of waiting) and contemplate calling him to find out what happened. Maybe his dog died. Maybe he lost your directions. Maybe he met someone else (freaking man-stealing, TekSystems). Maybe he got stuck in terrible traffic and then, upon parking his car, discovered he parked too far away, and got all sweaty from the long walk in the hot Florida sun, and then, right when he got to the door, twisted his ankle, and got discouraged and left, because he thought you’d discriminate against a sweating, limping man. (It could happen, right?? RIGHT???) Whatever the reason is, you prefer to get the “It’s not you. It’s me.” conversation over with so you call him.

Ring.

Ring.

Ring.

“Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail of your jacka** candidate that got sweaty and twisted his ankle…”

You leave a message and decide to get back on the horse and find a new beau. Pretty soon a week or so has passed and you get a call…from your sweaty, limping, dogless, TekSystems-loving, directionally challenged man…and he wants you back. Apparently, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Begrudgingly, you give him another chance and decide to get together in a few days. You re-email him the directions (Bing, baby, Bing) and start preparing your perfect recruiter outfit.

And then…the funniest thing happens. You get stood up AGAIN. No call, no email, no smoke signal, no courier pigeon….nothing…just dead air and an empty interview seat. By this point, you are PISSED. What does this person think you do all day? Sit around and recruit other potential love interests (well, yes, actually...)????

You politely send a quick email to check up on your MIA beau (maybe he twisted his other ankle???) to stay in his good graces (and he might have a hot brother) and go about your business. Weeks pass and you’ve met several other people that do not stand you up. You’ve even submitted a few to your dad (or hiring manager…) and have gotten the thumbs up.

You are healing nicely.

And then he calls again…and wants to know why YOU didn’t return HIS call. WHHHAAATTTTT????? He wants to come in and see you again and wants to make things right. You inform him rather candidly that you are not interested in his cat and mouse game and are moving on. He swears he can change and will be different. You are the only woman (recruiter) for him.

But you are a strong woman now. You tell him that it would not make sense to meet with him when you don’t think you can ever introduce him to anyone because of the way he treated you. He didn’t respect your time, you say, and how can you ever trust him again? He is silent. You think he might cry…and then he says, “Give me the name of your boss. I’m reporting you.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of recruiting, where candidate is king (and they know that…and on occasion, will throw that in your face even though they treat you like dirt). The above mentioned recruiting saga happened last week to one of my coworkers and I’ve been tossing around the idea of blogging about it ever since. Hopefully, I didn’t offend anyone (though, I wouldn’t be shocked if I did…) but it drives me batty when candidates do not respect your time, especially when you are trying to help them. Everyone that knows me knows I love my candidates, my job, and helping people, and often times, I invest too much of myself (so I hear) in what I do. I’m not much different from the majority of recruiters in my office. We are a bunch of bleeders. I understand stuff happens that can prevent a person from being on time or missing an appointment all together (have you met me???), but it is always wise to be RESPECTFUL and COMMUNICATE! Burning bridges is never a good thing, particularly in a small market in an even tighter economy. (Note: This is not a threat. I’m on the smaller side and though I have a loud bark, my bite is pretty flipping weak.) Chances are, as long as you communicate with us, we will be more than willing to accommodate you and do our best to assist you.

To all of the KForce candidates out there that are respectful (and that is most of you), thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. You make our job a lot more fun and we love to help you. (Seriously.) To all of the candidates out there that fell victim to the Florida heat and twisted their ankle on the way (several times) to our office, well, we’re just not that into you. Sorry.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Love It When You Call Me Big Pap-pa…



You need to strap up your laces, and starting working those interfaces
(I love it when you call me Big Pap-pa)
To the coders gettin’ projects that they need to finish up…UHH!!!
(I love it when you call me Big Pap-pa)
If you got a virus in your PC please don't sit at your desk
Cause I see some development that needs to go live
Liiii-ve

UHHH.

Last night I hit the road to attend John Papa’s sold out “show” where he got down (and dirty) with ADO.Net Data Services (Astoria for all of you rooks…rookies for all of you that don’t speak slang) and Silverlight at the Space Coast .Net User Group in Melbizzle (Note: When trying to be ghetto, if all else fails, add the “izzle”). This was my first time visiting this group (and definitely not my last) and I was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar faces (shout outs to Bonnie, Walt, and Michael…word). For all Orlando candidates, it was a pretty quick drive (even with me getting lost) so I definitely encourage you to check out next month’s meeting (with Oleg Sych as the speaker). Pizza and 40s (I mean sodas and water) are provided each month so you won’t have to go hungry. For more information on this group, please check out: http://www.scdnug.org/Home.aspx It was a great event and if anyone has the opportunity to see Mr. Papa speak in the future, you should definitely take advantage of it. He is a great presenter and even I could understand what he was talking about (and I’m a newbie).

For more information on John Papa, please visit: http://johnpapa.net

Special thanks to Angel Diaz for honing in on his inner ghetto to help me with my sick rap.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mom, Dad...I'm Getting Married (again)


His name is Isaiah and I love him.

I guess what they say is true. You meet “The One” when you aren’t looking and least expect it. Well, folks, I can finally take down my eHarmony and Match.com profiles because a very special man has come into my life….Mom, Dad…everyone, I’d like you to meet Isaiah. Sure, I know what you guys are thinking (No, you aren’t going to see me on MSNBC. No, Isaiah isn’t just settling. Yes, he knows this will be my second marriage. Isaiah doesn’t judge.). Yes, I realize he is about 15 years too young for me, but I’ll wait for him. I know a good thing when I see one and besides, I’ve already met his dad. (And I think he approved.) So, how did this unlikely love story happen? Um, have you ever seen The Notebook? Well, it kind of happened just like that. Isaiah was working in the mill on the wrong side of the tracks and my daddy was a well-to-do Southern gentleman: a classic tale of forbidden love.

Or not. (On The Notebook reference, I mean. The forbidden part is pretty freaking accurate.)

It was a fine Saturday morning. I was sitting at the KForce table at Day of DotNetNuke at Microsoft’s office in Tampa when something caught my eye. Hidden (literally) in a sea of DNN loving developers stood a young (very young…very, very young) DNN enthusiast hanging out with his dad. This strapping young DNN prodigy was something special. His brown hair was parted to the left (it looked much cuter on Isaiah than Prince Charles) and he was dressed in his most professional IT threads. (His outfit got even cooler when he put on his KForce hat. Yes, people, I start them young.) I threw him a few cute IT recruiter glances, batted my lashes, smiled as I signed his raffle card, and soon sealed the deal with some KForce pens, a koozie (for his dad, that is), and a KForce hat. I might have even given him one of the two mouse pads I had on the table. If he was old enough to drive, I would have given him my keys. I was that smitten. (For the record, I wasn’t the only one in awe of this little guy. Joe Healy gave him a backpack.) In any event, after I stocked Isaiah up with all the KForce swag he could handle, he vanished in the crowd. I was heartbroken. I thought I’d never see Isaiah again. Sigh…. But then, something remarkable happened. Isaiah came back to my table. Again. And again. And again. And on the seventh day (I mean, time)…he agreed to take a picture with me (not the best one of me, but I’m sure our wedding pictures will be much better). We played this cat and mouse game for a little bit longer until the event ended. By the end of DNN, Isaiah had my heart in the palm of his young hand. We parted ways (my attempt at rigging the Zune raffle for him proved unsuccessful) a little past five in the evening and I was left with only the memory of him wearing the KForce hat and his name, (first name only-he is mysterious), written on my business card. Though we didn’t get to exchange numbers, I know our paths will cross again. His dad is, after all, a developer, and Isaiah is already programming. Maybe I’ll see him a Jacksonville Code Camp…a girl can dream.

Ok, now that I’m done being weird (for now), let me be (slightly) serious…for a nanosecond.

I have been in IT recruiting for nearly three years and I am frequently asked a few questions (how I got into the business, why I love it so much, am I single…you know, those kinds of things). How I got into the art of trafficking people is a very long story so I won’t bore you with those details but I’d love to tell you a few reasons why I love my job and (IT especially) so flipping much. First off, let me state the obvious. I’m a big freakin’ nerd…and that is one reason I love this stuff (this stuff = IT and staffing) so much. I like to think God had a moment of sympathy for me when he made me attractive (finally... in the 10th grade). He didn’t really fix anything else. He left me with my penchant for all things academic, nerdy, and “ungirly” and over time, I’ve learned to embrace that about myself instead of shying away from it. Because of this, I really think IT is the perfect field for me. I’m not saying all developers are nerds (I hear Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom are closet programmers) but I get along with developers more than anyone else…and I love it. That being said, the second reason I love IT (and staffing) so much is because I love people, particularly those in IT. I love helping others (nothing makes me happier than helping someone with their career), I love learning, and I love being around people that share common interests with me. What’s more is (and this is reason number three) that I love people that are passionate about something. Nothing makes me more excited than meeting people that are passionate about what they do, in this case, technology. As a recruiter, I meet a lot of people that just happen to be good at what they do. While that is great it doesn’t get me nearly as pumped up as meeting people that LOVE what they do and LOVE learning about technology and finding ways to improve their skills. That is one (big) reason why I gravitate to the User Group circuit so much. Everyone that goes to those meetings is serious about technology and that is a great thing to see. That is the main reason….that I fell in love with my muse for this blog, Isaiah (seriously)!! The kid is young (I’m guessing sixish) and already learning how to program…and he was programming during some of the sessions! I can’t wait until the day he is looking for a job. I’ll be nearing 40 (I wish I was kidding) but I know with his passion, he is going to be awesome.

For all of you that went to DoDNN, you know that Day of DotNetNuke was a great event. I felt honored to be there and meet so many people with a passion for DNN. Will Strohl (and his other/better half, Kim Rausch) did a great job putting the event together. (Will, you better kiss the ground she walks on!) Thank you to everyone that helped out and the speakers who generously gave up their time to speak. Everyone’s sessions were awesome! A “thank you” is also in order for Joe Healy for letting all of the crazy DNN’ers use the Microsoft space. Those were some NICE accommodations. Thank you Michael McCarthy and Jason Maroney (our Central Florida Market VP) from KForce's Tampa office for coming and helping out. You guys are the best! For any Tampa Tech candidates, Michael is the guy to call. Lastly, and most importantly…I’d like to thank Isaiah for showing me that true love exists…and that you are never too young to be passionate about something. Wherever you are, Isaiah, you are one cool kid.

For those of you that didn’t go to Day of DotNetNuke, well, you are dead to me. (Ok, maybe that is a little harsh…)

PS. Isaiah, call me. I have the florist coming in three days and I have to let the caterer know if you want Kobe Beef or Ahi Tuna…

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What a Tangled Web I Weave: Who Will I Spend the Night With Tonight?



Looks like I have two dates scheduled on the same day at the same time!!! What will I do???

ONETUG or MVC…such a hard decision! ONETUG treats me so well, always opens doors, is so dependable…I really think I could grow old with ONETUG… ONETUG really GETS me. On the other hand, MVC is so mysterious and dangerous. Plus, MVC keeps me on my toes. Spontaneity will never be an issue with MVC…MVC schedules dates whenever he feels like it and follows no schedule. Something about that is just so sexy. Why does this have to be so hard?

Calling all Microsoft nerds (ME!!!)! Come out, come out, wherever you are!!!!

ONETUG and the MVC group are both meeting tonight. For all of you Orlando folks, please make sure to stop by ONETUG for Fabio’s great presentation (coincidentally on MVC so you won’t be missing out completely if you don’t go to Tampa). The group is meeting downtown at Orlando City Hall (please see: http://www.onetug.org/sf/homepage.aspx for more info) and the meeting starts promptly at 7:00pm. Feel free to show up early for some pizza and networking…courtesy of the greatest staffing firm on earth (says everyone!)….KFORCE!

My other (secret) lover, MVC group, will be meeting tonight, too, in Tampa. All of this fun will go down (without me, this time) at Microsoft’s office. My partners (KForce Tampa Tech!) will be there keeping MVC’s attention so KForce is never far from the mind (and heart). Pizza and drinks will be provided by some firm that is known far and wide…I think you might have heard of them once or twice….KFORCE!!
This month’s meeting is about building a rich user experience in ASP.NET MVC Web Applications and will be a great time for all involved. For more information, please visit: http://www.tampadev.org

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at mhopkins@kforce.com or my partner, Brian Dodd(in Tampa), at BDodd@kforce.com.

I hope everyone makes it out to either meeting and has a great time!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When You Wish Upon a Star: DNN Making Dreams Come True



There are certain things that every little girl dreams about at one point or another in her life: meeting New Kids on the Block, graduating from college, meeting the man of her dreams and getting married (and divorced), having a baby, and…going to Day of DotNetNuke. Fortunately for me, the man upstairs has been kind to me (minus the period of time from 6th-8th grade when I was the ugliest thing on the planet-just ask my brothers) and I’ve led a fulfilled life. I got to meet the New Kids (twice), spend much time in college and actually finish, marry (and divorce) the man of my dreams in under a year (“Yay!” for being an overachiever), have a baby (in K-9 form), and now…right when I thought I had it all…I get to go to Day of DotNetNuke this Saturday. All I need is someone to share this joy with…and that, my friends, is why I’m writing this post.

Please come and be my friend (or at least pretend to like me) this Saturday at Day of DotNetNuke at Microsoft’s office in Tampa. I will be there all day (and night) long and it is shaping up to be a great event. The DNN mastermind, Will Strohl, has put in countless hours of work organizing speakers, sponsors, locations, stuffing bags (oh wait, he had his kids do that…), blogging, tweeting, dancing on the side of the road…you get the idea…he has busted his butt to make this a tremendous event. The sessions start at 8:00am sharp (registration starting at 7:00am) and wraps at 5:00pm. There will be a raffle at the end of the event (free software, HD TV, laptop, a Zune (or two), women…) and an after party at the Green Iguana beginning at 6:00pm where alcohol will be flowing as nicely as the DNN shop talk.

Will has arranged some wonderful speakers for the event. Brandon Haynes, Brian Scarbeau, Chris Hammond, Cuong Dang, Darrell Hardy, David Pavlicko, Gifford Watkins, Henry Lee, Jeff Cochran, Jim Begley, Joe Brinkman, Joe Healy, Mitchel Sellers, Paul Scarlett, Ralph Williams, Jr., Ryan Morgan, Stan Schultes, Tony Valenti, Tracy Wittenkeller, and Will Morgenweck will be walking the DNN red carpet, wearing the latest fashions, and educating DNN lovers all day long.

Orlando and Tampa KForcers will be there, too, so please stop by our table to say “hi”, enter to win our raffle item (Zune), and to be my new friend. I’m not nearly as obnoxious as I seem in these posts. (Or am I?)

For more information on this FREE event, please visit www.dayofdnn.com. It promises to be a great time (even better than New Kids) and I hope to see everyone there!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

After nearly three wonderful years with KForce, I'm packing up my desk....


And relocating with the rest of the KForcers to our new office in Maitland!!! (What, did you other firms think you were finally rid of me?? So sorry to disappoint!)

Today marks the last day in our quasi-fabulous office downtown and it is one of mixed emotions. One one hand, I'm sad to say "goodbye" to the place where I got my start and learned what it really meant to be obnoxious and pushy...and to help people. I fondly remember my interview at KForce (one where I arrived 15 minutes late because I went to the wrong building...SunTrust, AmSouth...same difference), my first candidate interview (where the candidate had a seizure and I thought I was being punked so I just sat there and giggled), my first "team" meeting where a disgruntled KForcer (no longer with us) threw a chair because he wasn't happy with his ISM list, my first experience with lay-offs (where I was the last man and least tenured person standing), and my first placement (and subsequent first HR showdown). I will never forget the many natural disasters that we have faced in this building (fires, floods...seriously, folks) and I will always remember the time I got stuck in the elevator fondly. Or not. I will miss the scary (female) building manager with the mullet, having to pay for parking ($75.00 a month!!), and the continuous fire drills (that didn't involve nice looking firefighters), and getting locked in the stairwell for nearly an hour.

Ahhhhhh memories.

I will miss the happy hours-true story. I am fortunate to work with a great group of people and many a happy hour have been enjoyed (and much needed) after stressful (but fun!) days at "The Force."

After cleaning out my desk, it is amazing what a person can accumulate over the course of a few years. Some fun artifacts that were discovered include: a full Lenox set of serving utensils (I'm talking six pieces, people, and two cake servers), a wine bottle opener (actually, that can probably be explained rather easily...I do work at KForce after all), tanning lotion (I'm Irish, yet still so disillusioned), three belts, one pair of shoes, glasses (I wasn't aware I wear glasses), pictures of cats (yet I own zero cats), and a small child. Kidding about the child. Maybe. Cleansing my cube office of clutter took far longer than I expected...four hours to be exact, but now I feel ready to go and get a fresh start in Maitland.

All kidding aside, I am excited about the move to Maitland (even though I have no idea where to take my happy hour tomfoolery). Our "scouts" spent a lot of time searching for great office space that will be both convenient for our clients and candidates...and more economical for all. (read: free parking for candidates and KForcers) The space should be finished this Sunday (just in time for us on Monday) and will be a welcomed change. We can now bid farewell to our call center-ish looking space and embrace something much more classy. Regardless of this location change, KForce is going strong and still striving to be the firm most respected by those we serve. We have three healthy business lines in Orlando (and now Jacksonville, too) and have some great people spreading the good word 24/7.

Our new address is:

2301 Lucien Way
Suite 130
Maitland, FL 32751

(407)667-4000


I promise: Though the new digs do not boast the beautiful view of I-4, nothing else is changing. The same awesome talent remains and we hope that even though we are trekking it to suburbia, you will come see us for all of your career/staffing needs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And Then I Saw Her Face, Now I'm a Believer



So a while ago, I blogged about Twitter and wanted to know what all of the hype was about. I had been hearing about it more and more through candidates and at various User Group meetings, but I was very skeptical. How in the world could I improve my business or make more valuable connections just by updating my status every time I had some random thought or did something somewhat cute, but oh so quirky? We had discussed it a few times in the office (mainly because it is blocked by KForce) and the general consensus was Twitter was just another fad. I was not a big believer. I thought Twitter was bunk.

I was incredibly stupid.

Fast forward a few weeks.

It was a normal morning; I was running late, grumpy, and in serious need of some coffee (black). I walked into my office, sat down at my desk, and was instantly alerted to two emails from my co-worker, Ryan. My first reaction was to get annoyed that he was emailing me with work so early in the morning. I was, after all, still waking up. Begrudgingly, I opened the emails and saw that they contained articles about Twitter. I was intrigued. Kind of. (I partially read them just because I knew he’d ask me about them later.) In any event, the article (below) was from the Orlando Sentinel and was about a girl named Brittany Ward that lost her job and used Twitter and Facebook to broadcast that and drum up some publicity.

Very smart, very creative girl. I liked her approach. A lot.

So much in fact that I felt compelled to help. I put on my staffing cap and thought for a moment about who I knew that could use someone with her background. And then it happened. I had a moment of pure genius (it doesn’t happen too often). After stalking her on Linked In and getting her resume, I forwarded it to my friends over at Nature’s Table. My instincts were right because they liked her just as much as I did. After a week or so of interviews, they offered Brittany the job and she accepted.

Like I said, before this happened, I was very anti-Twitter. I hate the constant updates (about what you are eating, color underwear you are wearing, etc.) on Facebook so I made an uneducated assumption and assumed Twitter was the same way. After seeing how it can be utilized, I am a big believer. In fact, I created my profile (OrlandoTechNuts) last night and have joined in on the action…so now I can alert everyone that cares to my every move.

To learn more about Brittany Ward, the girl that opened my eyes to the powers of social media marketing, check out her blog at: http://beholdalady.wordpress.com/


Brittany's Debut: Her Article

Lose your job? Tell your Facebook, Twitter friends
Etan Horowitz | Sentinel Staff Writer
April 21, 2009



Brittany Ward, at her Orlando apartment, has kept up with job prospects with help from online friends after being laid off. (Roberto Gonzalez, Orlando Sentinel / April 17, 2009)

Just minutes after she was laid off from her job earlier this month, Brittany Ward pulled out her cell phone and typed a short message.

"Needs a job."

Ward, a 23-year-old account manager at an Altamonte Springs marketing firm, hadn't even told her family.

But when she hit enter, more than 2,000 friends, family members and strangers learned of her plight via Twitter and Facebook.

In the past, victims of layoffs used to share the news with a close circle of family and friends. You might only learn of a co-worker's job loss if you saw him packing up his desk.

But today, thanks to social-networking tools, the newly unemployed are coming out of the dark.

For those accustomed to sharing news of breakups, car accidents and other major life changes, revealing a layoff online comes naturally.

Those who have used online tools to tell the world they're out of work say it's a more effective way to communicate news that might be too difficult to verbalize, and doing so instantly brings a stream of supportive and helpful messages.

It can also be a good way to jump-start a job search.

Ward, a 2006 graduate of the University of Central Florida, said posting online saved her the unpleasant task of having to repeatedly tell friends and family she was laid off.

"You end up feeling worse after retelling the story many times in a row," said Ward, who lives in Baldwin Park. "With Twitter, all of a sudden, they hear the story, and you don't have to keep repeating it."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oops, I Did it Again...



Did what, you ask? I just couldn’t help myself…

In addition to ONETUG and DotNetNuke, KForce is now sponsoring all of Lakeland’s .Net User Group meetings.

How did this happen you ask?

It was a dark and stormy night…

And I had the pleasure of attending the Lakeland .NET User Group where Fabio Honigmann was speaking (again, because he is that awesome, seriously).
This was my first time venturing to South Central that is Lakeland and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I have heard mythical stories about country folk and good BBQ ribs, but I didn’t have too much else to go on. I was nervous.

As we arrived at University of South Florida Polytechnic and embarked on our long walk to room 1125, my mind was racing. I wondered, “Who would I meet?" and “How would this meeting compare to the other User Groups I attend?”

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised to meet a tremendous group of people that shared a love for all things Microsoft and are extremely talented (and normal). My partner from Tampa, Michael “Miggy” McCarthy, was there, too, so that made things even better. It was going to be a good meeting. My anxiety waned…until I was alerted to something that I thought was just unfair…and well, for lack of better words, crappy. It seemed that this fine group had been overlooked and needed some sponsors to provide some food, drinks, and some lively entertainment that only a staffing firm could provide. It didn’t seem fair to me that Orlando and Tampa get all the love and Lakeland gets left out in the cold like the redheaded stepchild. Michael and I were deeply troubled and were hell-bent on doing something to help. (Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but you KNOW me…) In any event, my mind was racing throughout most of the meeting as I feverishly exchanged emails with my Director, Brian “BC” Coffey.

The (very professional) exchange went something like this:

Me: “My little wheels are turning. This group has been meeting for a long time and they don’t have a sponsor. WTF. This would be an awesome opportunity to take care of some .NET folks. We have to sponsor them! I will even do it out of my own pocket! What do you say, BC??? Pretty please?”

BC: “We’ll talk manana”.

So what is a girl to do with “We’ll talk manana”? I pulled the typical Megan and just went ahead and did it anyway. Some people say I’m pushy (and when I say some people, I mean pretty much everyone, including my parents)…I just think I’m a girl that goes after what she wants. In any event, I broke the news to Brian while I feasted on wings and beer with some of my new .NET friends, and he, thankfully, hopped on the Lakeland .NET train right along with Miggy and me.

KForce is very excited about our partnership with this User Group and we look forward to helping the .NET community in anyway we can. Personally, I’m a big fan of the .NET community and I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to extend my network, meet some great people, and make some new friends.

Last night’s presentation (on MVC) was awesome and Fabio did a great job. He will be speaking at Jacksonville’s meeting next month, so please get with me if you want some info on that meeting.

For more information on Lakeland’s .NET User Group community, please check out: http://www.lakelandug.net/

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fabio bids adieu to sexy romances….and takes up programming?



Ok, ok...not that Fabio, but close. Kind of.

Be prepared to be wooed by the words and web developer ways of Fabio Honigmann at tonight’s meeting of the Tampa ASP.NET MVC Developer Group. In this presentation Fabio will get down and dirty as he describes his experience developing a MVC Website for the 2009 Orlando .NET Code Camp. He will be holding nothing back as he reveals the good, bad, and ugly about using Microsoft MVC framework from a Web Forms background perspective.

Fabio will also tell the tales of team interaction, and all of the palpable tension that grew…while developing in MVC. If that isn’t sexy, I don’t know what is. Oh, wait…yes I do. Raw, uncensored...real world code. There will be full exposure as Fabio puts his code samples on display.

All of this filth will take place at the Microsoft Office in Tampa, Florida from 6:30pm-8:30pm. KForce will be sponsoring this event (Ohhhhh yeahhhhh) and will be providing tantalizing treats (pizza and coke, folks…easy does it, fellas).

To learn more about this Fabio-lous event and the speaker himself, visit: http://www.tampadev.org/.

It promises to be an unforgettable, mind-blowing experience that you won't forget.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day of DotNetNuke...The Best Thing to Hit Tampa Since KForce Corporate!

Mark you calendars, boys and girls! Day of DotNetNuke is coming to Tampa. This fantastic event is being held on June 13th from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM at the Microsoft Office in Tampa, Florida. The floodgates open for speakers on May 2nd and all spaces are expected to fill up quicker than Britney Spears can…pop some pills, lose her kids, shave her head…you get the point.

I’m sure some of you are wondering, “What exactly is Day of DotNetNuke?” Well don’t feel bad. After all, there is no such thing as stupid questions, just stupid people.

The Day of DotNetNuke is very similar to Code Camp. The objective is to provide valuable information about DotNetNuke to the local DNN community, provided by local DNN community members. The Day of DotNetNuke is being organized by the Orlando DotNetNuke Users Group, or ODUG, which is lead by the All Mighty Will Strohl.

For those of you that think nine hours of DotNetNuke fun just isn’t enough (ME!!), you will be pleased to know that there will be an after party, too. The venue for DNN After Dark is not decided yet so be sure to cast your vote on the Day of DotNetNuke website. KForce (Orlando and Tampa Tech) will be there all day and into the wee hours of the night (of course!) and will be showering the DNN followers with as much sponsor-love as they can handle. Feel free to hunt us down with any questions or just to chat…we really are friendly, I swear!

I am very excited about this event and Will and the rest of ODUG are putting a ton of work into it. It should be a great one and I hope to see everyone there!

Make sure you visit: www.dayofdnn.com for more information on the event and to register.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It is a Beautiful Day to Earn Some Good Karma!

To everyone out there that had too much fun and made bad decisions this weekend, I have some great news for you; there is still hope. You can score some points with the man upstairs by giving back to a great organization by helping someone out who is dealing with something far worse than a hangover.

Though this post has nothing to do with technology (I’m such a rebel), I was recently made aware of a charity that I feel compelled to tell everyone (and their mother) about that benefits an awesome cause. The charity is called Dorothy’s Family. Dorothy’s Family was founded on May 18th, 2007 by my friend’s brother to honor their mother, who fought the good fight with lung cancer with optimism and courage. This charity was established in order to serve children affected by cancer. All money raised is used to make their lives a little brighter by providing video games, DVD players, and other toys. Since the charity was established, there have been several Dorothy’s Family events in Illinois that were very successful. Because of this success and the opportunity to serve the local Orlando community, a Dorothy’s Family Trivia Night is being held this Thursday evening downtown. (Please get with me if you would like additional information on that event.) This event is being held to benefit the pediatric oncology ward at Arnold Palmer Hospital.

As with any charity, any contribution helps and goes a long way. Anyone interested in serving this tremendous cause can make independent donations. Independent donations should be sent to PO Box 4203 Lisle, IL 60532. In the near future, Dorothy’s Family will also have a PayPal link up on the website, too. The website is: www.dorothysfamily.org.

I lost my father to cancer in 2007 and I’m pretty certain that everyone knows someone who has struggled with this terrible illness and that is the reason I feel so compelled to help. Please do not feel obligated, but rather inspired by an incredible organization that is giving back in spite of tremendous loss!