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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Farewell Alysia, Hello Megan!


Hello everyone! As you all may know, Alysia “Nuts” Hazelton is no longer with us…in Central Florida, at least. Alysia moved to the big, bad land of San Francisco to conquer the Healthcare Technology industry and we wish her the best in her new endeavor. We will all miss her; anyone that had the chance to meet Alysia knows she is going to rock it on the West Coast.

Despite Alysia's departure, her (work) twin and partner in crime, me, remains here to carry the torch. I have taken over the blogging reigns and will continuing to keep everyone informed of the latest and greatest KForce and Central Florida technology news, among other things.

Now that that brief little introduction is taken care of, let me tell you about the fun Saturday I had….Code Camp!!

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Orlando .NET Code Camp! Though I absolutely hate to wake up early (just ask my boss!), Code Camp was an absolute hit and generated a lot of .Net developer traffic from all over Central Florida (and beyond!). Over 400 people showed up (422 to be exact!) at Seminole Community College for a fun day of learning and networking. Almost 200 prizes were given away including a 49cc scooter from worldwidedistributing.com, and Xbox from Microsoft, and Kforce raffled off a Zune. To those of you that didn’t show up to this event, well, shame on you! You definitely missed out and now have to wait an entire year to join in on the fun.

Jessica Sterner and everyone on the Code Camp board did an awesome job of putting the event together… big round of applause to the Code Camp board Fabio Honigmann, Esteban Garcia, Brian Mishler, David Caylor, John Torrey, and Bob Baker.

And…please give another round of applause for all of the other volunteers, too. Will Terence Tully, Michael Harris, Melania Astle, Austin David, Bob Vargas, Christian Loris, Deborah Paulsen, J Hill, Jillian Mudd, Slobodan Stipic, Stephanie Ramseier, Tabbitha Martinez, James Poole, Jace Weiss, Zhao Wang, Brian Banville, Terry, Rosemary, and Debbie please stand up?

For those of you that missed out on the excitement and really, really want to know what all of the hype is about (or just want to review the presentations again) you may download the presentations and content from the www.orlandocodecamp.com website keep checking back as they are still being posted.

As a recruiter, I love going to events like this for a few reasons. For starters, I really enjoy meeting local IT talent and finding out first hand what is happening in the industry. Though I meet a lot of candidates daily in my job, it is always refreshing to meet those that actually care about technology (really care) and give up their Saturday to learn more and build their skills. That really excites me and makes me love my job even more. You know what they say…”enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm!”.

Secondly, I like getting to see some of my .Net pals. Shawn Weisfeld made a special trip from Texas, Will Strohl was spreading the DotNetNuke word, Fabio was busy being crazy Fabio, and Chris Ortega was heckling recruiters. It was awesome! 

Another reason I love these events is because I get the opportunity to sit in on a few sessions while I’m not working at the KForce booth. This year, I got to sit in on Chris Ortega’s session (Know Your Recruiter) and Michael Knopf’s session (Preparing for Technical Job Interviews) and learned a lot. Chris mainly spoke about the frustrations of working with a recruiter from a hiring manager’s perspective. Admittedly, I didn’t do my homework before I sat in (tisk task) so I was caught a little off guard by some of the concerns (I’ll save that for another blog) but I think (hope!) I did a good job standing up for all of the (good) recruiters out there…the shady ones are on their own! The staffing industry is more of an art than a science so there is always something to learn and I did leave that session with a better understanding of a typical (or not so typical..haha-just kidding, Chris!) client’s needs.

Michael Knopf’s session was pretty freakin’ awesome, too. Until fairly recently, Michael was an active candidate on the job market. Because of his technical skill and tenacious approach to finding another (and better!) job, he is now working at NASA. I loved his presentation because it was from a candidate’s point of view and it was saying almost everything I try to tell my candidates but they don’t want to hear.
So, hats off to Mr. Knopf for driving the point home!! Some of the highlights were:

• Proactively build relationships!!!! Do not wait until you are out of a job to start connecting with people in the business. It is extremely important to have pretty solid connections with recruiters, peers, and the IT community. You never know who can help you 

• Don’t burn bridges. Let’s face it. Recruiters can be annoying…very annoying. The funny thing is, we can also be very good at our jobs and have some pretty great contacts into the companies you want to work. If we call you and you don’t want to work with us or aren’t currently looking, that’s fine, just deliver that message in a courteous and professional way so we don’t get our recruiter feelings hurt and feel slighted.  It never hurts to leave the lines of communication open in case you do end up needing a contact.

• Just like you shouldn’t wait until you are out of work to start building relationships, don’t wait to start building your skills!!! It is always a good idea to reassess your skills and compare yourself to your peers to see where you measure up. You never know who you are competing against on the job market. Go to user group meetings, go to Code Camp, read industry material…bottom line, just do something!!!! One good suggestion Michael made was to go over all of the skills you have under your belt and HONESTLY qualify your proficiency level on a 1-10 scale. Anything under a 5 is something you need to get to work on. It is extremely important to know your strengths and weaknesses in this industry…particularly in this economy.

• Prepare your resume.

o Do not feel the need the make everything fit into a page. By doing this, you are selling yourself short and not displaying everything you have to offer.

o Keywords are your friend!!!! Make sure to list the skill sets you have worked with. It is also a good idea to prioritize them on your resume (in my opinion, anyway) so you accurately represent yourself. Anything on your resume is fair game during an interview so make sure you are comfortable talking about the skill sets in detail and how you have used them, etc. If you don’t know what it is, it is better not to list it. Managers are very good at sniffing that stuff out and nothing frustrates them more than being sold a bad bill of goods.

o Bullets are also your friend. It is wise to do a keyword rich single sentence instead of a paragraph. Managers have next to no time (which is why staffing firms exist) so they don’t want to be digging through a paragraph to understand what you actually do or have done.

o Post it to the boards (Monster, Dice, Hot Jobs, etc.)…but read and reread it before you do.

• Blogging and social networking sites are great tools. LinkedIn is a great tool and is designed for professionals to build their network. A lot of recruiters are using LinkedIn, too, to find great talent before (or in addition to) they hit the job boards. Facebook is a good tool, as well, just make sure you don’t have anything compromising posted. Employers will look on their from time to time and it is not uncommon for a candidates questionable content to place them out of a possible job. Same with MySpace. Bottom line: Use common sense and keep it clean! Oh, and always use privacy settings.

• Finding a job is a full time job. You aren’t going to find a job looking on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after hours. Today’s market is tight and there is a ton of competition. You have to be tenacious (a la Mr. Knopf) to find “the one”. Missing out on the cool beach trip (or whatever you happen to fancy) sucks, but being out of work sucks a whole lot more. Finding work is work.

• Make yourself accessible to recruiters. Return phone calls. Answer the phone like a normal person (ex. “This is Megan Hopkins) and for Pete’s sake…keep your voicemail message normal and no ring backs. Personally, when I make recruiting calls if I get a weird voicemail (or a ring back) I suddenly become less than enthused about that candidate. It doesn’t scream professional and since I am putting my reputation on the line when I present a candidate to a client, I want a candidate that has “professional” written all over them. But that’s just me. I heard RHI deals with all types  Just playing 

• Interviewing: You’ve finally scored the interview…now don’t mess it up! 

o Be yourself. Don’t be who you think they want you to be. At the end of the day, you aren’t doing yourself any favors and potentially cheating yourself out of a great opportunity right around the corner.

o Positive attitudes do not go unnoticed. It is never a bad thing to tell them you are a team player…unless you just hate people, and then you’re on your own. 

o Do not BS the person interviewing you. They’ll know and it won’t go well.

• Working with recruiters…believe it not, we aren’t all that bad. Seriously.

o Communicate with us. Help us help you. Let us know what you are looking for in an opportunity. Pick up the phone when we call.

o WWAD: What would good old Honest Abe do? Honesty really is the best policy. Let us know who you are working with and where you are presented. Double submittals are a pain in the butt to deal with and often knock great candidates out of the running for some wonderful opportunities. By communicating with your recruiter, this can be avoided.

o Skill set: Let us know your strengths and weaknesses and what you want to do (and would rather be dragged behind an 18 wheeler than ever do again).

o Salary requirements. Be mindful of outside factors (the wonderful economy) and know your market. We will gladly help you obtain what you are looking for, but in order to do that, it has to be within reason.

o Help education recruiters!! The majority of us do not come from Computer Science background and do not program. With that said, we are still interested in trends, the market, and what technologies we should be paying attention to. You won’t offend us and information is always appreciated.

I could go on and on about these presentations (really, I could). Please take a look at www.orlandocodecamp.com to learn more and see the slides. Make sure to visit Michael’s presentation, as he put together a great list of interview questions he received while on the job market…very helpful to anyone that is looking for work or just interested in brushing up on their skills.

And for anyone that is interested, Orlando .Net User Group (ONETUG) will be meeting on April 16th. The location is Orlando City Hall from 7:00pm-9:00pm. Please check out www.onetug.org for more information.

Thanks again to everyone that made Code Camp possible. It was a GREAT event and I can’t wait until next year!


Chris Ortega:
Owner @ ODS of FL

Mr. Ortega has been in the IT field for over 15 years and has been involved with IT systems for 25 years. His responsibilities include enterprise architecture along with coding processes, database design and implementation, enterprise level web services and capacity planning. His background includes working with corporate and financial systems with an extensive background in enterprise security. His technical knowledge also includes network engineering, database design and administration, along with knowledge of programming.

Mr. Ortega has a 'no-holds-barred' approach to implementing and putting forth solutions for realizing business values for IT and software engineering based solutions. He also is aggressive in speaking about how solutions should be implemented by removing the politics advocating for the best solutions. This means that Mr. Ortega is usually called upon when everything is "broken" and there is nobody else to turn to. He's been called upon to provide solutions for CompUSA, Time Warner, Visa, and The Golf Channel to name a few.

Michael Knopf:
Programmer Analyst @ NASA

Michael has extensive expertise in ASP.NET, HTML, XML, XHML, CSS, JavaScript, Visual C#.NET, ORM, Test Driven Development (TDD), and MS SQL, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Source Control systems, with more than 6 years in the industry. He now works for NASA as a Programmer Analyst at Kennedy Space Center.

4 comments:

APitViper said...

Holy wow, Megan! Great blog with more info than I can process in just one read. Looking forward to future posts and thanks for taking over the site, Dan

fenderharry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian said...

Good luck, Nuts! We wish you the very best and we'll all miss you. Megan, thanks for taking over. You are just as nuts as Nuts and will do a great job!

Christopher said...

Hi Megan,

It was a pleasure to have you in my presentation. I definitely like jarring the industry with candid opinions and you know that I love to rattle a few cages here and there. Though you were a GREAT sport, you did a GREAT job of sticking up for your industry and for the good recruiters out there.

I also hope I was able to convey that you definitely want to have a good relationship with your recruiter as long as we all know the rules. You guys are definitely of that breed, just don't send me resumes for jobs I'm not hiring for. HAHA, just kidding, you never do that. :-)