Recruiter Turned IT Guy

1014431.largeToday was my last day as a corporate recruiter. I’ve been given the opportunity to join our IT Security team. Yes, I’ll be staying with my current employer so my email and phone number won’t be changing.

The  past week was filled with treat days, lunches with my peers, and getting my recruiting stuff in order so the interim person has an easier time managing the staffing needs of Shared Services as he also tries to find my replacement. Guess who has quite an incentive to fill my position? <let me know if you have a recruiting background and are interested in the position. 🙂 >

As I’ve mentioned to many people throughout my last 2 plus years, I never thought I’d be in a position in Human Resources. It wasn’t that I was opposed to it, I simply thought I’d be an IT guy doing server administration, penetration testing, coding, networking, whatever. I’m just glad that I was a member of THIS HR team. I’ve been employed in many companies, and worked with many different people, I never had a bad experience with any person in our entire HR organization.

One chapter ends, another begins.

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Web Analytics – What Do They Mean?

I worked for small firm here in the Madison area. Yeah imagine the reactions some clients had when I left a web account manager for a corporate IT recruiter position. I digress. I learned a lot about project management, selling e-marketing solutions, and understanding client needs. I also learned a bit more about web analytics.

I used to think I knew what web analytics was all about. I had it on a few websites of my own and took a look at them from time to time. Well I did not have a good understanding, and I still don’t. Not fully. Why? Because it’s a tricky space. Many rookies and professionals tend to think they know what the numbers mean, but they misinterpret them or think that more is better. That’s not always the case. I give you the following example…
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2012 Fusion CEO CIO Symposium Madison Wrap Up

CEO’s, CIO’s, VP’s, Directors, Managers of information technology converged upon the Fluno Center in Madison, Wisconsin, to talk to each other about technology trends, strategies, challenges and experiences. It’s the Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium. It kicked off on Wednesday and wrapped up Thursday, March 8th. I attended the full day session on Thursday and attempted to live tweet the event.

It has been a successful event in years past and while this was the first one that I attended, I’d have to say that I did not have a hard time understanding why it’s been successful and the feedback positive. It’s the contacts, the speakers and the information that is shared that brings the value. How many days in a year can other CIO’s talk about what’s going on in the industry and know what other peers are handling the common challenges?  Each speaker addressed a particular experience, trend or technology, and presented it with their own approach. While this may be elementary, CTO Sears Holdings-Phil Shelley’s demonstration of Hadoop‘s parallel processing of using ‘smart’ audience member (representing a RDBMS) and ‘dumb’ members (nodes on a Hadoop cluster) provided amusement while also providing a live analogy that many attendees will not forget. Mark McDonald, PhD, from Gartner Executive Programs and author was intense and passionate about Technology being greater than IT. If you can go to an event where Mark is speaking, go. You won’t be disappointed. Put Tom Koulopoulos, CEO, Delphi Group in the same room and you won’t have people nodding off at all. The energy of Tom and Mark could power an Enterprise for a year.
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Saying Good Bye to Shared Web Hosting

I first worked with websites and web hosting back in 2003, so it hasn’t been all that long in the grand scheme of things. I started out hosting an IIS server in my home to host forums for our roleplaying game group. I later bought my first domain and set up hosting through an online web hosting provider. I wanted the site to be more accessible to other people on the interwebs. Since my first site, sitting on a server in my basement, was ASP; I had to round up a web hosting company that offered IIS. It took me years to realize that shared hosting would be the bane of my webmaster existence.  Looking back now, I can’t even recall the first hosting company I used. They are no longer around.

I heard about LAMP stacks and the plethora of online forums, and CMSs, that were available to anyone and came with what I needed for my site. I’m not a programmer so working with Joomla, phpbb, xoops, and eventually drupal, seemed like a good format for the sites I wanted. Eventually I secured hosting at Dreamhost. I couldn’t even tell you how I found them. The performance was erratic. Downtime became a problem. I think they even had a fire in one of their datacenters. Though their approach was charming with their ability to make light of situations, I had to move.

Finding a good web hosting provider online can be daunting. Anyone can be a provider. Set up a linux box and some specs with a website and you soon realize that the picture of the big corporate building is just a facade for some guy’s company that is really being run out of a basement. I haven’t even mentioned the shills that can manipulate reviews and comments about services that aren’t all that great. So finding a reputable host can be a challenge. Continue reading Saying Good Bye to Shared Web Hosting

GrumblingDwarf Status

gdI am having major issues with my hosting company, Dreamhost. There are plenty of things that have been going on in the last few days. The plain and simple truth is that the site has been down for quite some time and I have been informed that there are issues that Dreamhost is dealing with. Though I appreciate their efforts, 3-4 days of down time is unacceptable. If there were an issue with the coding behind the site, or a vulnerability that has been exposed, then I take full responsibility. It has not been confirmed that this is the case.

We will be securing other hosting as soon as we can. We are sure we’ve lost visitors. We hope they come back.

We appreciate your patience in all this.

aka Master Dwarf


Chapter of an IT Staffing Guy Closes

The blog had been a bit uneventful. I hoped to talk about tech and IT staffing from the perspective of an active IT staffer. I have since resigned from that role and I feel that it is inappropriate to portray an expert in that field due to the circumstances. Yes, I have made certain accomplishments in that specific profession, but things will change with time and talking about a topic that really is not a part of me would be misleading.

The future is exciting and I hope to contribute my knowledge and experience in other ways.

What does ASAP mean to you?

Staffing firms can have a different concept of time than clients. We typically interview 10 to 20 IT candidates a week with all different types of skills and experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean we interview 10-20 .NET developers or 10-20 help desk analysts. Each person is different. Ten percent of those candidates are exceptional. Exceptional is having a great, marketable, skill set, good experience, and someone that can be of value to a company. They can actually save time or money for a client. These people do not hang around on the market forever. Many can be registered with multiple staffing firms to ensure they’re covering ground. These folks may not be as networked as some of the heavy hitters. A ‘heavy hitter’ could have offers in one day from multiple sources and usually doesn’t need a firm to help them find something. Many candidates have many irons in the fire. They are continuing their search even after they’ve registered with a firm, most encourage this. Why? Putting the burden on one firm can weigh heavy on a recruiter that doesn’t deliver. After all, firms are just an additional resource, not a be all end all. I have seen people get jobs because a client drags feet on making a decision. It happens, and it sets the whole process that lead up to the ‘yes, we’d like jane/john to start’ backwards.

We typically ask ‘how soon do you need someone in the role?’ This gives us a sense of urgency. You can’t imagine how many IT managers will say ASAP. ASAP has meant as soon as possible to me for as long as I can remember. It’s not until I ask if we have the right person can they start at 8am tomorrow morning do I find out what ASAP means.

Contract Work

You know, I haven’t been doing staffing since the dawn of time. Sorry. I do know IT professionals that have done contract work in the past, and they may know this better than I. This first part is more of my own speculation…

There may have been a time in the past where people sat at a table and tried to determine the scope, and lenght, of a project. Terms were discussed and agreed upon. We’re going to need someone for 6 months; if we don’t, well we’ll compensate accordingly.

It’s not like that any more.

Nowadays contract work is just the IT staffing word for temporary, or temp, work. It’s project based. Huh? A client has a need for someone with a specific skill set, but it’s only for a project.

Client: We have two websites that need to go live by mid October and we’re way behind. We need someone with 3+ years of experience working with php and mysql to help us out with the work load.

Firm: No problem, we have Sue available. She’s done work like this in the past, is between jobs, and is immediately available to start tomorrow. Based on her qualifications the hourly rate for her expertise is ‘x’ dollars an hour. She’ll be there at 8am tomorrow.

Client: Sounds good.

Yeah, right. Anyone can tell you that it rarely happens that way, but it’s supposed to.

The client has a need, and it’s temporary. They have a tentative timeline in mind. They also know the scope of the project and the skills they need to help them get the job done. They don’t have time to post a job description, wade through 10-30 resumes, have their HR department do phone screens, set up face to face interviews, 2nd face to face interviews, draw up an offer, and hire the person. Not in this situation. That’s why they want, or could use, a staffing firm.

The candidate could use one to find a job. You’re more employable when you’re working. Firms can also help provide opportunities quickly. It’s not always an overnight turn around, but when a request comes through, they want the best qualified to handle the position, and sometimes it’s the person that can answer the phone and be there tomorrow. Right? It gets you a legitimate job with an hourly wage, it allows you to add to your resume, and can even get you a job without having to send out 50 resumes, 10 phone screens, 5 face to face interviews, and 2 second face to face interviews. Seriously? People would say, “no, I am wanting to see if the position comes through. I interviewed 2 weeks ago, and there is one more if I’m chosen, and then they’d want me to start.” How long of time is that? Besides, staffing firms can get you in to places that may not know exist. You want to work for ABC Company? Well, the only way is through the firm they use. It happens. You also earn a competitive wage, and benefits. Yes, most firms actually provide benefits to include bonus incentives, holiday pay, 401K, health, dental, vision, and life insurance! Times have changed and firms have to stay competitive, and bennies is just one way to attract talent.

The firms role is to provide a service to the cient, and also the candidate. Just keep in mind, the firm typically already has things in place before the candidate is presented with the opportunity.  In the end it’s a service to the client. Afterall, you don’t provide a service to those that don’t pay you for it. Many candidates think they’re making the firm money. Obviously there’s a mutual understanding, but you’re not working for free, right? I’d love to have 50 people sitting around just so I could have them go out and tackle projects. I’d have to change my title since I wouldn’t have to recruit. I’d also be considered more of a solution provider than a staffing firm.

Do all firms place every single person that they meet? No they don’t. Like a direct hire position there are plenty of reasons why someone would not get a job through a firm. A job with your skill set may not be available, you may not be qualified, or there’s someone else available that is more qualified to do the job. Sometimes it has to do with a variety of factors that are usually outlined by the candidate. Pay, location/distance to client’s location, work environment, or ‘fit’, are just some that would come in to play when determining someone for a job.

Some of the aforementioned reasons for not getting a job make sense, but what’s this ‘fit’ thing? I have worked with people that are awesome programmers. Highly intelligent, and very, very, good at software development. They can implement solutions that are truly impressive. However, they may not be the best one to stand up in front of high level management on a weekly basis and provide process analysis reports on the project’s status. This is just one example. And it works both ways. I have candidates that don’t want to interact with customers, so a web developer that has to meet with client-customers in order to obtain address their web needs is not the ideal role for the consultant. Could they do it? Sure, but would the job be ideal? No. Grumpy people don’t make great help desk representatives.

Hopefully this gives you some insight on what contract work is. It’s temporary work for IT professionals. It’s a project that a client needs help with.