Monday, May 25, 2015

Developers Need Soft Skills Too!

HTML5... CSS3...JavaScript.... C#.... SQL.... Having a good knowledge and experience with these tools is great, but the thing that I have realized in my years of IT recruitment is that companies want more than those candidates with strong technical knowledge. Companies look for soft skills too!

Successful developers that will work at large corporations (and even smaller, boutique firms) and also have a lot of growth and advancement opportunities in their careers will need to be able to communicate well with others and work well within teams.

So many times I speak with IT talent (not just developers) who are very technical and have great skills yet have trouble describing what they actually do to the non-technical person. Think about senior managers, sales managers, and essentially end users or clients. Those with the soft skills and solid technical skills are what companies will seek out and often times present with great offers.

Here are my tips to those preparing to be or currently working in the IT industry.

1. Communication
Learn how to explain technical topics to people that are not technical. Describe what you are learning in school or a project you are working on to a friend or family members. These folks will tell you whether you are explaining things well or whether you need to work on this. Sometimes you just need to slow down the pace that you are talking to let some things sink in while other times you need simply the terms you are using, and yet other times you may need to use a relevant examples that most will people can relate to. It may even be a combination of the three, however this is an area that anyone should focus on with IT professionals are no exception to this.

2. Teamwork
Don't just be "that guy" (or girl) to sit behind your computer screen all day, without even speaking to your neighbor or any of the folks on your team. Have the ability to get along well with others and build relationships with your team. Take the initiative to chat with teammates. Maybe share an idea or a new tool or ask for help with some things. These are actually key to being a great team player! Know how to ask questions and also provide helpful tips to your team and offer to help others. For developers, please also document your code! This goes right along with good teamwork. This is helpful when others take on your projects and need to know why or how you did something. This shows you are thinking about your team. The team dynamic is a big thing that companies consider when hiring talent.

3. Presentation
This goes two ways! First, learn how to speak in front of a group. Most colleges will build presentations as a part of the curriculum so really take the opportunity to make the best of any opportunity to present information to a group. Developers that can present ideas to a team (whether the IT group or non IT) will go far! Most IT managers spend a lot of time presenting new ideas and also working with other teams. Tech skills + presentation skills equals an infinite amount of career opportunities. (Project Management..., Senior IT Manager.... Business Analyst... Architect...and much more.)

I hope this helps someone working in the IT field!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Paying Off Debt with Dave Ramsey

I have really been thinking about money lately. And more specifically about student debt and the ability to pay it off. I don't want to be the person that is 40 years old with the student debt created in their teens and early twenties still lingering around. The thought of having any debt is pretty depressing and I just want to get rid of it ASAP!

Well to accomplish this goal, I have been researching and have come across the Dave Ramsey method for financial management: He recommends using a specific plan to financial freedom. He first specifies getting all of your debts into current status (if you have any late payments then we just want to pay anything past due). Then setting up a $1,000 emergency fund and attacking debt using the debt snowball. 

The debt snowball plan is to line up all debts in order of size and begin making minimum payments on all but the smallest debt. Then you will put any extra income towards that small debt until it is paid off. Then you begin the same process with the next smallest debt. And it continues until you are debt free! 

The idea behind paying off the smallest debt first is that you begin seeing the traction and get even more passionate about getting rid of it.

I am working on this now and I am so excited to begin working getting rid of debt under this plan. 

Here's a video highlighting the plan: 

Wish me luck! 


WaterPik Flosser Review

The WaterPik Flosser... Definitely a good choice for anyone with braces.

I can't believe I waited so long to get one of these tools. Now this tool will not take the place of regular dental flossing (normally using a floss threader which helps navigate between the braces), but it can sure help. I definitely recommend the purchase. 

Below are a few quick tips for using a Waterpik flosser.

1. Start at zero. On the first time using your teeth will need to get used to pressure of the water, so I using the lowest setting possible is a good idea. Most instructions will advise this. I learned a lesson on my first try because I set on my Waterpik flosser on a slightly higher setting (just on 2 or 3, from an option of 0 to 10) and quickly changed the setting to 1!

2. Use lukewarm water. This is especially needed for those that have sensitive teeth like I do! 

3. Continue your regular flossing. The water pik flosser is not completely a substitute for regular flossing, but it definitely helps. 

I hope these are helpful tips!