Help! A Recruiter Spammed My Resume.

 

Not long ago, a candidate contacted me in a bit of a panic. A recruiter he had no formal contract with had sent out his resume to a wide variety of potential employers. So what was the problem with that? Plenty.

  1. The recruiter appeared to be sending the resume far and wide without the candidate’s permission, which is far from ethical.
  2. There didn’t seem to be any method or strategy behind the approach other than spamming, which doesn’t reflect well on the recruiter and certainly doesn’t help the candidate.
  3. All the firms that received the resume were now legally obligated to work with that particular recruiter if they wanted to hire the candidate. Even though the candidate didn’t want anything to do with the recruiter, by that point his opinion in the matter had unfortunately become irrelevant.

We wish it were the first time we’d heard of such a situation in the recruitment world. But it’s not.

Just by a recruiter and candidate having a private conversation about a company, the recruiter may feel they have free reign to present that candidate.

Other times, the recruiter may run through a list of 30-40 different companies, asking the candidate over the phone, “Have you ever talked to Company A, Company B, Company C?” It’s a 10-minute conversation that the candidate may not remember later on. Meanwhile, the recruiter pulls information from the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, presents it to companies they just talked about and presto! The candidate has just become an unknowing participant in resume spam and they can’t be presented to that company by any other recruiter in the immediate future. 

It’s time for a wake-up call on this practice so candidates can better protect themselves and take back control of their own career path. 

So how did we get here?

It used to be that employment agencies were regulated with guidelines for a variety of scenarios (“If A occurs, then B must happen.”). The process was fairly straightforward too: A candidate would visit with a recruiter, the recruiter would learn more information and if there appeared to be a logical fit, the recruiter would get a potential employer on the phone to set up an interview.

However, as new technologies moved in – and I mean when faxing was first used – new questions began to arise. One of those questions was, “Does sending a fax constitute a contract that essentially says if the company receiving the fax hires that person, the hiring company will owe a fee to that candidate’s recruiter?” 

The answer at the time was fairly cut-and-dried on this in that receiving a fax in itself did not constitute an obligation to pay the recruiter upon hire. And only solicited resumes were supposed to be faxed. 

End of story, right? Wrong.

Different recruiters began sending candidates to different company managers, creating a confusing conflict. Let’s say Recruiter A pitches the candidate to one company manager and Recruiter B pitches the candidate to another manager…and the candidate winds up being hired for a different role in that company entirely. Both recruiters claim credit for the hire.

That may seem like a messy situation and it can be. However, in an effort to avoid such a scenario, many companies are creating an even messier potential outcome of their own making. They’ve devised a solution that consists of using a timestamp of when the resume was received. This has brought about a situation in which the “winning” recruiter is the first one to get a resume to the person within a company who validates a timestamp.

 The kind of behavior that is promoted is that the recruiter first gets someone on the phone or exchanges an email, takes the person’s profile from LinkedIn and shoots it off to a client. Does that constitute a real presentation? It shouldn’t. But the way things are right now, when a candidate is presented for the first time, the recruiter has an exclusive claim on that candidate for a year. All other recruiters are blocked from representing the candidate to that firm.  

The remedy doesn’t have to be complicated.

A firm with an automatic tracking system can send an email to the candidate, asking for confirmation that the candidate has indeed authorized a particular recruiter to represent them for a specific job at their company. It’s just that simple. By making the candidate’s consent a requirement for acceptance of the presented resume by the hiring company, a lot of problems could be avoided.

Yet, this isn’t done nearly as often as it should be. Why? It could be that the hiring manager prefers to ignore the system in case of an internal employee referral or doesn’t want to deal with complications in the event that one of their vendors is engaging in inappropriate actions. 

Obviously, not all recruiters are created equal. 

It’s your future we’re talking about. The recruiter you choose today and the practices they bring with them is a reflection on you. Assume you have one chance to make a powerful impression with a company once you’re presented, so this isn’t a decision you should take lightly. 

Our advice? Don’t talk to the recruiter alone – talk to people who have used that recruiter. 

Ask questions about them such as: 

  •  Was the recruiter transparent and forthcoming at all times during the process? 
  • Did the recruiter ever present you to a company without your knowledge?
  • Did the recruiter seem to know the nuances of certain positions in advance and do their homework on the hiring company in advance to ascertain if there was a proper fit?
  • Beyond qualifications, did the recruiter strive to understand the personality of both the candidate and the hiring manager so that a good recommendation was made?
  • Did the recruiter seem to be on top of current technologies being used or trends?
  • Has that recruiter ever hired away someone that they have previously placed?

Plus, make sure you vehemently spell out to the recruiter that they have no right to send out any part of your information to a potential employer without first getting your explicit permission to do so and that failure to comply could result in legal action. Don’t take chances. Get them to be in agreement and don’t do anything with them until you feel you have that. 

We’re truly interested in helping you make a decision in a recruiter you can feel great about representing you at Roy Talman & Associates. That includes giving you a candid opinion on whether or not we’re a proper fit for your needs. And if you’d like the peace of mind in knowing how others view us, we’ll be happy to direct you to those candidates and hiring managers too. After all, they’ve entrusted us for over 25 years to represent them in the most positive and ethical light possible. No wonder so many of those relationships are here to stay.

 

Let’s talk more about it at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

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  • Why Coding Bootcamps and Online Learning Matter More Than EverAugust 16, 2017

    Why Coding Bootcamps
    and Online Learning Matter More Than Ever

    In recent years, computer coding “bootcamps” in which students can get up to speed quite quickly on a particular programming language have seemed to become a hot trend.

    Even so, I’m sure there are some who ask, “Are these bootcamps and online learning environments a viable option to consider alongside some of the more traditional avenues of education?”

    In my opinion, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.”

    Coding bootcamps deserve to be fully supported even as they may be in need of some adjustments in their mission and in terms of who they let into the program. If that can be achieved, we’ll see a higher percentage of successful graduates who go on to fully utilize what they’ve learned in the field, which should only lead to higher credibility in the eyes of hiring managers.

    How do we improve upon this foundation? Part of the issue comes down to the type of people coming into the program, their ability to handle such an intense course and, if they graduate, how they apply their newfound skills successfully.

     

    Coding Bootcamps Aren’t For Everyone.
    So Why Position Them That Way?

    Rather than having an open view of teaching anyone to code as many of them do, coding bootcamps need to identify more students who can withstand the rigorous agenda and are well-focused on programming or software engineering roles.

    Case in point: Consider the kind of individual who typically succeeds in such development camps. Is it someone who has always had a deep interest for the subject matter for many years prior? Are they already in the field and looking to upgrade an existing set of programming languages with a new one?

    Not always.

    You’re frequently talking about someone who has been accepted into a leading university but studied subjects that are not the most marketable (History or Philosophy, for example). So they enter the marketplace and realize, “Hmm. Perhaps I should consider doing something else that will pay me more than what I studied.”

    Now, some of these individuals who start with a blank slate will be surprisingly even better for learning new things than those who have spent years coding. Yet there is no question that the unique format of the bootcamp is not for everyone, which leads us to the other type of individuals who can often be found in such bootcamps – the ones who may ultimately find that they hate the bootcamp after a short period of time and drop out.

    Let’s face it. It takes a special kind of person to thrive in a very intense accelerated learning environment. The majority of people just can’t handle it.

    On the positive side, those who stick with a bootcamp program and see it through will have the ability to study certain technology-oriented subjects in just 10 weeks (or 16 weeks, 24 weeks, etc.) and be marvelously productive in the next chapter of their careers.

    That’s why coding bootcamps still matter so much. Traditional learning environments are still exceptional and accept highly talented students into their programs, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that, for certain specialized subjects, bootcamps are accelerating learning for a whole new group of individuals at unprecedented levels.

    Yes, bootcamps need many more of the types of individuals with the mental fortitude to push through the program to reach completion. But those who do may find the bootcamp propels their career forward in amazing ways due to how quickly they’ve learned an important new programming language.

     

    In addition to the speed factor, there’s also the matter of the outstanding value in that coding bootcamps may present the most cost-effective educational system there is. Think about it – if one program costs $10,000 over a 10-week period and you successfully complete the program, you have excellent chance at obtaining a job that may pay you more than a four-year college degree – which, by the way, is going to cost you a lot more than $10,000.

    In addition to bootcamps, there is another non-traditional route for learning that is due to go through its own transformation: Online learning.

     

    The Next Level Of Online Learning

    As we’ve watched the expansion in number of coding bootcamps, at the same time, there is also a rise in the number of online classes available through avenues like Coursera and Udemy, which are designed to have millions of students. Assuming you’re a disciplined individual, you can take all of your classes online, including your tests and pay the necessary fees for said classes and tests.

    It’s a fine way to learn, but here too, there’s room for improvement in the model. Fortunately, I believe before long we’re going to see an entrepreneur or two look at the model of online learning and say, "You know what? We should have in-person classes that will be based on online material. We don't need to provide any of the material, but we will help the student beyond what they can do on their own.”

    In essence, what you will have is a traditional school that’s built around an online university that still charges only $10,000 or so a year.

    The more that hiring managers are willing to accept individuals who have completed an online education (just like their willingness to accept people who completed coding bootcamps), the more the value of online education will become clearer. Once the hiring manager sees that it’s not going to cost them $40,000 – $50,000 a year to hold somebody's hand in order for them to get up to speed when the material is already online for that person to learn from, online learning should be seen as an incredibly viable option.

    As a result, the potential is great that both online classes and coding bootcamps can become much larger than the current states they are in – rather than say, a 10-week experience or a class, we can see both continuing to grow into highly credible brands, even more so than they’ve been before.

    Some online courses feature topics that are so advanced that they’re almost impossible to have in a more traditional classroom setting, such as Machine Learning courses. Take this example of a Machine Learning course from Stanford:

    https://www.class-central.com/mooc/835/coursera-machine-learning

    Available through Coursera, this course shows students how to teach a computer to learn concepts using data but without explicitly programming the machine. So beyond learning about the best machine learning techniques, there is actual implementation of these techniques. Students are able to apply learning algorithms to build smart robots, text understanding, computer vision, medical informatics, database mining and more.

    All in all, when you can more easily transform more people into producers who create a lot of value for their organizations, a host of benefits can ensue.

    Coding bootcamps and online learning environments haven’t outlived their usefulness by any means – just the opposite. Over time, we’re likely to see an evolution of both that demand our support to improve upon these worthy outlets more than ever.

     

    What About Traditional Learning Environments?

    Do They Still Matter?

    Absolutely. Make no mistake: Just because bootcamps and online learning may grow in popularity doesn’t mean that we can or should ignore how well our traditional educational institutions tend to supply us with top name talent. Hiring managers continue to have high respect for these traditional learning environments and smart recruiters should do the same.

    Therefore, it’s vital that we consider all three of these avenues – traditional classrooms, online learning and coding bootcamps – as important ways to equip candidates for long-term success. The stronger all three of them are, the more options there are for candidates and hiring managers to find an ideal fit – and for deeply experienced recruiters like Roy Talman & Associates to bring those parties together.

    If you’re considering a coding bootcamp or online learning environment to upgrade your skill set but you’d like the peace of mind that you’re making a wise investment based on current industry and technological trends, talk to us at Roy Talman & Associates. With the perspective of over 30 years of experience, we can have a larger conversation with you about where you’d like to steer your career path from here and the type of adjustments that need to be made now to ensure alignment with the industry you want to thrive in for years to come. 

  • Will Tests And “Brain-Teasers” Reveal Your Next Golden Hire?July 20, 2017
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  • Slow Down!: Why More Patient Job Candidates Beat The SpeedstersJuly 3, 2017

    Not long ago, we were working with a candidate who had a PhD in machine learning from a very reputable west coast institution. Impressive, right? He could write his own ticket anywhere!

    Or so you’d think.

    His resume, as it turned out, wasn’t really communicating what he did because, for a while, he’d been in a traditional business environment, not a high tech one. That meant his resume had been written from the point of view of the kind of business problems he worked on.

    Translation? Despite his impressive degree, he was getting nowhere in the technical community, largely because of what his story “on paper” told about him. Fortunately, after taking some time to figure it out, we worked closely with him to put together a far more technical description of what he knew and what he had done. This made all the difference.

    By taking a step back, we were able to re-position a highly qualified candidate for the ideal fit, especially when it wasn’t obvious to some companies that his background would mesh with their culture.

     

    As much as we live in an ever-accelerating world with technology at our fingertips, there’s a lot of merit in candidates and companies slowing down in order to better prepare and fully understand one another. It’s not just about shooting out resumes and posting job descriptions to fill a role with a body. This is never more true than in financial or technical recruiting, where the process of recruitment and hiring can be more of a long-term investment.

    The more we understand the true requirements of our clients, the more we appreciate what the candidate can deliver. We can't ask candidates to learn a new skill and reach a new level of five years of experience at the very same time we're talking to them. That's not going to happen.

     

    However, we frequently have situations where candidates will spend three months or more updating their skills for the purposes of being a great fit for an opportunity – whether it is a specific opportunity we have in mind for them or one that hasn’t presented itself yet but can elevate their career.

    That’s not all. In addition to updating their technical skill set, they’re updating their interview skills too. Many of these candidates have been at their current job for five to 10 years but they're not prepared to jump right into a hyper-competitive world to interview without preparation. In fact, for those who are serious about interviewing, it’s not unusual for them to spend as much as six months preparing – they can afford to because they’ve still got a full-time job, after all.

    It may not be easy to find time to prepare but if they don’t, all that’s going to happen is that they go on an interview and blow an opportunity. And if that should happen, they often won’t even be notified that there’s not a fit. They’ll just never hear back.

    Quite often, failure to prepare a candidate for an interview is a lot like putting someone in front of a game board to play but they don’t yet know if that game board is chess or checkers. They might be really good at checkers and there might be a company in a hiring mode that really wants somebody to play checkers, but if neither one of them expresses that well in advance, what you have are two parties staring at each other without knowing a lot of information.

    On the other hand, if that person knows the board they’ll be presented with going in will be a chess board and they’re already good at chess, they can feel quite comfortable playing. They can think of what moves they’ll make and what approach they’ll have based on different scenarios. The outcome is far more likely to be a positive one.

    What we find at Talman is that the companies that succeed in hiring quality talent quite often will not compromise. For instance, several clients in the software space could be looking for a person to fill a certain position for a year. Why? It’s worth their time to keep interviewing and looking at people to see if they could fill that particular job. If you hire the wrong person, it might take you six months to a year to discover that – a painful realization after investing a great deal of time and money into that individual.

    Particularly in technology, as Laszlo Bock pointed out in the book, Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead,” the lifetime value of one hire could be tremendous. It’s not just about the role they’re hired for today but the four or five different roles they could have within the company for years to come. Google has hired people who would end up creating entirely new divisions for them, moving very large pieces of their business forward and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in the process.

     

    The “Long Game” Can Pay Off – If You Manage It Well

     

    If you’re engaging in any kind of highly selective process for evaluating talent that could take six months to a year, you want to tightly manage that process. It’s very challenging for a firm to handle the entire process on their own, which is why many in the financial trading or technical space partner with us at Roy Talman & Associates.

    For example, if a client is utilizing tests for candidates to take as part of the interviewing process, they fully expect any candidate we present to them to pass those tests. Why? It speaks to how in-depth our process can be as we establish a relationship with candidates. Quite often, when we talk to candidates, particularly with the ones who have been looking for a job recently, we like to meet with them and talk about how they prepare. After all, any time you're preparing, you're probably going to do better than when you're not.

    Ironically, when candidates slow down and take the time to upgrade their skill set, they can find the better type of match they’re seeking with our guidance. The same holds true for companies that see a bigger picture involved with each hire – by taking their time in a recruitment process that is managed in great detail rather than rushed, they find the greater likelihood of hiring a person who will have a long-term impact, which maximizes the return on investment of the entire process.

    The old adage is true. Good things do come to those who wait – as long as they also commit to doing what it takes during that time to put themselves in a position to succeed. For both companies and candidates, we’re here to help them ultimately arrive at that positive outcome.

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  • Which League Are You Playing In?June 6, 2016

    In certain areas of life, it’s not that difficult to know the league you belong to. In professional baseball, if you’re paid $100 million over several years as a major league pitcher, you’re in a special league. In the arts, if you get paid $20 million for a painting, you know which league you’re in.

    However, in real life, understanding the league your company plays in isn’t anywhere as clear.

    More often than not, it’s a multi-dimensional space that different organizations are floating in. Everybody understands that companies like Google and Apple are, in many respects, in a league of their own. Outside of that, the reality is that there are millions of different companies out there. This poses a big challenge to rank a given organization.

    To complicate matters, there’s not a single rating system. Let’s say you’re passionate about the environment and companies involved in environmental issues. In an ideal world, you would find a set of rankings based on your criteria that I’d assume wouldn’t be well populated at the top with petroleum companies. On the other hand, if you’re passionate about futuristic automotive technology, going to work for Tesla might be everything you dreamed.

    There are multiple parameters, of course. The challenge is to match the person’s capabilities, knowledge, interest and caliber of skills with the same on the company side. In practical terms, it’s very hard to communicate to a candidate that you’re working at a company at a certain level but the company they’re interviewing for is several steps higher – it’s like going from “level five” to “level eight.” Even if you were a star at that “level five” company, it’s unlikely that the “level eight” company is going to let you do whatever you want and be on high profile projects.

    We witness this playing out all the time in professional sports, don’t we? The high draft pick who won the Heisman trophy may be able to start at Quarterback for his NFL team right away but we often see that this highly regarded prospect has to sit and watch another player at his position for a couple of years while he learns the system and playbook.

    Without guiding posts and having some context about where your company is in the competitive landscape, it’s challenging. You can’t go to a company’s website to get an honest assessment of how they compare to others, of course. They’re not going to rank their strengths and weaknesses. They never talk about their negatives.

    What about Glassdoor? Doesn’t a website like that provide a window inside the company culture and what they do best?

     

    You would like to think so. Unfortunately, from my observation, Glassdoor does an excellent job of collecting gripes – and it’s hard to assess a company based on gripes. Those with gripes also tend to complain in greater detail vs. someone who has something positive to say. This also doesn’t convey where the company ranks compared to others by industry, geography, etc. In general, we just hear about whether or not the management is screwed up and if the pay is good or not.

    Finding the right job for a person is difficult but it can be done by uncovered detailed, non-public knowledge. This gives us an edge as recruiters at Roy Talman & Associates because we hear from the very people who work in these companies. They speak to us candidly. It’s rare that they would go on a site like Glassdoor and report on the company in a very public forum. When you talk to many interesting people over the course of 30 years like we have and those people have compelling stories to tell, we can form a clear picture for the candidate’s benefit about a company’s interview process, its culture, its hierarchy and ultimately, if the candidate’s goals translate into any kind of enjoyable and satisfying career path.

    As a result, we can help you ascertain the league you’re playing in now and how much of a leap is required to play in another league you want to reach. There may not be a universal rating system out there of companies, but perhaps one that is more customized based on your preferences and our business intelligence is already a far better option.

  • Humans Can Still Teach Machines A Thing Or TwoMay 4, 2016

    I do believe we’re about to see many more success stories in predictive analytics and big data going forward. We can point to instances like the recent success of AlphaGo, a program developed by Google, which was the first of its kind to beat one of the best human players in the world in the board game Go.

    Products like these are beacons to show us what’s possible. We know that companies like Google, Facebook, IBM and more are pouring a lot of money into deploying these technologies on a day-to-day basis. As time goes on, the applicability of them is raising very rapidly.

    To give you a sense of the pace of adoption I’m talking about, learning-type tools used to be utilized by 1 or 2 teams inside Google in 2013. Now you have over 2000 teams using these kinds of tools.

    There is a tremendous push in open sourcing this technology and the question that inevitably comes up is: Why are companies investing in these technologies so much yet still giving away a lot of it in open source?

    What I find in academia is that if a person takes a class on IBM’s Watson, they’re more likely to use Watson and then go to work at IBM using Watson. Therefore, the mindshare war going on between various tools from Facebook and Google is the new Ground Zero in determining the winners and losers in the next tidal wave of deep learning as it permeates the rest of our economy.

    Is there an implication for talent when you have a coming wave like this of predictive enterprise?

    Yes. We’ll need very good teachers. Here’s what I mean.

    Current programming as we know it, in which we teach a computer how to do something step-by-step, is going to be around for quite a while more. But there’s a new wave of programming that is going to emerge whereby it’s more of a functional programming where you will tell the computer what you want done and the computer will know how to do it. Better yet, instead of telling it what to do, you’ll teach it what to do.

    The giant promise of deep learning is that these are learning systems to be taught rather than programmed. This will likely call for a different kind of skill set than what we’re used to. It may be that the most phenomenal teachers will be useful in a new kind of environment – one in which the very term of “teacher” is redefined in ways we never imagined: Not merely human-to-human but human-to-machine as well.

    Now, I understand there’s a fear that once we teach a machine how to do something, it won’t need us humans anymore. But I don’t subscribe to that theory. I believe that, at least for the foreseeable future, machines will still need our involvement and can’t operate completely independent of us.

    Rather, the newest computing tools coming up will be seen as another extension and enhancement of our capabilities.

     

    Case in point: I mentioned AlphaGo at the beginning of this post and how it beat a human at the most expert level for the first time in a particular game. That occurred in October of last year. Well, since that master player lost, he has been playing against AlphaGo and found his game has dramatically improved due to his interaction with a machine that has exposed him to new ideas and strategies.

    That’s the human side but computers can benefit from interaction a great deal too. Even when it’s machine vs. machine.

    The critical factor to success for a machine like AlphaGo was not just in doing millions upon millions of moves on its own so it could learn the best path to take – in actuality, AlphaGo found true progress came from playing another system while a 3rd system “watched and learned.”

    In other words, to reach a higher level of performance, a single machine still needs to interface and collaborate with the likes of humans (or at least with other machines).

    So let’s not write off our importance to machines just yet. If they truly want to get smarter, they may need us as much as we need them.

     

    What’s your view of it all? Do you foresee having exceptional human teachers in your industry to help machines learn better? If so, how far off do you think this kind of future is for many of us? I’m curious on your thoughts.

  • What Could Tom Brady Have To Do With The Future Of Big Data?April 25, 2016

    Lately, I continue to see a variety of articles with a “Big Data Is Doomed!” theme to them. My view is that, frankly, people making those statements are probably doomed themselves. I suspect that most data that is actually useful is not the data that is already there. Making sense out of historical data that’s been collected over time might not be the primary use of the predictive analytics.

    Let’s focus on the term “predictive analytics” for a moment.

    Obviously we’re talking about a concept in which we’re making a prediction on the future, right? Well, the problem that people quite often find is that they don’t have the right data based on which to predict the future.

    When you go by only the data you know, you miss out on a Tom Brady.

    If I were to predict the suitability of an NFL Quarterback based on their stats in college, it’s not easy because there is a transition. A variety of elements change between college football and the pro level. The data you’ve compiled through the college years, often times, is not applicable to the NFL experience and ultimately, the only way to find out if that college player is going to be a true success is to see how they play at the next level.

    So we put the player in the game, find out if they can function in that environment and then we can find out who progresses or not.

    It’s possible we may be able to discover the answer to this question sooner than later – for example, a person who couldn’t be a starter on a college team is probably not going to be a big success at the pro level.

     Yet, even then, there are exceptions.

    We know Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was a backup Quarterback for two years at Michigan and wasn’t drafted until the sixth round of the NFL Draft – hardly a clear indication that he would go on to be one of the greatest players at his position of all time. If teams evaluated players only on the basis of the data they knew, they would’ve passed on the opportunity to draft a franchise-altering player.

    So we can’t always go on the data that we see right in front of us.

    In this and in so many other situations, in order to have data that is effective at predicting things, you need to identify which data is actually going to be effective for this purpose. Truth be told, much of the data we have is data we collected because we needed it to get things done. But then we’ve tried to figure out if we could use that for predicting things – and in many cases, we can’t.

    Moving From Hunting And Gathering To Predicting 

    For years, we have been spending a lot of time hunting and collecting data but even when we find it, we don’t seem to know when we plug it in if it’s going to work for our needs. By the time it’s all said and done, the only way we know something is going to work for certain is if it’s worked before. You need something to happen a lot in order to have the utmost confidence that it’s going to work in the future under the proper circumstances.

    Think about how this plays out in your world whenever you’re asked, “Do you think this situation is going to work out?” Sure, you can guess an outcome, but if you’ve never seen it work before, it’s hard to say that it will now. It’s very common for people to ignore the past, instead trusting their mental construct to overrule everything history is saying about how something is going to work. Even when we look to past data that appears to tell a clear story for us, people will make excuses as to why it hasn’t worked in that given situation. All the while, they still really don’t know what it takes to make it work now.

    Overcoming the “Survival Bias” In Our Understanding

    Overall, we tend to have a “survival bias” in looking at situations only in which the data worked rather than the times it didn’t.

    For example, the story of Silicon Valley’s startups is told through the lens of success most of the time – we always hear about the startup that gets propelled to greatness in part due to venture capitalist support. You would think every other tech startup is getting this kind of funding based on what you read.

    The reality is far from this, of course. There are thousands and thousands of companies in Silicon Valley that never come close to receiving this coveted funding. But let’s face it – writing all about the companies that don’t make it just isn’t as interesting or inspirational as the companies that do. When companies are alive and visible, their leaders are easy to access to tell their success story.

    Success by a tech startup is easier to see. It’s easier to write about. But it doesn’t mean the odds of success aren’t up there with winning the lottery. 

    However, when we approach big data or predictive analytics, committing the kind of substantial resources only to what we can see is a very dangerous situation to avoid.

    Let’s return to the draft scenario of our iconic Quarterback, Tom Brady. There may very well come a time when predictive analytics help management move beyond surface-level statistics of completions per pass or touchdown-to-interception ratios. As machine learning helps us integrate more of what we don’t know (but can predict) into our process of evaluating talent, it may be able to project the ability at the professional level of the next Tom Brady. We will be able to drill down further into the data and layer it on top of real professional level variables (for example, knowing the NFL plays at a much faster pace than college, projecting how many pass completions of a certain yardage will be made in 3 seconds or less over a season). Imagine what teams will do armed with such clarity. Suddenly, you will have a talent that is drafted not in the 6th round but an unquestionable #1 draft pick that teams try to trade everything but the kitchen sink for. We’ll probably also hear less of the phrase, “If we knew now what we knew then, we would’ve drafted differently.”

    This applies every bit to many other industries where we’re trying to find and predict the performance of our future “superstars.”

    In the interim, this much is certain: We’re only going to hear about predictive analytics more and see such computing utilized more in our daily lives. So it’s crucial to evolve our mindset to understand that the possibilities from data we can’t yet see are as important to consider as the most obvious data in front of us.

    Embracing these unknowns could mean the difference between being ordinary and becoming legendary.

    How well do you make decisions when you’re constantly dealing with future unknowns? Building off the subject of predictive analytics, we’re all dealing with data that we can and can’t see, whether you’re trying to predict if a candidate will work out in your environment or if a potential employer is going to be the next great spot for your career. So what’s an example of a time when you made a fantastic decision when all the data you’d collected still couldn’t point you in an obvious and clear direction?

  • Your Entire Company Is The Ideas DepartmentApril 7, 2016

    Is there a connection between a company’s diversity of ideas and its subsequent output of innovation? Absolutely. Yet, in some companies, there’s a kind of thinking that only this or that department or person with a certain title could possibly have ownership over an idea that moves the company forward. These same companies are more likely to fall behind those organizations that believe a powerful idea that radically shifts momentum can come from anywhere. And of course, these progressive companies have systems to identify and liberate ideas from being trapped in departmental silos.

    Inevitably whenever we talk about innovative companies, a name like Apple is sure to arise. So why not start with that company as an example?

    Apple was a pioneer in creating gigantic teams in which mechanical engineers would cooperate with optical engineers, who would in turn cooperate with software engineers, who would cooperate with artists and industrial designers. When you have such cooperation across that many different backgrounds, what you can have is the great potential for a diversity of intellectual views.

    As our overall world of knowledge continually grows much faster, many more branches of knowledge will be invented and/or developed. Have a diversity of various knowledge bases will create much more successful, innovative products and services.

    Break From Traditional Sources Internally

    Until recently, the idea of having substantial input from an industrial engineer like Jonny Ive was unthinkable – especially to many hardware and software engineers. But Apple demonstrated that bringing in that kind of knowledge and point of view into the process resulted in world changing products.

    If anything, the input of Steve Jobs, really a designer, could be seen as pivotal compared to Bill Gates, a far more traditional engineer. In a world of Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Sony and so on, the diversity of thoughts among these companies are supported by diversity of backgrounds and a culture that creates a richer environment for creativity.

    In the statistics I see for high tech companies, it appears to suggest a very difficult point of entry. But when there actually is an entry, generally speaking, it tends to be more merit based.

    Truth be told, lately it seems like the general public believes most advanced companies care most about hiring robots rather than any humans at all, but that’s not the case. Companies continue to value people who can approach and solve problems from a whole range of unique perspectives, not just write a certain piece of code faster.

    At Roy Talman & Associates, we know that finding a match based on culture and merit-based problem solving exercises during the interview process can be very helpful – to both candidates and hiring managers. Knowing what we know from decades-long relationships with tech companies, we can look deeply at any environment and ask: What kind of mentoring from senior leaders is available? Is it an inclusive culture? What opportunities for advancement are there for people who keep up with the latest programming languages? Are there ways for employees to get involved across departments on various projects?

    Increasing the diversity of intellectual views is just smart business for hiring and retention. A culture is hard pressed to have one breakthrough after another if it’s hiring nothing but people from the same background who think the exact same way.

     

    How does your company break down the walls between departments and titles to encourage diverse thinking? How are you collaborating beyond your office and with others in another part of the world? We’d love to hear how you’re making this work.

     

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Predicting Your Next Career Stop Without A Crystal BallMarch 16, 2016

    For many reasons, it can be hard for a candidate to predict what they’re getting into just prior to being hired. Sure, they’ve probably read a fair amount about a company online or in the press, but what do they really know about that company’s culture?                                                                                     

    As culture is so important to a match between candidate and company, we’re always seeking to get a true sense of the amount of conflict that tends to occur in that company’s culture. When I say conflict, it’s not automatically a bad thing in itself. But once we have a better understanding of that conflict level, we have to ask the candidate, “Knowing what we now know, how much conflict do you think you can stomach?”

    The answer varies from person to person. There are some candidates who actually thrive on conflict. Others never do well in conflict at all and some people are in the middle depending on what the conflict is. To complicate matters, some people will find one environment full of conflict while others will find that environment isn’t heavy on it. So some of it depends on the person experiencing the conflict and a lot depends on timing. Organizations going through a period of extreme stress in their business are likely to go through a great deal of internal struggle and conversely, when things are easier for them, the amount of conflict can be dramatically lower.

    Adding to all this complexity is the fact that in large organizations, different offices can have different cultures and divisions – and that’s just within one country. These waters are incredibly difficult to navigate.

    You can practice, practice, practice.
    But at some point, you have to get in the game.

    One of my favorite books is “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” by Ben Horowitz (of Andreessen Horowitz, the multi-billion dollar venture capital firm). In Horowitz’s book, he describes his personal experiences when under extreme stress and how he handled it. As you might expect, the only way to learn how to handle those situations is to be right in the middle of it because it’s practically never replicated in identical form. We want to believe we can simulate everything and prepare for every variable of the real thing. In actuality, it’s very hard to teach exactly what to do in those situations and very hard to learn.

    For example, let’s say you’re a football player about to play in the Super Bowl. It’s the biggest game of your life. You’ve prepared for this moment as much as you possibly can because, after all, you may never reach this stage again in your career.

    Does that mean you’ll perform flawlessly, win the Super Bowl and be named MVP of the game? Not even close.

    You can’t know how well you’ll do until you’re in the game. There are so many random things that can happen. There will be countless plays you’ll be involved in and a hundred different variables could occur. Plus, you’re performing in front of billions of people watching you around the globe, so there’s that added pressure. 

    In short, the unpredictability of circumstances is off the charts.

    Our everyday life may not be witnessed by billions of people, but by the same token, there are a lot of unique situations that could play out in the workplace, including potential conflicts. Anticipating these circumstances and training for them clearly helps. But it’s crucial to remember that there is no one strategy that you can learn in advance that will solve the problem for you in every circumstance.

    The interview experience is part of your real world exploring.

    Occasionally, a candidate may only go on 2 interviews, get an offer and at that point in the process, they’re done. Most of the time, however, we see situations where a candidate goes on a large number of interviews and in the process, learns a great deal about themselves, the marketplace and kind of environment they genuinely want to fit in.

    For that latter candidate, it becomes a tremendous learning experience in which the candidate’s perceptions change as they go on more interviews. Granted, in practical terms, it’s a luxury to do a lot of exploration. It takes a lot of time to appreciate a culture, learn about how you’ll respond in that culture and more because, well, for a variety of reasons, the time you have is limited. 

    The same is true for one’s career. If you are lucky enough to know exactly what you want to do and that’s relatively easy to describe, that’s terrific. Frankly, however, many people don’t know exactly what they want to do (or they’re learning more about it) and in the midst of this uncertainty, their industry is ever-changing.

    Admittedly, it’s harder to change as you get older because people at this stage of their careers have so much invested in what they’ve learned over the years. This makes it much more difficult to get out there in the world and go “exploring,” in essence leaving the comfort of what you already know behind.

    Yet, even if you’ve been heavily invested in particular career path, the nature of your exploration can still occur, even if it’s on a more limited basis. You may not want to change up your skill set but have you considered another industry where those skills are portable?

    You may even stay in the same industry, because while it looks the same from the outside, things may be about to shift significantly from the inside.

    For example, I’m finding that more medical advances are reaching everyday people, but because these innovations are not happening in very large numbers yet, it’s not something that’s frequently talked about. Meanwhile, there are advances in immunotherapy, stem cells and genomic sequencing. We’ve only scratched the surface of technologies associated with these advancements. But as time goes on, they’ll become an increasingly important part of our lives. As that happens, people working with technologies in that very same field may look upon it with a whole new perspective. In the case of healthcare, there will be exciting, new opportunities and some candidates won’t have to leave the field to find them. 

    Obviously you can’t throw yourself into just any environment to find out if it’s really a fit. So start with a more open mindset for how exploring your options is a journey of exploration for discovering what you really want, not just the next stop in your career. When that mindset is accompanied by the insights we’ve learned at Roy Talman about that company’s management, culture, levels of conflict and more, you’ll be as informed as you can possibly be on the environment before you jump in.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Where Passion, Persistence And Pushing Yourself Gets YouMarch 1, 2016

    If you spent 20 years doing something that you hated every day, would you continue doing it? Probably not. Yet, there are some people with great technical and personal skills who enter jobs that appear to be a fit…but aren’t. Talk to some of these folks after 20 years of writing someone else’s code. It’s clear that something is missing - in fact, it’s been missing for a very long time. They’re just not very happy.

    The convenient path isn’t always the ultimately satisfying one.

    Other times the path for a candidate is much more challenging. However, that’s where some of the best candidates we’ve ever seen as recruiters really shine. They thrive on every test thrown at them. They absorb every nugget of advice. Their passion for demanding more from themselves is off the charts. More often than not, we find it’s these candidates who are the ones who love what they do to a far greater extent than those who might be paid much more.

    Let me give you a terrific example of how this passion paid off in a candidate we’ll call Martin.

    Martin was persistent, incredibly bright and within 6 months of finishing his PhD. He was referred to us from someone we know and like. There was just one problem – he also required a special kind of work visa that he didn’t have.

    End of story? Not quite. To test Martin’s skills further, I decided to give him “homework” in the form of several concepts related to math, financial trading, software development and quasi-mathematical puzzles.

    Frankly, when we give candidates a high level of exercises and homework, a fair number of them never respond back. In this case, Martin was looking at a solid 3 months of homework! We half expected the same outcome – except 3 months later, Martin not only returned with the homework completed but he then asked, “Is there anything I can do to make myself more marketable?”

    We advised Martin to get a job on his college campus and once he finally got the work visa, we would gladly work with him to help him find the best career opportunity. Some time passed. Martin received his work visa and obtained a job in a financial organization in New York. He got happily married and shortly thereafter, he acquired his green card as the husband of a U.S. citizen.

    It was at this point that Martin called us up to declare, “I’m ready to be shopped around for what I really want with your help.”

    It wasn’t quite that easy. We gave him even more homework and we grilled him even harder to get him ready for his interviews. But as a result, Martin got a job in Chicago with one of the very best companies in the financial trading field.

    Again, this is the point where many can settle. A great company and great match for skills…what more could one want, right?

    Well, plans change once you actually experience an environment, no matter how terrific it seems at first. In Martin’s case, he came to the realization after a period of time that he didn’t want to be in that company anymore. His peers tried to talk him out of it. But as great as that company was, Martin had his eye set on growing in his career by doing something different.

    So as he reached back out to us after he left the company, we aggressively presented Martin to a variety of companies. He interviewed with 20 or so firms in New York, Chicago, Texas and California.

    Some candidates just follow the process and see where it takes them. Martin didn’t. He took greater control and stopped interviewing with some of them when it became clear they weren’t the best fit. He kept this focus until he had offers from 3 very reputable, top-tier firms.

    It’s at this point that many candidates will often push us for our opinion on which firm to go with, but we never make such a recommendation at Talman. Why? We will provide you with as much as input as possible for making an intelligent decision – but it’s still a decision that ultimately you must make.

    After narrowing his three offers to two, we helped Martin negotiate his offers. He made the decision to accept a position at a hedge fund investment firm on the east coast. He is extremely happy in the role and with the life he’s building for his family in Connecticut.

    So let’s review how a candidate who started out with no visa was able to call his own shots in life and land a job he couldn’t love more. What were the main ingredients?

    ·         He didn’t settle.

    Martin could’ve walked right into a lot of jobs that fit his skills. That wasn’t enough for him by a longshot. 

    ·         He had passion for learning new things and wanted to be pushed.

    When we gave Martin homework, he didn’t get discouraged. He saw it for the opportunity that industry experts were giving him.

    ·         He cared about pay but pay wasn’t the main driver. Excitement was.

    If Martin couldn’t be excited by a job, he didn’t want to waste time and effort being in it. He was going for excitement first and foremost. The money would come – and it did.

    ·         He knew how to be patient and listen to the advice of others.

    There were moments where Martin probably could’ve made a quick decision on his next career move but that might’ve been a mistake. To ensure something wasn’t done in haste that he’d regret, we told him, “Let’s wait a month or two and see how you feel.” He listened and did so. We talked after that time and began charting his next move the right way.

    ·         He controlled the process and didn’t let the process control him.

    Not everyone just stops interviewing with companies, even when they know deep down it isn’t a fit. Especially if they don’t already have offers from other companies yet. Martin did, which speaks to his self-confidence.

    ·         He didn’t want a recruiter to just place him. He wanted a relationship.

    Martin needed a recruiter who could understand his goals and see him for the entire picture, not just his skill set or that he didn’t have a visa at the time. He saw us as a partner for his long-term career outlook rather than an outlet for his next job. Even now, when he has questions, he calls us. When we want to check up on him, we do. The relationship never ends with a placement. It’s actually just the beginning.

      

    Think about these elements of passion, persistence and pushing yourself to find the role you believe you were meant for. Don’t let a self-limiting belief that you lack this or that skill hold you back from going for it. We’re here to help.


    Boris Kaganov is a Director with Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Will A Machine Or Human Help You Find Your Best Job?February 8, 2016

    As someone who is always fascinated by the possibilities of machine learning, I ask myself how computer intelligence will seep into the recruitment world and in what form.

    In today’s current climate, there’s no doubt in my mind that a human recruiter can deliver a lot of insight on the company culture for a candidate’s benefit. A machine can’t fully comprehend certain elements that make for an outstanding fit like culture. Yet.

    Still, will there ever come a time when computers can deliver an optimal match of candidates and cultures? Yes, I believe so. But we’re still a long way away from that. To truly have a superb cultural match via computing, those computers need so much more input. As much as we think that machines know everything about us (think how much certain people distrust Facebook), there’s a lot more data for computers to obtain.

    Even if Facebook were to know 1000 things about you, the human brain has 100 billion neurons and more than 700 trillion synaptic connections – in other words, that’s one incredibly complex structure with innumerable patterns per person that computers haven’t entirely figured out.

    What we do know is that machine learning is growing, not subsiding. Machines like IBM’s Watson are not exactly a passing fad. As machine learning grows and the quality (and quantity) of data about ourselves grows with it, we will have systems that are much better at matches on many levels.

    What gives me reason to believe this? Look at where other industries are going, like the medical industry, for example. Sure, a doctor may want to know certain thing in relation to your blood pressure, your pulse, your cholesterol and more. But how many data points are we really talking about? Even the most robust exams are sharing 50 points of data or less. What about if we had 3000 data points of information on ourselves? What about 10,000 data points – all collected in real time? Machine learning may be able to collect that kind of data in time. And if we can get that level of detail medically, why can’t a machine perform a similar multi-factor snapshot of various organizations and arrive at a better match of potential employee and company? That’s not far-fetched at all.

    In fact, one startup affiliated with MIT is giving us a tiny glimpse of this future. Recently, the startup had a few subjects play a video game for 20 minutes – as it turns out, you can learn a great deal about a person by the way they play video games. One person could pick a more aggressive strategy while another is far more passive. One could play incredibly fast while another is slow and methodical. We can even obtain insights on how creative a person is based on how they play such games. All of which and then some is used to get a better sense of how the person fits into the company’s environment.

    Of course, understanding what fully constitutes the culture starts with us humans, especially if we ever have any intention of having computers help us find a cultural match. In the best situations, if we speak to anyone from the management to the lower employees, we should be able to see an astute model of what culture means to them. What kind of people do we hire? What goals do we aspire to? What makes us tick as a company? What kind of people succeed here? Like so many industries impacted by machine learning, we still need the presence of a human “helper” so the machine can decipher these questions with greater accuracy.

    When you have a good recruiter that has a base of knowledge from quantity and quality of interactions over many years of doing business, you’re starting the process from an advantage. Even before machines are involved. They’ll have an expectation of where the person should be most effective within the organization. They’ll have an informative point of view beyond just sending a resume to a company that might have 100 openings (and essentially saying “Here’s my talent, you figure out where I should go,” which is never optimal).

    Contrast this with a recruiter who only looks at the open job and doesn’t have a relationship with a variety of companies already in place. They don’t know the environment. They only know what’s right in front of them as far as a candidate who seems to fit the role. They can think about “what is” but they can’t comprehend “what could be” in terms of the complete landscape of the company culture. Consequently, a candidate may be positioned too narrowly and miss out on other opportunities.

    In other words, when a recruiter who is an expert in select industries and has existing deep company relationships combines this background with machine learning’s advancements, the candidate will be in an ideal position to find the best company culture for their career.

    A partnership of machines and humans in this way isn’t just exciting. It’s more likely than we expect – and a more positive outcome than many of the other predictions of the future we read about almost daily.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • To Find The Best Career Path, Take The Long Way.February 5, 2016

    In the recruitment business, I’m always talking to a lot of people who are trying to figure out what to do next in their professional lives. They’ll frequently say, “I think I should be doing something different but not sure what.” Not long after, they’ll proceed to talk about a variety of options they’re considering.

    During these conversations, I’m reminded of a couple of powerful books that I often recommend: “The One Thing You Need To Know:…About Great Managing, Great Leading and Sustained Individual Success” and “Go Put Your Strengths To Work: 6 Powerful Steps To Achieve Outstanding Performance,” both by Marcus Buckingham.

    Why do I gravitate to these books for people in such a career transition? I won’t give the ideas of the books away completely, but I will say that they help people look inside themselves with different eyes. The gist: What is it that energizes you in your daily professional life outside of your hobbies? How can you do more of that? Conversely, how can you do less of the “have-to” tasks you don’t enjoy (“I have to do this and I have to do that”)?

    It’s no surprise that most of the time, people are energized by the things they’re good at – however, there are certain exceptions. Some individuals will technically be very good at something but hardly be energized by it at all.

    Still, Buckingham argues that if you concentrate on things that make you feel good, put you in a state of feeling a flow and energize you as a result, you will have a much better long-term outlook for that career path.

    Once you can identify the elements you are constantly passionate about pursuing, you still have to make a decision about the precise direction you want to go in. That’s easier said than done for a number of reasons.

    The fundamental part of this challenge is that there’s no quick strategy for finding your ideal career path. It’s a continual tug-of-war between Explore vs. Exploit – the Explore route as in “I’ll keep looking” vs. the Exploit route as in “I’ll live with what I have.”

    That said, it’s less about speed and more about continually moving. I believe taking the long way to finding your path may be a very good thing that ultimately works out in your favor.

    Frankly, you probably have to take the long view anyway. Why? Let’s face it: The process of exploring might very well take a long time and have a substantial cost. In a perfect world, you try out quite a few different paths for your career. The only problem is that’s not necessarily practical – for example, you can’t get an MD, PhD and JD very quickly to narrow down your choices!

    Nonetheless, it’s important to have a strategy so you can begin to have some form of clarity.

    So as an ideal first step when evaluating the various paths in front of you, clarify the timelines within each for making key decisions. This includes getting a much better sense of the cost of each career path too.

    In addition, this exploratory search mode could consist of reading a number of books, taking many classes and talking to a variety of people.

    This may not feel like the most efficient methodology to finding the best career direction but consider the far worse alternative: Picking something out of thin air. How risky does that sound? Before long, you could realize that one path isn’t a good answer at all. Or you may find yourself in “exploiting” mode, doing something for a long time and constantly wondering what it would be like to do something else.

    Our advice at Roy Talman for many of our candidates is to keep an open mind to new possibilities rather than limiting yourself. Your story isn’t just about knowing a certain programming language or working in one field forever. Finding where the next chapter of your career is going to take time if you plan on going in a very new direction. But we consistently find that those who embrace the journey of self-discovery will eventually land a career that energizes them daily. Not merely a job with a “to-do” list of tasks. Enjoy the fulfilling path to finding your strengths in the interim and if you need guidance from a firm that has undoubtedly advised someone in a situation similar to yours, we’re here to help along the way.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Find Your Hidden Superpower Learning Like Elon MuskJanuary 22, 2016

    It’s interesting that so much of what we know seems to be defined by the past rather than educating ourselves on what the future holds. It’s natural that we’ll have accumulated a lot of knowledge through school and our experiences, but if we don’t know how to think about what’s next out there for our industries and our own professional goals, what happens? We get comfortable. Too comfortable. We put ourselves in a box for our careers and all the possibilities that lie ahead because the idea of shifting gears is too foreign or scary. I know the signs of this self-limitation when I hear candidates say things like, “Oh, I’m just an IT guy” or “I work in healthcare technology, but I could never work in financial technology.”

    Yes, you know what you know right now. But do you fully know what you know? As in everything you could know?

    Let’s take a great example of someone constantly in the news who has rarely defined himself by the past but instead by where the world is headed: Elon Musk. Musk is the brilliant CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors as well as one of the most outspoken individuals on the issue of artificial intelligence.

    Does he know everything about what’s coming next in the technological world? Not necessarily. Yet there’s a quality that Musk possesses that isn’t always reported about: He has an ability to absorb an extraordinary and practically obscene quantity of technical information.

    When he started his aerospace company, SpaceX, Musk was speaking to a variety of engineers. One of them remarked that he felt like Musk was challenging him in a “Do you really know what you know?” line of questioning. Only later on would that engineer learn that in actuality, Musk was absorbing about 90% of everything he knew in the process.

    The other advantage Musk appears to have is that he can physically work much harder than most people. He can put in all-nighters with regularity or 16 hour days 7 days a week. And he can deal with the extreme stress of that. Granted, that’s not a good recipe for health at all but it’s been a certain business advantage for him when combined with his ability to absorb more information in longer days.

    No wonder Musk has been frequently been compared to the character of Tony Stark from “Iron Man” as a gifted engineer and entrepreneur. In fact, when Robert Downey Jr. was becoming the character for the movie, he wanted to meet Musk as the inventor’s qualities were so like the character he was about to portray.

    Here’s the bottom line: The thirst and passion for knowledge he possesses is all about what’s next. Not the past.

    While not at Musk-levels of consumption, I’ve absorbed information from a variety of sources that convey modern and current thinking as opposed to books written 15-20 years ago. Still, I find many academic papers I look at refer to things constantly that are a couple decades old. Having interviewed a number of PhD candidates, I get the impression that quite often they don’t have a broad enough view of the modern day.

    It’s far too easy to fall back on what we know we know.

    What happens when you step outside of your current world in terms of what you know and absorb as much as possible? You let go of the idea that you’re a certain type of person who only has to think a certain way and follow a certain career trajectory.

    Your consumption for learning “what’s next” combined with the pace of technologies can open up greater career opportunities for how you choose to define yourself going forward. As you do, I encourage you to look beyond labeling yourself as an “I.T. person” or a “financial industry person.”

    Finding your superpower is bigger than a role or industry. It begins with a passion for consuming information on what’s new and what’s to come rather than where you’ve been. Look no further than the real-life Iron Man who is interested in taking us to Mars and delivering self-driving vehicles.

    So…do you really know all you know?

     

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • A New Year’s Career Resolution You Can Stick ToJanuary 11, 2016

    Here it comes again – it’s that time of year when millions of Americans make their annual New Year’s Resolutions on January 1 and frankly, abandon them not long after. I’d love to see more people stick to these resolutions, particularly when they’re made from a career perspective.

    Fortunately, I do think resolutions are more achievable if we plan and act in a different way than we typically do – think of this as a resolution to make a better resolution.

    Where do we start?

    Let’s Stop Living By Someone Else’s Plan

    The truth is, most of the “How To” books and videos associated with resolutions have a theme of, “I did this, it worked for me and it will work for you too!”

    It’s a nice concept that may work for some of us but let’s face it – for many others, that’s hard to make our own. Try as we might, we can’t easily apply the process and tactics that worked well for other people to our own experience.

    No wonder it’s more common to make a resolution that’s certainly ambitious and admirable but nonetheless very hard to stick to.

    By Itself, A Resolution Is A Goal Without Tactics

    In many cases, people are making nothing more than the resolution itself when so much more is often needed. We may say we’re going to start the new year by exercising four or five times a week. Then, as we soon discover, that’s much easier said than done. What happened? Failure to plan. Failure to break down a major goal into much smaller and achievable ones. Failure to track. Failure to incentivize ourselves along the way. You name it. Most of these elements and then some are usually missing from the equation.

    Instead, let’s consider a formula for making New Year’s Resolutions that’s more realistic.

    This formula consists of building a “return loop,” so to speak, with three steps:

    1.      This is what I’m going to do.

    2.      This is how I will know it’s working.

    3.      The more I know it’s working, the more it will give me an incentive to continue doing it.

    Essentially, resolutions should have the reasons for, the reasons against and the variants. The harder the resolution, the more reasons you need to keep going and ways to verify you’re doing the right things on your path. For example, if your resolution is “I’m going to have my last ice cream on January 1st and not have another for the year,” you probably wouldn’t need to do too much to analyze that, right? You either do or you don’t achieve that goal.

    Now let’s shift this thinking toward your career:

    Let’s say that there’s a new skill that you’d really like to learn and through some preliminary research, you’ve discovered it will probably take you the full year to master it. That sounds great, but don’t let the whole of your journey consist of simply making the resolution and getting a book related to that subject.

    As you’re learning, ask yourself, “How will I get to actually use this in my own work?” and “When the time is right, how do I start a conversation with my boss about this book, including how I’d like to apply these concepts and skills to my current role?”

    The more commitment required, the more one should think through a plan to support it and fortify it.

    Break Down The Goal Into Smaller “Wins”

    In the ideal world, I recommend writing down your path with mini-goal checkpoints: “After two weeks, Goal A will be done. After four weeks, Goal B will be done.”

    Too often, in any kind of resolution, this failure to break down the path in a series of much smaller goals causes us to lose focus and incentive. OK, so you want to learn a new programming language. Are you going to learn it in one step? Of course not. So why does your entire resolution consist of one step?

    What do you need to do first, second, third? This can equate to a series of very small yet meaningful “wins” that keep you going. Don’t worry that these seem too modest – they’re part of a much larger picture.

    If you’re organized enough already to where you enjoy making lists you can follow through on, breaking down your larger goal into the smallest actions possible can be very manageable.

    Need A Push? What Part Can You Automate?

    What do you do if you’re not that organized? Do you just give up? No. Having a “semi-automatic” strategy can help. What subscriptions and alerts can help push you along to trigger your actions?

    Let’s say you have the goal to read or listen to one book per month. You might subscribe to a service like Audible. Knowing that you’re paying for one book every month through your subscription gives you a semi-automatic path toward your goal. It’s time-sensitive in that the monthly subscription aligns with your goal, there’s an investment and it stays in front of you via notifications.

    Make It Easy To Describe

    The challenge with most resolutions are that they are so far off in the future, hard to visualize and have few incentives in between. It becomes an all-or-nothing proposition. However, when your next steps are easy to describe and within a timeframe, they often feel more attainable.

    In the book, “A Curious Mind,” author Brian Grazer talks about how he had the goal of meeting one new person per week. He didn’t necessarily know who he was going to meet but he knew the activity he was going to engage in. It’s an easy action to describe when you can say, “I’m going to meet one new person per week.”

    Once you make the commitment to something that’s easy to describe and picture yourself being able to do because it feels manageable, it’s easier to live with your resolution.

    The 5-Question New Year’s Career Resolution Test

    As you prepare to make a New Year’s Resolution for your career, give the following five questions some deep consideration:

    1.      Am I excited about this?

    2.      Is it easy for me to get access to, such as signing up for online classes?

    3.      Will I receive the support I need from superiors and co-workers in my current environment to learn this?

    4.      After I’ve learned it, will I get to use it in my daily role?

    5.      Will knowing this make me more marketable, whether internally to other departments or externally to my next potential role?

    Think through your answer to each. If there are any gray areas, take the time to solidify the answers so you can be sure the investment of time, emotion and possibly money you’re about to make is achievable. Once you do, you’ve given yourself the best opportunity to evolve through a smarter New Year’s Career Resolution.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • How Much Can One Leader Influence Company Culture?November 20, 2015

    When we think of the quintessential company leader who transformed a company culture seemingly overnight, Steve Jobs is almost always the first person who comes to mind.

    The recent “Steve Jobs” movie has received much attention and acclaim, but a fairly different and fascinating point of view on him is offered through a book released earlier this year entitled, “Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader.” From Jobs’ 20’s to early 30’s to late 40’s, we get an excellent sense of how he got really bright and outstanding people to work for him.

    Namely, being smart wasn’t enough. You had to endure his outbursts too.

    If you were a brilliant person who could look past these jarring moments, your emotional resilience might help you go a very long way at Apple. In fact, many people found that after they left that environment, they couldn’t accomplish quite the same results. Was there a tradeoff in that as more pleasant as another company might have been…they weren’t driven hard enough?

    You wouldn’t think a culture that’s so intimidating and dictatorial would be one that talented people would jump at the chance to join but working with a certain type of founder can have a rich appeal.

    It’s not unique to Apple, either. Consider how Microsoft has had different leaders from Bill Gates to Steve Ballmer to Satya Nadella. Is it any wonder that the personality of the company has appeared to change during these executive transitions too?

    How does Richard Branson influence Virgin? Or Jack Dorsey influence Twitter?

    What we find is that, more often than not, a successful culture truly starts at the top. It can be a virtuous cycle where the more successful the company, the better the culture. This extends to how they hire, such as the way Google appears to be less interested in where you worked before and more interested in how you can solve challenging questions right now – including those at the interview itself.

     
    Don’t Assume One Culture Fits You

    It’s funny – a lot of people get into the personality of the CEO running the company but they don’t give any significant thought to how a culture fits who they are today and where they might want to take their career in the immediate future. But as you do consider a fit based on culture, keep these 3 important factors in mind:

    ·    You’ve gotten older and changed priorities
    The culture that seemed like a wonderful fit for you at 25 is a really bad fit for you at 45. That’s natural. Don’t try to ignore it. Embrace it and find the company whose culture fits the person you are today. Trying to fit into the company that loved the 25-year-old version of you may only succeed in making you feel more like a fish out of water.

    ·    Companies get older and change priorities too
    Some businesses can have a rough start early on in the company’s lifecycle and if they survive, may be left with a reputation as not a very nice place to work. For example, a large hedge fund here in Chicago had the reputation of being a “revolving door” for people 15 years ago. But in more recent years, that’s changed. The personality of the company culture has changed. Yet you still have candidates saying, “I know someone who worked at that company and hated it.” Yes, they might have – when it was a different kind of company.

    So don’t assume that the company is the same from an atmosphere standpoint. Especially with what we know about how leaders can transform a culture. The picture can be very dynamic. Don’t let a company’s reputation from many years ago cloud your judgment – instead, what’s the culture like today?

    ·    They’re not going to tell you everything
    Imagine the Apple of Steve Jobs’ tenure talking about that environment: “You’re going to be attacked with outbursts from our company’s founder on a constant basis, so have a thick skin.” Who would actually say that? Not too many. And don’t rely on forum sites like Glassdoor to always tell you the full, unbiased story either – instead, look for insights on their hiring process.

    Only you know how transferrable your knowledge is. If you want to keep having upward mobility thanks to that knowledge, what kind of company culture rewards what you know? It may take some significant time and effort to discover but it’s certainly worth finding out for your next career move. And if they’ve had a big change at the top, make sure to familiarize yourself with that new leader and where they want to go from here to see if you want to be headed in that same direction.

     

     

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • Careers Poised To Win From Financial Trading’s Tech JumpNovember 12, 2015

    We’re certainly seeing our fair share of Watson, the brilliant machine learning system developed from IBM, in the media lately. There’s Watson on television, talking to everyone from Bob Dylan to Ken Jennings, one of the biggest winners on “Jeopardy!” ever. I open the Wall Street Journal and what do you know? There’s Watson again, featured in a very large insert touting the various APIs that Watson now has – including text to speech and speech to text. Through these APIs, the machine will be able to better understand what the user is literally saying.

    You could say Watson has become the “poster boy” for machine learning. We’re only going to hear more about this evolution, even in the industries we never expected to utilize such technology.

    For example, people involved in very sophisticated financial trading companies are trying to adopt machine learning.

    For one, in a financial trading atmosphere, you have people working in a very short timeframe, so the emphasis is how to get the strongest signal out of extreme noise within intervals. What they’re trying to predict is what a price is going to be in, say, the next 10 minutes.

    Interestingly, there are many attempts to analyze a wide range of indicators to see which ones have predictive value. In fact, an attempt to do that has recently been launched by Blair Hull, who has started an Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) called Hull Tactical US that essentially aims to time the market.

    There are other attempts in which companies start with a machine learning factory full of as much information as they can collect in real time, leading to analysis of that information for predictive signals. They then see how effective and valid those predictive signals truly are on a consistent basis once they’re implemented

    The goal? Build a system that is smarter than the smartest people around, competing in a winner-take-all environment as opposed to handling day-to-day problems.

    The current challenge is that while on one level we’re supposedly drowning in data, in practice there’s not enough expertise to easily feed it into the right analysis engines. This may present a real opportunity for growth in the field among Data Scientists, Statisticians, Quantitative Software Engineers and Quant Developers.

    We’re talking about the kind of people who not only have a lot of knowledge but can also generate a variety of new ideas from the complex, bug-free models they’ve constructed. They need to figure out how to implement those ideas, verify them and in the process of running various trading strategies, decide which ones to run and when.

    To use a football analogy, a Quarterback needs to recognize the movement around him once the ball is snapped and react accordingly. How the situation in front of him unfolds demands a particular strategy and action.

    In this same respect, financial trading companies are trying to succeed in new ways by teaching algorithms how to be adaptive to the movement, thereby reacting to events and new information in real time.

    It will be very interesting to watch this natural drift toward putting more intelligence into financial technology – and I certainly encourage those who are either in the field or considering entering it to pay close attention to this trend as well.

     

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • Spring Chickens: How Established Industries Use Machine Learning To Feel Young AgainOctober 27, 2015

    Industries like insurance and healthcare have been around for as long as we can remember. Yet, while they may feel very old, established and unchanging, new developments are showing us that machine learning is creating a fountain of youth, so to speak for these fields. Due to these fresh technological approaches with the help of machines, it’s very good news in the way of new opportunities for us human beings too. As I wrote about recently, (Why We’re Not Ready To Let The Robots Take Over.”), the rise of machine learning doesn’t mean technology will replace us because machines in many ways still require our guidance in the process. This means an evolution, not an elimination of the roles with machines we have today.

    Let’s take a closer look at how some of these industries are aiming to integrate machine learning more closely than ever in various forms:

    In the book, Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) by Bill Gifford, we see a fairly comprehensive review of scientific approaches to anti-aging. It got me thinking about the amazingly complex challenges in healthcare that machine learning is already playing a role in, from molecular biology to the human genome. For example, it took 7 years to sequence the first 1% of the human genome, at which point critics said it would take 700 years to sequence the entire human genome. They were just a little off because 7 years later, it was completely done. Of course, there are a lot more “codes” in healthcare to be cracked. It’s fairly clear that there’s going to be a shortage of Data Scientists, which may point some people toward a career opportunity they hadn’t previously considered.

    During a conversation with a friend from the insurance industry, he remarked how getting a lot of claims is creating a challenge for him in terms of which claims to review and which ones to approve. This likely depends on how accurate the claims are. In addition, you don’t want to spend $200 of time reviewing a $150 claim. However, if we apply machine learning to the insurance business to score various claims, the ones that score in a questionable category will be more likely to be reviewed and the ones that are not as questionable won’t warrant further review.

    We’re also hearing more about approaches to data security whereby a new system gets designed to recognize what normal behavior of various computing objects is in that system. This way, when there is abnormal behavior, the System Administrator will be able to quickly view it.

    Data Scientists. System Admins. As machine learning advances, these and other roles like them aren’t going away. Far from it.

     

    Therefore, my suggestion for people who have a natural interest in these subjects but are not in school right now is to spend some time learning more about them. Discover if any machine learning technologies in question are used in what you’re working with right now. Do any of these technologies or industries represent some “low-hanging fruit” that you can more quickly get up to speed on?

    The fascinating development I continue to witness is that you no longer need years upon years of experience to make a profound impact in new technologies. In fact, just recently, a graduate student at Georgia Tech built a system that took snapshots every 30-60 seconds for 6 months with what can best be described as a “smartphone on a necklace.” Obviously something that takes so many automatic pictures over that length of time adds up to a whole lot of photos – 40,000 photos, to be precise. The student then used machine learning to organize the photos into about 20 different category buckets. The system could subsequently predict what the person was doing over that period of time, minute by minute, based on those category buckets.

    Yet, on an almost daily basis, I’m finding that college advisors are not giving very good, in-depth, forward-looking advice to students. My suspicion is that they don’t keep up with such technological evolutions, so there’s a lot of hand-wringing about how jobs are disappearing but there’s much less being said and done about how many jobs are going unfilled.

    In reality, what can happen is that one job could create several more, so it’s not like each person walking into a job takes away opportunities.

    This concept, called the “adjacent possible,” is spoken to by Steven Johnson at length in his book, “Where Good Ideas Come From: A Natural History of Innovation.” In any given room, you find that there are adjacent possibilities in doors that lead to other rooms. But until you get into the room itself, you don’t know what’s possible – so you need to get into “the room” first.

    In other words, as we have more people working in machine learning, we’re finding what the adjacent possible is. That creates an increasing demand and need for people who can deal with those problems.

    What’s the adjacent possible to where you are in your career now? Or do you need to get into another room altogether? The degree to which your industry integrates machine learning into its processes today could point the way toward what lies around the corner for it – and potentially for your career.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • When Outlearning Leads To OutearningOctober 2, 2015

    “Where do you want to be in 5 years?”

    By now, this may be the most common interview question ever. And in the technical realm, you may want your answer to that question to be:

    “Learning something completely different than what I know now.”

    Allow me to explain.

    As we consider the know-how we accumulate over the course of a career, we understandably think of it in huge chunks. 15 years of experience here or 25 years of experience there.

    There’s a lot to be said for the wealth of knowledge we obtain from experience, so I don’t want to discount the power of that – but we simply can’t ignore the fact that in the technological world, the rules are changing. Even as you read this.

    How so?

    Based on everything we are witnessing in technical arenas, the shelf half-life of technological knowledge appears to be no more than 5 years. Technical careers are being redefined into a series of skill set “chapters.”

    In other words, the core of your knowledge when it comes to the technology you’re currently working on must be less than 5 years old. No later than the 5-year mark, you must evolve to understanding a new technology. If you’ve been working with the same type of technology for 15 years and haven’t been spending a certain number of hours per year to stay current, you’re behind the times.

    The more chapters you have,
    the more compelling career “story.”

    Many of the conversations I’ve had with hiring managers in the IT space suggest that they’re placing greater importance than ever on candidates with up-to-date knowledge of new technologies. But it’s not merely that these candidates know a new type of technology – it’s what that type of initiative expresses about the individual’s passion for learning. Namely, these managers value an individual who takes the time to learn a relatively new piece of technological understanding rather than someone who rests upon their experience and has a hard time shifting gears.

    Those who focus on outlearning may soon find themselves outearning.

    Expecting your company to help you get up to speed on newfound technologies? It’s great if you’re in such an environment to nurture your skills. Unfortunately, we’re still not seeing enough companies commit time and dollars to effectively training their people on the most current technologies available. Yes, they may certainly encourage it. But setting aside time for people to learn on the job? It’s more rare than you think.

    Where do you go from here?

    This is where you need to find the initiative to be a self-starter. Right now, learning a new technological skill is going to feel a lot like unpaid activity. This becomes all the more challenging if your company isn’t allowing you the time to even learn that skill on your own – which is quite likely since you’re probably putting out existing fires during the day.

    That said, I continue to stress to our technical candidates at Roy Talman that no matter where the opportunity to learn new technologies comes from, whether a physical class, open source projects, industry publications or online learning environments, take advantage of it. A perfect world offers paid learning but even if unpaid, it’s a worthwhile investment in a future that is demanding you to evolve anyway or find yourself at the risk of having a skill set that appears stale to a hiring manager.

    So. Where do you want to be in 5 years?

  • Find What You Enjoy At Work This Very MinuteSeptember 25, 2015

    I was catching up with a gentleman named Pete recently, a candidate who I’d helped to make a career move about 10 years ago from a very large organization to a very up-and-coming entrepreneurial company. In hindsight, he said this was a fantastic opportunity because he’d learned a great deal and had a substantial role.

    However, in time, that company was bought by another very large company and Pete found himself back in the very type of company culture he’d left behind. I’m sure you may have experienced a similar culture change if you’ve ever worked in a company undergoing a merger or acquisition. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before Pete became frustrated by the atmosphere of a large company again.

    As he approached me for advice on what his next potential move should be, I recommended a couple of important books by Marcus Buckingham: “The One Thing You Need To Know and Go Put Your Strengths To Work: 6 Powerful Steps To Achieve Outstanding Performance.”

    A key takeaway from these books is that you need to figure out what you enjoy doing not in terms of per year but more or less per minute. That’s right. Think about the minutes in front of you right now and what you’re doing in them. Are they bringing you happiness or more of the same tediousness?

    What is it that you do that energizes you? When you think about it, there are certain conversations related to your work you have which just seem to get you in the flow – what do those conversations have in common?

    With this in mind, I asked Pete three crucial questions:

     

    1) What do you enjoy doing the most?

    2)    To what degree do you tend to spend time doing that in your current job?

    3)    Do you get to do that thing dramatically more?

    Beyond that self-analysis, I also encouraged him to have a mindset of digging deeper when going on interviews or researching a company, asking:

    ·         What is it that makes that company tick?

    ·         What kind of people are running it and what are they most passionate about?

    ·         What seem to be the highest priorities of that company?

    ·         Is this a sales-oriented or marketing-oriented or technology-oriented company? Or something else?

    When you get a stronger sense of the company’s priorities and passions, the next question is: Is anybody else doing the kind of things that you want to do?

    If the answer is no, that may be a red flag. Because if it hasn’t happened before, the odds of it happening tomorrow for you are not very good. On the other hand, if you scan the environment and it appears that there’s a high probability of being able to do the things you want to do, there might be a better fit – even possibly the best place for you to land.

    One of the recurring themes you’ll hear in The One Thing You Need To Know is that you actually shouldn’t try to fix your weaknesses (or at least don’t spend too much time on this). Instead, you should concentrate more on enhancing your strengths.

    In this context, as Pete was discussing with me about whether or not to potentially make a move, he came to a realization. For what he really wanted to do and enjoyed doing, there was little possibility that he’d be able to do it in his current company anymore. The people who now run the company don’t value the same thing he values. It doesn’t mean that he’s right and they’re wrong. It just means that they’re different.

    This may sound like a “people” issue but it’s really not. It’s a cultural one pertaining to what’s valued most, which can give you clues as to whether or not those values and priorities align with yours.

    When Motorola brought in a marketing person who heavily developed and promoted the Razr flip phone, it looked like a genius move. The design was sleek and was unlike anything seen in the market at the time. Millions upon millions of Razr handsets were sold. However, by the time the iPhone was launched and took off, the Razr hadn’t evolved enough to compete and people were switching to the iPhone from the Razr in droves.

    So if you were a manager who really enjoyed digging deep into technology and periodically sitting down to talk about code with your best technical people, going to Motorola probably wasn’t your best move because the culture at the time was more that of a marketing company.

    People don’t often think in these terms. They look at the job in front of them (or what they think is the job in front of them) and they get fixated on what amount to another $1000 in salary. And because of that, they can’t see the forest for the trees.

    The reality is if it’s the right move, your compensation will have more to do with your accomplishments within the organization and how well, in turn, that the organization does. But if it’s the wrong company, even if they’re doing great, you’ll find yourself constantly fighting the culture and feeling unhappy.

    There’s still time to change that. Maybe as soon as the next minute.

  • Why We’re Not Ready To Let The Robots Take OverSeptember 11, 2015

    When entrepreneurs like PayPal founder Peter Thiel or Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk speak, many others listen due to their proven ability to think outside the box. So as both have recently commented on their fear of artificial intelligence, it might’ve caught several people off-guard. Particularly since we so often see the “rosy” view of the future in all the advantages we’ll have once robots can function independently without our instruction.

    It’s a future that has many positives, but Thiel and Musk urge caution – and in my view, common sense. They have called for a formal ban on self-guided lethal force – in other words, any device that is capable of exerting lethal force that operates fully autonomously.

    I’m sure people will split hairs on this definition of “autonomous” (“Well, what if I give the device instructions 30 seconds before it does something? Does that make it truly autonomous?”). Still, the idea is very interesting in that, in our present day, we have no way to prove that no harm will come from autonomous lethal force devices. In Thiel and Musk’s opinion, until we can prove they’re harmless, we should ban them for the time being. We would have to insist on direct human interaction on any and all of these types of devices.

    It’s a new frontier, for sure. While not exactly the same, there was a story recently about how a person was hurt by their self-parking Volvo running over them. Was it the car’s fault? Not according to Volvo because the car’s owner didn’t buy the sensor package so that the car could identify that there was a person in its way.

    We as humans still need to be involved in the process to help computers and robots make sense of the world. That said, even with well over a million robots operating in various settings, we hear so few stories of a robot injuring a worker.

    To Thiel and Musk’s point, however, it would be foolish to assume self-autonomous robots will have no issues. So their suggestion on a ban of such artificial intelligence makes a lot of sense at this point, especially as the very definition of “robot” is shifting.

    For example, we’ve always thought of robots as a physical presence. But companies like Google and Apple have designs on providing robots working for us that are software-based and give us information before we even ask for it. Think of it like a personal assistant that reminds you of things in your day or provides suggestions (“I see that you’re going to the airport today. The traffic on the route to the airport is heavy so you should leave early. I also have real-time information on your flight, which will be delayed by 30 minutes.”).

    In the future, robots could describe any kind of autonomous service that does something for you and gets its original intent from a human but continually adjusts for your benefit based on this knowledge.

    Ultimately, my suspicion is that there has to be as closest to a perfect loop as possible whereby any exertion of lethal force must be directly attributed to an individual’s input. We’re simply not ready for non-human intelligence that can be freewheeling, particularly the type that has lethal force capabilities.

    It’s not the stuff of some futuristic science fiction. As robots become all the more present in our lives and in various forms, it’s probably very smart that we humans still have the final say.

    Where do you fall on the spectrum of this debate? 

  • Beyond The Resume: How Does Your Ecosystem Match?September 4, 2015

    After being in a business for over 30 years, I look at finding the right talent as a bit of a 3-D puzzle. When we talk about any kind of candidate, we are talking about a person with certain skills, interests and passions. Their talent might fit into certain organizations but not others.

    But the story doesn’t just start and end with your talent alone.

    There are a number of people that you’ve worked with historically, creating an ecosystem of sorts. It’s a relationship ecosystem that you’re able to carry around with you. For example, you worked for a certain type of boss. You know that that boss has a certain management style, personality and likes working best with people of a particular type.

    The companies you’ve worked for, who you’ve worked with, how long you’ve worked for each company, the schools you’ve attended (and schools your connections have attended) and more creates and shapes your ecosystem.

    Thus, there are certain organizations in which people with your kind of “ecosystem background” might fit very well – and others that might not.

    For example, let’s take hiring styles. Some organizations won’t consider a candidate because they can’t challenge the person enough in that they won’t be able to offer the kind of the technology that the person wants to work with. Therefore, the person could be disruptive and not going to last long. Sound like a good fit? Probably not.

    There are also specific management styles in your ecosystem – how well does that management style you’ve worked best with fit your prospective employer?

    Along these lines, we recently wrote a post about Google’s practices for hiring and nurturing talent (“Finding and Nurturing Talent The Google Way”). One thing about Google is that they don’t believe in a culture where the manager doesn’t keep their technical skills sharp. Contrast this with other company cultures that believe their managers should stop coding and instead worry about the challenges of the business. Well, chances are, someone who doesn’t like coding may not be the best fit for a company like Google.

    How can you tell if a company’s ecosystem is in sync with yours?

    Start at the top.

    Get a feel for those personalities at the top who always seem to define the organization. Want to work for Amazon? Great. But know that you’re not just going to work for Amazon – you’re going to work for Jeff Bezos. So what do you know about the management style of a person like that? He has a personality where if you’re presenting to him, you shouldn’t be surprised if he says, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” In reality, he might just be asking, “OK, explain to me what it means.” But not everybody can deal with that kind of approach, right?

    Similarly, how does Jeff Bezos define the culture at Amazon? How does his style influence the kind of people Amazon wants to bring on board? Their priorities? Their processes? You can apply this example to many companies of all shapes and sizes to see if your ecosystem meshes with theirs.

    From our point of view at Roy Talman, we’re recruiting candidates with this ecosystem in mind, which gives us more of a 3-D view of the individual. We factor in the companies they’ve worked for, the people who worked for them, the schools they attended, etc. It’s a dynamic, ever-changing ecosystem but it does provide a solid picture of the web of influence they have. That bigger picture may help us discover if and how a prospective employer fits into the ecosystem too.

    By the way, an employer’s ecosystem can be ever-changing too in that what applied to them even 2 years ago may not apply to them today (different personalities at the top can change a culture for better or worse). So a candidate can’t simply make an assumption by saying, “Oh, I know all about that company and how they operate – I dealt with them a few years ago.” Times may have very well changed. Which means it’s important to talk with our firm to ensure that a match of ecosystems applies in the here and now.

     

  • Finding And Nurturing Talent The Google WayAugust 27, 2015

    Have you ever wondered how Google always seems to be able to attract the right people? They’re ultra selective, they get great people to come work for them and they hold onto those people for a very long time.

    Now we’re able to peer behind the curtain to learn more on how Google goes about recruiting, motivating, evaluating, selecting, managing and promoting their people through a book called “Work Rules!: Insight from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead,” by Laszlo Bock. It’s an eye-opener for anyone who’s ever worked in a Fortune 500 company as there is much to be learned from the way Google does things.

     

    What’s the secret?

    A lot of the policies at Google would be positively frightening to a traditional large organization. In particular, one line I find interesting in the book is the concept that in a setting like Google’s, one person can produce more results than an army of 300 people. At Google, that power could be extraordinarily exciting to a candidate. Another large company may seek to keep that type of employee in check.

    You see, when you look for good people to hire, it might be a modest challenge but ultimately, good people are fairly attainable. When you look for great people, however, it’s much harder to judge because in many situations, the revelation that someone is deemed great doesn’t actually come until much later.

    With this in mind, companies like Google go out of their way to hire people without requiring them to have done something like the job they’re being hired for(which makes their job even harder). Again, the idea of hiring someone outside of their job description probably scares certain hiring managers to death at large companies! But in Google’s world, finding people to attack challenges from a new perspective is part of the culture. In their eyes, the fact that the person has never done that type of job before…is actually an advantage, not a detriment.

    One of the other concepts companies can adopt that is quite Google-like is creating exercises for candidates to work through. Sure, a hiring manager can look at a resume and even have a pleasant enough conversation with a candidate – but what does their applied thinking look like in action? In our business at Roy Talman, we aim to prepare the candidate for these types of exercises based on our relationships and experience with certain employers. They can’t view the interview as simply encompassing a verbal connection but actually need to be ready to perform on the spot by addressing a problem posed by the hiring manager.

    If you’re striving to echo some of the hiring practices that Google operates in order to impact your culture, where else might you start?

    With your recruiting.

    Skeptics will say, “Oh, Google can find the best talent whenever they want because they’re Google.” Yes, Google certainly has one of the most recognizable brand names in the world. But long before they reached that status, they realized that they needed to identify the best talent in non-traditional ways. So the interview questions they ask are extraordinarily different. Their idea of a perfect fit has so much more to do with how the person thinks than what they’ll actually be doing.

    How well can a typical recruiting process work with this type of company? Frankly, not very well at all. Being able to recruit a candidate “on demand” is tough. Especially when it’s a recruiter who talks to a candidate for no more than an hour. Their understanding of the candidate in such a short timeframe is probably going to be very limited.

     

    The better path is when a recruiter with deep experience leverages the relationships they’ve built up over the years. They’re not necessarily meeting a candidate for the very first time and trying to cram their complete understanding into an hour. Instead, if they’ve known a candidate for 5 years or more and had multiple interactions with that candidate in that time, the understanding of what the candidate brings to the table is more of a complete 3-dimensional view.

    In this sense, there’s a perfect match for your business – even if finding the talent may not be as instantaneous as, say, a Google search. 

  • Being Curious Is A Lifetime JobAugust 20, 2015

    A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life” by Brian Grazer (the Academy Award-winning producer), talks about how curiosity is a concept that’s been underpinning most of the things in his life. Because he is constantly curious about people, things and stories, he’s made it a point of meeting with a variety of people.

    In fact, when Grazer started in the movie business, he wanted to meet with one new person a day. Later on, he modified this to be one new person per month – outside of the film industry. He’d meet with fascinating people such as two CIA Directors, which probably influenced his production of the movie “J. Edgar.” He met with Jonas Salk, Steve Jobs, Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, two CIA Directors and more.

    To me, Grazer’s advocacy about being curious about people and people’s stories resonates a great deal. He found he could have a conversation with Nobel Prize winning mathematician while being intensely curious about his son’s Asperger’s Syndrome – which led to him to develop “A Curious Mind,” one of the best movies he’s ever done.

    What does this have to do with career development? Quite a lot, actually.

    For many people, it goes against the grain to be curious as opposed to having a very specific agenda. Think about every time you’ve walked into a meeting in which a person wants to sell you something rather than be genuinely curious about your goals and interests.

    Being curious and expanding perspectives is why I often push people to read non-fiction books outside of their primary area of expertise. In his book, Grazer makes a strong point that he’s not engaging in these conversations for the purpose of actively looking for an idea for his next movie. He finds that if a seed of an idea grows into something, it will be 20 years later and not in the present.

     

    Recruiting can work this way too, believe it or not.

    I can recall talking to a professional 5 years ago at a time where they weren’t looking for a new job. Which was fine. It just wasn’t a good time for that but I learned a lot about the person. We had another exchange 2 years later and I learned a little more (after all, people can evolve in 2 years, you know). Then, 3 years after that, the right situation came along in which we were able to help this person change positions into what would prove to be a superb fit for where they were in life.

    You need to be constantly curious about people so that 2, 3 or 5 years down the road, you can recognize a potential opportunity for a fit. This is true whether you’re a hiring manager, a candidate or a recruiter. You have to stay connected and cultivate the relationship.

    I contrast this with the typical picture of recruiting I’ve come to know – which is that the recruiter calls somebody up, talks to them for 15 minutes and tries to sell the person on what could be “the perfect job.” In over 30 years of being in the recruiting industry, I’ve always found this idea of Just-In-Time Recruiting (providing the hiring manager with a candidate who is an exact fit for their needs at the exact time they need it) to sound so neat in theory…yet so frustratingly impossible and impractical in reality. Candidates don’t always fit exactly into a box (i.e. a job description) at any given time we want, when we want them to – just one of the reasons I believe why going beyond skill set alone to qualify someone is a very good thing.

    Timing is everything and it can’t be forced. When Grazer first got into producing, he had two ideas for movies. The first movie was produced right away and became “Night Shift” starring Michael Keaton. The timing worked out great. But the second idea, on the other hand, took him 7 years to figure out how to make – an idea that would become “Splash” starring Tom Hanks. Why 7 years? For a long time, nobody in Hollywood wanted to buy the idea of a movie about a mermaid. But when you talk to enough people and stay curious, some of the greatest successes in your career can come to fruition – even when you may not be actively looking for it. You can’t always expect the gratification to be immediate and according to an agenda. The best career moves rarely work that way.

    How are you staying curious? How many conversations are you having with people outside of your field? If it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, don’t forget to use some of that time to become more of an expert on other people, places and things too. It may lead to your next great success when you least expect it.

     

     

  • The Next Best Thing To A Crystal Ball On Your Future EmployerAugust 6, 2015

    As recruiters, we’re seeing a pattern of change when it comes to the number of offers that a candidate is receiving. Just 1 or 2 years ago, it wouldn’t be unusual if a candidate had 1 viable option to consider as they were looking for a new opportunity. Today, that very same candidate may find themselves with 2, 3, 4 or even more offers.

    On one hand, it’s good news because they have more choices. On the other hand, it doesn’t make it any easier and in fact, makes the decision more cumbersome. We’re no longer talking about a “Yay” or “Nay” choice on one offer but rather a situation that calls for a lot more due diligence to make the right choice.

    Now, some may ask, “Well, wouldn’t you always want to do your due diligence on a company anyway?” You’d be surprised by how few candidates actually follow through on that concept.

    Instead, it’s become common for people to go with their “gut feel” about an offer they get. This is usually based upon a small sampling of 3-4 people they’ve met at the company. Face it – that’s easily obtainable information. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, especially considering it doesn’t dig deep at all.

    What candidates need to do more often than not is look inward and pose harder questions for due diligence, such as “How am I going to figure out how well this company is going to be doing 5 years from now?” There are a couple of hidden, often overlooked ways to uncover these types of answers for greater insight.

     

    Look to the market for clues

    Yes, the people you met during the interview might be wonderful. But what if the market for their goods and services is collapsing? The fact they’re nice people and made you a great offer quickly becomes irrelevant, doesn’t it? By examining market trends over the last few years, you may be able to find out whether now is the ideal time to come aboard.

    For example, if the market is expanding dramatically, now might represent a good time to get in on the ground floor of a great opportunity early on. Do you see the company as being in a stable market…or one that’s really become stagnant and isn’t growing much at all? The company might be facing headwinds as a result and be one of the “lone survivors” in a dying industry.

    Consequently, in looking both at the last few years as well as the next few years to come, ask:

    · If the company is public, how much are they growing?

    ·         How vulnerable is the company to recent downturns?

    ·         Is theirs looking like the technology of the future?

    ·         Are there a lot of people trying to get into the field and in turn, this company?

    In addition to your observations from the outside looking in, here’s a question that makes a huge difference from the inside looking outward to your future:

    How much “new” business will you be involved with?

    Having the primary function of maintaining a 10-year-old system written with 15-year-old technology probably isn’t the best way to enhance your marketability now and when you go to look for the next challenge.

    The question to ask yourself here is, “Is the company truly expanding beyond its core?” What new challenges, technologies, departments, personnel and more will you be able to experience and interact with in the environment? The offer in front of you may seem attractive, but will it give you the opportunity to gain knowledge from a variety of sources once you accept the role?

    Don’t believe everything you read on “Anonymous Source” sites 

    Again, it’s easy to go on a website like GlassDoor.com, read a few reviews about a company from some anonymous sources and take that as the gospel. That’s not doing your proper due diligence.

    Take these reviews with a grain of salt. Generally speaking, if someone is ticked off at a company and can write what they want without revealing themselves, it’s open season for writing a fair amount that’s negative. I haven’t found sites like these with company reviews to be credible.

    There is one aspect of such sites that might be useful to you as a candidate, which is when the source speaks about the interviewing process. These tend to be much more credible and could give you some advance knowledge on the process to come so you can prepare for it properly.

    In our business at Roy Talman & Associates, we find that it’s extremely difficult for candidates to discover the hidden insights on a company completely on their own without having extensive industry and company relationships already in place. That’s where our deep experience serves as the “eyes and ears” they need to not only pinpoint their prospective employer’s place in the market today but also where that company might be headed years from now. Combined with what they learn from their own due diligence efforts, we can help them make a well-informed decision that fits with their long-term career goals.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions in Chicago and New York. RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Why Your Bank, Commute And Vacation Photos Are Like A Taxi CompanyJuly 17, 2015

    I was having lunch recently with a bank senior manager and in the course of our conversation, we discussed how technology might soon disrupt the very nature of banking.

    I happened to say, “As time goes on, the bank will find it’s the equivalent of a taxi company.”

     

    Why?

    They’ve got regulations to follow, licenses necessary for operation and they’re well established. Nonetheless, they’re often very inefficient. Still, everybody lives with it because if you want to get from Point A to Point B and don’t have a car, you figure that you need a taxi.

    That is, until an outside-the-box innovation like Uber comes along. With a phone and an app, you’re good to go with not only hailing a cab but also plugging in your destination so that the driver knows where to take you before you even step in.

    If I were to guess the market value of all the cab companies in the world, I’d say it’s probably less value than Uber. In five years, we’ve seen the concept of legalized taxi services getting upended.

     

    How will traditional banks get disrupted?

    Similarly, the way banks do things today are ripe for disruption from non-traditional sources – the version of Uber for that industry, essentially. You have financial institutions that pay back little interest, charge a variety of fees (some of which are hidden) and they have a lot of compliance officers. Let’s not forget about the managers to check up on the compliance officers…and the bank examiners to check on the managers. Who doesn’t love a ton of red tape and overcharging?

    Of course, maintaining all of this overhead at the bank isn’t cheap. Could a bank version of Uber pose a similar threat? We may be seeing it in online banks and online banking methods that have come a long way in instilling greater confidence among potential customers. The old way of thinking that an institution has to be brick-and-mortar to be a solid choice is falling by the wayside.

    For example, let’s take peer-to-peer financing, which provides loans outside of a traditional bank. In years past, this method of financing done predominantly online was misunderstood and fought the stigma of being a “shady” and unsafe method of lending. These days, however, peer-to-peer financing is as transparent as ever and in fact, could be even more transparent as an online method than what traditional banks offer. Plus, such companies don’t typically have the overhead of the traditional bank. So they’re bringing down the cost of obtaining loans on a personal and professional level.

     

    Even “traditional” digital media is getting disrupted.

    Photo libraries as we’ve known them have been around for several years. But what are people commonly complaining about in reference to them? They’re difficult to organize. They’re inefficient. They don’t make suggestions for how to improve the experience.

    Yet they’re established, so what’s a person with thousands of digital photos to do?

    Those same elements of the status quo are present. So you can guess what comes next: Disruption. Courtesy of Google.

    Recently, Google showed its prowess in artificial intelligence through the release of its new Google Photos app. What does this bring to the table? Through Google Photos, you can take all photos from your computer, upload them and it does not have to be part of a Google Plus account. Once the pictures are uploaded, Google deploys artificial intelligence systems that identify the pictures by time, location and the people in those pictures – and then it sorts them all. Is it done then? Not yet. Then it creates what’s referred to as Stories.

    For example, let’s say you want to create a collection of photos and videos from a recent trip to China. With Google Photos, you don’t need to do the sorting. All of it is done for you in that Google brings all the material that you would base your “story” on – your photos and videos. You can still select pictures here and there that you might not want to include in the Story, but if you’re like me, you won’t see the need to alter anything at all. The idea of going through thousands of pictures in painstaking manner to organize and tag is far too much work. Nobody wants to spend hours on this.

    Best of all, Google is providing this intelligence for free. I expect that most people, once they see how this product works, will abandon many traditional photo repositories they’ve been using up to this point. It’s an application of “deep learning” that aims to get smarter and smarter about where your pictures have been taken and groups them accordingly.

    As deep learning continues, the cost of how we do what we do will inevitably come down. The banking, insurance, finance and medical industries will face this challenge and soon. But those aren’t the only fields that will be disrupted by the transition in deep learning systems and apps.

    What about transportation?

    We’ve heard and seen developments on a self-driving car. We’re not there yet, but once we finally do have autonomous cars, the idea of owning a car starts becoming questionable. Do we need to own a car? Or do we really just need a car within 3-5 minutes? Think of this development as a more advanced version of an on-demand service such as Zipcar but rather than going to the car itself, the car comes to you.

    That’s why it’s going to be interesting to keep an eye on Uber’s next move in this arena. The company recently hired 6 researchers and 24 software engineers as they’re preparing to build a research facility. Uber’s view is that it wants to deliver a seamless experience from Point A to Point B. That mission involves a human driver at the moment…but it may not have to. A self-driving car can accomplish the same but without requiring as many cars in a fleet. Plus, there could be greater efficiency since it won’t be as idle. After all, what’s your car doing right now? It’s parked, right? Once a company figures out how to use it more often, they may not need nearly as many cars or even how fancy those cars might be.

    It’s one thing to achieve a certain level of computing. It’s another to see the cost of that computing drop to a more palatable level. Until that cost drops, some activities are prohibitively expensive. However, once the cost does drop and continues to drop, the activities become no-brainers. Combine that development with an established yet inefficient industry and you’ve got a potential evolution in the making.

    For many industries, that disruption and evolution is coming – if not already here. And I think that should be profoundly exciting to watch.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions in Chicago and New York. RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • The 30-Minute Interviewing Mistake You May Regret Much Longer.July 2, 2015

    There are plenty of people right now sitting in their office who have come to the realization that they’ve made a big mistake in their career direction. It feels like they didn’t know enough about what they were really getting into and they’re stuck in a role they shouldn’t have been in in the first place.

    Sounds like someone who might be experiencing newcomer’s regret after accepting the job a couple weeks ago, right? It does – except this person has been on the job for 2 years.

    How did they get here? Could this have been avoided earlier on? And why did it take them so long to discover they were such a square peg in one very round hole?

    The irony is that, for many of these people, it isn’t really a development that gradually takes shape after accepting an offer. There’s great likelihood that all the signs were there before they even took the job.

    That’s right. It could’ve been avoided. But more often than not, we’re seeing candidates who believe interviewing is something they prepare for in 30 minutes or less. They’re giving their interview preparation the same amount of time it takes to have a pizza delivered.

    No wonder when they go on the interview, they’re so ill prepared. If they don’t get the job, they might get an offer for the wrong type of job. All because they didn’t do their due diligence.

    Due diligence has multiple components, but among the top questions a candidate should be asking themselves are:

    1) How hard is it to get hired by this firm?

    2) What do I need to do to prepare for the interview experience?

    Think back to when you would study for a crucial test in school. If you prepared well, you went into the test with great confidence and had a better chance of a good result. If you goofed off and crammed at the last minute, you were probably sweating on test day and had a result you would’ve liked to forget. It’s a scenario that the same whether you were in 6th grade or taking the MCAT exam.

    Why did that change when you were going on one of the more crucial meetings of your career – your job interview?

    Now, some people like to live in a make-believe world in which they don’t think they need to prepare anymore for their next “test,” the job interview. They genuinely believe that level of intense preparation is something they did when they were 18 or 22. Since all that hard work to pass tests is out of the way, they feel they can just “wing it” from here when it comes to preparation.

    It’s terribly misguided thinking. Especially given the nature of how some interviews are structured.

    Companies during the interview process are apt to present the candidate with a very complex problem to solve. They want to know how the candidate goes about addressing the problem. Obviously, in such a situation, being well prepared would make a big difference.

    Once we had a candidate with an outstanding academic career at MIT who didn’t listen to our advice on how to prepare for an interview. Getting the interview wasn’t the issue for him. He got plenty of them – but he didn’t perform well. 6 months later, he got a job that was below his aspirations.

    By then, he realized that maybe it was time he took a closer look at our interview preparation materials. If he had only invested more time in getting himself ready for the interview the way we wanted, he could’ve done well in the interviews just like so many tests he probably “aced” years before. What a revelation for him!

    There are more and more interview situations where it’s not completely an “open tryout” but you still need to demonstrate what you can do. Many can get by just well enough to get themselves in the door for an interview. But it’s not a good assumption that you can solve problems today in exactly the same manner you could five years ago.

    Once you graduate from college, you have to be humble enough to know that half of the knowledge you have accumulated at that moment in time has a shelf life of 5 years. That’s right. In 5 years, half of what you will know today will be useless. So it’s essential that you consistently work hard to replace that knowledge in order to prevent yourself from being 5 years behind.

    Think about it like this: For four years in college, so many of us go through a process of discovery. We absorb a wealth of understanding on different topics before we find what we’re most passionate about learning. We become dedicated to that passion. With a thirst for where we might go next in our careers, we research industries and technologies and experts we admire.

    Then, after all that preparation, by the time we graduate, we’re ready to pull the trigger and venture down a path in our careers we believe in.

    We’ve been conditioned to think that this journey of self-discovery only pertains to so early in our careers. Well, it’s time to rethink that.

    With the way technology is evolving at a rapid pace, that 5-year shelf life of knowledge will turn over even quicker. Your entire career could be divided into 5-year (or less) chapters of learning and re-learning.

    This makes it imperative to be on the lookout for what’s next in certain technologies and which industries are beginning to embrace those new trends. Just like you may have years ago when you were embarking on your career path. And if you need some help in crystallizing that path, have a conversation with us today at Roy Talman. Our recruiters have an excellent sense of what’s coming around the corner so you can do a lot of important preparation – from enhancing your skill set to giving your best interview.

    After all, it’s your career. You’ve come too far to “wing it.”

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions in Chicago and New York. RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Candidates Playing H1B Visa Games And More Employers Are LosingJune 26, 2015

    We recently wrote about the chaotic process behind the H-1B visa program in the U.S. that enables employers to fill highly specialized positions with foreign employees (“Are H-1B Visas Taking American Jobs?”). With 180,000 H-1B visa applications accepted last year – 3 times the number than those that could be actually be granted – the system seems in need of a serious fix and soon.

    In just one month since we pondered this, The Wall Street Journal had a story explaining how the system really works. Now we’re already getting an excellent idea of why designing a better system is so important – because if it isn’t designed correctly, people will “game it.”

    Which is exactly what they’re doing.

    As The Journal pointed out, the H-1B visa program has 2 gaping holes:

    Gaping Hole #1:

    There’s nothing that prevents a candidate from applying to multiple firms, accepting multiple offers and then having those firms apply for H-1B status on that candidate’s behalf. It’s not against the H-1B rules.

    As soon as that knowledge permeates, the candidate gets wise – too wise, in fact – to just how far she can carry this ruse.

    The candidate applies for as many jobs as possible, along the way assuring each unknowing employer, “Yes, I am absolutely ready to start for you as soon as you make me an offer.”

    Let’s say our candidate wants a job with Company A, so that company makes her a contingent offer. She accepts! Company A will now apply on her behalf for an H-1B.

    Here’s where the plot thickens:

    What Company A doesn’t realize is that the candidate has not only applied for a bunch of other opportunities but she has accepted all of those other offers.

    Suddenly, a multitude of companies are now applying to the Immigration and Naturalization Service on behalf of this one candidate. All the while, they have no idea that they’re being taken for a ride.

    During the lottery portion of the process, our candidate wins the lottery on behalf of one of the other firms to be granted H-1B status. Believe it or not, she can take that H-1B number and immediately announce that instead of Company A, she’d rather work for Company B! This news obviously comes to the shock and dismay of Company A, who had sponsored her during the process. The poor hiring managers of Company A now have to watch as the candidate they coveted and surely thought was coming on board…essentially pulls a bait-and-switch.

    Gaping Hole #2:

    There’s nothing that prevents a company with a number of subsidiaries to ensure that each one of those subsidiaries applies for an H-1B visa on behalf of a candidate. Should any one of the subsidiaries win status for that candidate, the H-1B can be transferred within the company so the candidate can go to the area they truly intend to work.

    Clearly, the system is broken. Which leaves your company with two options if you’re facing a similar situation:

    1) You can have multiple subsidiaries apply for a given candidate.
    2) If you don’t want or can’t pursue the first option, encourage the candidate to apply for as many jobs as possible. As soon as H-1B status is awarded, aim to have that H-1B immediately transferred to your company.

    Don’t even bother to sponsor the candidate. Just tell them to apply to as many jobs as possible because the only thing necessary for the candidate to do is to win the lottery. To transfer H-1B status from one company to another is fairly straightforward. It doesn’t matter who applied on behalf of a candidate or not. The only thing that matters is if the candidate gets approval for the H-1B. Then they can transfer it.

    If you’re surprised by such advice, consider this: The optimal solution in a broken system is a broken solution. In this case, what is clearly the system’s optimal path is unethical. Unfortunately, the H-1B system definitely gives an edge to unethical behavior: It puts the talent in a position whereby accepting multiple offers at the same time doesn’t seem all that wrong. Naturally, to me and probably to you, there seems there’s a lot wrong with that. But the system as it stands pushes them toward such actions.

    The bottom line is that only 85,000 H-1B visas are going to be issued. Yet it’s highly unlikely that that number will come anywhere close to satisfying demand because there will be far, far more applications.

    By the way, just imagine how good this has to be for immigration attorneys – instead of filing 85,000 applications, they’ll probably be filing over 220,000 applications! That’s a nice amount of money to be made for them.

    So ultimately how do you fix the broken system of H-1B visas?

    It’s quite simple. Mandate the following:

    · Every H-1B candidate can only accept one job from a company that applies on their behalf

    ·         An individual cannot be represented by more than one firm applying for H-1B status

    If we stay true to this mandate, we won’t just be mending a vital flaw in the H-1B visa system. We’ll have so much more of a realistic picture of events in that we’ll know how many people are actually applying for the available visas. Right now, we don’t know for certain other than the fact that it’s certainly far more than the allotted number.

    In a crooked system, the more people who understand how to “game” the system, the more often they’ll realize they have substantial incentives to do so.

    What’s more, we should expect even more of an avalanche of candidates in the immediate future. 3 times more the number of applications? 4 times more? Think an even higher gap. It could be a ratio of applications-to-visas unlike anything we’ve seen before. 

    That will mean more waiting-and-hoping on a candidate to be granted status through a lottery, more games and a lot more losers than winners.

    In our business at Roy Talman & Associates, this does not impact us directly – there are very few recruiting situations in which our clients will accept a candidate who doesn’t already have H-1B visa status. 

  • How Great Candidates Stay One Step AheadJune 1, 2015

    Why is it that some candidates seem well equipped to shift with the times while others can be completely caught off guard?

    I’ll give you the two P’s that separate the two: Preparedness and proactivity.

    Let’s examine the scenario of the candidate without either of these qualities: A software developer loses his job. He’s thrown into a panic because not only does he have to quickly assess his options, but also impacting his timeline and priorities is the fact that he’s recently bought a very expensive house. In other words, the idea of not making money for any period of time for him isn’t realistic. So he winds up calling a recruiter who doesn’t seem to care that much about his situation or isn’t a great deal of help in negotiations.

    The result? He finds himself with a job that is, in his words, “OK for now.”

    I do understand this type of challenge the candidate above was facing. The only thing I would say is that he shouldn’t have been caught in that situation.

      

    How do you deal with the unexpected? Expect it.

    Start by keeping track of the current level of your skills and upgrading it amidst the constant workflow you’re dealing with on a daily basis. While this isn’t easy, what I see is that people tend to neglect thinking about the next big thing and instead focus on the challenges directly in front of them. So they may become experts in how to keep a 7-year-old system alive, for example, because that’s what their job calls for. The problem is that their next job may not be about that type of system at all. Which means it’s imperative to obtain the skills in a new technological area that won’t put you behind the times.

    What’s going on out there?

    One of the reasons people like to come to our office at Talman is to ask, “What’s going on?” This isn’t just to ‘shoot the breeze’ but rather a question focused on the landscape of the industry. Because we deal with so many different companies and technologies, we tend to know more about what’s on the bleeding edge because that’s where our clients are. So we’re in a position to not only have our finger on the pulse of what’s trending but also point people in the direction that makes sense for their career. Databases. Web development. Analytics. High-frequency trading technologies. For every area of knowledge, there’s a different growth area and level of competition to be aware of, which requires a fair amount of research.

    Train consistently for golden results

    The analogy I like to use to illustrate the concept of focused preparation is training for the Olympics. Obviously, you don’t neglect all your essential training for this important event and then suddenly say, “You know what? Tomorrow at 2pm, I think I’m going to compete in the Olympic Games.” You have to engage in a great level of preparation for that opportunity or you’re going to miss your golden shot to win – and wait another four years for the next one to come along. You have to put your best foot forward now because, like an Olympic team, there are just so many slots available. And in the case of our clients, it’s a very competitive sport.

    What would Google do?

    Is there an ideal time to brush up on skills? Yes – and it’s all the time. There is a reason why Google lets their people devote 20% of their time to essentially use however they’d like. That said, the assumption is that this chunk of time will be largely spent by employees to identify new ideas for the company, learn new skill sets for themselves, etc. And as they come into contact with new technological tools available combined with such an environment that encourages thinking for the future rather than solely the challenges in front of them, what results is a culture in which people realize there are unique possibilities for them now that weren’t possible before. This approach is appropriate for virtually anyone in Information Technology, where the pace of change is accelerating so rapidly. What used to be a 7-year cycle of evolution is nearing a 5-year cycle and before we know it, will be a 3-year cycle.

    Even if you wind up staying with your current company, being aware of where things are going might be beneficial because you can understand how to incorporate new technologies into what you do, your marketability thanks to your new skills improves and of course, your company has the benefit of a better trained employee who is more well-versed in the latest tools. 

  • Flat Organizational Structures Rising FastMay 21, 2015

    I’ve spoken with a number of people dealing with the organizational structure of technology firms and departments who have noticed that their firms are getting flatter all the time.

    Why is this happening?

    It may be that companies are figuring out how to have better control and communication systems that don’t rely on as many middle managers as they used to. Let’s take a look at the traditional hierarchy: In the past, you’d have a higher level manager who’d communicate to the middle managers, the middle managers would communicate to the lower level and so on. Throughout this process, the information along the way was not truly accessible to most people and was more on a “need to know” basis. In this structure, the top manager presumably had the most information.

    Today, with the way information is constantly “Googled” and internal communication systems are becoming easier to use, there is a growing trend of companies wanting people on the front lines to know more than they used to. The “middleman” in the information pipeline is less necessary for knowledge transfer. In addition, there is an increased presence of smarter tools that allow companies to monitor the flow of information much better without a middle manager constantly monitoring for the powers that be above.

    Another trend we’re seeing in technology is a fine line between the “hands-on” manager and the “non-hands-on” manager.

    At some point, people who understand technology get to the point where they understand the business side itself much better and become an expert in that line of business. As such, it’s not imperative for them to know the latest technical tools and trends.

    However, there’s a giant trade-off: Any time these same people make technical decisions in a highly technology-oriented situation, the more suspect those decisions will be. Frankly, managers who stop keeping up with technology are very much in danger of making the wrong decisions because they choose to rely largely on someone else.

    Take Microsoft, for example. There’s a reason why we’re seeing a tale of two Microsofts with Satya Nadella at the helm of today’s version vs. the Microsoft under Steve Ballmer. One of the reasons appears to be that Nadella actually understands the technology of his company from the inside out. He knows what can and can’t be done. He knows where he’s going to gain an edge and where he’ll likely lose one. He sees a world between Apple and Android where Microsoft resides as another competing technological platform. To Ballmer, Microsoft represented the entire universe. Big difference.

    Nadella has had to re-imagine Microsoft in this new world – and many of the decisions he has to make are technical. Of course, he may have several voices to listen to that are technical, which is not easy to navigate through, but I think Nadella may be better equipped to decipher the best option in this situation.

    You could find yourself in an internal battle where one of your technical managers wants to obtain the latest and greatest technologies as they get to the bleeding edge. Other managers might be saying, “We don’t need that. We can obtain all the functionality we need without taking on such a great technology risk.” Who will win out? It could depend on how quickly the technology can be absorbed and embraced. Because no matter what the resolution ultimately is, more companies appear to be realizing that they’d like to structure themselves based on the learning curve their people face.

    This lends itself to a flatter structure where if something can be learned quickly, you don’t need to necessarily structure a department around it. Everybody will learn it as they go along. However, if the learning curve is steep, can’t be learned overnight and important relationships need to be developed to make the process work, then you probably want to have a separate line of business that’s set up to nurture these relationships.

    How is your company dealing with your typical learning curves? Have you had to make changes in the structure to accommodate it to be more flat or stay a traditional hierarchy? How painful or smooth was that? I’d be curious to hear your experience.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions in Chicago and New York. RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Are H-1B Visas Taking American Jobs?May 14, 2015

    I was reading recently about Microsoft’s very nice outpost in Vancouver, which enables them to hire a variety of individuals on foreign soil that they can’t give H-1B visas to. I suspect we’re only going to see more of these company outposts popping up to accommodate such workers until some important changes are made regarding the H-1B program in the United States. Let’s start by understanding what this program entails.

    The H-1B visa program is one that enables employers to hire a certain amount of foreign employees to fill highly specialized positions. This program is not without controversy in the tech sector. For one, some people would prefer that H-1B visas are eliminated entirely, believing that American citizens should be hired for jobs currently held open for those other candidates. On the other side of the table, companies such as Google and Microsoft seem to have no such preference, wanting to attract the right talent however they can get it. They’ve even advocated for an increase in the cap in number of H-1Bs given.

    The Process Gets More Chaotic

    I find that the H-1B process has changed dramatically in the past year. In the past, companies knew that they’d have to commit to hire someone early on, so they had to actually apply for permission to hire an individual by April 1.

    The process worked in such a way that by the time the Department of Immigration and Naturalization would stop accepting H-1B visas, the number of applications accepted was reasonably close in proportion to the number of H-1B visas issued. For many years, this number was around 65,000 H-1B visas. Even when facing an initial roadblock, if your company was willing to go through the process of jumping through a variety of hoops, forms, legal procedures and more to present an orderly application for hire, you’d have reasonable confidence that you would likely have an employee accepted by the system.

    All of this changed last year.

    2014 marked the first year that three times more applications were accepted than could be granted - 180,000 applications. At that point, a lottery needed to be run. However, after the lottery, only 85,000 H-1B visas were granted. More than half were rejected.

    Think about this process for a moment from the company’s point of view:

    First, you have to identify the person you want to hire. By the end of the year, you really need to make sure that you want to hire them because of the laborious process to come. They have a load of forms to fill out. You have a load of forms to fill out. All so that you’re ready to apply April 1 for the purpose of a worker officially working for you October 1.

    By the way, this is done with the high probability that you’ll be told sometime in May that, due to a lottery, your worker’s H-1B visa wasn’t granted. Good luck next year.

    Guess what? We’re headed for the same challenges this year too. Once again, for the year starting October 1, a whopping 180,000 applications were accepted for only 85,000 H-1B visas that can actually be granted.

    Why would so many more applications be accepted than could be granted? For one, the process itself of accepting applications doesn’t appear to be digital. There are stories of a little room at INS in which giant sacks of applications would arrive from law firms representing various companies. Once the room was completely full of these bags, someone would say, “We’re done accepting applications.”

    It may also be that the reason the number of applications skyrocketed was because in addition to these large amounts of physical applications, some applications can be presented electronically. Hence, the application avalanche.

    Regardless of the method, choosing the cutoff point of accepting applications seems very arbitrarily done. The process is very much broken.

    The only redeeming change in the process has been the change of OPT status (Optional Practical Training). At one point, students with this status could receive up to 12 months of practical training without extension. Now, the student can receive an extension in their training up to 29 months. While the application after graduation isn’t guaranteed, there is no limit on the number OPTs granted. This essentially allows a segment of applicants to hang on long enough…to the point of where they can participate in a lottery.

    It’s a process that not only forces a company to commit to hiring a certain candidate if approved and holding a position open in the interim but also forces the candidate to only apply for that job under their H-1B status. They can’t apply for more than one position per visa.

     

    So do H-1Bs take jobs away from Americans?

    The debate boils down to this: Can you take a person with 20 years of experience in computer programming and convert them into a programmer with the skills that Microsoft wants?

    The fundamental misunderstanding of this issue is there is a lack of appreciation in regard to how high the capability and talent level needs to be for companies to want certain people. So if you have a good programmer with solid skills who hasn’t kept up with the latest technologies, how easy is it to convert that person into the most truly effective version of themselves in a field that’s growing at an exponential rate? Not very easy at all.

    This is probably why the average age at the fastest growing companies from Apple to Microsoft to Google is less than 34 years old. When you have a field growing rapidly, it’s a challenge for companies within that field to modify and mold people without just the right skill set to become someone they want. It’s not because those companies are malicious, mind you. It’s that they very often don’t know to do that. Such exclusivity reminds me of a client of mine who once said, “I’m not very picky. All I want is the top 1% of the top 1%.”

     

    How do we treat H-1Bs at Roy Talman?

    In our practice at Roy Talman, it’s highly unusual for us to work with someone who doesn’t have H-1B status already achieved. There’s otherwise just too much uncertainty from our clients’ point of view. Therefore, the universe of candidates we work with tends to be U.S. citizens, Green Card holders and, in some cases, H-1B status holders. Even the H-1B holders can maintain their status for 6 years, in which they can also transfer the status from one potential employer to another.

    Now if we can just work on fixing the process of obtaining an H-1B visa in the first place, that will be a very good thing for candidates and companies alike.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions in Chicago and New York. RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Why Counteroffers Don’t WorkMay 7, 2015

    With the job market becoming very competitive this year, it’s fairly common for candidates to juggle more than one offer. An increasing number of people in demand are at least willing to “look around” compared to the past couple of years. What we’re seeing in both the Chicago and New York markets are exceptional candidates with a general confidence that even if the new role doesn’t work out for any reason, they will find other opportunities they won’t have to wait forever for.

    Quite often, once they go to resign from their current position, their companies want to hold onto them. So the company provides a counteroffer.

    Problem solved, right? Not so fast.

    Here’s the problem with the line of thinking associated with making a counteroffer – it assumes that money cures all and is the only thing that matters. Most of the time, that’s just not true.

    In our experience, usually by the time someone wants to leave their current role, a multitude of factors have risen to the surface to make the reasons for leaving complex. Simply bumping up one’s salary rarely fixes the issue.

    Therefore, very few candidates we work with are only interested in improving one aspect of their current job situation, such as income. Instead, there are usually all kinds of reasons:

    · They’re not getting along with their manager

    ·         They believe they’re in the wrong culture

    ·         They feel they’re in a place that’s no longer the company they originally went to work for

    ·         They’re frustrated by their salary or lack of raise (yes, it’s still one factor)

    ·         They don’t see great potential for advancement

    ·         They don’t feel their goals and needs are being heard

    ·         They’re not as challenged in their responsibilities as much as they once were

    In the workplace, the “boiling pot” means too many negative issues have piled up and the person is ready to leave. Even if the person were convinced to stay, it may be an instance where the issues were alleviated just enough for the time being – that is, until the next risk of boiling over surfaces! In all likelihood, there are just too many issues weighing on the person for the fix to be anything but a temporary one. So when the employer asks, “We’d hate to lose you - what can we do to make you stay,” it may be too late. They might say things like, “Oh! We were just about to give you a raise/promotion and we were going to tell you about it!

    Raises. Promotions that bring more money. These are the quick fixes that managers think of first. But people don’t seriously start looking for a new job just because of money. There’s something else going on.

     

    Whether you’re a manager trying to mend the situation or an employee taking the counteroffer, keep in mind that there are enough studies and statistics to suggest that the tactic just doesn’t really work. There’s typically more complexity to an employee’s satisfaction than one number.

     

    What’s a manager to do for retention?

    What’s an employee to do for greater happiness?

    In a word: Proactivity. Don’t wait until it’s too late and the desperation tactics come out. Have more frequent, upfront conversations and invite a level of openness between both parties that may not exist at this point. Give the reassurance that it’s OK to talk about challenges, frustrations and concerns.

    However, if it appears that the employee is on their way out and the issues are too deep to fix, it might be best for that person and the general environment to wish each other well. Don’t play counteroffer games. Those tend not to have winners in the long haul.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions in Chicago and New York. RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

     

  • The Real Reason Apple Is Expanding Its Product LineApril 16, 2015

    Apple is enjoying a whole lot of press for the impending release of its Apple Watch on the market. There’s also a great deal of chatter that Apple is very interested in producing a car (will we call it iCar?) in the years to come and that it’s more than just a concept at this point.

    What’s this? Wearables? Cars? What’s next? And why would the company that gives us laptops, tablets and smartphones go for what appears to be such a reach in this extension of its product ecosystem?

    Because it’s not as much of a reach as one would think. Nor is it purely about “thinking different” on traditional businesses.

    In my view, the premium that Apple has enjoyed for many years in pricing their existing products is not sustainable. Clearly, they have to be aware of the threats via smartphones, for example, that are fully functional yet could be a third of the price of an iPhone.

    Let’s also take a look at their other core products, including laptops and tablets. What’s really changing here with each new release? Size? Storage? Color? It’s not that this isn’t impressive, but that these offerings aren’t providing an “ownable” technological advantage that always justifies the price point compared to competitor products that offer similar functionality at a lower price tag.

    Something has to give. Or should I say something has to expand in the product categories for Apple to grab and justify a more sustainable price differentiator. Hence you have the Apple Watch, which can deliver on this point of difference with a more intelligent weareable technology.

    It may also explain why the car project, given the code name “Project Titan,” is rumored to have a thousand people at Apple working on it. If it truly is one of the first vehicles to be self-driving and deeply integrates Apple technology, it represents another new horizon that creates a sustainable pricing strategy for the company.

    As new technologies are more heavily adopted by the mainstream, there is generally a growth in capability but a decrease in cost. Take sensors, for example. We don’t have a variety of sensors across our population at the moment because they’re not to their peak point of technological growth. However, it is very easy to envision a near future in which sensors are all around us, helping to measure a number of physical characteristics that tell us more about our health than we ever imagined. It will no longer be the exclusive domain of the physician to know this information and we’re going to experience an avalanche of new data to consume. What we see today in the form of the Fitbit product line that measures your calorie burn, steps and more is just the tip of the iceberg. When that sensor technology is more ever-present in our daily lives and deep learning is continually advancing, we will see a point of far greater affordability.

    It’s the kind of cycle of product innovation, customer adoption and pricing that could lead a company producing laptops and tablets today to think about getting into wearable technology and the self-driving car.

    Not as much of a product reach as we once thought, is it?

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • How Oculus Rift May Show Your Career’s FutureApril 9, 2015

    “Oculus Rift is taking years of virtual reality research and putting it into a package that everyone can use.” – Mark Bolas, Director of USC ICT MxR Lab

    When we speak with software developer candidates, we encourage them to consider those technologies that are emerging so rapidly that they may open up an entirely new industry. It’s more than a new product or a new type of code. It’s a new world. We’re seeing such possibilities with Oculus Rift, a virtual reality head mount primarily designed for gaming. When you wear the Rift, you’re immersed in a wider field of the game, one that continually creates the virtual environment around you based on which way you’re looking.

    Gaming and virtual reality may feel like a world removed from your current one, but that’s an awfully limiting point of view. What we will be seeing in the virtual reality space for video games can be applied to other industries. For example, a real estate agent has often displayed photos of a home he or she is selling on a website. That’s the old standby. How could a technology like Oculus Rift change that? Plenty. Rather than a photo or even some of the video we’re seeing now on sites, you could actually feel like you’re moving through the property you’re potentially buying. You’re not merely seeing. You’re experiencing.

    How could virtual reality change the business meeting or business conference experience? At the moment for videoconferencing, we rely on everything from Skype to Google Hangouts to Cisco Telepresence, which are all certainly nice, but is the experience the same as being there? When applied to the business meeting or conference, you may be able to potentially speak to someone sitting right next to you through a platform that feels incredibly real.

    Are we there yet? We’re closer than you think.

    Much like how I’ve told candidates to watch where the big players are placing their bets for the future, we can see names like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and more being associated with efforts in either virtual reality or augmented reality.

    Augmented reality is essentially a version of the virtual one but enhances views of the physical world around you. You’re not as completely immersed in a seemingly different world as you would be through virtual reality. There may be some sound, video, graphics or other types of data that you use to augment the real world experience.

    It’s easy for someone to be skeptical at some of the first takes on these technologies by saying Google Glass was a failure or Oculus Rift gives people motion sickness. But that would be a mistake. Every new industry has its evolution. This is one of them. And none of these major companies appear deterred by a setback or two.

     

    What does this mean for your own career?

    Let’s say you’re a software developer. Now is as good a time as any to get very familiar with technologies involving machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, Blockchain and Bitcoin. Blockchain is a provider of the world’s most popular “wallet” for Bitcoin use and went from 100,000 users to over 2.5 million users in a year and a half. There is a concerted effort to build tools that make what’s referred to as “cryptocurrencies” as convenient as the regular currency we commonly use for transactions. This is one more example of a growth area that is sprouting more than merely a type of technology but a whole industry.

    When that happens, you could find yourself in a prime position to compete on a more level playing field for opportunities, since it’s a much newer industry. And that kind of reality isn’t at all in your imagination.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • Riding The Right Rocket For Your CareerApril 2, 2015

    Many candidates have a challenging time of being able to keep their eye on the future when they’re so focused on the present. The question is typically less “Where is my industry going?” and more “Who is hiring right now and who can I interview with?” I understand the desire to find a job, obviously. Yet when you wander from one job to the next based only on the open positions today and if you’re a fit for the job description, that’s not necessarily a path with purpose. You could be setting yourself up for having even more questions about your career direction.

    The key to shifting that course of thinking for a more positive career experience is to be more future-focused while developing a passion that you may not even know you had. Where do you begin on that?

     

    Have a curiosity for things outside of your industry

    We tend to read books, blogs and various types of content that are very close to our industry and the world we’re most familiar with. However, even though that’s probably quite comfortable, how limiting is that perspective? It could be highly beneficial for you to pause and broaden your horizons. Start by consuming more non-fiction books that speak constructively about the future and the technologies that may accompany it.

    One of those books that could be profoundly inspiring to you is the recent bestseller “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World,” by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. In this fascinating read, the authors take a deeper dive into the exponential technologies that are re-shaping the way many Fortune 500 companies approach the future. 3D printing. Artificial intelligence. Sensors. Robotics. Could one of these play a pivotal role in a forward-thinking company you’re interested in being a part of? Quite possibly.

     

    Which industries are today’s leading minds placing their bets on?

    If you’re looking for clues on tomorrow’s hottest industries, pay attention to where some very intelligent people are investing their time, energy and funds. For example, Google is so passionate about radical life extension that it is backing a life science project called Calico with the ambition of “curing death.” Calico is working with AbbVie to the tune of $1.5 billion to develop new drugs to target diseases associated with old age.

    Is it any coincidence that some of the most fruitful areas to pursue are at the intersection of disciplines, the digitalization of medicine or anything in the biosciences area? Or that we’re seeing dramatic expansion of bioengineering or bioinformatics?

    Chances are, this is an area you don’t think about every day. You’re probably a lot more comfortable dealing with concepts familiar to your industry. Meanwhile, while you’re concentrating on what’s right in front of you, a real growth area is popping up. The fact that you don’t have 15 years of experience in this growth field? Not as much as an issue as you think because guess what? The field itself is new! So getting to a place in that field considered state-of-the-art isn’t as high of a mountain to climb. The real challenge is choosing the right rocket to ride.

     

    Finding your passion is rarely simple but worth the journey.

    In reality, you have to work hard – even for a long time in some cases - to find your passion. It doesn’t come ready-made. This might explain why some candidates don’t always follow their passion but rather what they happen to be good at right now.

    How will you know if you’ve arrived at your passion? If you have a boundless energy for practice and wanting to get better and better, you’re well on your way. Keep pushing. And discovering.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

     

     

  • Move Where The Puck Is Going To BeApril 1, 2015

    About a year and a half ago, we placed an accomplished software developer in a job. He called us up recently and told us that he needed a replacement for himself because he was going to have a new set of responsibilities within the organization. What makes him unique versus a lot of other people is that he doesn’t ask, “How do we get this done?” but rather “What aren’t we doing that we should be doing?” or “What technology is going to be available soon that we can deploy?”

    To him, it’s not about continually plugging away within the same market and trying to penetrate it. He instead thinks about other markets that are going to develop. 

    His forward-thinking style reminds me of when hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

    Think back to when the iPad was first introduced. Sure, some people embraced it but if you recall, there were a lot of other people saying, “What is this and why do we need it?” There were a lot of questions at first. But before long, Apple was selling millions of them every quarter.

    This comes from a combination of technical know-how to understand the kind of innovation coming down the pipe with the creativity to imagine how that new technology can be used to further the business.

    In our business, we encounter descriptions from companies who think purely about a job to be filled and what the corresponding responsibilities are for that role. But the best jobs are really the ones where you don’t know what to do. That’s right! When you think about it, if it’s never been done before, how can you innovate? Otherwise, if it’s always been done the same way, at some point in time the role is going to become obsolete.

    A lot of people we deal with are interested in doing things that are totally different from what they’re doing right now. As a recruiter, my primary job is to, of course, get what my clients want, such as employers. My secondary job is to find a job that a candidate will find exciting. Quite often, I have to create a picture for both parties to converge on. That doesn’t mean it’s a picture that either one of them exactly had in mind, but it’s something that both of them would be excited about. This is why I don’t like a lot of job descriptions. Why? They’re usually at extremes. Many of them are so vague and don’t tell us anything about the role or they’re far too specific on the job.

    If someone is serious about looking for something else and they currently have a job, they don’t want to be doing the same thing in their next job. They want to be doing something else! So what we have to do is go beyond the limits of the job description. We need to gather information from the company and candidate, listen to what they’re both ideally looking for and often create an entirely different job description that takes both of them to a whole new place from where they were. That new place is of great benefit to both parties and probably something they could never reach on their own by thinking within the confines of the traditional job description.

    In the recruiting world, a lot of companies say, “I’ll know the person is right for the role when I see them but I can’t describe it to you in advance.” Candidates will say a variation on this too, describing a job they’re not qualified for or can’t be easily verified in advance (“I want the people I work with to be friendly”).

    Break free of the limitations of what’s been done before. As Steve Jobs said, “The consumer doesn’t know what they want until they see it.”

    If you’re ready to be open to a new picture of the right candidate or employer that might be even better than what you originally imagined, it’s time to talk to Roy Talman & Associates at 312.425.1300 or email us at info@roytalman.com.

  • How To: Handle A CounterofferMarch 27, 2015

    You've successfully completed the interview stage and have been offered the job. You’ve negotiated a package you are happy with and now it’s time to start thinking about your exit strategy. You arrange a meeting with your boss and start planning your resignation.

    How do you approach the subject? You start explaining your decision process and how you’ve decided to leave the company to go to another opportunity. Then your boss surprises you with a counteroffer: Your current employer explains how you were just about to get that promotion they’ve been promising, along with the overdue pay raise and more responsibility you’ve requested.

    You’re the only person who can make the final decision. Will you stay or will you go?

     

    Counteroffer

    What happens if your employer gives you a counteroffer once you’ve decided to leave? If the only time you get a better deal is when you resign, I’d say there’s a message there. It’s very easy to fall back into your comfort zone and of course, your employer doesn't want you to leave, but if they really didn't see this coming, then alarm bells should be ringing — they’re obviously out of sync with the market and you should be questioning why you were not recognized on merit.

    Receiving such an offer, although it’s flattering, shouldn't always be viewed as a vote of confidence. Do they really want to hold onto you because you are a valued member of staff? Or do they view your pay increase as a cost saving against the price of recruiting? If your managers' success is measured on staff retention, their reasons for providing a counteroffer may be completely selfish rather than what’s best for the company or for your career.

    Think about your reasons for leaving. Nine times out of ten when you go for an interview, it’s more than just the money that you’re not satisfied with. Perhaps your current role isn't challenging enough or you don’t have enough autonomy or your relationship with colleagues is dwindling.

    My 30 years’ experience has taught me that most people who decide to accept the counteroffer and stay where they are end up leaving six months later. It’s always about more than just the money.

    Because you have shown that you are willing to leave, your loyalty will always be questioned. You could be putting yourself in a vulnerable position where you could be blamed if something goes wrong in the future. Every doctor or dentist appointment going forward may be treated with suspicion. You also have to accept the possibility that you’ll never feel a part of the ‘inner circle’ again and it may be tough to overcome the stigma with colleagues who might resent the new deal you have negotiated for yourself.

    Typically, counteroffers are usually nothing more than a stalling technique to give your employer more time to replace you. The reasons you wanted to leave in the first place will still remain - they just become a little more bearable in the short term because of the pay rise and promotion offered. Will you need to threaten to leave every time you want to negotiate a pay rise or take on more responsibility?

    The biggest taboo in accepting a counteroffer is that you have broken your commitment to the prospective employer you worked so hard to impress.

    After negotiating your salary and going through the motions of joining a new team, breaking this commitment could burn all bridges with that prospective employer. Depending on the process and whether any recruiters were involved, you may also gain a reputation for time wasting and behaving unprofessionally. If the counter offer is tempting you to stay, think long and hard about the implications for your reputation within the industry you work in and for your long-term career.

    If you do decide to stay, you need to treat it as a formal process. Sometimes employers will promise a better package and encourage you to change your mind and then change nothing. Suddenly, you’re back where you started, but without a job offer. You don’t need to put yourself in this position and must ensure you get all agreements signed and agreed before letting your prospective employer down.

    Reputable businesses rarely make counteroffers. They will accept your resignation with regret, appreciate the contribution you have made to the business and wish you every success for the future.

    At some point in every career, there comes a time to take on a new challenge and leave a business. Reduce the potential career damage and stress levels associated with this transition by having the confidence to trust your gut and stick with your decision.

    Hopefully you make the right decision and continue planning your exit strategy!

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • How The Patient-Physician Relationship Is Changing ForeverMarch 26, 2015

    I’m reading a fascinating book entitled, “The Patient Will See You Now,” by Eric Topol, M.D., which gives an appreciation for how much of a new body of knowledge is being created every year.

    In the view of many people who attend college, they feel they’ve learned what they could in that period of higher education and upon graduation, they need to apply that learning to the real world. Sure, they may learn a bit additionally here and there, but it’s implied that what they need to learn after college is a fraction of what they’ve already learned while in college.

    Speaking specifically about the medical field, an extremely large and knowledge-intensive area, the book makes a point on how the medical field is being reinvented to the extent that the quantity of new knowledge being created over the next few years might be several times multiplied what we’re experiencing from it today.

    Medicine has been around for 2000 years or more – so how could the next 10 years create more knowledge than the prior 2000? The reality is that it’s going to create far, far more. The appreciation of how fast the new knowledge is being created in the form of new medicines, procedures and learning won’t just bring a higher level of understanding. It will bring with it a revolutionary new relationship (and partnership) between patient and physician.

    The idea that a professional physician who spends 15 minutes talking to you can understand everything there is to know about your medical issues is changing rapidly. Without sounding like each person should be their own doctor, there is a shift that Topol sees in which the patient will be more empowered than ever to be seen as an equal with the doctor in charting a course for their own health.

    By the way, don’t think that this new partnership between patient and physician is really only describing a one-to-one relationship. The book envisions a future in which your health is influenced positively by a team of physicians from a variety of medical institutions who can help you. This brings new challenges in terms of how this team will communicate with each other and share medical records.

    However, the one loud and clear message is how fast medicine is changing but how the majority of doctors are resisting this change. Why? For as long as we can remember, the relationship has existed with the doctor as the “knowing” party and the patient as the “receiving” party. Doctors have often been taught to only share so much sensitive information, believing that they shouldn’t share things that the patient won’t readily understand anyway. The patient consequently gets their information on a “need to know” basis.

    The tremendous quantity of various sensors and devices coming into the market in the next year or two will put more knowledge into the patient’s hands than ever before, enabling patients to analyze blood and other elements, then plug this information into a smartphone for further detail. There’s no “sending off to a lab” component here or waiting for results. We will similarly see doctor-patient communication more prevalent via Cisco Telepresence versus the traditional in-office visit.

    The trend of technology to change the physician-patient dynamic may not be the most comfortable for some in the medical field, but make no mistake – it’s going to be happening and much sooner in the U.S. than most people possibly expect.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • How Resume Blasting Can Blow A Job SearchMarch 19, 2015

    It’s very tempting. A new, shiny tool comes along promising you the ability to get your resume in front of hundreds of hiring authorities. The idea behind a tool like this is that if you’re throwing things against the wall really fast, that’s going to do you a world of good in your job search. Right?

    Wrong.

    If you went to a doctor, would you love it if the physician started prescribing you one medication after another even before you were done explaining your symptoms? Not an ideal approach.

    At Talman, one of the messages I’m glad to see coming across and resonating with candidates in the financial trading space is this: Don’t panic. Don’t flood the market with a half-baked resume. Don’t ‘wing it’ in interviews versus being prepared because you’ll shoot yourself in the foot. The right approach is to be deliberate, thorough and targeted.

    From what we’ve witnessed among hiring companies, these businesses have a very high bar for candidates to clear with what they require in a specialized skill set. Leaving a powerful impression means everything and if you’re not prepared to give your best, the results won’t be to your liking. At that point, it’s difficult to then come back to a recruiter and say, “Well, I applied to quite a few companies but looking back on it, I positioned myself the wrong way and said the wrong things. Can you still do something for me?”

    Attacking your job search with a specialized recruiter enables you to be accompanied by someone who knows where the market is going and what it demands of candidates. Each person is unique and has many different skills to bring to the table – but believe it or not, what some candidates believe to be their strongest skill isn’t that at all because they’re not objective enough. It’s akin to thinking, “I’m a really good singer because of how I sound in the shower.” You may love speaking about projects you worked on 10 years ago, but is doing that sending an inadvertent message to a hiring manager that you’re not as in tune with where technology is today? A recruiter can point out skills that need to be improved upon or at least which ones you have are closest to the ones that the hiring authority is interested in, so you can leverage that in a conversation.

    Quite often, the company is not only curious in where you’ve been but how apt you’ll be to help them develop new technologies and applications. They realize that there’s only so much value in keeping a 15-year-old piece of software going when what they should be doing is focusing on more modern software in need of development. That appreciation for finding new and proprietary technology continues to be expanding, not just as a “nice to have” but also as an essential ingredient to business survival.

    Remember to speak about what you can do in the future to offer enticing possibilities for the hiring manager to envision just as much if not more than looking back exclusively on your work history.

    First, however, you need to give yourself a chance to build your approach the right way – methodical and laser-focused. Not blasting in bulk thanks to the latest recruiting tool.

    Isn’t something as important as your next career stop, one that could be your most invigorating yet, worth making a real plan for that’s customized around you?

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • What’s The Harm In Artificial Intelligence?March 12, 2015

    Ironically, some of the people who talk about the potential danger of Artificial Intelligence, like Elon Musk, are also some of the most informed people on the subject too. They’re much more aware of how fast our ability to solve problems with the help of computer software is progressing. Whether we are close to a “danger point” or not on that is hard to tell. But one thing is an almost certainty - the pace of progress is grossly underestimated by a majority of the population.


    We’ve seen incredibly sophisticated “worms” like Stuxnet exist in which a piece of self-contained software can propagate itself from one area to another and then act in certain ways, all from one infected USB flash drive. Stuxnet was developed several years ago to attack industrial programmable logic controllers, which influence mechanical processes for, among other things, centrifuges related to nuclear material. In Stuxnet’s case, the worm was used to reportedly attack and compromise about 20% of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.

    By now, you can just imagine the functionality of something similar that could be 1000 times more capable, such as a piece of software that is smart enough to be able to get into your cell phone – and just yours – and then reports something harmful against you that you will never know. To me, the immediate danger of AI is not that it somehow “goes berserk” on its own but that it becomes an extremely powerful and targeted weapon in the wrong hands.

    How does this translate into the type of security-based talent companies can and should hire? Most of the people we’ve seen focused on security are centered around concepts that, quite frankly, are at least 5 years old. The most sophisticated, forward-thinking tools are often being developed by companies like Palentir and not available to the general public - a combination of sophisticated detection with reporting capabilities for experienced analysts. It’s easy to hire and build a career for where technology has been. But when it comes to preserving security among our networks and the rise of using smarter digital weapons to compromise systems, we need intelligent hires based on where technology is going more than ever.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • Are We Going On A Big Data Diet?March 5, 2015

    In the past few years, it seems the phrase “Big Data” has been on everyone’s lips. But recently, we’ve found the talk has shifted to slightly less revolving around big data and more focused on a new term - predictive analytics.

    What can organizations do with analytics that are more predictive and what does it spell for the kind of people they need? And why are we lately not seeing as much use for digesting Big Data?

    In many corners of everyday life, as it pertains to Big Data, my belief is that we probably still don’t have the right data, that there are insufficient quantities of data or that the models are too complex. The models we can build to cater to Big Data applications may have 50-100 variables – maybe even as much as 1000 variables. Sounds like quite a bit on the surface, right?

    Yet, in real life, the number of variables is dramatically higher. Which makes it so much harder to pre-program for considering all of them. For example, the reason we’re so good at programming computers to play chess is that for all of the potential moves you can make on a chessboard, the number of rules to follow is still fairly limited. Or how about poker, a game with dramatically fewer steps than, say, bridge. There aren’t 15 steps in poker and there’s no history to go on other than the behavior of the player in the past. Which may explain why computers have gotten to a point where many can play at a level on par with the world’s best poker players in some of the more limited versions of the game.

    Now imagine programming that same computer to play football, in which each player can have hundreds of variables alone. Combine all these players on the team and you’ve got exponential layers of complexity.

    Returning to real life, let’s say you’re in a leadership position where you’re trying to manage an organization with thousands of people – how many variables are we talking about now? Not only are there multiple variables per employee, but you also have a multitude of variables per customer. Your competitors are responsible for their own large set of variables. There are even non-business variables, such as those that have to do with the weather.

    Obviously, when you put all of these variables on top of each other, you have an exploding number of scenarios. And guess what? Predictive analytics doesn’t like that. Machine learning, however, does. But for machine learning to be effective, we’ll probably need much more data than what we currently have.

    How much? The estimates I’ve seen on this machine learning timeline according to Google’s Ray Kurzweil is that it’s going to take about a billion times more computing effort to have a truly intelligent search as opposed to a keyword-based search.

    Intelligent search is one that actually understands the question, including the context of the question and can give you an answer that is far more likely to be what you’re looking for. Ideally, this is where search is going – not an endless search with countless results but an interaction that helps anticipate the right answer based on what you’ve provided as well as other outside factors. 

    The point of merely having more and more data is one that we’ve often been fixated on but in truth, this only begins to scratch the surface. It’s what to do with that data and draw the insights between the numbers that will propel us forward. We’re not there yet. It’s early. But it’s nonetheless fascinating to watch how context and other predictive analytical elements are rising to the forefront of conversations to evolve our perception of what a machine can truly “learn.”

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • The Other Immigration Battle The U.S. Needs To WinFebruary 19, 2015

    At the center of the current immigration debate are a group of millions of people who already live in this country. Yet, there’s another group that isn’t covered by the media nearly enough in this immigration challenge – nearly 1 million foreign-born graduates with the necessary skill set to contribute top technological skills back to the U.S. but is being lost due to a dysfunctional immigration system.

    It’s a war for talent that’s underscored by findings from the latest Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI), a study that measures the world’s countries on the basis of talent each country can attract and retain. Despite having a system of higher education that could be considered the very best in the world, the United States ranks 4th in this global talent index behind Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg.

    My take? Many foreign-born college graduates are leaving the country because by the time they get their degrees, it’s so difficult to get a job under their current status.

    Here, there is an ongoing battle between a high-tech industry seeking to hire people who have been recently taught the latest skills and a political system that wants those employers to hire people who don’t have such skills but can possibly learn them. Companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon covet this top talent graduating from universities who are not U.S. citizens. They want to identify, hire and retain them for the long haul. They just don’t want to jump through 15 different hoops via an antiquated process to do it.

    If the U.S. is change this immigration policy with a target of obtaining and retaining top talent with skills in the latest technology, our country can quite possibly make the gains we desperately need.

    For the good of preserving and improving our technological standing in the world, it’s time to make this talent base part of the immigration conversation too.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • Keeping Your Skills Out Of The “Marked Down” BinFebruary 12, 2015

    When people talk about a skill shortage as it pertains to software technology, we have to think of such a shortage as perpetual. This is not as bad as it might sound on the surface. Why? It’s describing a cycle that comes from the emergence of new software. Let me explain.

    Imagine a hiring manager who says, “I really need to bring in a person with 5 years of Ruby development skills.” Easy enough? Not exactly. That’s because at software’s earliest phase, as it grows in demand and becomes a hot technology, a skill shortage results. Ruby development is relatively new, which means it’s very likely that only 1-2% of candidates will be able to accommodate the need.

    Rarely is there ever a skill shortage in the kind of technology that is 15 years old.

    In the rare instance an established technology experiences a skills shortage, it’s primarily due to the fact that the people who had those skills have given them up. After all, who wants to work on old technology when they can work on something new? Still, overall, mature technologies will be much less likely to have a shortage because more users are phasing them out. This is typically where you start to see heavy-duty outsourcing of these skills. We don’t see machine learning and other new technologies outsourced. It’s the code that was written 15 years ago that has to be maintained today that’s a candidate for outsourcing.

    This cycle of new technology and how long it takes to learn it virtually guarantees that there’s always going to be a skill shortage in the latest new area. Whether it will make reporters write the same story repeatedly on a skills shortage (they’ve covered this ground on everything from C++ to Java to SaaS) anything that is new and useful by necessity will create a shortage.

    Does that mean you can alleviate this shortage easily? If something is going to help, it’s going to be online education. This appears to be the most feasible way to teach a large number of people new skills. The new model of online courses has built communities that are testing each other, resulting in a faster way to gain knowledge that is truly new to the users.

     

    Therefore, it’s often safe to assume that any technology that is two years old or less falls into the category of having a skills shortage.

    Here’s the analogy I like to use – consider the shortage of toys we often see around the holidays every year. When those toys are hot commodities, they’re in short supply and on a short timeline. When they’re not hot, those less desirable toys find themselves in the “marked down” bin.

    So as a candidate, it’s crucial to make sure your skills stay fresh – because the last place you want to see them found is in the technological skills version of the “marked down” bin.

     

     

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • What “House Of Cards” Has To Do With Digital AccelerationFebruary 5, 2015

    Labeling a DVD. Sticking the DVD in a package. Storing said DVD on a shelf. Mailing it to a customer. It’s not the most efficient way of doing things.

    In fact, wouldn’t it be much easier to put the content from that DVD online? After all, the cost of transmitting a gigabyte has dropped from $8 to about 2 cents in the last several years. When you can stream video for pennies, you can begin to understand why Netflix and Amazon are depending less on movie studios and turning more to a model that draws from producing original content through shows like “House of Cards.” Such shows encourage us to watch content in “binge”-sized chunks as opposed to one movie at a time. For Netflix, it has resulted in the largest grossing drama for adult programming in the last 8-9 years.

    Digital acceleration is rapidly evolving the business model of Netflix, Amazon and even YouTube as these companies realize that they’ll generate more revenue from people sitting in front of small screens than if those people went to the big screens of a movie theater.

     

    For designers in high-tech, a different kind of digital acceleration is occurring but one in which they have to be keenly aware of how the landscape of technology will shape their development sooner rather than later. It reminds me of Moore’s Law, which states that overall processing power for computers will double every two years.

     

    The reality is that with the cost of digitalization driving our consumption, it’s a guarantee that 5 years from now, we’re going to consume over 30 times the amount of data that we’re consuming now. Where is that consumption going to come from? We can predict some suspects, such as sensors. Sooner rather than later, there will likely be 6-10 sensors per person, which will monitor how you sleep, blood functions, glucose levels and more.

     

    The question that software developers should be asking themselves is, “What kind of software is going to be developed 5 years from now?” Unfortunately, some people don’t want to think about that. Step one is that it’s so much easier to learn from what’s already been done. Books that look toward the future represent only a fraction in volume compared to the number of historical books. It’s easier to look backward. You know what happened and you can analyze. The future, for some, is too unknown and unsettling.

     

    From the candidate’s perspective, people tend to feel safer just doing what they’re doing. But there are some exceptions – in Silicon Valley, they know that they want their more capable people to spend a certain percentage of their time to enhance their capabilities and not just doing their job. Because just doing the job is only what’s keeping the “status quo” working.

     

    So they’ve created a culture that rewards people who believe in learning and doing new things. In the culture of Stanford University, we’ve seen examples of the university encouraging and supporting students to start a for-profit business. It’s one of the reasons Stanford has been so successful at creating a cornucopia of wealth in the region. Other universities? Not necessarily – they might say, “No, if you’re going to develop a certain type of technology or idea, it’s ours and you have to figure out how to use it inside of the school better.”

     

    Think of it this way: If all you ever read was the sports page in the newspaper, it would be hard to get a complete perspective on what’s out there in the world, right? Similarly, if I were a software engineer today, one of the things I would do is read things not specifically about the future of software engineering but rather books about different industries. When you do that, you may begin to see how the technology in that particular field is going to be applied in the near future.

     

    In a typical mainframe environment, 85% or more of the dollars spent have gone toward preserving the current state. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to spend to figure out new technologies. However, there are good place to look for clues on “what’s next” in the industry.

    For example, I’m listening to a book called “The Patient Will See You Now” by Eric Topol, which talks about the future of health care. One of the examples on display is how the cell phone is getting a lot of wonderful attachments so that a person can use their phone to self-diagnosis a heart attack and have the phone call a doctor with the diagnosis.

    Another wonderful book is “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson, a fascinating read that is excellent from the standpoint of understanding how technology develops, marketing, psychology and how to build a business. These types of books provide a wealth of knowledge that’s usable.

    Instead of trying to figure it all out on your own, read non-fiction books where very intelligent people have already spent a great deal of time analyzing the landscape of where things in a variety of industries are going. Combining the knowledge from these sources with a portion that is relevant to your world can get you much farther ahead.

     

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

     

  • Help! A Recruiter Spammed My Resume.January 12, 2015

    Not long ago, a candidate contacted me in a bit of a panic. A recruiter he had no formal contract with had sent out his resume to a wide variety of potential employers. So what was the problem with that? Plenty.

    1. The recruiter appeared to be sending the resume far and wide without the candidate’s permission, which is far from ethical.
    2. There didn’t seem to be any method or strategy behind the approach other than spamming, which doesn’t reflect well on the recruiter and certainly doesn’t help the candidate.
    3. All the firms that received the resume were now legally obligated to work with that particular recruiter if they wanted to hire the candidate. Even though the candidate didn’t want anything to do with the recruiter, by that point his opinion in the matter had unfortunately become irrelevant.

    We wish it were the first time we’d heard of such a situation in the recruitment world. But it’s not.

    Just by a recruiter and candidate having a private conversation about a company, the recruiter may feel they have free reign to present that candidate.

    Other times, the recruiter may run through a list of 30-40 different companies, asking the candidate over the phone, “Have you ever talked to Company A, Company B, Company C?” It’s a 10-minute conversation that the candidate may not remember later on. Meanwhile, the recruiter pulls information from the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, presents it to companies they just talked about and presto! The candidate has just become an unknowing participant in resume spam and they can’t be presented to that company by any other recruiter in the immediate future. 

    It’s time for a wake-up call on this practice so candidates can better protect themselves and take back control of their own career path.

    So how did we get here?

    It used to be that employment agencies were regulated with guidelines for a variety of scenarios (“If A occurs, then B must happen.”). The process was fairly straightforward too: A candidate would visit with a recruiter, the recruiter would learn more information and if there appeared to be a logical fit, the recruiter would get a potential employer on the phone to set up an interview.

    However, as new technologies moved in – and I mean when faxing was first used – new questions began to arise. One of those questions was, “Does sending a fax constitute a contract that essentially says if the company receiving the fax hires that person, the hiring company will owe a fee to that candidate’s recruiter?”

    The answer at the time was fairly cut-and-dried on this in that receiving a fax in itself did not constitute an obligation to pay the recruiter upon hire. And only solicited resumes were supposed to be faxed. 

    End of story, right? Wrong.

    Different recruiters began sending candidates to different company managers, creating a confusing conflict. Let’s say Recruiter A pitches the candidate to one company manager and Recruiter B pitches the candidate to another manager…and the candidate winds up being hired for a different role in that company entirely. Both recruiters claim credit for the hire.

    That may seem like a messy situation and it can be. However, in an effort to avoid such a scenario, many companies are creating an even messier potential outcome of their own making. They’ve devised a solution that consists of using a timestamp of when the resume was received. This has brought about a situation in which the “winning” recruiter is the first one to get a resume to the person within a company who validates a timestamp.

     The kind of behavior that is promoted is that the recruiter first gets someone on the phone or exchanges an email, takes the person’s profile from LinkedIn and shoots it off to a client. Does that constitute a real presentation? It shouldn’t. But the way things are right now, when a candidate is presented for the first time, the recruiter has an exclusive claim on that candidate for a year. All other recruiters are blocked from representing the candidate to that firm. 

    The remedy doesn’t have to be complicated.

    A firm with an automatic tracking system can send an email to the candidate, asking for confirmation that the candidate has indeed authorized a particular recruiter to represent them for a specific job at their company. It’s just that simple. By making the candidate’s consent a requirement for acceptance of the presented resume by the hiring company, a lot of problems could be avoided.

    Yet, this isn’t done nearly as often as it should be. Why? It could be that the hiring manager prefers to ignore the system in case of an internal employee referral or doesn’t want to deal with complications in the event that one of their vendors is engaging in inappropriate actions.

    Obviously, not all recruiters are created equal. 

    It’s your future we’re talking about. The recruiter you choose today and the practices they bring with them is a reflection on you. Assume you have one chance to make a powerful impression with a company once you’re presented, so this isn’t a decision you should take lightly. 

    Our advice? Don’t talk to the recruiter alone – talk to people who have used that recruiter. 

    Ask questions about them such as: 

    •  Was the recruiter transparent and forthcoming at all times during the process? 
    • Did the recruiter ever present you to a company without your knowledge?
    • Did the recruiter seem to know the nuances of certain positions in advance and do their homework on the hiring company in advance to ascertain if there was a proper fit?
    • Beyond qualifications, did the recruiter strive to understand the personality of both the candidate and the hiring manager so that a good recommendation was made?
    • Did the recruiter seem to be on top of current technologies being used or trends?
    • Has that recruiter ever hired away someone that they have previously placed?

    Plus, make sure you vehemently spell out to the recruiter that they have no right to send out any part of your information to a potential employer without first getting your explicit permission to do so and that failure to comply could result in legal action. Don’t take chances. Get them to be in agreement and don’t do anything with them until you feel you have that.

    We’re truly interested in helping you make a decision in a recruiter you can feel great about representing you at Roy Talman & Associates. That includes giving you a candid opinion on whether or not we’re a proper fit for your needs. And if you’d like the peace of mind in knowing how others view us, we’ll be happy to direct you to those candidates and hiring managers too. After all, they’ve entrusted us for over 25 years to represent them in the most positive and ethical light possible. No wonder so many of those relationships are here to stay.

  • Beyond Firewalls: What The Sony Hack Teaches Us About CybersecurityJanuary 12, 2015

    Beyond Firewalls: What The Sony Hack Teaches Us About Cybersecurity

    Due to some very timely events, a major discussion is taking place within companies around the question, “How do you secure cloud systems?” In the past, we’d secure systems from invasions by creating a firewall that protects everyone. Of course, if that firewall is breached, that’s kind of “open season” as Sony Pictures painfully realized during the monumentally damaging hack that took place against their company.

    We’ve come to realize that having simply a firewall as the only line of defense is a very dangerous risk with your company’s sensitive information. So companies are now exploring systems in which there are absolutely zero vulnerabilities at the most elementary level. Even the most seemingly harmless elements, such as company directory, could serve as a point of entry. Not only does that call for password protection on the outside but encryption on the inside. In the case of the Sony hack, highly sensitive electronic communication was flying throughout the company with a shocking lack of password protection and encryption. They had spreadsheets on every conceivable piece of information that never should have been seen by just anyone…that never required a password to view.

    The extreme view is that each software developer should have expertise in security, so that security can be built into every level of the software. Now, this is sometimes easier said than done because historically, security has been an infrastructure solution. Companies have used firewalls to “build a moat” around everything they have worth protecting – but once you bridge the firewall, the actual items inside the walls are still unprotected!

    Optimistically, I suspect that people will figure out how to build security solutions into the smallest parts of systems. How many people will be required to write code in order to accomplish that task? It’s not absolutely certain at this point. Right now the person typically responsible is a Security Administrator who concerns themselves with firewall breaches, secure lines and more. Most software developers don’t think about building security solutions in this sense. Therefore, it may take a lot of rethinking in terms of how security is implemented in software, including building tools that make this task much easier to do, even if it means more off-the-shelf solutions or plug-ins.

    One thing is for sure – if we’ve learned anything from the level of security breaches we saw last year in many corporations, it’s that we can’t rely on one wall to protect the castle of company information. We have to approach the situation as it’s not if a hack happens but when – and when it does, how the defenses well beyond the first wall are heavily fortified like never before.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Beyond Firewalls: What The Sony Hack Teaches Us About CybersecurityJanuary 10, 2015

    Due to some very timely events, a major discussion is taking place within companies around the question, “How do you secure cloud systems?” In the past, we’d secure systems from invasions by creating a firewall that protects everyone. Of course, if that firewall is breached, that’s kind of “open season” as Sony Pictures painfully realized during the monumentally damaging hack that took place against their company.

    We’ve come to realize that having simply a firewall as the only line of defense is a very dangerous risk with your company’s sensitive information. So companies are now exploring systems in which there are absolutely zero vulnerabilities at the most elementary level. Even the most seemingly harmless elements, such as company directory, could serve as a point of entry. Not only does that call for password protection on the outside but encryption on the inside. In the case of the Sony hack, highly sensitive electronic communication was flying throughout the company with a shocking lack of password protection and encryption. They had spreadsheets on every conceivable piece of information that never should have been seen by just anyone…that never required a password to view.

    The extreme view is that each software developer should have expertise in security, so that security can be built into every level of the software. Now, this is sometimes easier said than done because historically, security has been an infrastructure solution. Companies have used firewalls to “build a moat” around everything they have worth protecting – but once you bridge the firewall, the actual items inside the walls are still unprotected!

    Optimistically, I suspect that people will figure out how to build security solutions into the smallest parts of systems. How many people will be required to write code in order to accomplish that task? It’s not absolutely certain at this point. Right now the person typically responsible is a Security Administrator who concerns themselves with firewall breaches, secure lines and more. Most software developers don’t think about building security solutions in this sense. Therefore, it may take a lot of rethinking in terms of how security is implemented in software, including building tools that make this task much easier to do, even if it means more off-the-shelf solutions or plug-ins.

    One thing is for sure – if we’ve learned anything from the level of security breaches we saw last year in many corporations, it’s that we can’t rely on one wall to protect the castle of company information. We have to approach the situation as it’s not if a hack happens but when – and when it does, how the defenses well beyond the first wall are heavily fortified like never before.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Who Needs 2-Step Authentication? Everyone.January 1, 2015

    In our recent post, “Help! A Recruiter Spammed My Resume,” we talked about how some less-than-ethical recruiters will send resumes to companies without properly checking with the candidate first. But with some checks-and-balances in place regarding the candidate’s permission, such as the company receiving the resume asking the candidate directly if they consented to have their resume presented, some of these issues could be minimized.

    In fact, this isn’t the only area that could improve with more authentications and a higher level of it.

    If company cyberattacks over the last year have taught us anything, it’s that we can’t afford to wait any longer for widespread adoption of 2-step authentication to permeate our society.

    One development I’m glad to be seeing is that in addition to asking for a username and password, companies are asking for cell phone numbersso that every time someone tries to login to the system from a new machine, the user can be texted a special code. It’s one small but extremely important extra layer of authentication that helps the process of verification move in a way that’s smarter and hopefully more accurate.

    It’s one thing for a hacker to obtain your password. It’s another for them to also be able to get a hold of your cell phone.

    No matter how much you change up a password, it’s still one layer of authentication. Times call for something more beyond, “Make sure you come up with something better than ‘password123’.” Most people understand the importance of that. But more sophistication is needed.

    A relatively new company called Authy is making great strides on this front by having a system that provides 2-step authentication as a cloud-based service. Once you write a program, you can simply plug in Authy for 2-step authentication on your devices.

    With the proliferation of cell phones and people becoming more comfortable with the concept of 2-step authentication, this implementation couldn’t come a moment too soon.

    Will it be hard to adopt over different devices and platforms?

    No. The only issue here is a company verifying that you are who you say you are. Once you do that in not one but two steps, the process can be successful across all kinds of environments without difficulty.

    Let’s remember as well that hackers generally are not looking for a more complicated hack. They’re looking for the easy road in with someone who is only using one layer of authentication and a password utilizing “12345” rather than someone who has a more complicated password followed by a text-to-cell-phone verification. The analogy here is the burglar who sees a home security sign in front of a house – it’s a deterrent to them breaking in because they know it’s going to make the potential theft more complicated.

    Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Are Machines Coming To Take Our Jobs? (And If So, Which Ones?)December 18, 2014

    I’ve been watching fascinating videos lately from DeepMind (recently purchased by Google for $400 million) that show us how computers are learning how to play video games – progressively getting better and better until they eventually win – across 15 different games. Needlessly to say, the results from the computer are dramatically better and faster than practically any human could achieve in the same period of time.

    In the much bigger picture, the ability for computers to “learn” in such a way speaks to the larger application of being able to solve problems in an unknown environment.

    When will we see more of these types of technologies – could they arrive in much greater force in 2015? Sometimes their arrival is not as obvious as you’d expect. For instance, until we were able to speak into our iPhones, we didn’t know that we were dealing with a viable tool as opposed to a toy or gimmick. The penetration of cognitive computing into everyday life is going to continue, even though the pace of growth won’t always be that easy to measure.

    However, there are certainly indicators. Let’s take Amazon, for example, who is planning on a wider deployment of robots in their warehouses to transport pallets for pickup. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying he wants as many as 10,000 robots actively working in Amazon’s warehouses. These are systems that “learn” and become smarter based on the analytics received from Big Data. They’re not running into themselves or hurting other people. That’s the manifestation of learning that’s embedded in many of these machines.

    If we take a look at what some of the more advanced companies are doing, they’re incrementally deploying more cognitive analytics into their businesses. The more this is built into tools that are easier to use, we’ll see more usage of it. As computers and systems do more, they’ll be displacing some people in the process.

    This restarts the age-old debate as to how much technology is too much – but each time we’ve had that discussion, the fear is that humans won’t do anything in the wake of technology taking certain tasks off our hands.

    Yet, the reality often is that it frees us to find more useful, captivating work that furthers society. Machines complement our work and don’t replace us entirely. Machines provide opportunities, not endings.

    The question is whether our ability to do other tasks is growing exponentially. Will it get to the point where humans’ ability to do the things we are truly better at get outpaced by computing?

    There are some scenarios in which lower-skilled people compete for fewer jobs and based on price. Meanwhile, people who benefit from leveraging technology will grow dramatically, leading to an accumulation of wealth. End consumers will benefit but some at the lower end of learning may be challenged even further than they are today.

    We may not absolutely know what the future holds just yet but we can already see that the above trend is generally good news for both our clients and candidates – because they’re people who want to learn continually and evolve their skill set (or their companies).

    If you’re ready to be open to a new picture of the right candidate or employer that might be even better than what you originally imagined, it’s time to talk to Roy Talman & Associates at 312.425.1300 or email us at info@roytalman.com.

  • Why It’s Time To Forklift Your Data Center Into The CloudDecember 11, 2014

    Within the next year, I see cloud-related knowledge taking off. We continue to read about “forklift”-style projects, in which a mainframe is picked up and moved out. In its place is…nothing.

    That’s right. Nothing else is physically brought in to replace it because it all goes into the cloud.

    The history of enterprise computing shows that enterprises have generally been fairly conservative – they usually have a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality in which they are reluctant to change something that’s technically working. But we might be approaching a tipping point in the next year or two in which companies realize their current environment is not equipped to handle an avalanche of data. Whether they’ll go to a public cloud, private cloud or a hybrid cloud, the bottom line is that computing capacity of the cloud can and should grow dramatically, posing a challenge to the existence of private data centers. Rather than staff continuously maintaining machines that aren’t often upgraded, a data center that encounters a “forklift” initiative will see much of its functionality moved into the cloud.

     

     

    Finding A Comfort Zone With The Cloud

    Really, people are getting progressively more comfortable with the cloud. In fact, so many of the things we touch daily are based in the cloud as it is, including smartphone applications. The more we gain access – which could literally be 100 times a day for various reasons – the less worried we are that our information is in the cloud. This security fear that the cloud could “go down” suddenly doesn’t hold up compared to data centers that experience problems far more frequently. Let’s face it. Google certainly has its share of cloud-based applications – how often have you heard of all of Google being down?

    Even when a cloud environment does have a widespread problem that affects multiple regions for several hours, as Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform did recently, it still isn’t going to reverse the trend of companies moving away from private data centers to the cloud. That’s because it’s so hard to continually upgrade private data centers. New tools have emerged in which companies can control more of their virtual data center far more easily.

     

     

    The Talent That Also Gets Lifted Upward

    Like anything else, the technologies that are so complex that they require 5+ years of learning will probably not be the ones that take off. Instead, talent that focuses on security in the cloud will be in greater demand. Every software developer needs to take charge of securing their application. The application needs to be “aware” of who is using it at all times. Unfortunately, all you need is one entry point and everything inside becomes vulnerable. The bigger the data centers are, the harder it will be to have a firewall that’s 100% effective in protecting the center from the rest of the world.

    With this in mind, cloud-based security services are only going to grow exponentially between now and 2017, when sources like Gartner predict the market will reach $4.1 billion. That should be to the advantage of candidates skilled in identity and access management, remote vulnerability assessment, secure email and web gateways and more.

     

     

    Whether you’re focused on cloud-based technologies or another area of growth, there’s no time like the present to plan for what’s right around the corner today at Roy Talman & Associates. In an industry where changes seem to happen in the blink of an eye, we can help keep you just as nimble. Call us today at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • SaaS Makes Its Big Move In 2015December 3, 2014

    As we think about the coming technology and hiring trends for 2015, I believe that we will see an increased demand for all kinds of software people, including our core financial services / trading arenas but also in Software as a Service (SaaS).

    Let’s consider a look at the “inside” of SaaS first – the primary use for Big Data is in predictive analytics or for that matter, any analytics. Even though cloud computing as a concept has been around for several years, we’re actually just beginning to see people start to get serious about “The Cloud.” The technologies that software people in this space are using tend to be less hardcore C++ and more Java, Ruby, Python or any kind of front-end user interface tools.

    It appears that the custom software as part of SaaS is growing much stronger now than in past years. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal made the argument that we cannot give up on software being a part of our core competency. Case in point – wearable technology that monitors our activity. Up until now, when you think about it, most of the things we’ve worn haven’t told us anything detailed about our activity, right? Our shirts and pants aren’t exactly providing a real treasure trove of information on biometrics. Your standard watch tells time…and that’s basically it outside of an extra feature or two.

    Yet, there is a flood of wearable technology coming out on the market as we speak. Apple’s soon-to-be-released iWatch is getting the most press thus far, but there will soon be many new products that demand a level of analytics unlike anything we’ve seen before. A wide range of companies will want to tap into that information, whether behemoths like Microsoft or smaller, more specialized firms.

    More and more companies will be building models designed to consume large quantities of data. We are approaching a point where computing resources are sufficient to deal with this huge volume of data. There has been a dramatic jump in computing capacity – it’s one we first saw in 2005 with the introduction of smartphones and now one we will see with the introduction of sensors (think Google-owned Nest, which has created a humidity sensor with the ability to distinguish between smoke and steam, show carbon monoxide levels and send alerts to your smartphone via an app). The word “smart” is going to have greater meaning for devices than we’ve ever known.

    What will this mean for technological talent for hire? While the change may not happen immediately, the number of technologists working on these challenges will probably need to grow in vast quantities over the next 2-3 years. That’s because we have the data, the computing capacity necessary to make sense of it and the tools now available to bring the two together. Utilization and deployment of these tools will make ever more business sense.

    The more data we have to deal with, it stands to reason the more complex our systems are going to get. But in truth, the smartest systems today are a combination of humans and computers. For example, IBM’s Watson is being used in the medical field not to replace doctors but to help physicians recognize certain potential situations and call up information that they may not be aware of.

    In such cases, it’s not about the smartest person in the room or even the best technological tool. It’s the teaming of both that truly wins. And that’s awfully exciting to think about.

     

    As companies prepare to make crucial shifts in the technologies they’re utilizing, don’t be late to the party. Talk to us today at Roy Talman & Associates. We’ll provide you with a candid assessment of your skills and help you position yourself for the kind of company that’s an ideal fit for you. The right challenge. The right environment. Right now. Call 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

     

     

  • Financial Market Volatility Breeds More Talent NeedNovember 26, 2014

    People have noticed that the stock market has been somewhat volatile lately. At Talman, what we expect to see come out of it is a bit of an uptick in jobs in the financial market. Our financial clients, as a rule, benefit from high volatility and for a very long time, volatility and volume was low. However, over the last several months, we’ve seen consecutive days in which the Dow goes up 300 points, then down 300 points and so on. That probably will result in improved profitability for a number of our financial trading clients, which in turn will likely result in a demand for more talent in technology, quantitative thinking and trading.

    We are approaching a situation where just being fast seems to be insufficient in order to be profitable. As such, companies are looking for a combination of analytics and speed.

    With volumes of data growing dramatically, such as billions of shares being traded on the stock exchanges, you have a variety of instruments trading more and more electronically. For every transaction that occurs, you have a ton of data points that reflect actions - bids, asks, prices and more. In the options market, the ratio of quotes to actual trades is extremely high so there is more and more data than ever.

    In the past, the data size was manageable enough that you could store it and analyze it. But now, we’re approaching the point where the volume of data that arrives in real time is so large that you need to process it in real time – because if you don’t, the value diminishes. For example, if you have the capacity to only process 15 seconds of data, you should focus on processing the most recent 15 seconds of data as opposed to a slice of 15-second data that occurred a year ago.

    We also see a continual upward swing in anything related to data science, big data or analytics. All of these are areas in which companies are looking for people with some degree of expertise. Are you one of them? Let’s explore where the best fit for your skill set might be today at Roy Talman & Associates by calling us at 312.425.1300 or emailing us at info@roytalman.com.

  • The Trouble With Learning The C++ LanguageNovember 25, 2014

    Proprietary trading companies in the past have been looking for C++ developers but didn’t have high expectations in finding ones with that skill set. However, these days, demanding C++ has become almost mandatory because they want a combination of quantitative and programming skills. Meanwhile, we see a de-emphasis on slower languages such as C Sharp.

    Colleges really don’t teach C++ these days and mostly teach Java. That could be due in part to the fact that C++ is a very difficult language and the people who really know how to use it are not teaching it.

    Learning C++ today has such a steep learning curve that if someone is looking to get into more advanced subjects and has been in the field for 5-10 years, I would advise them to look at other areas such as Python or Java rather than C++. Python and Java have more versatility, less of an intimidating learning curve and more people appear to be employed using those technologies. So all in all, those languages bring a bigger field with them and one that’s easier to enter.

     

    No matter what programming languages you’re considering getting involved more deeply with, Roy Talman & Associates is one of the best resources to help you understand where the job market is shifting and what top employers are looking for. So you can adjust, learn and evolve with the times. Let’s talk more about how it applies to your goals today by calling 312.425.1300 or emailing info@roytalman.com.

  • Surprise! You’re At Least 20% Robot.November 12, 2014

    In the movie, “Transcendence,” Johnny Depp plays a scientist who uploads his consciousness into a computer. Whether or not you actually cared for that movie, there seems to be a fascination with how much of our lives are becoming digital – or in fact, how much we are literally becoming digital ourselves.

    We can’t yet upload ourselves onto a system like they can in a movie, but the merger of human and machine is a lot closer than what people realize.

    In fact, wrap your head around this concept: It’s already happening.

    That’s right. According to sources like Google’s Ray Kurzweil, the “digital us” is growing by the day. He argues that while it may seem like there’s a physical separation between man and machine, there’s really not. Think about this in terms of your own daily life – how often are you attached to your smartphone? Your tablet? Your laptop? What about other pieces of technology that are practically a part of you and track your personal data, like wearable technology (i.e. FitBit)?

    Conservatively, we might estimate that 20-30% of your life is attached to something of technological means. In a way, this makes you 20-30% robot!

    The question is, if up to 20-30% of our lives is digital and that percentage is constantly growing, what does it mean for the quality of our lives as human beings?

    Well, let’s just say we can’t go back now. Not when we can answer almost any question with the help of our smartphone and our problem solving ability is already dramatically enhanced, just over the last 10 years.

    What’s more, our lives are only about to become more digitized. A recent Wall Street Journal story (“They’re Tracking When You Turn Off The Lights,”) speaks of how big data is being used to better understand public life, so big cities can operate more efficiently.

    Case in point: The University of Chicago recently received a $200,000 grant to set up 65 sensors that will monitor the quality of the air, noise level, traffic patterns and more, digitizing public information. The project is funded by Qualcomm, Cisco and others.

    As you can imagine, a move like this doesn’t come without controversy, namely privacy concerns. But academics like the ones from University of Chicago argue that they do not store code pertaining to individual devices or publish data they collect. Rather, they see the sensor networks as telling us so much more about pollution levels, right down to the city block. Or sharing pedestrian traffic information with retailers planning their next location.

    The thirst for the digital information we provide and the devices we crave to be possible conduits for that information isn’t likely to subside anytime soon.

    Even though Apple is having a record year selling iPhones, tablets aren’t fairing nearly as well in growing as a marketplace. Why? We need to have a next wave of usefulness beyond texting, e-mail and web browsing – and current devices already accomplish that. The next wave likely consists of collecting more personal data as well as being more engaged with our devices and the data it generates.

    So yes, we’re happily becoming more digital and to a degree, even more robot. Is it worth it to your quality of life to make that shift to be more attached to technology? And does the fact that cities could glean data – even though it may not be personal and more generalized – concern you from a privacy standpoint? We’d love to hear your thoughts at Roy Talman & Associates. And if you wonder about how your career will still fit into an ever-shifting digital future, let’s make an appointment to meet. Email us at info@roytalman.com or call 312.425.1300.

     

     

     

  • Your Coding Skills May Be Due For “Boot Camp”November 5, 2014

    I fully believe that writing software as a profession will continue to grow dramatically. However, what’s currently slowing it down is the difficulty of learning to understand software languages and various tools and how to use these languages and tools to create new software. For all our advancements, we haven’t figured out how to make it easier to create software that is useful, so the threshold is still very high.

    As time goes on, however, I believe we’ll have less of a learning curve required to reach far more productivity. In the mid-to-long term, we’ll probably see more people getting into technology after they get their degree (or they may decide not to bother with a regular degree at all).

    In fact, there are a number of startups with substantial funding that are training people how to program. These are typically 12-week boot camps or “Code Academies,” in which someone who has never programmed at more than a hobby level is trained on languages such as Python, Ruby and Java.

    Several of these boot camps claim extremely high placement records with guarantees that the person will get a job or their money back. Now, I might take that with a grain of salt considering some boot camps often only accept people with very high capabilities and aptitude, not just anyone. As such, students are able to absorb the knowledge very quickly and become useful programmers.

    Still, this democratization of education speaks to a trend in the mid-to-long-term in which a lot more people could learn to write software. These “Code Academies,” because they want to get quick placement results, will often steer their curriculum in the direction of the market. If the market trends toward a certain programming language, they’re probably going to be teaching it before anybody else. When a given language loses its attraction, they probably will be one of the first to recognize that too.

    If structured properly, coding boot camps can work well in two ways:

    1) It sets people up with a mindset in which they know they will be expected to work extremely hard, long hours during that period and there is a certain advantage with absorbing a lot of information quickly as opposed to stretching it over a number of years.

    2) These types of dynamic courses are not designed to teach some holistic view of broad areas of computer science that take longer to learn. They are designed to teach someone how to get something done that is useful. And for what it’s worth, most college courses in computer science don’t teach truly useful skills “on the spot.” Quite often, the most useful skills people pick up are the ones when they get to their first job. Call them “crash courses,” but by using a fairly narrow set of tools to solve a narrow set of problems, these are probably some of the most effective classes for the subject matter.

    It’s early on to truly evaluate how many people from this segment of rapidly converted programmers are coming into the market in very large numbers. However, if you’re considering whether or not certain skills of yours are due for an upgrade, a conversation with us at Roy Talman & Associates can help clarify if that’s a path worth pursuing based on your goals and current trends in the marketplace. And that just may save you a lot of time and money while giving you peace of mind. So let’s talk today at 312.425.1300 or email us at info@roytalman.com.

  • The Trouble With Salary SurveysOctober 28, 2014

    From time to time, hiring managers will tell us, “This is the job we’d like to fill and based on a recent salary survey, this is what we are willing to pay to fill it.”

    That may sound like a reasonable statement to make - except that almost always, the amount they’re looking to part with in order to bring aboard the right person for the job isn’t nearly enough. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re intentionally “low-balling” a candidate but more likely that they’re basing their expectations on a salary survey.

    As I see it, the problem with most salary surveys is that they’re usually based on a type of person who our clients actually do not want to hire. That’s because the survey is typically describing a candidate who can’t solve the problem that the client needs. Beyond a broad description of an individual, what can a salary survey tell you about the candidate’s ability to push the envelope or be dramatically more productive?

    There’s got to be a better way to judge candidates so managers can have more realistic hiring expectations – and fortunately, there very much is. Rather than using salary survey information as criteria, it’s far better to have a person-to-person conversation with a source like Roy Talman & Associates. That way, we can gain a stronger sense of what you’re looking for and present corresponding candidates who are more highly qualified.

    Skip the salary surveys. Experience a more customized plan for identifying your company’s next hire with Roy Talman & Associates. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

     

  • What’s Hot: Big Data, Python and JavaOctober 27, 2014

    In our regular monitoring of industry trends at Roy Talman & Associates, what we’re finding is that Open Source, large-scale projects are gaining more attention among companies working on newer, “Big Data”-type problems.

     

    What does this mean for your next step, whether you’re a candidate or hiring manager? It’s vital to familiarize yourself with the latest technology to see which approaches are finding greater traction right now as opposed to an approach that looked really “hot” three years ago but is going nowhere today. Naturally, this is a critical decision that companies continually find themselves needing to make. From the candidate’s point of view, this means being aware if and when those skills around the “hot” area of interest aren’t so hot anymore. You have to ask yourself, “OK, what’s the next ‘hot’ skill that I can acquire?”

     

    What applications and languages are “hot” right now?

    If there are a couple of languages gaining a lot of momentum that we see, it’s Python and Java. These languages are experiencing a virtuous cycle in which the software development community sees great potential for tools to be created, so they do further development work on them, which in turn makes the applications of the tools even better. This leads more good, talented people to be attracted to the development of these tools, which leads to growth of the field. So we should see more and more capabilities built around these particular languages as the cycle continues.

    The exciting part? Languages are really just the beginning. It’s about all the tools available that make the level of productivity high. When you conversely hear of certain languages “dying out,” it’s essentially speaking about a point when people no longer invest their time into building things within that framework.

    Being Open Source, the best way to learn about these languages is to view some of the free documentation available on them online. What are the people who built things with these languages saying? What did they build as a result of the languages? Many times, you can be surprised by just what you learn from these sources as opposed to learning the conventional way in a classroom.

    Questioning if the language you’re learning is on a company’s “must have” list or is it time to shift gears? Either way, if you need an unbiased view from a resource that understands where technology is headed, that’s speaking our language at Roy Talman & Associates. Get the perspective and connections your career truly deserves by calling us at 312.425.1300 or emailing info@roytalman.com.

  • What Candidates Can Learn Upon Visiting GrokOctober 12, 2014

    I’ve been fascinated by a number of interviews that Jeff Hawkins of Numenta (also the founder of Palm Computing) has given about the company’s first commercial product called Grok. With a background in neuroscience, Hawkins has wondered for many years how to create products that model what the brain actually does. Grok concentrates on analyzing metrics coming from servers running on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Not only does Grok detect anomalies in those servers but it also keeps learning on a continuous basis, discovering time-based patterns in data points and automatically adapting to necessary changes.

    As I’ve read about Grok, it appears to be yet another breakthrough in machine learning.

    I believe we are on the verge of a tipping point that might not be 15 years away but rather 2-3 years away in which we will see more applications such as Grok. In describing his current product, Hawkins has spoken about how he is looking for other collaborators and partners to deploy the same kind of structure to solve other types of problems. Since much of the development has been done in Open Source, it essentially enables others to use the technology Hawkins has developed without reinventing the wheel.

    Consequently, this could potentially be a great source for candidates to absorb the subject of machine learning without exclusively following the traditional educational path they’ve been used to or requiring a great deal of prior knowledge.

    Hawkins’ view of how the brain works can be a very complex concept to fully comprehend through what he calls “memory-centric” computing. This computing employs active memory that is very different from traditional computing that employs a CPU with passive memory. While that would suggest a steeper learning curve, Hawkins’ teams have jumped right into collaborating and accelerating the development of other products.

     

     

    Is there any barrier to getting involved with a program like Grok?

    Certainly none in terms of communicating with its creators. Hawkins interacts with people interested in what he is doing on a blog every day. So there’s no roadblock there. The primary barrier is going to come from people who see a product like Grok as too complicated or don’t have the time to understand it fully. The difference here is that there are really no classes involved, so you can learn at your own pace. However, as time goes on, it will become easier to learn because more people will know how to explain it much better.

     

    What type of candidate is ideal to learn this type of program?

     

    At this point, the best candidate to grasp the applications of Grok is one who primarily needs ambition, time and the confidence to learn new, complex concepts. A background in Computer Science is likely mandatory but beyond that, I believe graduate students will do just as well in mastering Grok as professionals with 15 years of experience, if not better. These new approaches to computing are still very much in their infancy, so it may be easy to dismiss by some, but that is a mistake. Try to remember that smartphones were not initially a big thing eight years ago either.

    Eight years from now, machine learning might be the biggest business out there.

     

    The next big thing? To the right company, that might just describe you. Roy Talman & Associates can help guide you toward the skills that may enhance your career prospects even further as we prepare to present you to some of our most forward-thinking clients. Put your best foot forward by calling us at 312.425.1300 or emailing info@roytalman.com.

     

  • What The Interview Guides Aren’t Teaching YouOctober 12, 2014

    By now, there are a billion “how to interview” books to teach you how to improve in these areas. There’s nothing inherently wrong with many of them, but when it comes to technology interviews, you’re going to need more than sounding confident and having a nice smile.

    That’s because many technical interviews provide a hard problem that the candidate must solve right on the spot, with very little time. And no matter how personable you are, if you can’t solve that problem, it will terminate your chances of employment.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare. By anticipating the type of problem that may arise during the interview, we can help candidates think about dozens of actual questions that could be asked, practice answering them and go into the interview with the confidence they need to discuss complex subjects at length.

    How do you put your best foot forward in these unique interview settings? Think about the type of project might the company ask you to engage in. In addition, how can you present yourself in such a way that not only shows your relevant experience but also displays the types of challenges you can solve with your skill set?

    All of this is certainly a lot smarter than going into the interview with an approach of “winging it.”

    What else can be helpful in smoothing the path to a potential hire? Frankly, your recruiter.

    For our part, we see ourselves as a bridge between the employer’s needs and the employee’s capabilities. Job descriptions are usually written from an employer’s idealized view of the perfect person who can do everything they want them to do (and quite often, that perfect person doesn’t exist). Meanwhile, a resume is usually written from a candidate’s perspective on everything they touched, even though they typically don’t want to do the same type of job again.

    That’s why at Roy Talman & Associates, we work with both sides to ensure they have more substantive information to consider, which helps both make the decision that’s right for them to move forward. The first step in getting there begins when you call Talman at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Online Learning May Bring Explosion In New Tech OpportunitiesOctober 5, 2014

    Recently, I was approached by a candidate who was seeking a job associated with machine learning. There was just one problem as I saw it – he had very good technical skills but no work experience in the area of machine learning. Still, the one thing that struck me about him was how much online learning he had done on the subject. He talked at length about the classes he had taken from Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Cal Tech and MIT, just to mention a few.

    As I spoke with him, I quickly gained a sense of how much information on machine learning is available for candidates like this to access online. No doubt the list of institutions he’d learned from was impressive but I know some employers might say, “Sure, but without real work experience, how useful can this knowledge be?”

     

    If this candidate is any indication, the answer is that such knowledge is extremely useful. Because he just called me about a job he had just obtained in - you guessed it - machine learning. The way the opportunity came about was during a meeting in which various professionals were discussing some of the industry trends rising to the surface. Since this individual had studied so much in regard to machine learning due to the classes he took and publications he read, he was in a position to knowledgeably discuss some very advanced topics.

    Soon after that conversation, one of the people in the room offered that candidate a job related to the very topics he was comfortable discussing.

    Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

     

     

    Does this mean online learning is the best way to advance your career?

    Let’s not go quite that far. At this point, the above story may still be the exception to the rule. A typical candidate who is interested in advanced topics such as machine learning is usually already working on a full-time basis, so he or she has some prior experience as a foundation to further build upon.

    That said, we can’t ignore the quantity and quality of information on machine learning and other topics that are available online or how that is growing dramatically. Meanwhile, when we take a closer look at the curriculum of most schools, we can see they actually don’t tend to cover these topics very often.

    Why and where is the disconnect coming from?

    We’re still in a stage where such topics are so complex yet still so relatively new that schools may have difficulty in obtaining people with a prior knowledge of them to teach the class.

    Fortunately, in the next few years, that may very well be changing. The way we learn and collaborate via online learning and Open Source technology has the great potential to accelerate our understanding of new concepts such as machine learning. I believe it’s going to give us more teachers who can deftly explain machine learning in a variety of settings, whether in traditional education or online. And that’s only going to help provide better candidates who are well equipped with a skill set that will be even more in demand than it is today.

    If you’re considering online learning to further develop your skill set, you may be wondering where your time is best invested for your career goals. So let’s talk about that at Roy Talman & Associates. Since it’s our business to stay ahead of the technology curve as we advise our candidates, we can help point you in a direction that efficiently matches the hottest trends and opportunities. Make your next move today by calling us at 312.425.1300 or emailing info@roytalman.com.

     

     

  • SO NOW I AM REALLY READY TO LOOK FOR A JOB09/30/2014

    Quite often we hear from candidates that they had been “kind of” looking recently, but now are ready to look for a new job “for real”. When asked to elaborate, they reply “I went online and applied to about 25-30 companies via their websites or by answering their LinkedIn/Dice ads.  I also replied to a couple of recruiters who randomly contacted me. As a result I got a couple of phone screens, though most of my applications got no replies. I also got a couple of interviews through the recruiters (whom I have not met – I just spoke with them for about 5-10 minutes on the phone). I felt ambushed in the interviews; I was not prepared for them. I also was not prepared for the required on-line tests. I have no idea how well I did.”

    So now I am really ready to look for a job. What can Roy Talman do for me?

    Unfortunately, many of the things we could have done for these candidates we will not be able to do given this scenario. Once a resume is logged in the company’s database we cannot represent it to that firm for at least a year. Usually, once you fail their test/interview – even though with proper preparation you could do much better – the door is closed for at least a year.

    What’s the solution? In the future, know how the game is played. Contact a reputable recruiter who will represent you to the Right Firm for the Proper Position and help you Prepare for the Process. 

  • A More Encrypted World Is Coming (And Necessary)September 1, 2014

    Just an ID and password. It’s a mere one step. And in too many systems, that’s all it takes for someone to get their hands on your information. With that single line of “defense,” is it any wonder that sensitive online information is being regularly compromised? With the news stories we see on the subject all the time in regard to large companies being under cyber attack, some may start to wonder if there’s anything we can do.

    Well, the good news is that in my view, we’re going to see a rapid improvement in the security area.

    In many cases of compromised data, we’re talking about systems that were designed many years ago that need to evolve. Companies are finally recognizing the need to improve their systems to the point of where spoofing or faking where the message is coming from will hopefully be eliminated – true authentication technology is the key, so that systems can recognize whether or not the person who sent the message is truly that person. By companies dedicating more resources to sufficient computing power, this problem can be overcome.

    Additionally, the majority of traffic on Internet is not encrypted. This will be fixed over time and Google is leading the charge. Essentially, as greater intelligence migrates to iPhones and Android phones, there will be enough to perform better encryption and decryption than where we are now. Very quickly, we’re going to become a world where nobody can see what you’re saying online. We will see even more of a universal push for 2-step authentication, making it effectively impossible to intercept valuable communication.

    The reason why we have most security threats has been because the problem at first was viewed as too costly to remedy and it also didn’t cost companies enough to bother with it. That’s obviously since changed with some converging trends. On one hand, the problem is getting cheaper to deal with. In order to encrypt messages, it takes a certain amount of computing power. Fortunately, the cost of computing power to companies to perform encryption has dropped dramatically. With that development, it becomes much more worthwhile for companies from a financial standpoint.

    Many of us are familiar with the recent news of a Russian group amassing 1.2 billion IDs and passwords. The reality is that banks and other institutions should have a mechanism in place that essentially says any time you do anything significant on their website, they’ll let you know that you just performed that action. And I believe they’ll get there because most software will have security built into it once it’s easier to use.

    For example, take Apple’s finger recognition authentication for its iPhones. It typically works just fine but this morning, it couldn’t recognize my fingerprint, perhaps because my hand was too sweaty or something. Later on, it worked without a problem, but you have these occasional glitches. Samsung, by the way, has had some difficulty with its finger recognition as well. But in the subsequent versions of these devices, we’re going to see finger recognition with more data points so that the device will be able to recognize our fingerprint faster and more accurately. This requires more computing power and better sensors, which is growing exponentially.

    Before long, there will be multiple methods for better authentication than what we see today – your voice, fingerprint and more. So that the device will “know” beyond a shadow of a doubt if it’s you or not.

    As far as recognizing malicious software and those who would wield it, we will always have to be cognizant of those who have resources and are very determined to plan serious, large-scale cyber attacks. We can never take it easy when it comes to that type of group and must be consistently tightening our security capabilities.

    However, there is a difference between attackers of that highly advanced level versus those who would casually attempt to steal someone’s login and hope to break through. At least for the latter group, it’s going to become not only harder to do technologically but also more expensive for the limited resources they have. As we reach that development in this ongoing security battle, it will be a very positive step in the right direction.

  • Are We Ready For The Second Machine Age?September 1, 2014

    I’ve been reading a book called The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, that envisions a time in the near future in which more and more high-end work will get done by computers. If this concept comes to fruition, the logical question becomes, “Well, if computers are doing all the high-end work, what will this mean for the low-end work that needs to get done?” If greater competition ensues for the low-end work among people, what will be created is more of a chasm in which more people will be competing for fewer jobs and many of those will be jobs that offer less compensation.

    There are many potential issues like this, which will be arriving sooner rather than later as more intelligence is moved into computers. Fortunately, the solution could lie in education, as people learn ways to create work that is valued by other people.

    New Markets, New Rules

    The book points out that we have new markets constantly being created which are “winner take all,” in that they are infinitely scalable. What kind of markets? If you think about the things you use today, most of them weren’t available 10 years ago and most of them are related to a certain type of software. Take Uber, for example. We’ve had taxicabs for decades, but Uber is creating a different market for it. What about lodging? We’ve had hotels for decades. But Airbnb is creating a new market for it.

    Once that new market is created, it’s operating by a different set of rules. Software capabilities are increasing dramatically as a result.

    Accelerated Product Development

    Consider the conventional early lifecycle of a new product as we’ve known it. In order to create a product, what’s been the traditional route? You were likely looking at a long time to research the product, develop it, get the word out about it, accumulate a sales force to promote it, have offices in multiple locations and more.

    Contrast that lifecycle with a company called WhatsApp, which has developed a product depended on by 450 million people worldwide. It has a total of 60 employees. The scalability in that company is something that was previously never possible.

    As we go forward, the tools to create these kinds of products are getting ever more powerful and the people learning how to use those tools are excelling. This relates well to two important trends we’re going to continue to see as software grabs even more of a piece of our lives: More people will be needed to write software while at the same time, we will have software used by more people.

    The consequence will be a cycle of more software leading to new markets created based on that software, which will lead to more people learning about creating software, which in turn will mean more software being created. The cycle will then repeat.

    Dealing With All The Data

    We’re also going to have a lot more data than we’ve ever had before. There are billions of data points to be collected and we’re just at the cusp of understanding what all of it actually means. As we collect this data, we need to be able to teach systems how to digest the data in real time. After all, there’s only so much usefulness we can get from data that can’t be analyzed immediately. We can’t typically save our data and sit on it for a few years to decipher it, particularly when there’s data on top of that being generated.

    The more we can consume and analyze data in real time as patterns emerge, the more we’re setting the stage for greater insights to occur faster.

    The demand for advanced skills to write software and interpret data isn’t going away anytime soon. But you still have to ensure you’re finding the company environment that’s right for your career. Ideal matches don’t happen by chance – they happen with our help at Roy Talman & Associates. Experience it for yourself by calling us at 312.425.1300 or emailinginfo@roytalman.com today.

  • New Frontier Of Wearable Data Creates Skill Set OpportunitiesAugust 19, 2014

    There’s a state of mind in some developers that they can go to school, learn one language and be done for the rest of their career (or even a really long time). Well, those individuals may find themselves facing a bit of a problem. Because I suspect that the pace of change in terms of new environments, new languages and new operating systems is going to heavily accelerate like never before.

    Let’s take new data environments, for example. There are a variety of database environments that are designed to deal with much larger data sets that don’t deal with transactions. Get ready for an era in which brands start collecting data from what we have on our own person.

    To begin to wrap your mind around this concept, think about how many transactions you conduct in a given day. If you’re really busy that might equal 10 transactions. Now let’s say you have a wearable piece of data – how many data points could it report in regard to your behavior? A million data points? Possibly.

    What’s wearable data?

    A simple way to look at this idea is to consider the piece of technology known as FitBit, which tracks the amount of steps, calories, stairs and more that you take in a given day. But can it really track the amount of true exercise you get that day? If you walk up and down Willis Tower 10 times as opposed to around Willis Tower 10 times, that’s quite a different amount of output, isn’t it? FitBit knows the difference to some degree but not really the entire picture of your physical fitness.

    We’ve also been hearing for quite some time about the rumored iWatch from Apple that will monitor blood pressure based on sensors rather than the traditional squeezing of your arm. This is another type of wearable data.

     

    How much more data could be reported?

    We’re just scratching the surface, really. At the moment, your monthly credit card report might amount to several pages. But if we were to take your “heart report” for the month that records information every two seconds…how many pages would that be? Countless. So we’re on the cusp of obtaining so much more data beyond the purely transactional variety. This will call for advanced computer technologies to handle that capability and a special skill set that can serve such technologies.

    How can you shift your career to prepare for the evolution of wearable data and machine learning? Check out our continuation of this discussion in the post, “How Machine Learning Is Changing Traditional Education Too.” You’ll be fascinated at what may be in store for extraordinary levels of online learning and how getting ahead for some may no longer involve setting foot on a college campus in the traditional sense.

  • The Danger of Wearing Rose-Colored Glasses During Your Job SearchAugust 11, 2014

    When you’re engaging in job research on a particular company, there’s always going to be pros and cons you discover on the firm if you’re being entirely honest with yourself. The other reality is that as a candidate, you’re only going to be able to collect so much information on your own.

    Surprisingly though, there are a number of candidates who just don’t want to hear any “bad news.” They hear what they want to hear, which is only the positive information associated with the company. So they’ll stop asking questions at that point, receive an offer and move forward based on limited information rather than aiming to learn much more.

    Of course we hope that a candidate and employer will hit it off and be a match made in Heaven. But leaping to this idealistic conclusion long before striving to see the whole picture – good and bad – could be hindering yourself.

    For example, a candidate told me about how he had accepted a position by saying, “I took a major pay cut but they promised me all of these shares!”

    Candidates usually stop asking questions at that point. They are hoping that things will be wonderful and don’t want to find out anything bad.

    Just one problem – he or she didn’t bother to ask what the shares were actually worth. And finding out the value of the shares could be complicated. It could be proprietary and the company may not want to release that information. Or it might take the CFO three hours to sufficiently explain share value.

    Think of it like dating – you’re better off asking a whole lot of questions before you’re married rather than thinking of all the questions you should have asked after you say, “I do.” But in the beginning, it can be difficult to ask these questions because if there’s something the other party isn’t being completely forthcoming with, there’s usually a reason for it.

    Companies are very similar in that they won’t necessarily want to give you all of the information you could want to know and certainly not during the first conversation. Sure, there are handful of companies in the public eye and visible, which may allow for easier access to information about them. But the vast majority of companies are private and essentially invisible to the press. So when a candidate is considering employment at a company like that, it’s very difficult to get real information about the firm.

    In this situation, a better way to go rather than try to understand all of the information on your own would be to access someone who’s been down this type of road before with the company. Who do you know within the company who could give you greater insight? If you don't have a friend who works there, it might be very beneficial to speak with a recruiter who has dealt with the company before and/or knows certain aspects of the culture that are not public knowledge – elements you would likely never discover on your own.

    Much of this is being able to look in the mirror and ask, “What’s really right for me?” Is it purely about money? If you ask for more money during negotiation and they give it to you, how is that going to change expectations from the very beginning? Are they going to go from seeing you as a great fit to someone who should walk on water every day? Suddenly, because of this shift, that project you expected to complete in three months is one they expect you to complete in three weeks! After all, they paid you so much more as a superstar.

    That’s why at Roy Talman & Associates, we counsel our candidates and clients to have more realistic expectations for the long run. It’s good to know all the pros and cons, good news and bad news so both parties can have a much greater understanding of one another and see if there’s a true fit. Get the more complete insight your search deserves by calling us at 312.425.1300 or emailing info@roytalman.com today.

     

  • New Frontier Of Wearable Data Creates Skill Set Opportunities08/05/2014

     There’s a state of mind in some developers that they can go to school, learn one language and be done for the rest of their career (or even a really long time). Well, those individuals may find themselves facing a bit of a problem. Because I suspect that the pace of change in terms of new environments, new languages and new operating systems is going to heavily accelerate like never before.

     Let’s take new data environments, for example. There are a variety of database environments that are designed to deal with much larger data sets that don’t deal with transactions. Get ready for an era in which brands start collecting data from what we have on our own person.

     To begin to wrap your mind around this concept, think about how many transactions you conduct in a given day. If you’re really busy that might equal 10 transactions. Now let’s say you have a wearable piece of data – how many data points could it report in regard to your behavior? A million data points? Possibly.

    What’s wearable data?

    A simple way to look at this idea is to consider the piece of technology known as FitBit, which tracks the amount of steps, calories, stairs and more that you take in a given day. But can it really track the amount of true exercise you get that day? If you walk up and down Willis Tower 10 times as opposed to around Willis Tower 10 times, that’s quite a different amount of output, isn’t it? FitBit knows the difference to some degree but not really the entire picture of your physical fitness.

     We’ve also been hearing for quite some time about the rumored iWatch from Apple that will monitor blood pressure based on sensors rather than the traditional squeezing of your arm. This is another type of wearable data.

     How much more data could be reported?

    We’re just scratching the surface, really. At the moment, your monthly credit card report might amount to several pages. But if we were to take your “heart report” for the month that records information every two seconds…how many pages would that be? Countless. So we’re on the cusp of obtaining so much more data beyond the purely transactional variety. This will call for advanced computer technologies to handle that capability and a special skill set that can serve such technologies.

    How can you shift your career to prepare for the evolution of wearable data and machine learning? Check out our continuation of this discussion in the post, “How Machine Learning Is Changing Traditional Education Too.” You’ll be fascinated at what may be in store for extraordinary levels of online learning and how getting ahead for some may no longer involve setting foot on a college campus in the traditional sense.

     

  • How Well Does Chicago Get The Successful Startup Formula?August 3, 2014

    There’s something exciting about not only launching a startup but I also get the sense that such stories make for very good press too. You have the promise of tomorrow, aspiring entrepreneurs and a unique concept that seems like a sure-fire success. How could anything go wrong?

    Without raining on that parade, we could also use a little more perspective.

    The fact is, Chicago is just learning what it takes to create a truly valuable startup. I recently viewed a statistic on what the odds were to successfully build a $1 billion company. As you might imagine, the odds were extremely low, even in California’s Silicon Valley – out of 100,000 startups, about 50 went on to become billion dollar companies. Of those startups that didn’t make it, it wasn’t always the case that they went bankrupt but rather that they dissolved or got re-formed.

    In the Midwest, we’re only beginning to understand this total picture because we haven’t had an explosion of 100,000 startups. In fact, only a few years ago, there wasn’t a lot of startup activity at all. Fortunately, now we see a very vibrant field in which many companies are doing well, which creates an infrastructure of people who have succeeded, understand what it takes to succeed and are in a greater position to back startups.

    So there’s no doubt we’re seeing quite a renaissance in our city over the last 2-3 years, particularly in the high tech arena. These types of companies are taking everyday needs such as food delivery and developing an application for it. And it’s not always the kind of technology that’s revolutionary but still involves figuring out how to apply the technology in unique ways to common issues people have.

    We can’t say that Chicago is in a position just yet to have mastered the secret to helping more startups succeed, but judging by the statistics we’re seeing, it’s hard to say any city or region has absolutely unlocked that secret. Having more startups doesn’t necessarily mean more successes. However, what we can and are doing a solid job of, is bringing the necessary support elements together that small businesses tend to need in order to help increase the odds of startup success. Let’s hope the trend only continues upward. That will be a great story for Chicago to tell as much as any particular thriving business.

     

     

  • How Machine Learning Is Changing Traditional Education TooAugust 1, 2014

    In our post, New Frontier Of Wearable Data Creates Skill Set Opportunities,” we took a look at how technologies in what we wear will not only create a lot more data points for brands to learn about potential customers but also new career possibilities in machine learning as well. So how are our academic institutions responding to this?

     Unfortunately, I’m not seeing traditional colleges teaching enough students how to deal with the kind of data associated with machine learning. But there is hope. I am talking to more candidates who are finding that they can take very advanced classes online taught by professors from MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon and the like. So we’re approaching a threshold where people who took those classes are just about to begin proving the merit of that area of study. It’s a point in time where a candidate may not actually go to an institution like Stanford but still excels in these types of classes, thus proving themselves as a potentially very worthy hire to managers. This is not to discredit those institutions whatsoever but instead to say that there is more than one way to get ahead in your industry without going through the “gauntlet” of trying to be accepted by the MITs and Stanfords of the world. The educational equivalent may be obtainable by those who are driven and passionate about putting the time into their study.

     This may change the pace of how technology in turn changes. Some people have a pace of learning in which they earn a degree at 22 years old, read an occasional article here and there…and don’t really learn something extraordinarily new until it’s 10 years down the road. Which may explain why it can take so long to deploy new languages in new environments. The more the idea that online education is valuable and productive permeates our society, the faster new technologies will be deployed.

     In the beginning of this learning curve, you might have very few people who understand a new type of technology. To get them to go and teach a class on machine learning technology to 20 students is counter productive. On the other hand, an online class in machine learning from Stanford was recently made available to 147,000 students. During the class, there were multiple tests given to students. Everyone who completed the tests was then ranked based on the results. Among all of the people ranked who finished the class, the highest ranked student on campus at Stanford was ranked #407 overall. Which is to say that there were 406 people ranked better at that class who were not traditional students at Stanford.

    Don’t get me wrong. For the time being, an education at a place like Stanford is still very desirable. I don’t see those higher tier schools threatened by this type of shift.

    I can’t necessarily say the same, however, for second tier colleges where the interaction with other students is not valued as much and the classes are not state-of-the-art. They might be 10 years behind the times, which, frankly, is not uncommon. Those types of schools are vulnerable.

    Worldwide, the pace of knowledge creation and absorption in society is going to accelerate because if it generally takes 10 years for technology to propagate and classes are then taught to 20-30 students, we can estimate several things: How many people will be educated over a period of time, the time required for that technology to be deployed, how long it will take to identify the most skilled individuals in utilizing it and so on until the next generation of technology comes along.

    As these classes are moved to an online setting and are proven to be truly effective, then the entire paradigm will be shifted. Rather than it taking 10 years for technology to be absorbed in society, it could then take three.

    What are the skills that I see as far as the type of languages that these graduates are grasping (or will need to grasp)? They should be comfortable with functional languages such as Clojure, F# and Ruby. Knowing Java and to some degree C# will still be important as well. C++ will be less important to know. Many grads aren’t diving into C++ because it’s too hard of a learning curve and the harder the language, the less likely the new grad will be interested in it.

    No matter what course machine learning takes us on next, staying ahead of the curve is imperative for your skill set. But knowing what’s coming and how to evolve as a result can be a tricky proposition on your own. Fortunately, that’s where the team at Roy Talman & Associates can help. Let’s talk about the “big picture” of your career and how it might naturally fit with tomorrow’s technologies. Call us today at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Is Looking Inside Your Network Limiting Your Search?July 31, 2014

    When they begin a candidate search, the first tendency of a company’s hiring manager is to look inside their network. This isn’t completely unexpected – but in most situations, the manager will realize sooner rather than later that they’re limiting themselves by pursuing this route and can only get so far in terms of identifying a suitable number of quality candidates.

    It’s at this point that they may turn to a recruiter who is relatively low cost and provides a large pile of resumes (i.e. 200 resumes or so), feeling that quantity equals quality. A win-win, right? Not exactly.

    Without a lot of due diligence of that recruiter feeding them a constant flow of resumes, the hiring manager inevitably has a sinking feeling of, “Why is this recruiter giving me all of these resumes to read? I’ll never be able to sift through so many. They’re doing nothing but wasting my time. Why did we hire them again?”

    The price-conscious, quantity-over-quality thinking breeds a bit of a vicious cycle.

    On the other hand, there are companies who will recognize the importance of investing in a recruiter who will help them find quality more efficiently and see that recruiter as a source of great benefit for them. They understand that the recruiter isn’t just trying to fill a spot with a body. In the ideal world, the right people hired can make an enormous difference. In fact, some of my favorite stories are from clients who paid our fee for recruitment in exchange for finding them an employee who would go on to earn the company hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

    Thousands of dollars converting into millions of dollars. Does that sound like a reasonable Return on Investment? I’d say so.

    Yes, it’s hard to tell beforehand if that ideal hire is going to exactly occur. What we can say at Talman is that we have the benefit of looking back on our history and seeing the types of people who have been in the right place at the right time with our help. One of the biggest reasons for this is our having a vast network that’s been built up over the course of over three decades – and when a company is plugged into that network, there’s an excellent chance their timing in finding the best candidate will be very good.

  • Becoming A Fly On The Wall: Your Best “Insider’s Look” At A CompanyJuly 30, 2014
  • Fresh Tools: Swift and StormJuly 20, 2014

    There is a wave of new technologies surfacing all the time. For example, Apple has a new programming language named Swift that might be more in demand in the next year and give those who understand this language a higher level of marketability. It won’t be one of those issues where you need 20 years of experience, so a junior person who gets a jump on understanding Swift may be in as good a position as someone senior.

    Another tool that’s gaining a lot of traction in advanced web development environments is called Storm. It was developed by a team whose company was bought by Twitter. Storm is an open source tool designed to deal with massive amounts of real-time data – a quantity that just wasn’t possible to imagine before. For example, if you build a software application and are used to having 50-100 users of it, imagine the technology required to scale this to a level of Facebook or Twitter, in which you have millions upon millions of interactions that must be dealt with in real time. Companies using Storm include Yahoo!, The Weather Channel, WebMD, Alibaba, Groupon, Spotify and more.

    Yet, when we ask some web developers if they’ve heard of Storm, not all of them are familiar with it. So as difficult as it may sound, you have to find time outside of the project and its corresponding deadlines in front of you to be aware of these tools. If you’re not paying close attention to the next thing coming along, your skill set may slowly creep into an area of being obsolete. 

  • How Great Candidates Stay One Step AheadJuly 1, 2014

    By Iya Talman

    Why is it that some candidates seem well equipped to shift with the times while others can be completely caught off guard?

    I’ll give you the two P’s that separate the two: Preparedness and proactivity.

    Let’s examine the scenario of the candidate without either of these qualities: A software developer loses his job. He’s thrown into a panic because not only does he have to quickly assess his options, but also impacting his timeline and priorities is the fact that he’s recently bought a very expensive house. In other words, the idea of not making money for any period of time for him isn’t realistic. So he winds up calling a recruiter who doesn’t seem to care that much about his situation or isn’t a great deal of help in negotiations.

    The result? He finds himself with a job that is, in his words, “OK for now.”

    I do understand this type of challenge the candidate above was facing. The only thing I would say is that he shouldn’t have been caught in that situation.

    How do you deal with the unexpected? Expect it.

    Start by keeping track of the current level of your skills and upgrading it amidst the constant workflow you’re dealing with on a daily basis. While this isn’t easy, what I see is that people tend to neglect thinking about the next big thing and instead focus on the challenges directly in front of them. So they may become experts in how to keep a 7-year-old system alive, for example, because that’s what their job calls for. The problem is that their next job may not be about that type of system at all. Which means it’s imperative to obtain the skills in a new technological area that won’t put you behind the times.

    What’s going on out there?

    One of the reasons people like to come to our office at Talman is to ask, “What’s going on?” This isn’t just to ‘shoot the breeze’ but rather a question focused on the landscape of the industry. Because we deal with so many different companies and technologies, we tend to know more about what’s on the bleeding edge because that’s where our clients are. So we’re in a position to not only have our finger on the pulse of what’s trending but also point people in the direction that makes sense for their career. Databases. Web development. Analytics. High-frequency trading technologies. For every area of knowledge, there’s a different growth area and level of competition to be aware of, which requires a fair amount of research.

    Train consistently for golden results

    The analogy I like to use to illustrate the concept of focused preparation is training for the Olympics. Obviously, you don’t neglect all your essential training for this important event and then suddenly say, “You know what? Tomorrow at 2pm, I think I’m going to compete in the Olympic Games.” You have to engage in a great level of preparation for that opportunity or you’re going to miss your golden shot to win – and wait another four years for the next one to come along. You have to put your best foot forward now because, like an Olympic team, there are just so many slots available. And in the case of our clients, it’s a very competitive sport. 

    What would Google do?

    Is there an ideal time to brush up on skills? Yes – and it’s all the time. There is a reason why Google lets their people devote 20% of their time to essentially use however they’d like. That said, the assumption is that this chunk of time will be largely spent by employees to identify new ideas for the company, learn new skill sets for themselves, etc. And as they come into contact with new technological tools available combined with such an environment that encourages thinking for the future rather than solely the challenges in front of them, what results is a culture in which people realize there are unique possibilities for them now that weren’t possible before. This approach is appropriate for virtually anyone in Information Technology, where the pace of change is accelerating so rapidly. What used to be a 7-year cycle of evolution is nearing a 5-year cycle and before we know it, will be a 3-year cycle.

    Even if you wind up staying with your current company, being aware of where things are going might be beneficial because you can understand how to incorporate new technologies into what you do, your marketability thanks to your new skills improves and of course, your company has the benefit of a better trained employee who is more well-versed in the latest tools.

    You don’t have to plan for any of this on your own. In fact, that’s another fine quality of proactive and prepared candidates: Having the right team to help you chart a course that makes sense for your goals and where the industry is heading. Talk to us at Roy Talman & Associates about how we can play that kind of vital role in guiding the next step in your career. Call us today at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • I'll LOOK WHEN I'M READY05/13/2014

    Periodically, our recruiters will have a conversation with a potential candidate in which the candidate will say, “Thanks, but I’ll call you when I’m ready and serious about looking for a job.”

    What’s the problem with this way of thinking?

    Frankly, it’s the false mindset that the world is going to wait for the candidate – and at that point in time in the future, everything will be lined up perfectly for their skill set.

    The other thing is that they don’t appreciate the process of interaction with the recruiter. During this process, several thoughts will come to mind:

    1) The timing.
    Is it time for you to look for a job? Yes. It’s almost always the time to look. 

    2) Figure out what it is you’re looking for.

    3) As you figure out what you’re looking for, you may come to the realization that you’re probably not ready for it.

    Think about this as if you’ve made the decision to compete in the Olympics. Consider all the consequences that come with going forward on that decision – including the amount of preparation to be done in order for you to win a Gold Medal. So during this process, what do you need to do to get ready to compete? Which companies should be approached to explore if there’s a fit?

    In some companies, it’s an easy fit in which a round peg fits nicely into a round hole. But in a large percentage of the jobs that we fill at Roy Talman & Associates, the jobs don’t actually exist yet as job descriptions. They exist as possibilities. We see an individual could make a contribution and we’ve identified a company where the contribution from this individual could be substantial. Then from our end, we try to create a match between the parties. The sooner a candidate is exposed to this type of situation, the more likely a match could rise to the surface.

    For example, a gentleman studying Computer Science at the University of Illinois was recruited in his Senior year to work for PayPal. So he dropped out of school with a little more than a month left before he graduated. Eventually, he left that company to become one of three co-founders of another company we know today as YouTube.

    Some things will not wait and “I’ll let you know when I’m serious” is not always the most ideal strategy for job hunting. 

    Don’t wait until the “perfect job” is open or the job description has been written. Talk to the experts at Roy Talman & Associates, who have been helping candidates and companies stay ahead of the curve to find an ideal match. Call 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.

  • Why Is More Wall Street Talent Moving To Madison Avenue?May 1, 2014

    Ilya Talman was recently asked in the Wall Street Journal how often he sees a trend of candidates going from a career in Finance into other areas such as Advertising or Marketing (“Why Trade Bonds When You Can Trade Ads?”) as well as hiring managers in these fields outside of Finance looking for the talent that Finance tends to attract, then trying to entice that talent to move into their industry.

    While candidates making the industry shift into advertising technology and marketing firms represent only about 10% of our business, that’s 10% more than we were placing just two years ago.

    Why is the shift occurring? Three reasons:

    First, these businesses are not only growing but they have an appetite for talent in technology that is evolving into a much higher quality. I like to describe it as moving from “beer tastes” to “champagne tastes.”

    Secondly, their budgets are inching upward toward the kind of money that’s required to attract the type of higher caliber talent they’re looking for.

    Third, due in part to market conditions, the opportunity is there for these industries outside of Finance to lure the talent awayin some situations. The financial industry is still challenged. We’re seeing a worldwide trend in which financial trading is a much tougher business in 2014 than it was in 2009, for example. Recent negative publicity surrounding high frequency trading has not improved the attractiveness of financial trading.

    Consequently, the supply of talent willing to consider a career outside of Finance is solid while there is a growing demand from Marketing, Advertising and other consumers of “Big Data” for these types of talents. The technological skill set that financial trading has typically required can now be applied to many Big Data challenges.

    What kind of people are we seeing as highly attractive to these non-financial fields? Primarily senior-level software developers, managers and information architects. With the Finance industry’s struggles and the success stories this type of talent continues to have in Advertising and Marketing technology, it’s much easier to have the conversation with people who have a skill set traditionally made for the financial business about making an industry shift in today’s environment than it was three years ago. 

  • Frequency vs. Expertise03/05/2014

    I recently flew to Houston with one of my daughters to have corrective surgery on a hearing implant. The device is revolutionary and has only been on the market 2 years. My daughter's original surgery was done 6 months earlier by a surgeon who had done 20 of these in the prior 8 months. Turns out there were complications and that’s why we had to go to Houston. The surgeon who did the corrective surgery in Houston had been doing these for 3 years and is the “go-to” person in complicated cases. When we spoke with him it became clear that he was aware of the more subtle issues of the surgery than our original surgeon. 

    So what did I learn from this at it relates to recruiting? 

    As a hiring manager – if you are going to hire 100 people with similar skills over the next year, you should be an expert in doing it. On the other hand, if you will need to hire 2 – 3 senior key people over the next 12 months you might benefit from working with an expert with deep expertise in the area. 

    As a candidate – if you plan to change jobs every 6 months for the next few years, by all means become an expert and do it yourself. On the other hand if you change jobs once every 4-5 years it might not be an ideal strategy to “represent yourself”. You know what they say about a fool and his lawyer….

     

  • Job Interviewing and Other Olympic Sports01/29/2014

    In our practice with “very selective” groups of clients we find that interviewing has gotten to be akin to Olympic trials. If the candidate is not prepared and is not performing at the top of his skills, it's a “no thank you” and “please try again in four years”. For example: Recently a very senior software developer was laid off from an elite team where he worked for 5+ years. He came to see us and we discussed the various steps he could take to prepare for the interviews. We agreed that we will not present him as “ready to interview” until either of 2 events happen: he will tell us he's done preparing OR he starts interviewing with a firm where we do not represent him. Well, within 5 days he told us he had arranged an interview on his own and we had to proceed with our clients. After 2 weeks of intense interviewing we had a mixed bag. He did well on some interviews but felt he was not at his best on others which resulted in a number of rejections. That’s when the importance of preparation and coming up with an interviewing campaign to synchronize ALL interviews became apparent.

  • Employers, Be Careful What You Wish For04/24/2013

    When our clients ask us to help them fill positions they quite often don’t think through how realistic their expectations are. Budgets are often created without regard to the realities of the job market. Simple example: If you found a candidate with all the qualifications you require, will he accept an offer at the level you are budgeting? Often the answer is no. This can happen when our experience and advice is ignored. Ask yourself what are the likely tradeoffs in skills / personality / experience vs. dollars and cents.  Be careful what you wish – sometimes you might get it.