BrachEichler LLC Blog Feed May 2018firmwise Loving That Programming Language? When To Move On And Find A New One. 09 May 2018Blog<p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">An annual survey was just done by a developer-focused website that offered up a variety of insights to me, but one in particular caught my eye and showed there may be a distinctive gap at times between what programmers <i>like to learn</i> and use what they should <i>want to use.</i> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">For example, of the most widely used languages in the programmer community, you see the usual suspects: JavaScript, HTML, SQL, Java, Python, C#, PHP and C++. However, these are not necessarily the languages that developers <i>want </i>to use. Survey the most loved languages based on this survey and you see a very different set of names at or near the top such as Rust, Kotlin, TypeScript, Go and Swift. In fact, of the top 10 listed, only three languages from the most <u>used</u> were the most <u>loved</u>: Python, JavaScript and C#. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">One of the reasons languages like C# and Java have been so successful is because they feed off each other as the learning curve from one to another is relatively short. Similarly, migrating to Python or figuring out how to use Python for somebody who has been a C++ or a Java developer is a relatively easy task.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">So why would a widely used language <u>not</u> be one of the more well-liked? Take C++, for example. While C++ is one of the most <i>versatile</i> languages, it's also one of the <i>hardest </i>languages to master.The learning curve with C++ is probably one of the longest. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">If you find yourself experiencing this type of disconnect between what you&rsquo;re using and what you love, what&rsquo;s the best direction from here? </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">First, in many cases, we have to <b>start with the environment you&rsquo;re working in</b>: If you&rsquo;re working in eCommerce, that might be one universe. If you&rsquo;re working in the medical field, that might be a different universe entirely. If you&rsquo;re writing code for applications to run on phones, it might be a different one as well. So, different environments could certainly bring new opportunities to work within the language you desire to work with most.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">However, we must offer this caveat: There is always a danger of falling in love with a language that never takes off, particularly a new one. Therefore, the best way to approach this dilemma might be to look at the projects you have in front of you. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Ask yourself two things: </span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><b>1) </b><b>Can I sell the organization on using a new language? </b></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">The challenge with using a more uncommon language is that if you're the only one who knows that language and writes the code for it but then you ultimately leave, what happens?</span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><b>2)&nbsp;&nbsp; </b><b>What&rsquo;s the learning curve on the new language? </b></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Let&rsquo;s say you have a project takes off and you can't do all of the work on your own, so you need to add people. That sounds great until you suddenly realize how few people in the company have experience in the uncommon language you&rsquo;ve been using.<br /> </span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><b>Finding The Fit: The Best Language For Your Next Project<br /> <br /> </b>When you have a better sense of a language&rsquo;s learning curve and the type of project that it&rsquo;s best for, it may prevent a great deal of the frustration that developers experience. A language might have a relatively short learning curve but what if it can&rsquo;t do the job and runs into scalability limitations. You may find a language such as Ruby is good for small to medium sized projects and the expertise required to build something in Ruby is fairly light. But what happens if you try to build something very large? In order to get very large projects to live in Ruby, you may run into all kinds of problems and require another expert to make sure that the technology is robust and stable.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Contrast this with another language that might have a longer learning curve &ndash; yes, there&rsquo;s possibly more of an education required, but it may also scale better for the size and scope of the project.</span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;"> <p><b><i>If you find yourself in conflict between the language you&rsquo;re frequently working with and one you&rsquo;d much rather work with, talk to Talman first. Roy Talman &amp; Associates can help clarify the best industries that are right for the type of language you&rsquo;re most passionate about. </i></b></p> </span></span> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><b><i>Considering diving into a new language? Talman can tell you if a new language is likely to take off or not before you invest a great deal of time learning it &ndash; not to mention we&rsquo;ll talk with you about the big picture of where you want to be in your ca</i></b></span></span><b><i>reer too.</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tech Skills Have A 3-Year Half-Life: Where Do You Go From Here? 03 May 2018Blog<p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">In many cases, the vast majority of our clients considering a software developer for hire these days may ask that developer to do a project as a test. During one of those situations recently, a client remarked about a solution that our candidate came up with involving some very modern code. </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Frankly, that&rsquo;s not something you hear every day. </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Why? On the technology side, the vast majority of developers are still writing code with good old Java, C++ and C# - which is fine until you learn that a large percentage of their time is spent on maintaining and fixing existing systems. </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Meanwhile, many of these languages and their uses are regularly changing over time in which new constructs and capabilities are being developed. Let&rsquo;s use C++, for example. When we describe C++, we&rsquo;re not describing one type of code, even though it may seem that way on the surface of things. In reality, there are a variety of differences between C++, C++11, C++14 and the upcoming C++17. As a result, a person could be working in C++ for years but if they&rsquo;ve continued to use it in the same, standard fashion, they haven&rsquo;t been keeping themselves up-to-date on the latest thinking pertaining to C++. </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">In his book, &ldquo;<i>How to Create a Mind</i>,&rdquo; Ray Kurzweil speaks to the fact that there has been more progress in software over the last 20 years than in hardware during the same period of time. Yet, a large number of software developers are not fully aware to what degree things are evolving toward the cutting edge. All you need to see for evidence of this is to look at an article in today's technical media and compare it to what was written 10 years ago. If it&rsquo;s a highly technical piece, you'll realize just how many new things are being discussed. </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Now, if you were a physician, would you be content to never learn of any new developments in your field such as drug advancements or new operating techniques? Of course not. You&rsquo;d want to learn of those and implement them as soon as possible for the benefit of your patients, not to mention your own career in health. The same holds true for software developers &ndash; as infrastructure and the world changes at a rapid pace, it&rsquo;s time to ask yourself: <i>&ldquo;What percentage of my work week should I spend on learning something new?&rdquo;</i></span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Just like you can&rsquo;t go to college for four years and expect to live off of that knowledge for the remainder of your career, you cannot learn something today and expect to basically be able to use the same know-how for the next 15-20 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><b>The Shocking Half-Life Of Technical Knowledge Is&hellip;</b></span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Three to four years, in our estimation. That&rsquo;s right. Within three to four years, there&rsquo;s a legitimate risk that <i>half </i>of what you know from a technical perspective could become yesterday's news. </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">Consequently, it&rsquo;s critical to learn as much as you can every three to four years of a skill that you know is still useful to organizations. </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">What does that mean for the percentage of your work week as far as the time breakdown between what should be devoted to learning something new compared to the technology you&rsquo;re maintaining?</span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">If you can spend at least <b>10% or more of your time on learning something new</b>, you&rsquo;re starting out on the right path. Yes, as with most jobs, there is a very substantial workload that &quot;needs to be done.&quot; Still, you need to be aware of your progress and track it to ensure you&rsquo;re not slipping backwards. For example, how long ago did you take any online classes about the latest techniques in machine learning, cloud computing, infrastructure, etc.? </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">If that&rsquo;s a hard question for you to immediately answer, it&rsquo;s time to dive into these new technological areas and gauge your comfort level in working with them. Otherwise, if you get too comfortable working on obsolete technology, once that technology gets eliminated (and someday, it will), you could find yourself with a skill set that&rsquo;s obsolete. </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><b>A Simple Change In Mindset </b></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><b>Could Do Amazing Things For Your Career</b></span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">In the minds of many developers, reading something new or taking an online class represents &quot;their time&quot; and therefore, it's a luxury to learn new things while they&rsquo;re already working in a job they&rsquo;re getting paid for. Don&rsquo;t fall into this trap. Your mindset should be more along the lines of, <i>&ldquo;If I'm not learning constantly, my productivity degrades.&rdquo;</i> </span><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><br /> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;">If we use the measurement of a half-life of technological knowledge of three to four years maximum, we can say that as soon as three years into the future, you may be only half as good as you should be. If, for example, you find that your compensation is not improving, it may be time to ask yourself if you are truly far more valuable today using current technology than you were four years ago. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><b><i>So often, a transition into new technological know-how can bring about the need to explore new environments that cater better to that knowledge too. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so important to talk to Talman first. Roy Talman &amp; Associates can help guide you toward a culture that aligns with the next evolution of your career &ndash; not just an alignment with a job description. Let our team show you the real differen</i></b></span><b><i>ce of our experience today.&nbsp;</i></b></p> To Gauge Your Quality Of Life In The Next Job 04 Apr 2018Blog<p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of our recruiters was recently talking to a candidate who used to live in Chicago and now lives in San Francisco working for one of the top five eCommerce Internet companies in the country.</p> <p>During their conversation, a question came up for the candidate:<br /> <i>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m curious &ndash; if you don&rsquo;t mind me asking, what are the living conditions there in San Francisco for your wife and two kids compared to where you used to be?&quot;</i></p> <p>His answer: <i>&quot;We live in one bedroom &ndash; and we're paying $3,000 a month in rent.&quot;</i></p> <p>It brings up one of the biggest philosophical questions that many candidates toy with when anticipating a job change that may ultimately take them to a very different location and environment: <b>Is My Quality Of Life Really Better Or Worse Since I Took This New Job?</b></p> <p>Is quality of life about the <b>money</b> and if so, to what degree does money influence that?</p> <p>Some perceive their quality of life in their salaried dollars and cents per year so they lock in on that figure &ndash; to the point of where some see $200,000 as $200,000, regardless of whether it&rsquo;s New York, Chicago, San Francisco or elsewhere. Obviously, we know that all dollars are not created equal in these locations, even when comparing cities. If we look at it that way, you&rsquo;re talking about the kind of comparison that&rsquo;s very detrimental to high cost of living areas on the coasts, such as San Francisco and New York.</p> <p>So why do some people choose to see dollars as being the same anywhere? For one, those who live in the highest cost of living areas may rationalize to themselves that they're rich because they make a certain amount of dollars per year <i>(&ldquo;$200,000 is a lot of money and most people in the country don&rsquo;t make that, so I must be doing awfully well</i>.<i>&rdquo;</i>). There may also be a vibrant culture that surrounds them, so, in their mind, the culture in a place like Toledo, Ohio could not be vibrant as a major metropolitan city like Chicago.</p> <p>Focusing purely on a dollar amount as a metric of quality of life is actually not the same as saying, <i>&quot;I want to have my yard and my five bedrooms. That's my quality of life. And I want to have that on an acre of land in a three-year-old house with all the amenities. That's how I define my living conditions.&quot;</i></p> <p>Yes, you may need a certain amount of money to obtain that standard of living, but let&rsquo;s take a closer look at that: The same people who say, <i>&quot;I could never consider living anywhere but here&rdquo; </i>are the same people who say, <i>&quot;When I retire, I want to live in the wine country.&quot;</i></p> <p>Here&rsquo;s the challenge: If you truly want to do that and living in the wine country at retirement is the measure of quality of life, couldn&rsquo;t you live in the wine country outside of Winston Salem, North Carolina for far less than you would in the Bay Area?</p> <p>As recruiters at Roy Talman &amp; Associates, we have these conversations frequently with candidates who have such confidence in what they think they want in their next destination both for their career and their lifestyle. However, when we challenge them to explore all the possibilities on both fronts, they often discover new, exciting options beyond the assumptions they came in the door with.</p> <p>Another factor that comes up all the time in the quality of life discussion is the <b>weather</b>. Some people may place a premium on living in the right weather environment, seeing it of paramount importance. Interestingly, everything positive about the area gets multiplied by a factor of ten because the sun is shining. Yet, the weather as a factor in accepting a job in a certain climate may not be all it&rsquo;s cracked up to be. At first, yes, living in a snow-free climate may seem wonderfully appealing, but there is some evidence that the fascination eventually wears off and sooner than people may expect.</p> <p>Case in point: In a recent study among college students in the Midwest, these students were asked, <i>&ldquo;How important do you think the weather would be for you if you were to move to California? And <u>how long</u> do you think it would matter to you?&quot; </i>The students felt the weather would be of the utmost importance and assumed it was going to matter to them forever.</p> <p>Yet, in a follow up study of those graduates from the Midwest who indeed did move to move to California, a unique finding emerged: Those people started to ignore the weather completely &ndash; <i>after just two years.</i></p> <p>Think about that. Two years and the honeymoon was over! That fantasy they&rsquo;d had about living in better weather didn&rsquo;t matter nearly as much.</p> <p>In the meantime, consider the fact that several of these new transplants may have accepted a job resulting in them living in a small house where hardly every bedroom is big enough to have a bed. In such places, it&rsquo;s not unusual to see a professional making $350,000 living with his family in a two-bedroom apartment. Why just two bedrooms on that salary? That&rsquo;s easy. He also lives in an area that is highly expensive. In many other locations, he might have a 4,000 square foot house on a couple acres of land.</p> <p>What about <b>commuting time</b>? Certain areas may have gorgeous weather, but what if it&rsquo;s in a place where the job requires you to leave your house every day before 6am or leave work after 6pm because the traffic in that area is just that unbearable both ways? Candidates don&rsquo;t always factor in this trade-off, which could find them spending as much as a full week in additional commuting time per year &ndash; two weeks in a vehicle annually &ndash; compared to the average person&rsquo;s annual commute total of one week.</p> <p>Mind you, we&rsquo;re not trying to sound anti-San Francisco or anti-New York. The point is that <b>when considering a job change, people need to better appreciate the various trade-offs that they may be forced to make and need to be at peace with &ndash; especially since those trade-offs change all the time.</b> Some of these people say money doesn't mean anything and that they favor an area where all the activity is. Consequently, many of them live with downsizing in favor of culture, weather or other factors.</p> <p><b>You Can Call Your Own Shots &ndash; Up To A Point</b></p> <p>Each person aims to negotiate their best terms in the next job. Still, when you look at certain geographic areas, you will get results that are typical for that geographic area. For example, in San Francisco, no matter how talented you are, unless you're in the very top small percentage of the population, you will either be living in a much smaller space or you will be commuting to the city from much further out.</p> <p>Therefore, you can call your own shots <i>up to a point</i>. At that point, you look around and see you are in a location that basically dictates how you're going to live within that environment. It's a trade-off and for a lot of people, that trade-off has emotional components attached to certain factors. Even though some factors will change in importance &ndash; such as the weather &ndash; the emotional component quite often doesn't change.</p> <p>Take the case of people who have worked for Fortune 500 companies making hundreds of thousands of dollars. You&rsquo;d think they&rsquo;re living &ldquo;the good life,&rdquo; right? In some respects, they most definitely are.</p> <p>However, before long, some of them express a big problem due to one of those emotional components we&rsquo;re referring to: Even with a large salary, they can&rsquo;t afford a home that accommodates their family in an area where the school systems are preferable. As a result, it&rsquo;s not surprising when these folks move back to their former location to get more for the money.</p> <p>That brings us to another element in the quality of life discussion that comes up constantly: <b>Family.</b> Early on in your career when you might be single or even a newly married couple, it can make sense to occasionally take risks and reach for the stars. However, a funny thing happens when we fast forward a few years where you and your new spouse want to have a family. Suddenly, working 95 hours a week might not be something that meshes with your future plans. Your priorities on quality of life naturally start changing.</p> <p><b>Playing &ldquo;The Lottery&rdquo;</b></p> <p>As long as places like San Francisco and New York are generating as much wealth as they have over the last several decades, they will continually create a stream of people who want to play &ldquo;the lottery.&rdquo; What&rsquo;s the lottery, you ask? For many, it entails moving to a desirable location and having it all &ndash; a big house in a great neighborhood with all the great cultural advantages that come with. Some of those who venture to these locations will indeed win &ldquo;the lottery.&rdquo;</p> <p>Just like the lottery itself, the winners comprise an extremely small group of people. You can tell who the winners are by their visibility. They&rsquo;re defining what winning truly means for them.</p> <p>Make no mistake, however. In order to win the lottery, it takes a deep commitment to do whatever it takes to succeed and it&rsquo;s not getting any easier. In many sectors, such as finance or technology, quality of life is not a subject that&rsquo;s frequently brought up at all. No wonder we hear of stories of people on their email at 2am on Saturday because, well, that&rsquo;s what it takes. Or living in a trailer while working at Google or Microsoft because that&rsquo;s what it takes. Do we see that changing anytime soon? Frankly, no.</p> <p>What we do see are areas rising where there is an interesting combination of quality of life, weather, cost of living, culture and a vibrant economy. For quite some time, Seattle held the crown as that &ldquo;best of all worlds&rdquo; type of city but as Seattle is getting to be very expensive, we see the title shifting to a contender like Austin. We suspect that when cities want to imitate the success of another metropolitan area, they&rsquo;ll look to Austin versus San Francisco.</p> <p><b>Where Does That Leave You? </b></p> <p><b>How Does Quality Of Life Have Meaning In Your World?</b></p> <p>There are a variety of factors that can play a part in determining how you view quality of life, which can in turn play a role in whether or not you accept a job in a new area: Money. Weather. Schools. Commuting time. Cost of living. Proximity to the gym, the theater, restaurants, the lake/ocean, etc. Religious community. And more.</p> <p>These factors and others like them can influence your happiness but some of them can also change and shift over time. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s vital to have a deep conversation with a recruiter about what you value not only in the next phase of your career but what you value for the quality of your life. Don&rsquo;t just fall in love with what the job presents to you today. Consider the long-term view of what it gives you as well &ndash; and long-term could mean just a year or two from now.</p> <p><b><i>Before you talk to anyone else, make a point to connect with our team at Roy Talman &amp; Associates. With our extensive knowledge of many financial and technology firms from Chicago to New York, we can give you some excellent insight on company cultures, management styles and just how far (or not) a particular salary can take you. That way, you can plan with the entire picture of your work and life in mind. After all, it&rsquo;s not just the job that&rsquo;s going to change. It&rsquo;s everything around you that will likely look different too. Let&rsquo;s talk more about it well in advance so your next big career move is one that hopefully excites you for many years to come. </i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Like da Vinci: How To Approach Problems As A Genius Would 22 Mar 2018Blog<p>One of the more fascinating books I&rsquo;ve been reading is Walter Isaacson&rsquo;s latest about Leonardo da Vinci.</p> <p>Most of us know Leonardo as a painter and sculptor. However, beyond that, Leonardo's notebooks show us that he also had an incredible level of curiosity and an exceptional ability to represent visually what his eyes would perceive. He was able to discover things on his own that scientists wouldn't discover <i>for hundreds of years.</i> Perhaps the most extreme example of this was when he figured out how the valve of the human heart closes, because a vortex is created when the blood rushes past it.</p> <p>Only recently, in 2014, doctors and scientists believed that there were different mechanisms by which the human heart was operating. And only recently, using the most sophisticated imaging technology, were they able to demonstrate that, indeed, when the blood goes past the valve, it creates a vacuum right behind the valve, which causes it to flip and close perfectly.</p> <p>Modern medical science arrived at a conclusion that Leonardo was writing about 500 years ago!</p> <p><b>Is it possible for any of us to approach our challenges by thinking like such a genius as da Vinci?</b> Based on Isaacson&rsquo;s book, here are some of the elements that I believe are mandatory, at least as a foundation.</p> <p><b>Step Out Of Your World </b><br /> <b>And Be Curious About Everything </b></p> <p>Some people can be intensely curious about things within their own industry but we&rsquo;re talking about a much broader perspective than that.</p> <p><b><br /> </b>Leonardo didn&rsquo;t gravitate to studying the circulatory system in a human being, for example, without being infinitely curious of all kinds of things.</p> <p>In a previous blog post, I spoke about Hollywood producer Brian Grazer&rsquo;s book, &ldquo;<i>A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life</i>&rdquo; and the power of stepping out of your silo. Grazer, for all his success in the movie business, constantly sought out conversations with people who may or may not have been in his field but were deeply interesting for him to listen to and learn from.</p> <p>When you are <b>curious about different types of industries and technologies &ndash; some of which may not seem like they'd be related to you at first </b>&ndash; you might be surprised at how having that sort of curiosity can be extraordinarily beneficial to your career. It may even open your mind to options you might have never considered.</p> <p><b>Challenge The Status Quo And Find A Better Way</b></p> <p>In Leonardo&rsquo;s time, a great number of artists would paint on wet plaster and, due to the nature of that surface, would paint everything they needed to paint <i>within that day. </i></p> <p>Well, Leonardo knew that he couldn&rsquo;t paint anything close to a masterpiece in one day &ndash; the process was much too fast for him. So he arrived at a solution for how to create paints that would stick to dry plaster. The result? One of his most famous works that we know as &ldquo;<i>The Last Supper</i>.&rdquo;</p> <p>Many of us have encountered work environments in which we hear, <i>&ldquo;Well, that&rsquo;s the way we&rsquo;ve always done it.&rdquo;</i> Deep down, the people who say such things know that the status quo might not be the best way yet they can&rsquo;t break out of traditional thinking long enough to come at the problem in a different way. Some will complain about the state of things, but that typically only gets them so far.</p> <p>Real disruption and change comes from looking at the challenge and saying, <i>&ldquo;Is this really the only way I can solve this? What have I not thought of? Who else in the company can I enlist to help me solve it? And when we do arrive at a better way, what key influencers do we need to connect with to ensure we move forward with our proposed solution?&rdquo;</i></p> <p><b>Keep Returning And Adding To Your Masterpiece </b></p> <p>As incredibly intelligent as he was, Leonardo was not a perfect person. He would start many things but finish very few, partly because he couldn't figure out how to finish things to his satisfaction. This may explain why he was painting Mona Lisa for as many years as he did &ndash; he kept coming back to it and adding more.</p> <p>Some might consider this &ldquo;starting but never finishing&rdquo; pattern of Leonardo&rsquo;s to be a flaw. He would constantly design marvelous things but they would rarely be completed. He would plan to sculpt a tremendous horse for a patron in Milan, for example, but just as he was about to do so, the materials he needed to use had to be used for an impending war instead. So the sculpture never happened.</p> <p>Yet, in the case of one of the most famous paintings in history &ndash; Mona Lisa - we can say that <b>there are times when the relentless drive to achieve something better, even when it doesn&rsquo;t all happen in one or two sittings, is well worth the effort. </b></p> <p>Case in point: Your career is a constant work in progress &ndash; an evolution of skills that is continually being added to a collection of experiences. Keep finding ways to add to the masterpiece that is your life&rsquo;s work. One title, one stop on the career path and even one outstanding achievement doesn&rsquo;t likely provide the complete picture of all that you are. What does the comprehensive collection up to this point communicate to potential employers and is it telling the story as accurately as you&rsquo;d like? If not, what modifications might need to be made from here so that it aligns with your purpose and passion?</p> <p><b>Create Your Own Labels &ndash; Don&rsquo;t Let Others Create Them For You</b></p> <p>Leonardo was very much set against being described as a painter. Instead, he perceived himself as an <b>engineer, military advisor and scientist.</b></p> <p>You could also call him an amazing anatomist, because he had a passion for dissecting (in fact, he would dissect over 30 cadavers on the path to making discoveries that were far ahead of their time). Leonardo&rsquo;s attitude was that in order to create the proper picture or the proper statue, you need to understand <i>all</i> the things that are underneath the skin &ndash; in order to learn just that, he dissected a variety of people. This intensive learning would ultimately influence another area of his work, his unbelievably beautiful atlases of the human body.</p> <p>A military advisor? Leonardo da Vinci? In a way, absolutely. Despite the fact that some of da Vinci&rsquo;s self-descriptions &ndash; like being a military advisor &ndash; were accompanied with a bit of bluster, we can say that he did invent one tool that we often take for granted: <b>A map that represented a city from above. </b>This could certainly be viewed as a military document, which may explain his self-perception as a military strategist. Until da Vinci, there were no maps quite like that. He had the eye and hand of a genius artist to realize what a given city looked like with all of its fortifications, buildings and so on &ndash; from above and accurately.</p> <p>A scientist? Most definitely. From a scientific standpoint, da Vinci discovered a variety of laws that we would eventually know by name, such as the laws of friction &ndash; about 200 years before Sir Isaac Newton defined force. At one point, he created a list of 87 different measurement relationships of a human face, such as how far the chin goes to the nose. He was also the first person to discover that the human tooth has three roots.</p> <p>In the modern day, it is far too easy to classify someone else based on initial observations of certain parts of their work or even a resume. In some cases, that might be perfectly fine. But be careful. You don&rsquo;t want others, including those in a position to hire, to make assumptions about you that may only tell part of the story when it comes to your career achievements, skill set and goals from here.</p> <p><b><i>That&rsquo;s where connecting with a highly experienced recruiter such as Roy Talman &amp; Associates can be very helpful to communicating the complete picture of where you&rsquo;ve been in your career, what you&rsquo;ve accomplished thus far and the ideal culture you&rsquo;d like to join for maximum impact. Positioning you correctly and preparing you for the moment when you&rsquo;re in front of these hiring authorities is key, so let&rsquo;s make a point to connect to see that you tell your own story in the most favorable light and define your own path forward in the best way possible. </i></b></p> <p><b><i>Will that approach make you feel as much of a genius as da Vinci? Let&rsquo;s just say in our 30 years of experience at Roy Talman, we believe it&rsquo;s a far more intelligent path that just works better.</i></b></p> <span style="font-size: medium;"> </span> Bitcoin Pave A New Career Path For You? 13 Mar 2018Blog<p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Being as close to the financial trading sector as we are at Roy Talman &amp; Associates, we can see that a number of financial trading companies are jumping on the bandwagon of trading cryptocurrencies. The core of expertise of trading companies is, of course, trading. For these companies, it's often much more profitable to trade something with high volatility than little volatility. Despite the fact that there are lots of stories about how 2017 was one of the least volatile market years on record, that simply doesn't apply to cryptocurrencies. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Therefore, to the degree that cryptocurrencies will be used and traded by these trading firms, it represents an extremely appealing product to trade. Many trading companies in Chicago are already trading cryptocurrencies or gearing up very quickly to trade them. To fully achieve that, you need a whole infrastructure with real exchanges. Thus far, in my observation, we are still very early on in that lifecycle. The futures exchanges, CME and CBOE have not really gained much value in this area. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Nonetheless, in the future, we should see a point where, to some degree, various public or private cryptocurrencies will become ever more useful. That could have very positive career implications for people with a strong understanding of that technology.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">The progression I&rsquo;m speaking of reminds me a bit of how the Internet first burst upon the scene in the mid-'90's. At that time, very few people knew how to write code for this wonderful new thing called the Internet. As such, there were also few applications that were truly useful. Still, as time went on, we reached a point to where we are today &ndash; we see tens of millions, perhaps even <i>hundreds of millions</i> of people know how to write code continually. The code is much easier to write and from that development, there are tremendous libraries of information being created that others can, in turn, use and learn from.</span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>So Is Bitcoin And Blockchain Here To Stay?</b></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">As new forms of funding have emerged worldwide, what we&rsquo;re seeing are a very large number of ICOs (initial coin offerings). For the time being, you may have some spectacular successes &ndash; such as Ripple, a company that people can use to send money using blockchain &ndash; as well as a fair number of failures. It should be very interesting to see a variety of applications for these ICOs and the blockchains that underline them. It appears at this point that the cryptocurrencies that will garner the largest use will not only survive but also prosper.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">___________________________________________________________________________________</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>Advertisement</i></span></span></p> <span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> <p><b><u>Talman Advantage #2:</u></b></p> </span></span> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>We See The Complete Picture Of Who You Are</b></span></span></p> <span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> <p><b><i>At Roy Talman &amp; Associates, we don&rsquo;t just see you as a resume or even a candidate to fill an open job. Instead, we&rsquo;ll ask to meet you because we want to get to know you on a deeper level &ndash; that includes your current skills, your knowledge of certain subjects, your special expertise, your work style and the environments in which you believe you thrive.</i></b></p> </span></span> <span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> <p><b><i>Compare that to others. But always talk to Talman first.</i></b></p> </span></span> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">___________________________________________________________________________________</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Ripple's CEO is fond of pointing out that his transactions can be processed in three seconds and due to that, he's getting a lot of use out of his system whereas bitcoin transactions currently can take hours. And as far as transaction fees, it&rsquo;s easy to see where that&rsquo;s going to become a big issue for bitcoin &ndash; people are paying an average near $30 in order to make bitcoin transactions. Considering that the original premise was that bitcoin transactions were going to be a fraction of a penny, it seems we've migrated the wrong way &ndash; but the demand certainly appears to be there.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Still, there are so few people with an understanding of what these tools are and what they can do from a technological standpoint that it may very well open the door to new, exciting potential opportunities for candidates.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Case in point: A recent graduate with six months of experience writing code for GitHub in between classes is a highly desirable expert on a global basis. It is not a stretch to say that such a candidate, in Dublin, could attract a company in Montreal to want to hire him to work for a manager in Chicago.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">We can foresee the same development likely happening over and over again. As with so many relatively new areas of technology, there can be a great deal of ups and downs. There will be high profile success stories and yes, some headlines about this or that promising company that ultimately went nowhere. So if you move your career toward a company related to cryptocurrency, be prepared to stomach what could be a high level of volatility. Some candidates thrive upon riding this kind of roller coaster. Others run from it as fast as they can.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>We&rsquo;ve Been Here Before. </b></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>And Ready For What Comes Next.</b></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">If you&rsquo;re expecting the media to tell a consistent &ldquo;straight story&rdquo; on the future of cryptocurrency, good luck with that. We&rsquo;ve seen wide-ranging predictions that run the gamut from a &ldquo;bitcoin bubble&rdquo; about to burst to how bitcoin is going replace all forms of money as we know it. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;">For our part, we see a future somewhere in the middle: Cryptocurrency will have its winners, its losers and doesn&rsquo;t seem to be on the verge of suddenly disappearing. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b><i>It&rsquo;s actually a cycle that we&rsquo;ve seen several times over the last 30 years at Roy Talman &amp; Associates. An emerging technology arrives, disrupting industries and bringing new questions with it. When those questions influence what your next career move could be, a degree of clarity is much needed. That&rsquo;s where Roy Talman&rsquo;s deep knowledge of where technology is headed next and what firms value most can be highly beneficial, providing you with keen insight on the opportunities that best align with your skills and goals.&nbsp;</i></b></span></span></p> Next Phase Of AI: Beyond The “Hype” 08 Mar 2018Blog<p><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>The Next Phase Of AI: Beyond The &ldquo;Hype&rdquo;</b></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">I was recently watching two luminaries in the area of artificial intelligence talk about where AI is at this point. It wasn&rsquo;t really presented from the point of view that &ldquo;<i>one algorithm is better than another algorithm</i>,&quot; but rather more in terms of how someone in business can make sense out of this new machine age we&rsquo;re entering.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">One of the more surprising points came from a speaker named Andrew Ng, a former chief scientist at Baidu who ran the company&rsquo;s Artificial Intelligence Group and is now an adjunct professor at Stanford and a chairman of Coursera. Ng stated that 99% of the commercial uses of machine learning today come from what we call <b>supervised learning</b>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Supervised learning represents one of three types of machine learning systems today. It&rsquo;s when you have an event or object and a machine is not only told what that event or object is but then <i>also learns to recognize it.</i> You might say that autonomous driving or medical image recognition is a good example of supervised learning. Ng himself and a group of his students at Stanford built a system to recognize whether a head of lettuce was ripe or not &ndash; a project that all started with his students walking around with their cellphones, taking pictures of heads of lettuce and labeling them accordingly for the benefit of a machine&rsquo;s understanding.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Next, we have <b>reinforced learning</b>, a type of machine learning that became most famous when systems were built that could learn, by themselves, how to play games - from Space Invaders to the game Go to Chess. In fact, the only thing these systems ever really need are the rules of the game. Once a system has such a foundation of rules, it can essentially take it from there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Finally, there is what&rsquo;s referred to as <b>unsupervised learning</b>. An example of this type of machine learning might be Google &ldquo;learning&rdquo; to work through millions of photos on its own in order to recognize and identify a particular image such as a cat.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">The positive sentiment about supervised learning and its phenomenal progress over the last 5-7 years was echoed in this same presentation by Yann LeCun, a computer scientist who is the head AI scientist in Facebook&rsquo;s research division. LeCun claims that the progress supervised learning has achieved, in substantial degree, comes from essentially two components: One is the <b>ever-faster GPUs in auto specialized chips</b> that are good at running neural nets and the billions upon billions of computations it takes to train those networks. The other is an <b>ever-increasing availability of data to train these systems on</b>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>The Promise Of Things To Come</b></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Ng and LeCun may see that supervised learning is where a vast majority of commercial applications are today. Beyond today, however, there are many exciting evolutions of machine learning for tomorrow &ndash; these are not &ldquo;experiments&rdquo; (as some admittedly can be), but rather practical applications that can shake up a variety of industries.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Let&rsquo;s take medical imaging recognition, for example. The current technological state of affairs is such that a system essentially has to be taught, &ldquo;<i>This image depicts cancer</i>&rdquo; and &ldquo;<i>This is not cancer</i>.&rdquo; Over time, the system is able to identify from a given photo whether a lesion is cancerous or not.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Yet, the real promise from here is that a person with a reasonably priced smartphone will be able to take a picture, upload it to the cloud, get it analyzed and receive the results of that analysis for a nominal cost.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">As this technology progresses and becomes more widely distributed, the next true stage of machine learning could go a long way toward improving healthcare for more people in the world.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Are we there yet? No. It can take significant time for one system to analyze a variety of narrow problems to understand or rules to follow before it can solve a problem, play a game or perform analysis. My personal suspicion is that it might take billions of <i>those</i> systems, in turn, to build a system that we consistently recognize for its usefulness through the world.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Optimistically speaking, we will probably get to that point&hellip;even if we&rsquo;re not quite there yet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">What you could say we are experiencing in machine learning is a new phase. We have been through the &ldquo;hype&rdquo; phase. We have also seen a system&rsquo;s ability to learn and demonstrate broadly applicable tasks. From here, we will likely be <b>entering a phase in which we have more sensors on a widespread basis</b> &ndash; and in turn, as we are able to collect a large amount of data on a cost-effective basis, we should see exponential growth in a variety of useful systems. In addition, as a result of that exponential growth in computational capacity, we should also see systems built with the next layer of capabilities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>What Tech Skills Today Are Needed For Tomorrow&rsquo;s Systems?</b></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">In practical terms, it may surprise you to learn that my expectation is that the technology skills that should be called upon to &ldquo;help&rdquo; these types of systems will actually be good old-fashioned <b>software development skills in areas such as Java, Python and C++. </b>I foresee a variety of candidates needing a solid familiarity with how to manage a large amount of data, including how to identify specific data in relation to a specific subject.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Now, some may believe that learning certain company systems will take an enormous effort. There will be substantial effort required, to be sure. However, for all their complexities, an understanding of the developmental core algorithms behind these systems may be less of a challenge than you realize.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">Why? A variety of companies appear to be so intent on accelerating the learning curve for their systems that they are willing to give away all kinds of tools in order to induce people to learn their platform. Consequently, an individual who has just learned their system will essentially get &ldquo;locked&rdquo; into using the platform for the foreseeable future. We&rsquo;re talking about companies like Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;">As we pass from one phase of AI to the next, the idea that machines are &ldquo;coming to take our jobs&rdquo; is becoming ever more remote. If anything, machines will transform a number of roles and create new opportunities for those who are ready and eager to evolve with the times.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><b><i>Of course, recognizing such new opportunities isn&rsquo;t always obvious. That&rsquo;s why it makes sense to partner with a technical recruiter that has over 30 years of experience like Roy Talman &amp; Associates. Talking to us today about planning the next direction of your career path, especially as we&rsquo;re on the cusp of seeing a big leap in the development of systems, may make for the best kind of timing.</i></b></span></p> Your Company At The Speed Of Google 16 Jan 2018Blog<p>For as long as we can remember, Google is held up as a shining example of innovation in many respects. Yet, just as they admire Google, many people will say in the same breath, <i>&ldquo;Of course, I&rsquo;m not Google and I don&rsquo;t have Google resources.&rdquo;</i></p> <p>In a perfect world, you don't have to be Google to follow the model of what Google has done very well. Namely, Google is constantly in a state of change or planning on making change. Google is a search engine, yes. But as you know, it&rsquo;s also a phone. It&rsquo;s a photo album. It&rsquo;s a computer. It could soon be a self-driving car. It&rsquo;s a company that is intent on deploying various forms of machine learning.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s also a company committed to redefining the category they enter. For example, in the space of wireless headphones, was it Google&rsquo;s mission to deliver finer sound or deeper bass? Not really. Their headphones are designed to translate a wide variety of languages.</p> <p>They are also committed to evolving the innovations they&rsquo;ve had, including search. Make no mistake &ndash; the search you typed today on Google is much different than the one you did 5 years ago. The search you do on Google 5 years from now may be drastically different too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What Does This Mean For How You Innovate Today?</b></p> <p>As I&rsquo;ve written in another Tidbit (<i>&ldquo;When Did We Get So Satisfied With 10% Innovation?&rdquo;), </i>many large companies devote 90% of their technology spend on preserving the status quo and 10% toward true innovation. We should be thinking about how we can flip that equation because too many companies have it backwards. What if we could focus 90% of our technology spend on innovation and only 10% on maintaining our current place in the world? You&rsquo;d probably resemble a very different type of company in many ways, right?</p> <p>The truth is, <b>many large companies will have no choice but to explore this kind of 90/10 ratio for their own survival</b>. That&rsquo;s because the speed with which we're consuming technology is growing exponentially. You don&rsquo;t have to look far for a big example of this: It once took a large corporation to accommodate databases that were almost a gigabyte. Now, people can walk around with 256 gigabytes in their pocket, thanks to their smartphones.</p> <p>I believe that most successful companies such as Apple reinvest their product line essentially on their phones once a year. You can be sure that Google reinvents what they're offering us more than once a year. Still, you don't have to be a Google, Apple or have any kind of revenue approaching these companies in order to adopt their mindset. What I find is that the <b>nature of the organization&rsquo;s DNA could be described by its background, its culture, its history, its mission &ndash; not what it makes today.</b></p> <p>What you have embedded in the DNA of many of today's firms that are big successes is that they are essentially digital companies operating in a space where the cost of computing is collapsing every 11 months, according to the futurist Ray Kurzweil. These companies should expect to deliver twice the computing to their customers a year from now.</p> <p>A company could say, &ldquo;<i>I'm stamping steel</i>&quot; and that's one way to look at it, but the other one is, &quot;<i>I have digital forms that will be sent to this device that will stamp on steel</i>.&quot; So it&rsquo;s really not about stamping steel at all. It&rsquo;s about building tools that will allow a much faster way to design the parts that will then be shipped out.</p> <p>Apple doesn&rsquo;t manufacture their own chips. They <i>design</i> their own chips. And those chips are the core expertise of Apple. Because of it, Apple knows that they need to have at least <i>twice </i>the computing capacity in their chips a year from now that they currently have because that&rsquo;s what it takes to be competitive.</p> <p>Other organizations have marketing or sales at their core &ndash; Procter and Gamble is really a marketing organization, for example, not purely a manufacturer. Over the last 15 years, companies that became world-wide behemoths are the same ones who are digital at their core and appreciate how much value they can deliver to literally billions of their customers and still make a profit while actually having very little revenue coming in per person. In fact, until this century, we had no companies that had a billion simultaneous users. My, how times have changed in the age of Facebook.</p> <p>Remember the 90%-reinvention-to-10%-maintaining ratio. Consider the bigger picture beyond the product of today you offer. Realize that based on consumption, your primary product could look radically different or could be non-existent altogether in favor of another advanced product due to how your company has evolved. Think about how your culture and mission can drive innovation and profit. Finally, embrace the state of constant change that could move you toward redefining categories instead of making product tweaks for marginal impact.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not the domain of billion dollar companies alone.</p> <p><b><i>Roy Talman &amp; Associates has been able to identify the kind of talent that catapults companies to great success for over 30 years, helping businesses stay nimble in the face of consistently changing demands. If you&rsquo;re in the technology, financial trading or management consulting space, let&rsquo;s have a conversation about the next phase of your potential growth and how we can play a role in it today.</i></b></p> Machine Learning Is Heating Up Tech Opportunities In Financial Trading 09 Jan 2018Blog<p>I was recently part of a panel at the Global Derivatives Conference here in Chicago in which the topic was the application of <b>machine learning</b>. Interestingly, it became clear during our discussion that there are several people who believe machine learning is, basically, the be-all-end-all &ldquo;Holy Grail&rdquo; for success in quantitative finance.</p> <p>The real question is: Is it? Like most things, the answer isn&rsquo;t quite that simple. However, what we can say is that we&rsquo;re in a new phase in which machine learning is getting a supercharge. Machine learning encompasses a set of tools that are being developed at a dramatic pace. As part of this phase, people are trying to figure out how to apply new tools to the centralization of financial trading. To me, the interesting thing is that from everything I've seen, developing those applications is not necessarily going to be easy.</p> <p>Any time you approach a new tool or technology that&rsquo;s truly revolutionary, you&rsquo;re going to have a philosophical discussion that asks, <i>&ldquo;How will applying this tool to a variety of things yield new knowledge for us?&rdquo; </i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Current Landscape As We Know It</b></p> <p>Right now, you have large companies built on the central application of these technologies for financial trading. The most visible of those companies is called Sigma and a more prominent &ldquo;stealth&rdquo; company, Renaissance Technology, seems to have been applying all of these tools for a while, becoming one of the most successful of its kind. Beyond this tier of companies, more and more people are trying to get into this area. With almost any technology related to financial trading, there may be initial success followed by increased spending and ultimately, continued growth.</p> <p>We&rsquo;ve seen this pattern of initial success-spending-growth before many times, haven&rsquo;t we? Take computers, for example. Over time, computers got to be so powerful and expensive that I've been told that at one point, some of our clients were replacing their PCs <u>every three months</u> because the PC coming out three months later was that much faster. That kind of speed truly made a difference to them.</p> <p>So initial success leads to increased spending on technology, which eventually begs the question related to growth: <i>How much do you want to spend to get another one dollar of net expected revenue?</i> If we&rsquo;re talking about spending one dollar, that&rsquo;s an obvious decision. If it&rsquo;s spending $1000, however? Not so obvious. If it&rsquo;s $10,000, maybe it&rsquo;s not worth the trouble after all.</p> <p>As machine learning moves beyond the &ldquo;early adopter&rdquo; phase, we see quite a few companies seeking to continually invest in it that will probably shape the changes in the market. Surely this means we will see more companies succeed as others wither.</p> <p><b>With increased investment in this area, what implications are there for the types of candidates that might be working within these companies on machine learning on the software side?</b></p> <p>We&rsquo;re beginning to see a lot of possibilities on this front. For example, we&rsquo;re seeing the potential usage of image processing in analyzing satellite photos or photos taken by drones that, of all things, could be used in a financial trading capacity.</p> <p>How&rsquo;s that? Let&rsquo;s say you&rsquo;re a retail analyst and you want to know how much activity is happening on a particular day, like Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. In order to understand what the foot traffic might be to your store, you could analyze the number of cars that enter all the parking spots designated or near your store.</p> <p>What if the parking lot is full? Well, then you might analyze if the cars parked in those spots right now are the same cars that were parked in those spots one hour ago. So to the degree that you can figure out how much traffic a particular store generated in terms of people coming in and out, you might obtain some significant insight to help you in planning going forward. You can then potentially say, <i>&ldquo;Our store did really well on this particular day, which happened to be when we had a blowout sale&rdquo;</i> or even <i>&ldquo;Our parking lot was busier this year by 10% compared to last year &ndash; what did we do differently this year?&rdquo;</i></p> <p>As another example, we know that as it enters the retail grocery space, Amazon has been working on a prototypical store called &ldquo;Amazon Go&rdquo; without any cashiers. The customer walks in, is identified by an Amazon Go app, selects the items they need and then leaves &ndash; without ever going to a register. How are they charged upon leaving the store? The system keeps track of the entire experience based on machine learning and a variety of sensors.</p> <p>People are working on technologies just like this to provide greater financial insight so customers can get data that is ever-more quantifiable. However, here&rsquo;s where a lot of opportunities may arise for candidates &ndash; with so many rollouts of new technologies, <b>there is always a troubleshooting, testing, improving and evolving component that requires the human element.</b> Machine learning is very exciting but it&rsquo;s not perfect. What looks great on paper has to be executed flawlessly in the real world. As we know, that doesn&rsquo;t always happen, thus the opportunity that exists for candidates.</p> <p>What&rsquo;s also only to the candidate&rsquo;s benefit is that most forward-thinking firms in financial trading (and beyond) who will win in this highly competitive landscape will surely recognize that machine learning and its progression as it pertains to the company will require a lot of <b>sustained investment</b> over the long haul. They know it is a marathon, not a sprint. They also know that if they want to succeed and have a competitive advantage, the edge they want to achieve over other firms may be fully realized in <b>the long-term rather than overnight.</b></p> <p>If you find yourself interested in the opportunities that machine learning may present, pay attention to financial trading companies that are making such investments in these technologies. Yes, some are more secretive than others, but as more companies reveal themselves to be committed to achieving a long-term competitive advantage, it may be a good time to discover if their goals mesh with your own.</p> <p><b><i>Roy Talman &amp; Associates can supplement this process of discovery by shedding light on financial trading firms that are making significant headway on the technological front today and where they&rsquo;re headed tomorrow. It&rsquo;s what our over 30 years of building relationships in the financial trading space can provide you. Together, we can pave a more well-informed path for your career, even when the field and its associated technologies are in a state of constant change.&nbsp;</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Did We Get So Satisfied With 10% Innovation? 20 Dec 2017Blog<p>I came across a research study recently that, frankly, surprised even this industry veteran with deep knowledge of the tech space. The study found that of a large business&rsquo; typical technology spend, 90% is devoted to preserving the existing state of technology at the company while only 10% is spent on doing something new.</p> <p>10%! In the past, some of us may have looked at a tech company with this type of spend breakdown and thought, &ldquo;Wow, isn&rsquo;t it innovative that a company is devoting a portion of their funds to work on something totally different than what they do now?&rdquo;</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s take a closer look at what we&rsquo;re really talking about, though. The reality is that a company that is only 10% innovative can&rsquo;t be considered good enough.</p> <p>Yes, they can continue to devote 90% of their finances to staying current and &ldquo;getting by&rdquo; but at some point, new technologies do come along. If the company hasn&rsquo;t evolved by then, it&rsquo;s a company that&rsquo;s going to be seen as a dinosaur.</p> <p><strong>Expect, Anticipate And Act &ndash; There Is No Choice</strong></p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been reading a very good book called &quot;What To Do When Machines Do Everything&quot; by Malcolm Frank, in which the author points out that as automation and various forms of machine intelligence become more capable, they will permeate our business lives and at some point, our personal lives.</p> <p>For a variety of companies wondering what machine learning may mean for their business in both the short-term and long-term, Frank advises them to expect a trend so they can better anticipate that trend rather than wait for it to arrive and then wonder what they do next. With better expectations in advance, a company has a much better chance of taking advantage of the trend when tools become available that are used for particular business problems and processes.</p> <p>What follows in his line of thinking is particularly important &ndash; he urges large, established companies not to cling to the old way they've done it for the last 50 years, but to try to figure out how to re-engineer their business to be built around more digital trends. This way, they can collect more information and figure out how their business relates to this new technology about to be used.</p> <p>Now, I don&rsquo;t believe automation will fully displace human intelligence and analytics. There's still great value for companies to use automation technologies to look at vast data sets, but we also have to account for the human factor in helping machine learning technologies continue to progress.</p> <p><strong>Do We Have All The Data We Could Ever Want? Not Quite.</strong></p> <p>Some think we have all the data we could ever want, but I take issue with that. Suddenly, the amount of data created for day-to-day things like smart watches means there's always data that could be analyzed and consumed. And even within all of this consumption and analysis, do machines know how to place the data in the proper context of what the organization is striving to accomplish and make meaningful suggestions? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.</p> <p>Let me give you an example of what I mean.</p> <p>The other day, I received a notification from Google Maps that said, &quot;Here's what you've done for the month of November.&quot; It could identify when I left my house, parked my car and so forth. Google Photos can tell me that it just organized all of my photos for me so that I can look at all the appropriate people I&rsquo;d like to. So there&rsquo;s certainly a fair amount of data and organizational capability, but when it comes to connecting the dots from data to insight, there is still room for continual improvement.</p> <p>Instead of hoarding data and trying to save it all for analysis at some later time and having people drown in that data trying to analyze it, there are a variety of applications related to machine learning pointing toward a smarter way such as subscribing to a thousand news feeds, then having an intelligent assistant scan through those and figure out what you need to consume most.</p> <p><strong>How Do We Get More Than 10% Innovative?</strong></p> <p>Within your company, you should be continually looking at your technology stack and saying, &quot;Which technology is still producing the best returns for me,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Which technologies I should get rid of and replace?&quot;</p> <p>Perhaps that&rsquo;s a complex question to answer, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean the status quo is perfectly acceptable either. Consider that a great many of the largest financial institutions have never figured out how to get rid of old technology that, for whatever reason, they&rsquo;ve grown to depend on.</p> <p>In fact, I know some of the largest brokerages still have mainframes circa 30 years ago as the core of their technology. These same brokerages are also still using Cobal and CICS because after these technologies and others like them were built, nobody invested in a mission of keeping up with the times and planning for the future from a technological standpoint. Consequently, you still have technology in some of these brokerages that was popular in the late 1970's and early 1980's.</p> <p>What this essentially says to me is that you have technological progress creeping along that many organizations have somehow managed to more or less avoid. Unfortunately, they can&rsquo;t figure out how it&rsquo;s probably easier to jettison certain technologies. They also can&rsquo;t figure out what progress really looks like because the people running the company didn't appreciate how fast technology is changing or</p> <p>should be changing. As such, they didn't build into their business (and their business perception) the fact that technology will be ever-changing and that it will be getting continually cheaper and more capable. Consequently, these organizations may be just fine for quite a while. They can even be leading the way &ndash; until a new type of disruption comes along.</p> <p>When that disruption occurs, how easy will it be for a large organization to be quickly adaptable? Can your company go from a 30-year-old system at its core to a system that&rsquo;s 3 months old? That might be very difficult. Organizationally, some people in place likely don't have the skill for making this type of transformation as they&rsquo;re already top-heavy on maintaining things &ldquo;as is.&rdquo;</p> <p>Being more than 10% innovative also extends to the way you hire. Instead of matching people to job descriptions, truly innovative companies factor in for a range of complexities that include culture, work style and many other pieces in addition to the individual&rsquo;s skill set.</p> <p><em>At Roy Talman &amp; Associates, we help tech companies develop a hiring strategy that doesn&rsquo;t merely identify the best people for current roles of need today but the best people to help lead a company through the potential changes and disruptors we foresee later on. Because the more people who are nimble and proactive in the face of impending change, the more likely a company can commit to innovation at much higher than a 10% level.</em></p> Are Some Jobs Open Forever And What Can We Do About It? 11 Dec 2017Blog<p>Company A has a job that needs to be filled. After the opening becomes available, one month passes. Then another month and another. Before long, it&rsquo;s well over six months, which begs the question: <b>Why isn't this job getting filled?</b></p> <p>On the surface of it, it would look like the company can&rsquo;t find a qualified candidate. However, my take is that it's probably something else.</p> <p>As certain industries &ndash; financial trading, for example &ndash; have been challenged by various business conditions, some companies are saying,&nbsp;<i>&quot;OK, we&rsquo;ve got some serious work to do. We can&rsquo;t just bring aboard a solid candidate to fill a role. We need somebody who will make a difference and help us compete extraordinarily better.&quot;</i></p> <p>Welcome to a whole new ballgame. Suddenly, someone meeting the criteria of being very well competent in their skill set may actually be insufficient. That&rsquo;s because a variety of companies are seeking the kind of candidate will give&nbsp;<b>their business</b>&nbsp;<b>a competitive edge</b>. That's a&nbsp;<i>much</i>&nbsp;higher standard versus matching talent to a position. In this kind of situation, it's often understood that companies will look for a long time because bringing in someone who can&rsquo;t enhance their competitive position just won't do them any good. Patience comes to those who wait and these companies are frequently willing to do so.</p> <p>This might explain why some of these coveted positions seem to be open for what seems like, well, forever.</p> <p>The rationale reminds me of how a music company decides whether they&rsquo;re going to sign an artist or not: Do they need to sign new artists? Of course. But the real question for them during an evaluation period is:&nbsp;<i>&ldquo;If we sign this artist, is he or she going to put our label on the map as a bonafide superstar? Are they going to have one hit after another, win a bundle of Grammy awards, sell millions upon millions of albums and have a die-hard loyal fan base? Is this the next Taylor Swift, Beyonce, etc.?&rdquo;</i></p> <p>They&rsquo;re looking at the artist they sign and evaluating their impact on a generation over the next decade or more. If they&rsquo;re a &ldquo;one hit wonder&rdquo; at best, will signing that artist do the record label any good? Questionable.</p> <p>In another example, look at any Olympic team in track and field, swimming, gymnastics, etc. Are these slots to be &ldquo;permanently&rdquo; filled? No. All you have to do as an athlete is compete at a higher level than a person already on the team and you&rsquo;ll knock them off the team.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s why a hiring manager can view their team through a lens we refer to as &ldquo;<b>Evergreen</b>&rdquo;: Their current team has a strong skill set for the time being but if and when they find a candidate who is even stronger, anything is possible and nothing is set in stone.</p> <p><b>Another reason jobs go unfilled forever? Too narrow of a focus.</b></p> <p>Picture a manager who has a very specific problem they need solved right now. With that specificity in mind, they look for the perfect candidate who has a&nbsp;<u>very particular skill set</u>&nbsp;to solve&nbsp;<u>that very particular challenge.</u></p> <p>You can see where this is headed, can&rsquo;t you?</p> <p>It&rsquo;s great if it works out, but all too often, the definition of the candidate is so narrow that the list of potential candidates who might be an ideal fit also narrows down dramatically.</p> <p>Along these same lines, certain companies insist on using a&nbsp;<b>test</b>&nbsp;to effectively identify the very best candidate possible. There&rsquo;s nothing wrong with that. However, if only a very finite number of people can legitimately&nbsp;<i>take</i>&nbsp;that test &ndash; the candidate pool can get awfully limited in a hurry and yes, perhaps too limited.</p> <p>For example, let&rsquo;s say that a company requires that all candidates for a particular role be required to take a test but they insist that only five percent of all candidates ultimately have access to the test.</p> <p>One of the primary skills of the position, in a given metropolitan area, is held by 10,000 people. Seems like a large number, doesn&rsquo;t it?</p> <p>However, we need to narrow the list down to a particular industry, which might take our once large pool of 10,000 people down to 1,000.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s where the pool can become quite tiny: If the company insists that only five percent of candidates be able to take the test, 1,000 candidates remaining will dwindle down to no more than 50 candidates total.</p> <p>50 candidates would still appear to be a lot - but wait. We&rsquo;ve only identified these 50 people by virtue of them having a matching skill set. We still don&rsquo;t know&nbsp;<u>if they&rsquo;re interested in the position, if they&rsquo;re available for an interview or if they are affordable based on salary!</u></p> <p>Consequently, the hiring manager could be looking at a situation where that job could go unfilled for a while because the candidate pool is&nbsp;<i>too small.</i>&nbsp;They may have all the urgency in the world to fill a job, but it&rsquo;s tough to fill a job when the selection criteria of candidates is already so narrow and the expectation of them making a long-term positive contribution is already so great.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s a combination that can bring a lot of uncertainty.</p> <p>Even doing well on the test is no &ldquo;sure thing.&rdquo; In fact, we were recently aiming to place a candidate and the initial signs were very positive. The candidate excelled on technical test portion of the company&rsquo;s hiring process but it was during the interview that there were issues because the answers he gave weren&rsquo;t quite to the company&rsquo;s satisfaction.</p> <p>Now, perhaps the interviewer had a very detailed and systematic approach to asking questions in that he wanted a&nbsp;<i>precise</i>&nbsp;answer to address each question rather than an answer that remotely veered off course a bit. In that type of situation, some candidates can have difficulty even though, at the same time, they may perform well during a test that requires them to solve problems.</p> <p>On the positive side, although it&rsquo;s becoming even more challenging to fill certain technology jobs, what that also tells me is that&nbsp;<b>technology jobs are becoming even more valuable to an organization</b>. It&rsquo;s a changing world in which the companies that are hiring tend to emphasize the kind of technology that is less than five years old.</p> <p>Candidates may find themselves with a higher bar to clear these days, but there&rsquo;s good news in that development too &ndash; regardless of whether a person has five years of experience or 25 years of experience,&nbsp;<b>candidates who are driven to get ahead and heavily invest the time in training for the interview process (including tests) can excel.</b>&nbsp;No longer can a candidate purely rely on what they already know. Those who push themselves to be proficient in new technologies while elevating their interviewing skills for technical jobs may be at the top of what is becoming an increasingly narrow list.</p> <p><b><i>Jobs can be open for an infinite period of time in some cases, but make no mistake &ndash; those conditions can change. At Roy Talman &amp; Associates, we understand the balance that must occur between being highly selective and highly attractive. If a company is selective and the candidate pool is tiny, that business will have a difficult time finding the diamond-in-the-rough talent they&rsquo;re seeking. So we work closely with those businesses to ensure their focus isn&rsquo;t so narrow that it limits their opportunities to identify a promising talent.</i></b></p> <p><b><i>Meanwhile, we also work with candidates to steer them in the proper direction as they strive to stand out in an increasingly competitive crowd. When you have over 30 years of recruiting experience as we do, even the most narrow windows of opportunity can open up quite a bit more.</i></b></p>