The Top 5 Skills You NEED to Be an IT Manager

IT Manager JobsWorking as an IT manager requires a new skill set beyond that of a standard IT employee. Not only is it important that you function as an expert within your area, you also must effectively coordinate the actions of a team, facilitating positive collaboration between team members and other staff, as well as keeping the expectations of less technical upper-management members in line with what can actually be accomplished.

In order to help ensure your managerial success, consider the following key skills areas.

1. Technical Expertise

While most people focus on management skills and experience first, if you are going to work as an IT manager, a fundamental understanding of the work being completed and the skills required to do so should be considered a requirement. While you may not need to be able to complete every task you delegate to a member of your team, a solid grasp on the concepts will build trust between you and your team.

2. Communication Skills

An IT manager is often responsible for taking highly complex technical information and communicating the information clearly to those without IT-specific skills or knowledge. It is important that while communicating this information, the manager not come off as condescending when providing explanations. You need to listen to the requirements described by non-technical employees within the business and translate them into a technology-based solution.

Additionally, you will need to lead your team effectively, which includes providing guidance regarding the current tasks or priorities.

3.Risk Awareness

As you progress through the management ranks, understanding the risk involved in your projects is essential. Knowing when to take the right risks is crucial to creativity. Understanding the organization’s risk tolerance is just as important.

Learning to acknowledge and address risk in an impartial way can assert your standing as an expert in your field while also showing respect for the business and the operation of other departments as a whole.

4. Negotiation Skills

Once you begin managing a team, it is your responsibility to not only negotiate for your own benefit, but for the benefit of your team as well. This can apply to a variety of situations including securing a reasonable budget for a necessary project, ensuring any project due dates are reasonable based on the work involved, and even justifying the request for the addition of new team members.

5. Delegation of Tasks

One area that can be challenging, especially for newer IT managers, is learning to properly delegate tasks. At times, it may be tempting to address certain issues on your own even when it may be more appropriate to pass them along. Learn to identify which priorities are yours to handle and which are yours to manage.

Are You Looking For a Position as an IT Manager?

If you are looking for additional guidance on improving your managerial prowess, or would like to find out about new employment opportunities in your area, the professionals at ESP can help make your dreams of working in management a reality.

Contact ESP today!

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Wield New Tech to Conquer Big Data

New Tech for Big DataBig data has changed the way businesses work with information.  While the creation and maintenance of relational databases used to be considered a comprehensive data management strategy, the increase in unstructured and semi-structured data has led businesses to require new storage mechanisms and analysis tools in order to ensure the information is being retained in the proper way and is accessible for internal research.

If you are looking for new and innovative ways to use big data to the benefit of your company, consider the following advances in big data management and analysis.

Consider the Cloud

Just as cloud storage has changed how people access business resources, the cloud has also become a haven for big data management.  Not only can it be more cost-effective to house company data in the cloud than on-premises, it can also provide access to powerful data analytics that may normally be out of reach for smaller businesses.  Since these cloud-based solutions are hosted offerings, it can also be a highly scalable solution that does not require the business to invest in physical equipment if their storage needs suddenly grow.

Institute Data Lakes

While traditional data management techniques focused on creating an acceptable model based on a preselected data set and forcing the data into the framework, a data lake accepts data as is and provides a central repository that utilizes specialized tools for data analysis.  This allows all data to be available to those performing analysis functions, and not just the data that fits a prescribed format.

Understand Customers More Thoroughly

Big data has provided an opportunity for businesses to gain a deeper, more thorough understanding of their customers.  With the integration of services across multiple platforms, including the relatively new addition of social media as a support forum, the information that can be obtained on customers’ attitudes, habits and preferences is significant.  As new systems are created that better identify potentially relevant information, businesses can make changes to their processes that almost seem intuitive.

Dynamic Response

Advances in analytics allow a business to respond to changing customer sentiment in close to real-time.  This allows incoming information to be easily integrated into larger automated processes, creating the opportunity to shift business priorities as soon as signs show a different direction may be more favorable.  Big data analysis may help identify upcoming trends before they are widely recognized which allows businesses that invest properly in the area to be able to change directions based on what is on the horizon instead of what is present within the market today.

Integrate Deep Learning

A newcomer to the data management sector, deep learning relies on using a system’s internal intelligence to recognize significant occurrences within a data set regardless of whether the specific programming for such a task is present.  As information is analyzed, the system “learns” what is most relevant to the business, and begins to make connections on its own based on that understanding.

While the technique is not as relevant for highly structured data, such as that found in a traditional SQL database solution, it shows promise for better management of big data analytics.

Looking For A Consultant to Help You Manage Big Data Effectively?

If you want to prepare your business for the future of big data analytics, ESP IT can provide the expertise you need to find the right employees to meet the needs of the future. Contact ESP IT today for more information.

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Be an IT Chameleon! 3 Essential Reasons to Learn a New Skill Now!

As technology continues to integrate itself into more business areas and becomes the core of more critical functions, keeping your skills up to date is a requirement in order to stay competitive within the ever-evolving information technology field.  Innovations come at a pace that practically requires a continuous learning approach, as it is not acceptable to simply rest on the skills of yesterday to help you progress into tomorrow.

If you aren’t convinced that your IT skills need to evolve, consider the following.

Your Old Skills May Not Be Relevant

Certain IT skills that used to be considered the gold standard have since been rendered obsolete by changing technology and increases in the general skill levels of other IT professionals and regular users.  Older coding languages may not be widely in use within the business world.

In order to remain competitive, you must update your skills to reflect the marketplace as it works today, and how it will likely work tomorrow.  This can include introducing yourself to newer technologies that are becoming replacements for areas that used to be a core skills area within your resume.  In cases where some demand still exists for your current skills, cross training into other areas that perform similar functions can help broaden your appeal as you not only understand the legacy systems but can work with newer technologies as well.

Additional Education Can Demonstrate Your Passion for the Work

Keeping your skills current, whether through on-the-job training or traditional educational opportunities, demonstrates you are willing to move along with the changing field.  This shows that you are dedicated to the subject matter, but are not afraid to change with the times.  It also gives you the opportunity to expand your horizons by educating yourself in areas that are in demand, allowing you to shift between a wider variety of duties or responsibilities in the workplace.

Who knows? It can even be fun to learn those new skills especially if you are able to choose the direction of your training. As a person of influence at your job, proactively finding new training opportunities will show that you are eager and willing to stay on top of your game.

New Trends Produce New Needs

The idea of having a mobile strategy would have been met with raised eyebrows just 15 years ago, and cloud computing was hardly a thought.  As these technologies become everyday parts of doing business, having the technology experts available to support them has become increasingly important, especially as many of the areas are not currently educational specialties in a collegiate sense.

Along with the newer technologies come new security concerns.  Vulnerabilities have to be considered in a world where the access point for sensitive data is not as centralized as it was when everything was simply contained within a business’ network.

IT professionals who take the time to educate themselves in these growth areas give themselves a higher chance of finding suitable opportunities for advancement within their current places of employment, or with others.  Staying ahead of the technology curve also increases your level of job security when compared to those with less applicable skills in regards to today’s IT environment.

If you want help making sure your IT skills fit the current market, the professionals at ESP can help you keep your career moving in the right direction.  Submit your resume today!

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Does My Tech Team Trust Me?

Increasing Trust for a Productive TeamBuilding Trust with Your Tech Team Can Lead to Company-Wide Advantages. ESP Uses Tips from Their Blueprint to Help You Get Started.

As a leader, “Does my team trust me?” is a question to ask on a regular basis. Trust isn’t inherent. It must be earned and shared. As a leader working with technology professionals in the midst of a talent shortage, earning the trust of your team becomes even more imperative. Tech execs play a pivotal role in the success of their team, overall workplace satisfaction, and ultimately, retention. Because of this, trust has always been a core value for our company. ESP has learned that implementing trust tactics not only is essential for doing business with our clients, but it also helps foster positive relationships within our in-office team, and with our consultants.

Below are some of the building blocks of trust we have found to be successful. Though these principles will hold true to leaders in all departments and industries, we’ve found that they hold special value for IT departments, who have always faced the challenge of integrating with and supporting business objectives. Sometimes this means that IT departments have needed to prove their worth, and other times they are the ones driving business goals themselves. Regardless, if you lead well, your team will follow your example and assist in building the bridge between departments. Establishing trust between departments as well as within your internal tech team is an essential element of your success as a leader.

Honor Commitments

Your team expects you to lead with integrity and consistency. Honor your commitments by doing what you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Others have accredited the success of Google’s new CEO Sundar Pichai to this very principle – joking that his “boringness” (even-keeled, steady, and predictable management style) is a key trait to his effective leadership. But honoring your commitments is about much more than consistency and follow-through on the day-to-day. While your leadership style should be steady and not easily changeable, you can foster change and growth by continually encouraging success and offering long-term opportunities for growth and advancement to your team, and looking for big-picture ways to improve yourself and your workplace.

Act with Integrity

Set yourself apart from others by acting passionately, ethically, and fair in every situation. Passion for what you do shows your investment and builds trust by giving you the motivation you need to achieve more or get through tough times. Passion also makes others excited about the work you are doing and can attract new tech talent. The ability to give direction and avoid micro-managing is key because extending trust is a great way to build trust. Share the intent and motivation behind your actions to instill confidence that they are for the good of all parties concerned.

Treat Others As Equals

Display equality towards all your members of the team because all roles are important. Take the time to get to know your employees – from the rookie developer to the most experienced project manager. Listen to the ideas and feedback from every member of your team and know them by name. Then, whenever possible, implement ideas from your team, or, if that’s not possible, explain why it isn’t and what you learned from their input. This principle was an overarching theme of a recent Gallup survey, which found that leaders who invest in individuals’ strengths, recognize that their team is critical to their own success, and understand the needs of their team outshine all the rest. Showing your tech team that you value each and every one of them will go a long way toward success as a department and the cohesion of your group.

Show Meaningful Acknowledgement & Appreciation

Acknowledging your team’s hard work and victories is vital to building trust, especially when you can give kudos to others without measuring their success against your own. In the same way, it is important to feel their pain and struggles and to help them work through professional setbacks. It’s easy to feel “invisible” appreciation, and leave your thoughts unexpressed to your tech team. That’s why clear, outward, positive reinforcement is so vital. Positive reinforcement can be as simple as sending out an email to the entire team giving accolades to an IT pro’s successful moment or highlighting someone’s hard work. No matter how you do it, by making recognition a matter of priority and action you can keep the morale of your team strong and motivate individuals to continually strive toward improvement.

Assume Positive Intent

Assume that the IT pros on your team want to work hard and do the right thing. Trust that they will work diligently on a project and behave in the best way possible for the company. Have faith in the people on your team: most desire to put in a full day of work, do their job right, and have a positive work environment. If someone misses a deadline or is leaving work early, ask them what barriers they’re facing, with the assumption that there is a good reason. If they don’t seem to have one, be very clear about the behaviors you want to see change, and affirm positive change when you see it.

Set Expectations

Share your vision and values as an individual tech team leader as well as the company’s vision and values. These values may not always align perfectly – in fact research has shown that the best-performing organizations have leadership teams who challenge and compliment the culture of their company as a whole. However, communicating these differences as well as your expectations lets your team know where you and your company stand, and gives them a common goal to work towards as a team. This common goal will help foster trust because your employees will know what you expect. It also gives them a better picture of how to do their job well. If you have consultants on your team, be clear with them on their role and their alignment with your team’s values.

Practice Direct, Open and Honest Communication 

Have open and honest conversations. Hidden information can make people feel they are not trusted and they might respond with distrust for you. Be willing and open to talk about difficult topics: an open line of communication is vital for a healthy company culture. When a new team member or consultant joins your team, be clear with the rest of your team about why that person is there, the special value he or she brings, and how the whole team can benefit from working together. Open communication also helps to dissuade gossip, complaining, and other negative talk by getting it out in the open before it has time to grow into a bigger problem.

Listen with the Intent to Understand

Practice active listening. We are constantly bombarded by noise and, as a result, are experts at listening for key words and tuning out the rest. However, people can tell when you are actually listening to them. How do you show that you are invested in what they are saying? Ask open-ended questions, use nonverbal cues to show that you are listening, such as nodding your head. Rephrase what they’ve said to you to make sure you understand, and, when appropriate, respond with your view or opinion of the situation, asking for their feedback in return.

 

You’ve probably heard about most of these behaviors before, and so you know they can’t be faked. To secure the trust of your tech team, you must be sincere in your efforts to earn it. Trust works toward creating a healthy company culture and increases your tech employees’ and consultants’ satisfaction. Continue to work on implementing trust tactics in your work environment and, if you haven’t already, incorporate trust into the core values of your company – ensuring better practices in the future.

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New Tech is Changing How People Solve IT Problems

The IT field evolves at a rate at which few businesses can ever hope to keep pace.  Mobility has become a key factor within what used to be a highly contained internal environment.  Additionally, the demand for solutions that allow access to advanced resources and capabilities, regardless of an employee’s location, has also shifted the priorities within the IT landscape.

To meet the demands of today’s work environment, IT teams need an open mind toward the advances in cloud solutions and mobile technology in order to provide the solutions of tomorrow, today.

Cloud Solutions

Cloud-based technology has already moved beyond the basics of cloud storage, and even cloud computing.  Instead, the cloud is seen as a method for providing an entire IT solution, one that is expected to offer both a high level of technical capacity while also offering a simple solution that can be accessed by any applicable employee from a variety of in-house or remote locations.

Initially, the desires to extend cloud-based services beyond the idea of simple shared storage posed a significant challenge within the IT sector, as software that was previously contained within a user’s computer was suddenly required to provide the user with full utility through a virtual desktop interface that was also easy to use regardless of the user’s technical prowess.

In order to meet the changing demands of the workforce, IT teams had to change their perspective from being a provider of service options and support to becoming the facilitators of a new business infrastructure.  New tools began to focus on application integration and creating a dynamic environment that promotes seamless collaboration, regardless of physical location.

Mobile Technology

While the days of the corporate Blackberry are generally considered long gone, mobile devices as a whole are here to stay.  As the technology progressed, and the number of available devices skyrocketed, IT teams were faced with new dilemmas regarding device and network security, as well as the ability of valuable business assets to travel freely within and outside of corporate facilities.

As the use of personal mobile devices increased, most commonly through the BYOD movement, the demand to integrate business functions into personal devices increased.  IT had to further work to segregate critical corporate information from regular casual use, regulating the transfer of critical information between secured and unsecured portions of the device, while keeping the activities generally convenient and user friendly.

Mobile technology now has its own solutions, particularly in the areas of mobile device management (MDM) technologies, which are designed to coordinate information from other internal resources like Active Directory, as well as provide access to secured portions of the internal network.  IT teams have had to adapt as the areas of IT security, mobility, network storage and access, and data management had to contend with the demands a user is likely to place on a personal device.

This is Only the Beginning

New technologies seem to present themselves on an almost daily basis, with today’s solutions being considered unthinkable even 10 years ago.  As more IT professionals look for solutions to problems related to mobility and communication, and the further integration of business needs and accessible technology, we can expect the landscape to change even further.

If you want to know what steps your business can take in order to use advancing technologies to solve common workplace issues, the professionals at ESP are here to provide the guidance you’re looking for.

Contact ESP today!

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How To Write A Standout Technical Summary

Your NFL Preseason:

Writing a Standout Technical Summary

Photo: U.S. Bank Stadium webcam

IT job and gig seekers in need of inspiration for a winning resume, look no further than ESP…N? NFL preseason has officially begun, and believe it or not these exhibition games have more pointers to offer IT professionals than meets the eye. Perhaps influenced by the awesome tech features of the new U.S. Bank Stadium, which boasts “an exceptional fan experience,” we’re definitely seeing a connection between IT and pro ball. In particular, we’ve noticed that preseason football for new players is a lot like the technical summary of a resume for IT pros: its purpose is to catch the attention of important viewers to successfully advance one’s career.

A technical summary is a vital component to include for IT job seekers. It provides a succinct “snapshot” for hiring employers to assess whether a candidate has the expertise necessary to fill a team’s tech talent needs. So consider the following when honing your resume — and craft that technical summary like it’s your NFL preseason!

It’s Not About the Number of Points, but the Quality of Play:
The results of preseason games have no impact on the actual competitive season; they are, rather, opportunities for new players to prove they’ve got what it takes to make the team. For IT pros, making an impression with your technical summary does not mean creating an exhaustive laundry list of every technology you’ve ever learned how to use. List only those proficiencies that you could confidently discuss and demonstrate in an interview. Do not include outdated or insignificant skill sets.

They’re Narrowing Down the Roster — So Showcase Your Skills in the Best Way:
Just as players have only a month of preseason to showcase their skills and make the regular-season team, resumes have a very limited time to impress before being placed in the “yes” or “no” pile. In fact, a 2012 study found that recruiters spend an average of only 6 seconds initially reviewing an individual resume.

With only seconds to impress, formatting and concise language are key. To make sure nothing gets overlooked, break your technical summary into five or so subcategories. They may include (depending on your qualifications and the position to which you’re applying):

  • Technical Certifications
  • Hardware
  • Operating Systems
  • Programming/Languages
  • Networking/Protocols
  • Office Productivity
  • Databases
  • Web Applications

Remember: This is not the time to be wordy. The technical summary is meant to be skimmed, and therefore lengthy explanations will likely be overlooked, or may take away from other key information that you want a recruiter to instantly glean. Save elaboration on your experiences and accomplishments for the employment history section of your resume. A standout technical summary should pique recruiter’s interests and leave them wanting more.

Identify Your Coaches, and Don’t Stray From Your Audience:

Not only do preseason games give players the opportunity to showcase their abilities to coaches, but the exhibitions are also a chance to adjust to playing in front of a large audience. Likewise, IT pros must consider their audience when crafting their technical summary and make adjustments accordingly. By this stage, you’ve ensured that your content is quality (reflective of your strongest assets) and easy-to-read, but now is the time to ask yourself “who’s reading?” This step is especially key for IT consultants who may have many proficiencies and accreditations that they could include in a technical summary, but may not need to include due to the unique demands of the specific role to which they are applying.

Focus on including only qualifications that appeal to your audience. Don’t bog down your technical summary with so many skills (even if they’re all “quality”) that recruiters wonder whether you’re an expert in any of them. Use certifications sparingly, and only list those that are most important for the tech role you are applying to. Focusing on fewer, more strategic details ensures that recruiters notice your most important technical proficiencies and gives them a clearer understanding why you’re their best fit for a particular role.

Crafting your technical summary to include quality, easy-to-access, and relevant information is key to making your resume as attention-grabbing as our new stadium. By ensuring you include only honest, expert-level skills, organize your summary in a readable manner, and remove any details that don’t appeal to the specific role which you are applying for, you make it easy for even non-technical hiring managers to pick up on keywords and understand your fit. Just as an NFL player’s preseason performance can get him to the competitive big leagues, your IT resume can get you one step closer to advancing your tech career!

Ready to take the next step?

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Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in 2013, and has been updated to reflect current best practices in the tech industry for IT consultant and job seeker resumes.

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An Empty Tech Seat: The High Cost to You

Are IT consultants your best solution to the talent shortage?

The High Cost of An Empty Tech SeatDemand for tech talent is fierce. The Twin Cities alone boast 164,500 opportunities for tech pros, and that number is projected to keep growing. Unfortunately, high competition also means that employers face high tech talent turnover. Though many have implemented retention-driven strategies and launched specific perks designed to hold onto these fleeting IT pros, reports still reveal a turnover rate of between 9.1% and 10.6% for employees in the tech industry.

For companies, finding ways to minimize the cost of these empty seats can be as high of a priority as developing retention strategies. In addition, some solutions that minimize turnover costs can be easier and faster to implement. One such solution: working with tech consultants.

Though working with IT consultants won’t be the right solution for every employer, we’ve compiled some key information surrounding the ways consultants can minimize the cost of an empty seat. You may find that this change to your hiring strategy is all you’ll need to combat the tech talent shortage.

Understanding the Hefty Prices: You’re Already Paying

Replacing top tech talent can cost you a pretty penny. More than likely, you’re already aware of the tangible, trackable investments, such as recruitment costs and/or staffing service fees and training expenses. These are by no means to be disregarded. The cost of losing an entry-level Millennial IT pro is estimated to be between $15,000 and $25,000, and the cost of replacing a developer making $90,000 a year estimates between $45,000-$67,000 – a hefty sum.

However, the greater costs are not as easily measured. The most dangerous of these include lost productivity and engagement from other tech employees and lost productivity from your new hires while they train in at your company, which in turn can lead to your tech team feeling overworked and dissatisfied – resulting in even more turnover. It’s a dangerous cycle. One study suggests a company can expect to pay 50% of an employee’s salary and benefits each week a position is vacant, due to production and productivity loss. Another estimates that a company’s “true loss” can be up to 213% of the previous employee’s salary when all is said and done.

Given the startling numbers, what are hiring managers doing to keep their tech teams – and budgets – afloat? For many, developing new retention strategies has been a top priority. However, despite best efforts for retention, the facts remain: it’s a competitive market. You will face the occasional empty seat. It’s the cost of that empty seat that can be managed.

Tech Consultants: High Value, Low Obligation

When companies turn to firms like ESP seeking experienced tech consultants to help manage turnover costs, they are sometimes surprised to find that consultants’ competitive hourly rates can end up costing “more” per hour than a full-time IT pro’s salary would. However, we encourage our clients not to let a consultant’s sticker price prevent them from reaping the many hidden cost savings to consulting services. And keep in mind: choosing to work with an IT consultant doesn’t necessarily mean an end to your search for the perfect permanent tech hire. While some companies find consistently working with IT consultants is their best long-term fit, others see consulting services as a short-term solution – allowing for continued productivity while giving hiring managers the time they need to find the right fit for a permanent IT role. Either way, we’ve pulled out some of the key reasons why investing in IT consultants can lead to long term-savings for your company:

  • Jump Right In: Not only is consultant staffing the fastest way for you to fill your talent need, but it also significantly cuts down on onboarding costs. Experienced IT consultants are very adaptive and innovative, which means that they can jump in and start helping your team out right away. What’s more, they aren’t required to participate in any company-wide onboarding procedures, presentations, or trainings, making it truly possible for you to see a fast turnaround on your investment.
  • Slash “Extra” Costs: Part of the reason consultants bill at a higher rate is that their clients (that’s you) are not responsible for providing them with benefits and perks – including PTO, health insurance, 401Ks, etc. In some instances, consultants even work remotely or with their own technologies – saving you set-up time and the costs associated with it. Some of these details are dependent on whether a consultant bills as a 1099 or W2 status, which is a distinction your recruitment firm will be able to explain to you. Contact us for a more comprehensive understanding of the different types of IT consultants.
  • Don’t Pay for Thumb-Twiddling: Sometimes your tech needs won’t be extensive enough to justify opening up a new permanent tech role. Perhaps you’re looking at a website redesign, or are wanting to move forward with some specific maintenance or development projects that your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to take on. Working with consultants allows you to complete these projects without taking on the commitment of another salaried employee.
  • Reap The Benefits Of An Empty Seat: Though the end-goal is to increase retention and keep your tech team’s seats “filled,” there are many benefits to working with a “rotating” team. Because consultants work on short-term contracts or a project-to-project basis, they are much less likely to burnout or check out from their work. Remember that a tech pro who has given his or her resignation may have been disengaging from your team and his or her work for a while, and that such behaviors in and of themselves can be detrimental to your team’s overall productivity and workplace satisfaction. Ensuring that your team is comprised of only those who are engaged and satisfied with their work, including consultants that you have on board, is essential for maximum team productivity.
  • Embrace The Snowball Effect: For companies who work with revenue-generating software, empty seats are a major hit to the bottom line. By filling your IT pros’ seats faster, you not only help to control lost revenue and productivity, but you also drive additional revenue – a snowball effect that benefits your tech team and leaves your company on top.

 

The tech talent shortage means that demand for IT pros is no longer limited to the Silicon Valley. Hopefully, the tech hire initiatives of today will mean a future where tech talent supply meets demand. Until then, companies will need to continue to employ hiring tactics that both attract talent and effectively manage the costs of their empty seats. While working with IT consultants is certainly an effective tactic, it is by no means the exclusive solution to your talent needs. We’ve found that offering both consulting and permanent tech hire solutions to our clients has helped them to meet their short and long-term needs: introducing them to faster and more flexible hiring (and a new pool of qualified candidates) while maintaining permanent opportunities that are also an important part of their company’s culture. By identifying the ways IT consultants can support your unique tech team, you can mitigate costs and propel your success.

Ready to see what an IT Consultant could do for your team?

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ESP IT Welcomes Tim Schinke as VP of Sales & Recruiting

Tim Schinke VP of Sales for ESP ITWe are pleased to announce that Tim Schinke joined ESP IT in June as VP of Sales & Recruiting. His responsibilities include providing effective and inspiring leadership, creating and developing new sales strategies for ESP’s future growth, and ensuring ESP’s clients always receive the highest level of care.

Prior to joining ESP IT, Tim gained 25 years of leadership experience, holding several Vice President of Sales positions within the technology and software industries. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated success in teaching and mentoring technology and sales professionals and shown expertise in ERP software at companies including PeopleSoft, SAP, and Salesforce.com.

His extensive experience and passion will play a key role in ESP IT’s future growth strategy and success. Tim will also foster powerful collaborative partnerships between ESP IT and our clients. Tightly aligned to ESP’s mission of placing people first, Tim encourages his team to care and listen at a higher level to better serve our clients. He will continually strive to hire smart and energetic people and to encourage and equip them to grow and succeed in their careers.

Find out more about Tim by reading his full bio on our website.

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4 Reasons to Celebrate the Twin Cities’ IT Job Market

Reasons to Celebrate Balloons ImageBrilliant, lustrous fireworks along the Mississippi. Barbecues in the lazy warmth of summer. Water sports, hiking excursions, and (for better or worse) family road trips. As we continue basking in the fun of the three warmest months of the year, we’re once again reflecting on why we love the Twin Cities. And, as an IT consulting and staffing firm, we’d be remiss not to give special attention to our number one reason: The Twin Cities rank among the best in the U.S. for tech opportunities. From its growing number of available tech jobs, to its recent acclaim as a hot spot for tech startups and companies, the Twin Cities offer IT opportunities like those in the Silicon Valley, plus higher collaboration and a lower cost of living. Though Minnesota has graced the tops of multiple “best” lists for various reasons, we’ve pulled out the top 4 reasons Twin Cities IT pros should celebrate where they work:

1. Minneapolis Is The “Silicon Prairie”

The Twin Cities are a burgeoning mecca for IT startups and small businesses. Recently, the Star Tribune highlighted the continued growth of “The Silicon Prairie” through Twin Cities small businesses and the growing capital raised by local tech companies. In 2013, Minneapolis ranked third among the largest metro areas in the U.S. for employee success in small businesses based on such factors as job growth relative to overall workforce and population trends, monthly earnings for new hires, unemployment rates, and cost of living. The following year, NerdWallet named Minneapolis the 4th best place for startups based on determinants such as affordability, access to funds, networking and mentorship, and the success of the local economy.

Not only do these statistics bode well for entrepreneurs and CEOs, but an ever-expanding tech industry also means an abundance of opportunities for tech pros – 164,500 opportunities according to the Cyberstates 2016 report. While a large portion of those roles are within the tech industry, demand for IT pros in the Twin Cities is also high in the financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. Best of all, those opportunities are poised for continued growth, as the beginning of 2016 saw Minnesota ranking the number 1 state for job creation.

2. The Twin Cities Knows How To Compensate

Though a large number of opportunities in and of itself is good news for IT pros, the profitability of those opportunities is even better news. CIO ranked the Twin Cities #4 on their 2015 list of 10 hottest cities for IT pay, and the numbers have only improved since then. The average salaries for tech workers in the Twin Cities cracked six figures in 2015 – rising 9% from the previous year (a whopping 1.3% above the national average for IT salary increases), and the average tech industry wages were 78% higher than those of workers in the private sector.

What’s more, this high compensation pairs with the low job-related stress of Minneapolis’ small business community and the nationally-recognized high work-life balance of tech jobs. Data Scientists, Software Developers, and Web Developers are listed among the 10 best careers for work-life balance.

3. We Welcome Women Techies

You may have heard recent rumblings of a report that claimed the Twin Cities are not the place for women techies. Nothing could be further from the truth! Not only has the study’s accuracy and methodology come into question, but many other recent reports directly contradict such findings, and point toward the opportunities available to not only Twin Cities women in tech, but all Twin Cities female professionals – with Rochester, Minneapolis, and St. Paul locking in the top three spots respectively on NerdWallet’s list of Best Cities for Women in The Workforce 2016.

As for the tech sector specifically, both Minneapolis and St. Paul graced SmartAsset’s 2016 list of the Top 15 Cities for Women in Tech, due to low gender pay gaps, a higher-than-average percentage of tech jobs filled by women, and a high three-year employment growth. And we expect that growth to continue. In its pilot year, the Twin Cities TechHire initiative trained over 300 people through accelerated IT programs, with women comprising 32% of graduates and minorities 24%. Other groups have launched additional programs to encourage diversity in the Twin Cities tech sector. Though these initiatives are still in their early phases, the Twin Cities tech community is excited to see the change and growth that may be enacted in the next few years.

What’s more – there’s good news for techie moms and dads alike: Minneapolis has been called the #1 place to raise a family in the US. Just one of the many reasons we’ve found working moms who love IT, also love the Twin Cities.

 4. The Market Demands Learners – The Twin Cities Delivers

The market value for IT certifications in Security, Dev Ops, and Big Data has continued to rise across the board, with Security and Data Presentation skills falling among the most in-demand Tech skills for the Twin Cities, specifically. Clearly education – whether in the form of IT certifications or degrees – is important to IT hiring managers, and we all know the value of niche skills in the midst of today’s ever-evolving tech market.

Luckily, when it comes to education and learning opportunities, the Twin Cities delivers. One 2015 list ranked the Twin Cities among the top 10 most educated cities in America, and Travel and Leisure also included Minneapolis/St. Paul in their top ten list of “America’s Techiest Cities” – not to mention their list of top 5 cities overall. And yes, being so highly-educated we are aware that ‘techiest’ isn’t exactly a word (but we maintain the legitimacy of ‘you betcha’).

Furthermore, the University of Minnesota’s business programs in Management Information Systems (B.A.) and Information Systems (M.B.A.) are nationally ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively. The school also ranks in the top 100 for computer engineering and computer science. It’s no wonder, then, that in 2013 the Twin Cities increased their IT higher education output, despite an 11 percent national decline in IT degrees completed in the U.S.

 

We know you’ve enjoyed taking time out of the office get outside, go on an adventure, or spend time celebrating summer with family and friends, but as an IT pro working in the Twin Cities, you have reasons to celebrate year-round. Perhaps the knowledge that sub-zero weather lies ahead makes us feel extra appreciation during these beautiful mid-summer days, but we think that Minneapolitans in general are living the good life. And don’t just take our word for it. The Twin Cities have been named the best place to live in the nation, and New York Magazine has dubbed Minneapolis the “capital of Midwestern cool”. Even in the dog days of summer, or the wintry days that loom in the not-so-distant future, as an IT pro you will always have myriad reasons to love where you live and what you do.

Are you an IT pro looking to advance your career by moving to the Twin Cities? Or a Twin Cities business looking for developers or other IT professionals for your next project? We’re here to help.

Contact Us To Learn More About Twin Cities Tech Opportunities

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in 2013, and has been revamped to reflect updated tech industry information as it pertains to the Twin Cities’ IT job market.

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Removing The STEM Learning Gap: You Need Girls To Code

Girls Who Love To Code ImageSheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer, and IBM’s president and chief executive Virginia Rometty prove that while the representation of women in tech is disproportionate, it certainly still has a presence and success rate to boast of. The significance of three women at top tech companies may somewhat discredit the belief that a lack of women role models is the main reason for the female talent shortage, but that the gap exists and is in fact growing, can’t be ignored.

One of the most popular explanations behind why there aren’t enough women working in tech is that there aren’t enough women trained to work in tech. Not only significant for the negative impact that this lack of diversity can have on STEM workplaces, the dropping number of women studying computer science also limits opportunities for women and hurts the economy as a whole. Though groups such as Girls Who Code and Women Who Code, and programs such as the national Tech Hire Initiative have all made strides to encourage increased female tech education and provide learning opportunities, the success of the movement ultimately depends on your help.

Whether you are a decision maker at a tech company, or you’re an individual working in the tech sector or elsewhere, you can make a big difference. By learning more about the long-term benefits to your investment in female tech education, and the three simple yet significant ways that you can motivate change, you’ll not only help the tech industry and national economy to thrive, but can change the future for yourself and the women and girls in your life.

As a Business

The Value of Stepping In:

Women Can End the Tech Talent Shortage

In the ever-growing tech industry, opportunities are plentiful – and in fact, overabundant. The tech talent shortage threatens that there are not enough skilled IT workers to fill current tech needs. Ultimately, this leads to lost productivity and high turnover due to overworked staff and a highly-competitive tech market, and some fear there isn’t a solution in sight.

Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani disagrees, citing that as 71% of all STEM jobs are in computer science, the obvious solution is to encourage more women to pursue computer science degrees. According to Reshma, at the current rate of women pursuing tech jobs, only 3% of the world’s 1.4 million IT jobs will be filled by females. In Minnesota alone, 164,500 people work in tech occupations, and last year saw a 4% increase in tech opportunities overall for the state. Women will likely be the key to filling these additional needs.

Luckily, the Twin Cities are among the best in America for women in tech, with the percent of women holding jobs in tech in St. Paul and Minneapolis equaling 26.5% and 25.2% respectively, and an average annual growth rate of 18%. Still, that percentage has room to grow when you consider that woman make up around 50% of the population, but hold only about a quarter of the available tech jobs.

Though increasing STEM educational for women won’t yield immediate results to help fill your company’s female tech talent needs, by supporting educational programs or working to develop or strengthen your own, you’ll be among the first to reap the benefits of a diversified tech team.

What You Can Do:

1. Educate to Employ: Build Your Own Pipeline

Etsy has been one of the most successful companies to increase its number of women in tech. In just one year the company’s number of female engineers grew 500% – from only 3 engineers, to 20. They’ve accomplished this through sponsorship of a summer Hacker School, which has allowed them to build their own pipeline by gaining access to a pool of qualified, up-and-coming women technologist. These programs are a win-win, as they allow you to support the female tech education movement while simultaneously helping you bridge the tech gender gap in your workplace by training your own future employees.

2. Ditch “Trial and Error”: Develop Targeted Trainings

Gender learning differences are a major deterrent for some girls who would otherwise enjoy studying computer science. Many girls feel frustrated by and uninterested in their high school and college programs, which teach computer science using “trial and error” methods that aren’t as effective for women’s learning styles. Whether you’re looking to build your pipeline by creating a summer school for girls, or are interested in opportunities to train your current female employees more advanced tech skills, ensure that your teachings are structured, and help women feel safe by encouraging them to ask questions rather than “figuring it out” without guidance. By helping them to build a foundational knowledge and gain some confidence with coding, you will encourage them to continue their learning and eventually become more comfortable with the “trial and error” nature of tech programming.

 3. Assemble The All-Stars: Team-Up with Local Initiatives

Get involved with initiatives such as the Minnesota High Tech Association’s Tech Experience tours, or consider partnering with the National Center for Women and Information Technology by sponsoring their Aspirations in Computing Award Program, which honors high-school women for their STEM achievements. Not only will your involvement and support help empower women to learn programming, but as with “building your own pipeline” this initiative could directly benefit you by increasing the pool of qualified female tech candidates interested in working with you in the future.

As an Individual

The Value of Stepping in:

Eliminating The Skills Gap Creates Equal Opportunities

Why should bridging the stem-education gap take precedent over other gender inequality issues? In one TED talk speech, Reshma Saujani cited a study that found bright girls were more likely to give up when challenged, while bright boys were more likely to double their efforts. In her own time at Girls Who Code, she said she’d witnessed similar attitudes by girls who were uncomfortable with their imperfect work. Overcoming these perfectionist ideals could help women to become more confident and more employable, giving them the opportunity to reap the financial perks of the tech industry, including high compensation and competitive health benefits.

Additionally, by transforming the tech industry from a male-dominated field to a more gender-balanced field, women could help end stereotypes that they are “less-qualified” to work in tech. One Digital Trends article reported studies from Harvard Business School, Wharton, MIT Sloan, and Yale, which all uncovered accounts of gender bias for tech workers. Increasing the number of women would lead to a better understanding of the value of women techies in the workplace, which in turn could lead to a larger societal awareness about gender equality and promising future prospects for your daughters, friends, and loved ones.

What You Can Do:

1. Combat “Perfection or Bust”: Adjust The Messages You Send

During her time at Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani said she’s witnessed an attitude of “perfection or bust” among high school girls, who would rather “show nothing at all” instead of showing failed attempts to write code. In many ways, encouraging girls to learn coding has more to do with teaching them to be confident and take risks than it has to do with trying to interest them in “tech” as a subject matter. If you are a parent, teacher, or friend, encourage the young girls and women you know to follow Reshma Saujani’s advice and “be comfortable with imperfection”. By teaching girls that perfection isn’t everything, you instill in them the confidence to take more risks and ultimately pursue STEM careers.

2. Encourage ‘Play to Win’: Explain That STEM Opens Doors

Computer science opens doors to a variety of career opportunities in the same way that a foundational knowledge of other core subjects does. You wouldn’t let high school girls choose whether or not they wanted to study English, math, science, or history, and neither should we be viewing computer science as optional. While some schools, such as the Chicago School District, have made computer science courses mandatory as part of a local and national Computer Science for All initiative, many others have yet to follow suit. That’s why it is especially important for individuals to promote and support early female tech education. Remind girls that tech skills are required for a surprising variety of positions  – from writing and literary opportunities to more-traditional business roles. Learning computer science isn’t only for girls who want to work in the tech industry: it’s for anyone who wants to stay competitive in the job market.

3. Follow The Leaders: Connect With Female Tech Role Models

There are a plethora of programs and female leaders who can motivate, inspire, and educate young girls in technology. While it’s encouraging to know of the existence of these successful women in tech, physically connecting young girls to female role models is even more important. That’s why UK company “Everywoman” launched its “Modern Muse” app, which connects women to others in their field and provides tips and inside information regarding opportunities. You can help women to get involved and access resources by launching your own networking groups on LinkedIn, or even creating your own app to connect women. Just by being tuned-in to the opportunities for female tech education, such as Hackbright Academy or the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, you can become part of the movement to empower girls to learn tech and gain IT career opportunities.

 

Girls Who Code’s COO Solomon Steplight recently shared his personal mission, and motivation for teaming up with the company. “I wanted, at the very least, to create thousands of potential mentors for my daughter,” he said. No matter what your motivation for supporting increased female tech education – be it helping your business to succeed by increasing the amount of qualified female techies who could work with your company, ensuring a daughter or niece isn’t limited in her future opportunities, or even advancing your own career – your efforts make a difference. We could all benefit from a future with more women in tech, but in order to achieve that, we need to encourage girls to learn computer science today. No matter what your involvement in or knowledge of the tech industry, by implementing these simple strategies, you can become a key part of the movement toward a thriving future.

For more about Women in Tech and bridging the gender gap, read our first blog in this series:

Know a female techie who’s looking for a great new opportunity? Contact Us today or Send Us Your Referrals

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