The Truth about Millennials at Work

truth about millennials sqThe common definition of millennials refers to those born between 1982 and 2003, now between the ages of 12 and 33, although the range can vary depending upon the source.  By 2020, 46% of all U.S. workers are estimated to be millennials, and by 2025 nearly 75%.  As a millennial myself, I frequently read articles with dire predictions regarding my generation’s impact on our future economy.   Unfortunately, many of these articles associate my generation with lazy tendencies, social media addiction and narcissism, amongst other negative attributes.   I believe many critics are the voice of insecurity, misperception, and simply nervousness, as older generations fear millennials will and can take their jobs.

Joanna CurrenceThe Truth about Millennials at Work

The More and Less of Working Remote

working remoteCompanies are constantly developing new projects that require numerous IT professionals. The need for these projects is immense, but these employers do not always have the space to house all of the required resources.  Or they may require a skill set that is not available locally, or can be met more economically in another region.  In these situations, I often see clients turn to remote work arrangements.

There are obvious and well known benefits of working remote, including:

  • Less Time Commuting
  • More Flexible Work Hours
  • Less Time in Non-Value Added Conversation/Meetings
  • More Diverse Workforce

For the most part, these are considered positive to most people. Depending on your situation, they may be considered more or less beneficial. For example, less commute time could be more positive for someone with family, and flexible work hours could be more attractive to someone that is single and doesn’t have a daily routine.

However, if you are considering remote work, you shouldn’t forget the negatives.

  • Less interaction with others, reducing brainstorming opportunities
  • More distractions from being home (Netflix, kids, pets, social media, etc.)
  • Less face time and exposure, potentially missing out on additional opportunities

Many companies have become very open to the idea of working from home.  Most companies that I see here locally, deal mainly with a flexible work week. They may offer one or two days working from home, but for the majority of your time is spent on-site, working with your team.  In my personal experience, I am much more productive in the office and prefer face to face interaction with my coworkers.  I know that some people will view the negatives as positives, or vice versa, but everyone can agree that times are changing, and businesses are viewing remote work as a key to success.

It’s important to note, many companies may say they are open to remote work in order to attract talent or to fulfill a specific need but the culture may not support remote work.  A recruiter can advise you on how remote work friendly an organization really is.

If you are looking for opportunities and open to remote work, they can often be challenging to identify on job boards.  Your best bet is to develop a trusted relationship with a recruiter.  Connect with us to see our latest openings and stay away from the remote!

–SamLantor_Sam_resized

Sam LantorThe More and Less of Working Remote

Considering Relocation?

Considering Relocation- SquareWhen I was a kid, my family relocated several times due to my dad’s job. Looking back, it always seemed like everything went so smoothly and was so simple. The hardest part for my brothers and me was saying goodbye to our friends and being the new kids on the block in our new school. Now as an adult, talking to my parents more in depth about the process, and currently going through a relocation myself, I see how complicated it can be. In less than a week, my wife and I will have to say goodbye to our friends, but there is so much more we had consider when making this decision, especially now that we have two sons.

Aaron SneadConsidering Relocation?

Is Your Business a Tire Pressure Gauge?

Tire Pressure Gauge SquareBeing a new driver in the mid 80’s, I was keenly aware of the tire pressure gauge.  Keeping your tires properly inflated had a direct impact on the longevity of the tires, the driving experience, and gas mileage. Last week I was cleaning out my glove box and found a tire pressure gauge I have had for over 20 years. I realized quickly how antiquated and obsolete those gauges are becoming, even the newer, cool, digital gauges. In today’s world, I can determine my tire pressure from a couple of buttons on my dashboard or from the OnStar app on my phone. I’m certain I’ll soon have the option to receive a text message when the air pressure falls below a certain number or when the structure of the tire has been compromised.

When you begin to reflect on the last 30 years of innovation in technology, you can quickly pinpoint successful, extremely profitable business models that quickly disappeared due to technology disruption through innovation and new business models.  The three that quickly come to mind are the payphone, the video store and camera film.  To paint a larger macro picture, in the mid 80’s the average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 was 23 years. In 2014, that number was less than 18 years. Big names like Radio Shack and Sears were replaced by Netflix and Salesforce.com. The speed in which companies are required to continually validate their business model and differentiate their products and services is shortening every year.

The term ‘creative destruction’ was coined by the economist Joseph Schumpeter.  In short ‘creative destruction’ means companies have to continually create new business models to meet new customer demands while effectively managing their current business model. Without this disruption companies will fall behind and become irrelevant.

This was something UDig realized many years ago.  With the current trends in technology staffing and the proliferation of VMS/MSP offerings, our customers were politely telling us something.  They were telling us our services weren’t that special and they were tired of managing relationships that didn’t add significant value to their business. I don’t blame them. The staffing industry is known for a lack of sophistication and training.

What does that mean for the future of UDig? We started to change a few years ago when we decided to only work with clients who valued having partnerships with specialized technology staffing companies. In 2014, we continued to expand our services into deliverable based consulting for our clients. This was a drastic change as it required us to narrowly focus our strengths and begin to exit the generalist technology staffing position we have had for the past 14 years.

As we continue to evolve, our consulting service definition isn’t 100% complete but I am really excited about our future. We will continue to be a valued business partner to our chosen clients and along with our own ‘creative destruction’ efforts will challenge your business to innovate and build technology solutions for the future.

Stay tuned for more details soon and consider, is your business a tire pressure gauge?Frank_Andy_resized

– Andy Frank

Andy FrankIs Your Business a Tire Pressure Gauge?

Turning a Negative into a Positive

How do you turn a negative-BlogIn my role I meet with a fair amount of job seekers.  One of the hardest parts of my job is having to call candidates with the bad news that a client has decided to pass on them for a role.  Sometimes I am working with candidates for a month on an opportunity only to fall short at the finish line.  It’s a huge bummer for me so I can only imagine how it feels from the candidate’s perspective.

If you are on the receiving end of one of those calls it’s easy to get frustrated and feel resentment towards the hiring manager for not selecting you.  If a company has invested time, money and energy digging into your background and interviewing you multiple times, then you must have impressed them. Just because they found a “better fit” for the organization, don’t let rejection make you feel like you were not an equally qualified candidate.

Take the time to reflect on which of your strengths made you an interesting candidate for the role.  Did you showcase those strengths through compelling examples?  What can take from this experience and improve your chances the next time?

Hopefully you have a relationship with a great recruiter (preferably from UDig) that can actively market you to their clients for other opportunities.  If you are working with a recruiter thank them for their effort and ask “WHAT’S NEXT”?  They will provide you with feedback and will work with you to identify additional opportunities they can send your way.

It can be tough to stay positive when you’re frustrated with the job search.  Just remember to play to your strengths and leverage the relationships that are producing the best results.

–JeffBonniwell_Jeff_resized

 

Jeff BonniwellTurning a Negative into a Positive

Women In IT

Women in IT_BlogAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 24% of the US IT workforce is female. In a male-dominate world, employers find themselves fighting for not only top IT talent, but for top female IT talent.  Why are women a priority in the workplace? Organizations strive to diversify. By adding women to the industry, studies have shown that companies are better able to attract and retain talent, enhance organizational performance and reduce turnover costs.

I’ve started to notice several common trends and strategies among organizations to not only make a work environment more appealing to women, but also on how to diversify the office environment in general. One of the most reoccurring themes many organizations offer is flexibility. Offering flexibility in the workplace will draw a much larger pool of candidates, in particular females. Flexibility can apply to work schedules and office hours or having a casual work environment. It can also mean telecommuting options or even, paid paternity leave.

I always want to understand our candidates’ “wish list” including the candidate’s top priorities and motivating factors when looking for a new opportunity. One of the top responses I hear when speaking with our candidates is flexibility. It is no secret that many women (and men) juggle both career and at-home responsibilities. Companies that not only recognize what motivates their employees, but offer solutions (work-from-home Fridays) are more likely to attract top talent.

Shelby KingsleyWomen In IT

Customer Centricity: Marketing Myth or Differentiator?

March CEO PerspectiveThis past weekend we celebrated our annual UDig President’s Trip where our top performers converge on a warm destination for 4 days to eat, drink, reflect and relax. This year, we chose the Grand Velas resort in Riviera Maya just south of Cancun, Mexico. The resort and service were top notch and the group was able to unwind, celebrate our 2014 accomplishments and escape the last days of winter.

The trip wasn’t without incident. The Thursday before we were to leave the Mid Atlantic was hit hard with a sleet, ice and snow storm. The storm subsided by early evening Thursday and all the airports were operational. We had groups leaving from Richmond, Raleigh and DC. My biggest concern was the Dulles airport due to the amount of snow they received. We made a group decision late Thursday, based on the information we had, all of our flights would be fine the next morning. I happened to change my preferences on the US Airways website to notify me of any changes regardless of time of day. Thankfully I made the change because at 1:30 am, I got the call. To make matters worse, it was a robo call with a pleasant sounding computer letting me know our flight from Richmond to Charlotte had been cancelled.

After getting over the shock I immediately called US Airways to search for alternatives. They told me without any empathy or alternatives our Richmond group had absolutely no chance of getting to Charlotte on Friday, meaning we would miss our connector to Cancun and miss our first day. At 2 am, the group decided to pile into 3 cars and drive to Charlotte. We mobilized quickly and made it to Charlotte by 7:30 am for a 9:30 am flight. Life was good and the trip went without incident once we got to Charlotte. I have loyalty status on US Airways as I prefer to fly with them and like flying through Charlotte.  I was amazed at how they handled the situation for a customer who chooses them for all of his flying needs. From the robo call to the indifferent customer service agent on the phone. How do companies get away with this type of service? How can their executives sleep at night knowing they leave many of their valued customers stranded without sympathy and an action plan?

For years companies have stated their business strategies as being focused on the customer and being customer centric. The basic premise is making the customer the focus of all your products and services while wrapping the company culture and values around the customer experience. The belief is you become so ingrained with your customer and their needs that you begin to differentiate, have stickier relationships, and provide more focused, custom solutions at better margins.

This concept has been around for years, going by many names and marketing slogans including 360 Customer View, CRM, OneCustomer, to name a few. The reality is many of these customer centric initiatives are built for the advantage of the seller, not the buyer.  With the goal of selling more features, increasing the client’s spend and margin with the company. Many organizations miss the basic concept – if you make your customers lives easier, they will find more ways to use your company.

Additionally, the aggressive nature of cross marketing and upselling has become obnoxious and the real opportunity to build a relationship by understanding a customer’s needs is being missed. These marketing strategies are getting worse with the proliferation of big data and the analytics provided by those solutions. Companies have more information about understanding buying patterns and preferences but they are missing out on the opportunity to leverage that information to be smarter, to differentiate by providing services that will simplify the customer’s life and make transactions easier.  Instead, US Airways leverages my loyalty status and travel data to continually promote their credit card with 50,000 bonus miles. They are missing the point. If the experience is terrible, nobody wants the miles or to deepen their relationship with you.

At UDig, our primary goal is to make life easier for our clients by providing services that deliver solutions to critical business and technical projects. Getting to know our clients business and understanding their needs is paramount to our success. We avoid selling services without understanding the opportunities and challenges.  In response, our clients have asked us to expand our services beyond a traditional staffing model to help them deliver on bigger, more strategic projects. This demonstrates to me that our strategy isn’t a marketing tactic but does differentiate UDig from our peers.

AndyFrank_Andy_resized

Check out a few photos from our UDig President’s Trip on our Facebook page and congratulations again to our top performers!

 

 

 

Andy FrankCustomer Centricity: Marketing Myth or Differentiator?

Are you ready for the Reference Check?

Valentine Q1_Reference CheckThere’s a lot of time and energy that goes into looking for a new job and it’s important that as you’re going through the process, you have checked the necessary boxes along the way: Do research on the company, be early, dress professional, have copies of your resume, and knock your interview out of the park.  One of the last deciding factors if a company is going to extend an offer comes after checking your professional references.  It’s important that you have them ready to go and even more essential that they had a good experience working with you so they can provide a positive reference.   I’ve seen multiple situations where there have been two very qualified candidates that bring similar backgrounds to the table, but the one that ends up getting the offer is the candidate who has the strongest professional references.

First, I’d like to provide a couple tips on making sure your references are locked and ready to go. Secondly, I want to help you make good impressions in your current roles so that when you do have to use your references, they’re as solid as can be.

Tips for Getting References Ready 

  • Use Professional References - It’s important to have 3 professional references available for people to contact.  Only use professional references for future employers; personal references won’t provide any value.  They should also be previous managers or team leaders that oversaw your work and can talk in-depth about your past work experience.  Having peers as backups can be helpful but they won’t hold as much weight to managers who are making a hire or no-hire decision.
  • Stay in Contact - When you’re active in your search make sure you stay in contact with your references and ask permission to use them as a professional reference.   It’s also important to find out the most convenient way of getting in contact with them.  You want to make it easy for both your reference and potential employer to connect so there aren’t any delays in the process of making a hiring decision.
  • Use Current References – Make sure to only use current references.  It’s ideal to use a current manger as your best reference but that might not always be possible if they don’t know you’re actively looking yet.   If that’s not possible, only use references that are no more than 2 to 3 positions back.  It’s also important that you have all of their current contact information.
  • Be Specific - Let your reference know who will be calling them and what type of role you’re applying for at the company.  This will give them a chance to prepare and provide the best answers that will tie into your past experience and the role you want to get hired in.

Tips for Making a Good Impression  

  • Be Positive – It’s important to have a good attitude at work and not be a downer.  People like working with other positively thinking co-workers who are there to get the job done and who enjoy being at work.  I would highly recommend against constantly complaining or talking bad about the work or company.
  • Be Proactive/ Go Above and Beyond – These are two of the biggest traits that managers love to see in their employees.  You want to always try and take initiative on projects and complete tasks that might not be in your normal job description but will help the overall project.  Also, any time you can go above and beyond the norm this will help you stand out from other team members and will be speaking points for your reference when talking with potential employers.
  • Be A Good Teammate – Managers see who gets along with the group and who doesn’t.  It’s key for them to be able to say that you worked well with managers, coworkers, customers, and vendors.  Future employers want to be confident that you’ll not only be a good fit for the team from a skillset perspective but you will also gel well with others.
  • Be Professional – This seems pretty basic but you’d be surprised the stories that I’ve heard about people being unprofessional in the workplace.  To stay professional keep the following in mind: be on time, dress professionally, be reliable, be trustworthy, be organized, and be able to effectively interact and communicate well with others while being respectful.

It’s very costly for employers to make bad hiring decisions and on average it can cost $5,000 to $10,000 to fix a bad hire.  Managers are going to do everything they can to avoid this and it’s important to keep in mind that the last impression you’re going to make on them is not directly from you but from a professional reference.

Keep the above tips in mind while preparing to change jobs and you’ll have everything you need to land your next dream job!

-Greg ValentineValentine_Greg_resized

Greg ValentineAre you ready for the Reference Check?