The Secret Hack For Hiring World Class Talent

95% of conversations between founders and managers in Tech revolve around how hard it is for them to attract and retain top talent.¹ It is fashionable to commiserate about the tussle for talent. Plus it is objectively hard to hire 10x people and keep them happily engaged for the long haul.

But all hope is not lost. During my tenure at great companies like Google, Facebook, Intuit & Aleph, I’ve conducted hundreds of interviews.² I’m here to tell you about a hack that will give you an unfair advantage and help you hire high output people better and faster than your opponents can hire them away.

The trick is to be so good at interviewing that you out-hire the chumps at Amazon and Facebook³. But to fully explain, I’m going to have to ask you to connect with your inner-MBA and picture a 2-by-2: on the X axis is plotted how good a person is at Interviewing (which is a skill, and a game-able skill at that). On the Y axis is how good they are at actually working, doing whatever it is you’re hiring them to do. I’ve plotted this 2 by 2 for you above.

To make sure we understand — the up-and-to-the-right of this quadrant is people who are good at both working and interviewing (of course they are good at it to different extends — there can be many dots scattered there).

Now that we have the lay of the land straight, let’s look at the four quadrants. If you interview often enough, you are bound to run into all four types.⁴

The Quadrant of Disaster (Good at Interviewing, Bad at Working)
People who are good at interviewing but bad at the actual work are an unmitigated disaster. Google can afford to hire them (just) and offload them later. You can’t. You have to be super vigilant about keeping them away. The more you make the interview practical and hands-on, by working on a micro-problem that represents the real work the candidate will have to excel at, the better. I’m also a big fan of trial periods, and references. Some combinations of these can help you avoid disaster, which you *must* do.

On to the next group:

The Quadrant of Irrelevance (Bad at both)
Now this one’s easy. These are the interviews you will cut short, going directly to the cubicle of whoever did the screening for that candidate. They really shouldn’t have gotten as far as an interview in the first place.

On the plus side, there is little chance you’ll hire them, so all you’ve lost is how long it took you to place this person squarely in the bottom left quadrant.

The Quadrant of Value (Bad at Interviewing, Good at Working)
This group is the point of the whole exercise.

Here you’ll find an extraordinary software engineer who is just not that adept at answering situational questions, or simply didn’t take the time to prepare in a very systematic way.

Hire them!

Now you may be tempted to raise all kinds of objections: shouldn’t we worry that they didn’t prepare? or will their poor communications skills at the interview hamper their work in the collaborative environment we all surely encourage in our teams? and so on and so on.

Yes. OK. Maybe. That’s not the point. These candidates can do well in the role. You can think of them as value stocks. It’s not about finding their faults. It’s about the kernel of ability that you can recognise in them. They may not have everything but that’s not a bad thing. If they had everything — they’d be in the next quadrant.

The Quadrant of Entitlement (Good at both)
Here we find superstars who are supremely skilled. They are very good at their job, and they are very good at communicating about it and answering questions that start with: “Tell me about a time when…”.

You want to hire them. But so does everyone else. They found time to interview with you wedged between getting offers from two or three strategic over-payers. If you can get them and keep them, say because they fell in love with your earth-shattering mission — great! But if not, they’ll just take the offer you can’t possibly match.

So now you understand why you’re better off hunting for talent in the quadrant of value, if you can. Let’s talk about how you do that.

How to Interview for Value
In order to hack the system, you must become exceptionally good at interviewing, good enough to tell the difference between someone who just interviews poorly, and someone who is not good enough. There are several tricks to do that: Ask smarter questions. Beat the “Tell me about a time when” crowd. Follow up well if the first answer is not satisfactory. Draw out introverts. Find a way to talk to the person their way.

Unfortunately there is no magic trick to becoming a sufficiently penetrating interviewer to be able to tell. But the same techniques you need anyway to filter out Disaster quadrant candidates, will also come in handy here. Have them do an exercise and sit with them while they do it. Put them on trial. Give them a project as a contractor. See what happens.

Above all, when you exit an interview, picture the 2-by-2. Try to place the candidate in the right quadrant, and if they are in the quadrant of value, pounce to hire them. In all likelihood you will win yourself a long-term high performer.

Footnotes:

1. Also, 95% of confidently quotes statistics are made up on the spot.
2. Mostly for product manager, but also many engineers, tech leads, managers, data scientist and even the odd biz dev.
3. They are of course not chumps. They just don’t have to hustle like you do.
4. Although not in equal amounts — any decent screening process will filter out most people from the bottom left side.

This article originally appeared on Hackernoon.

About HackerTrail

HackerTrail is a curated marketplace exclusively for IT talent ranging from developers to infrastructure specialists to data scientists. Using clever technology and gamification, HackerTrail connects the right candidate to the right job opportunities with top companies across Southeast Asia.

Looking to grow your tech team more efficiently? Post your tech jobs for free* and lock-in interviews with the right tech talent on HackerTrail.com today! Want to find out how to optimise your job postings to receive top profiles of pre-curated, responsive candidates? Get in touch with our Customer Success team at support@hackertrail.com.

*For a limited period only till March 2018.

Hiring Trends: 2016 wrap-up with HackerTrail

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As we wind up 2016 and chalk-out our strategy for the new year, let’s take a look back at how this year molded the recruitment circuit. Irrespective of the growing candidate pool, the recruitment market continued to stay aggressive with companies competing with each other to attract top talent. The hiring strategies this year were also heavily influenced by employers in their efforts to woo and retain millennials.

Here is a look at the hiring practices that dominated 2016:

Social Media Recruitment 

The initiation of social media in recruitment practices has opened new avenues for companies over the years and 2016 was no different. According to a survey by LinkedIn’s global recruiting trends, 47% of the respondents stated that their outbound recruitment strategies involved social media. Social media outreach is empowering employers to go beyond traditional job posts and establish a continued relationship with prospective candidates. Employers are grasping the concept of being “switched on” on relevant social media platforms to build a strong presence to showcase their company brand and culture to their respective target audience.

Employer Branding

Employer branding continues to play a significant role in recruitment strategy. According to a survey by Jobvite, 59% of the respondents used social media to understand the company culture of organizations they wanted to work with as well as the perks and benefits that came with the role. Companies are putting immense emphasis on their value proposition as employers and working towards the culture they want to foster. This is not just to attract new candidates but ensure that they retain their top talent as well. Here’s how one company found success with video content on employer branding:

Recruitment Technology

The recruitment tech scene this year leaped beyond aggregators and market places. From the introduction of AI in automating recruitment workflows to writing unique machine learning algorithms for efficient candidate screening, technology is redefining the recruitment sphere. Companies are not just using technology to revamp their workflows but also using it to build focused and reliable assessment methods. For employers who engage HackerTrail to recruit, the hiring processes go beyond mere interviews as HackerTrail’s proprietary technology allows to automagically curate candidates, minimize the human bias and maintain the focus on quality. Coding challenges via gamification are put in place to test candidate skills, eliminating the element of chance from the process. This also gives candidates an opportunity to experience the job scope first hand and have fun while they are at it.

“Hackertrail was both an amazing experience and an unconventional interview process that allowed me to connect with my future employers through interesting challenges. It gave me a good preview of what to expect in my future role as a web developer and I thoroughly enjoyed the stretch of my technical capabilities while going through the tasks!”

– Yang LJ

(Top Talent on HackerTrail recruited by a government agency)

Predictive Analytics

Like every business function, human resources are heavily relying on predictive analytics to understand future scenarios and bet on their strategy and other executive decisions. Companies are using predictive analytics to understand their candidates better based on their interviews, submissions, work experiences and other data points. Many companies build models to assess their candidates and determine their potential fit in the company. Companies are also using predictive analytics on existing employee data to scrape for patterns to model their ideal candidate and shortlist accordingly. HackerTrail focuses on two key hiring metrics: speed and quality to empower employers to focus on the right candidates and shorten their time to hire (see infographic below).

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This year has been a “candidate’s market” more than ever before with 2016 witnessing the industry restructuring their recruitment approach from “push” to “pull” – a focus on attracting and nurturing a healthy talent pool rather than blanket outreach and active scouting. Recruitment strategies anchoring firmly on technology and analytics are bound to up the notch in the coming year. With emphasis on efficiency and metrics, automation will be the focus in 2017 and the key for companies to fit into the rapidly evolving innovation landscape of recruitment.

We look forward to sharing some exciting news in the early part of the new year so do keep in touch by following us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Till then, here’s us wishing you best wishes for the new year ahead!

New year, new recruitment strategy? Here is one place to start: www.hackertrail.com

Programmers Beware – UX is not just for designers

Perhaps one of the biggest missed opportunities in Tech in recent history is UX.

Somehow, UX became the domain of Product Designers and User Interface Designers.

While they definitely are the right people to be thinking about web pages, mobile app screens and so on, we’ve missed a huge part of what we engineers work on everyday: SDKs and APIs.

We live in a time where “the API economy” exists and has tangible monetary and strategic value and yet these UXs are seldom considered. Additionally, consider how many functions a programmer interacts with every day and yet how little (read: almost none) time is spent on the UX of these functions.

What is UX?

First let me give you my perspective on UX. UX stands for “User Experience” or to put it another way, “usability”.

UX is not black art; you don’t even need to study it. I believe it can be uncovered through logic, persistence and experience.

I believe a good UX can be discovered using the following “UX Discovery Survey”.

Ask yourself (or your team) these quick 5 questions and you will be well on your way to create better UXs.

  • Who/What is the user? – Yes, users can be other systems and not just people.
  • What do they want to achieve? – Often the answer to this is a list of things, this is fine. However it’s generally possible to apply the 80/20 rule; meaning users will want to do 1 thing 80% of the time and the rest about 20%. We should always over-optimize for the 80%; even if it means making the 20% a lot more complicated or inconvenient.
  • What are they capable of? – What skills do they have? What domain knowledge do they have? What kind of experience? When designing systems for others there is often a huge difference between these factors for the user and the creator. This factor shows up a lot more when the answer to “Who/What is the user” is a human and not a system.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – This is really the driving force behind UX, focus on the user and how to please them. Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – The best interfaces are often ubiquitous or intuitive. The focus here is on modelling the interface to do what the user expects it to do, without prior training or experience with it. If you ever have access to the end user, try asking them these questions:

    “What do you think it should do?”

    “What did you expect to happen when you did X?”

Let me show you what I mean with some examples of Engineering UX:

A REST API called from a Mobile Application

When the app in question starts, it must make a call to the server to login and then use the returned credentials to make another to download the latest news.

What’s wrong with this?

This makes 2 round trips to the server, which results in:

  • 2 potential points of failure.
  • Double the network latency.
  • Additional code complexity of handling the additional points of failure.
  • Additional code complexity of handling the “session” between calls.

Finding a better UX

Let’s run through the “UX Discovery Survey”:

  • Who/What is the user? – The user here is not the programmer using the API but the mobile application.
  • What do they want to achieve? – They want to load the data from the server in the fastest possible manner using the least amount of battery and data as possible.
  • What are they capable of? – It’s app. It’s capable of whatever the app programmer is capable of.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – One call is always going to be easier to code than two. One point of failure is always easier to handle than two.
  • Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – Not applicable here.

Merge the requests together and have the app send either the login credentials or the session as part of the request for news.

While the call to the server is slightly more complicated, this is completely overshadowed by the complexity of coordinating 2 calls and failure points that it removes.

Solution

Yes, this adds some complexity to the server side but the server is significantly easier to test, maintain and update than the mobile app.

A REST API called from a Mobile Application (Redux)

Some time passes from the above example and the app is updated and now it needs to download the weather and the news when it starts. In common REST ideology we consider the news and weather to be separate entities and therefore the request is to add a separate endpoint in order to be RESTful.

What’s wrong with this?

We are back to making 2 round trips to the server. But this time they are concurrent, which results in:

  • 2 potential points of failure (again).
  • Additional code complexity of handling the additional points of failure and partial failures (again).
  • Paying battery and data charges for 2 calls (again).

Finding a better UX

Let’s run through the “UX Discovery Survey”:

Unsurprisingly, the answers will be similar to the previous section.

However, let’s now also consider the user of the app (in addition to the app as the user of the API)

  • Who/What is the user? – This time let’s consider the problem from the app user’s perspective.
  • What do they want to achieve? – The answer to this question becomes the key to understanding how the app should behave. Does the user need both pieces of info in an “all or nothing” way? Would partial info be better than none? Does the user need all of that info when the app starts or could they wait for retries? Bigger more complicated calls are bound to take a little longer. Users these days are fairly used to content that “fills itself in” eventually but they doesn’t mean they like it. Beyond that, not all information is of equal value to the user. If we are making a news app, the weather may be a “nice to have” for most users.
  • What are they capable of? – As before.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – As before, this is the key. Whatever the user most wants/needs wins.
  • Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – Not applicable here.

Solution

Sadly, my answer here is “it depends”. I would look to make as few round trips as possible and sacrifice RESTful correctness for performance or a better UX. The focus should always be on the end user and their needs. Both explicit (seeing the data/using the app) and implicit (costing less battery and data).

There is often a temptation to follow whatever is easiest or quickiest to implement. This is a valid optimization when you need to get to market as fast as possible but it is also a debt, akin to technical debt, that will need to be paid sooner or later.

An RPC API

This time an internal (behind the firewall) service publishes an RPC API that allows a user to download an eBook. However this book should only be accessible to certain users.

As this service is not publically accessible we could ignore the validation and assume that calls to the API are only made in cases where the permission have already been verified.

What’s wrong with this?

  • If the calling system is not aware of whether the user is permitted to perform this action, they will need to load this permission (perhaps from another system) before making the request.
  • If a second system also needs to make this API call, then the logic to validate the user can perform the action would need to be duplicated into this new system.
  • Any attempt to cache this permission in the calling systems would likely be inefficient and prone to duplication.

Finding a better UX

Let’s run through the “UX Discovery Survey”:

  • Who/What is the user? – The other systems / API consumers.
  • What do they want to achieve? – They want to download the book on behalf of their user, if the user is permitted to do so.
  • What are they capable of? – Anything.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – We could take complete ownership of the problem and allow our users to make blind / dumb calls to our API and we take care of everything else.
  • Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – This question needs to asked within the problem space / company you are in. If all of your APIs are trusted then it might be better to follow that style rather than force your users to learn / handle your different way of doing things. Word of caution though: APIs should very often be stateless and require no more knowledge than how to call it; if all of your APIs are trusted then I suggest you raise that issue with your team.

Solution

You could introduce a gateway service between the callers and the destination; however this is likely adding complexity, latency and another service to build, manage and maintain. A generally more effective option is to push the validation logic into the RPC server.

This will:

  • Eliminate any duplication between multiple clients.
  • Likely improve the overall performance as the storage / caching of the permissions can be optimized for this use-case.
  • Improve the UX to the users by allowing them to blindly make the request.

Code APIs

The general problem here is the fact that code inherently makes more sense to the person writing it, when they are writing it, than it does the others and even to the writer in the future. Seldom do we think about other users when we are writing our functions.

Consider the following code:

<span style="color: #000000;"><code>AddBalance(5, false)</code></span>

What does the false indicate?

Finding a better UX

Let’s run through the “UX Discovery Survey”:

  • Who/What is the user? – Your future self. Your current and future team members.
  • What do they want to achieve? – They want to use your code so they don’t have to write their own.
  • What are they capable of? – There are many answers to this question, some nice and some not so nice. Generally, it’s better to assume the skill level is low and so is the domain knowledge.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – Personally, I am lazy. This laziness forces me to come from a place of “what interface would allow my future self to use this without thinking or learning?”
  • Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – Consistency in programming style, naming and many other things is programming will go a long way to a better UX. Often people will make the argument that a certain piece of code is “X style” where X is the current programming language or framework. I used to see this as a weak argument but as the teams I worked in got larger, consistency of style (preferably the team’s agreed and published style) has proven extremely valuable in terms of allowing folks to change teams, share code and tips and most importantly learn from each other.

Solution

What happens to the usability if we replace the boolean parameter with 2 functions?

AddBalanceCreateIfMissing(5) 

AddBalanceFailOnMissing(5)

In actual fact the result will often be 3 functions. These 2 above public / exported functions and the original function / common code as private.

Boolean arguments are an easy target but there are many other easy and quick wins, consider this function:

<span style="color: #000000;"><code>var day = toDay("Monday")</code></span>

What happens if we call it like this?

var day = toDay("MONDAY")
var day = toDay("monday")
var day = toDay("mon")

These are great examples of “What can I do to make their life easier?”.

A good UX would consider all reasonable ways a user might use or misuse the interface and in many cases support them instead of forcing the user to learn and then remember the exact format required.

TL;DR

  • UX is not just about Visual User Interfaces.
  • APIs and SDKs are also user interfaces.
  • Programmers are also users.
  • Other systems are also users.
  • UX is about designing the interface or interaction from the user’s perspective.
  • It’s about considering the user’s desires, tendencies and capabilities.
  • It’s about making the system feel like “it just works”.

Finally, I would mention that the best UXs are the result of iterative and interactive efforts.

The best way to answer the questions of “What do they want to achieve?”, “What are they capable of?” and “What can I do to make their life easier?” is to give the interface to a real user, watch what they do it with it and how. Then respond by making the interface work they way they thought it would instead of teaching them otherwise.

It is always better (and easier) to change the UX to match the user than the other way around.

 

Article adapted from “Programmers Beware – UX is not just for designers” by Corey Scott

 

Grab pic 9

Grab is currently expanding their team and HackerTrail has partnered up with them to source for key developer roles here in Singapore. Crack the challenge at HackerTrail (yes, we have our own as well and you get win cool prizes like the Apple Watch and iPad Mini 4) and get shortlisted by Grab today.

Are you connected with us? Follow HackerTrail on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find out about the up and coming tech jobs in Southeast Asia.

It’s A Visual World: 3 Design Tips For Creating Infographics

Infographics can engage both visual and casual learners who want summaries of facts in minutes. Their appeal and ability to compress information without compromising clarity are what make them so effective.

Design influences the way prospects and investors perceive your brand. All too often, some presenters suffer from the impression that content and delivery are enough to leverage their proposals.

They end up falling into the trap of relying on either a bare deck or text-heavy slides. This has led to ineffective slide decks that have tuned audiences out and vilified PowerPoint.

It’s interesting to note that PowerPoint presentations rely on the same graphic design principles applied to infographics, such as color, typography, and white space. A PowerPoint deck can equally benefit from incorporating the balance between information and graphics in its own design.

1. Organise Your Research

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Segregate key points from supporting details. Key points should be included in the deck, while supporting details can be left for verbal explanation, or further reading.

Here’s how to distinguish what data to keep, and what to edit out:

Identify your goals. Having a clear objective in mind can help you sift through the bulk of your research quickly. Summarize your presentation to specific one-word parts to determine the core message you want to show. This gives you a better idea of what facts you need to back it up.

Draft an outline. Once you’ve narrowed down your main goal and selected the needed information, arrange them in order of importance. This lets you sort the most important supporting parts from the less relevant ones.

Consider the audience. As with any output intended for other people’s viewing, infographics and presentation decks should take note of what’s relevant to their audience. Prioritize what they deem more important, be it stock reports or step-by-step explanations, to keep them interested and engaged.

Whether it’s infographics or slide decks we’re talking about, your audience won’t pick up anything useful from fillers. The end goal is still to inform your prospective viewers about things that will benefit them most.

2. Minimise Visual Clutter

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You should layout your deck like an infographic to avoid visually overwhelming viewers. Here’s how to do that:

Use white space. If you want to highlight the right information, don’t shy away from white space. This helps relax people’s eyes and focus their attention on the more important visuals in your presentation.

Visualize as much as possible. While graphs and charts are good visual representations in your presentation deck, it’s highly encouraged to get more creative with your visuals.

Make it readable. Although you’ll want to make appealing visuals, make sure your data is readable at a glance. Avoid over-embellishments by keeping your visuals simple enough to read. Use the appropriate font size and style for your typography.

It’s the calculated use of visuals that makes infographics so appealing. Apply the same tactical reduction of clutter to your deck as you start designing and formatting its overall layout.

3. Specify Your Data

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Presenting hard facts is necessary to supplement your claims. On the other hand, engaging images certainly help to pique people’s interest.

In order to make both work together, infographics and slide decks both need to be clear in their data visualisation.

Make your contents as specific and concise as possible with these tips:

Label the info. One of the easiest ways to distinguish the objects on your deck is to label them. This works if you’re presenting statistics, which can be very technical.

For example, when labelling your diagram, specify if the item is the percent of market share increase, the amount of new lead conversions, or something else.

Explain connections. Dropping information at random can be confusing. Your presentation needs a narrative hierarchy that connects each of your points.

Show how Point A gets to Point B in your visualised data. Is it through a comparison of these points, or a progressive timeline? This gives your deck a smoother flow that complements your pitch.

Differentiate images. Establishing a pattern makes your design look more consistent. Just leave enough room to differentiate between similar objects to avoid any confusion.

Aside from labels, give your images some variety in order to make each point distinct. Data on this year’s sales might be visualized differently from, say, the age range of your customers.

Be careful not to oversimplify your visuals. The mind may be designed to avoid processing exaggerated images, but making your visual presentation clear to the viewer is just as important to get your message across clearly.

Summing It Up

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Visuals and content are designed to cooperate with each other so that you can produce substantial output regardless of topic. That’s why you should never compromise on one for the other. After all, beautifully presented data might not work without the appropriate specifications.

Likewise, a bulk of content won’t be given a second thought if it isn’t broken down into engaging images.

Infographic design does indeed help in attracting viewers and sharing information. People creating business decks can learn a thing or two from infographic design to also become visually engaging, and yet substantial as well.

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Do you enjoy designing sleek interface that will serve its users well? Why not apply for the role of UI Developer at Piktochart? Find out more about this job opening in Penang, Malaysia here.

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Article adapted from: https://piktochart.com/blog/infographic-design-tips-presentations/

What Is MedTech and Why Does Asia Need It?

In a bid to classify the hordes of tech-reliant startups that have popped up in the past decade, exotic blended words such as “Edtech” and “Fintech” have come into existence in order to label education- and finance-related startups. Naturally, “MedTech” refers to the business of medical technologies.

Biotechin.Asia reports that by 2020, the Asia-Pacific region “is expected to pass the European Union as the world’s second-largest MedTech market”. The market demands in the Asia-Pacific region is highly diverse even within a single country in the region. Leading MedTech companies have lagged behind other industries in serving the region, creating gaps in patient services and bypassing significant opportunities.

The difficulties faced by the MedTech industry in the Asia-Pacific region include frugal spending habits, multi-segment markets, inadequate infrastructure, regulatory and reimbursement complexity, and intense competition. Conquering the MedTech market in any Asian country presents its own unique set of challenges.

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Attempting to crack this challenge is CXA, a HR/MedTech startup that handles benefits and wellness for employers and employees through an online platform. 2-year-old ConneXionsAsia hit an impressive revenue of $6 million within its first year and raised $8 million in Series A funding in January.

ConneXionsAsia provides personalized benefits to employees so that health benefits given through employer-sponsored insurance don’t go to waste. Their portal lets employees choose benefits based on their needs, instead of a traditional one-size-fits-all scheme.

Speaking to Tech In Asia, founder Rosaline Koo describes CXA’s imperative. “There’s a lot of waste in how employers are spending on staff benefits,” she says. “If you’re single, you typically don’t need that much insurance coverage, but working couples often get duplicated coverage, so why not use that for something that the employee values?”

Since the startup launched in March 2014, CXA has had significant market success, working with over 500 corporate clients, including over 40 Fortune 500 companies.

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CXA is hiring: Come work at this dynamic startup as a Web Developer! More details on our HackerTrail listing here: https://www.hackertrail.com/cxa?sc=blog

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Images taken from CXA’s official website

What Do Some Of The Best Companies To Work For Have In Common?

Mention “best employer” and most people would immediately cast their thoughts towards Google. The omnipresent tech/platform giant has built an unshakeable reputation for itself as the premier employer of the best talent in the world. Operating in 70 offices in more than 40 countries around the globe, Google’s legendary perks and unconventional office interiors have made its company culture a hot search topic on… Google.

With employee benefits such as an 18-week maternity leave, a $150,000 reimbursement cap as part of its “Global Education Leave” programme, and, get this, free gourmet meals every day of the week, it’s not hard to see why a large portion of their workforce are enamoured with the company.

But what lies behind Google and other employee-centric companies? Fortune’s Geoff Colvin draws the argument away from the freebies and the niceties by declaring, “It’s personal – not perkonal. It’s relationship-based, not transaction-based.” This is especially significant in the tech sector, where hiring a quality employee – a costly and time-consuming process – accounts for only half of the total effort. Equally as important is keeping your new hire satisfied – content enough that they wouldn’t be tempted to work for one of your many rivals instead.

Ryan Scott of Forbes pinpoints the main source of employee satisfaction as “the opportunity to be part of a company that places a premium on giving back”. Citing Detroit-based Quicken Loans as an example, the retail lender has offered tens of thousands of volunteer work hours and donated more than $10 million towards downtown revitalisation, beautification and safety improvements in areas where team members live, and supporting programs that provide technology-focused skills training and entrepreneurship opportunities for startups in Detroit. It’s no wonder, then, that the company ranked #12 in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For 2015”.

leadership-concept

Echoing the need for corporate philanthropy and volunteerism, Stanley Bing of Fortune lists “A conviction of “rightness”” among other yellow brick road traits, such as:

• A strong leader
• A strong hierarchy with a clear reporting structure
• Clear goals that everybody in the organisation understands and buys into
• Accountability for assigned tasks
• Victory always defined and within reach
• Camaraderie
• An open-office plan to facilitate communication and democracy
• High stakes, with even a hint of danger

All these traits will come together to form a solid company culture, but only if executives and leaders walk the talk.

While most would dismiss “company culture” as either an overworked cliché or an unattainable unicorn, the C-word is usually more pervasive than imagined. It is the way people (in this case, employees) behave from moment to moment without being told. This is of paramount importance, especially in the service-leaning industries. Thankfully, more employers are seeing the connection from culture and relationships to workplace greatness to business success. Audit and consultancy firm Deloitte surveyed 3,300 executives in 106 countries and discovered that top management place culture as the most important issue they face, trumping other more conventional concerns such as leadership, workforce capability, performance management, and others.

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Analysing the “100 Best”, Geoff Colvin of Fortune describes the four key elements of company culture as:

Mission: These companies are pursuing a larger purpose, and company leaders make sure no one forgets it. When employees are all pursuing a mission they believe in, relationships get stronger.

Colleagues: Several of the “100 Best” also appear on lists of companies where it’s hardest to get hired. Organisations like Twitter, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and The Container Store, attract more than 100 applicants for every job opening. Those companies can hire the cream of the crop, creating a self-reinforcing cycle; the best people want to go where the best people are.

Trust: Show people that you consider them trustworthy, and they’ll generally prove you right. Many of the “100 Best” let employees work whenever they want, and they work far more than if they were punching a clock. Riot Games, creator of the hit game “League of Legends”, even offers unlimited paid vacation. Strong relationships prevent employees from abusing the policy.

Caring: Every company says it value employees. The “100 Best” don’t say it; they show it. This is where some of those celebrated perks do count. A true culture of caring goes beyond perks and includes daily behaviour.

So, will your workplace be the next Google?

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References:

“Best to work for, yes! But why?” by Stanley Bing, 7 March 2015
(http://fortune.com/2015/03/07/best-companies-to-work-for-explanation/)

“How to build the perfect workplace” by Geoff Colvin, 5 March 2015
(http://fortune.com/2015/03/05/perfect-workplace/)

“Why Are These 100 Companies The Best to Work For?” by Ryan Scott, 6 April 2015
(http://www.forbes.com/sites/causeintegration/2015/04/06/why-are-these-100-companies-the-best-to-work-for/#7d183dcef756)

“100 Best Companies to Work For” by Forbes
(http://fortune.com/best-companies/)

A Fresh Grad At Her First Job

What’s it like working for a multi-national company with over 180,000 employees? Find out from one of the new employees at Capgemini, one of the world’s largest consulting, technology, and outsourcing companies. If you’re a fresh graduate hoping to land your first job, read on:

photo 1.3 gabrielle Gabrielle Fourmoy, Associate Consultant, Capgemini

1) What is it like working at client site as part of the Capgemini Graduate Program?

What is remarkable about working at the client site is that you start working from Day 1. You will contribute to the project right away, regardless the team you join. You get to collaborate with a skilled and knowledgeable team dedicated to achieve the same goal: deliver the project to the client’s expectations in terms of time, quality, and budget.

In addition, although we do not work face-to-face with our colleagues when we are on the client site, we still get constant support from them whenever needed.

2) What is one of your most valuable experiences so far?

Capgemini gives you multiple opportunities to grow different skills. You will get to meet people from different countries and of diverse backgrounds. I’ve worked onsite in the delivery of project, as well as on bid management. Looking back on the past year, I would say that one of my most valuable experiences in Capgemini was the ASE (Accelerated Solution Environment) I got to work on. The work was really intense but fulfilling, as there was a real team spirit. In two words, it was fun and enriching.

3) How have you been supported as a graduate?

Although sometimes people may be busy with project deliverables, they are always willing to spare some time to lend a hand and share knowledge. When you have a question or when you encounter a hurdle, you just have to send an email, or call for a colleague to help you. In addition, each graduate is assigned to a mentor who will provide you with the guidance and support so you can be successful.

Capgemini will give you opportunities and support, and the rest is up to you.

4) What would be your advice to graduates?

Capgemini looks for people who share the same values and are collaborative thinkers!

Be proactive; don’t wait for things to happen. Just be committed to self-development and be determined to make the most of the on-the-job opportunities Capgemini has to offer!

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Come excel in this affirming company culture! Apply to Capgemini’s Technology Graduate Program, Singapore 2016 batch now:

For Business Consultants: https://www.hackertrail.com/capgemini-business

For Technology Consultants: https://www.hackertrail.com/capgemini-tech

5 Types of Developer Stress & How You Can Cope

Developer Stress #1: Decision Fatigue

Photo: coolcontourproducts.com

Developers have to make dozens of choices, both small and large, every day. These can range from setting up a new product’s tech stack to naming a function. All of these small little actions take time and mental energy. They eventually wear on your brain’s ability to make decisions, leading to burnout. This stress further cripples your ability to make decisions, and you can get caught in a downward spiral of decision fatigue. How can we overcome this particular stress?

Stress Solution: Reduce Options

Consider this comic from xkcd.

In many cases this chart is an exaggeration, but consider what happens when you add a Strategy C to the Time Cost. You have to compare Strategy C to both Strategy A and Strategy B. If you consider a Strategy D then you have to compare it to the three previous strategies. Clearly, comparing a large number of strategies is not a winning strategy.

Consequently, our first tip is to reduce the number of options or variables you are considering in your decision-making process. For each option you eliminate, you save yourself the effort of comparing that option to each of the remaining options.

For example, perhaps you want to introduce a JavaScript Templating framework into your application. A quick search might show that there four major contenders. If you can quickly rule out even one of them (perhaps the one option no one on your team has even heard of), then you will save yourself the time and brainpower of comparing it to three other libraries.

Developer Stress #2: Disagreements

Photo: geeky-gadgets.com

A second major source of stress is disagreement. Most developers don’t work alone. There are weeks where we spend more time with our coworkers than with our families. This constant interaction may result (intentionally or not) in reduced professionalism. This and other factors result in disagreements. Some tips for overcoming this stress include:

Solution: Choose Your Battles Wisely

It’s easy to find yourself arguing semantics. Does it really matter if the function is called ‘getUserId’ or ‘getUserID’? Probably not. But too often, people become wrapped up in these tiny details (there’s a term for this too: bikeshedding!). The discussion becomes counter-productive and time gets more wasted than college kids on St. Patrick’s Day. Even if your idea or choice is more correct, it won’t always win. Make peace with it. Sometimes you have to cut your losses in order to keep going.

Developer Stress #3: Overloaded

Working nights and weekends? This third stress is a bummer. Check out these savvy solutions to save your personal life from the black hole of time that work can sometimes be.

Solution: Know Before You Go

A developer should never be caught by surprise by the expectations of the workplace they’ve chosen. Have the foresight to ask those questions during the interview phase and make sure that expectations match up to the work-life balance you want to have. Don’t just ask about a “typical day” either. Specifically ask how often crunch times happen and whether there is an on-call rotation.
If you’re already at a job and struggling with spending too much time at work and not enough time living the rest of your life, talk to your manager! You might be surprised to discover that your boss doesn’t want you burning out either.

Developer Stress #4: Feeling Stagnant or Bored

There will be times in your career when you won’t always get to work on what you enjoy most. That’s the job part of it. These tips will help you power through those phases.

Solution: Get Involved

Look at this problem from a career perspective: we chose software development because we love it right? Often enough, the most enjoyable aspect of my career is something I’m doing for fun, not money. Writing a tech blog, attending/presenting at a meetup, or coding a fun side project is a great way to get involved with something new. Mixing fun extracurricular items in with the dull makes those dull tasks more tolerable.
You might even get the opportunity to incorporate something new in at work. Trying new things outside of your day job is a great source of creativity and inspiration. Bringing that to work is a good way to get noticed and start working on newer or more rewarding projects.

Going Forward…

Regardless of what the problem is, you are not the first person to have it. Do your due diligence and try to figure it out, but don’t bang your head on the keyboard all day. Talk to another developer or your manager to get help! No one likes a workplace martyr (“look how hard I’m trying to find a solution on my own!”) – do your best to find a solution, but call for help when too much time is passing.

Now that we’ve covered some common developers challenges, remember to step back and try to tackle the cause of a problem. We covered some tips that have worked for us, but if you have a tip that helps you manage stress and focus on productivity, be sure to let us know in the comments!


This article was originally featured on AirPair and can be viewed here.

All Work and Some Play

All Work and Some Play: A Guide To Gamification In Workplace Training, was published by Skilledup in March 2015. The article talks about the use of gamification in the workplace. In context of gamification for recruitment they featured HackerTrail, below is the extract. If you wish to read full article click here:

Gamification & recruitment

Gamification has also been used in hiring, although results appear to be mixed. L’Oreal’s game Reveal and Marriott’s 2012 Farmville-style game My Marriott Hotel are attempts at this. While My Marriott Hotel was reported by Forbes to have not produced results and is no longer available on Marriott’s Facebook page, there are other gamified apps that are alive and well.

Case in point: HackerTrail, a business that pits developers against one another in a variety of online challenges. The winners of the challenges receive prizes — points, gift cards and the opportunity to interview with other companies for a job.

The company grew out of founder Tushar Tejuja’s experiences in corporate America.

“Having interviewed and hired over a hundred people in different countries, I experienced an absence of adequate and appropriate tools to tap the millennial mindset,” he says.

GamificationRecruitment-740x480 (1)

HackerTrail is still quite new. Tejuja launched the site in July of this year, and since then about 15 companies of all sizes and a department of the Singapore government have used the site to find workers.

The site allows employers to host their own challenges. They can invite specific candidates or open the challenge to the public. The intent is to sort through job applicants to find the best coders.

Why gamify recruitment? “This goes back to the need of tapping and engaging the Gen Y workforce,” Tejuja explains. “Even personally, thinking back on experiences of recruiting or being recruited, almost always there seemed to be a lack of consistency in the hiring process and a subjective method to filtering candidates. Gamification is a great way to spark interest and engage wider pool of candidates.”

 

Related Reading: From Zero to Hire in 10 days

 

JavaScript Framework Comparison

JavaScript

Looking for a comparison between JavaScript frameworks? All you need is a simple Google search and the results throw pretty good list, isn’t it?

However, if you want to dig a little deeper and understand how choosing right framework can have a huge impact on your ability to deliver on time and ability to maintain the code in future, or on the other hand, if you want to know origin of those frameworks, the overall features they provide and how they compete for different use cases, it becomes slightly tricky.

This post will give you a few points to start. This is a list of some best write ups that answer such coding challenges, you will need to spend some time to read these blogs but we assure you it will be worth!

  1. An in-depth comparison of AngularJS vs. Backbone vs. Ember by Airpair . It will help you choose the right one for your need so that you can deliver on time and at the same time keep your options open on the forever evolving web. In this blog article Uri Shaked starts with a little background and history of the frameworks and then dives deeper to compare them.
  2. The next one is by Developer Economics, it focuses on comparing key features from some of the leading JavaScript MV* frameworks. If you like this you can go ahead and read the part 2 of the same article that gives insights on market related qualities.
  3. If you are looking for some actual examples, Todo MVC is the place. Look at the screenshot below:Selecting a JavaScript MV Framework
  4. Lastly, here is a piece that gives you an overview on which javascript libraries to watch for, in 2015. It gives some direction on where to start and what to keep an eye on.

It is one thing to learn a language but is a continuous process to keep that acquired skill updated so that you can bring it to practical use.

Do let us know if you found this useful to update you skill and what else would you like to hear about? Or if you have any question for us, shoot them through the comments.