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NOW HIRING a MongoDB expert with expertise with WordPress as a development platform and Amazon AWS API experience. November 28, 2013

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A privately held stealth mode Boston-based startup is looking to launch its first-class web and mobile web application into BETA, and is seeking to hire a part-time Software Engineer with a minimum of 2+ years of experience working with WordPress as a development platform and with extensive MongoDB database development expertise. This is a primary developer role with a focus on developing to specification a web and mobile technology solution with a heavy emphasis on performance optimization and application scaling. Experience with and knowledge of Amazon Web Services’s MongoDB APIs will be necessary for your ultimate success in this role.

Responsibilities

  • Write clean, organized, and well-documented code.
  • Follow commonly accepted industry coding standards, project methodology, and best practices.
  • Author project technical specification documentation surrounding MongoDB & AWS APIs, architecture and development.
  • Ability to document technical architecture of MongoDB hosted on AWS.
  • Ability to author system scope diagrams, process flow diagrams and other UML system diagrams and technical documentation.
  • Ability to troubleshoot the code you develop and rectify identified issues using our Jira bug tracking software.
  • Work with Business team to scope and estimate project components.
  • Contribute to this startup’s engineering knowledge base surrounding MongoDB & AWS applications.
  • Occasional travel to local downtown Boston development status meetings required.

 Qualifications

  • Computer Science or engineering degree or equivalent real-world experience on resume.
  • Minimum of 2 years working with WordPress & MongoDB.
  • Expert understanding of MongoDB and AWS (Amazon Web Services) APIs.
  • Expert understanding of HTML5, CSS3, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB and Javascript.
  • Expert understanding of modern responsive web design for mobile.
  • Expert understanding of WordPress plugins, optimization and security best practices.
  • Demonstrable contributions to MongoDB and MySQL-based websites or applications.
  • Well-rounded engineering experience across a variety of technologies.
  • Passionate about writing clean, organized code with an emphasis on performance and security.
  • Personal contributions to an open source project desired.
  • Strong communication and time management skills.
  • Candidate must be located in Boston, Providence, or surrounding areas.

This is a project to launch this completely specified application into BETA. Make your own hours and work from home. Interested candidates should contact Paul Seibert; paul.seibert.2007@gmail.com

Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 12 of 17): HTML Audio Tags August 27, 2013

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 12 of 17): HTML Audio Tags

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 11 of 17): HTML Meta Tags August 25, 2013

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 11 of 17): HTML Meta Tags

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 10 of 17): HTML Comments August 17, 2013

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 10 of 17): HTML Comments

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 9 of 17): HTML Images August 17, 2013

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 9 of 17): HTML Images

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 8 of 17): HTML Link Targets August 13, 2013

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 8 of 17): HTML Link Targets

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 7 of 17): HTML Site Navigation Links August 11, 2013

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Mastering HTML 5 Web Development (Video 7 of 17): HTML Site Navigation Links

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The top six ways you failed by firing your employee, even if they were a bad employee. July 18, 2013

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Fired


  1.        

    1. Firing employees is a failure of management.


As you already know if you are a regular reader of these pages, I have spent much of my career as an entrepreneur. I have hired and fired hundreds of people during the course of my career; There was no other way I would have been able to build my businesses over the years without harnessing the great ideas and hard efforts of others. I have a saying that I believe sums up much of my experiences in this area: “You will never have a great company if you never ever fire anyone”.

What I meant by that back then, and what I mean by it now, is that you must periodically “cull the herd” for really chronically under-performing employees, sometimes people outright steal from the company, sometimes you get a bad apple involved in some nasty business outside work, and believe me, I have dealt with every kind of drinking and drug problem employee that exists. So sometimes, you have to let people go. Sometimes you run out of money for payroll. Whatever the case may be, and whatever type of employee you are letting go, you need to know how to do it. The mechanics of the procedures of firing employees, and the legalities of such, I will leave to an upcoming article, but I want to talk about the effects on your organization that the force reduction(s) will predicate.

Letting an employee go goes straight to the bottom line: as a net improvement, an immediate positive effect. You save all the money you had “committed” to paying out to that employee, plus all of their benefits. That is all someone else’s problem now. It is heady stuff, especially for an entrepreneur. Some people and companies, in all frankness, become addicted to layoffs. They reclaim badly needed cash into the company coffers immediately, they get easier and easier the more of them you do, and until the advent of social media very recently, it was really easy to conceal a single or even multiple rounds of layoffs or firings. So I understand the temptation, and I will be the first to tell you lots of people will come up to you with comforting words or encouragement after you can employees. Your investors may even applaud you, and employee reactions in the short term can and do typically range from indifference through denial, to happiness at the forced departure of a rival.

Over the course of the years, having watched the effect of firings and layoffs not only that I had myself executed, but also the effects they have had at companies at which I have worked. As an entrepreneur over the years I began to realize that in actuality, it was I whom had failed when I fired someone. I was a leader, a manager, and I had failed to perform in my job to the highest level I could.

How often are you tempted to fire an employee? Do you think you can improve efficiency by removing a problem? Can you demonstrate increased earnings by reducing headcount? How about letting somebody go to send a message? Firing employees does send a message; in fact, it sends several.

When you choose to terminate an employee–even a really, really bad one–you are sending several possible messages to your other employees, your peers, and your superiors. Most of those messages are bad. Some are worse than you realize.


2. So it looks like you hired the wrong person, huh?


While hiring the perfect candidate is difficult, hiring a good candidate certainly is doable. There are tools available to help a manager identify all of the skills and competencies required in an open position, and include interview questions for helping to weed out candidates that have the right qualifications on paper but cannot articulate the proper experience. Because these tools do exist, the expectation is that a hiring manager will use them and anything else at their disposal to hire a good candidate. People generally can spot a bad hire right away, and that always reflects poorly on the manager. Again, a long string of good hires can erase the stain of a bad one, but if your first hire is bad, it takes a lot to erase that initial impression.


 3. You’ve wasted an obscene amount of office time and productivity, and in business that is a cardinal sin.


 You hired this person for a reason. You had to get budget approved for the headcount, and that wasn’t easy. You had to demonstrate a clear business need that could not be fulfilled without acquiring additional staff. You had to jump through a lot of hoops and–chances are–had to suffer through a period of strained capacity and unreachable goals before filling the role. And now you’re firing the person you hired.

So what happened? Did you misrepresent your needs for the headcount and you actually were able to get by without a competent person in the role? Did you not understand the requirements for the position you fought so hard to open, and hired somebody that could not perform as needed? Neither is good.


 4. You’ve failed as a leader in this instance, and you apparently may lack the ability or knowledge of how to train and develop your employees.


As a manager, you have several responsibilities. You are responsible for achieving the goals set for your team–and those goals are probably unreasonable and set by people who do not understand the constraints of your resources or the capacity of your team. But you have to hit those goals, and if you are in a publicly traded company, you need to exceed those goals. Every quarter. No matter what. So you tend to focus strictly on achieving those goals and anything that diverts attention from them is a waste of time and effort that could be going toward achieving your targets.

But as a manager, you have several responsibilities; not just one. Whether or not it ever is brought up in a one-on-one with your boss, you are responsible for improving the skills and competencies of your team. You are responsible for their professional development. You can do this through regular one-on-one meetings in which you set individual goals designed to progress their skills, as well as encouraging further study in areas that will improve their proficiency in core and functional competencies.

The benefits of coaching your staff–in addition to managing their day-to-day progress against task completion–is that your team enhances its productivity and capabilities over time, becoming better and more efficient than when you got there. Noticeably better and more efficient. And that is good for you.

Unfortunately, the inverse of this is true as well. If you allow your staff to stagnate–to at best maintain their proficiency levels rather than grow–then you will be regarded as a caretaker rather than a leader. If the people who work for you do not enhance their careers within the organization, then neither will you.


 5. Leaders solve problems, regardless of the circumstances, and you didn’t solve the problem.


Turning a bad employee into a productive one is difficult and everybody knows it. Everybody also knows the easy way out. If you choose to eliminate an employee rather than identify, address, and resolve the issue that is damaging their productivity, then you are taking the easy way out. And nobody respects the easy way.

I used to say “Anybody can spend money: that part of owning a business is easy”. You could just as easily say that about firing someone: if you are good at it, or bad it, firing someone is something that anybody can do. It’s the easy way out.

Further, while firing an employee is the easy way out, back-filling that position is hard. Everybody knows that, too, and they imagine you know it as well. So why would you put yourself, your team, and your organization in the position of fixing the problem (i.e. dealing with a loss in capacity while spending resources on back filling the position) when you failed to repair the problem with the employee you had?

If you own the company or start-up, there will come a time when you may kick yourself. I used to get upset with myself for hiring the person in the first place only to have to lay them off because I didn’t know how to hire well and / or I failed to turn my own hire around.  If you are a manager in an organization or company, there may be a time now or in the future where your superiors come to regret your actions, with negative consequences for you.

Managing an ineffective employee through whatever blocker is causing the employee to fail is extremely difficult for the manager. Running at a reduced headcount while back filling the position of an employee who was terminated is hard on everybody. In this way, firing the employee rather than taking the time and effort to fix the issue demonstrates a willingness to shift responsibility away from oneself and onto others. Again, this is a black mark against the leadership capabilities of the manager and will take time and effort to repair.


 6. Leaders lead, and they don’t ever act in a manner that would jeopardize their own hold on their team or undermine their own ability to lead their team, and you just did both. You may even “lose” your entire remaining team now.


 

When you fire an employee, you are sending a message to your staff that you are not there to support them. Even if the employee actually is terrible–and you are not seeing insurmountable problems where there aren’t any–your staff just saw one of their peers let go. The employee’s peers just subconsciously identified with the terminated employee (i.e.–”That could just as easily have been me”) and will be walking on eggshells around you until they are convinced of their security. If you are great at your job, you may recover, but you effectively told your direct reports they are not safe.

If one of your other remaining team members gets a new job, you might have to throw some kind of pizza or cake party for the departing employee, and those types of parties are really a drag on your team’s morale. You have also increased the value of the remaining staff members, and you might have to ask them to work harder to pick up the slack of the departed. All of this stuff is the kind of activity a good manager works so hard to avoid. You may also have to give a “rah-rah” speech to let the troops know what just happened, they should be excited about coming to work tomorrow, it won’t affect them, we’re better off now without that person / people, this was a “talent upgrade”, we’re hiring, etc., etc.

In the short term, your remaining employees will work harder, show up on time, they are all scared for their jobs, they will brown-nose you, and suck up to you , and everything will be roses and honey – for about a month, sometimes two, three at the outside. Many of your employees will be looking for a new job, because no matter what you said, they don’t trust you now. And after I went to work in more corporate environments, and wasn’t an entrepreneur anymore, I began to notice something else in relation to managers who fire a lot of people, a corollary quote to go with my original devised during my entrepreneurial days: “You can fire a few employees and your superiors may think you can ‘do what needs to be done’…but after you fire several people, they begin to look at you”.



Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software developmentAgile project managementmanaging software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projectsecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurshipecommercetelecommunications and software development, I’m a PMO Director, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of several ecommerce and web-based companies, the latest of which is Tshirtnow.net.

More Articles From Boston’s Hub Tech Insider:

What is the difference between Native, Web and Hybrid Mobile Applications? July 9, 2013

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Native, mobile Web, or hybrid? For many companies considering tapping into the mobility of their increasingly connected workforce with enterprise mobile solutions, as well as b2c mobile applications with user communities in the millions, that’s the primary question.

The answer: It depends. There’s no single correct solution that applies to all scenarios and needs. Each option — mobile Web apps, hybrid applications, and native apps — has its own advantages and disadvantages. The right path for your company depends on a variety of factors.

Before beginning your mobile application development project, it is important to run through a checklist of questions that must be tackled at the outset: What is your business hoping to accomplish with the app? Do you have a mobile device management policy? If so, what is it? These are just a few examples, you should have a more comprehensive list of preliminary questions to have answered as part of your initial requirements elicitation and gathering process.

Before you can determine which option is best for your custom mobile development project, it is important to understand a few basic fundamentals on the differences between native, hybrid and mobile Web applications:

Native Applications are applications that are developed exclusively for a specific mobile platform and that can leverage all device capabilities.

Native applications can leverage the full array of features and functions available through the mobile device’s core operating system. Generally, they are faster, smoother and offer a significantly more fluid user experience than either Hybrid apps or mobile Web apps.

Hybrid Applications are applications that wrap a mobile web interface inside a native application “container”.

Today, technology changes so rapidly that most businesses require immense flexibility and scalability to adapt content, design and even application architecture, all on the fly. By deploying applications that rely on a robust combination of HTML5 Web technologies and native OS features, you preserve a large degree of control over the content and design of the solutions we build for mobile platforms.

Many companies find that this hybrid development process empowers them to perform fast, easy, on-demand updates, without losing the inherent advantages that come from hosting a solution in the iTunes Apps Store or the Android Marketplace.

Mobile Web Applications are applications that are implemented with HTML5 and JavaScript that operate entirely inside a mobile browser.

Mobile Web apps offer an attractive option for companies that are looking to get into the Mobility game but don’t want to invest in building native applications across four different mobile platforms. Whether getting a new app up and running or maintaining or updating an existing mobile solution, with Mobile Web Apps everything is simple and inexpensive. Better yet, HTML5-driven mobile Web apps are cross-platform compatible and, in large degree, more secure than native applications (given that very little data is stored locally on the native device.)

Comparing Native and Hybrid Mobile Applications

The following table offers a matrix comparing the benefits and various features supported by native and hybrid mobile applications:

Feature Native Hybrid
Access to the Contacts or Address Book Full support All platforms except older Blackberry OS and WebOS
Access to the Accelerometer (motion detection) Full support Not supported on older Blackberry OS
Camera Full support Not supported on older Blackberry OS
Storing data locally and offline Full support All platforms except older Blackberry OS and Samsung Bada
Accessing network properties and conditions Full support Full support
Access to the local file system for saving and retrieving files (e.g. images) Full support All except Symbian, older Blackberry OS, WebOS and Bada
Access to Location / GPS data Full support Full support
Local notifications (alerts, vibration, sound) Full support Full support

Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software developmentAgile project managementmanaging software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projectsecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. I have been working in the software engineering and ecommerce industries for over fifteen years. My interests include computers, electronics, robotics and programmable microcontrollers, and I am an avid outdoorsman and guitar player. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, follow me on Quora, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurshipecommercetelecommunications and software development, I’m a PMO Director, a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of several ecommerce and web-based software startups, the latest of which is Tshirtnow.net.

More Articles From Boston’s Hub Tech Insider:

Seeking a Paralegal / Legal Assistant for a high profile law office in Wellesley, Massachusetts June 12, 2013

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Seeking a Paralegal in Wellesley, MA

I am currently Seeking a Paralegal / Legal Assistant for a high profile law office in Wellesley, Massachusetts:

Location : Wellesley Center, MA
Rate : $12 / hr. 1099
Hours : PT, 15 – 20 Hours per week, 2 – 3 days per week

** Proficiency with Microsoft Excel is REQUIRED **
** Proficiency with Microsoft Word is REQUIRED **
– Additonal computer literacy skills are considered a plus.
– Wellesley Center location, convenient to free parking, restaurants, banks and shops.

If qualified, available and interested in this position please call 781-237-6020

Thank you,
Paul Seibert

Boston Project Manager, Paul Seibert April 24, 2013

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Boston Project Manager, Paul Seibert

Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. I have been working in the software engineering and ecommerce industries for over fifteen years. My interests include computers, electronics, robotics and programmable microcontrollers, and I am an avid outdoorsman and guitar player. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, follow me on Quora, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m a PMO Director, a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of several ecommerce and web-based software startups, the latest of which is Tshirtnow.net.

What are some good books on User Interface design? How do you define user interfaces in your software specification documents? The Hub Tech Insider User Interface Design Bookshelf July 31, 2011

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Screenshot of Glade Interface Designer

Image via Wikipedia

The Hub Tech Insider User Interface Design Bookshelf: Essential UI Design Books for IT Directors, Project Managers, Program Managers, Software Requirements Engineers, Business Analysts, User Interface Designers, Graphic Designers, Interaction Designers and Information Architects.

Some of the tools that I typically use to produce wireframes and mockups to specify software that is under development include traditional desktop personal computer graphics application software packages such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, business graphics and diagramming packages such as Microsoft Visio, and many others, including some on the Mac OS X and Linux platforms.

But no matter which software program you use to prepare your wireframes and mockups, you still need to have the knowledge surrounding what types of controls are available, and the wisdom to know the most apropos situations in which to use those software controls.

It may be surprising to many people that are not involved in the software industry, but it is not always system and application software programmers who are the most familiar with these types of user interface interactivity patterns and controls. User interface designers, graphic designers, and information and interaction architects are usually the ones who specify these types of “Web 2.0” controls.

If you are writing software specification documents, I recommend that you become as familiar as possible with all of the different types of rich internet application controls and interaction patterns that are examined in detail within these books. Programmers and project and program managers will benefit as well.

A great amount of time and effort will be saved if everyone on the project team has familiarity with these fundamental web interface and interaction patterns. Having a common vocabulary with which to communicate to each other in design and development meetings will pay dividends throughout the course of the software development lifecycle.

The ability to suggest an interaction pattern or a type of control that can preserve screen or page real estate, for instance, can make the critical difference in getting a software system design specified in a limited amount of time. Having knowledge of user interface best practices and common user interaction patterns in-house, on the project team itself, can not only save money in avoidance of expensive user interface consultants and UI design firms, but it can also ensure that the tricky question of post-implementation compliance amongst your development team and programming staff.

I have compiled a list of books that in my opinion merit a place on any professional user interface designer’s bookshelf. If you are looking to stock your User Interface library, you really can’t go wrong with this list of books.

I feel that IT Directors, Product Managers, Program Managers and Project Managers, as well as Graphic Designers, Information Architects, and Interaction Designers and Usability Engineers (read this article if you need help understanding what these job titles mean) could all benefit from reading several or all of these books.

I have found in my professional career that having advanced knowledge of User Interface design techniques and best practices aids me greatly in producing high quality project plans and functional specifications for web based applications and their related software development projects. Mockups and wireframes that incorporate the various design patterns outlined in these books have greatly increased my ability to communicate and develop project related deliverables and artifacts for complex and cutting edge user interfaces, particularly those that include social media platform integrations and RIA, or Rich Internet Application, frontends.

The more knowledge that you acquire in your professional career on a software development team, and the more you know about user interfaces for web based applications, the more value you will be capable of delivering to both your employer and yourself in the form of expanded career opportunities.

Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

By Luke Wroblewski. Rosenfeld Media, May 2008.

Web Form Design: Filling in the blanks, by Luke Wroblewski

Anyone who designs anything for the web needs a copy of this. It makes it so nice to not have to think about designing forms. I can spend my time on more interesting design challenges. This book doesn’t leave my desk.

Forms make or break the most crucial online interactions: checkout, registration, and any task requiring information entry. In this book, Luke Wroblewski draws on original research, his considerable experience at Yahoo! and eBay, and the perspectives of many of the field’s leading designers to show you everything you need to know about designing effective and engaging web forms.

I have found this book to be the most practical, comprehensive and data-driven guide for solving form design challenges and I consider it an essential reference.

The Smashing Book #1

https://shop.smashingmagazine.com/smashing-book-intl.html

The Smashing Book #1

This book is available exclusively from Smashing Magazine. This book looks at Web design rules of thumb, color theory, usability guidelines, user interface design, best coding and optimization practices, as well as typography, marketing, branding and exclusive insights from top designers across the globe.

This book contains ten carefully prepared, written and edited stories that are based upon topic suggestions and wishes of Smashing Magazine’s readers. The topics covered here are fundamental and so the content is highly practical.

The Smashing Book #2

https://shop.smashingmagazine.com/smashing-book-2-intl.html#d=smashing-book-2

The Smashing Book #2

This book shares valuable practical insight into design, usability and coding. It provides professional advice for designing mobile applications and building successful e-commerce websites, and it explains common coding mistakes and how to avoid them. You’ll explore the principles of professional design thinking and graphic design and learn how to apply psychology and game theory to create engaging user experiences.

Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions

By Bill Scott & Theresa Neil

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0596516258?ie=UTF8&tag=looksgoodwork-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0596516258

Want to learn how to create great user experiences on today’s web? In this book, UI experts Bill Scott and Theresa Neil present more than 75 design patterns for building great web interfaces that provide interaction. Distilled from the author’s years of experience at Sabre, Yahoo!, and Netflix, these best practices are grouped into six key principles to help you take advantage of the web technologies available today. With an entire section devoted to each design principle, Designing Web Interfaces illustrates many patterns with full-color examples from working websites. If you need to build or renovate a website to be truly interactive, this book will give you the principles for success.

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition

by Steve Krug

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Make-Me-Think-Usability/dp/0321344758/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_c

Five years and more than 100,000 copies after it was first published, it is very difficult to imagine anyone working in web development or design that has not read this classic on web usability, but people are still discovering it every day. In this second edition, Steve adds three new chapters in the same style as the original: wry and entertaining, yet loaded with insights and practical advice for novice and veteran alike. Don’t be surprised if it completely changes the way you think about web design.

The three new chapters are entitled: Usability as common courtesy (why people really leave web sites), Web accessibility, CSS, and you (making sites usable and accessible), and Help! My boss wants me to ______. (Surviving executive design whims).

In this second edition, Steve adds essential ammunition for those whose bosses, clients, stakeholders, and marketing managers insist on doing the wrong thing. If you design, write, program, own, or manage web sites, you must read this book.

Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems

http://www.amazon.com/Rocket-Surgery-Made-Easy-Yourself/dp/0321657292/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b

It’s been known for years that usability testing can dramatically improve products. But with a typical price tag of $5,000 to $10,000 for a usability consultant to conduct each round of tests, it rarely happens.

In this how-to companion to Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug spells out an approach to usability testing that anyone can easily apply to their own web site, application, or other product. (As he said in Don’t Make Me Think, “It’s not rocket surgery”.)

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites

http://www.amazon.com/Information-Architecture-World-Wide-Web/dp/0596527349/ref=pd_sim_b_2

Saul Wurman first used the term Information Architecture in his book of the same name. His book was mostly lots of really pretty pictures of media and webs compiled from a graphic design perspective; they were beautiful but never really dealt with the information end of things. Rosenfeld and Morville get it right. They show how to design manageable sites right the first time, sites built for growth. They discuss ideas of organization, navigation, labeling, searching, research, and conceptual design. This is almost common sense, which is often overlooked in the rush for cascading style sheets and XML.

The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web

http://www.amazon.com/Elements-User-Experience-User-Centered-Design/dp/0735712026/ref=pd_sim_b_5

From the moment it was published almost ten years ago, Elements of User Experience became a vital reference for web and interaction designers the world over, and has come to define the core principles of the practice. Now, in this updated, expanded, and full-color new edition, Jesse James Garrett has refined his thinking about the Web, going beyond the desktop to include information that also applies to the sudden proliferation of mobile devices and applications.

Successful interaction design requires more than just creating clean code and sharp graphics. You must also fulfill your strategic objectives while meeting the needs of your users. Even the best content and the most sophisticated technology won’t help you balance those goals without a cohesive, consistent user experience to support it.

With so many issues involved—usability, brand identity, information architecture, interaction design— creating the user experience can be overwhelmingly complex. This new edition of The Elements of User Experience cuts through that complexity with clear explanations and vivid illustrations that focus on ideas rather than tools or techniques. Garrett gives readers the big picture of user experience development, from strategy and requirements to information architecture and visual design.

Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability

by Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney

http://www.amazon.com/Forms-that-Work-Interactive-Technologies/dp/1558607102/ref=pd_sim_b_3

Forms are everywhere on the web – used for registration and communicating, for commerce and government alike. Good forms make for happier customers, better data, and reduced support costs. Bad forms fill your organization’s databases with inaccuracies and duplicates and can cause the loss of potential or current customers. This book isn’t about just colons and choosing the right widgets. It’s about the entire process of making good forms, which has a lot more to do with making sure you’re asking the right questions and in such a way that your users can answer than it does with whether you use a drop-down list or radio buttons.

If your web site includes forms, then you need to read this book. In an easy-to-red format with lots of examples, Caroline Jarrett, who runs the usability consulting company Effortmark Ltd.(http://www.usabilitynews.com), and Gerry Gaffney, who runs the usability consulting company Information & Design Proprietary Ltd.(http://www.uxpod.com), present their three layer model – appearance, conversation, and relationship. You need all three for a successful form – a form that looks good, flows well, asks the right questions in the right way, and most importantly, gets users to fill it out.

Designing good forms is trickier than people think. This book explains exactly how to design great forms for the web. Liberally illustrated with full-color examples, it guides readers through how to define and gather requirements to how to write questions that users will understand and want to answer, as well as how to deal with instructions, progress indicators, and error conditions.

I found that this book provides proven and practical advice that will help designers avoid pitfalls, and produce forms that are aesthetically pleasing, efficient, and cost-effective.

The book is filled with invaluable design methods and tips to help ensure accurate data and satisfied customers, and includes dozens of examples, from nitty-gritty details (label alignment, mandatory fields) to visual design (creating good grids, use of color).

Defensive Design for the Web: How to improve error messages, help, forms, and other crisis points

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/073571410X?ie=UTF8&tag=looksgoodwork-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=073571410X

by Matthew Linderman and Jason Fried

Let the 37signals team show you the best way to prevent your customers from making mistakes, and help them recover for errors if a mistake does occur. This book doesn’t leave my desk either.

The folks at 37signals have created an invaluable resource: tons of ‘best practice’ examples for ensuring that web users can recover gracefully when things – as they inevitably will – go ‘worng’ !

In this book, you will learn 40 guidelines to prevent errors and rescue customers if a breakdown does occur. You will see hundreds of real-world examples from companies like Amazon and Google that show the right (and wrong) ways to handle crisis points.

You can also use this book to evaluate your own site’s defensive design with an easy-to-perform test and find out how to improve your site over the long term.

About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design

By Alan Cooper. Wiley 2007.

About Face 3, by Alan Cooper

Learn the rules before you break them. Please. Pretty please with a cherry on top? Get this book and read it if you are responsible for designing anything more than a simple web site. Good for Flex developers and Ajax developers as well. Lots of patterns that can be extrapolated for Rich Internet Applications.

Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1933820217?ie=UTF8&tag=looksgoodwork-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1933820217

Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide” is a terrific and comprehensive review of both the prototyping process and the tools involved. There’s really very little with which to find fault. I found that the book both validated my experience in prototyping and provided new techniques to try out, with many “Aha!” moments in both respects. The inclusion of case studies illustrating the techniques provide additional perspective and make the techniques more “real”. The review of each prototyping technique/tool, whether paper or software-based, includes links to additional resources like toolkits, sample images, and the like – these would be especially useful to someone just getting started with a particular tool. Speaking as a designer who’s typically relied on HTML prototypes and Visio, I must say my interest in Adobe Fireworks and, to a lesser extent, Axure is piqued. I think any UI/UX/IX designer, of any level of experience, would get something out of this book. Not that it would be useful only to them – analysts and software engineers will benefit from it as well.


Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. I have been working in the software engineering and ecommerce industries for over fifteen years. My interests include computers, electronics, robotics and programmable microcontrollers, and I am an avid outdoorsman and guitar player. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, follow me on Quora, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m a Technical PMO Director, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of several ecommerce and web-based software startups, the latest of which are Twitterminers.com and Tshirtnow.net.

Needham’s Sonian, a provider of email archiving solutions, raises $4 Million December 20, 2010

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Needham’s Sonian, a provider of email archiving solutions, raises $4 Million from a group of investors including Prism VentureWorks and Summerhill Venture Partners.

Wilbraham MA based FloDesign Wind Turbines prototypes are 3 times more efficient than 3 bladed windmills October 30, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in green technology, renewable energy, Uncategorized, Venture Capital.
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Using design features borrowed from jet engine design, Wilbraham, MA -based FloDesign Wind Turbine has produced prototypes capable of producing electricity three times more efficiently than conventional, three-bladed wind mill designs.

In FloDesign’s prototype, two concentric hoops channel air into patterns that create spinning vortexes – like minature tornadoes – as the exiting air passes the turbine blades, dramatically boosting air flow.

Wilbraham, MA's Flodesign Wind Turbines

Wilbraham, MA's Flodesign Wind Turbines



Unlike conventional windwills, FloDesign’s model can be transported on one truck, compared with three trucks for conventional wind mills. The new design can produce electricity at lower wind speeds and in the midst of more volatile wind gusts, making it a shoo-in for spots – like beaches and cities – that have until now been inhospitable for wind power generation.

Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers committed $6 million to the company in 2008. The company also has raised funds from the U.S. Department of energy and hopes to raise an additional $25 million later this year.

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Waltham MA based Inverness Medical Innovation Systems acquires Seattle based Free & Clear for around $130 Million October 29, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Health Care IT, Uncategorized, Venture Capital.
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Waltham, MA-based Inverness Medical Innovations (NYSE: IMA) has acquired Seattle-based Free & Clear for $100 million in cash, plus up to $30 million in potential follow-on payments based on Free & Clear’s 2010 revenues. Inverness Medical Innovations manufactures consumer diagnostic tests such as pregnancy tests, and also provides wellness and disease management (DM) services through its Alere subsidiary. Free & Clear, which was backed by Waltham, MA -based Polaris Venture Partners, Three Arch Partners, and Kaiser Permanente Ventures, offers telephone-based coaching for company employees battling tobacco addiction, obesity, and stress.

The Twenty Laws of Testing Computer Software September 24, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Project Management, Technology, Uncategorized.
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As a software development project manager, I conduct, plan, organize and cajole the software engineering efforts in companies large and small. During the course of this work, I have never ceased to be amazed at the lack of understanding of both the importance of properly testing a software product or products, and the lack of knowledge around how to correctly conduct the testing effort.

This holds true in corporations both large and small that I have worked for during my fifteen year professional career. In my opinion, a Project Manager should have a complete understanding of the software testing process, and should also have experience not just scheduling and planning the resources conducting the testing effort, but actual personal testing experience.

It occurred to me earlier on in my career as a Project Manager that in order for me to be a better Project Manager, I was going to have to learn and research everything I could get my hands on about testing computer software. I took courses, I bought books and read them; I related the information I gathered to my experiences as a developer and in some of the ecommerce companies I had worked for and built early on in my career.

I found that this desire to learn the ins and outs of testing was over half the battle towards becoming a more accomplished PM. The Project Manager who appreciates the importance of testing, has been a tester, knows and respects the testers on the team, and has a deep seated, fundamental respect for testing is a Project Manager who commands respect from his project team.

One of my favorite books is “Microsoft Secrets”, by Michael Cusomano. In the book, he describes how early on in the history of the company, testing became a career path on the same level as programming. Knowing, from my extensive reading about Microsoft and Bill Gates, the high altar upon which programmers are placed at Microsoft, I found this to be extremely significant.

Great software development teams and great software engineering companies take the testing of their software seriously. They don’t cut corners, and they don’t have to, because they began with the end in mind.

So without much further adieu, here are my twenty laws for testing computer software. Look for me to expound upon each of the twenty laws in more detail on these pages very soon:

  1. The sole goal of testing software is to find errors. Software testing is defined as the method of running a computer software program with the intent of discovering errors in the computer software program.
  2. The definition of a good test case is that a good test case is one that has been written in such a manner that it has a great chance of discovery of previously undiscovered errors.
  3. A successful test case is one that has been used to discover a previously undiscovered error.
  4. Only a high quality software testing process will result in a high quality software testing effort.
  5. Testing computer software is a professional discipline that must include skilled and trained professional computer software testers.
  6. Someone must assume full responsibility for the improvement of the software testing process.
  7. It is vital to foster a 100% positive, inclusive and team-oriented approach with a “test to break” mental attitude.
  8. A test case for testing a computer software program must include a definition of the expected result of the computer software program being tested.
  9. A computer software programmer should not test the computer software program they have coded themselves.
  10. By extension, a computer software programming organization or engineering department should not test its own programs; This is the work of an independent testing organization.
  11. The results of each test case should be reviewed with great care.
  12. Test cases should be written in order to include unforeseen and invalid user inputs, as well as foreseen, valid user input.
  13. Testing a computer software program to insure it performs as it should is only fifty percent of the testing effort. Another fifty percent of the testing effort should be expended in order to insure that the computer software program does not perform in ways in which it should not be performing.
  14. Avoid one-time, spontaneous, disposable test cases.
  15. A testing effort initiated under the assumption that no errors will be found will not be a successful computer software testing effort.
  16. The proliferation of errors in a computer software program can be prevented through the employment of testing during the early stages of the software development lifecycle.
  17. Software testing tools can be and should be a key element of a software testing effort.
  18. Although perhaps counterintuitive, the probability that more errors will be found in a section of a computer software program in which errors have already been found increases with the number of errors discovered in that section of the computer software program.
  19. Testing computer software well is an extremely mentally challenging exercise that requires creativity and perseverance from the testers in order to succeed.
  20. The perception (oftentimes forwarded by management) that “not enough time exists to test the product properly, so let’s just ship it anyway”, because the “rewards of shipping the software outweigh the risks of shipping the software with undiscovered errors” may still be common practice in many software development and engineering organizations, yet such an attitude will lead to catastrophe, as software quality is intrinsically linked to customer requirements and customer satisfaction.

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Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

Eight ways to tell if your project team is on the way up or on the way down June 21, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Project Management, Uncategorized.
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In my professional roles leading software development teams, I have found that how Project Managers interact with their project team says not only alot about them as leaders, but also speaks volumes about the state of the organization itself. There is a dynamic lifeblood of personal relationships and interactions at the heart of a software development team that is an interesting take on leadership and team behavior. Your project team is either on the way up, or it is on the way down. In like fashion, your organization is either on the way up, or it is on the way down. Not every sign is easily recognizable at the time for what it really represents in terms of the direction your project team is heading.

 

A project team and an organization’s decline is like a disease: it is harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages, and easier to detect but harder to cure in the later stages. Your project team and the encompassing organization may appear to be strong on the outside, but savvy insiders may be able to comprehend that your team is on the cusp of a dangerous and fatal fall off the cliff.

 

I have had the benefit (as I view it; Some would say curse) of having watched project teams in several different organizations and multiple industries. But it was easy to write about the below eight indicators because the signs tend to be the same regardless of the company and industry. In my role, you need to foster the good kind of environment where your project team can feel that the individuals are gelled into a cohesive unit that is winning. This feeling, rarely experienced, is like magic, and when a project team is hitting on all cylinders, each individual is capable of contributing their best to the endeavor at hand and feels like they are part of something special. Do your best as a Project Manager or team leader to foster this type of environment. Watch closely the eight key performance indicators I write about below and see how your current (or past) project teams have reflected which direction they are / were traveling in. You are either on the way up, or you are on the way down.

 

1. How is reality faced? – A team on the way down will shield the business owner or project sponsor from unpleasant facts – fearful and trepidacious, expecting criticism and penalties as a result of exposing rough realities. A team on the way up will constantly be exposing harsh realities: “Hey, man, look at this — this sucks hard…we got to fix this, and now”. Team members of a team on the way up will always bring forth these types of facts, as their project manager / team leader will never be critical of those who bring these ugly facts to life, feeling they need to be discussed and rectified.

 

2. How do project team members assert and support their opinions? – In a team on the way down, project team members will assert their opinions strongly, but will not provide data or evidence needed to form a strong and compelling argument. In a team on the way up, team members readily offer up solid data, evidence and bring logical argumentation skills to the discussion.

 

3. What style does the Project Manager use? – If the Project Manager or Project team leader uses a very low questions-to-statements ratio, and avoids critical input and allows sloppy reasoning and unsupported personal opinions to circulate in meetings, then your team is probably on the way down. However, if your PM or leader employs a Socratic style, using a high questions-to-statements ratio, challenges people and pushes for penetrating insights, then your team is probably on the way up.

 

4. How does the team coalesce behind decisions? – If team members grudgingly acquiesce to a decision but do not unify behind it or even work behind the scenes to undermine the decision ex post facto, then your team is on the way down. Teams on the way up will unify behind a decision once it is made, and work to make it successful, even if they did not initially agree with it.

 

5. How does the team give credit to each other? – Teams on the way down will seek as much credit for their own part of the job as possible for themselves, often not even noticing that this style seldom results in the confidence and admiration of their peers. In a team on the way up, project team members will credit others for success, and they find that this tendency will result in the admiration of and confidence from the other project team members.

 

6. Do team members need to look smart in front of each other? – In a team on the way up, project team members will argue to look smart or to further their own particular interests within the organization, but in a team on the way up, team members’ arguments and debates are all geared towards finding the very best answers to the problems and issues the project team is facing. Nobody worries about “Looking smart” in a team on the way up, because they have internalized that old saying: “Being smart’s alot like being ladylike: if you have to say you are, you probably aren’t”. Nobody in the team on the way up wants to look cool – they want to be cool.

 

7. Does the team conduct ‘post-mortems’, and how? – In a project team on the way down, culprits are sought for blame rather than in a team on the way up, where autoposies are conducted in order to mine wisdom and learning for the next time around or to make sure that the misstep results in a learning experience. Otherwise, a mistake is a mistake made twice. Project teams on the way up don’t have time to blame team members – they are too busy moving forward with the next items of business.

 

8. How about results? – Teams on the way down, unsurprisingly, often fail to deliver great or even good results. They spend alot of time blaming either individual team members or outside factors for setbacks and failures. A team on the way up, in contrast, is comprised of individual team members who are all delivering exceptional results, but in the case of mistakes, setbacks, and errors, each team member accepts full responsibility on their own and learns from the mistakes. The project team on the way up fosters this environment which enables each individual team member to feel comfortable doing so.





Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.





About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Senior Technical Project Manager at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.


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Five tips for recruiters on contacting potential job candidates in a tough job market June 15, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Staffing & Recruiting, Uncategorized.
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I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to job interviews — for the two ecommerce software companies I started back in the 1990’s, I hired hundreds of people, so I talked to alot of staffing firms and recruiters. In my current life as an IT Project Manager / Business Analyst / Program Manager, I have not only taken on a few contract roles in the Boston area myself, but I have also been tasked at various times with hiring other contractors to work on large software development projects. In all these roles, I have been in contact with staffing firms, agencies, and corporate recruiters that are not very good at their job. Many of the recruiters out there are great, but the majority are not great. After reading yet another drivel and platitude filled article about recruiters and “how to get a job” from the Boston Globe today, I thought it was high time for an article with some real-world tips and practical advice for recruiters on how to contact candidates out there in the midst of a tough job market. I found after writing these five tips for recruiters, however, that they are applicable in any economy. These five tips are fundamental imperatives for all recruiters to read, know and internalize so that they do not destroy their professional reputations and ruin the reputations of their staffing firms and employment agencies.

1. Do your homework on candidates before picking up the telephone – If you don’t have any jobs for a candidate, don’t call them up on the telephone. If a candidate is not a good fit for your particular search, then they are not going to be interested in hearing from you: think about it. Just because someone is a candidate and is out there looking for work, doesn’t mean they are going to be thrilled to talk to a recruiter on the telephone. They will really be perturbed at you when they realize that after an initial contact, you didn’t look at their resume or their Linkedin profile or really perform any homework on them until you get them on the telephone – only to tell them they aren’t a good fit, not what you’re looking for or you don’t have any jobs for them. You should have never called them on the telephone in the first place. Lazy recruiters are all too common these days, and nobody wants to hear whining about time constraints, number of candidates, or the rest of it. Get on LinkedIn, read the profiles of your candidates, and carefully read their resume. In this way, you can be ready to ask purposeful leading questions such as “So I read about your experiences with the Executive Dashboard application at Metatech; I know you wrote on your resume that it was an Oracle project, but I’m wondering if that was a .net or a J2EE environment. Can you tell me a little more about it?”… this is a great way to get the information you need from a candidate and it prevents you from looking like a brainless recruitron. If you are a recruiter and you are not on Linkedin yourself, the message you are sending out is that you are not a veteran, serious, professional recruiter, and you are, in fact, recruiter that has something to hide and should not be trusted. When you do get a potential candidate on the telephone, announce yourself with politeness: “Hi, this is Wendy Sprague from Recruit-Tech, and I’d like to speak with Susan Holmes if she is there please” is a great way to reach Susan about a potential job opportunity. “Hi, is this Susan?” is an example of a bad way to begin such a sourcing call. Be polite on the telephone! Do your homework on the candidates!

2. Don’t be rude on the telephone with potential candidates – The internet is a two-way street. In other words, people can write about you and your company / staffing agency / firm online. And they will. I started a few ecommerce companies in college. I used to tell my employees: “If someone has a great ordering or retail experience with us, they will tell two of their best friends – if they have a bad experience they will tell ten or fifteen people right away”. Not doing your homework on candidates before getting them on the telephone, wasting their time on the telephone, rudeness, insulting people’s backgrounds or resumes because they aren’t the pink unicorn you are currently searching for, cutting people off, telling them they “aren’t the right fit” when you should have been able to tell that before calling them up, etc. is going to work out badly for you in the long run. A candidate is just one person. A company is exposed to the public and a corporate reputation for rudeness and incompetence is alot harder to overcome than a single, individual’s reputation. In essence, a staffing firm is a very visible public entity and word gets around. Don’t forget: contractors talk to each other and to the clients once they are in the client company. Many are eventually hired permanently and even ones who remain contractors are often tasked with hiring other contractors. Remember this the next time you are speaking on the telephone with a candidate, because they will surely remember you.

3. Your candidates’ professional references are not marketing contacts – A typical ploy in the tough current Boston IT contract market is to call in job candidates for an in-person interview on the pretext of some nonexistent job or some vaguely-defined future contract. Then, in this challenging market for staffing firms, the account managers are tasked with getting the candidates to “Drop the cheese” and the candidate is then grilled for marketing information for the staffing agency or firm. Manager’s names at former employers, managers at the current employer, etc. are all gathered. Then, a bogus in-person “reference check” is set up. The staffing firm then essentially “calls in” the favor of an in-person reference check using the candidate’s name – to try and drum up new business for the staffing firm at the candidate’s former or current employer. Your candidate’s professional references are not marketing material for your staffing firm. What is likely to happen is the manager will call up or email the candidate and tell them about this marketing meeting, and that staffing firm will never get any future business from the candidate’s former employer. Again, people talk in this new age of social media and online blog posts. So don’t do it. Your candidate’s professional references and work history is not an opportunity for your staffing firm to “get in the door”. If you use these disingenuous methods, it will be exposed in public and also behind closed doors at the offices of your potential clients – not to mention all the contractors and potential candidates that will turn up their noses in disgust at the infinite re-telling of the story. Staffing firms have alot of competition, and there are so many other firms to go with — don’t accept this high level of business risk.

4. Don’t wear out your candidates’ professional references – Get the candidates professional references and then ask the permission of the candidate to call them. Don’t call them before you have a definite REQ for the candidate and they are indeed a primary candidate for the job. The reason for this is simple: professional references are usually busy people and it is not their job to give detailed references for former employees. It is a difficult and tense thing for managers to do even for people and former employees who were superstars and well liked. Most managers will give a candidate one or two really good references, but by the time they are called for a third or fourth reference, they are either not giving them or not giving good ones anymore. So don’t wear out the professional references of your candidates! Again, this is another point of which I must emphasize that word gets around – quickly in this world of blogs, twitter, and such.

5. Have integrity and follow-through – If you only have one job REQ (or no REQ) for a candidate, if you tell them your firm has lots of potential jobs for their title and role, which you don’t follow up on with the candidate, they will tell everyone they know that you and your staffing agency / firm lied to them. Eventually, they will get hired, but they won’t ever forget that you lied to them – why place an enemy in so many potential client firms? In matters of personal livelihood, people in general have long memories. So don’t think they forgot about all the jobs for them you told them about. To come and meet with you in your office, most candidates will have to use up a sick day or miss a day of work. So you better get down to business with your candidates quickly. To lie about these types of matters is not harmless to the job candidate, and it’s not harmless to the business of the staffing firm or agency, let alone your personal professional reputation. Again, don’t do it.

A good article I found online that makes some great points about hiring in a down economy is available here, and I recommend it highly.

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