Guide on the side

Be a Guide on the Side in Corporate America

The way we communicate and the way we conduct business has changed drastically over the course of my career. So it’s no surprise the way young people are learning nowadays has evolved too. To adapt, the role of the educator has largely shifted from lecturer to “guide on the side.” Teachers are no longer the source of information, they are facilitators and curators of information—empowering students to think for themselves. So how can we apply this model to a professional setting? Here are some tips on how to adopt this methodology and reap the results in the corporate world:

Ask, Don’t Tell
A cornerstone of guided instruction is the notion of student-centered learning. With this approach, students are encouraged to contribute ideas and even help plan curriculum. Lessons are initiated with questions, not long, drawn-out lectures.

Similarly, many innovative companies have adopted an employee-centered work environment. Google allows its engineers to construct their own work spaces. Zappos has weaved in team building activities into its company culture. At Apple, your work isn’t only evaluated by your superiors but by your peers as well.

Companies such as these have realized that good ideas don’t necessarily come from the top down. And just like educators have observed in student-centered classrooms, employee-centered workplaces offer better opportunities for internal motivation, goal setting and perseverance.

Change the Game
What works for some, may not work for all. It’s up to the educator or manager to recognize this and change their approach when needed. National educational consultant and author, Rick Wormeli has said, “I might teach the way that’s uncomfortable for me, but that’s fine. My success comes from my students’ success.” Same goes for managers. Their team’s success is a reflection of how well they lead.

Teaching strategies like think-ask-tell and KWL foster collaboration and critical thinking that can be implemented in department meetings and performance reviews. Using the KWL technique as an example, employees would be prompted to state what they know about their current role and what they would like to learn as they progress. Then, when the next performance period rolls around, that supervisor can review that employee’s initial thoughts and ask him or her to reflect on what he or she has learned.

Certainly, applying new managerial strategies are not easy and require effort from all levels of employees. But, fostering a collaborative, engaged team that is passionate about the work they do will only generate positive results.

Do you work for an employee-centered organization? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the effectiveness of this environment.

Baby boomer

Baby Boomers in the Workforce – What’s Next?

I recently blogged about the Truth about Millennials in the Workforce. I hope that I displaced some of your misconceptions and offered you a new perspective on this misunderstood generation. Now let’s take a look at baby boomers and what lies ahead for this group of workers.

The U.S. Census defines baby boomers as people born during the Post–World War II era between 1946 and 1964. For boomers like myself, our careers are likely winding down. We’re thinking about retirement. Yet, many baby boomers are choosing to stay in the workforce. About 35 percent of workers continue to work past the age of 65. The reasons for staying employed vary—from financial need to wanting to work.

There is also a concerted effort by employers to keep skilled professionals in the workforce, creating more of a phased approach for the exit of those within retirement age. Businesses are trying to Stave off the Brain Drain, because there are not as many qualified professionals ready to assume the positions of those retiring. Companies are creating flexible work hours, additional benefits and more opportunities for those reaching retirement. Anything to keep older workers engaged so they can train and mentor younger employees.

However, this trend will surely have a ripple effect down the road. The prolonged rate at which people are retiring will certainly impact opportunities for younger generations, who will now have to wait longer to gain seniority.

But what I find most interesting is some of the commonalities between the two generational spectrums—millennials and baby boomers. While the millennials make demands for life/work balance and company authenticity, baby boomers are looking for much of the same. I think both groups can find common ground on many things, learn from one another’s experiences and work together to create a more skilled and happier workforce.

Are you baby boomer who is choosing to retire later? What would be your advice to millennials and vice versa? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

New Year, New Trends

As we say goodbye to 2014, we look ahead to the New Year and its anticipated innovations. In 2014 we saw the rise of marketing automation and big data. While I anticipate similar trends next year, there are three that stick out.

Security
With the recent Sony hack, I predict that security will be top of mind for companies and governmental organizations. Whether being attacked for political or financial gain, the vulnerabilities are the same. Cyber security firms will likely have a busy 2015, equipping against and monitoring for impending attacks. Organizations will also need to step up their internal processes, educating their employees so they don’t inadvertently put their company’s systems at risk. It’s not a matter of if there will be future hacks, it’s when.

Collaboration
Technology giants are not going at it alone. More and more are partnering to create innovations. Apple and IBM announced they are joining forces to make intuitive enterprise software apps. IBM also teamed up with Cisco recently to offer VersaStack, an integrated infrastructure bundle that pairs IBM storage with Cisco servers. I expect more collaborations such as these to be announced in the coming months.

Wearables
Fitbits were a popular gift item this holiday season which leads to the rise of wearable technology next year. Apple Watch is sure to stir frenzy when it is released in early 2015. And more devices from other competitors are sure to follow. But these devices will heavily depend on apps so the marriage of mobile and wearables is one that will be strengthened as their popularity rises.

What continues to hold true is that with these trends and emerging technologies, companies will be investing in people. So if you are looking for a new career path or the next step in your career, being aware of the trends and the companies that lead will keep you ahead of the pack!

I’m looking forward to seeing how these trends play out in 2015. What do you think we’ll see next year?

Happy New Year!

Where the Jobs Are: More High-Tech Trends

Last month, we talked about some buzz worthy technologies including big data, cloud, business intelligence and mobility. This month, we’re continuing our tech talk with some more high-tech sectors that are seeing tremendous growth. Here’s what you need to know:

Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is huge. More and more companies are gaining momentum and fighting tooth and nail for a piece of the pie. Stand-alone technologies such as Marketo and HubSpot have become commonplace within overworked marketing departments. Even large marketing logistics providers are offering solutions that automate the process.

The idea here is to do more with less. Moving campaign management to a single dashboard takes the busy work out of the equation, allowing teams to be more streamlined and strategic. Marketing automation also allows for more targeted communication and performance tracking.

Life Sciences
Life sciences can be applied to anything from pharmaceuticals to the food industry. And you don’t necessarily have to be a traditional scientist to break into this field. From management to sales and technology, there is a wealth of opportunities.

In Massachusetts, the industry is exploding. A 2013 report by the Boston Foundation found the state’s life sciences industry growing at a faster pace than any other­ industry. And with GE moving their Healthcare Life Sciences headquarters to the Commonwealth early next year, more jobs are expected to follow.

Security
With networks being hacked and databases expanding faster than ever before, IT security professionals are in high demand. In fact, the industry is growing at a rate of 24 percent every year, according to Forbes.

The need expands beyond software and computing firms. Think of industries like healthcare and financial, where sensitive data is constantly being collected. IT executive Shan Fowler tells TechRepublic that security is important to “every company, regardless of industry…because technology touches every aspect of an organization.”

Looking for a sales position in any of the industries we talked about? Check out our featured positions or contact us.

Where the Jobs are: Top High-Tech Trends

Big data. Cloud. Business intelligence. Mobility. These buzzwords are not only trending among technophiles, but with employers too. These industries are experiencing rapid growth and employers are jumping at the chance to fill vacant spots with qualified candidates. Here’s what you need to know:

Big Data
As databases fill up with more and more information, high-tech companies are scrambling for ways to compile, process and store this valuable data. Different leaders offer different solutions: IBM has FlashSystems, Microsoft has StorSimple, Oracle has its own solution, and the list goes on. As the storage wars continue among competitors, data scientists are reaping the benefits. Gartner estimates that by next year, there will be more than 4 million positions up for grabs.

Cloud Computing
For the past few years, we’ve seen the demand for cloud architects steadily rise. Big data is partly responsible for this trend. With cloud computing, companies can manage their entire network remotely, cutting down on hardware and operating costs. High-tech heavy hitters like SAP, IBM and Cisco are leading the way – providing solutions many firms are adopting in a race to virtualize their IT environments.

Mobility
From mobile developers to IT professionals, Mashable ranked mobility as one of the hottest tech jobs on the market this year. With more business being conducted on the go, mobile technology is a must. Whether we’re talking laptops, smart phones or tablets, all the moving pieces must be secure and run smoothly. As devices are upgraded and new applications are released, companies are often playing catch up to stay current, furthering the need for mobile technology experts.

Business Analytics
With all this stored data, companies want a smart way to crunch the numbers. Business analytics, often used interchangeably with business intelligence or BI, uses information like demographics, sales figures and buying habits to develop insights that can be used to improve processes, drive revenue, even fight crime and disease. So, who are these analytics experts? Stacy Blanchard from Accenture Analytics tells InformationWeek that “they’re typically statisticians who are deep into data modeling, they’re close to the technology, and know the right algorithms to use with the data available.”

Don’t have a STEM background? Not a problem. Matt McGraw, CEO of high-tech recruiting agency TheLions, told Mashable “sales development is perhaps the best opportunity for non-engineers to get into startups with a $100,000 career track.”

Next month we’ll continue our deep dive with more industry trends, including marketing automation solutions, life sciences and security. For now, check out what’s trending in IT.

Tech Trends Candidates and Employers Need to Know

Good news for you techies. There is no shortage of jobs in technology. It is one of the few fields where unemployment is in decline and salaries are steadily increasing. In fact, tech consultant pay has hit an all-time high.

Right now, the areas in which we’re seeing the most demand are security, advanced manufacturing, cyber-physical systems, marketing automation, business intelligence, ERP and analytics.

Silicon Valley is not the only place you can find these jobs. The East Coast is teeming with high-tech jobs right now. My home state of Pennsylvania is a hotbed for healthcare IT while three other major East Coast cities ranked in the top 10 for tech startups.

With a larger pool of openings, it’s a job seeker’s market. What does that mean for hiring managers? You’re going to need to put in more effort to find “the one.” The right candidate isn’t going to walk through the door, you’ll need to go out and find him or her. With so few tech professionals out of work, you’ll likely have to incentivize someone to leave their current company. Recruiters can help you comb through their network and social media to find the perfect hire quickly.

While the going is good for IT now, will it stay that way? Dice claims lots of talented professionals have been rendered immobile due to a housing market that has yet to pick up. And according to Beyond.com, universities are experiencing a shortage of STEM grads, which means fewer qualified candidates to go around.

What are your thoughts about the current state of the industry? Leave us a comment below.

Having trouble finding high-tech sales talent? We can help.