What five technical skills are employers seeking? What five soft skills put you on top?

In this blog, I will describe technical and soft skills that most employers are seeking when they are hiring.   The technical skills are the skills that we learned through our career, and the soft skills are skills needed in order to function as a team or organization.

Image Source: http://www.monarch.edu.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/soft-skill-saavy.jpg

The hard skills tend to be things that we learned as we get involved in our career.  The five technical skills that most employers are seeking for are Python, Java, C++, Ruby and JavaScript (“Most Popular Programming Languages of 2014,” 2014, para. 4 & 5).  These skills are taught to us in school, as part of our curriculum.  According to Coates (2006), hard skills are easy to develop compared to soft skills because most of these skills are taught to us from the basic ground, and unlearning is not part of the process (para. 2).  These skills are mostly part of our major curriculum; therefore, hard skills are part of the basic expectation from employers.

Image Source: https://suyoangliang.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/72c5b-codeeval2014.jpg

On the other hand, soft skills are non-technical skills that we developed throughout our life, mainly influenced by the environment we grew up, our parents, our peers. In summary, soft skills are skills that are influenced by our personality.  Employers considered soft skills a very important part of every employee because in order to succeed in the workplace, teamwork is crucial.  According to Kaushik from Economic Times (2014), the top 5 soft skills that employer are looking for are: humble candidates are willing to learn new skills and listen to others criticism, client focus, leadership, entrepreneurship, and executive mind-set (para. 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8).  Therefore, soft skills compare to hard skills are what will make us stand up from the majority of the candidates.

As a personal experience of one of my current project, I notice that at the beginning of the project we as a team were having difficulty in deciding how to handle the situation because each of us were having different opinion a view on the subject.  Eventually, each team member understood that in order to work as a team, we needed to be humble and cooperate with each other.  The combination of soft and hard skills would improve our works individually and as a team.

Image Source: http://rw360.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Soft-Skills-Diagram.jpg

References

Images

  • Picture 01-Hard and Soft Skills. Retrieved on November 20, 2014 from http://www.monarch.edu.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/soft-skill-saavy.jpg
  • Picture 02-Technical Skills. Retrieved on November 21, 2014 from http://blog.codeeval.com/codeevalblog/2014#.VH1d_OfF8Wg=
  • Picture 03- Blending of Soft and Hard Skill. retrieved on Novemeber 21, 2014 from http://rw360.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Soft-Skills-Diagram.jpg
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Handing off a project to a client; what are the risks and challenges?

In this blog section, I will describe the process of handling the finished project to a client and the possible risk that each handoff might challenge.  I recently handoff a project that my team was working on for several weeks.  At the beginning of the project, our team decided on what was our plan based on what the client was proposing.  It was a long process, for each sprint we worked hard on accomplishing each iteration.  Each sprint was a challenge to meet the client needs, but we were always ready to move toward the client direction.  After five sprints, we are wrapping things up to handoff the project to our client.  After weeks of works, finally we are meeting our client’s needs.  Looking back, it seems like we have overcome a lot, and it is a good reason to be proud.

Image Source: http://www.2wtech.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Hero.png

But what is the perspective we need to carry on within the handling off the project? Initially as developers, we see the project as developers, but toward the end of the project we need to switch our perspective to the end user point of view.  As Ferris stated (2012), it is a way to help seek for last minutes corrections or help the client understand anything that it might not be clear to them (para. 3 ).  It is a reassurance that the project is what the client want exactly.

During the handling off process, we need to get through QA or quality assurance.  It is the last chance to test and debug our product to make sure that we are meeting our and the client expectations and finding any bug that need to be fit (Bowles, 2003, p. 2).

Image Source: http://www.crqa.in/CRQA/App_Themes/default/images/imgdiagram.png

Another important step that we face when handling off the product is a training process.  As mentioned before, changing our perspective help us train the client/end user to use the product (Ferris, 2012, para. 5).  It is very important that in the end when we are handling off the project, the user understand and can use it to it full advantage.

After signing off the project, it means that our work is done, time to let others do their jobs and take full advantage of a piece of art we had created.

Image Source: http://www.2wtech.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/handoff.png

References

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LinkedIn profiles, how to use them, how to market yourself, how to network

In this blog, I will discusses what is a LinkedIn profile, how to use it, and how to network with it.  Everyone needs to have a LinkedIn profile, like everyone got to have a driver license. If you want to get notice and hire, you need to have a linkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a professional networking service that was founded in 2002; it mainly focus to manage and build online professional networks. It is build based on the philosophy that a person’s professional relationships are the key to their success (LinkedIn, 2014, para. 3). LinkedIn network reported that in 2009, it had over 36 million members worldwide, with a representation of around 170 different industries (Olsen & Guribye, 2009, p. 3 ). LinkedIt is available in 200 countries and 20 languages (LinkedIn, 2014, para. 1 & 2). Currently, LinkedIn is used by many professional or soon to be professional to build their professional network to advances in their career. Also, many recruiters are using social networking sites like LinkedIn to search potential candidates (Pollak, 2009, p. 5, 9 & 11).

Image Source: http://www.pogo-digital.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Linkedin_infographic.jpg

LinkedIn can join for free by creating an account at http://www.linkedin.com with an email address and a password. After creating an account, you can start building your profile. The setting of the profile is very similar to a resume; it contain a personal picture, professional headline, summary of who you are, past work experiences, languages knowledge, skills, and education. It is very important to be honest on your profile because it is a matter of time that someone lies catch up with them as Steve Kimball, Recruiting Director, mentioned (Pollak, 2009, p. 5 ). The profile need to be updated as you advance and grow in your career.

After creating a profile in LinkedIn, one can start networking by using all the tools that LinkedIn offers. For example, Joining a group, following people you know and invite them to follow you as well, engage in group discussions, promoted yourself, add on your profile the books you are reading or the any event you are attending, share your comment and insight, follow leaders in your professional field, follow different companies and received notifications about the new joining, promote your blogs. The idea is to accurately marked and promoted yourself. LinkedIn not only help you to network but also to seek for new opportunities in your career by having its job board.

Image Source: http://247wallst.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/linkedin1.jpg

Olsen and Guribye (2009) found that LinkedIn has impacted the practice of professional networking in a very complex social environment. It has also found that LinkedIn offers users opportunities to make new connections and to maintain old and current connections (p. 8 ).

References

Images

  • Image 01: LinkedIn Fats. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from http://www.pogo-digital.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Linkedin_infographic.jpg
  • Image 02: Networking. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from http://247wallst.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/linkedin1.jpg

Social Media and Branding for you

In this blog, I will discuss the importance of social media and how to use it to create a personal branding. Things have changed; a resume is not enough anymore.  It is not good enough to just have a good resume and good reputation in the field. Personal branding is also necessary to stand out, to differentiate oneself, to make an impression in the professional competitive and challenging world.

Image Source: http://www.clickbyclicksocialmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Personal-Branding.jpg

Personal branding is a marketing concept in which a person and it’s career is marked as a brand to promote itself using marketing strategies (Khedher, 2010, p. 1).  Thanks to today social media, it is popular since the late 1990s and, it is relatively cheap and efficient to promote ourselves using ideological and technological structure.  Social media help creates and enhanced great opportunities for personal branding (Karaduman, 2013, p. 465 ).

Image Source: http://nzlead.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/personalbranding-620×330.png

You can start building your personal brand by increasing your online footprint using tools such as professional blogs, LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, facebook account, youtube account, own website, GitHub, etc. It is important because you are trying to create visibility and presence. You are trying to use those tools to communicate how different and unique you are.

Another crucial aspect that is important to consider before writing anything online, remember that you have a reputation to manage and care about. Managing your reputation is very important, try not cross the line in issues that might be offensive to some people or to be self-absorbent. It is very important to build and keep a good image of yourself.

Lastly, identify yourself as an expert on the field. Used professional blogs to communicate all your knowledge and passion on a certain field. Be professional, knowledgeable and critical in the subject that you are blogging or the opinion you are giving. Remember that you are branding yourself as an expert in the field, so be one. Employers want people that can help solve problems.

Image Source: http://www.reachcc.com/reachdotcom.nsf/allmedia/pyramid.GIF/$FILE/pyramid.GIF

Personal branding is how you market you as an expert in the field. Researchers suggest that personal branding helps oneself to enhance their recognition as an expert in the field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their career and build self-confidence (Khedher, 2010, p. 2 ).

References

Images

  • Picture 01: The power of Personal Branding.  Retrieved November 2, 2014 from http://www.clickbyclicksocialmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Personal-Branding.jpg
  • Picture 02: Personal Social Branding.  Retrieved November 2, 2014 from http://nzlead.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/personalbranding-620×330.png
  • Picture 03: Personal Branding pyramid. Retrieved November 2, 2014 from http://www.reachcc.com/reachdotcom.nsf/allmedia/pyramid.GIF/$FILE/pyramid.GIF

Agile tasks lists, what does “done” mean in Agile?

In this blog, I will discuss about the Agile task lists.  During the iteration planning meeting, user stories are broken down into smaller task for completion.  The tasks are all the work the team must complete in order to finished all the user stories requested by the client. The list of tasks is broken down into smaller task and divided into sprint.  For instance, in the project that we are working on, our team broke down the user stories into small tasks and prioritized the tasks based on need of the project.  After prioritizing the task, we divided our task into five different Sprint.  The amount of task put in each of the sprints was based on the difficulty of the task.  In our project, the initial couple task were the most difficult because those were the main based for our project.  So the amount of task for sprint one and sprint 2 were less compared to the rest of the sprints.

Image Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/Scrum_task_board_example.jpg/579px-Scrum_task_board_example.jpg

What does “done” mean in Agile

A clear and concise list of criteria “ often a user story” need to be met before is considered done.  The list considered not done as long as the list of requirement is not met in the software increment (“Definition of Done,” 2014, para. 3 )

Image Source: https://www.scrumalliance.org/system/resource_files/0000/0445/Gupta_Figure_1.png

In order for a list to be considered done, the stakeholder and the scrum team need to adhere a common understanding of completion (Davis, 2013, p. 165).  The definition of done defines the steps needed to complete a finish increment during each sprint.

The scrum team developed or confirmed the definition of done during the sprint planning meeting.  Also, understanding the definition of done help team members to decide how many task should be put in each sprint, as it did in my team project.  The definition of done might change gradually as the team progress in each sprint or after each iteration.  As the number of Release increase, the definition of done become more rigorous. As a result creating more sophisticated code with higher quality (Davis, 2013, p. 166).  For instance, the feedback after an iteration can help define the definition of done.  It is a way to help the team members know in what direction they should be heading for the following sprint.  As the feedback comes from the done list, the checklist is inspected, revised and adapted accordingly.  As part of Agile methodology, the same way an agile team work toward completing user stories, the definition of done is also gradually understood by the team members.  As the team members get a better understanding of the definition, better quality code are built.

References

Images

What is an Agile Sprint Retrospective?

 

Image Source: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/bsmpg-pg1dK7d_i7P4eoY0h6UHwwM3tSmKPaW51WXj8CMCkBtTp0qwtUNZzn-Yzin6U3D8eMwJomJdMamQriWKe-eqV5EhQd9s_g-FQ3qlavP0B_LrNmFFJX-FrUzw

In this blog, I will discuss the important of Sprint Retrospective. Each sprint cycle consists of the following steps: sprint planning, sprint execution, sprint review, and sprint retrospective.
Sprint Retrospective happen at the end of each sprint cycle when everything is done; it is a group discussion and evaluation that is seeking for improvement. The sprint retrospective is a group discussion between the team members, the scrum master and maybe the product owner of the just finish sprint, and the primary objective is to find areas for improvement; It is an opportunity for the team to reflect on how things that are working and not working among the team members (“Topics in Scrum,” 2014, para. 2, 3 & 4 ).

Image Source: http://www.ebizontek.com/sites/default/files/scrum-process.jpg

Agile sprint retrospective is a crucial step in the sprint cycle.  According to the feedback from the six participant team of an Agile software development research, it stated, “It is also the period within the sprint in which the most strategic decisions are made compared to any other period as team members decide and prioritize improvements for future sprints ” (Drury, Conboy & Power, 2011, p. 44-45 ).  Agile sprint retrospective is an important step because, at the end of each sprint review, members of the team can openly discuss and resolve issues that were not permitting the project to flow smoothly.

Image source: http://agile.conscires.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/happy-retro.jpg

In the current project I am working on, in sprint one, my team was not advancing smoothly because we were not communicating well, and we did not agree in anything. At the end of spring one, during retrospective we all open up, and we found the root of the problem. Fortunately, during spring two, we were able to accomplish our goals. Sprint retrospective was a very important step in our project, without it we might have gone nowhere.

During Sprint Retrospective, team members can discuss what was working and what was not working in the last sprint. Based on the discussing, we will stop doing what is not working for anyone, keep doing what is working for everyone and try something that might work for everyone in the coming sprint cycle. As a result, the future sprints can be run more easily, improving the team performance as an organization, and, therefore, improving customer relationships.

References

  • Drury, M., Conboy, K., & Power, K. (2011). Decision Making in Agile Development: A Focus Group Study of Decisions and Obstacles. 2011 AGILE Conference, 39–47. doi:10.1109/AGILE.2011.27
  • “Topics in Scrum.” Mike Cohns Blog Succeeding With Agile RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2014. <http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/agile/scrum/sprint-retrospective&gt; .

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What is the Agile team? What is the Product backlog? What are they for and why are they important?

In this blog, I will be focussing in what is an agile team, why they are important, and I will also describe what is the product backlog.

What is the Agile team?  

Image Source:http://agileatlas.org/images/uploads/Scrum_Framework_figure_02.png.

Agile software development methodologies promote teamwork. An Agile team is a cross-functional group of people with complementary skills that are committed to the purpose and are mutually accountable. Agile team members, which are acknowledged to be equals in team positions, can exchange roles or be in more than one role over the project process, depending on the team styles and needs; However, roles and processes tend to be alike (Ambler & Holitza, 2012, p.11 ). As a team, they work together to deliver a solution by planning, analyzing, defining, building, and testing the product in short timeframe iteration. The process is repeated in sprint cycles until the user stories are finished. The Agile Team is formed with a product owner, project manager and the developers and testers.

  • The product owner: The product owner is a means of communication between the stakeholder community and the agile delivery team. It is the person responsible for maintaining and prioritizing the user story list of work items that the team will have to implement (Ambler & Holitza, 2012, p. 12 ).
  • The team lead or project manager: Team lead is the team guide in managing the activities. The team leader is the servant-leader that upholds the conditions for the team to success (Ambler & Holitza, 2012, p. 13).
  • The team of developers and tester: Team of developers and tester are a group of experienced people on the field of software development that work together on a project. They are required to have a common focus, mutual trust and respect, to be collaborative and to be able to deal with ambiguity (Cockburn & Highsmith, 2001, p. 132 ).
Image Source: http://www.wilsisney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/ScrumBasics.png

The most popular agile methodology is Scrum due to its flexibility and simplicity.  Many companies make the transition to Agile methodology with Scrum Agile methodology.

What are they for and why they are important?

Image Source: http://www.cardinalsolutions.com/content/cardinal/blog/agile/2013/02/the_people_leaderro/jcr%3acontent/par/image_0.img.png/1361303728175.png

Software development depends significantly on teamwork performance.  Agile teams are characterized by self-organization and intense collaboration (Cockburn & Highsmith, 2001, p. 131 ).  Each member is not only responsible for their task but also responsible for collaborating with other members that are having difficulty. Teamwork increased productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction.  It also encourages team members to be listening and responding to other teams members view.  It provides team members support by recognizing team members interests, effort and achievement (Moe, Dingsøyr, & Dybå, 2010, p. 480 ).  Agile methodology of team members focuses on developing members’ talents by benefiting on each team members’ strength; as a result, developing more competence teams.

Image Source: http://www.agile-ux.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/agile-values-card.png

 

What is the product backlog?

The product backlog is the collection of all the user stories or the full list of features functionality that define the product. It is a prioritized feature list that contain a short description of the product functionality. The product backlog can grow and change, as the prototype is delivered. The Product backlog is a very important collection because it describes the user stories we are trying to deliver in more deep detail. It also shows how we are advancing in the product that we are working. The product backlog for each sprint might change, depending if all the task are done or delayed.

Image Source: http://www.romanpichler.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/VisionStrategyBacklog.jpg

References

  • Ambler, S. W., & Holitza, M. (2012). Agile For Dummies (p. 11–13.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Cockburn, A., & Highsmith, J. (2001). Agile Software Development: The People Factor. Software Management, (November), 131–133.
  • Moe, N. B., Dingsøyr, T., & Dybå, T. (2010). A teamwork model for understanding an agile team: A case study of a Scrum project. Information and Software Technology, 52(5), 480–491. doi:10.1016/j.infsof.2009.11.004.

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What is Agile and what are user stories?

In this first blog, I will introduce what is Agile, how it work, and what are user stories.

What is Agile?

Source Image: https://i.imgur.com/fVC6tL2.gif

Agile is a software-developing approach that is developed to develop a system more quickly with limited time spent on analysis and design. The method is iterated and mainly focuses on teamwork, customer, and developer collaboration, and feedback from the customer through the iteration (Sohaib & Khan, 2010, p. 32). Agile methodology plans and divides step by step the work needed to build and deliver the final working project to the client throughout working prototypes. Agile is more focus on delivering a working prototype than extensive paperwork. It mainly focused on breaking down the project into smaller user functionalities, which are customer’s need or user stories, and are delivered continuously to the client for feedback; customer collaboration is essential because we want to build and deliver what the product owner wants, and a lot is discovered throughout the feedback process (Ambler & Holitza, 2012, p. 8). The Agile methodology mainly focuses on customer’s need. The close collaboration with the customer ensures that the project is exactly what they are looking for.

Source Image: http://thoughtensemble.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/agilemanifesto1.gif

Agile is the result of the Agile Manifesto that was introduced in February of 2001 by a group of developers that were interested in advancing and lightweight methodologies that were more flexible, efficient, and team-oriented than the previous existed models (Ambler & Holitza, 2012, p. 7 ).

What are user stories?

Source Image: http://agilefaqs.com/images/training/user_story_evolution.png

The Agile software development tactic start by the client making a list called user stories that are all features that they would like to see in theirs software.  Due to the approach used, the team is constantly analyzing, designing, coding and testing the product. (“What is Agile,” 2014, para. 1 & 2 ).  Based on the user story, a guess of how much time would it take would be assigned to it; user stories are built based on customer priorities (Ambler & Holitza, 2012, p. 18 ). User stories are delivered in short cycles called iterations to the client.  It starts with simple features.  Eventually evolving into a more complex and adapting design that can be tweaks and refined as the project go.

How does Agile development differ from the other development methodologies?

The Agile method is different than a plan-based method.  The Plan-based method has an established plan.  The start date, end date, resources and establish approaches of the project are set, and the focus is mainly on the schedule or deadline.  For example, the classic Waterfall Schedule is Requirement, Design, Implementation, Verification and Maintenance; such plan might have conflicts when issues arise.  It’s created conflict in the implementation phase, and as a result, the delivery schedule will be at risk.  On the other hand, Agile has a constant checking cycle in all the features (Lehman & Sharma 2011, p3).  The Agile approach ensures that the development of the project is done based on the customers’ request and necessity.  Agile methods ensure a delivery because the work is work closely with not only the team but the client.

Source Images: http://www.bigvisible.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Work-items.jpg

References

  • Ambler, S. W., & Holitza, M. (2012). Agile For Dummies (p. 7–9, 17-19). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Lehman, T. J., & Sharma, A. (2011). Software Development as a Service: Agile Experiences.2011 Annual SRII Global Conference, 749–758. doi:10.1109/SRII.2011.82
  • Sohaib, O., and K. Khan. “Integrating Usability Engineering and Agile Software Development.” 201O International Conference On Computer Design And Applications (ICCDA 2010)2 (2010): 32-38. IEEE. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.<http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=55409&gt;.
  • “What Is Agile?” What Is Agile?p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <http://www.agilenutshell.com/&gt;.

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Delivering a project and presenting to a multi-level audience

In this blog, I will concentrate on the delivery of the product and presentation to a multi-level audience.

Image Source: http://www.kpinfosys.com/images/Product_Delivery.png

When we are delivering a product, we want to grab as many people attention as possible. In order to catch the attention of everyone, there are techniques we can use. For instance, we can use the 30 second pitch to establish our personal branding or the product personal branding. We want something short to grab the attention and also something that stick to everyone. When we are presenting a product, we are advertising the product. A very good example of techniques on presenting a product to a multi-level audience is apple. As Gallo stated (2012), no matter what product they are presenting there is always a pitch that create headline (para. 8). For example, as Gallo stated (2012) “ Cook said there were 400 million accounts on Apple’s App Store. More impressive, he said, “That makes it the store with the largest number of credit cards anywhere on the Internet” (2012, para. 4). Cook did not just mentioned some random statistic, but he was just trying to make a point. The way a product is presented is a very important because it can affect the numbers of people that might use the product. It is very important to point out what is exactly what we have that make us stand up from the rest.

Image Source: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/carminegallo/files/2012/10/apple_keynote_check-e1339517635886.png

According to Gallo, Steve Jobs secret was the following: “ Plan in Analog; Create a Twitter-Friendly Description; Focus on Benefits; Stick to the Rule of Three; Sell Dreams, Not Products; Create Visual Slides; Make Numbers Meaningful; Use Zippy Words; Reveal “Holy Smokes” Moment; One More Thing: Practice, a Lot. (2012)”
Knowing how to present and deliver a product to the audience is a very important step, fortunately, lot of these skills can be learned and perfected with practice.

References

Images

  • Picture 01-Product Delivery. retrieved on December 2, 2014 from http://www.kpinfosys.com/images/Product_Delivery.png
  • Picture 02-Steve Job. Retrieved on december 2, 2014 from http://blogs-images.forbes.com/carminegallo/files/2012/10/apple_keynote_check-e1339517635886.png