The Big Deal about Business Intelligence

By Obi Ogbanufe

How are recruiting companies and human resources organizations gearing up for one of the most sought after skill in the industry? Is there a plan to meet the skills gap identified in this space? Business Intelligence is the life line of innovative businesses, it dictates the direction companies go as they seek to innovate or die. BI connects information to better decision making, it answers pertinent business questions relating to what just happened, why it happened and what will happen next. Every business (frankly every individual, including myself) wants to be able to predict the future – oh want I’ll do with this information! This ability can be acquired through what’s known as predictive analysis.

It is a big deal to be able to predict the future with technology.

Warren Buffett has been quoted to say: If past history was all there was to the game, then the richest people would be librarians.

Predicting the future with BI is an escalating process that starts off with analyzing the current events taking place in a business, and continues with why these events are taking place, then and only then can we predict what will happen next. The skills sets and knowledge needed increases as we move up the process. For the first processes, its skills sets are found in scrutinizing analytical dashboard applications such as Cognos Dashboards. The skills for the second processes are ad-hoc querying and data mining of OLAP data. The third process, ‘predicting what will happen next’ this is where it begins to get a little sticky? What kinds of skills do we need here? Is it a combination of statistics, data modeling, development, program management, business domain expertise, and data mining?

I’m stopping here, but there’s more to this…

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Why do your hiring managers need certified candidates?

Even though certification is a strong means to evaluate an individual’s ability to apply knowledge to practice, it’s always a good practice to find out the specific reason your clients ask for it in a job description. Some of the reasons may include:

Vendor Partnership: Your client may have a partnership with a software vendor where your client’s organization is required to have one or two personnel with certain certifications, as is the case with Microsoft partnerships, or your client may be in an industry that requires certified employees in order to maintain their license to practice.

Proven Success Traits: A second reason may be that your client has identified “certification” as a good trait in current employees and want to ensure they follow the same success measures in future employees.

Another reason may be that the client organization just wants to ensure that the candidate has done due diligence in a certain technical expertise. Speaking from experience, I have the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator MCDBA in SQL Server and the MCBMSP Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM; Though the study and practice were a little challenging, I’m happy I did them because I gained foundational skills from the process of training and studying for these exams that I probably would not have had otherwise.

Whatever the reasons for an organization’s need for certification, you do want to know these reasons. If there are no special reasons, then the job requisition may be better served if this requirement is removed. For candidates that have this certification, it’s a foot in the door for them, but there are candidates who do not have the certification but have in-depth experience in all the other requirements who are really turned off by an organization’s need for certification.  Here is how you frame your question to receive the answer you seek (if you have direct access to the hiring manager).

Is there a specific need for the certification requirement in your job description that I should know of? Do you need it to prove the competency of the candidate, or do you have a software vendor partnership requirement that will be fulfilled with a certified employee?

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Database Developer vs Database Administrator

By Obi Ogbanufe

Knowing the difference between the Database Developer and Database Administrator can make a technical recruiter’s day just a little simpler when recruiting for either positions. The Database Developer and Database Administrator may share similar skills, but the main difference in the two may be as simple as reading a little more into their titles. In the case of the administrator – think of any administrator you know, not just in the technical field, but in general, they take care of things, run things; while the developer creates and builds things from inception to materialization; an example would be like the land developer.

The database administrator performs the day-to-day task of maintaining the database environment to ensure its availability and that it runs smoothly using database tools to monitor, fix and maintain the physics of the database software and the hardware on which it runs.  On the other hand, the database developer designs and creates new ways of using a software application. The database developer does this by using database objects like stored procedures, tables, views, XML to name a few.

Using an illustration; if the database system is a house, the Database Administrator is the person that ensures the light fixtures, plumbing, foundation, sheetrock, air-conditioning, and security system are all working well, while the Database Developer is the person that ensures the air is turned on right, and that whenever the outside weather is cold, the house heater should be on and vice versa. The Database Developer ensures that the house is put to good use, whether for bringing up children or taking care of the elderly, for both a daycare and a home, or casino and a bookstore, for rocked out parties or birthday parties. The Database Developer is the one that makes the house a home, or conducive to its intended purpose.

From the above explanation, you can see that both the Database Administrator and Database Developer are essential for the running of a well kept database system.  Some organizations require the skills in 2 separate persons where one person is the Database Administrator and another Database Developer, whilst other organizations (maybe as a result of size) need one person to do both the Database Administrator and Database Developer tasks as well.

So while recruiting for either of these positions, bear in mind the main difference described above and then look below to help to differential their skills.

Database Developer Database Administrator
Overall Database Designs database solutions using tables, stored procedures, functions, views, and indexes. Maintains and monitors database systems using replication, log-shipping, backup/recovery, performance monitor.
Database Environment Works in development and testing environments. These are internal noncustomer-facing systems. Works in production environment. This is the external customer-facing system.

For more in-depth information on their difference, please check out the book ‘Technology Made Simple for the Technical Recruiter’

Obi Ogbanufe is the author of “Technology Made Simple for the Technical Recruiter”. To find out more about her speaking and consulting, please visit www.technicalrecruitingbook.com or www.technicalrecruitingbook.com/comments.html

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Technical Screening: What Not To Ask

By Obi Ogbanufe

What are some of the questions a technical recruiter should or should not ask a candidate during a screening or interview session? Questions are great, but there are some that are better left till the end of the interview.

  1. Don’t start the screening with asking or validating job requirements questions. Example questions are, ‘How many years do you have in .Net Development?’, ‘How many years do you have using Visual Studio?’ These questions will do little in finding out if the candidate is right for the position.
  2. Don’t ask the candidate questions about their experience and skills before the candidate has had a chance to learn about the position. The information and questions about the position should come before questions about the candidate.  Imagine that you are the candidate, and receive a call from a recruiter, who introduces themselves and shortly after starts asking questions about your experience before telling you about the position, which is the main reason you took the call.  Example questions are: ‘Why did you leave your last position?’, ‘What are you working on now?’ After the few questions you want to get off the phone as fast as you can, because this surely feels like an interrogation and not a casual screening.

These are just a few of the questions and situations that are uncalled for at the start of a screening process.  We’ve all heard that there are never bad questions, with that said, here’s a tip to help you with the screening. RE-arrange the order of your screening questions group to one similar to the below.

  • The position
  • The candidate
  • Validate job requirements are met (if not already answered during the previous categories)

This format ensures that the technical recruiter gets the most important screening questions out first, in order of importance to the candidate.

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Technical Screening: Are you asking the right questions.

Larry just received a job description from ABC Inc to recruit a .Net Developer with CRM and SharePoint experience. These are three skills that can stand independently as full time positions. Larry has a list of 11 candidates all with varying skills and job titles, .Net  Developer, SharePoint Consultant, and CRM Developer. How should Larry start?

What questions should Larry start asking of his candidates in order to save time and get it right the 1st time?

It has been consistently shown that recruiters that perform well have confidence in the knowledge they have in a subject area, and this knowledge is usually acquired as a result of either self or formal training. While there may be many avenues to acquiring this knowledge, here are a few tips that you can implement in your work today to draft a few questions that’ll start to make a difference in your bottom line:

The first step is to review the job description to understand what the hiring manager really wants in this candidate aside from the years of experience in required skills. There can be an extensive list of questions that can be uncovered from the job description, but here are a few:

  • What is the make-up of the team, the dynamics?
  • How will the required skills be used in the company?

The second step is to use the new knowledge you now have from the job description to review the resumes. You now know for example that the hiring manager has a team of 13 developers that have each have a tenure of 5+ years in the company and who work an average of 50 hours a week. You also know that the required skills will be used for mostly front-tier development. The new information is key to identifying and screening the right candidate. Try to imagine asking your candidates if they can work an average of 50 hours a week, or asking if they have experience working with a group close to 10 or more developers… this is where the dynamics come into play.

Using the tips above you are able to see how just a few questions from the job description can open up a lot of potential screening questions that puts you at an advantage of identifying the right candidate the first time.

By Obi Ogbanufe – 12/21/2010

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Recruiting Technical Skills

Using this blog site to tell all I know or at least think I know about technology and recruiting technical skills… stay tuned

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