Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Biking/Running Trail in Raleigh, NC

One of the main cities where we place candidates is Raleigh, NC. This is one of the fastest growing areas in the country and there are several reasons why. Not only does Raleigh boast one of the best school systems in the US (, a solid IT Industry foundation and a diverse cultural experience, but it maintains several large parks. From camping to hiking to boat rentals, the parks around Raleigh have something for everyone. One such park in the area is Legend Park. The trails here are well-known in the mountain biking community and are popular with area runners. 

Legend Park is located at 550 City Road in Clayton, NC. The trails are approximately 8 miles of everything needed to sharpen your trail running skills. 

The trails are separated into two sections.  The first section is known as the "lowers" and is where I usually will begin my run.  The entrance to the lowers is near the mountain bike skills area that is clearly visible as soon as you park.  Once you enter the lowers the fun immediately begins as you quickly run over the first mountain bike obstacle.

The great thing about running these trails is that the terrain is constantly changing.  One second you are on rolling hills, crossing creek beds, and the next you are running on a boardwalk. 

There are even a couple of rock gardens to allow you to test that rock plate in your favorite trails shoes.  If you like to mix in a very steep hill climb every once in a while, these trails have that too.  After following the lowers trails along the creek, through the rock gardens, over the boardwalks, and up and down some pretty steep hills, it's time to head for the "uppers".  The uppers seem to officially start at what is referred to as Hucksville.  Hucksville is basically two giant drops that appear to be about 25 ft.  Bikers jump off the high end and roll down to the lower.  Search YouTube for video of guys going off of them if you are interested.

After passing Hucksville the trail continues to run down to the edge of Harvey’s Pond.  It is nice sometimes to stop for a sec and just enjoy the scenery.  After the pond there is a giant ravine to run down and then power back up.  Once up top, the trail allows you to either continue straight to Larry's Loop or take the Magnolias Run trail (1.1 mile loop) to the left or  take the Little Big Horn trail (.95 mile loop) to the right. 

Magnolias Run seems to be more challenging to me because of the trail weaving up and down a valley.  During the run there are several technical obstacles and bridges to enjoy (or not,), depending on one's level of exhaustion.  This is true with Little Big Horn as well, but it doesn't seem to be as hilly as Magnolias Run.  Both trails loop back to the top of the giant ravine so it is easy to run one and then run the other if time and/or energy permits.

For some runners these trails prove difficult.  For other runners they are easy.  I am confident however, that they are without a doubt fun for all runners.  Make plans today to take the trip the Legend Park in Clayton, NC and you see for yourself. 
*There are ticks on the trails, so use repellent and check yourself thoroughly after your run.  Also, remember that mountain bikers built and maintain these trails so be respectful and yield the right of way.

I hope this review of Legend Park was interesting and informative. 
Have a safe run!

--Tommy Faucette, Technical Recruiter

Friday, May 17, 2013

Contract vs Permanent Employment

In today’s economy, coming back from a major hit, many companies are struggling to make ends meet.  One of the ways that they have found to save some money is to bring on contractors in lieu of permanent employees. By doing so, they save on insurance and benefits costs, while increasing flexibility when it comes to extra help for projects. Because of this increasing trend, contracting jobs are becoming easier to find than permanent positions and those in permanent positions are being frequently recruited for contract roles. I myself have reached out to many candidates in permanent positions and I am always greeted with the same question, “Why should I leave my permanent job for a contract position?” Well, I have several great reasons why contract jobs may be BETTER than permanent ones.  

They are becoming more commonplace. I know I mentioned this previously, but it’s an important point. Looking for jobs is not an easy feat and finding one that fits your skillset and requirements narrows the search even more. Contract jobs are becoming more and more common, and for perfectly stable companies. The state government uses contractors frequently, as do national and multi-national companies. If you are open to contract opportunities, your job options expand significantly and your options are much more varied - which leads me to my next point.

You can direct your own career. With contract jobs, you have the opportunity to pick and choose which projects you’d like to work on. You can just choose positions that will challenge you to learn new skills or move your career in a new direction. Contractors usually have a wider range of skills – they aren’t stuck doing the same thing over and over again and they have more opportunities to vary their projects and therefore their skillsets. This makes them more marketable to a wider range of companies. Contract roles also allow for a “try before you buy” approach – for both parties. Employers have time to determine whether an employee is the best fit for the position. And the contractor has the ability to get the inside scoop. Some companies seem to offer a great work environment, advancement opportunities, etc., but it’s a totally different story from the inside.  It should be a good fit for both employer and employee and contracts allow for that test drive period. Also with designing your own career comes the added benefit of a larger professional network and one geared more towards your professional end goals.

You can earn more money. Because of the contractual nature of these positions, and the expertise required, often companies can offer a significantly higher pay rate. And I know that many people who become contractors have to navigate enrolling in private insurance themselves without the discounts of a group policy, but DataStaff employees enjoy a competitive benefits package that includes paid holiday, vacation, and sick leave as well as medical, dental and vision coverage. As many of our projects are long-term, we also enabled employees to participate in a matching contribution (4%) 401k plan as well. So finding a staffing agency that supports you is important. Another bonus for contract employees, especially in the IT Industry, is overtime pay. The Fair Standards Labor Act (FLSA) defines Computer Professionals as exempt employees. Since most permanent positions compensate on a salaried basis, it is not required for companies to pay them for hours worked beyond 40 hours. However, in demanding project environments, it is commonplace to work long hours. Contract employees are compensated for each hour worked.

Now I know that the length of contracts can be a little discouraging. I find that the most common lengths are 6 months and 12 months. Often, these are set that way because of purchase orders, especially on government projects. The project could be set to last a couple of years, but they have to apply for the funding in pieces. During an interview, you should talk with the hiring manager about the project and its goals – you’ll get a better idea for how long you’ll really be needed. 

- Katie Berryann, Technical Recruiter

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Interview Tips for the Recent Grad

My first couple of interviews right out of school were terrifying. I had no idea what to wear, what to say, what was expected of me in any way. The only experience I had was of waiting tables and babysitting. I was totally overwhelmed and badly needed guidance. Here are the top five tips that would have helped me immensely.

1.     First impressions are key. While it may seem trivial, what you wear is incredibly important. Corporate, financial and professional opportunities may call for a suit as expected interview apparel, while start-ups or tech companies have a more laid-back vibe. It is important to know the culture of the company and to dress in a way that shows that you fit well within that environment (while still demonstrating your most sophisticated presentation). When you show up in polished business professional apparel, the interviewer will know you're serious about pursuing the opportunity. The essential thing is to be neat, professional, current and conservative. No plunging necklines, no tank tops, no open backs. And watch the cologne/perfume levels. You want to impress, not suffocate your interviewer. Just as important is showing up on time. Not an hour early, not late. 15 minutes early, tops. You want to respect that you scheduled an interview at a specific time for a reason. Make eye contact, speak clearly, smile, shake hands and smile. Be confident – you are a great candidate and you're there to tell them exactly why.
2.     Remember your audience. There are plenty of hiring managers that are very good at making you feel at ease in your interview. But no matter how at ease you feel, remember that this person is evaluating you on your level of professionalism and poise. Now, I'm not saying don't be yourself. But be the most intelligent, pleasant and composed version of yourself there is.
3.     Be prepared. Look up the company at which you're interviewing. Do your research. You want to be sure that it's a company for which you WANT to work. An interview is about deciding whether it would be a good fit for both parties. Bring a hard copy of your resume, whether or not you've sent a digital copy. Bring a pen, take notes. Show that you're interested!
4.     Prepare questions. I know that this goes along with my previous tip but I feel like it's big enough to deserve its own section. When I've asked potential candidates if they have any questions, and they don't have any, it seems to me as though they are just passively accepting any information and haven't done any research. While you're researching the company and reading over the job description, think of a couple of questions that are relevant to your potential positions and the company itself. Feel free to ask what your day-to-day duties would be like. Ask what your biggest challenge is going to be. But do not tune our your interviewer to try to come up with questions while they talk. Engage in a conversation with them and bring a couple of questions with you to show that you're engaging with the information already provided to you. Remember that this is also your moment to figure out if the position is right for YOU as well.
5.     Follow up. I won't deny that there are some candidates that I was lukewarm about when they left an interview, but with followup emails or phone calls, they grew on me. Those few words - “thank you for your time” or “I appreciate the opportunity” show the hiring manager that you are still interested after your meeting and you cared enough to take the time to reach out and show gratitude for the opportunity. It doesn't take very much of your time, but it could increase your chances of getting the job. 

- Katie Berryann, Technical Recruiter

Monday, May 13, 2013

Resumes in Today's World

If you are a job seeker, you most likely have read articles telling you what are the top things to do in order to get your resume noticed. There are countless opinions as to what makes the best and most impressionable impact on a hiring manager; there are a few unwritten rules as well as a few accepted norms. I have my own opinions to throw in to the lot.

1.) Keyword searching. As people lean more and more on technical advances to streamline the recruiting process, it is sure that if you have submitted your resume for review to multiple companies, it has at least once been perused by a digital gatekeeper. It is important to remember that many companies use software to qualify and rank candidates prior to a human ever laying eyes on your resume. These gatekeepers fail to see the dedication to layout, “interesting” font, or polished word choices you have carefully selected to put the most pizzazz on your points. Remember to have enough “meat” in your resume to appetize the screeners, as well as key words which correspond to the job you're applying for which will show up in keyword searches. This leads me to my next point

2.) Tailor your resume. Yes. It may be easiest to make one resume and hit the mass “send” button to 100 jobs. This may lead to success, but truly if you spend just a few moments to tweak your resume and pull out applicable experience for each position, you may meet with better success. This would add a more targeted approach to your search; you would apply for those positions with only those companies that you are really interested in. Again, pulling out key verbage or words from the job description itself may help with keyword searching mentioned above. Please do not take that as license to copy and paste directly from the job description as this is a sure way to end up in the bottom of the waste basket.

3.) Social Media. Realize what your social imprint is and use your network to the best of your advantage. Always make sure that your social networking profiles display your best self (if you do not have one, this is a great opportunity to get one, fast – LinkedIn is most useful for the professional job seeker). Ask for recommendations, post useful industry information, join professional associations online, etc. I guarantee prospective employers will look; I do every day. Also, connecting to people within a targeted company through LinkedIn may be a great way to push your experience to the forefront. Feel free to add a link to your successful LinkedIn profile on your resume. 

4.) Keep it simple. Unless you are a graphic designer, keep your format simple and easy to read and impress them with a direct approach and display your experience. Here, I find “Objectives” to be just a time-waster. I prefer summaries that tell me why someone is a great fit for what I need. The “Objective” section is often bland and tells me very little about your actual experience. If your education is your strongest asset, list it first; the same with technical skills, certifications, or your experience. Lead with what is most relevant to the position and with your strongest asset.

5.) Action verbs and Uniqueness. Your resume may only be viewed for a few seconds before a manager moves on to the next; entice them! A list of responsibilities does little to tell me of what your experience is. The stronger action verb used, the greater the connection. Example:
  • Customer service


  • Created dynamic displays and implemented merchandising strategies to increase revenue through up-selling
Yes, the latter may be a little more “fluffy”, but you may see the idea. Also, demonstrate what you bring to the table that is different from others. A list of duties only tells of what you can do, I want to know what made you “special”; what made you an asset, someone indispensable to the company. If you created a new way of doing things, saved the company money, streamlined a process, increased efficiency- please share. The best examples of these are ones that are quantifiable.

6.) Be truthful. Remember to sell the best version of yourself, but that you must portray an accurate representation of your experience and skills. Never lie on your resume. Even if you do end up with the job, you can be fired later, a la Yahoo! CEO, Scott Thompson. Accurate education and work history (including employment dates) are essential; remember everything listed should be verifiable.

So what do you think? What is the best resume-writing advice you've ever received? 

-Samantha Oster, Operations Coordinator

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We are DataStaff!

DataStaff is an established Small Business Corporation with a strong local presence in the state of North Carolina. DSI has a proven track record working with both government and private institutions supplying employees with various skill sets at competitive bill rates. We work hard to develop symbiotic relationships between candidates, employees and clients. 

We here at DataStaff are a diverse group of individuals with differing levels of experience and each of us has tips and techniques, anecdotes and advice from our combined years in the staffing agency. With this blog, we hope to share our wisdom with the world. We will post information about the residential areas where we place candidates, job search tips, and other interesting information that could be valuable to our network.