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Stories, insights, and tips on how to stay balanced (and get ahead).


Gaining a Competitive Edge with IT Certifications

It's back to school time and just when you thought those days were behind you the economy finds seasoned professionals seeking further education to gain an edge in the competitive job market. IT certifications are a great route, yet when charting your IT career path there are some important considerations to make before breaking out your money clip. In this video I discuss how an IT certification can bolster your career and what certifications are hot right now.

There's plenty of other great discussion out there on the relative merit of IT Certifications. Here's a few interesting takes:


Going the IT Recruiter Route

Below is an excerpt from Bob Weinstein's 'Going Solo' article featuring Hudson IT recruiter Todd Harootyan published on

If you're new to the independent contracting game and have visions of forming your own IT project management firm, a good way to sample the marketplace is by aligning yourself with an IT recruiting/staffing firm like Hudson IT in Chicago. "It's a win-win situation for everyone," says Todd Harootyan, a senior IT recruiter at Hudson. "The end client gets a substantially lower price tag on the resource, the contractor gets a well paying short-term project, and the recruiter makes his margin."

Harootyan couldn't be specific about the recruiter's share of the contractor's hourly project rate, but he did say the industry standard ranges between 10 percent and 20 percent (so do the math!). IT project managers' hourly price tags can vary dramatically depending upon experience level, expertise and certifications.

New contractors can reap undeniable benefits by using an IT recruiter to land gigs. The biggest advantage is sitting back and waiting for projects to come to them. The toughest part of landing projects for contractors is selling themselves to companies. Whether it's a big or midsize firm, the first hurdle is getting in the door and finding out who to pitch to. "This is what we do best," says Harootyan. "We identify the opportunities and sell the services. Once they're in the company, it's up to them to provide value by doing a first-rate job."

The IT recruiting firm also does the billing, collection and payment--another headache that is taken off the contractor's shoulders. So take the hint: Hooking up with a well-entrenched and respected IT recruiting/staffing firm amounts to a good move in the beginning. Once finances are buoyed, contacts made and knowledge of the marketplace gained, then it's time to consider flying solo. By then, the future can be planned with some assurance of success.


Hudson’s CIO Update – 4 Tips for Technology Innovation

While survival is the paramount concern these days, how you survive will determine your true legacy. Today, IT groups must prepare for the inevitable rebound by investing in change. It's not just about "keeping the lights on;" it's about tuning the engine that makes innovation possible. If it doesn't positively affect the bottom line, the top line and/or increase efficiencies, then it is not the change your company needs today. IT groups and enterprise stakeholders must have a tough dialogue on technology investments. During lean times, many enterprises cut IT to the bone. Typically the projects that survive will offer high value to the sustainability of the technology platform. Here are my tips on how IT can stay on the innovation track during an economic downturn and position your enterprise for growth during the rebound.

1. Mining The Data - While the task of data clean-up typically assumes a tedious groan, small strategic improvements can offer serious ROI now and later. For example, review and analyze those help desk tickets -- specifically the high-volume submittals. If you have a high number of password reset tickets, then you should invest in a self-service password maintenance application or automated process. This will reduce your support cost and increase customer satisfaction.

2. Virtualization - Equipment upgrades are necessary to keep up with the pace of change and manage long-term IT costs. For example, are you fully utilizing all your application servers and storage devices in your data center? You should consider consolidating these applications on "virtual servers" which use less space and allow you to take back ownership of servers that can be used for other applications or retire those that are no longer needed. This will immediate cut your overhead costs for 2009 and establish an annual savings moving forward. Please be advised that this type of consolidation is a large disruptive project, so it is wise to implement when IT project work and business operations are slower.

3. Automation - Which IT processes are targets for automation? You may already own modules on your ERP application that have not been implemented. A couple options are employee on-boarding and off-boarding applications, HR self-service for managers (title changes, promotions, reviews, etc.) and self-service applications for employees such as paychecks and W2s. If done correctly, all these factors contribute to reducing costs and driving efficiency for the enterprise.

 4. Vendors - Look to do business or renew contracts with smaller boutique/niche vendors; because, they can offer all the qualities of a larger firm, but without the overhead and higher costs. Recently, we outsourced our ERP support and development to a niche firm and are reaping the benefits of a higher level of customer service, better attention and understanding of our environment all at a better price than the larger more well-known vendors.

IT is truly a catalyst for growth and the backbone of success for most companies. Enterprises that are taking advantage of these turbulent times to "clean house" will not fall behind their competitors. In this light, IT is not just about technology, it's about helping the enterprise run smarter, faster and cheaper.


Medical Gaming and Simulation: How to Save a Life

Serious gamers with a passion for challenges and innovation might consider the career opportunities presented in the medical gaming and simulation field. A new report from the Games for Health Project shows worldwide sales for health-focused games such as Wii Fit, EA Sports Active and Konami's Dance Dance Revolution have totaled USD $2 billion over an 18 month period. It is no surprise that this year's annual Games for Health Conference had an unprecedented turnout. The once negative stigma associated with videogames has come full circle to now be embraced as a significant value-add to the learning and health of our society.

Over the past several years, gamers have driven the demand for evermore sophisticated games and the rendering of very realistic graphics on the screen. Thus the success in medical gaming largely depends upon the ability to give artificial players increasing intelligence (artificial-intelligence [AI]). In order to do so, IT skills required include real-time programming and training courses in distributed system environments or generic simulation training. This growth of interest and opportunity has helped push the gaming technological advancement beyond traditional boundaries.

The Virtual Heroes game America's Army is a great example. In 2008 this video game, which requires users to go through extensive medical training to pilot a medic, led to a real-life rescue on the North Carolina Interstate. Through 3D simulations of heart surgery procedures students are able to understand and practice in a virtual world before tackling real-life situations. At this year's Games for Health Conference, Virtual Heroes discussed its upcoming R-Mission 2 game (an upgrade from the 2006 Re-Mission which allows cancer patients to pilot a robot that attacks cancer cells and combats the side effects of treatments). R-Mission 2 promises to conquer the sensory experience challenge by shifting the players to a first person perspective.

Previously, we have discussed how the salvation of the healthcare industry lies within technology, and thus the momentum in the medical gaming and simulation industry aligns with this outlook. IT professionals who have worked in the defense gaming and simulations industry will see more career growth in health care as health care spending is now roughly 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.

To help keep up-to-date on this industry's pulse, I recommend you check out Dave Talyor's blog called Virtual World Innovations. He is the founder of Second Life and documents new and emerging best practices of virtual works. Recently, he developed a virtual ward for a group of staff nurses at St. Mary's Hospital in West London. His virtual ward provided nurses the opportunity to practice and test reactions to unexpected and expected situations. So far, the trial is going well. Also, offers great resources for gamers at any point in their career with an abundant amount of information on upcoming trends, personal anecdotes and much more.

Photo from Virtual Heroes


IT Professional Networking 101

Are you an IT job seeker being told "it's all about who you know," but recently found that you don't know as many people as you once did? The hard lesson being learned by many job seekers in today's IT job market is that they can not be a "fair weather networker." In today's job market, candidates are possibly competing with up to five other candidates for the same job. Building your IT professional network is not necessarily something that should be left on the back burner until you are in need of a new job. It should be a priority that is consistently developed.

If you need a quick fix to your professional network, here some simple guidelines to get you started.

Start By Showing You Are Serious
Have you updated your resume? If you haven't, how are portraying yourself as a serious job seeker if you have not started with the simplest form of advertising your credentials ... your resume! If it's been awhile since sprucing up your resume, make sure you're up to date on the best to present your technical skills.

Be Professional
Practice your approach with several contacts that are not the "Big Fish" in your network. Ask them for honest feedback. Here is an interesting article on networking approaches - 10 Tips for Networkers

Get Organized
Start a list. Who have you stayed in touch with? Who have you lost contact with? Don't rule anyone out - they may now be an executive at one of your target companies. They may have once been a little crazy in college, but, so what, you might have been too. People do grow up and change, but that connection will always be there, so use them now.

Have A Personal Touch
Don't just create a mail merge spreadsheet and blast a standard note to your old contacts. Personalization can go a long way in reconnecting. Getting a job is not just about who you know but how well you know them. Include personal information in your outreach, such as where you met or the person's favorite sports team. Also, remember it is important to be honest. The initial reconnecting email should include personal information, as well as clearly stating that you are looking for a job. "Networking the Non-Spread Sheet Activity" illustrates the importance of personal touch.

Make It Easier Online
To avoid the potentially awkward re-introduction process, especially if you are shy, one smart way to track down your contacts is to build your network online. It's now much easier and quicker to reconnect using the tools already built into social media sites. These sites were built to maximize efficiency when managing large networks. Search for your contacts online, a very popular professional networking site is LinkedIn, for personal connections tap into Facebook and for industry knowledge tune into Twitter.  Not to sure how to approach contacts using social media? Check out this quick segment from The Today Show.

Once you have rebuilt your professional network of IT contacts, don't let it fall apart again in the future. Networking is all about staying in touch and continuing to build and expand your connections. And return the favor. Someday soon, you may find yourself as someone's long lost contact who you can aid in their job search. By sharing information, you can become a great "connector."

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Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Across 20 countries, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment process outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be.