IT Unemployment Rates by State: 2014

July 22nd, 2014

As we are now in the third quarter of 2014, the unemployment rate for technology professionals averaged 4.1 percent in Arizona and even lower in Colorado at 3.2 percent (last recorded in June 2014*).

In looking back to 2012 and 2013, the unemployment rate appears to be near the same average.


Currently, the national unemployment rate is 6.1 percent (last recorded in June 2014**). The last time the unemployment rate for IT pros was above the national average—the first quarter of 2004.

Because the unemployment rate is lower for IT pros, utilizing a firm that specializes in IT staffing will allow for you to access to IT candidates that would not otherwise be available. Since TopLine Strategies is a well-established IT engineering firm, we have been fortunate to leverage our IT recruiting process, coupled with our many years as the Southwest’s leading systems integrator, to foster numerous relationships. With over 10,000 relationships built across the Southwest, combined with the expertise of our own team of senior engineers, allows us to source and direct candidates through a technical screening process. Many of these professionals are not available through standard job boards. This process verifies the candidates’ skill sets and acumen before you spend any of your valuable time interviewing. Our recruiting process ensures our placements are a solid cultural fit, skills exceed client requirements and that hiring risk is mitigated.



U.S. News & World Report Rankings Revealed: 100 Best Jobs of 2014

July 15th, 2014

U.S. News & World Report just revealed their ranking list of 100 Best Jobs. Which career took the top spot?Capture1

There is no surprise here that the top spot was awarded to: software developers.

Software developers have created so many things that we use in our everyday life. This includes any applications on your phone or computer like an alarm clock or any mobile apps you use to check your bank account or the games you play. Not only do software developers design these great programs, but they also have many other responsibilities, including testing and debugging the software and maintaining and improving it once it’s in operation. Software developers may be tasked with creating a product from scratch according to a customer’s specifications or modifying existing software, and they work in a range of industries, including computer systems design, electronic product manufacturing and finance.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22.8 percent employment growth for software developers between 2012 and 2022, much faster than average for all occupations. During that time period, an estimated 139,900 jobs will need to be filled. The profession’s superb job prospects, low unemployment rate and excellent median salary helped it grab the coveted No. 1 spot in the ranking of the Best Jobs of 2014.

Read more by clicking here.

Infographic: Employees Overboard, Why They Jump Ship

July 9th, 2014

LinkedIn decided to ask job holders what factors would influence their decision to leave their current company. See their answers in the infographic below by clicking on the image to expand it.




































































To view the original source, click here.





How to Identify a True Superstar

July 1st, 2014

As an HR professional, you probably have a set of favorite questions that you always ask candidates, but what is the one question that really isn’t a question used to identify a Superstar Gold.true superstar for your company?

When looking for candidates, you want competitive personalities, so when you are in the interview, take a step back and say:

“It sounds like you have the right degree, the right background, and the right skills, but in our company every employee has those qualities. The problem is, I just don’t see that extra something in you that all of our people have. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think this is the right fit for you.”

Giving the candidate a few minutes to process this comment will cause one of two responses. The candidate could fold and say: “I’m sorry you feel that way, but thanks for the interview.” On the other hand, the candidate that you really want, will not fold. Instead, they will say: “I think you’re wrong. I’m here for a reason. Here’s what you’re not seeing.” They will not give up and as a superstar, they will rise to the challenge.

Qualified candidates can do the job when life is good. Superstar candidates can do the job when everything collapses around them because they have the hunger and the drive and the competitive spirit to not just compete…but to win. Next time, try this when you are not sure about a candidate, they may surprise you!

To view the original article, click here.


Secret to Hiring

June 24th, 2014

Tips and Tricks Chalk IllustrationFinding the perfect hire can bring constant stress into the workplace and the steps needed to ensure a great fit are hardly ever black and white. Losing one person on a team of ten can result in $100-300,000 in productivity loss, and takes about 8-12 weeks to replace a key domain knowledge holder plus another 36 months to bounce back to a fully operational staff.

In order to succeed in hiring, it is important to define the role clearly in advance. This will allow you to better communicate responsibilities and qualifications in the job description, find the right talent and stay focused on the important steps to ensure a great hire.

Use the following as a checklist to ensure you make your next new hire right the first time.

Why Am I Hiring? Why Now?

While you may be hiring to replace someone that left the company, the firm is expanding or to alleviate a gap in the teams skill set, often times companies spend substantial amounts of resources on a hire they don’t actually need. It is important to explicitly state the reasons you need to make this hire right now before it’s too late.

Determine the Details

Define the fundamental mission for this role. Explicitly stating the primary reason he or she is being hired and what is expected of them is imperative to their success.

At TopLine Strategies we help you evaluate, blend and enhance the job description. We do this by combining our client’s original job description with the industry standard job description to build and enhanced job description that is ready for posting.


Determine three to five key logically related responsibilities that fall under the umbrella of this roles mission. If you realize this new hire would be handling everything under the sun, you probably aren’t ready to hire and should set more realistic expectations of what one person can achieve.

Position Title

Once you have determined what responsibilities fall under this position, you can appropriately designate a job title. If the position has manager-level responsibilities, don’t downgrade the title because market value isn’t within your budget. A job title will remain on an individual’s resume for years to come and their title should accurately depict their role.


Focus on specific skills, background, expertise and accomplishments the new hire will need to be successful in the position. Avoid general representations such as an MBA and focus on specific needs relative to the position. Select which skills are essential to perform job duties and all others should be treated as bonus points in the interview process.


Will the person holding this position have access to mentors, team buy-in, software, etc.?  These are things that can sway someone’s decision whether or not the feel they have resources to be successful.


The most commonly overlooked element is determining who the role reports to, why they report to this person and how their success is determined.


Decide what you would ideally like to pay the new hire and what is the most you would be willing to pay for the candidate that has everything you are looking for. Knowing these numbers prior to interviewing will help alleviate confusion down the road and save time in the hiring process.

TopLine clients benefit from our three-column analysis. This is where we complete a twenty-point compensation analysis to review the candidates’ current compensation plan, industry compensation comparisons and the clients proposed package to ensure you are paying your new hire exactly what you should to ensure they stay with your company long-term.

Outreach Plan

What job boards will you promote the job to? Do you have any specific networks to reach out to and alert? Have you determined what search criteria you will use to find qualified candidates on LinkedIn and other job sites? What is the best way to find the most qualified candidates to hear about this position from a trusted source? All of these answers will determine the success of your outreach plan.

Not only does TopLine advertise our clients positions on job boards and social media, we promote through blog posts and by email campaigns to our private database of over 10,000 candidates we have accumulated over the years from staffing our own internal IT projects, many of whom aren’t actively looking for a new position.

Application System

ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software is a great investment that is used to organize resumes, rank candidates and keep all your hiring material in order. This will help avoid using a crowded inbox thus letting qualified candidates slip through the cracks.


When will you post the position and when is the deadline to receive applications by? When do interviews take place and what does the process entail? When are you looking to have this position filled by? Are there any additional details that need to be combed through?

Developing the foundation for your company’s hiring process will help you determine exactly what you are looking for in a candidate and you can tailor the job description to attract the right people. While these may seem like minute details they will help the hiring process run smoothly and allow your team to see how much it benefits the organization to make an excellent hire the first time.

TopLine Strategies nine step process encompasses all of the above guidelines and more. We are industry experts and our thorough recruiting process ensures our placements are a solid cultural fit, skills exceed client requirements, and that hiring risk is mitigated.

To view the original article click here.

What is the worst hiring mistake a company can make?

June 19th, 2014

We have all made mistakes along the way when it comes to the hiring process, but what is considered as the biggest mistake companies make? No, it’s not failing to hire someone who turned out to be a superstar at a different company, or actually hiring someone you thought would be a good addition to the company, but turned out to be a dud.  Business Network

So, what is it? The biggest mistake companies make is not following up with job seekers. Why is this a problem? It is a problem because, as a company you owe the people who have not only interviewed for positions with your organization, but even those who have applied with you some sort of closure.  When someone applies and/or interviews with your company, they are paying you a compliment by outwardly saying they want to work for your company.

There could also be a potential for major business repercussions. Most people who apply for jobs do not take it lightly, and could even go as far as telling their friends and family. If they don’t hear any type of response from you, then it could affect the positioning of your brand and whether or not they choose, as a customer, to do business with you in the future.

How can you prevent this from happening?

As an employer, before you post your next opening, develop a plan for how you will close the loop with everyone who responds or applies.

There are automated hiring and notification systems or it could be that you choose to do it manually. However you decide, just make sure you are prompt, kind and respectful.

A great quote from the original article states it best, “By applying they’ve hung themselves out there, professionally and emotionally—so never leave them hanging.”

To view the original article click here.

5 Easy Steps to Perfect Your Recruiting

June 10th, 2014

Forget the past, focus on the present. Road to Hired

When it comes to salary, ask what they currently make and then increase that by roughly 15 percent. Many candidates will over ask and then stand firm with their number. While other factors come into play for the overall compensation plan, by focusing on the present you can better negotiate from there.

It’s a two-way street. 

What would make a candidate come work for your company? These are benefits that a potential employee should be aware of. After all, you need to create a desire to work for your company. Be honest about what perks they get and ask what they are looking for.

Move quickly!

The longer your process, the more applicants you will lose. However, the quicker the process, the higher probability you will make a rash decision. Keep it between three to five weeks and be sure to communicate with the candidates along the way.

Content is key.

With a keen eye, focus on the overall resume for not only what they have done, but their future potential.

Stretch your budget. 

If your ideal candidate is out of your budget, review your budget and see if you can make it work. It may be worth the few extra thousand dollars if they are truly a great hire.

Keep a positive and optimistic attitude about each candidate you interview and remember that you deserve a great employee. Following these five steps will help you in making the right hires for your company.

To view the original article, click here.

6 Ways to Reveal Résumé Fraud

June 5th, 2014

The majority of career experts recommend that candidates tailor their résumés to individual jobs they’re applying for. With 34% of job applicants lying on resumes, how do you ensure that you don’t fall into a resume fraud trap? Follow these six steps:

Get a background check.Cheating hand gesture

This may sound like a no-brainer, but several companies are trying to save money and screen candidates the old fashioned way. Essentially, you are verifying the candidate’s education and employment. If these results come back, and they raise suspicion, ask for a W2 or 1099 from the candidate to verify the position or an official copy of their transcripts to be sent directly from the university or institution.

Watch out for inflated job titles.

While some companies do give exaggerated job titles, you also need to beware of applicants that go from an entry-level employee to a manager and then a director or VP in only a few years. Title inflation can be done to reflect actual positions, deliberately deceive potential employers and because some companies like to give exaggerated titles.

Is this person too good to be true?

If a potential candidate possesses every skill you are looking for, you have a right to be suspicious. It is highly improbable that a candidate has only the skills the job posting asked for and nothing else. Ask probing questions about these skills and an example of when they demonstrated these skills in the workplace. Be realistic and suspicious.

Conduct technical interviews.

When hiring for a specialized skillset you should put those skills to the test and see what they can do. At TopLine Strategies, since we are an IT engineer firm, we have the IT engineers and project managers available to conduct candidate technical interviews prior to sending them to our client’s office for an interview.

The more interviewers, the better.

Although you may be the final decision maker, it will be beneficial to have as many eyes on the résumé as possible. Also, having several employees interview the candidate will ensure a good cultural fit and leave little room for uncertainty.

Do some digging on LinkedIn.

Utilizing social media is always helpful, but it’s extremely beneficial prior to calling references. This will help in gauging the candidate’s true relationship with the reference.

The bottom line.

Overall, the four most common résumé lies are education, employment dates, job titles and technical skills. At TopLine Strategies, we get to the truth so you don’t have to weed through any misconceptions.

Want to learn more about our process? Click here for a short video.

Original Sources:

IT Faces Hiring Difficulties

May 28th, 2014

In the latest CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index, IT executives expressed concerns about the challenges of finding technology workers with the right skills.

One-third of companies surveyed said they are understaffed, while 42 percent said they are fully staffed, but want to hire in order to expand. Half of all companies said they have job openings. Broken down by company size, 76 percent of large firms; 75 percent of medium companies; 47 percent of small business; and 18 percent of micro firms reported having current job openings.

“Two areas – cloud computing and mobility – are key factors,” said Tim Herbert, CompTIA’s vice president of research. “With such far-reaching impacts of these technologies, firms across the IT channel are still working through how to best meet the needs of their customers and their business.”

The survey also reveals that it’s twice as challenging for companies to find technical workers with the right skills and expertise (net 57 percent) than it is to find non-technical workers (26 percent). The majority of open positions include technicians and IT support personnel, application developers, cloud experts, network engineers and security experts.

To view the original article, click here.

Helpful Methods to Help You Decide Between Two Equally Qualified Candidates

May 21st, 2014

While it may be a great problem to have, how do you decide between two equally qualified candidates?Businessman and woman waiting on sofa in lobby

Critical Skills

Review the two or three mission critical skills and how they pair up to each of the candidate’s balance of skills against the company’s strengths and weaknesses. You should be able to better tell who will add the most value based on the current state of the organization.

360-Degree View

Inviting a candidate back for an additional interview will allow you to have better insight into how they interact and engage with colleagues, subordinates, superiors, and in particular, internal clients and suppliers. This can also reconfirm the critical skills you want to make the hire.


Whether you ask them directly or you place them in a situation that allows you to gauge their enthusiasm, how much effort are they putting in? This will allow you to see how each candidate reacts and if they want to go the extra mile for the position.

Be Relaxed

Rather than bringing the candidate in for a formal interview, taking them to lunch or out to dinner is a good way for them to let their guard down. You may see another angle, perspective, strength and/or weaknesses, which might tip the balance into one candidate’s favor. This could also be great insight into how they will blend in with your culture.

On the Spot

This doesn’t mean offering them both the job, but you can infer that if you were to offer them the job, what barriers to acceptance would they face and how would they overcome them.

To view the original article, click here.