When Your Colleagues Feel Freed, Fueled and Inspired, Your Company Has the Makings of a Top Workplace!

Atlanta-2017-TWPThe Intersect Group (TIG) has been named a Top Workplace by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the fourth year!

“The Top Workplace award is special to us because it’s based solely on the feedback of our colleagues,” says Rebecca Rogers Tijerino, CEO, The Intersect Group. “Our culture, driven by our colleagues, inspires us to succeed by serving our candidates, colleagues, community, and each other. It’s this engagement that drives our growth and helps TIG attract talented professionals who want to excel and have a great time working with people they like and respect.”

TIG makes it a priority to ensure their colleagues have what they need to be successful. Sometimes it’s time off to refresh and regroup. Other times it’s additional training or clearing their path. Either way, they make sure they take care of their team.

Chatter around the office:

  •  “I have worked for multiple companies that say they want to foster a “team” culture, but TIG exempli­fies this…”
  • “The Intersect Group truly cares about developing, mentoring, and retaining its employees. It has been a refreshing experience thus far and I could not see myself being part of any other organization.”
  • “Everyone goes out of their way to make sure I have everything I need. It’s like a big family”.
  • “Our leaders continue to invest in our growth and development.”
  • “This is a team that likes to have fun (and a lot of it!) and genuinely enjoys working together.”

The Top Workplace list is based on the results of an anonymous employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a leading research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. The survey measures several aspects of workplace satisfaction and culture, including Alignment, Execution and Connection.

Our colleagues gave TIG high marks for our onboarding and training process, open door policy, and work environment in which everyone has the opportunity to share ideas. Not to mention the many workplace perks – from unlimited time off; to monthly All Star Winners recognition and an annual Legends Trip for top performers; to activities such as Pampering Day, a Dessert Cook Off and our not-to-be-missed company holiday party to wrap up the year.  The spontaneous nerf wars that break out when we’ve successfully paired a great candidate with one of our clients, is one of the many flavors of icing on the TIG cake.

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The Intersect Group is recognized as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For

trifectaFor the 2nd consecutive year, The Intersect Group has achieved the National Association for Business Resources (NABR) trifecta! The firm has been recognized as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in Atlanta, Dallas, and the nation.

Most recently, they were added to the Dallas and National lists. The Intersect Group will receive formal recognition at an awards gala on Monday, January 23, 2017 at the Dallas Arboretum.

The winning companies were assessed by an independent research firm which reviewed a number of key measures relative to other nationally recognized winners. They include Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions; Employee Enrichment, Engagement and Retention; Employee Education and Development; Recruitment, Selection and Orientation; Employee Achievement and Recognition; Communication and Shared Vision; Diversity and Inclusion; Work-Life Balance; Community Initiatives; Strategic Company Performance and the Best of the Best Small Business.

The Intersect Group’s innovation and best practices in these categories granted us a spot among the ranks of some of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For within a wide range of industries.

“It is such an honor and testament to our culture to be recognized as a leader in employee engagement and community leadership,” says Rebecca Rogers Tijerino, CEO of The Intersect Group. “Our work environment encourages our colleagues to create results in their work, volunteer efforts and families; this goes a long way toward attracting talented professionals who want to excel and have a great time in the process.”

See the winners and learn more about The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For!

2017 Dallas Winners

2016 National Winners

2016 Atlanta Winners

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Charlotte’s IT Job Market Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

Charlotte Skyline from Marshall Park

It’s a candidate’s job market in Charlotte and that’s good news for IT job seekers. Technology continues to drive job growth in the Charlotte area with over 6,400 open IT positions, according to NCWorks Online (a part of the North Carolina Department of Commerce Division of Workforce Solutions). With this robust job market comes a new set of challenges for companies looking to attract and hire top talent.

What’s driving this job growth? According to Ryne Harrell, Charlotte Market Leader with The Intersect Group (TIG), it’s the thousands of people flocking to Charlotte, especially millennials. In fact, a recent report by the Urban Institute projects Charlotte metro area’s population to grow by 47 percent between 2010 and 2030.

Charlotte is a progressive city with a young culture, which is particularly attractive to millennials who are now the largest population in the U.S. workforce. “It’s a cool city,” said Ryne. “Microbreweries and coffee shops are popping up on every corner. Start-ups and other businesses that appeal particularly to millennials are opening every day.” Since people want to live in Charlotte, Ryne says it drives more business to the area, keeping the job climate hot and demand for talent high.

With organizations across all industries competing for the same talent, Charlotte’s rapid growth broadens the demand for software and analytical skills. The high demand for mid- to senior-level talent has resulted in a growing skills gap that many companies are challenged to fill. “Every .NET developer seeking an opportunity could have close to 250 jobs from which to choose,” said Ryne. And UX professionals, and front end and user interaction designers are not far behind.

At TIG’s Charlotte office, we are working closely with our clients to alleviate this talent gap with a three-prong approach:

  1. In the short-term, we actively recruit senior talent from other cities to fill current open positions.
  2. We also recognize some workers are siloed within larger organizations. We lead Lunch and Learns and skill set training sessions to help make it easier for them to make lateral moves to fill the gap.
  3. For the long term, TIG is investing in Charlotte’s STEM programs to build the tech sector from the ground up.

Additionally, companies are finding they need to act quickly to hire top talent. “By the time our clients have identified their top prospect, often that person has already accepted another job,” said Ryne. We continue to educate clients on the competitiveness of today’s labor market and encourage them to move with a sense of urgency when making hiring decisions.

The Charlotte job climate is hot for IT candidates with multiple offers extended to tech job seekers. This trend is expected to grow as more corporations relocate their headquarters to Charlotte, millennials continue to flock to the city and technology continues to drive job growth.

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5 Entry Level IT Certifications and 15 More Advanced Ideas to Boost Your Value

IT Certifications

When it comes to IT, continuing education is the name of the game. It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out or are determined to advance your existing career as strategically as possible. One of the most common avenues of continuing education for IT professionals is certifications.

Why certifications? They are a streamlined and cost-effective way to learn in-demand technical skills. Certification programs typically only take a few weeks to a couple of months to complete. Plus, they can be done as your schedule allows, through flexible online resources. Price tags tend to run from $150 on up to $1,250, depending on the complexity of the certification.

For potential employers and supervisors alike, certifications instantly convey a level of technical competency, so they carry a lot of weight and are widely accepted throughout the IT community.

Keep in mind, your certifications of choice will depend on which aspects of IT you choose to focus on and whether you are new to the field or looking to advance an already established career.

For those who are just entering the field, here are some great starting points:

  1. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is geared toward network engineers, network administrators and systems administrators.
  1. CompTIA A+ Technician is more maintenance focused and is typically designed for desktop support technicians, in-home support specialists and help desk technicians.
  1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) has been created with security analysts, information technology auditors and information security analysts in mind.
  1. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) addresses core technical skills across multiple technologies, making it ideally suited for systems engineers, field systems technicians and systems administrators.
  1. Network+ deals with wired and wireless networks and comes in handy for information technology technicians, help desk technicians and information technology specialists.

If you already have professional IT experience, be sure to seek out the most appropriate and most respected certifications in your preferred area of expertise. Some of your options can range from system administration, security, programming and hardware, to networking, wireless networking, VoIP, cloud IT and big data.

But when it comes to getting the attention of employers or supervisors, here are 15 ideas for more advanced certifications based on key areas of expertise:

IT Management – The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certifications start at a Foundation level and work up progressively to more demanding Practitioner and Manager levels.

IT Security – The SANS Software Security Institute offers a series of certifications ranging from Essentials, Intrusion Analyst and Incident Handler on up to GIAC Security Expert (GSE). The ISC also offers highly respected security certifications, which include Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) and the more rigorous Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Vendor-Specific – In this category, three of the most in-demand offerings include Microsoft (featuring the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert); Cisco (featuring the Cisco Certified Security Professional and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert); and Linux (with two of the most prominent being the Red Hat Certified Engineer and the Red Hat Certified Architect).

It’s important to note that many of the more advanced certifications require ongoing education and recertification every few years to maintain these sought after credentials. And some have extremely stringent criteria. In fact, in the case of the recently retired Microsoft Certified Architect, there are fewer than 100 individuals worldwide who have earned this status. But they also command the salary appropriate for such a prestigious certification.

To make the most of your opportunities, choose your certifications carefully. After all, each requires time and money to complete. And with the right mix of certifications, any IT professional can significantly improve their appeal and value.

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Do You Know How You Will Be Evaluated?

Evaluation meeting

How will you be evaluated? If you’re about to accept a new job offer and you can’t answer this question, you could be in trouble. Today, knowledge-based businesses are increasingly driven by performance metrics. Since those metrics will be one of the primary factors in determining your opportunities for advancements and pay increases, it’s important to know up front how your performance and your contributions to the organization will be evaluated – before you accept an offer. Here’s what you need to consider.

First, determine whether there are formalized evaluation policies in place at the corporate level. If so, ask what their performance criteria are and how often you will receive feedback. It can range anywhere from annually to weekly. Or, it may be on a project-by-project basis. Keep in mind that frequency can be key. The more frequent the feedback, the better your opportunity to shine and advance rapidly.

If there are no corporate performance review processes in place, you need to know how your immediate supervisor intends to handle evaluations. After all, your supervisor will be somewhat of a gatekeeper to your career path. Is there a structured process, or is it more of a case-by-case situation? More frequent and well-documented evaluations can help boost opportunities for recognition and increase your status and pay.

In either case, you’ll also want to have a thorough understanding of expectations. Ask what established competencies are used to measure success. These could include anything from hard skills related to your particular position to soft skills, like how well you work on a team or how you respond to stressful situations. Being proactive and understanding expectations up front will help you avoid surprises down the road and set you up for long-term success.

If there is no structured performance evaluation in place at any level, you should be prepared to take things into your own hands as soon as your first week. Meet with your boss to understand expectations and to help you set tangible goals for yourself. Explain that you’d like to meet again in three to six months to discuss your progress and get feedback. In the meantime, be sure to keep a running list of your projects and achievements that you can share. When it comes to being recognized for your work, initiating the evaluation and asking for regular feedback will help you stay on top of your success.

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4 Tips for Mastering the Virtual Office for Managers and Team Members

Virtual Team Member

As the workplace continues to evolve, virtual teams are becoming a reality for many organizations. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 3.7 million employees (2.8 percent of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time and approximately 20-25 percent of the workforce teleworks at some frequency.

Virtual teams offer organizations access to a quality-level of talent that might not otherwise be attainable. At the same time, they present remote workers with newfound freedoms, converting commute time into personal time while working from their favorite place on earth. Whether you are managing the team or contributing to the team effort remotely, there are things you can do to maximize the opportunity.

For managers, it’s all about putting the right structure in place for virtual success.

  1. Define expectations from the outset. Be crystal clear about what is expected of each virtual team member in terms of availability, hours contributed, and how their performance will be evaluated. It’s also important to share how they may receive coaching and support from you and others when it’s needed. Let the team know that your “virtual door” is always open when it comes to helping them succeed.
  1. Encourage engagement. You need to think beyond simply providing virtual project data repositories. Designate preferred team communication channels that foster connectivity, such as web cams, video conferencing and instant messaging. Demonstrate the value of these communication tools to the team by being a proactive participant. Stay in touch. And stay involved.
  1. Nurture camaraderie. It’s easy to develop a sense of isolation working in the virtual office space. Look for conscious ways to humanize your virtual office so that your team members look forward to connecting and sharing with their peers. Using your imagination here encourages team members to do the same. Having each team member post their picture in their online profile is a start. Connect on social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to stimulate those “water cooler” discussions that spark connectivity, drive interaction and fuel a more vibrant and creative virtual workplace. Don’t be afraid to inject a little fun into the mix with a “bring your pet to work day” or other light-hearted, video-conference opportunities on designated days.
  1. Recognize contributions. Acknowledgement is critical. Recognizing contributions within the team helps keep virtual teams motivated and on task. Mixing it up is key. On occasion, make your acknowledgements public to reinforce great work behavior for the whole team.

For the virtual team member, structure is equally important.

  1. Establish boundaries. Virtual offices offer their share of flexibility and freedom. But they also can lend themselves to an atmosphere of 24/7 access to your talents… especially in organizations that extend across multiple time zones, or span the globe. It’s best to have ground rules in place going in, so neither side feels like they are being taken advantage of from an availability perspective.
  1. Engage personally. Making a conscious effort to engage other team members on a personal level can pay dividends. Well-rounded interaction leads to the free exchange of ideas and information that can advance your work… while enriching the personal satisfaction you get from your professional life.
  1. Engage professionally. Reach out to team members via video chat or instant messaging regularly to draw inspiration, insights and a shared sense of enthusiasm for the task at hand. It can stimulate thought processes, while helping to prevent a sense of isolation. It will make you more productive in the long run.
  1. Leverage flexibility. Don’t be afraid to offer up suggestions to the group and your team manager – especially when it comes to technology. For example, if you find certain apps helpful, there’s a good chance your team will, too. This crosspollination of ideas and technologies is precisely how flexible organizations are able to accelerate their growth beyond industry expectations.

While the virtual office may not be right for every organization or department, these tips can help form the foundation of a highly successful and rewarding virtual team – for managers as well as the virtual team members.

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Congratulations to the 2016 Recipients of The Intersect Group Scholarship!

Four deserving high school seniors were selected as recipients of The Intersect Group Scholarship. Each has been awarded $3,000 to use for college tuition next year. Established to make it easier for students to choose science, technology, engineering and math careers, our scholarship lends support to dependent children of our consultants, client and colleagues who plan to become IT or Finance and Accounting professionals.

Jada Wilson

Scholarship recipients were carefully selected by a third-party committee based on academic achievement, the quality and content of a written essay, and the student’s character as demonstrated by activities and volunteerism.

These talented students are passionate, dedicated to their community and driven to make the world a better place. Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to everyone who applied!

Caroline Norman

We are thrilled to announce our four scholarship recipients. We surprised each of the recipients by delivering the good news in person. Check out the videos to see their reactions!

Jada Wilson: Jada Wilson is a graduating senior at Arabia Mountain High School (Lithonia, Ga.) She plans to enroll in the Mechanical Engineering program at Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)

Davis Riddett

Caroline Norman: Caroline Norman is a 2016 graduate of Mount Pisgah Christian Academy (Alpharetta, Ga.) This fall, she will attend Samford University (Birmingham, Ala.) to pursue a degree in Finance.

Davis Riddett: Davis Riddett graduated from Scholars Guild Academy (Loganville, Ga.) He plans to enroll in the Georgia Institute of Technology Industrial Engineering & Design program.

Kylie Morris

Kylie Morris:Kylie Morris is a graduate of Fellowship Christian High School (Roswell, Ga.) She plans to attend the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)

Our scholarship program SERVES… to help others succeed.
For over a decade, we’ve worked to provide opportunities for our talented consultants at great client companies. We know just how challenging the current talent shortage for IT and Finance and Accounting professionals is and we want to be part of the solution. Through The Intersect Group Scholarship program, our vision is to improve our community by making it easier for students to choose education as a priority in their lives.

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Know How You’ll Grow

shutterstock_274985972

Before you take that new position, be sure you know how your new employer will help you develop professionally. Since a growing number of candidates, like you, fully expect to get training on the job, it’s important to find out up front what professional training the company offers and how they approach ongoing education… before you sign on the dotted line.

If the company has a serious commitment to professional development, your interviewer may bring up the topic as a perk of your employment. If they don’t, you should be prepared to broach the subject.

Keep it positive and demonstrate your desire to make a difference within the organization. Let them know that you see ongoing education and professional development as tools you want to take advantage of – both in order to further your career, and make the maximum contribution possible to the success of the business. Keep in mind that ongoing education can take many forms, so ask for specifics.

  1. Do they offer formalized training programs and development courses?
  2. If not, are they willing to pay for, or at least contribute to, the costs associated with external training?
  3. Do they offer online options that would enable you to pick and choose the specific courses that are most important to you and would allow you to learn them at your own pace?
  4. As part of the growth process, do they believe in routinely involving you in projects designed to stretch your skills and develop competencies?
  5. Are there mentors or associates who can help coach you and provide the direction needed to expand your skills and capabilities?

The answers to these questions can help determine whether the offer before you matches your long-term career objectives. You need to be realistic. However, your career development path can be every bit as important as initial pay scale and title when you consider your opportunities for advancement within the company, as well as the professional field of your choice.

Still looking for your dream job? We can help! Check out our latest job openings and join our Talent Network today!

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Carrots for the Mobile Workforce

millennials-male-female

Today’s IT and F&A managers are faced with the challenge of engaging and motivating the fastest growing segment of the workforce – millennials. Born between 1982 and 2000, this generation has been raised in a smartphone culture. As a result, they are great multi-taskers and can assimilate information at a blistering pace. But they also have particular workplace needs and expectations that many employers and department managers are just starting to get used to.

And according to statistics, they already outnumber baby boomers in the workforce, and by 2020 they will be the single largest segment of the workforce. So the real question is, what can you do to help leverage this unique resource? Here’s a start.

  1. Unleash the power of purpose. Millennials want to know that what they’re doing matters. Use this motivator to your advantage. As they are on-boarded, clearly delineate their role within the organization and how they personally can contribute to your company’s success.
  1. Create ways to satisfy their thirst for advancement. Millennials crave promotions and professional development. If possible, add layers that enable promotions to be awarded sooner rather than later. Also, build in opportunities for on-the-job learning experience through projects that will stretch their personal and professional skill sets.
  1. Fuel their desire for feedback. Don’t wait for formal, annual reviews. Establish opportunities at the beginning and end of projects to outline expectations and provide feedback regarding what they’ve done well and how they could improve. This approach can net real results for your department over time and help keep valuable talent engaged, motivated and satisfied. When formal reviews do roll around, be sure to circle back to that sense of purpose. Tell them how they have helped the company fulfill its corporate vision. And, be sure to point out what steps they can take to help take the company to the next level.
  1. Look for creative ways to meet their expectation of ongoing education. Most millennials expect their employer to provide ongoing education, yet they aren’t wired for traditional course- or seminar-style training. If you have online resources that they can use to steadily access bite-size bits of knowledge, encourage them to access those resources. If you don’t, put their problem solving talents to use. Challenge your millennials to find resources that fit their needs. Give them opportunities to share what they find with their peers. Then, use what they uncover to build your own resource directory for future use.
  1. Reward performance with flexibility. Since millennials are eager to achieve and tend to be turned off by rigid corporate structure, increased workplace flexibility can be a powerful motivator – especially in the IT industry. Reward exceptional performance on a project with freedoms, such as flex hours or working from home.

Motivating millennials can be challenging. But putting these powerful carrots to use can help your department, and the millennials in it, achieve a newfound degree of success.

 

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TIG Selected as a 2016 Top Workplace by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

TWP_Atlanta_2016_AW

The Intersect Group (TIG) has been named a Top Workplace by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the third yearThe annual award ranks the best companies to work for in the metro Atlanta region. More than 2,552 companies were nominated and the top 150 were compiled and recognized at an awards ceremony at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on March 22.

“The Top Workplace award is special to us because it’s based solely on the feedback of our colleagues,” says Rebecca Rogers Tijerino, CEO, The Intersect Group. “It says a lot about the culture we’ve established, where our colleagues are inspired to succeed by serving; it’s this passion that drives our growth and helps TIG attract talented professionals who want to excel and have a great time in the process.”

The Top Workplace list is based on the results of an anonymous employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a leading research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. The survey measures several aspects of workplace satisfaction and culture, including Alignment, Execution and Connection.

Our colleagues recognized TIG for our high-quality onboarding and training process, open door policy, and work environment in which everyone has the opportunity to share ideas. Not to mention the many workplace perks – from unlimited time off; to monthly All Star Winners recognition and an annual Legends Trip for top performers; to activities such as Pampering Day, a Dessert Cook Off and our not-to-be-missed company holiday party to wrap up the year.

But being named a Top Workplace isn’t just about the perks – it’s much deeper than that. 

“To be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees,” says Doug Claffey, CEO, WorkplaceDynamics “Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s most important to them is a strong belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together.” Claffey adds, “Without this sense of connection, an organization doesn’t have a shot at being named a Top Workplace.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published the complete list of 2016 Top Workplaces on March 27. See the winners and learn more about the selection process.

 

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