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Retain Key Staff by Career-Pathing

Published: February 15, 2021

By: Evelyn Milani

Keep great people by being aware of promotional opportunities and inherent qualities

As a recruiter, a large majority of the candidates I interview say that they want to make a career change so they can "grow in their job". Curious by nature, I always ask "what does growth look like for you?" Nine times out of ten, the candidate responds with "I would like to grow into a management role." When I probe further, I usually find that the candidate really doesn't want to become a manager but doesn't know that there are other options available for them so they opt for a management position.

Career-pathing is an option for smart managers and companies that understand the importance of providing new challenges and growth opportunities for their staff. It is easier to back-fill a junior position and promote someone who has domain experience and has proven themselves effective and eager to learn than it is to recruit a brand new employee into a new role.

The trick is to assess the strengths and core competencies of your teams and lay the groundwork to promote your staff based on those core competencies. Consider engaging your HR department to assist you with the tools and techniques to evaluate your team. A long-time client (and friend) loved the fact that as the Service Desk Manager, her department was used as the company springboard for promotion. She hired right, and over time, her staff was tapped to promote to roles in Network Engineering, Information Security and sometimes even Application Development. The retention of great employees for that particular company is sky-high as a result of the promotional opportunities that exist.

If you are a manager, you can start by evaluating the best talent on your teams and assess the inherent qualities exist that can cross over to promotional opportunities.

Administrative Assistant or Office Manager can likely grow to a Project Coordinator/Project Manager. Inherent qualities to look for: organized, efficient, results-oriented, communicates at all levels, gets things done quickly and accurately.

Desktop Support or Service Desk can likely grow to an Application Support, Network Analyst/Network Engineer, Information Security Analyst. Inherent qualities to look for: strong problem-solving skills, analytical nature, tinkerer, root cause analysis, procedures and process-oriented, compliance.

Business Analyst or Data Analyst can likely grow to a Business Intelligence Analyst or BI Developer. Inherent qualities to look for: digs deep in disparate systems, sees patterns, analytical problem-solver, applies critical thought.

Marketing Associate can likely grow to a Product Manager. Inherent qualities to look for: understands the impact to the customer, features, messaging, cadence.

Application Support Analyst can likely grow to a Software Development role. Inherent qualities to look for: analytical, understands the business need, technical problem-solver and troubleshooter.

These are but a few examples of career-path options for people you already have in your organization or if you are seeking a new career, you may be well-suited to stay with your current company and seek out new challenges.

If Avanti can assist with your job search or help you hire high impact talent, please drop me a line!

New Remote Employee? Optimize Onboarding-Assign an Ambassador

By: Evelyn Milani
Trusted Recruiting Expert for Technology Talent-It's Who You Know
Published on February 8, 2021

Just like a first date, first impressions make a big impact- A new employee is formulating their opinion of the company and their new role from day one. Companies that at one time had never contemplated having a remote workforce now know that people can be highly productive working remote. As a recruitment and retention tool, remote or hybrid remote working arrangements will attract the best and brightest. However, from a manager's perspective, the extra work making sure that the new employee has everything they need to come up to speed for those who lead teams in a smaller company environment or a company experiencing hyper-growth can be stressful and daunting.

Consider assigning a New Employee Ambassador for specific departments. A high performer with domain knowledge and a well-organized, repeatable process to help new employees onboard can ensure the smooth transition of new members for your team and take the pressure off. Moreover, you will be career-pathing leaders for your team! This Ambassador can also assist longtime employees as well-

Qualities to look for in a New Employee Ambassador:

Natural teacher and mentor

Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Well-organized and resourceful

High level of department domain/job, company knowledge

Resources to provide for the New Employee Ambassador:

Documented new hire onboarding processes

Clear channel to use for extra help/escalations

Training on how to overcome obstacles in the work environment

Training on how to review a new employee's tasks, work, etc and to provide helpful feedback

The pandemic has demonstrated that we are more flexible and adaptable to change than once suspected. Now, we can optimize the changes we have made in the work environment!

Need more info or help with recruitment of high impact talent? Write me at

Don't Let _________Get In the Way of Accomplishing Your Goals

Life happens- There is no need to take your eye off the ball.

Twenty four years ago, the last day at work in the corporate staffing industry before launching my business InfoSYS, I broke my ankle playing soccer with my son. I hobbled in to the house and said to my family "no worries! We are still moving forward!" I had set a goal two years prior to start my own business and was not taking my eye off that goal.

I spent the first six months (the first three months wondering if I had made a critical mistake) in a cast. I still showed up to work, got on the phone and started calling on companies to gain their trust to recruit high impact talent for their teams. Mind you, I knew nothing about technology, I had never even sent an email to anyone. (This was 1998). Although life threw a curve ball, or in this case, I missed a soccer ball-I proceeded with my goal of building a top-notch I.T. recruitment firm.

Life comes at us constantly. For those of us who are goal-driven, we have visual reminders of our goals, we meditate on them, ruminate constantly, and track them. All of a sudden-LOOK OVER HERE! The recession of 2009! WATCH THIS! A global pandemic! This is life. There are no guarantees, promises or sure-things for anyone. I think we have all learned that this year.

Here are some tips that help me stay focused on my goals in light of small and tremendous curve balls:Acknowledge your challenges and keep moving forward. Don't ignore that things are tough, simply keep in mind that you have probably overcome more significant challenges that are now in the rear-view. Spend more time focused on positive outcomes than negative current situations.

Maintain a keen, laser-focus. Acknowledge that you are worried, concerned and unsure but then gather up your strength and applaud yourself for being brave to keep on trucking toward your goals.

Look out for negative talk that may be covering up a bit of self-sabotage. "I can't pursue this because we are in a pandemic", "It is not the right time to pursue this because it is an election year"- Keep moving!

Above all, stay flexible and adaptable. Your goals may have to be tweaked a bit based on conditions that are way out of your control, but how cool would it be to problem-solve existing conditions to attain an even better goal?

Track and celebrate victories that bring you closer to your goals, whether large or small

Keep on trucking! There is nothing better than to celebrate your achievements!

If we can be of service, contact me at

Managers: How to Hire People Who "Hit the Ground Running" Every time

Do you remember how your stress melted away the time you hired someone who was extremely productive shortly after being hired? You can take more control in the hiring process and provide the work "platform" that will nurture new employees and your team and when you do, it will pay off big time affording speedy project completion, big time savings for you and your team bringing people up to speed. Moreover, the chances of the productive, new employee becoming a long term fit are excellent.

The formula for hiring people who "hit the ground running" is easy. Hire and nurture people who have thrived in a similar environmentmanagement style and process/resource or how work is done. Your goal in the interview process is to ask the questions and evaluate the candidate's responses as to how they map to your environment, management style and resource/process. When you get this right, you will make yours and the entire team's lives so much easier.

Here are a few ideas that can help you hire people who "hit the ground running":

BEFORE THE HIRE, ASK THE RIGHT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS-In your interviewing, ask questions about where the candidate did their best work using the skills (both technical and interpersonal) that are closest to the skills you need. Focus your interview questions on: things were organized in their department, the work was distributed, organized and monitored, 3.where the candidate went when they got stuck, 4.the toughest part of it all, (and how quickly) they learned, 6.what their role was on the team, everyone gauged excellence. Look for similarities to your department. Was their success in a company that is similarly organized and with a similar culture? Is your management style similar to the candidate's description of that manager? Are your timelines and deliverables similar to what the candidate has succeed in?

AFTER THE HIRE, PROVIDE THE PLATFORM FOR SUCCESS-Develop an on-boarding process that is repeatable and team-oriented. Delegate some of the onboarding activities to your team. Organize your department operations by using one common receptacle for new employees so they know where to find things. If you don't have tools that can organize, use free tools like Google Drive to store important operational information, training documents, log ins, etc. You must communicate the overall mission and vision, project-success map. ASSIGN A "GO TO"- Select someone on your team to be the new employee's resource for general questions, introductions and help. This is a great role for someone who has leadership potential and can motivate them and take pressure off of you. PROVIDE TIMELY FEEDBACK-Agree on check-points in the first ninety days, giving and receiving feedback on areas of success and where improvement is required. You can head any issues off at the pass and build confidence in your new employee.

Use these tips and enjoy quicker, more successful project delivery and ultimately, better service and efficiencies for your internal and external customers.

I am here to assist you with finding and engaging top I.T. talent. Please call or email me for a quick response to your I.T. hiring needs.

Evelyn Milani

Inherent Competencies to Look For When Hiring for Your Start Up

It's exciting to contemplate emerging innovation opportunities as a result of the challenges taking place in the world today. Telehealth, collaboration for cures, solutions for effective tele-work, and transformation of our education system are a few areas and there are many more to contemplate! Entrepreneurs look for opportunities to meet the need and solve a problem to ultimately make an impact.

In order to build a strong company to meet the need, solve a problem and make an impact, Founders should consider hiring for the following competencies:

Flexibility, adaptability- Can pivot on a dime, do whatever needs to be done, doesn't get rattled when big changes happen.

Calm under pressure- Can think things through quickly and regardless of the situation, can keep their wits about them.

Learns quickly- Can come up to speed with very little hand-holding, "big-picture" and analytical thought process, applies the correct actions for positive results.

Cross-functional- Has skills in multiple areas as opposed to the desire to have a narrow focus.

Collaborative- no "lone wolf-ism" or cowboys. Loves making things happen as a group.

It's one thing to have a passion and an idea, it's another to put a team around it to make it happen. Hiring the right people is a big part of the success of any company, especially a start up- Do-overs will set you back.

Avanti now offers a la Carte talent acquisition solutions for fast-growing, talent-concerned companies! Ask me about it!

I Asked An Expert-Small Business Cybersecurity Tips During the Pandemic

Published on July 23, 2020

Mid-sized to large companies have I.T. experts on board that have helped transition work to home and remote offices. Smaller businesses like mine don't have a dedicated expert to help with a secure transformation to remote offices for our staff.

I am lucky to have some of Sacramento's best cybersecurity experts in my network! I asked a few local experts who work for companies in complex industries such as retail and healthcare what the greatest risks are in today's "work from home" business environment.

Here are a few bullets that they shared:

Be aware of Phishing/Spear-Phishing (fraudulent practice of sending emails ostensibly from a known or trusted sender in order to induce targeted individuals to reveal confidential information) it is on the rise; remote employees seem to be targeted in greater numbers than before.

Stay vigilant with the threat of local networks that employees are connecting "to and through", and watch out for hackers that reach back out to the computer resources utilized by the organization. Companies should encourage best practices around multi-factor authentication and VPN utilization.

Classifying data and practicing "least privilege".

From the business side, companies are starting to explore cloud-hosted virtual desktops. It is critical to understand how your distributed remote workforce may alter your long-term expenditure planning with this new way of working as it pertains to facilities, training and recruiting. Build interview questions and screening questions that will reveal whether a candidate can function optimally from a home office and think strategically whether working remote is a long-term solution. You may not need that office lease.

Small companies are best served by calling on a technology integrator to help make key decisions that will enable secure and efficient productivity.

Stay safe and well! Contact me at

A Challenging Time for Everyone-Approached with Gratitude

The challenge that people worldwide are enduring now is unprecedented. All we can do is wake up every morning and wonder for the first few minutes of the day "am I dreaming?" Thankfully, as time passes, things will continue to get better but many have lost so much.

We, at Avanti are grateful. Grateful for talent that trusts us to help make big career moves. Grateful for companies that pay us to match people to help build success in their organizations. Grateful for our team, our partners, our vendors that provide the tools for us to do our work. Grateful for the fact that we are already used to working at home as needed. Grateful for the beautiful Spring season that is waiting for us to go outside and hang out with friends and loved ones again. Grateful for the health of those who became ill and have recovered. Grateful for our clinicians, first responders and people in service every day to help provide some sense of normalcy. Grateful for those who have stepped up to lead us during this unprecedented time.

March 2020, Avanti celebrated twenty four years in business. We have launched a new website and are committed to providing value in our blogs and content for those who value thought leadership from a technology talent perspective.

Should Your Company Hire Conductors, Maestros or Navy Seal Commanders?

By Evelyn Milani

People with natural leadership capabilities are worth their weight in gold. Natural leaders are imperative to an organization to the point that an entire team will follow an effective leader when they resign to take a new position, which can be devastating for a company.

Some of the most effective leaders I have interviewed share common characteristics regardless of their leadership style. Common threads are delegation, mentorship capabilities, ability to co-create, articulate and get people on board with a common vision, ability to recognize and appreciate strengths and help hone areas to improve, ability to clear the bullsh*t for staff, and more.

Staff personalities are different, so consider hiring a diverse set of leadership styles. Some people respond well to a direct style (Navy Seal Commander), some need hands on (Maestro), some require a soft-touch (Conductor). Human nature provides that people gravitate to leaders with the style and personality that resonates with them. When I worked in the corporate world, I gravitated to the leadership style of the VP that my boss reported to. I resonated with her and felt energized around her, anxious to do my very best.

Navy Seal Commander

No nonsense, sense of extreme urgency, stays out of the way of the team during work, allows people to "succeed or fail-fast", mission-driven, doesn't play favorites, doesn't coddle.


Hands-on, working alongside the team, continuous feedback, process-oriented, precision-driven, extremely creative.


Rallies around the team, everyone knows who is in control, traditional manager style, may tend to be more hands-on with staff.

Consider building a diverse leadership team so your teams have the benefit of people with the leadership styles they are comfortable with. Just make sure regardless of the style, the leader is highly reliant on team dynamics, understands and leverages each person's strengths, knows enough about the context of the work to be a valuable resource to troubleshoot tough issues and understand what the team is going through at every phase of the work.

For help hiring high impact technical talent, write me at

Retain Great Employees-Use Employee-Centered Design to Navigate Change

By Evelyn Milani

We all go through change in our personal and business lives. Now, more than ever change is a part of corporate America. Whether it be acquisitions, government shut downs/furloughs, new processes and workflows, changes in tech stack, business growth or contraction, new leadership and more, the business climate is dynamic.

Change in the workplace is a disruptor and can get at the heart of your employee's personal security. Your employees feel a lack of control, knowledge of what to expect from day to day and what the change means to them personally. Since we are at low unemployment, recruiters are approaching your best employees and the timing for a job change during workplace disruption couldn't be better. (I know, I am a recruiter)

Here's what a smart leader can do-DESIGN a Plan for CHANGE WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES' NEEDS AT THE CENTER OF THE PLAN:

Communicate early and often-Articulate the Big Picture, the organization's drivers for change, the logic for the change

Provide training and support to your leadership team across the enterprise on how to help staff adapt to changes in the business environment

Align mentors and resources for those who are struggling with change

Create a continuous feedback loop with positive reinforcement for the long-haul (not just a month or so)

Approach your teams with compassion and empathy throughout the process

There are formal processes to implement Change Management, most technology environments are familiar. With any new software release, the customer's needs are taken into account when the software is implemented. You don't have to use a formal process if your budget is limited or time is of the essence. With planning and agreement across the leadership team, you can take steps that will allow you to retain great people and moreover, both you, your company and the employee will be more mature as a result.

Write or call me if you don't implement Employee-Centered Design for Change and lose a key employee-

I can help you recruit

Losing Top Candidates in the Interview Process? Here are Five Dysfunctional Roadblocks in Your Hiring Workflow that Candidates Hate

By Evelyn Milani

The competition is fierce for top talent in almost all job functions, especially for information technology and accounting and finance. The unemployment rate for Northern California is 3.1 (Santa Clara County) to 4.6 (Sacramento County) overall. In I.T. and other high demand job functions, there are negative unemployment rates.

What this means to a growing company is that plans for exceeding your client's expectations and growing your company's revenue are stalled. In order to reach and exceed your company's growth, here's what NOT to do in your recruiting process:

Advertise boring, mundane job descriptions that in no way describe the impact someone can make in the position.

Start the interview process BEFORE you, the hiring manager, have buy-in on the skills that are required, the work that needs to be done and the salary range in your company's budget as well as the interview questions that need to be asked and all decision-making parties lined up and prepared to interview.

Mandate that all candidates complete a lengthy, irrelevant online application. No top tier candidate has time or interest in spending thirty minutes completing an online application unless they are at the point of accepting an Offer. Consider changing this workflow and using a simple form for the online application initially.

Decide to start the interview process within weeks of key interviewers and decision-makers' vacations, large go-lives and project launches.

Linger for over three days on making an Offer to a top candidate.

Rather, consider the following in order to quickly hire great people, quickly-Don't miss out on the best because of your company's dysfunctional workflows:

Create compelling job announcements that inspire the best talent to want to know more about what you and your company are up to. Place the job announcements in the right social spots, easy to share.

Research salaries for your required skill sets in your market, provide the proof and back-up data. Salaries have NOT decreased. Save yourself time in the recruitment process and either lower your expectations or get clearance for a realistic salary. Understand who is involved in making hiring decisions and get them aligned to what you need skill-wise and culturally so everyone is on the same page.

Consider using a simple, elegant online application at the beginning of the process.

Get all decision-maker's calendars aligned and do not start your recruitment process if you have key stakeholders out for any length of time that may delay the interview process and decision-making process.-THIS IS BIG and probably number 1 reason why many companies lose out on great candidate.

Get consensus quickly, debrief after candidate interviews and quickly get feedback to candidates especially those that are progressing to the next level in the process. When you are ready to make an Offer, hours count-not days. Your competitors are also hiring and will make an Offer on Friday at 7pm if necessary.

Avanti takes care of the entire process for our clients and candidates to make the hiring and interviewing process smooth and transparent. If we can be of service, write me at:

How to Use the Team/Panel Interview Effectively and Make the Right Hire

By Evelyn Milani

Many a good manager includes their team in the interview process when bringing on someone new. What a great way to be inclusive and gain buy-in from your team!

However, if you do not plan in advance or if you try to "shoot from the hip", the panel interview can sometimes result in an uncomfortable, clunky, ineffective process. Moreover, think about your poor candidate-panel interviews are un-nerving as it is.

In order to maximize your results from using a panel or team interview it is important to do the following:

1.  Know what you are looking for; develop the three to five core skills that are required based on the actual work and your department's culture, team dynamics, etc.

2.  Plan and prepare; interview questions should be selected ahead of time as well as the creation of some type of ranking or scoring matrix.  Decide who, on the team, will be asking which questions ahead of timeMake sure the team is prepared, has something to write down responses. Also, the team should use open-ended interview questions and should probe on the candidate responses that may not be clear.

3.  Keep the "playing field" level; the same questions should be asked of each candidate. 

4.   De-brief as soon after the interview as possible. You may lose momentum if you wait 24 hours to get consensus. Get together as a group and review each panelist's ranking on the questions that were asked. Do not get bogged down by one person's opinion on one or two areas, rather, work with the person to get to the heart of whether the concerns apply to the core skills and cultural nuances. There are no perfect candidates.

If Avanti can help you source, engage and interview top talent, send me a note!

Career Pathing- Retain Top Talent by Moving Them Up vs. Them Moving On!

By Evelyn Milani

Logical Career Paths Based on Competencies-A three-minute read

Smart companies keep their best people by career-acceleration. Career-pathing can help accelerate your employee's career and help your company reduce turnover.

As a recruiter, I love to engage talent for a new position because someone was promoted. Talk about organic brand-building for the client's company! Career-pathing in coordination with your HR team can help you retain your best staff, save time and headache by reducing turnover, and enjoy higher productivity when someone is promoted as opposed to on-boarding a new hire and bringing them up to speed.

The most successful companies cross-train employees and also set up a logical career ladder for employees based on the employee's strengths and interests. I have enjoyed watching people start out on the service desk and grow into engineering-level positions. I have recruited key data entry operators who are now business intelligence developers. I have seen highly organized and efficient, tech-savvy Office Managers become high impact Project Managers and senior leaders. It is important to recognize the people who have the "will and the want" and possess both technical and interpersonal capabilities that align with future roles.

The key to successful career pathing is to align with HR and your employee in order to:

establish logical roles that map to your employee's strengths and interpersonal qualities and roles the employee is interested in

establish the level of risk and responsibility you and the employee are willing to take on by assigning new challenges

align the correct cadence with the employee to take on new and challenging work; don't push to hard to fast

establish follow up and check ins to ensure the employee has the training and support and is producing results

Here are some exciting and logical career paths for professionals based transferrable skills:

Technical Support to System Administrator and then on to DevOps, Site Reliability Engineer, Information Security Engineer

Data Entry Operator or Claims Analyst to Data Analyst and then on to Database Engineer, Data Scientist, Enterprise Data Warehouse Engineer

Administrative Assistant/Office Manager to Business Analyst and then on to Project Manager, Software Developer, QA, DevOps, I.T. Manager

Web Developer to DevOps and then on to Site Reliability Engineer, Database Engineer

Keep your best people by helping them grow throughout your organization!

If we can be of service, write me at Avanti recruits high impact talent for contract and full time careers.

Lower Than Expected Job Offer? Upsides to Consider

By Evelyn Milani

Don't Rule Out a New Opportunity Until You Take These Factors Into Consideration:

When changing careers, no one wants to take a step back with salary. However, making a change for the better, especially when it propels you towards your three to five year career goals (create them if you haven't already) and your personal and professional priorities, should be considered.

If you have received an Offer with a salary that is lower than expected, here are factors to use to weigh your decision:

Research the company's track record for upward mobility. (linkedin has analytics that show a graph of hiring over a twelve month period for each company). Is the company in a growing industry and well-managed? Do you see a trajectory that would allow for significant opportunity to prove yourself and receive a promotion?

Would the company consider setting high value objectives where, if achieved in a reasonable amount of time, your salary would increase in six months?

If you are entering a new field, expect to pay your dues and prove yourself. It is well-worth coming in a little lower to have the chance to learn new, cutting edge technology.

Does the company sponsor certifications or training? Some I.T. certifications cost upwards of $20,000 and can help you build a valuable portfolio of expertise. (expect to sign an agreement to pay the company back if you resign your position within a few years of receiving your certification).

If you are a salaried employee, are you currently burning the midnight oil? Would the new position afford work/life balance? When I worked in the corporate world, I was probably netting $10.00 an hour based on the consistent 80-hour work weeks.

What is your contribution to the benefit package at your current job? What is your out-of-pocket expense and how does that compare? Does the new position provide more vacation time? These factors equate to both soft and real savings if the benefits are better.

Retirement should be important to everyone at all ages. Does the prospective company match employee 401k contributions? That should be factored into your decision.

Do you spend more than thirty minutes on your commute both ways? That is time you can't get back.

It is important to reflect on what is most important to you today and tomorrow. That requires long term planning and visioning of where you want to be. Consider career opportunities by taking the entire package into consideration.

WAY Out of Sorts Working From Home? Actions to Maintain Your Productivity and Sanity

By Evelyn Milani

We will get through this crisis. We are adapting to a new way to work in order to protect each other, especially our loved ones and our health care providers. We also need to show compassion for those millions of people who have been affected by layoffs.

Change is hard even in the best of times. When you compound change with a Global Pandemic, stress, worry and insecurity are loaded on top of the feelings of change. We are all adapting to having kids at home (or pets who bark when Amazon arrives), and participating on conference calls, video meetings and client encounters. I even conducted a skype interview with a Senior Engineer yesterday who had his 18 month old crawling all over, his wife is an RN and working multiple shifts. WOW! We need to pat ourselves on the back for hanging in there!

Here are a few tips to maintain your sanity and productivity:Breathe/Deep/Often and hold for a count of four at the top of the breath. This will help re-set a busy, frenetic mind.

Create a schedule-use a written task list and re-prioritize often. Get up at the same time everyday and show up for success, ie: don't lounge in pajamas.

Modularize your day to show attention to your kids, family and pets. Coordinate with your company's leadership team so you have time to attend to children and family; everyone is feeling super-vulnerable now and if you set aside 30min every few hours with your kids, everyone will feel better.

Turn off the news. Set a goal to check in once a day so as to not become overwhelmed and hyper-focused on things that may not be in your control TODAY.

Hang in there and please be kind to everyone!

Imagine You - With a Mentor

By Evelyn Milani

How to Identify and Approach a Mentor- Transform Your Career, Have Better Success Achieving Your Goals

Can you remember that favorite teacher in high school or college or that aunt/uncle, mom/dad, who really believed in you, encouraged you and gave you that extra "umph" to get moving on a goal? Everyone has had that person in their life who saw tremendous potential and provided sage wisdom and encouragement so you could make it happen.

One of my personal influencers is my mother, who encouraged me to leave corporate America and open my recruitment firm. That was twenty-five years ago and I have never looked back.

As we get older, we feel like we have to take on life on our own. Some people may view their asking for advice as a sign of weakness when in reality, reaching out to an expert can help you reach your goals more quickly because everyone has a story to tell about lessons learned.

If you are excited about optimizing your career or reaching personal goals, seek out a trusted guide-a mentor, who can help you focus, provide a unique perspective and help you keep on track. People genuinely like to help, helping others provides a sense of purpose and pride, especially when the person asking for help achieves their goals.

Here are tips on how you can identify a good mentor to help you achieve your goals, both personal and career:

Who, in your network/family/church/school/gym/work has achieved what you are trying to accomplish? Does someone in these groups know of someone who has accomplished similar goals?

Clarify what it is that you want to achieve; articulate your goal in one sentence such as "I am targeting becoming a Director of I.T. within the next eighteen months". Ambiguous goals are hard for anyone to get behind, make sure your goal is crystal-clear.

Approach a likely mentor through your network or on your own with a professional introduction. Be respectful and articulate why this person was selected, ie: "Your accomplishments inspire me, we both attended Sac State OR we both know Dan Smith. I am hoping to achieve a Director-role in I.T. I would love to learn about how you were able to achieve your career success. Would you be open to a fifteen-minute introductory meeting over coffee or an introductory call?"

Deliver your note through Linkedin or through a mutual contact. State your goal (not a list of goals) and indicate that your meeting request would involve a small, reasonable amount of time that is based on schedule availability. Some busy executives are not able to break away for a coffee meeting, if that is the case, offer an introductory phone call as an option.

Consider selecting a mentor from a different industry! The uniqueness of ideas and advice may add more value than advice from someone in your industry or with a similar background. Also, if you are a male, consider a female mentor and vice-versa.

These tips can help you get the process started. Why wouldn't you want to pursue a mentor? You will have your opportunity to mentor someone else down the road! "All boats rise"! Our next article will cover how to maximize working with a mentor. Stand by!

Ask me anything about careers in I.T.!

Your Career in High Gear

By Evelyn Milani

You're Seeking a New Career with a New Company-Here's how to Optimize your efforts

So, it’s a new year and after careful consideration, your alignment with your core goals and values and speaking with people who are important to you, you have decided to take the leap and explore a new career with a new company. 

Congratulations for making a choice!  Challenging careers abound and many high-demand technologists have a short ramp to multiple offers across the US.  

The highest demand for tech careers are in the following skills:

Data Scientists

Data Engineers

DevOps Engineers

Cloud Engineers

Software Developers, Python is upcoming and fast approaching

Product Managers, Scrum Masters

In order to maintain your current job while you quietly explore new career options, it is key to organize your efforts. You will drive yourself crazy and may make a bad decision if your efforts are not well-thought out. Here are some tips that will optimize your efforts and improve your chances of landing that perfect new career:

Update your Linkedin profile. I am amazed when people do not keep their Linkedin profiles up to date by highlighting their accomplishments, certifications and new skills such as Agile. Most technical recruiters use Linkedin to find the best talent. If your updated skills are not listed, you may be passed over for that perfect position.

Get a second opinion on your Linkedin profile and your resume. A good recruiter or trusted mentor can advise on how you can put your “best foot forward” on paper.

Broaden your business network. Attend MeetUp groups that align with your interests and skills. BeerJS in Sacramento is a well-attended MeetUp for developers as is Women in Data. You can meet people and potentially, new employers. Also, connect with influencers in your Linkedin network. Think about asking for introductions from friends to people in their network who have achieved the career goals you are looking to achieve. (We will be discussing how to identify a mentor in our next series of articles).  Having a new connection allows you to send a note and commend the new connection for achieving career goals you aspire to. Maybe they will provide some tips!

Create a list of target employers based on the pace of work, mission and culture that works best for you. The Sacramento Business Journal provides a list of the fastest-growing companies in the area with the number of employees, revenue, product line, etc. This can be a great tool to target your research. Have you succeeded in a fast paced, smaller company? You may want to consider younger technology companies. Have you acclimated better in a moderately paced, more structured environment? More established, larger companies may be a better fit for you.   Also, leverage your network, can you ask a friend of a friend who works for one of your target companies how they like it? Glassdoor IS NOT the be-all, end all for company ratings.

Target the best job boards for your skills and career goals. There are many to select from- you should know which is best for you based on the relevant, local career opportunities that are posted. Use two or three job boards at most and set up “search agents” with broad terms to attract a variety of positions that will be pushed to your email daily. 

Hone your interview skills. Are you able to articulate what you do in layman’s terms? Can you quickly identify a high impact project you participated in and answer specific questions about your role in that project? Do you have a ten-second elevator pitch ie: “I organize massive amounts of data so our company’s leadership can make sound, impactful business decisions”.  Practice a one-sentence statement that describes the impact you make.

Study local-market salary information on glassdoor or indeed (both have salary calculators and may or may not be accurate) based on your years of experience and specific skills.

Align with a great recruiter who will partner with you. Establish realistic expectations and let the recruiter know exactly what you are looking for.  (my hand is raised here;)

Go get em! Give yourself four to eight weeks to get to the point of an Offer but maximize your efforts by minimizing your target companies.

If I can help, send me a note at

How to Create A Better Candidate Experience When Using Video Interviews

By Evelyn Milani

We are in unprecedented times. Companies in certain sectors are hiring and it is a new paradigm for many to use video technology to conduct interviews. In order to maintain a positive reputation as an employer of choice, and attract the best and brightest (we all know people post to Glassdoor) the video interview process should be as frictionless as possible.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind in order to make the video interview experience a positive one for both your teams and moreover, the candidate.

Make sure your company has trained the staff on how to use your video teleconference technology. Most companies use Zoom for panel interviews, some use Skype for person-to-person interviews. A clunky start to a video interview throws everyone off. If people are logging on late, are missing credentials or if the candidate has inaccurate credentials, this creates frustration and will make for a less than productive encounter. You may miss out on hiring a great candidate.

Coordinate your interview questions across the team. Make sure everyone knows the flow, who is heading up the encounter, who will close the interview out, how to communicate via chat during the interview. Above all, make sure the candidate knows who is on the video encounter. Avoid surprises or tricks, this is not the time for trying to see how someone handles surprises.

Make sure you take time to build rapport with the candidate prior to launching into the interview. These are troubling times coupled with candidates already being nervous during an interview. All of us are working at a less-than-optimal state so be kind and have patience.

Have a contingency plan in place in the event that the candidate has problems logging in. Consider assigning someone on the team to reach out via cell to help them log in.

Wrap up the video encounter with "next steps".

Stay calm and hire on!

If we can help with tough to find outstanding talent, email me at

Optimize Your Career-A Three Week Series on the Value of a Mentor

By Evelyn Milani

A mentor is your trusted advisor who can help you make big career moves.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing articles (two-minute reads) on the value of working with a mentor- how to find a mentor, how to be a mentor and how to "show your mentor love".

Why? A tremendous percentage of the US workforce is retiring or contemplating retirement over the next couple of years. Our workforce is being transformed by up and coming Millenials, Gen X and Gen Y employees who are charged with navigating a complex, fast-changing business environment. Our 21st Century workforce has strong career values and motivators that may be different from past generations. Mentors can provide complementary perspectives that will enhance the creativity and business value our new workforce will bring. The synergies between mentors and our 21st Century workforce will optimize productivity, career satisfaction and the US' ability to compete in a Global Economy.

Finding, engaging and working with a mentor does not have to be a formal, complex process. You do need to put thought into whom you select and how to engage and work with a mentor. We will be sharing practical tips on finding and working with a mentor geared to add value and optimize your career experience. Stay tuned! Connecting High Impact I.T. Talent to Careers that Matter

Your Career In High Gear

By Evelyn Milani


After careful consideration and reviewing your career driving decision-making criteria, discussing with those who are most important to you, you have decided to NOT make the leap to a new company. Congratulations! This is a great decision. If you work for a stable, healthy company and for some reason, your career has stalled, it's worth a shot to take appropriate control of your career trajectory. You know the company you are working for most likely inside and out and your co-workers and the leadership team know you.

What better time to evaluate the gaps and where you think you are stalled! Once you have a handle on where you feel stalled, where you want to go and in what reasonable timeline, you can present the business case to your manager and co-create a game plan. In order to do this, you must have all of your "ducks in a row" in terms of your business case for an upward move. Of course, all of this goes without saying that you should have a clear trajectory of what work you are excited about growing into, the stack that ties to your interests, the skills you want to achieve and the reasonable timeline to get there. Why start a journey if you have no plan?

Here are some tips:

Prepare before having a timely career growth conversation with your manager. ie; what responsibilities are you ready to take on and what is the business case that proves you are ready?

Collect the details on the successes for projects you have recently participated in, "wins" that you have had lately, kudos received, etc.

What senior-level engineer do you respect on your team? Stay close and observe that person's approach, how they manage their time, perhaps take them to lunch and ask about how they were able to elevate their responsibilities. Raise your hand when offered assignments that allow you to work with people who are a few levels above you so you have a chance to highlight your skills and abilities and more importantly, learn from them.

Brush up on training and education, even if it is at your expense. If you are shy of skills that tie to your career goals, take the initiative to research courses and take them on your time. You may be able to negotiate paid training with your employer if they do not offer this.

Keep an eye on your company's career page. A new position may be posted that is on the path for your ideal and for your company to promote a known employee is a big plus for everyone.

Schedule an appointment with your manager so you both have time, create a brief Agenda and collect and organize the factual information that supports your position to ask for opportunities to move up. Ask your manager to help plan a logical, reasonable timeline with review dates to assess your progress.

Don't be afraid to stretch yourself if you work for a company that provides a healthy work environment. If you are surrounded by resources that can help this is an excellent opportunity to stretch your capabilities.

Connect with me, I am happy to help!

Optimizing Your Internal Teams for Better Work Outcomes-Avoid Bias

By Evelyn Milani

Human nature dictates that we have inherent biases that surface in today's lightening-speed business climate. We are working in overdrive/auto-pilot and we need to make quick decisions when we delegate work. This may cause us to overlook the quiet contributors who are just waiting for an opportunity to shine or prohibit us from partnering team members that would not always self-select to collaborate based on personality styles.

Great managers hire a variety of strengths and personalities to optimize their teams for better work output. This provides diversity and a variety of perspectives. How can you ensure that everyone is well-equipped to collaborate, from your type-A personalities to your "quiet contributors"? Thoughtful, analytical, critical thinkers are not often offering up opinions and feedback because our more outgoing team members may take the center stage at every opportunity, or they may be shy and worried about the response to input on the team. Quick, assertive, confident contributors can act quickly with little information. Blend these two personalities and WOW!

Here are a few tips for an effective manager who can leverage all strengths on a diverse team:

Encourage open dialogue in a team setting. If you have a team member who is hesitant to contribute, tee-up a request for perspective ahead of the meeting so they are not caught off guard. Share that the team would value their perspective and ask whether they would be comfortable with a request for feedback in a team meeting setting.

Partner up team members with diverse perspectives and communication styles to collaborate; ie: client-facing team members with highly technical team members. This will blend perspectives and improve outcomes. In addition, it may provide more confidence for shy communicators and more empathy and critical thought perspective for outgoing communicators.

Provide a framework for successful project outcomes. "This is what success will look like, you guys develop a plan to help us get there". Facilitate meetings, don't always direct meetings. Provide guidance and input and let the team create and act on the details of the roadmap you provide.

Check your team's progress regularly, have the teams document new workflows so a repeatable, meaningful process can be established for future use and success.

Move team members around to allow for collaboration among team members. This builds a stronger collaboration and opens doors for everyone on the team.

The goal and value of iterating this way are to create better collaboration, systems and workflows that promote contributions from everyone on the team and that will result in a better project outcome.

If I can help you recruit high impact people for your teams, write me at

You are a Leader Navigating Change

By Evelyn Milani

Using the Correct Communication Techniques to Earn Your Team's Trust During Change

This is a three-minute read that is part of a series on practical ways to navigate change and retain valuable staff-

Even the bravest of us get that queasy feeling when we know change is coming. Whether we are anticipating a change at work, home, during a doctor's visit, or even UI changes on our social apps can make us nervous.

Our brains are conditioned over time expect certain outcomes through repetition in our daily tasks. The security of knowing what to expect on a daily basis gives us a sense of security. Anticipating the unknown takes everyone out of their comfort zone. This is particularly true when it comes to our careers, our livelihoods, how we support ourselves and find joy in our talents. Communication is key in situations involving CHANGE-


If you are leading a team and encountering change; ie: new management, an acquisition or merger, re-alignment of the work, new system upgrades, your staff is feeling queasy. The hard part is -so are you. BUT- that "leader" title you have puts you in a position of being the strong one in the equation. Here are some practical ways to communicate with your team that can help everyone feel more secure:

Get executive sponsorship to share appropriate information that and be honest with your team. Company info is on the web, you can't hide major changes such as acquisitions, re-orgs, etc. Your team deserves the straight scoop especially early on. If your company is not employee-centric that way, you may want to re-think where you are working.

Share appropriate information with your team. Not everyone needs to be privy to every detail. Team Leads may receive more information from you than individual contributors and can help dis-spell rumors or false information. Assigning Team Leads to stay close to staff can be a learning experience for the Team Leads in how to handle delicate situations.

Avoid sharing personal thoughts and feelings when your communicate with your team. Doing this sends mixed messages and will backfire and haunt you for years.

Be prepared to have one-on-ones with people who need more information or support during change. This requires asking your team, one by one, independent of everyone else, whether more information is required and how they are feeling/doing. It is highly recommended to loop other leaders in such as HR for delicate and complex triage.

You may have nay-sayers to new system implementations because "we have been doing it this way forever". Champions (individual contributors and super-users who are on board with the new system) can help bring people who are resistant to change along and this can be another learning opportunity for someone to rise to a Champion role.

Don't let the communication channel shut down mid-stream. Follow up often as events occur and changes happen. Don't put your head in the sand.

Hang in there! Have a mentor or senior leader you can bounce ideas and thoughts off of. We have all been there!

If you are navigating change and need ideas, we can align you with the correct resources to help guide!

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