Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another Option for Business Users

So... you're a SharePoint power-user in your company, and let's say that you don't do programming, but you understand relational data models, queries, and application security models. What are your options for writing relational data-driven apps that you can publish to SharePoint? I was doing a freelance project for someone and it became obvious to me that my old stand-bys of InfoPath and custom lists with lookup columns just wasn't going to be enough. The data model was truly relational in nature and called for a little more of a heavy hitter.

Enter Access 2013 Web Apps... And a completely new experience.

It took a good textbook and a little time to catch on, but once I got the ball rolling, I was really able to make a truly mobile-friendly app that has a ton of functionality. Among the books that I purchased on this topic, here is the best one, in my opinion:

The application was easy to build, until I started using macros. Even then, the book I purchased (above) came in handy and I started getting more done. My client understood relational data models and eventually took over his own work on the project.

1. Easy to build, once you figure out the navigation.
2. The data and all schemas are stored in SQL server and are able to be accessed and reported on by any SQL-compatible reporting / analysis tool.
3. The resulting application is EXTREMELY friendly to mobile browsers on both iOS and Android.
4. Includes several app templates to get you started.

1. Little to no control over style sheets, which means...
2. No control over printer-friendly views.
3. Queries built in the application are read-only. I repeat: READ-ONLY. To replicate the functionality of UPDATE queries, data macros must be built with triggers to update existing records or create ancillary artifact records behind-the-scenes if you're not editing the active record on your screen.
4. I read somewhere that each app only has a 1 GB storage limit.
5. The only file type supported as a table field is an image file. You can try to upload any file type in an image field, but the web app will try to force it into an image file type. Not sure what the reasoning behind this is, especially when SQL supports just about any binary file type.

Overall, I like this product, but it is definitely in its infancy. It will need some work when it comes to ease of customizing security beyond the external SharePoint permissions, file types, and scalability. Be on the look-out for improvements in future versions of this application! It looks like Microsoft intends on putting quite an investment in re-inventing Access and using it to build effective cloud apps!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Freelance Recruiting

Attention Recruiters:

There is another way to find top SharePoint talent: freelance exchange websites.

One that I have recently come across is

Profile of JaredGollnitz on Check out my Freelancermap profile.

This site had a number of remote work possibilities that I found interesting, so I definitely inquired.

Another is Easy to use time sheets, proposals, and project workspaces. If you can imagine it, it's here.

The third is References (like certifications) are checked and verified.

The forte of these sites is finding specialists for short-term assignments or projects, though you can recruit for full time work, and you can recruit world-wide for affordable talent. Two unique features about using this forum for recruiting is that these sites is that you can see (to varying degrees) the actual availability of candidates you are looking to hire, as well as feedback from previous projects on which the candidate has worked. The workers are competing for your business, so you will also be able to keep your costs fairly low. True market price will prevail in this environment, however, be ready to pay more if you want someone whose primary language is English :-)


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

You Don't Have to Be a Weatherman To Know Which Way the Wind Blows.

Which direction is the wind blowing in terms of SharePoint?

Answer: JavaScript/JQuery (read "function") and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, read "look and feel"), if you want to do anything above and beyond out-of-the-box with SharePoint 2010 and 2013.

With every new release of SharePoint, Microsoft is allowing SharePoint to be more flexible, but at the cost of becoming less user-friendly for non-developers. The newest release of SharePoint, SharePoint 2013, makes heavier use of "apps" that can be customized through script.

SharePoint Designer 2013 has taken away its Design view, and thrown the form customizations over the fence to InfoPath 2013.  InfoPath 2013 has some limitations, and so the most effective way to change the function of your SharePoint sites is to use JavaScript and JQuery. This means that even a Site Collection Administrator would be well-served to have knowledge of JavaScript, JQuery, and CSS.

Fortunately, there are many good books available on both subjects, and even books focused on using JavaScript, JQuery, and CSS within the context of SharePoint 2013. I would highly recommend also getting a book on the use of InfoPath 2013 and even Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-hosted SharePoint solution.

For an all-in-one book, I recommend "Pro SharePoint 2013 Branding and Responsive Web Development". "JavaScript and JQuery: The Missing Manual" is also a good read if you're starting anew with any type of development/programming and has good cross-references within.

Best of luck, and happy coding!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Hard Truth #3: Taleo = Turn-Off

Let me take a moment to be like the rare woman who is actually brutally honest with a guy and explains to him why he's just not attractive to her, which, I know, rarely happens, but it's a defining moment of true epiphany when it does happen and the guy can improve himself 1,000 times over than if a woman doesn't give the guy some tough love. With that said, here's my tough love to my beloved recruiter community.

If you're REALLY interested in finding quality candidates, be more personal and save the formal application until after the interviews are completed and an offer is accepted. Taleo and other lengthy online job applications are an impersonal turnoff. To use this step as the first impression to your candidate is nothing but a hassle for the applicant for a job that they might not want after interviewing or that they might not be hired for, especially when other recruiters simply accept and review résumés by e-mail. To make matters worse, many Taleo sites require a separate login and repeated entry of the (mostly) same information over and over again. While Taleo offers a Universal Profile, many companies simply do not use it. If a company simply refers a me to a lengthy Taleo application, 99 times out of 100 I will simply move on to the next job posting unless there is really something in that job or company that I want very much (with SharePoint professionals, there's usually not much that makes a particular position stand out above others. The Taleo application is just not worth my time or any other applicants' time UNLESS an offer has been made to the candidate and the candidate has accepted. If I have already interviewed, been made an offer, and I have accepted the offer in writing, I will gladly take the time to fill out the formal application.

So, what's the answer? A simple email address for sending a searchable résumé to or some other SIMPLE résumé uploader, along with collecting only basic contact information (name, address, phone, e-mail, and the standard citizenship question) is tolerable. A company named Tribridge has successfully implemented Taleo in this way, with just basic contact information and a résumé upload... and I gladly applied for their available position. The same can be said for McDonald's, who posts some of their corporate jobs on LinkedIn, with a fast, simple application initiation with résumé upload. If collecting résumés by e-mail, the recruiter can simply collect a few days worth of some e-mailed resumes, enter them into a searchable repository, then search the group of attachments for key words to find qualified candidates.  Use Taleo as an on-boarding step, not a recruiting step.

Leave the lengthy application form to those applying for government security clearances.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Do You Have SharePoint Telecommute Positions Available?

If you have SharePoint Telecommuter positions available, you can post them here. Gain an edge on your competition by posting your jobs through a targeted website and audience. Except where an organization's network is not accessible through Internet / VPN connectivity, most SharePoint positions can be supported remotely, from home. Get qualified candidates now!

If you have any other telecommute / telecommute / Work-from-Home positions (anything not related to SharePoint), you can post them here.

If you post your positions through one of the two links in this post, your position will appear prominently at the top of the page.

Happy Recruiting

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Important Milestone Plus a Friendly Reminder...

First, the good news... SharePoint Recruiter Central has now reached over 1,000 visitors!  People are finding us through Google searches, and the stats show that the most visited page is the Definitions #3: Site Collection Administrator page. I am glad this definition is getting the attention it so desperately needs. This role is vital to a positive ROI of any enterprise's implementation of SharePoint.

And now, the bad news... I am still seeing waaaaaaaaay too many job postings that simply say "SharePoint Administrator" or "Senior SharePoint Administrator" for positions that have a heavy developer component to them. Someone please slap these recruiters around for me and direct them to my blog and to the Administrator and Developer definitions pages. :-)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The New Playing Field for Recruitment of SharePoint Skills

It is every IT worker's dream: to commute from the bed directly to the computer sitting just feet away from the bed (or in a den) and be at your workplace without driving so much as a furlong (1 furlong = 1/8 mile for the non horse racing enthusiasts). There may be a brief detour to the shower and maybe the refridgerator. No saying goodbye to the kids, the wife, or most depressing of all, the loyal family dog, and no sitting in congested traffic.

Unfortunately, telecommute work isn't always an option, either because an enterprise's network is a closed one, or the hiring company has simply refused to accept the new paradigm.

Because there actually are companies out there willing to adopt this new method of productivity, SharePoint workers are seeking out these positions. The companies that don't adopt telecommuting and adapt their business definitely put themselves at a distinct disadvantage in recruiting, and nowhere is this more true than in recruiting SharePoint talent. SharePoint experts have more than enough options for places to work as it is and many wouldn't give a second thought to abandoning their current on-site role for one that requires no commute. SharePoint was not made specifically with telecommuting in mind, but SharePoint and telecommuting work very nicely together, and even moreso now than ever before with the increased prevalance of cloud-hosted SharePoint environments like Microsoft's Office 365 (SharePoint online). It doesn't matter if the candidate is an administrator, developer, designer, or a site collection administrator... all of the above can telecommute. All that is needed is a computer and an Internet connection, and probably a phone for speaking with customers.

BOTTOM LINE: If you want to hire top talent, make telecommuting an option for the SharePoint position whenever possible and you, as a recruiter, can simply post your jobs and watch the applications roll in... no more sending recruiting e-mails just hoping and praying for a few replies.

Did I mention "no workplace germs?"

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Low Ball Offers...


Here is a blog all of you should read, and especially in the comments. This reminds me of a certain company, ARMA Global, that I USED to work for. I only worked for them for a short period of time because of Scenario B that is detailed in the post. But instead of six months, I landed that new job in less than 4 weeks, and I had my choice of positions and offers.

This post should also serve as a shoutout to  Great site. Applies to recruiting SharePoint professionals as well.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Definitions #8: SharePoint Designer

This one is going to be short and sweet, as it is easy to define and explain.

A SharePoint Designer (not to be confused with the SharePoint Designer client) is a person who specializes in customizing the look and feel of a SharePoint site. The individual should be well-versed in basic HTML and have experience with medium to advanced CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Javascript and jQuery skills are also important.

In addition to HTML and CSS, the Designer should also have an eye for aesthetics and be able to present a smooth but rich user experience in web sites. Also, the ability to create excellent graphics through graphics editing software and stock images is essential.

Résumé Search Keywords: CSS, HTML, javascript, jQuery, SharePoint, SharePoint Designer, Web Designer.

Recommended Resources

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Word on Office 365 / SharePoint Online

Office 365 and SharePoint Online are very valuable tools that Microsoft offers to both large and small businesses but is affordable enough for a stand-alone IT professionals to utilize to hone their skills or gain a new skillset.

Depending on which level of service you subscribe to, you can take advantage of just basic features, or go into full Enterprise SharePoint, chocked full of features like Managed Metadata, syndicated content types, pretty much everything but Project Server 2010... All without needing your own server hardware or network infrastructure. All you need is a PC with an Internet Explorer browser.

One of the biggest limitations of SharePoint Online in its current form (SharePoint 2010) is the restriction from being able to use true SharePoint functionality on the public-facing site collection offered with the E-level Office 365 subscriptions. Many people would love to use those features on public facing content and are not advised of these limitations before they buy the subscription, so, needless to say, Microsoft has had to deal with a great deal of backlash. But those days will be over soon... Supposedly.

Microsoft has issued news stating that the new 2013 public facing SharePoint sites offered as part of Office 365 will indeed provide the full functionality of SharePoint.

Even though the current SharePoint online fell short of expectations on the public facing website, someone trying to learn SharePoint 2010 can still use it as a learning and test lab for prototyping solutions using the popular collaboration platform, up to the site collection level. I believe it to still be a bargain for this use, all without having to set up your own hardware, hosting, and configuration.

Key Recruiter Takeaway: Learn SharePoint with Office 365 or with your company's existing enterprise SharePoint portal!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Definitions #7: Microsoft Project Server Administrator

A Microsoft Project Server Administrator is an extension of the SharePoint Administrator role / skillset. A Microsoft Project Server admin should be intimately familiar with SharePoint Administration, somewhat familiar with Microsoft SQL Server, be a good reader, and a good researcher and troubleshooter. Why does the individual need to be a good researcher? Because publications and good instruction for Project Server setup and administration are rarely found in a single, easy-to-read-and follow location, whether that be in print, online, or otherwise. And if the admin will be working with an ITIL-compliant organization, they are going to run into severe organizational roadblocks, and there will be butting of heads within the organization.

Finding the correct pieces to make it all work takes time, some money for good books, and a lot of patience. This is especially true when configuring the extended features of analysis and reporting / BI.  If the Project Server instance is being installed in an enterprise environment on a shared enterprise DB cluster, make sure the SharePoint Administrator has a good, POSITIVE give-and-take relationship with the DBA, because they will need to be able to a) trust you with elevated permissions, even for service accounts, b) allow for additional component software to be installed on their server, and c) make changes to their server by adding new databases, OLAP cubes, etc.

The Project Server admin should be able to learn the basics of navigating Microsoft Project Professional, or, even better, have access to a seasoned project manager who can assist with familiarization of project management tasks within Project Server. The Project Web App performs many of the tasks that Microsoft Project Professional client provides, all through the browser.

Intermediate to advanced proficiency with Excel and PowerPivot is essential if you are going to be using the reporting and analysis capabilities in the Business Intelligence portions of Project Server.  While the use of the reporting capabilities is not a requirement for use of Project Server, your enterprise leadership will definitely want to leverage it if they know it exists, so be ready and prepared to learn the steps for implementation. The admin MUST follow all installation steps carefully, or there will be troubles, hence the need for someone who can read and follow a manual. The Microsoft Technet online video overviews even stress over and over again the necessity of completely reading all instructions before beginning installation.

Be warned! After installation is complete, learning the permissions for Project Server is a huge challenge because of their complexity, granularity, and the fact that they seem to run somewhat counter to permissions assignments in SharePoint.  The permissions are assigned and filtered at several different levels, so it is best to use only groups and categories, preferably the pre-defined ones, as they are out-of-the-box.

Key Recruiting Take-away: Before I get too off-track with technical detail, you, as a recruiter, should be ready to find someone with the existing experience, depending on the needs of the hiring company, especially if they need someone ready to hit the ground and get the installation/implentation done in short order. That existing experience will probably cost you extra. If you have some time to ramp the person up, still be ready to send your existing SharePoint / SQL admins to training and invest in some textbooks if you want to save yourself a bunch of headaches when the admin goes to deploy and implement Project Server.

Résumé Search Terms: Project Server (2007 or 2010), SharePoint Administrator/Administration with SQL Server.

Textbook recommendation that got me through the install process: Implementing and Administering Microsoft Project Server 2010 | Second Edition


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hard Truth #2: Clients Don't Always Know What Their REAL Need Is

You get a job req for a SharePoint Administrator, though what you need is a SharePoint Business Analyst or Site Collection Administrator, or you get a req for a SharePoint Admin when what the role actually calls for is a SharePoint Developer. You can also get a request for a SharePoint Developer when what you need is a well-versed Site Collection Administrator.

Please do yourself a favor and make sure that the job title you're given matches the description below it, and that the needs of the hiring manager / client company match their true needs.

I have seen stark differences in style on how to get the best person for the job. Some companies go for the most EXPENSIVE skillset, while others go for the most EXPANSIVE skillset, and others give job titles that are a total keyword mismatches, or just too generic.

There is nothing wrong with combining job titles. Use the "/" to your advantage. Let's say that you're looking for the total SharePoint guru. Simply state that you need a SharePoint Administrator / Developer, SharePoint Engineer, or SharePoint Architect if what you need is someone who can do both administration and development.

Most importantly, make sure you communicate with the people who submit the openings to you. Make sure they've given you the information you truly need to submit the right candidate. Everything I've stated here may seem like common sense, but I wouldn't be writing about it if I hadn't experienced someone who, somewhere along the chain, has messed this one up.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Definitions #6: InfoPath Forms Author

InfoPath is the one component (add-on?) of SharePoint whose future may be in question. With the robustness of out-of-the-box SharePoint increasing with every new version, the need for InfoPath to extend the capabilities of SharePoint are decreasing.

That said, InfoPath is still widely used and supported in the enterprise.

What is InfoPath?

InfoPath is a XML forms authoring tool. InfoPath forms can be published to SharePoint or can be used stand-alone or integrated into e-mail to collect user-entered data, create reports, and also perform some calculations. InfoPath can easily utilize some of SharePoint's native web services to send and receive data, as well as auto-populate user profile information and other information. 

One of the most important thing to remember about a trained forms author is that he or she can implement a solution in InfoPath at a fraction of the cost of a full SharePoint developer and in a fraction of the time... and all without code.

InfoPath came to its peak (or so I believe at this time) with the 2007 version, and the capability of digital signatures in particular. InfoPath was improved but also morphed a bit in the 2010 version, adding a Contact Selector (aka People Picker) control natively. A contact selector was available as an Add-In for 2007 but a lot of configuring was required. With the improvements in SharePoint 2010 and the introduction of JQuery, tasks once limited to InfoPath can be easily accomplished with out-of-the-box SharePoint or with some additional manipulation with JQuery. Note: JQuery requires some knowledge of javascript. However, InfoPath requires no code in most cases and can be learned by someone with zero coding experience. Even though InfoPath is less needed with newer versions of SharePoint, it is still around and supported, and may still be utilized at any time.

From a qualifications standpoint, an InfoPath forms author should be well-versed as a Site Collection Administrator with experience with SharePoint Designer. This experience is necessary because the author will need to have to be a Site Collection Administrator to be able to publish forms, create workflows, customize permissions, etc.

Key Recruiting Takeaway: While InfoPath is a hard skillset to find, it is fairly easy to search for. Just type "InfoPath" in your resume searches and you should be able to find good matches, if they exist in your résumé databases.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hard Truth #1: SharePoint Professionals are in High Demand!

As pretty much all of you already know, SharePoint professionals are not exactly a dime a dozen. There are tons of SharePoint jobs out there (particularly admins and even more so for developers), and not even close to the right amount of eligible candidates to fill those roles. This shortage becomes even more magnified in the market of SharePoint positions that require government security clearances.

Microsoft has done one hell of a job selling SharePoint to customers far and wide, in both private and public sectors, large and small businesses (small businesses are really beginning to latch onto Office 365 offerings). Microsoft has sold a wonderful product, creating more jobs than there are people to fill them, because most companies "ooooo!!!" and "aaaahhhh!!!" at SharePoint and buy it before they have anyone present in-house to support their large investment in the technology.

So... what does this mean for you as a recruiter for these positions?

While pay is not everything, it certainly helps. As with any job offer, the bottom line matters. The salary, benefits, cost of those benefits, other fringe perks, etc.

So your company may not have the greatest pay scale or benefits... what do you do? 

First, remember SharePoint is an acquirable skill. Anyone with any basic knowledge of logic and computer programming, queries, etc. can learn the ins and outs of SharePoint. Yes, you may have to send a member of your existing work force to training (expect at least a week of a typical SharePoint bootcamp, probably in the neighborhood of $3k per week), but many people will be willing to learn SharePoint if they are aware of the demand for the skillset and the job security it will ensure for the candidate. Use this scenario to train individuals at a less-than-premium salary if you have a little bit of time to ramp them up. An existing .net developer can learn the SharePoint framework and object model. An admin experienced in setup and configuration of an open-source content management system can be trained to be a SharePoint administrator. A person who understands queries and basic html, the concept of inheritance, and a little bit of OOP (though optional) can be trained to be a power user or site collection administrator.

In the case where you need an expert to come in, hit the ground running, and be a rockstar, I can only tell you to be ready to pay the piper. This includes power users / site collection administrators, farm administrators, and developers.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Definitions #5: SharePoint Solutions Architect

Whether you use the term "SharePoint Solutions Architect" or "SharePoint Architect", you'll start to run into some very blurry lines, but there are some common themes as I compare job descriptions of different companies for their Solutions Architect postings. This is a job title that I do not advise advertising to your candidates unless you have a VERY accurate and detailed description of duties to go along with it in your recruiting e-mails and phone calls.  Before I became a farm admin, I interviewed at the Indianapolis office of a major global consulting firm. As part of their interview process, I spoke with that organization's Solutions Architect. Very interestingly, he described himself as the man who "knows everything but does nothing." +John Ferringer  :-)

In general, the architect is responsible for the overall architecture of platforms, ensuring successful integration of systems, ensuring overall security, and ensuring adherence to enterprise standards and compliance requirements. The architect will work with both systems administrators and developers to ensure the integrity of all applications within the platform, ensure that applications and platforms are properly analyzed, maintained, and documented.

In many cases, the architect should have some project lead experience, having good soft skills, as they will be frequently interfacing and reporting to leads representing the client or customer. This person also needs to be able to positively interface with both internal and external partners, vendors, etc., and potentially even C-level leadership.

The architect should have a broad knowledge of systems architecture, operating systems, systems administration, particularly within the scope of SharePoint. While developer skills are not a must-have deal-breaker requirement of this position, the architect should at least know where the lines are drawn between out-of-the-box and custom developed and deployed, and should be able to make general recommendations with regards to choosing best approach for solutions to meet business needs. That said... an architect will be much more valuable to an organization if he or she has a solid experience as a developer.

Key Recruiting Take-Away: In short, the Solutions Architect is a problem-solver. This person should have proven ability to find solutions to complex business needs and processes, and be able to effectively coordinate teams to build and integrate solutions.

Resume Search Terms: SharePoint Architect, Solutions Architect, SharePoint Solutions Architect, Systems Architect.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Definitions #4: SharePoint Information Architect

The SharePoint Information Architect is a role that has really grown some wings since the release of SharePoint 2010. Yes, MOSS and SharePoint 2007 possessed some fledgling features that remotely resembled centrally managed information architecture, but SharePoint 2010 made these concepts an integral part of the way people and information are organized and processed in the enterprise SharePoint environment.

So... what does the Information Architect do?

The Information Architect is responsible for centralized management and syndication of enterprise metadata, content types, and associated information management policies (records management also falls into this domain). The SharePoint Information Architect leverages the new Managed Metadata service in SharePoint to create metadata taxonomies (known as Term Stores), or hierarchies of information structure. SharePoint 2010 also provides for a folksonomy, which is user-specified metadata that the Information Architect can choose to either add to the enterprise taxonomy, leave the metadata in the ad-hoc term store, or delete the unwanted user-defined terms. The Information Architect should always be involved in any discussions regarding enterprise SharePoint governance.

The initial setup and launch of the term stores can be a daunting, time-consuming task, depending on the scope of the metadata defined. The central cataloguing of content types and information management policies is also no small task as well. This is where someone with a working knowledge of records management, retention, disposition, and their associated legal requirements can be very useful to the enterprise.  This person can be delegated responsibility of the Managed Metadata Service Application on the farm. This is but one of several examples of the mid-tier administrator roles that came to being in SharePoint 2010.

This person is normally designated as a Site Collection Administrator on the site designated as the central Managed Metadata Syndication Hub and Content Type Syndication Hub.

Recruiting Take-Away: This person should be an experienced records manager, taxonomist, or site collection administrator. Some experience with any of these three will be helpful. Most likely, this role will be a portion of tasking of someone who is a full-time professional in one of the other two roles.

Resume Search Criteria: SharePoint Information Architect, Taxonomy, Managed Metadata, Content Types, Information Management Policies, Records Management (optional, but helpful)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Personal Touch...

Every person on the planet is unique, though we have commonalities with other people in our career fields.  SharePoint professionals are no exception. The biggest single key to success in recruiting (and not being seen by your candidates as just another recruiter later) is to build personal relationships with your potential candidates, get to know their interests outside of work, etc. Shadeed Eleazer has a great article on the subject here.

From personal experience, recruiters who follow up with me a few months or even a year down the road just to say hi and see what I'm up to always earn some extra bonus points. It let's me know that I am more than just another marketable commodity.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Definitions #3: Site Collection Administrator

The role of the SharePoint Site Collection Administrator (and equivalents listed below in the resume search terms section of this article) is to control all aspects of a Site Collection and all subsites, lists, and libraries contained therein. This person can control branding of a site collection, as well as layouts, master pages, style sheets, content types, site structure, content management, publishing of InfoPath forms (we'll cover InfoPath forms authors in another article), approval of submitted content, management of site columns, permissions, site collection search scopes, and creation of document libraries, lists, and associated workflows, both custom and out-of-the-box.

This role is one of the hardest to pinpoint and recruit. While no programming or previous administration skills are required, this skillset requires an immense amount of training, due to the massive number of features present in SharePoint. The Site Collection Administrator, of all the roles in SharePoint, is the one person who becomes intimately familiar with the out-of-the-box capabilities of SharePoint. This person is the power-user, and will usually also play the role of the business analyst within the scope of SharePoint.

Due to this familiarity with the application, the Site Collection Administrator also tends to become the first line of technical support and business analysis to the end users in the enterprise.  Sometimes this person is part of a small group that supports an entire enterprise, or this person is a point person for a particular business unit, with each business unit having one or two individuals responsible for administration of a SharePoint site collection. This person will build some of the closest connections / relationships possible in an entire enterprise and should also be very skilled at developing positive business relationships. A person who is good with both the technical and relational aspects is always worth their weight in gold.

The Site Collection Administrator is also responsible for learning how to use SharePoint Designer. SPD is used to edit style sheets, javascript, master pages, page layouts, (some) custom webparts, and custom rule-based workflows for automating business processes.

While not often recruited specifically, finding a person with a complete, robust skillset in Site Collection Administration can be very difficult to find. 

WARNING: the Site Collection Adminsitrator has the power to perform some devastating actions (most often times very inadvertently) that can take hours, days, and in rare cases, even WEEKS to overcome and restore. SENDING THIS PERSON TO TRAINING IS WORTH THE PRICE if they don't have previous experience.  A Site Collection Administrator can delete a list, library, subsite, and even their entire site collection. They can also put a custom workflow into an infinite loop. And, as I stated before, these actions usually happen completely by accident. Restoring deleted sites and site collections requires the intervention of the SharePoint Farm Administrator.

A note about Office 365 (O365, SharePoint Online, offered by Microsoft): Someone with Site Collection Admin experience is all you need to get started with using the SharePoint Online offerings through Microsoft. The highest level you will be allowed to administer is at the site collection level and provisioning site collections.

If a person is looking to become a full-time SharePoint professional, this is the place they should start, unless they are already .net programmer, in which case the person should look into becoming a SharePoint Developer.

Certainly, a SharePoint Administrator or SharePoint Developer could be very well-versed on Site Collection Administrator skills, but many times the SharePoint Admins are Windows Systems Engineers and SharePoint Developers are .net cross-trainees, and neither of these ever really get experience solving business problems with out-of-the-box SharePoint solutions like the true Site Collection Administrator does. Please keep this in mind when evaluating the value (read "salary") of an experienced Site Collection Administrator.

Key Recruiter Take-Aways: An experienced SharePoint Site Collection Administrator is worth their weight in gold to the customer you place them with... be prepared to pay the piper. The experience that an experienced SCA has takes YEARS to accumulate and is constantly evolving. While a degree in Computer Science isn't necessary, a solid understanding of prepositional (boolean) logic is necessary to properly leverage things like custom views and filtering, and make modifications to pages that leverage javascript and other function calls. And finally, as mentioned in a previous post, an experienced Site Collection Administrator can and should strive to learn the back-end of SharePoint Administration. It is the next step in the natural career progression in the SharePoint ranks. If you are confident that a person can make the transition and they REALLY want to make the transition, you may be able to hire a trainable SharePoint Administrator at a discount if they have the necessary Site Collection Administrator experience.

Resume Search Terms: SharePoint Site Collection Administrator, SharePoint Analyst, SharePoint Business Analyst, SharePoint Specialist, SharePoint Designer (the tool, not the job title... we will cover the job title of SharePoint Designer later), SharePoint Knowledge Manager, SharePoint Content Administrator, SharePoint Content Manager, SharePoint Permissions, SharePoint Administrator (optional), SharePoint Application Administrator (optional).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Problem with ITIL

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), as defined on WikiPedia, is a set of practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business. ITIL also aims to create accountability within IT organizations. Sounds all fine and dandy, right?

Well, my experience with ITIL so far has put some problems in place that are nearly impossible to overcome, especially in a SharePoint environment... and I do mean PROBLEMS.

1. ITIL creates needlessly BLOATED IT organizations. There is a job description for nearly every role in the ITIL structure, and many companies and government enterprises feel the need to put a warm body in every seat defined by ITIL, just in the name of being ITIL-compliant, whether that warm body is genuinely needed by an organization or not.

2. ITIL draws lines between organizations that should be working side-by-side with each other and sharing certain responsibilities. Often times developers and systems administrators have both skillsets and responsibilities that overlap.  The strict demarcation that an ITIL-compliant enterprise places between developers and sysadmins can reduce teamwork and collaboration between the two, and worse yet, an atrophying of the skillset that the other possesses. Another unforeseen side effect is that SharePoint Administrators get divided into different levels, leading to expertise in one layer or another of the SharePoint administration hierarchy, but with this focus comes lack of use and loss of familiarity with the the layers above what that administrator has access to (ie. someone whose level of access only goes as high as the Web App or Site Collection).

And worst of all (and a problem my current organization is facing),

3. An team that controls one component of a SharePoint implementation can completely de-rail progress made by the other teams. For instance, the team that is responsible for physical or virtual servers chooses to not upgrade a server whose upgrade is needed to go to the next version of SharePoint... whether that be Windows Server versions or SQL Server versions. All it takes is ONE of the teams not cooperating and poo-pooing the progress of the others by saying "no, we're not going to do that" to bring mission-critical initiatives to a grinding halt. And no one holds the offending group accountable, which defeats the accountability portion of the primary goals of ITIL.

4. Virtualization snapshots are NOT a Disaster Recovery (DR) solution for SharePoint and Microsoft Premier Support does not support SharePoint farms that have been rolled back on VM's! Try telling this fact to the shop that controls all of the enterprise servers... 'Nuff said.

Many companies and government IT organizations are requiring ITIL certification for their administrators,developers, managers, and support personnel, and I think it is somewhat wise to be knowledgable about the intent of ITIL, but most take the concepts too far.

So, to those apologists and die-hards that think ITIL is absolutely the greatest thing, please please PLEASE make sure that you're implementing it in a way that avoids the pitfalls I've listed above.

Definitions #2: SharePoint Administrator

The SharePoint Administrator position, the role I currently fill, is quite possibly the most vague of them all, and this fact alone becomes even more true (or distorted, however you want to look at it) with the newer versions of SharePoint (2010, 2013) and cloud-hosted, multi-tenant SharePoint instances. However, the most common definition of this position is responsibility for any infrastructure components that make up a SharePoint farm (however, this usually excludes responsibility for the overall network/LAN/domain it is attached to). This includes standing up a new SharePoint farm, supporting existing farms, and migrating data from an old farm to a new one.

Farms can be hosted entirely on a single server (they all start out as a single server, or with the only component separated being the SQL back-end), or they can be expanded to include the following: 1-to-many SharePoint Web Front End (WFE) servers, typically an application server (which can include a search function), an indexing server for search, and the SQL Server back-end.

The SharePoint admin is also responsible for databases that store configuration, content, and access lists/user profiles, though the databases typically reside on a larger, shared database server that is under the control and responsibility of a SQL Server database administrator, who usually administers backups of the SharePoint-dependent databases.

The SharePoint admin sees to it that the servers and databases are backed up on a frequent basis, and will be responsible for disaster recovery (DR) should the SharePoint farm crash.

The admin is also responsible for configuring URL's through SharePoint Web Apps and through alternate access mappings, if necessary. Each Web App can be configured for consuming different services, such as search, Excel services, etc. and ensures that those who need access to these services have them.

The admin is responsible for configuring and monitoring search crawls, a key component of SharePoint that users rely upon heavily.

Another admin responsibility is creating new site collections. The newly-created site collections are usually handed over to site collection administrators, who are who are often mis-recruited for SharePoint administrator positions. However, it should be noted that in some cases, the SharePoint admin will also serve as a SharePoint Site Collection Administrator as I do in my current position. But please, please do not confuse these two roles, as they are often separate within the enterprise. If a position you are recruiting for is not a farm admin and is at the Site Collection level only (no server responsibility), please make sure your position is appropriately titled as a Site Collection Administrator and not as a SharePoint Administrator or Developer.  Many candidates will use this in their search criteria when seeking new positions. I will more clearly define the Site Collection Administrator role in a different article.

Another dimension to add is the fact that cloud tenant hosting providers are now coming to the forefront. This adds another middleware layer to the picture. The SharePoint Administrator could be the infrastructure person at the cloud hosting provider, or they could be the tenant company's person who runs the Web Apps. The person will oversee user licenses, Site Collections, storage quotas and usage, as well as resource quotas and usage. This person could be generically (and appropriately) titled as a SharePoint Administrator, though a hiring manager needs to be VERY SPECIFIC about the nature of the environment and which layer(s) the hired candidate will be responsible for when brought on-board.

What the candidate needs to have:

1. Ideally, the candidate should have a solid background (read "degree") in computer sciences, and be Microsoft Certified (MCTS or higher) in the technology he or she is being hired for if they do not have much on-the-job experience prior to the position you are hiring them for. Certifications aren't 100% necessary, but they do demonstrate at least a good portion of the working knowledge necessary for the position.

2. The candidate should be knowledgable on Windows Server operating systems and experience examining server logs for troubleshooting purposes.

3. The candidate needs some working knowledge of SQL server and associated roles. This is necessary for properly securing the SharePoint farm.

4. The candidate should have a solid, working understanding of SharePoint architecture, service architecture, and network concepts.

And, pay close attention to this one...

5. The candidate should have some knowledge of how SharePoint is utilized by the end users. Here is where a unique opportunity may present itself to you in the form of an experienced Site Collection Administrator. An experienced Site Collection Administrator can be up-trained to become a SharePoint farm admin, and you, as the recruiter can use the person's lack of farm admin experience as a bargaining chip to discount their salary in exchange for giving the person valuable experience as a farm admin. That said, the salary will still need to be greater than what they were making as a Site Collection Admin, and the person will need to be sent to a week of training for SharePoint Administration and possibly Windows Server Administration.

6. Experience in programming isn't necessary and is only minimally helpful for a pure SharePoint Admin position... that is why you have developers, though, a developer can be of assistance in administration tasks at times.

7. While not necessary at first, a solid understanding of command-line tools STSADM (for SharePoint 2007) and PowerShell 2.0 (for SharePoint 2010 and beyond) should be learned and maintained.

Your Recruiting Take-Away: Even though SharePoint Administators and SharePoint Developers may have overlapping skills, please make sure that a) the two roles are NOT CONFUSED with each other, b) the job descriptions are accurate about what the position actually entails, and c) that the resumes are actually read prior to matching the resumes to the positions.

Recommended Resume Search Criteria: "SharePoint Administrator" + farm + WFE + "SQL Server" (optional) + "MCTS: SharePoint" (optional) + stsadm + PowerShell

Monday, January 21, 2013

Definitions #1: SharePoint Developer

Today, I would like to define for you what a SharePoint Developer does. Simply stated, a SharePoint developer performs actions that involve writing code to meet custom needs of the enterprise. These actions extend the capabilities of SharePoint above and beyond what can be done out-of-the-box, with InfoPath, or with SharePoint Designer. Within the realm of browser-based applications, there are two ways to present interactivity between the user and the web in which he or she is interacting: Client-Side and Server-Side.

Some developers specialize in one or the other, but can do both. This is dependent upon several variables, such as business requirements, developer skillset, and access levels.

Client-Side development is handled at the browser level, meaning that most of this kind of work is done with HTML or javascript, and can involve technologies like JQuery, JCarousel, etc. For the most part, this can be done with only Site Owner or Site Collection Administrator permissions, or in some limited cases, contributor. Some of the tools required for this include SharePoint Designer, though some of the work can be done in a simple Content Editor Web Part and a library to store any resource files, such as JQuery. A client-side developer may also opt to take advantage of tools present in Microsoft InfoPath.

Server-Side development is handled, as the name suggests, at the server level. For these scenarios, the developer will need a solid foundation of .Net experience, as well as a solid understanding of SharePoint architecture, queries, workflows, and the SharePoint Object Model. Tools that the Server-Side developer requires include a development SharePoint environment (read farm, even if only a single server instance) for which he or she has administrative access to, as well as Microsoft Visual Studio, to develop, package, and deploy what are known as features. These individuals can have some experience (or at least some know-how) as a SharePoint administrator, but it isn't necessarily required.

Other duties that are typically required by developers include knowledge of version management, configuration management, and most importantly, the ability to compile quality documentation of their work.

The Important Recruiting Take-away: Many developers are knowledgable on both, but you, as the recruiter, need to know what you're hiring for and what that person will have access to at their job place. You do NOT want to place a candidate that only has client side experience for a job requiring Server-Side skills, or, on the other side of the coin, a person who has and wants to utilize server-side skills but will only have access to implement client-side methods when they arrive at their new job site. 

1. Make sure that the hiring manager has given you, the recruiter, an accurate job description for any development positions.

2. Take a close look at the resumes of your candidates. Do they possess use of Visual Studio in the context of a SharePoint environment? In my case, I did a brief stint as a .net developer long before I gained any experience with SharePoint. If a recruiter examines my resume, they will see that I have no .net experience during the jobs that I have used SharePoint. I also have in bold letters towards the top of my resume that I am only interested in SharePoint Administrator positions only... but somehow I still get reqs for SharePoint developer positions... to which I immediately delete, knowing that my current resume wasn't even opened by the recruiter.

3. An extra five minutes of looking at your resumes will yield you 5-10 times better candidate proposals to your hiring managers. The hiring managers employ you to present qualified candidates and to separate out the wheat from the chaffe so they don't have to. Read the resumes!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Welcome to SharePoint Recruiter Central!

First order of business... Welcome to a blog dedicated to the competitive, lucrative, and highly misunderstood art of recruiting SharePoint professionals.

As a frequently-recruited MCTS in SharePoint technologies, I am perplexed at some of the recruiting I receive... Jobs I am qualified for (best case), jobs I am qualified for but don't pay market value, jobs I am not qualified for but the recruiter still tries like hell to submit me for an interview with the hiring managers, and most interestingly, jobs that I wasn't qualified for but accepted because I wanted to upgrade my skillset (this one is key if you find the right candidate to take a chance on at a discounted rate).

I have created this site to help all of the IT, and more specifically, SharePoint recruiters out there get the best bang for their buck and get the most out of their time spent recruiting professionals that are well-matched for the positions they are being recruited to fill.

In the beginning, I will differentiate between admins, power-users, developers, authors, designers, solutions architects, as well as other misunderstood analyst types. I will show you what to look for on their résumés, and, most importantly, WHICH QUESTIONS to ask your hiring managers in regards to the roles and responsibilities of the position being filled to ensure that you a) have an accurate position description so you can b) find the right candidate for the position.

I will also cover some nasty truths that none of you want to hear but need to hear. I will also try to give you the best guidance on how to turn these truths into advantages, give you hope (and maybe an edge over the competition!).
My goal is to stay on top of the technology trends, give you, the recruiter, overviews of emerging SharePoint-related trends and how to tailor your recruiting efforts toward them. Part of recruiting is using proper search criteria to identify the resumes that match the jobs.

I hope to publish useful material to help you earn more recruiting commissions with less hassle and less time spent! This includes providing you with websites specifically targeted to SharePoint professionals for optimum job board recruiting, at a fraction of the cost of LinkedIn, which many of you undoubtedly use in your efforts.

Your participation is very much welcome here. Share both your successes and your difficulties, as all who come to this site can benefit. Thanks for stopping by, and happy recruiting!