Talent Development Centre

All posts by Alison Turnbull

What You Need to Consider Before Accepting a Counter Offer

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Permanent Placement Specialist at Eagle

Nearly all IT careers begin in a permanent employment position, as opposed to jumping right into the market as an independent contractor. Naturally, then, at some point you’ll be in a situation where you land a new job, either as an employee at another company or as a contractor, and the time comes to tell your current boss you are leaving. It’s something that most people dread. Upon giving your notice, what happens if your company comes back with a pay increase and/or a promotion? Most people’s first thought is “Wow, I’m really valued here and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep me”. But before accepting that counter offer, be sure to consider all of the facts and do your research!

There are a plethora of articles out there explaining the reasons that accepting a counter-offer is equivalent to corporate death. Statistics prove that “over 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year.”

It’s important to ask yourself some important questions. Why were you willing to leave in the first place? What has changed? If it was strictly compensation, it’s possible that a counter-offer makes sense, but in the vast majority of situations there are other factors at play that just aren’t resolved by earning additional pay. If you are truly a valued employee, why did it take you almost walking out the door for them to pay what you know you are worth?

In many cases, an employer will be scrambling to backfill a position within your 2-week notice period and there will inevitably be gaps that will impact their business. By offering a nominal increase to keep you, they may be ensuring they are covering their bases but working towards replacing you on their own timeline. The other important factor is that you will always be the employee who wanted to leave, so if there is a restructuring, your name will likely be the first on the chopping block.

Be sure to carefully consider all of the aspects of consideration before declining that new opportunity and be sure you are doing what is right for your career in the long run.

The Age of Working Remotely: Tried and True Advice for Working from Home

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Permanent Placement Specialist at Eagle

The Age of Working Remotely: Tried and True Tips for Working from HomeAs a long-standing employee at Eagle, I have had the benefit of participating in the company’s work-from-home program, “WORKshift”, for a few years now. The program allows staff to work from their home office once or twice per week but I have now transitioned to a new role that allows me to work remotely 100%. As referenced in a recent post, working remotely brings lots of pros, but certainly has its share of challenges. More and more clients and employers are embracing this style of work. With very effective collaboration and communication tools at the ready, it can make it a feasible option and a definite benefit or ‘value proposition’ when trying to attract new talent.

Whether working full-time or in a contract role, there are several important factors of consideration if you are going to move to a remote work scenario.

Anyone will tell you that the single most important facet of remote work is having a dedicated work space or office. Not only does this allow you to stay focused and engaged during the work day, but one of the biggest challenges is that it can be difficult to differentiate and separate your home and personal life from work. One of the things I’ve found most beneficial is ensuring that I have a set work schedule and adhering to that. I personally have found that ending the work day with a routine or a ritual allows me to best transition from my work day to my evening (taking a brisk walk, running an errand, etc.).

Working remotely does allow some flexibility in terms of schedule but it’s essential to always be readily available during work hours or keep team members apprised of availability, if for any reason you will be away from your computer. It only takes a few missed calls or delayed responses for clients or colleagues to assume you are not in fact working — never a good scenario, especially if you need to get a timesheet signed!

Working remotely can be somewhat isolating, but if you use team messaging or instant messaging software it can go a long way in helping you to feel part of the team. It also helps if you have the type of career that requires that you are on the phone a lot – which, in my case, recruiting certainly does!

From my perspective, the benefits of remote work far outweigh the challenges and I have thoroughly enjoyed the transition. There are time savings (no more commuting), financial savings (gas or transit costs, eating out), health benefits (less fast food and more time to fit in exercise) and it’s much easier to find a good work/life balance.

If you are thinking about exploring the option of taking on some contracts remotely be sure you set yourself up for success, and you will likely never look back!

It’s Time to Reflect on 2018 so You Can Set SMART Goals for 2019

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

As another year winds down and we look forward to enjoying some ‘downtime’ over the holidays, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, and think about what you would like to achieve in the upcoming year. From a career perspective, it’s important to set goals to ensure that you keep moving forward. Perhaps you have a long-term goal you are working towards but are struggling to identify how to get there. It’s extremely important to set smaller annual goals that will assist you in moving towards that larger goal.

As a consultant/contractor, it might help to reflect on the past year to help you determine what goals would be important for you. Was there an opportunity that you missed out on because you didn’t have the required certification or designation? Will achieving that in 2019 help you to land that contract that will help your career to move forward?

Perhaps you had a gap between contracts in 2018 while you tried to find your next opportunity. Setting a goal to increase your network, to connect with a mentor who is currently fulfilling the role you strive for, or to break into a new industry are all goals that can help you work towards that long-term career goal. You can also speak with a recruiter to ask for their input on what might make you more marketable. Recruiters see multiple opportunities every day and have a wealth of knowledge and insight that they are likely happy to share.

When setting goals, it’s important to ensure that they are ‘SMART’:

  • Is your goal Specific,
  • Is your goal Measurable
  • Is your goal Attainable
  • Is it Relevant (to your long term career goals)
  • And is it Time-based?

Be sure to set clear goals, to write them down, and to set timelines to hold yourself accountable.

All the best for a safe and happy holiday season, and here’s to a productive and goal oriented 2019!

How You Can Contribute to an Awesome Onboarding Experience

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

How You Can Contribute to an Awesome Onboarding ExperienceWe’ve all been there – starting a new job always means lots of uncertainty, heightened levels of stress and a general sense of discomfort.  Clients and employers have come a long way to ensuring the onboarding of both permanent employees and contractors is pleasant. In doing so, they strive to mitigate the stress that starting a new job tends to have on the vast majority of people.

Back in the day, it was common to have someone point to an empty desk, hand you a bottle of Windex and say “Off you go, figure it out!”  Luckily, companies have since recognized the importance of a robust onboarding program including socialization, training, wide spread introductions and announcements – all of which go a long way to fostering a feeling of inclusion.

As an IT contractor, independent professionals are accustomed to starting new positions on a fairly regular basis so tend to roll with the punches more so than most.  A good agency understands the importance of you having all of the tools and information you need to start an assignment successfully, and will do everything that they can to assist with that process.  But the contractor has a role to play in that as well.  In speaking with our back-office onboarding team, we asked what some of the common misconceptions or missteps were.  They confirmed that if you focus on just these four areas in the days leading up to your contract start date, it will ensure a much smoother onboarding process for all.

  • Have all requested paperwork completed. More importantly, complete all required fields, on time, and submitted as requested.
  • Ensure that all business paperwork is accurate. Everything you provide needs to be clear and correct. For example, confirm that your HST # is valid and that your chequing account is under business name rather than personal.
  • Know where to go for information. Your agency cannot (and should not) act as an accountant, a lawyer, or a business assistant. Be sure you have your own business considerations covered
  • Realize that staffing agencies can have different processes. Just because the recruitment agency you worked with last did things one way, it doesn’t mean it was the “right” way. You may have to adapt to a new (and potentially better!) way of doing things.

When you start a new contract it’s your job to get acquainted as quickly as possible and to hit the ground running.  Ensuring that all of your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed from an administrative perspective will go a long way in allowing you to focus on what is important — doing a stellar job for your new client.

The Reasons that Clients Give for Rejecting Great Candidates

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

As recruiters we are often surprised when a candidate, who we thought was perfect for a role, is rejected for an opportunity that they were well suited for.

There have been several previous posts that we have shared providing interview tips and tricks, but in this post I wanted to share some specific feedback that we have received from clients. Keeping these important things in mind will hopefully help you to be successful in your next interview.

They were all over the map

We’ve heard this described in many different ways: “They rambled or they went on and on or they went way off track.” One of the things that I coach everyone on, even the most senior of candidates, is to try and keep things concise. It’s common in an interview situation when nerves are a bit rattled to want to talk. And talk. And talk. An interviewer will often take a moment or two to capture information that you have shared, but don’t take that silence to mean that you should keep talking. The best advice is to answer a question in a clear and concise manner – and stop talking. If the interviewer doesn’t respond (and therefore seems to be looking for more), ask “Would you like me to expand on that?” OR “Would you like me to share a specific example?” If you answer a question and then go off on an unrelated tangent, the interview is as good as over.

They didn’t explain their experience well

We often hear that candidates weren’t successful in explaining their experience in a relatable way. It’s helpful to refer to the STAR method when preparing for an interview. Although this format is normally recommended for behavioural-based interview questions, it’s a great way to be sure you are highlighting all aspects of relevant experience in relation to a question. Speaking at a high level and giving vague answers rather than highlighting specific projects, experiences or accomplishments does not tend to bode well, and will leave any interviewer rushing to finish the interview. Be prepared with specifics and have some key project examples jotted down that you can quickly refer to – don’t assume that you will be able to recall them during the interview.

They shared too much

We hear this feedback often and have to wonder what people are thinking when they share too much personal information in a job interview. I once had an employee tell a prospective employer that they had started contracting because of personal debt, and then proceeded to give a number! This can also include speaking poorly of a previous employer, which is never a good idea. If you are trying to explain a gap in employment or a reason for leaving a role, keep it fairly high level, don’t come off as defensive, and maintain your professionalism at all times. If you are tempted to share that your wife left you, your dog died, or your uncle was in jail – write a country song instead.

A good recruiter will help you prepare for an interview and share some insight into what to expect to help you best prepare, but it’s up to you to use and keep the above feedback in mind. If you use common sense and exude professionalism you are sure to land the job!

 

The Emerging War for Tech Talent

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

We weren’t surprised to see the recent unemployment numbers in tech coming out of the US, since it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Canada is experiencing the same war for talent.

At Eagle’s permanent placement division, we have had an increased number of requests for developers. While the usual niche skills are in very high demand (Data Science, Machine Learning, Security), clients seem to be struggling to secure solid tech talent in more common areas. There seem to be more opportunities out there, particularly for experienced Java Developers, than there is talent.

Many developers choose to work as independent contractors. The appeal is obvious with the flexibility of projects/work. High rates are also a primary factor for choosing to work on a contract basis rather than full-time. But with some clients wanting to build out high performing engineering teams and keep this talent in house, they are having to come up with new and interesting ways to attract them.

Clients are now having to offer very competitive and comprehensive compensation packages. This is not unlike the trend we have seen in the US with unlimited vacation days, flexible working hours, remote work, and much higher base salaries. What may surprise some is that one of the key factors to attracting great candidates is offering them the opportunity to work with leading edge technology. A recent Forbes article states that “40% of employees had already left a job because they didn’t have access to the latest digital tools.”

We have experienced some scenarios in the past few weeks where employers have lost candidates because they failed to move through the process quickly enough and gained additional clients because internal recruitment efforts just can’t keep up with the demand. Solid developers are highly sought after and if they are considering a career move, they will typically be considering multiple offers in a very short period of time. Clients who expect candidates to go through multiple interviews and hope they will still be available 2-3 weeks after being presented, inevitably results in staffing agencies being on the losing end of this war for talent.

Working with an agency is becoming more essential as the market heats up. At Eagle we work closely with clients to:

  • Ensure that they have a carefully (and accurately) crafted an Employee Value Proposition
  • Give them unparalleled access to the ‘passive job seeker’ market
  • Provide detailed market data so that they can stay ahead of market trends and ensure their compensation is competitive
  • Keep in close contact with candidates throughout the entire process so that everyone is aware of competing offers before the candidate is off the market

With this new war for talent, it’s time for hiring organizations to start asking themselves if they’re ready to compete and what they’re going to do to attract and keep the best talent. On the flip side of the coin, with so many options available, it’s a good time for IT professionals to evaluate their own careers, develop a plan and decide where they want to be!

Life-Long Lessons Learned from Boxing

 

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Fight to End Cancer LogoThis post is a follow-up to the one I had published back in February describing an upcoming event that I was fortunate enough to be selected for – the annual Fight to End Cancer.  As I mentioned back in February, starting this adventure was about as far outside of my comfort zone as one could get.  In six short weeks I will be stepping into a boxing ring at a Black Tie gala in front of over 500 people to compete in an Olympic style boxing match.

When I look back at my previous post, it’s hard to believe it has been only two months because those two months have taught me more than I ever thought possible.

If there is one thing I want to share from this, it’s the recommendation to everyone out there that no matter how old or how ‘stuck in your ways’ you feel, you will benefit greatly from committing to something that requires physical and mental endurance.  Here are some of the key lessons that I’ve learned over the past eight weeks:

1 – HARD WORK PAYS OFF!  You must commit yourself wholeheartedly to an event like this, whether it’s a competition, a tournament, a marathon or a sprint.  There will be days when the last thing you feel like doing is training, but those tend to be the days when you leave the gym feeling like you are on top of the world.  No one will put in the hard work for you, you have to just DO IT!

2 – FOCUS IS EVERYTHING!  It took our coaches awhile to drill this into our heads.  While there will always be time for socializing, chatting, and sharing a few laughs, the boxing ring is not that place!  When you are actively training and/or sparring, it just takes one moment of your mind drifting to get clobbered.  One well placed left hook that you didn’t see coming is a quick reminder to keep your head in the game – at ALL times!  I have found that this has translated to other areas of my life and hope it’s something that sticks.

3 – POSITIVITY IS KEY!  When we started this adventure, we were told ‘you will have your best days and you will have your worst days leading up to this fight.’  There are definitely days when you feel overwhelmed with information and just plain exhausted.  Keeping the cause (fighting cancer) and the end goal (getting into the ring!) in mind is key to getting through the tough training days.

I encourage everyone reading this post to challenge themselves to do something that you’ve always wanted to do or never thought you would – and if there is a charitable focus attached to it, all the better.  Our team is on track to meet our goal this year, which will mean over $1 MILLION has been raised in donations by this event alone for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation – one of the top 5 cancer research hospitals in the world.  As rewarding as this has been for me personally, the big picture is even better.

You can also watch the following news segment from Global News to find out more about the Fight to End Cancer and my inspiration behind wanting to participate in this amazing event.

‘Literally’ Fighting to End Cancer

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Fight to End Cancer LogoAs a long tenured employee of Eagle, I have had the good fortune of attending an annual event that we have been supporting since 2012. The annual Fight to End Cancer is a white-collar boxing event where 10 non-boxing professionals enter into an intense 6 month training program and then compete in an Olympic style match at a black tie gala at the Old Mill in Toronto.

Each year that I attended I contemplated throwing my name into the hat because I was so incredibly inspired by the grit, courage and commitment that each fighter displayed. But the fact that I have not participated in sports since grade school and literally never stepped into a gym held me back. It wasn’t until I attended last year’s gala, a short 6 months after losing my mother to pancreatic cancer, that I decided to apply.

I have been taking conditioning classes for the past 4 months and have now started technical training. The time commitment is significant and the training intense — I have pushed myself farther physically and mentally than I would have thought possible.

The experience so far has been incredible, but we have a long way to go. Training will be ramping up significantly and while everything feels very overwhelming right now, I’m grateful for Eagle’s support and the ongoing advice shared by our Chairman Kevin Dee who fought in a similar match in 2011, and my boss Brendhan Malone, who fought in 2014.

The Fight to End Cancer has raised over $750,000 to date, and if each of the fighters this year meet their $20,000 fundraising goal, we will hit $1M. All funds from the event go directly to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, one of the largest cancer centres in the world.

Please consider donating to this very worthy cause and wish me luck on June 2nd!

Alison Turnbull - Fight Training

A Holiday Job Search Could Get You Your Next Job

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

A Holiday Job Search Could Get You Your Next JobWith mid-December upon us, many people are winding things down for the year and already feeling like they are in ‘vacation mode’.  If you happen to be between contracts or if you are actively seeking your next career move, there is no better time to keep up the search!

As noted in this Forbes article, “January is the toughest, most competitive and most crowded job market of the year — precisely because so many people stop job hunting during the holidays.”  While job activity does tend to drop off a bit in December, it’s often the best time to network, catch hard to reach people on the phone, or further develop a relationship with the agencies/recruiters you’ve been working with.

Here are a few tips to keep your job search active over the holidays.

  • Find holiday events or meetups to attend to increase your visibility and network.
  • Take some time to increase your LinkedIn connections by sending invitations to anyone you met with during the year prior.
  • Send holiday greetings to all of your contacts – it’s a great touch point. Request a follow up meeting in the New Year.
  • Look for opportunities to volunteer – it’s a great time of year to contribute to a worthy cause and you never know who’ll you meet!

All the best to you and yours for the holidays, and Happy Job Hunting!

The Best Way to Follow-Up with Recruiters (even if you shouldn’t have to)

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Best Way to Follow-Up with Recruiters (even if you shouldn't have to)One of the most common complaints that we hear from contractors/consultants is the inevitable ‘black hole’ of communication when working with agencies.  We often hear that contractors agree to be submitted for opportunities, but then don’t hear back from the agency – and even worse, have calls and emails not responded to.  While this should be considered unacceptable, there are several factors at play that are often make this unfortunate scenario a reality in today’s market.

The vast majority of large organizations in Toronto are now using VMS providers, which means that the days of being able to provide feedback to candidates or to provide status updates on where things stand with a particular opportunity are virtually over.

This can be extremely frustrating for candidates who are trying to manage multiple interviews and opportunities or who have no idea why they are not securing interviews for roles that they’ve been submitted for.  Agencies are required to respond to a huge volume of VMS orders so are often unable to provide updates to candidates – particularly when there is nothing to update.

While we always try to set the expectation that we may not hear back with feedback or next steps unless an interview is granted, we still often get repeated requests for updates.  A good recruiter will always respond to an email or call even without having information to provide, but this can be taxing.

We strongly recommend that you take an approach for ongoing communication that will show your interest and keep you top of mind, but not necessarily require a response.  This ultimately shows that you remain interested in an opportunity, but have a healthy respect for the volume of work that is being managed on the agency side.  Below is a great email template that you can use.

Hi (Recruiter Name),

I wanted to follow up on the opportunity that we spoke about last week.  I assume that there hasn’t been an update as of yet, but please do let me know if otherwise.  I remain interested and available and am open to hearing about any other suitable opportunities that come up.

Thank you,
(Your Name)

While all great recruiters will get back to you as soon as they have an update, this simple message demonstrates that you’re still interested in the role and that you have an understanding of the situation. Your recruiter will appreciate hearing from you and will surely be grateful for your approach.  Remember, how you communicate in these small circumstances could make the difference in whether or not your name gets put forward with future clients.