Talent Development Centre

All posts by Alison Turnbull

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.

Change Management – How to set yourself apart as an OCM Consultant

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Change Management – How to set yourself apart as an OCM ConsultantWhen Eagle first launched the Executive and Management Consultant division back in 2011, Change Management quickly became an area of specialty. Clients often complained that there was a general lack of understanding about the skill, and when they asked technical staffing agencies for qualified resources they would often confuse it with technical change management and end up with a handful of ITIL resumes.

There is no question that Change Management is an essential part of project success, whether for system implementations, business transformations or organizational change efforts. Data available on Prosci’s website sites that “Initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.” This highly specialized skill requires that consultants can operate at both a strategic and tactical level, working closely with senior executive level stakeholders to drive transformation efforts, while understanding how the nuances of business change will impact employees at all levels of an organization and ensuring that they are not only adequately trained but ‘bought into’ the efforts.

With many people becoming interested in the field and Prosci and other certifications readily available, there has been a notable increase in consultants coming into the market over the past 2-3 years. So how do experienced Change practitioners set themselves apart in this ever-competitive market?

The ACMP is the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Last year, they introduced the CCMP designation – which is a globally recognized credential that ‘defines best practices in Change Management’. Unlike other certifications that require no previous experience or training, the CCMP has stringent eligibility criteria (similar to the PMP certification process). This has given the CCMP certification much more credibility in the market. Gaining the CCMP is one of the ways that experienced Change practitioners can differentiate themselves in the market. Are there other ways that you have set yourself apart? We’d love to hear from you!

The Key Differences Between Contract and Permanent Resumes

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Key Differences Between Contract and Permanent ResumesYour resume is one of your best marketing tools.  In addition to a great social media profile, your resume is the primary tool used to get you through the door for an interview, affording you valuable face-to-face time to ultimately sell yourself to a potential employer.

Candidates often ask how their resumes should differ if they are targeting permanent vs contract employment.  In many cases there would be significant differences, and we strongly recommend having more than one CV if candidates are genuinely interested in both permanent and contract work.

For consulting opportunities, clients are generally focused on a candidate’s ability to come in, hit the ground running and successfully deliver on a very specific mandate.  Consulting resumes are often longer and more detailed, particularly when consultants are bidding on public sector work.  In these cases, clients require very detailed information to clearly show that a consultant’s experience fits their mandatory requirements.  Clients are typically seeking someone who has ‘been there, done that’ as there is little ramp up and training time afforded in the contract world.

For permanent employment opportunities, clients are trying to gauge a candidate’s overall fit for not only the role, but the organization as well.  It is, therefore, not only essential to focus on past achievements and quantifying details on how you have benefited your previous employers and added value to the organization, but also to provide some insight into your work ethic, leadership style and ultimately your personality.

To offer an example, a Project Manager’s consulting resume should always have details provided for key projects including budget, team size, initiative and the outcome (was the project completed on time, under budget).  It’s also important to list specific dates as clients are particularly interested in frequency and duration of contracts.  For a Project Manager’s permanent resume, it would be more important to keep the resume concise and to capture the reader’s interest — but also to show how you can provide value to the organization beyond just leading projects.  It might make sense to provide more of an overall synopsis of achievements but offer an addendum of projects that can be provided on request.

There are many free tools and templates available today, so be sure to do ample research and ensure that your resume is keeping ‘up with the times’.   Is it time for you to revamp your resume(s)?

The Myth of the ‘2 Page Resume’

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

We often have candidates tell us that they received advice from others (often outplacement agencies) to pare their resume back to fit into a 2 page format.  While this is possible for some to accomplish, it can pose a challenge for people who are several years in to their career and have many experiences and successes to highlight. The Myth of the ‘2 Page Resume’

We recommend keeping a resume as clean, clear and concise as possible but don’t mind seeing a 3 or 4 page resume, particularly for someone with over 15 years of experience.

It is well known that most recruiters or hiring managers will spend 5-10 seconds reviewing a resume to determine if a candidate is worthy of further exploration. Once you capture someone’s attention it is important to have enough details to further substantiate your fit for an opportunity.  The following are a few key tips to ensure that your resume makes it past the ‘5 second scan’.

  • Keep it chronological rather than functional. Highlighting your overall skills in a functional format is frustrating for anyone reading your resume.  They must spend time figuring out where in your employment experience each functional area ties back to.  If you have a great skill or success but it is from your first job out of school 20 years ago, it may not be considered marketable.
  • Avoid lengthy intros/bio summaries. Your ‘intro’ statement should be no more than 2 sentences, and should be very concise.  Paint a picture for the reader that summarizes your history, highlights and career goals in a very streamlined manner.  An example might be:  A global Program Manager with 20+ years of experience successfully managing highly complex, enterprise wide transformational initiatives.  Seeking a challenging opportunity with an industry leader that will afford me opportunities for growth.
  • Forget the long list of skills at the beginning of the resume. Anyone and everyone can mention ‘Hard Working, Great Time Management Skills, Team Player, Conscientious’.  Focus on highlighting quantifiable achievements rather than a vague listing of skills that simply take up valuable space.
  • Focus on successes/achievements rather than highlighting ‘day to day’ core activities. Every bullet point that you list should be impactful and highlight a success, achievement or initiative that you undertook.  Use words like ‘Successfully, Spearheaded, Exceeded, Efficiently Created, Fostered’, etc.  then finish the sentence with what positive result you achieved from the initiative.
  • No paragraphs, ever.  A bullet point should be less than 2 lines, and should not contain more than one sentence.  If you are using a paragraph format, the reader will lose interest very quickly and you likely won’t make it past 3 seconds!
  • Keep a reasonable font. It is not a great achievement if you manage to get your resume to 2 pages by reducing the font size to 5.  Use a professional font that is easy to read and as a general rule, never use a font below 10.

Ask your recruiter for feedback on your resume, and take their advice.  A resume should be a constant work in progress and should be ever evolving as your career progresses.

For insight into the differences between a typical contractor vs permanent employee resume, stay tuned for my next post!