Talent Development Centre

All posts by Alison Turnbull

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!

Why Share Your Compensation History with a Recruiter?

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
National Delivery Manager at Eagle

Should You Share Your Compensation History with a Recruiter?I came across an article recently that was quite interesting to me personally, and it certainly seemed to be a contentious topic with 488 comments, 6200 likes and 1364 forwards in a few short weeks.  Apparently, (and previously unbeknownst to me), Massachusetts recently passed a new bill preventing employers from requiring salary histories from job applicants.

As a recruiter with 20 years of experience, most of that in permanent placement (in both retained and contingent firms) I found the commentary very interesting.  Most who commented very passionately agreed that recruiters had no right to ask for compensation history, and felt that the ask was ‘unethical’ and a means to get a candidate to the lowest salary possible.

It is very rare that I have had a candidate flat out refuse to share their compensation information with me, but it has happened on occasion.  It always makes me very reluctant to represent them as I find it difficult to effectively negotiate on their behalf, and it often leads me to wonder whether they are looking for a substantial increase over their current compensation that may be outside of the norm.

I always explain to candidates that the initial compensation conversation is between us, and how I choose to position that to an employer can and will be discussed and agreed upon with their input.  As much as I’m unwilling to just throw out an employer’s ‘range’, I’m as unwilling to invest the time in representing someone to a client without having a full understanding of their motivation, expectations, and employment history (including compensation).

It is not unrealistic to expect a substantial increase in some cases and if it is justified, particularly if there are extenuating circumstances like relocation, being long tenured within one organization, niche areas of expertise, an imminent increase or bonus, or just being a passive job seeker who is completely content where they currently are.  If someone’s expectations are beyond what would be considered standard, I can justify that to an employer if I have a full understanding of all considerations involved.

Obviously, it’s important for a recruiter to understand that your expectations are in line with an employer’s range before time is invested on all sides, but should the history of what you have earned be a factor of consideration?  Or should the market rates, your experience and the employers range be the only criteria?  I welcome your thoughts/input below.

What Should You Charge as an Independent Contractor?

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
National Delivery Manager at Eagle

What Should You Charge as an Independent Contractor?At Eagle, we work with several candidates who are making the move from permanent employment to independent contracting.

One of the questions most commonly asked is “What should I charge for an hourly rate?”

There are several factors to take into consideration, and simply calculating what your hourly rate was as a permanent employee is definitely not a recommended practice.

As an independent contractor, there are many added benefits, one of the most significant being tax savings.  Self-employment allows you to claim any valid expense needed to operate your business, which might include telephone, internet, equipment costs and even meals (considered entertainment).

On the other side of the coin, as an independent you can only bill for the hours that you work, so you have to factor in the cost of unpaid vacation days, sick days, benefits, statutory holidays and any time off between contracts.  There are also administrative costs to take into consideration, including registering a business, and potentially paying for ongoing accounting and legal services.

A basic rule of thumb that most people suggest would be to determine your hourly rate as a permanent employee, and then add 50-75%.  If you were earning $65,000/year, that equates to $31.25/hr.  By adding 50%, your rate would be $47/hr, and at 75%, your rate would be $55/hr.  Working with a range in mind allows you to have some flexibility depending on length of contract, industry and location.

If you choose to incorporate rather than working as a sole proprietor, you can typically charge a higher rate (as your agency does not have to pay the employer portion of federal taxes) and you will pay less tax, but you will also experience higher up front and ongoing costs.

When discussing rates with an agency, it’s best to ask for guidance and advice.  A good agency will be honest with you about the client’s maximum rate, but also how your experience stacks up against others in the market and what rate you should ideally target to remain competitive.  The ability to have some level of flexibility with your rate is your best bet at breaking into the contracting market.

Most candidates that we work with who transition to work as independents thoroughly enjoy the benefits that consulting have to offer and never look back, but contracting is not for everybody.  Seek advice from contractors that you know and do your research to ensure that contracting is right for you.