Talent Development Centre

All posts by Alison Turnbull

‘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!

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.