Talent Development Centre

All posts by Brendhan Malone

Applying for IT Contracts in a Fast-Paced World

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Fast-Moving Independent ContractorIn today’s economy, as technology continues to improve efficiencies and speed up every company’s day-to-day business, the speed at which these organizations procure IT contract resources has never been faster.  This makes it critical for staffing agencies and independent contractors to adjust in order to survive the new pace of hiring. Here are 3 secrets for contractors that will help you get in front of more clients:

Understand the Deadlines

Most large organizations have deadlines for submittal in all of their programs.  This timeframe is usually 24-48 hours.  While we may want to debate how effective or ultimately valuable these deadlines are, they are here and likely here to stay.  What does this mean? When you are looking for your next assignment, it is imperative that you are available either by email or phone.  Often times the job closes early as the client has had enough submissions, and only the first qualified submissions through the door are considered — those that followed are not.  This means that the contractors who are responsive and ready are the ONLY ones considered for the job.

Build Relationships

When you have an existing relationship and strategy with a recruiter, these deadlines are much easier to meet. Make sure that the recruiters you work with know who you are.  The relationship and background work that has already been done is invaluable in decreasing the time it takes to submit you to a client. When working with recruiters that know you, make sure you know them as well.  By this I mean their clients and the roles they usually get.

Never Stop Updating Your Resume

Have your resume up-to-date at all times. As new skills or experience are gained, take the time to update your resume. If you are qualified for and apply to different positions, (example a Project Manager or a Business Analyst role) make sure you are ready to submit to both in a moment’s notice. It is also very important to highlight your skills and experience as it relates to the position.  The “must haves” in any job description must be highlighted regardless of time constraints. Finally save your resume to the cloud so you can access it an ANY time.

What have your experiences taught you about dealing with contracts that close quickly? Can you provide any advice? Do you have any other thoughts on the topic? Please share your opinions and questions below.

The Importance of Certifications for IT Professionals

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

The Importance of Certifications for IT ProfessionalsI recently came across an article from Global Knowledge listing the 15 Top-Paying Certifications for 2016. It brings some very good discussion points to light.  Should we certify? What are the most marketable certifications?  What certifications look to have future relevance?  The article is especially useful as it ties a monetary figure to each certification.  Although many other variables exist in that figure, it gives us a good idea of the relevance and demand of the skill set and certification.

To certify or not to certify… that is the question

The answer in most cases is yes, yes, and yes.  This is true for both full-time IT professionals as well as independent contractors.

For independents contractors, the goal is for your consulting business is to be seen in the marketplace as a trusted partner.  Certifications go a long way in establishing credibility in your business offering. We hear the term “building your brand” often in today’s business environment.  Part of any strategy of building your brand is building trust in your capabilities through experience, references, and… certifications. Being current and up-to-date in your certifications shows that you, as an independent contractor, are aware of the current and relevant technologies, and that you are invested in being as up-to-date as possible in the ever changing marketplace.

For full-time resources, it is absolutely critical that prospective or current employers know that YOU are invested in your career and advancement of your skills. A mistake employees often make is that they are waiting or expecting their employer to initiate skill development, training and certification discussion.  While some employers do a better job than others with professional development, the onus is on YOU to initiate these discussions and formulate a strategy for development.

So which certification is right for you?

The answer to that question lies in your area of expertise, but the list in the article referenced above can surely help you see your best options. One certification that I did not see on the list, and perhaps it is because its popularity has been more recent, is that of a Certified Scrum Master.  Thousands of companies are moving to an Agile or Agile-based methodology and this certification becomes more valuable by the day.  For more information on the Scrum certification, have a look at Scrum Alliance and the Agile Advice blog.

Do you have any certifications or are you working towards one right now? Do you have any recommendations for a new IT contractor looking to improve their competitiveness? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

How an Independent Contractor’s Resume Can Stand Out

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

10 Tricks to Make an Independent Contractor's Resume Stand OutI have spent over 15 years evaluating resumes, interviewing candidates, selling the skills of the candidate to the end client and finally soliciting feedback from the end client.

Through this experience, I have come across a few commonalities.  Clients want to see the successes and results of you and your independent business.  They want more than a description of the tasks you completed from 9-5.  What were the results of those tasks?  What did you build?  What value did your work bring to the client?  Too often we focus on the description of our activities rather than the benefits to the client that were the results of said activities.

For example, a project manager’s resume should show successful projects on time and on budget.  They should show how the organization benefited from the successful delivery of the project.  Was there money saved through efficient delivery etc.   To simply describe the activities of a project manager is simply not enough, clients already have that information.

Another example is a web developer resume.  The resume must have more than the programming languages that were used.  What was built?  Where can a prospective client see your work?  What benefit and value did the application bring to the client?  It is also beneficial for the client to see that you and your business understand the big picture and how the technology and applications you worked on add business value.

Put yourself in the shoes of the end client.  What are their objectives with this engagement? What is it exactly they are looking for?  What skills and experience must be engaged to be successful?  Once you have determined this you can properly highlight your accomplishments and abilities to match.

Based on these experiences and more, here are 10 tricks you can implement to your resume today that are sure to help you stand out:

  1. Highlight accomplishments, NOT tasks. Use quantitative data to support your accomplishments.
  2. Be clear and concise, and have a very well formatted and readable resume.
  3. Spelling and grammar is NOT overrated. It says everything about your attention to detail and pride in your work.
  4. Get to the point: accentuate your skills and accomplishments in a clear and efficient manner.
  5. Format your resume to highlight your skills that are relevant to the job you are applying to.
  6. If you have described skills or experience in an email or a cover letter, it HAS to be supported in your resume.
  7. In the world of Boolean search, ensure the proper words to action a recruiter are in your resume and supported by your experience.
  8. Always highlight any awards and recognition that you and your business have received (ex. Eagle Elite), this is not insignificant.
  9. Avoid personal interests or hobbies at all costs!! A business does not have hobbiesJ
  10. A business needs to be up to date and relevant. Ensure your resume does not include irrelevant technologies and engagements.

Be Involved in Your Submission

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Be Involved in Your Submission

The IT contract market today is extremely competitive in Canada. While some regions have more openings than others, and some skills are in higher demand than others, there are very few, if any, people who can be confident enough in their abilities that they can simply apply to a job and wait for an offer. If you’re in the habit of submitting a generic resume to a job posting or a recruiter and then waiting for the phone to ring, then you’re probably not getting many phone calls. In fact, a recruiter may not even call you for future opportunities because you’re perceived as unwilling to do your part in the submission process.

Staffing agencies work hard to get you in front of a client and sell your skills, but to truly be successful, you need to meet us half way and be involved in that submission. Here are a few examples of what you can do to get involved and increase your odds of a win:

  • Communicate and participate with your recruiter throughout the process.
  • Understand that you are competing against up to 30 people.
  • Understand the project, line of business, and industry you are applying to.
  • Do not make the mistake of assuming a cover letter or summary replaces the need to highlight the necessary skills IN your resume.
  • Know the job description inside out. If there are “must-haves” make sure your resume highlights your experience accordingly.
  • In fact, make sure all relevant requirements are highlighted in your resume.
  • Avoid generalities where possible. Target the specific job with your skills and experience that are relevant to the job, company, project, and business line.
  • Sell Yourself!! You have the skills, now work with your recruiter on a winning presentation of you skills.
  • Part of the process of selling your skills is determining a fair and competitive market rate. This is not the only factor determining your selection but a MAJOR factor. Work with the experts in the market to determine what that rate is.

When you work closely with a recruiter and provide them with more information, they are better able to sell your skills. A recruiter will also remember your commitment and want to work with you on future contracts, meaning you’ll start getting phone calls before job openings are even posted!

How do you work with your recruiters? Have you had any positive or negative experiences you’d like to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Never Underestimate the Power of Face-to-Face

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Never Underestimate the Power of Face-to-FaceThe year is 2015 and we are we are moving at the speed of light, not just technology but WE are all moving at a pace never before seen in civilization.

This post is not to encourage you to “slow down”, or “stop and smell and roses”. Although that is great advice for many, that is not where this post is going.

We are constantly trying to improve efficiencies in our day.  This often involves scheduling a call instead of a meeting, or an email instead of a call.  The majority of the time this is not only necessary, but a better use of time.  It cannot, however, replace a live connection between two professionals.

There is no business that I feel this is more applicable to than recruitment and staffing.  The job of a recruiter is to find top talent and sell the skills of the identified contractor, either internally or externally to the client.  If I were to ask you to talk about someone you had met recently, and someone with whom you had a series of email exchanges, who do you feel you could describe more effectively?

The benefits of a face-to-face meeting are shared by everyone.  As briefly touched upon, if you’re a contractor, meeting with a recruiter allows them to better sell your skills and “intangibles.” It also allows you the opportunity to get to know the client, the market, and better understand what is out there for you.  Often times this valuable information is lost when exchanging emails specific to ONE opportunity.

It is important to note that because we are so busy, it is crucially important that both parties have a real benefit of the “get together”.  A good way to ensure this happens is to not only ask yourself what your objective is in the meeting, but also ask the question of the person across the table.  Then, do everything you can to have those objectives met.

Most importantly meeting someone is the foundation for a better working relationship.  A degree of partnership and trust is established.  This can go a very long way in business.  It is difficult to establish these levels of trust and partnership exclusively using phone calls and emails to communicate.

At the height of the cold war, Margaret Thatcher famously said of Mikhail Gorbechev after meeting with him in Stockholm, “I like Mr. Gorbechev, we can do business together.”  Suffice it to say, that a breakthrough of this magnitude and the forming of positive relationship builders such as “liking” the other party would not have happened with a call or written communication.  As recruiters and independent consultants, we are not responsible for world peace.  We are, however, responsible for building and nurturing business relationships that contribute to mutual success.

We are all busy; all of us as a group have NEVER been busier.  Try not to use that fact as an excuse to not build great relationships and partnerships — they are the foundation of business.