Talent Development Centre

All posts by Cameron McCallum

Is the Information Technology Industry as “Open” as We Think?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Is the Information Technology Industry as "Open" as We Think?

I work in as culturally diverse an industry as can be imagined. The candidates and clients that Eagle works with on a daily basis have origins that span the globe. Eagle itself is a company made up of a conglomerate of languages and cultures. We celebrate our diversity and inclusion almost daily with email bulletins which tell us what days of significance and celebration are occurring. And our work on this front has made us a better company. We are one of Canada’s Best Managed, Best Workplaces and just recently we were named One of Canada’s Best Workplaces for Women. I’ve personally experienced how being a part of this kind of a workplace can create challenges, but I can also attest to the strength of an organization that takes this approach.

At the same time, when I see the current state of politics in the US, I am saddened by the examples xenophobia being expressed by a vociferous minority of Americans. The reality is that this expression of distrust and bigotry is nothing new, instead just choosing a time and place to reemerge in a consistent and persistent manner. Travel bans, patriotic chants, racist actions are not new although headlines from all media sources seem intent on making us feel like they are. And I don’t believe that as Canadians, we are somehow immune to these emotions and, in fact, we share historical and modern similarities with our American neighbors when it comes to discrimination and bigotry.

These actions aren’t limited to national politics, but frequently affect us in our daily lives, including the workplace. As noted above, in the IT industry we have the privilege of working with a diverse group of people, but it’s not to say racism doesn’t exist.  This CIO article written last week by Sharon Florentine asks the question of whether the IT industry is really as open as we think it is and it contains a sobering message. We need to be aware of and take action against systemic discrimination. While outward appearances infer that all is well, there is ample evidence to suggest otherwise.

Referenced Article
Racism in tech runs deep
Sharon Florentine, Senior Writer, CIO
March 9, 2017

Discover Vancouver and Its Job Opportunities

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

The Insiders’ Guide to Moving to Vancouver… Plus a Tip to Find Work When You Get Here!

The truth about the Canadian economy is that while some regions may be booming in job opportunities, others continue to struggle. Even in those cities where careers thrive for one trade or skillset, an expert in another field may not be getting the same luck. If you’re considering a change in venue to find a new career opportunity, have you considered moving to Vancouver?

Is Vancouver the Right Place for You?

Downtown Vancouver Sunset
Downtown Vancouver Sunset” by Magnus Larsson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

We all have our perspectives on what a city must be like, even when we’ve never set foot in it. Vancouver is one of those cities that evokes a lot of different feelings amongst Canadians. It gets its fair share of press, both negative and positive, which feeds into the stereotypes we all have. For example:

  • We’ve all heard of the “crazy” Vancouver housing market — it exists, but both the City and Province are taking steps to make renting in Vancouver or purchasing a house or condo more affordable.
  • The rain — there is a lot in the winter, but winter is soooo short!
  • The beauty of the city — oceans, mountains, parks… what’s not to like?

The truth is, if you want to live in a city with access to an endless selection of outdoor activities, a thriving arts and culture scene, more international restaurants featuring ethnic and sea food than you will find anywhere, great post-secondary schools, and an airport that gives you access to the entire Pacific Rim, Vancouver is it!

The Job Market and Opportunities in Vancouver

Vancouver has a thriving economy. Already considered one of the most livable cities in the world, businesses are flocking to the city in record numbers and that is driving a lot of opportunity. Companies like Google, AOL, SAP, Amazon to name a few, have decided that Vancouver is a great place to put down roots. Access to Engineering grads and a lifestyle which attracts potential employees from all over the globe has made the city increasingly attractive. And with this “boom” the spillover effect is that other areas of the economy have to respond to the need for increased services and infrastructure. And that leads to more and greater job opportunities, which is where we are at today.

An Inside Scoop on Project Management Jobs in Vancouver!

Eagle is one of Vancouver’s leading employment agencies and we offer a number of IT job opportunities, both contract and full-time. Today, we’re fortunate to be partnering with BC Clinical and Support Services Society (BCCSS) to assist them in hiring a large number of permanent employees with IT Project Management expertise, including Portfolio Managers, Infrastructure Project Managers and Project Manager Team Leads.

Not only is this one of the largest initiatives that I’ve ever been part of, but it has to be one of the largest in Vancouver’s history! And it is not just the volume of recruits needed. The opportunity to work in the health sector, delivering services to mission critical staff and systems in a challenging and dynamic environment, is a rare opportunity that does not come along often. Fantastic Benefits, Pension and other perks all add to the attractiveness of these roles.

So if you’ve been thinking about moving to Vancouver or always had a question in the back of your mind as to what would it be like to live there. Stop thinking about it and act… now is the time.   Feel free to leave your questions in the comments section below.

Vancouver: North America’s Newest Tech Hub

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle
Vancouver: North America's Newest Tech Hub
Vancouver Sunset by gags9999 Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Mention Vancouver and a few things come automatically to mind: Gorgeous landscapes, Stanley Park, laid back people, rain and pricey real estate, to name a few. And while a lot of people know about the Technology industry here, most of you probably have no idea just how big the industry is.

In fact, Vancouver has 3 “Unicorns” or local startups listed at over 1 billion dollars in value (Hootsuite, Avigilon and Slack) and major players like Microsoft, SAP and others have set up shop in trendy locations around Gastown, Yaletown and other interesting Vancouver locations.

While we are yet to approach the scale of IT hubs like the San Francisco Bay area, Washington D.C. or Seattle, Vancouver continues to be an increasingly attractive place for tech companies to do business. Great universities and a rapidly growing millennial population provide a steady supply of talent. Liberal immigration laws provide an even deeper labour pool. Add in relatively cheap commercial real estate compared to U.S. locales and it is easy to see why more and more industry players are locating to Silicon Valley North.

Check out this article from Vancouver Economic Commission for a better understanding North America’s newest tech hub and why you can expect it to be the best city for technology job opportunities in the coming years.

What’s Really Going to Happen to the Price of Oil?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

The Edmonton Branch of Eagle held a Contractor Appreciation event just last week in Edmonton and I always enjoy the opportunity to meet those who share the front line of the IT contracting world. And as usual, while much of the chatter involves getting to know everyone just a bit better, there comes a point in the conversation where the inevitable happens and the discussion turns to the market and what our predictions are for the short and long term future of the economy. And a big part of the discussion this time around centered on the situation in the oil patch.

First off, Edmonton is not Calgary. Edmonton’s economy is more diversified and less directly impacted by the low price of oil. We have a large public sector that spends massively in health care, infrastructure and education. There is a thriving small to medium business sector that provides all kinds of products and services and employs a large number of Albertans. But also true is that the funds that the public sector uses to fund its projects comes from revenue directly related to the resource sector and many of those small to medium sized business’ products and services are directly targeted at the oil industry. So it was no surprise that the question being debated amongst a number of attendees was just what was going to happen to the price of oil.

What's Really Going to Happen to the Price of Oil?This article written by Peter Tertzakian for OilPrice.com uses the analogy of the fashion world to describe why oil prices might just be ready to ascend.  Given how interesting and relevant it is to the discussions I had just last week with independent contractors in Edmonton, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share it with all of our readers on the Talent Development Centre:

Why Oil Could Head Back To $90 Sooner Than Thought

First Understand, Then Be Understood

Then to Be Understood: A Habit of Highly Effective Independent Contractors

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Seek First to Understand…Then to Be Understood: A Habit of Highly Effective Independent ContractorsSo says Habit 5 of Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. I am struck by just how much this simple rule might change the world for the better would we all decide to practice it just some of the time. And of course it applies to all phases of our lives, be it personal or professional. The beauty of it lies in its simplicity and seemingly utter complexity in putting it into play. So how does it impact you as an IT Consultant trying to make a living in the complex world of independent contracting and dealing with staffing agents and their myriad esoteric processes and procedures?

  1. Start in Neutral – How we respond to others is so often conditioned on our preconceptions of what we think is about to occur. I know that when I answer the telephone around dinnertime, and there is a significant delay before the other party speaks, that I’m likely about to engage with a telemarketer, and that brings about a whole set of responses, including how I’m going to disengage. But how many times have I been surprised to learn that when I just stopped and really listened, there was something valuable to be gained. When a recruiter calls, listen carefully to what they are telling you, about their client, about their requirement, about their practice. Instead of thinking that you know the game and this call will be the same as others you have received, it might pay dividends to start the call in neutral and determine next steps after you’ve had a chance to hear what is being said.
  2. Stop Planning Your Response – The single most common listening error is planning your reply while the other party is speaking. The aforementioned Telemarketers, especially the smart ones, often know exactly what you are planning to say and have a ready response to attempt to overcome your objections. It pays to be prepared for certain types of discussions but don’t hijack a discussion because you are too busy planning your comeback. You may be risking an unnecessary misunderstanding because you couldn’t stop your mind long enough to listen. Successful contractors learn to listen to what the client is saying, what is important to them and what they are trying to achieve…and your part in the process. Careful listening prevents risking prescription before diagnosis!
  3. Practice Reflective Listening – Repeating or affirming what you think you heard is the surest way of ensuring you understand completely what is being said by the other party. This is a skill so often talked about but so rarely used effectively. Part of it has to do with numbers 1 and 2 above… we have already planned the conversation out in our minds that we believe we know the outcome. Take a step back, listen carefully to what you are being told and then simply repeat it. Not only will it help you to gather the information you need, but it will act to slow down the process, something we could all use in our busy and hectic work days.
  4. It’s a Two-Way Street – If you listen to someone, and are fully engaged and respectful, it should be that the other person owes you the same. Did you ever notice how off putting it was when a person you were meeting with glanced at their watch, or worse yet checked a phone email right when you were speaking. Negotiations go off course all the time simply because neither party really hears what the other person is saying. Mutually respectful discourse and working hard to listen and understand what the other person is saying is integral to any discussion.  You owe it to yourself as a professional to practice your listening skills.

Japanese Customer Service and Independent Contractors

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Japanese Customer Service and the Independent ContractorI recently had the opportunity to visit Japan, a country that I had the good fortune to spend 4 great years of my life during the early 1990s. Many things had changed of course, especially with the advancement of technology and the ease at which a traveler can book flights, hotels and sightseeing excursions. But so much hadn’t changed. Tokyo was still the crazy, frenetic city that I remembered, the people as polite and helpful to a tourist as ever and there remains an infinite number of ways to entertain yourself. Something else hadn’t changed and, in fact, stood out even more than I remembered; customer service is alive and well in Japan and it didn’t matter the product, service or industry.

The fanatical desire to make sure that the customer’s experience was positive extended from the bullet train staff who bowed to their passengers each and every time they entered and left a car to the security staff at ANA Airways who made us feel that they were in possession of valuable merchandise every time they handled or touched our carry-on items. Employees perform their duties with pride and the consequence is that the customer is willingly conducted into a process of cooperation with a mutual desire to achieve harmony. Well maybe that last part is a bit much but the experience still lives with me and so I want to remind everyone just how good it feels to receive… and give great customer service.

So, what does this mean to you as an independent consultant? Once rates are negotiated and term fixed, make it a primary focus to make your client’s experience with you a positive one. How do you provide customer service as an independent IT contractor? Here are just a few ways:

  1. Anticipate your client’s needs – In Japan, I never, ever had the feeling that I was imposing. If I needed something, it was like my thoughts were being read and magically, someone would appear, once with a plastic bag for my wet umbrella. While situations can get complex in the work world, the Japanese taught me that if you pay attention (or listen) you can often anticipate problems and challenges your client is facing. And if you are there to try and help without them even asking, think what a powerful message that sends about your commitment.
  2. Show appreciation – I was thanked more times by Japanese staff for just walking into or leaving their place of business than I can remember. At first it felt excessive, but by the end of my trip, I understood how integral it was for them to establish that they “saw” me when I came in and equally when I left. How often do we forget to “see” our clients? Really establish that you are paying attention, listening and are there to help.
  3. Go the extra mile – If anyone reading this has ever been to Japan, you will probably remember a time when you innocently asked for directions from someone on the street, and then watched in embarrassment as that individual made it their life’s mission to get you to your destination, including personally escorting you there. Buying a gift for a Japanese friend in a department store, I watched in amazement as the item was wrapped with care until it was a thing of beauty, something I would be proud to give. Professionally, there are limits to how much you can and should do above and beyond what is expected, but where possible, going the extra mile for your client will leave a lasting impression.
  4. Politeness – If you thought Canadians were polite, Japanese take it to the next level. Much of it revolves around a historically, rigid hierarchy that determined an individual’s place in society but a lot of it is also associated with the desire to cause no discomfort to your fellow citizens, especially in a country with very little personal space. Politeness is just one more way of acknowledging others, seeing them and establishing a connection. I know my parents raised me to open doors for others, to say please and thank you, to respond to a correspondence in a timely manner and it is a nod to civilized society that you extend that to your relationship with the client.

Many businesses today talk about customer service but it often feels like they are paying lip service to a crucially important concept. The Japanese demonstrate that good customer service stands out and differentiates the consumer’s experience in a very positive way. As an independent contractor, you too can demonstrate good customer service with both clients and recruiters, simply by anticipating needs, showing appreciation, going the extra mile and always being polite.

Closing the Loop with Your Recruiter

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Closing the Loop with Your RecruiterAs an independent contractor, you probably work with any number of Recruiters whenever you need assistance in finding your next IT contract. The complaint I hear most often from contractors is that after having any number of discussions with an agent, the line of communication suddenly goes cold and they are left wondering what happened… were they really being considered for the job, was their resume submitted, has the client seen their resume, what are the timelines etc.

There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing the status. We hear about the concept of “closure” as being important for humans after traumatic incidents. It gives us the ability to move on, start anew and leave the past behind. Closing the loop acts in much the same way and is an important part of any business relationship. The following concepts are essential to creating an atmosphere of trust and continuity when dealing with the staffing industry:

CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

Setting expectations is the key to setting the stage for the final step of closing the loop. What are the steps involved, what is the timeline and what will be the final outcome? When dealing with a Recruiter, you might ask them, when will you decide whether you are going to submit my resume to the client? What happens once you’ve submitted? When do you expect interviews to take place? Will you call me if I am not selected? Remember that the loop is an ongoing process and so not all of these questions may be asked or answered the first time you speak. As the process moves forward, other questions will be generated but the key is that clear expectations need to be set and ultimately, the final stage of closing the loop will take place.

COMMUNICATE APPROPRIATELY

Sometimes trying to set or negotiate expectations can be perceived as one party being demanding. This is especially true when speaking to a person who resists being tied to specific expectations. This might be because they fear they won’t meet them or they don’t want to be bothered having to meet them. That’s why you need to constantly listen to what people say and confirm that you are on the same wavelength. Setting expectations with a Recruiter doesn’t have to mean that you are being unreasonable or that it has to be a huge time commitment. It may mean that one or two emails are exchanged before the final step in the process… closing the loop.

NOTE EXPECTATIONS

The single most important action to take is to reiterate expected actions or timelines both by repeating it prior to the end of your phone call or in-person meeting. And to add strength to the process, you may want to send a quick email outlining your understanding of the process and expectations. This may seem like a lot of work but it creates a process map and helps you to manage your job search ie. Where you’ve been submitted, what was the role or what is the timeline for specific action to be taken. Sending out a meeting note creates a natural follow-up point that can then be leveraged to close the loop on various actions throughout the process.

DO UNTO OTHERS…

If you want your recruiter to follow up promptly and as promised, then you had better reciprocate. By demonstrating that you are on board with the process and a professional in your actions, you will help establish the protocols for your interactions with the Recruiter. Send required documentation as needed, respond promptly to email or phone messages. Nothing tells someone that it’s important to close the loop like doing everything you can do make it easier for them to do so.

DON’T GIVE UP

Just because you believe you’ve reached agreement on a set of actions leading ultimately to a closed loop, does not mean that it will happen automatically. Repeating the above steps until you reach the resolution you want is essential to the process. And even if the other party is not cooperating, don’t give up.  But if it does happen that you don’t gain closure and the loop is never fully closed on a particular opportunity or with a particular Recruiter, then you might want to re-evaluate your working relationship with that person. After all, it only makes sense to work with those whose goals reflect yours.

Closing the loop is the penultimate stage of any requested action. Whether it is a part of your professional business life, being a parent, a coach, it only makes sense that this final step in any request for action takes place.

Independent Contractor Rate Negotiation Mistakes

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

5 Errors IT Professionals Sometimes Make

5 Negotiation Mistakes Independent Contractors Sometimes MakeAs an independent contractor, you have the opportunity to interact with any number of recruiters in your local market or, if your skills are in demand, agents from all over the world. You probably find that it is not uncommon to have conversations with recruiters that you’ve never spoken to before, never mind worked with on a contract together. And more often than not, the initial conversation you are having with a complete stranger, involves a career decision with financial implications. Negotiations are difficult enough without having to enter into a rate discussion with a total stranger. Money is personal and the questions that are sometimes asked to establish parameters around rate can be uncomfortable. But rate is key to any contract discussion and you need to be prepared to enter into these discussions with Recruiters in an open and forthright manner.

Part of being prepared for these discussions is to understand myths surrounding staffing agencies and how to negotiate with them. The following are some common mistakes I’ve seen independent contractors make when negotiating with recruiters.

  1. More is better: Wrong! Trying to always increase your rate can affect your career negatively. I’ve seen candidates who play hard ball on rate and ignore the advice of the Recruiter end up pricing themselves out of the running due strictly to price. Professional recruiters will have client and market knowledge and apply that knowledge to price their candidates competitively. Every position is unique and market conditions can change rapidly (Hello Calgary!). Don’t forget as well that rate is a reflection of your seniority and professional standing. If you do manage to hit a home run and boost your rate, don’t forget that the client’s expectations can and most likely will be tied to the rate you negotiated. If you can’t deliver to those expectations, the results can be serious.
  2. I’m getting ripped off: There is no denying that contractors have developed a level of caution when dealing with Recruiters. Some recruiters in an effort to pad their commissions have unscrupulously negotiated with candidates with no concern for building mutual trust or delivering a quality service to the contractor community. I can say confidently that the staffing industry has matured and the level of professionalism has grown. But if you do find yourself with concerns about the Recruiter you are talking to, remember, you are not obligated to work with that person. If you want to perform a quick test, ask the recruiter what their philosophy around margin looks like and see if they are able to give you a satisfactory response. If the Recruiter is not comfortable disclosing this or mumbles their way through an explanation, maybe it’s time to end the conversation.
  3. They don’t need that information: If you are dealing with a Recruiter for the first time, they may be interested in what you have earned in previous contracts. The simple reason for this is to try and establish at what level you have been working and what your skillset has been paying in the market. Remember that if you exaggerate your numbers, you may be creating a set of perceptions around who and what you are and the Recruiter may make a decision that you aren’t a fit for the role they are working on. Again, a good recruiter will be able to offer you insight on the rate you have been earning and how it fits their client’s present needs. And a really good recruiter will identify when a market is ready to offer you a higher rate or conversely, when it is time to bring your number down to remain competitive.
  4. I’ll agree now but will secretly wait for a better offer: Once you’ve negotiated a rate and you have agreed to be represented by a particular recruiter that you feel comfortable with, DO NOT attempt to renegotiate days later after another Recruiter calls and offers $5/hr more. You’ve already entered into an agreement with one Recruiter who has likely submitted your resume to the client. Any Recruiter who tries to convince you to go with them for a bit more money is putting your candidacy for that role in jeopardy. Professional staffing firms and their clients want to work with contractors who exhibit honesty and integrity. Demonstrating that you are unable to commit to an agreement is a direct reflection on your business practices.
  5. Every situation is the same: Finally, as already mentioned, every situation is not the same. What one client is willing to pay for a specific skillset is not the same as another. And market conditions can change from one day to the next and impact rates. Listen carefully to the Recruiter and gauge what they are saying. Do they have a lot of knowledge of the position, the client, the market in which the contract exists and your skillset? Ask questions and if you don’t like the approach or the answers, it’s simple. Nothing is forcing you to work with that individual.

Have you made any mistakes while negotiating that you later regretted? Please share your experiences with our readers so we can all learn from each other.

No Canadian Work Experience, Now What?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

No Canadian Work Experience, Now What?Having worked in staffing for almost 20 years, and specifically in Professional Staffing, I’ve seen how our industry has adapted to myriad challenges thrown our way. One challenge that never seems to go away, however, is the challenge that new Canadians face when trying to enter the local job market.  Even in Information Technology, as culturally diverse an industry as there is, candidates often have to overcome employer preconceptions that might not give equal value to experience gained overseas. At Eagle, we practice the mantra of presenting to our clients the very best possible candidate(s) we have regardless of where that skill was acquired and the fact that we make every effort to meet and personally vet candidates means that we are able to make pretty good decisions around their level of ability and skill. But if you believe you are facing challenges because you don’t have Canadian work experience, here are some tips that can help:

  1. Don’t try to hide it: If you believe that you have to respond to your lack of Canadian experience by lowering your expectations, you are helping to feed into the practice of undervaluing the years of experience and academic struggles you’ve already been through. In an effort to hide this, I’ve even seen candidates doctor their resumes to show local experience that didn’t happen. My advice is, DON’T DO IT! If we are going to admit that you have challenges to overcome to be taken seriously as a candidate, it will not help if you commit fraud.
  2. Attitude is huge: I work with individuals daily who are struggling to find work or their next contract for any number of different reasons. While I would like to help everyone, I can’t. But those individuals who are positive and are taking steps to help themselves by taking courses or increasing their level of networking are way more likely to get my time and consideration. If the qualifications are solid and the attitude is great, I’m more than happy to sell your candidacy to my client.
  3. Work is Work: I’ve asked many friends who immigrated to Canada if the work experience here was so different from what they did previously in their home countries. The consistent response is “not really”. And if they did experience differences, it was often more a difference in process vs expectations. In other words, the same thing that can happen when you change jobs and join a new company. It was nothing that they weren’t able to quickly adapt to.
  4. Blend In: Do your research and make sure your resume works in your new job market. While most terminology might not be so different, do check online to ensure that you are using terms which are familiar to the local market. The same applies to resume format. Job or networking sites like Monster or LinkedIn are just a couple of resources you can tap into but a good recruiter can give you tips as well.
  5. Finally, work with agencies that see the value in your experience. If a recruiter attempts to negotiate your rate or salary below market values for your skillset and experience, they are just feeding into a system of discrimination. Instead work with agencies that speak only of your relevant knowledge and experience.

We live and work in an ever increasingly global marketplace. The experience you bring as a new Canadian has intrinsic value in that it helps prepare and lay the groundwork for Canada to compete globally. The struggles you may very well encounter are unfortunately well-documented but some of these challenges can be mitigated.

The Importance of Contract Duration on Your Resume

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

The Importance of Contract Duration on Your ResumeAs an independent contractor, there are things in your career that you can control and things you can’t. The duration of individual contracts on your resume is widely interpreted by recruiters and clients to be a bell weather of your proficiency as a consultant. While there is certainly no specific science behind it, it is one of the first things evaluated when your resume is being assessed. Most recruiters are trained to look for the shorter term contracts and to dig for information on why that particular contract was so short.

3 Months (or Less): What happened?

The perception of short contracts as red flags on a person’s resume can lead to distrust and misunderstanding and while you might not have been able to control the duration of the contract, you need to ensure you manage the perceptions attached.

Does that mean you don’t accept shorter term contracts, or leave them off your resume. The whole point behind using contractors is to perform a piece of work that requires either specialized skills or skills that the client might not currently have among their employees. And these needs are not always attached to multi-year programs. Throughout a career as an independent, it is normal to have a variety of contracts with different terms and outcomes. So here are some simple ways of handling questions and concerns connected with short term contracts.

  1. Don’t hide them: I’ve stated before that trying to hide things on your resume will only lead to bigger problems. I’ve met countless numbers of contractors who have tried to do just that. And ultimately, numbers don’t add up or they forget which version of resume to use and this leads to bigger questions and ends up eroding your credibility. Instead, be prepared to explain why the project was short and what was accomplished in that timeframe. I’ve also talked about managing your references and it never hurts to have a reference who will talk to your performance on a short project.
  2. If suitable, brag about it: Short contracts can be extremely challenging! Going in and grasping what needs to be done and then finishing by delivering a solution in just a few weeks or months is an accomplishment…and actually more closely reflective of the talents of a senior consultant.
  3. Does the recruiter understand your skillset: Some skillsets and roles for which you have developed a specialty are typically performed in shorter periods of time. Preparing a business case, assisting in the preparation of an RFP, performing an audit are all examples of work that doesn’t entail long term contracts. Make sure your recruiter “gets it” and really has a grasp of what it is you do.
  4. Finally, if it was bad, admit it…but in a positive way: People get fired, let go, laid off all the time. There is definitely an impression of contractors being “elite” but even elite professionals can run into projects that aren’t a fit. Talk about the challenges you faced on the project and what went wrong… and what went right! Feeling guilty about a contract that went wrong is normal but don’t forget to look at what you delivered. And evaluating a bad contract can have positive impacts. It may indicate to you what kind of roles or environments you are better suited for or areas where you could use improvement or further training.

Managing a career in independent contracting is full of challenges and how your resume appears to a recruiter or client is just one of them. Short term contracts are normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Just be prepared to discuss them with confidence and treat them as just one more skill in your professional portfolio. And remember, if you are not sure, seek the assistance of a professional recruiter. More often than not, they will be able to offer solid advice and talk you through the challenge.