Talent Development Centre

All posts by Crystal Nicol

Building Your Resume to Respond to Government Matrices

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Building Your Resume to Respond to Government MatricesDeciding to move into public sector IT contracting? One of the biggest challenges a contractor faces is getting their resume ready to respond to large RFPs and extensive government matrices.

Here are some guidelines to help with the process:

  1. You must have a detailed PROJECT description for every position you list in the resume. The project description should include:
    • The project type (transformation, migration, implementation, etc.) along with any main systems or main technologies used.
    • Describe what the goals/objectives are of that project. If applicable, discuss any project successes/failures
    • What was the team size?
    • What was the project budget?
    • Any other relevant information that can help to explain and understand the project.
  1. When you list your work experience, be sure to include the following information for each position:
    • Job Title (including the level)
    • Employer’s name and city
    • Duties and accomplishments
    • Supervisor’s name and phone number (this is particularly good to have when an RFP requests a reference for each project listed in the matrix)
    • Start and end dates (month AND year)
  1. It is often a requirement of an RFP response that you send supporting documentation, including proof of education, certifications or security clearance. It is always a good idea to keep a scanned copy of these documents ready to send if necessary.
  2. Organize your resume information. You may want to consider sub-headings for different flavors of your resume. This will allow you to add bullets to your resume easily for targeted matrix responses or remove bullet points or sub-headings from your resume if the experience is not relevant to that particular job posting.
  3. You should never submit a resume to a job posting without updating the responsibilities section of your resume. It is important that you demonstrate that you are qualified for the role and gear your resume updates toward demonstrating this. Review the qualifications of the job posting/matrix for the position you are targeting. By reviewing this it allows you to better understand which of your qualifications you should emphasize and elaborate on in the resume. Matrices actually provide a major competitive advantage in a job search because the client reveals exactly what they are looking for. Go through the matrix, item by item, and highlight all the relevant experience in your resume. If more detail is needed, tailor your experience in your resume and explain how you meet each requirement.
  4. Keywords, keywords, keywords. Look for Keywords, such as repeated verbs or technical terminologies that are listed in the job posting or matrix. Once you have identified these words then use them in your resume and more importantly provide proof that you have the experience by elaborating on the context of how you gained the experience. A good way to do this is to use numbers, provide examples and focus on the outcome of your activities to emphasize results.
  5. Update job titles frequently. You may need to change your job titles to better fit the job description, such as changing “Project Producer” to “Project Manager” or “Data Scientist” in a private-sector job to “Data Architect.”
  6. Go long. Federal resumes are always longer. Use as many pages as needed to provide a thorough review of your work and education. Be detailed and remember, you’re using your updated resume to make your case and prove that you’re the best fit for this job.  That being said, carefully open with your key qualifications and avoid losing your reader/qualifiers. You could also add a profile statement or qualifications summary to the top of your resume to highlight your most noteworthy and relevant accomplishments.
  7. Proof read your resume. Similar to other resumes, editing and reviewing is important. Not only are you outlining your qualifications but you are also submitting a writing sample. Proof read and edit the resume at least 3 times before submitting your resume for a job posting.

Use SMARTer Goals to Boost Your Career in 2018

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Welcome 2018!! Yes, a new year is here! It’s the perfect time to set new and exciting goals. As we all know from experience, making a New Year’s resolution is easy. Sticking with it and actually achieving your goal is hard – very hard. Unfortunately, only about 8 percent of us who set goals achieve them. But the good news is that research shows people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who never commit. Why do we find it so difficult to stick our resolutions/goals? It’s probably because the resolution wasn’t S.M.A.R.T. In order for goal setting to be effective you need to understand how to write S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

  • Specific: What specifically do you want to accomplish? For this step you can ask yourself the 5 W’s – who, what, where, when and why.
  • Measurable: What will it look like if you achieve your objective? How will you know when you’ve reached this goal? We need to know where the finish line is and when we have completed the goal. The answer to this goal must be a true or false, a yes or a no or a specific number.
  • Attainable: Can you realistically reach this goal? Remember, the whole point of a goal is to be challenged and set a goal that will push you, but it shouldn’t be impossible.
  • Relevant: The goal must fit into the overall reason you are doing this. This plays along with “why” you are setting this goal or “why” you want to obtain this goal.
  • Timely: What is your deadline? All objectives need a timeline, which will hold accountability to your actions and progress.

Check out this video for a more detailed discussion on setting your S.M.A.R.T. goals…

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

How to Prepare for a Job InterviewMaking it to the interview stage in the job search process is exciting and stressful at the same time. It means you’ve been shortlisted and the chances of you getting the job have increased; however, a blown interview destroys those chances together.

Remember when you are invited for an interview, the client already thinks you have the right qualifications for the job based on your resume. You need prepare properly so you can demonstrate these qualifications in the interview and back-up what’s in your resume. Here are a few simple ways you can prepare and significantly increase your chances of winning that job.

Before a Job Interview or Phone screen

  • Research the company’s website and find out useful company information. Extend that search to social media and investigate LinkedIn profiles, especially of the person who is interviewing you. Glassdoor may also reveal company’s specific interview process. Understand the company’s mission and try to find a way to work your knowledge of it into your responses.
  • Prepare questions in advance to discuss during or at the end of the interview. We always want to impress a recruiter or a hiring manager so prepare questions that demonstrate your knowledge and interest the company. Since you have already been looking into the company and looking on the LinkedIn profile of the hiring manager you can start by saying, “I did some research on the company and saw that you have worked at this company for <# OF YEARS>. What is your favorite thing about the company? How did your role evolve? This gives you a chance to build a rapport with the interviewer and the company.
  • Prepare a few interesting facts that you learned about the company through your research. Perhaps the company has won some awards that are important to you or their top-line company objectives/goals. Are they active in the community? What is their company story? Be prepared to discuss these facts if you are asked what you know about the company.
  • Convey in all of your answers how you were successful in your previous jobs. To do this you must provide concrete examples of how you succeeded. Instead of saying, “I was often told I was the one project manager that saved the company money” you could say, “I was able to decrease the budget by 20% saving the company $2M over the first 6 months of the project.”
  • Remember, quite often, a hiring manager will hire someone with the likeability factor. If there are 2 technically strong candidates in the running, the candidate that demonstrated a higher likability factor will likely be the candidate to get the job. They are always looking for someone who is the right FIT for the role. You need to connect with the interviewer. You can do this by being confident and try to interact as if you are already working together. Smile often, avoid any nervous gestures (easier said than done), maintain eye contact and actively listen to the interviewer. The key is that you don’t get too comfortable but be natural and try to have a great conversation by being yourself.
  • Show enthusiasm. Show them that you really want this role. Give them examples of why you are excited for this role. For example, “I am so excited about this role because it give me exposure to working within an AGILE environment and I want to put my SCRUM certification to good use.”

Other Interview Tips

In addition to these preparation tips, always remember these basic interview skills that will ensure you appear professional:

  • Dress for success – strong presentation
  • Always give a firm handshake
  • Make consistent eye contact
  • Make sure you answers are concise and thoughtful, but always relevant to the questions asked (don’t go off track, stay focused).

After you have completed the interview it is always imperative to follow up with a Thank You email. This allows to you maintain interaction with the interviewer, provide any additional information and reiterate your interest/excitement in the role. Check out this helpful link for some additional tips on writing the “Job Interview Thank You Email”.

Graphic Resumes for Technology Contractors?

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Graphic Resumes for Technology Contractors?A recent article by Vladimir Popovic of Epic CV discusses the pros and cons of a graphic resume. Throughout the post, he brings up 10 positive reasons to consider a graphic resume, four downfalls and 5 risks. While I agree a graphic resume could be an interesting differentiator to grab a recruiter’s attention, I agree even more about the fifth risk he mentions at the end of the article — graphic resumes are industry-specific. And IT contracting is not included in that list of industries.

Of the four pitfalls Popovic lists, the first one stands out the most — “Graphic resumes are not meant for Applicant Tracking Systems.” It’s a fact that all major recruitment agencies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It’s also a fact that to access the most job opportunities, independent technology contractors frequently work with recruitment agencies because they have already built relationships with large organizations and possibly earned Preferred Supplier status through a proposal process.  Consequently, if your resume isn’t easily readable in an applicant tracking system, it won’t be found by recruiters.

When you submit your resume to a staffing agency, it is put into a database that is searchable by recruiters and the ATS automatically scans the document for keywords to categorize your specialty areas. You may have applied to a specific contract opportunity and you’re now in the database. This means recruiters will find you while seeking to fill other positions for their clients. So, the recruiter is working to find you jobs and all you had to do was upload your resume. But, this only happens if your resume was ATS friendly — either a .doc or .pdf document, and originally created in a standard word processor, like MS Word. The staffing agency’s technology won’t be capable of reading your graphic resume and, even if it can, you’ll be lacking the detail required to categorize your resume… which leads to the next point.

In the Epic CV article, some of the pros provided by the author include “clearly shows information,” “highlights strengths,” and “graphic resumes are interesting.” This couldn’t be further from the truth if you’re an IT contractor. When recruiters and clients review your resume, they want to see all of your recent and relevant experience. In many cases, they put your resume beside the job description and, line-by-line, verify that you clearly explain and prove how you meet the requirements. A graphic resume that only highlights your strengths will not land you any gig worth bragging about. When recruiters screen resumes for IT contractors, they’re not seeking an interesting read, they’re seeking a qualified professional. Even the young recruiters — who Popovic seems to believe are all uneducated with no attention span and are “used to reading text and watching pictures” — will prefer a detailed resume that makes it easy to sell your skills to a client.

While graphic resumes are less than ideal when submitting to a recruiter for an IT contract, I do agree with a couple of the pros referenced in the article. A graphic resume will help you stand out and it could be a beneficial networking tool. Instead of a “graphic resume,” think of an infographic as a marketing tool. You would not you provide it when applying to a job, but instead, it would be a great leave-behind after an interview or when networking. That infographic is not going to be what gets you the job, but it will ensure somebody remembers you. And, when you’re top-of-mind to a recruiter, opportunities start pouring in.