Talent Development Centre

All posts by Eagle Talent

Contactor Quick Poll Results: Would you ever go back?

The life of an independent contractor is filled with ups and downs. It seems that every benefit of being a contractor comes with an extra stressor. Some IT professionals start contracting and later realize that they prefer the life of being an employee, where as others will get into the new lifestyle and never look back.

In last month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we were curious to learn how many of our readers want to return to the employee life versus how many love the contracting world. It turns out, that while few independent contractors want to get back into a permanent position as soon as possible, more than half said that if the right opportunity came along, they would consider ditching their current freelance career.

How likely are you to leave independent contracting for a permanent position as an employee?

15 Podcasts to Help Independent Contractors Get Through Difficult Times

For all of the good times, being an independent contractor can bring on some tough times that make you feel alone. Some days finding the next IT gig is like pulling teeth and you’re left with little or no income for a period of time. Then, after putting in hours of effort to finally land a contract, technology projects can go off the rails, clients and their employees might throw you under the bus, and your personal plans start to get destroyed. It’s times like these that you need to be strongest and get back up fighting, but where do you find that motivation?

Fundera has a solution for you… actually they have 15 helpful solutions! This infographic suggests podcasts on nearly any topic that are both inspiring and help build resilience — perfect for the independent IT contractor. Check them out and let us know you favourite in the comments below.

15 Podcasts to Help Independent Contractors Get Through Difficult Times

The Ongoing Debate Around the Future of Work

Last week’s video sparked a bit of debate around the actual need for everybody to learn to code when we shared a video arguing that the movement where all kids need to learn to code is misguided. Today, we’re sharing another video on a topic with varying opinions between economists and futurists — the future of work and whether or not there will still be a place for humans.

As automation continues to grow, so do fears that jobs will fade. Take self-checkouts at stores as an example. These raise controversy as some consumers believe the machines are taking jobs from humans, where the other side will argue they’re creating different types of jobs and the economy will grow. The latter concept is explained further in this video by Vox. It looks at historical data, talks to economists, and provides theories as to why the future of work is only looking bright, even with more and more robots coming in. That said, a scroll through the comments shows equally valid arguments as to why the outlook is looking grim.

What do you think the real future of work will be?

Contractor Quick Poll: Early Bird or Night Owl?

Perhaps one of the top benefits of being an independent contractor is that you get you set your own hours. Certainly, your client will request you are available and on site for some meetings but overall, IT projects can be worked on during any time of day.

While the old “early bird gets the worm” adage holds true in many circumstances, studies have proven that all individuals are different when it comes to productivity. While many people are most productive when they wake up early and get a head start on the day, it still isn’t feasible for a large portion of the population. That segment prefers their sleep in the morning and are much more productive later into the evening.

In this month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we’re asking IT contractors which sleep schedule makes them most productive. Assuming you get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep (ha!), are you an early bird who likes to get up with the sun and go to sleep sooner, or do you consider yourself to be more of a night owl who does phenomenal work well into the night and then sleeps in the next day?

New Resume Tips for IT Contractors

Take the generic technology resume advice you keep hearing (even here) and set it aside for a second. Those regular tips you hear are valuable, but so are the not-so-common pieces of information that you can find from some job search experts. In our regular quest for knowledge to share with the IT contracting community, we recently came across new resume tips and want to make sure our readers know them too…

Some Lesser-Known Resume Tips

Glassdoor published an article with 10 resume tips you probably haven’t thought of. While not all are relevant to an IT contractor and there are even a couple we do not necessarily recommend, this list does help a job seeker get into a different frame of mind:

  1. Only Include Your Address If It Works in Your Favour
    (our advice: if you have to lie or hide something, you probably shouldn’t apply)
  2. Be a Name Dropper
  3. Utilize Your Performance Reviews
    (or for a contractor, include references and testimonials)
  4. Don’t Go Overboard with Keywords
    (PLEASE consider this point strongly)
  5. Use Common-Sense Email Etiquette
  6. When It Comes to Skills, Quality over Quantity
  7. Choose to Share Social Accounts Strategically
  8. Use Hobbies to Your Advantage
    (our advice: hobbies are less interesting to a client hiring a contractor, compared to an employee looking for a permanent team member)
  9. Skip Generic Descriptors
  10. Keep an Accomplishment Journal

Flip-Flopping on the Objective Statement

Speaking of uncommon resume advice, although we’ve noted independent contractors need not include an objective statement on their resume, Pop! Your Career believes there are times it can help. According to their recent post, they say an objective statement is useful if you are:

  • Changing your career direction
  • Joining the Workforce
  • Returning to the Workforce
  • Looking for different type of work
  • Changing locations

In summary for an IT contractor, we stand by the fact that the objective statement isn’t helpful for the seasoned technology professional who regularly works with the same recruiters, if, however, you’re making any sort of change, its worth highlighting it at the top of your resume.

A Winning Resume-Writing Formula from Amazon

Over the summer, Business Insider interviewed a recruiter from one of the top IT companies in the world, and a place where thousands of technology professionals aspire to work — Amazon. In the resulting article, recruiting manager Celeste Joy Diaz provides a winning formula to use when writing your resume. Instead of a laundry list of tasks and skills, she says that every project should start with this phrase: I created a solve for X amount of customers and it saved X amount of money, using X skill.

What do the x’s represent in Diaz’s phrase? Data. Rather than bunch of fluff, centralizing your resume around this phrase ensures that you’re providing quantitative measures that show recruiters and hiring managers exactly what you accomplished.

What other outside-of-the-box resume advice can you provide? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments below. If you have a great source or article, please let us know. We love learning new things so we can pass them along.

The Internet Will Be Unhackable by 2034

At least that’s what Futurism predicts in this timeline of the future of technology. They say that “a satellite network using entangled photons for quantum key distribution (QKD) will create a full secure, unhackable internet.” That’s among many other exciting/scary/far-fetched predictions, including underwater cities by 2055!

Whether or not you believe this infographic, it’s fun to look at and many of the predictions are believable. Do you think we’ll be mining active submarine volcanoes in 10 years or buying holographic pets in 2041?

Does Everyone Really Need to Learn to Code?

As an IT contractor, you will not be surprised to hear that experts forecast a surge in programming jobs for many years to come. Consumers are continuing to demand new technology at increasing paces and IT companies will meet or exceed those demands so they can remain competitive. The result is a common train of thought that everyone should learn how to code because their job is going to require it. Even on this blog, we’ve made this argument and a recent quick poll proves that many IT professionals agree.

But this video from PolyMatter has a different opinion. Instead, they argue the push for teaching everyone to code is strictly political and, in fact, a developer role is nothing more than a skilled career path like a surgeon. “It is just a job, not a basic universal skill.” What do you think? Should everyone learn to code?

Are Word and Excel Really That Great for an Independent Contractor’s Accounting?

At its core, Microsoft Office offers a suite of tools that nearly everybody uses, regardless of their profession, with Word and Excel being the most popular. Over the years we’ve provided extensive tips on formatting your resume in Microsoft Word and shared several posts with tips to use Excel to its maximum potential.

Throughout our many posts, we have suggested a time or two that IT contractors could use Microsoft Excel for accounting; however, that suggestion always comes with a caution that as powerful as it is, Excel doesn’t easily cover all of your accounting needs. In a recent blog post, Freshbooks also cautions against using Word and Excel to manage your books, even if it’s something that’s always worked for you. While we admit, Freshbooks is a biased source given its product is accounting software, they do make valid points to consider:

You’re Probably Making Mistakes in Word and Excel

Because these Microsoft tools are not created specifically for accounting, Freshbooks argues that it is easier to make mistakes that cost you time and money. For example, fixing small formatting issues in Excel is quick, but frequently making those fixes will quickly take more and more time. Or, maybe you accidentally save over (or forget to save) IT project estimates you create in Word. Then you may have to unprofessionally ask your recruiter or client to send it back to you a month later.

Tracking Cashflow Is Not as Easy

The example Freshbooks provides in their argument is that their product allows for online payment so you can get paid faster, even in a mail stoppage. But a great accounting program will help your cashflow beyond that example in ways that Excel and Word will not do as easily. If you juggle multiple clients and staffing agencies, accounting programs can track their payment status and trends to know who is better at paying. In addition, they will notify you who has yet to pay, automatically send reminders and notify you when it’s time to follow up. If you’re a pro with MS Office, you can probably set these features up on your own, but they will not run quite as smoothly.

Tax Time is Not as Easy

All independent contractors are well aware of the importance of filing your taxes properly. While your fantastic accountant takes care of everything at tax time, they will be thrilled to learn you moved away from Microsoft Office and onto an accounting software. These programs track your expenses and help manage all documentation that come with them. They can also automatically generate reports and calculations based on your tax requirements. The easier you can make tax time on your accountant, the less time it will take them to do your books, and the less they will have to charge you.

The software you choose to use to manage your IT contracting business is a decision to be made based on consultation with your accountant, in combination with your own knowledge of accounting. While this post was inspired by a Freshbooks article, there are many other options and we encourage you to explore them all. One thing is certain, though. If you choose to use programs such as Word or Excel, you will have more inconveniences and mistakes.

Give Thanks for Your Job Interviews

Happy Thanksgiving! Among the delicious food and valuable time with family, Thanksgiving is especially about taking time out of your busy schedule and being thankful for everything you have. Very often, as we have these discussions, we recognize that being grateful and giving a simple “thank you” can go a long way in building relationships. This holds true when building relationships with clients and recruiters after a job interview.

A few years ago, The Ladders interviewed 500 job seekers and hiring managers to learn more about how people say thank you, as well as how it’s received. While job seekers vary in their strategies, one thing is for certain, hiring managers definitely consider thank-you notes during their decision-making process.

When to Send Thank You Notes After Interview

The Fascinating Science Behind a Pinball Machine

There’s no better way to go into a long weekend of awkward silences at family meals than to be armed with absolutely useless information. Well today’s video has just that AND the answers to questions that have been keeping you up at night.

Vox did some serious research and found world-renowned experts to create this informative video on the science of a pinball machine. If you want to be the next pinball wizard, or just want something different to say at this weekend’s Thanksgiving dinner, then this video is for you. It is super interesting, so at the very least, watching and sharing this video is the perfect way to spend your next five minute break.