Talent Development Centre

All posts by Eagle Talent

How Hackers Get Around Two-Factor Authentication

Two factor authentication is an extra security measure a lot of people have begun to use to further protect their accounts and personal information from being hacked. This authentication method sends a text to your phone with a code that must be inputted within a minute to log in.

However according to Tech Insider’s interview with Kevin Mitnick, hackers have ways to even bypass this. An example he uses is when Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson had his twitter hacked. While there’s no need for constant paranoia, this video suggests tips to stay aware of the common tricks hackers use.

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you participate in the Developer Community?

Development trends and best practices are always evolving. There will always be new coding languages, advancements in technologies, and user behaviour trends that drive a need to change. Essentially, there will always be new problems and need for innovation.

Developer communities help overcome many of these challenges by opening up networking and providing the ability to share and work on solutions together. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to know how developers participate in communities, if at all.

IT Contractors Should Take an SEO Approach to Writing a Resume

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science that digital marketers in all industries use to maximize their presence on top search engines, like Google. They use a variety of tools and strategies to ensure the content on their website is of top quality and the topic is clear to the search engines. The more a search engine trusts that page to answer a user’s question, the more likely it is to display a website at the top of the results.

When searching for candidates, nearly all staffing agencies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that scours through a database containing thousands of resumes. It uses intelligent algorithms to read through the content and return the candidates who best match a specific search — much like Internet search engines. So, if you want to get to the top of a recruiter’s search when they look for IT contractors with your skillset, then doesn’t it make sense to apply the same strategies a digital marketer uses to make their website appear at the top of a relevant search?

Perhaps the oldest but still extremely relevant SEO tactic is the use of keywords. Marketers plant relevant keywords and variations of them throughout their content and you should do the same with your resume. Continuously writing a specific skill throughout your experience or ensuring all of the titles in your past experience match what a recruiter would search will help boost your profile to the top of ATS results.

There are of course best-practices to adding keywords. When digital marketers fail to follow them, they quickly suffer negative results. The same can happen to an IT contractor who doesn’t properly think it through with their resume. A recent post on Recruiter.com by James Hu, the CEO of Jobscan, provides five types of keywords that will hurt your resume’s search results:

  1. Too-Soft Soft Skills: The generic, cliché keywords that mean nothing, nor separate you from others (ex. Hard Working and Team Player).
  2. Keyword Variations: Yes, above we mention that digital marketers use variations of keywords throughout their content, which helps capture the different ways people search. But search engines are intelligent enough to recognize all of these variations and connect them with different searches. Unfortunately, many Applicant Tracking Systems are not, meaning if you type “Project Managed” and the recruiter searches “Project Manager”, you may not appear.
  3. Almost Right Keywords: Again, Applicant Tracking Systems’ minimal intelligence compared to a large search engine means they don’t recognize your spelling mistakes. While your entire resume should be spellchecked, pay careful attention that your keywords are spelled correctly.
  4. Not-True-at-All Keywords: Unethical digital marketers stuff keywords onto irrelevant pages to get results. While this worked in the early years of SEO, search engines quickly caught on and blacklist these websites. Recruiters will do the same if you start putting keywords in that don’t even apply to your experience. It goes back to some of the best advice we can give: don’t lie on your resume.
  5. Out-on-an-Island Keywords: These keywords aren’t lies, but they do water down your relevance. Ensure the bulk of your content is related to the job to which you’re applying. A recruiter searching for a Business Intelligence Specialist probably won’t be running a search for “Horseback Riding” so you’re safe to remove that hobby from your resume. We promise.

We recently provided some additional resume tips for formatting and saving your resume to end up at the top of a recruiter’s search, and more specifically, to succeed in being found for government IT job opportunities. Do you strategically add keywords to your resume or take any other measures to ensure you end up at the top of a recruiter’s search? If not, you could be missing out on top IT contract opportunities.

Get into the “Zone”

Picture this: You’re at work and all of a sudden a wave of motivation hits you and it feels like within the span of a couple of hours, you’ve completed a number of tasks off your to-do list. This is what it means to “get in the zone.”

Getting in the zone can be challenging. But according to NetCredit, with the right environment and attitude you can begin to maximize your productivity on a regular basis and complete what before seemed like an impossible task!

A Faster Way to Learn New Technologies

Technology is always changing with new advancements becoming more and more frequent. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up. This can especially be the case when working in a technology career. As an independent contractor searching for IT jobs, it’s important to keep yourself up to date on the new skills, such as new programming languages, needed for these positions.

Practical Psychology has published a video that suggests using the Feynman technique to help you learn faster, which is ideal when you think about all the new technology that is being created. Take a look at the technique’s four step process to make you a quick learner.

Steps to the Best Code Review and Giving the Imminent Feedback

Giving feedback is a regular task for all IT contractors, regardless of your core area of expertise. Whether its to a colleague, a client or a direct report, feedback comes in a variety of forms and usually starts with an evaluation. For example, you may give a colleague feedback on their presentation after seeing it, give a fellow contractor feedback on their resume after reading it, and or give a developer feedback on their code after a careful review.

Unlike sitting through a presentation or glancing over a resume, reviewing code and giving feedback requires extensive focus, knowledge and attention to detail. That’s why the best code reviewers are able to land jobs working on the most exciting projects.

In a recent article published by The Muse, Full Stack Engineer Neely Kartha comments on some of her struggles when she first began reviewing code, specifically the stress that can come from the expectations. Obviously a great problem-solver with initiative, Kartha explains how she interviewed other professionals to collect tips on how to best review code. Here are the 5 most important ones she discovered:

  1. Think about the overall impact
  2. Consider security
  3. Focus on bugs
  4. Be a team player
  5. Use the process for learning and knowledge sharing

While the first three points require strong technical skills and experience to truly excel, the final two — being a team player and embracing the opportunity to grow — are soft skills that can often be more challenging. Kartha points out at the end of her article that the steps in providing feedback are a great opportunity to exercise your people skills. She suggests giving people the benefit of the doubt while trying to dispel defensiveness. Obviously this is no easy task, but surely something that top code reviewers have mastered.

Do you review code? If so, do you have any additional tips for a successful review that ensures a quality product and maintains good relationships with the author? We’d love your tips, please share them in the comments below.

7 Tips to a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is an essential part of a happy and healthy lifestyle. No matter what industry you’re in, not getting a good night’s can affect your performance in anything from a job interview to a typical work day. And that can have long-term consequences.

There are a lot of approaches you can take to make sure you’re well-rested and the Mormon Channel summarizes the top seven. Take a look below!

Google Calendar Tricks You May Not Know About

Stop using Google Calendar just to keep track of appointments or meetings and take advantage of some great features that can make your life easier and more productive.

Sharing or publishing a calendar can make planning a meeting around another team member’s schedule easier or simply lets your client’s employees know what you’ll be completing for the day. As an independent contractor searching for IT jobs, you can keep track of what staffing agencies you’re in contact with and for what position by scheduling reminders with the email included in the description.

Steve Dotto further explains the five “hidden gems” of Google Calendar in this video from Dottotech.

Should IT Contractors Charge for Their Breaks?

Should IT Contractors Charge for Their Breaks?Sorry to break this to you, but as critical as your role may be to your project, you’re not that important. Yes, even you deserve and can afford to take a break throughout the day, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. In the same way athletes require a break to recharge muscles, so do office professionals to recharge their minds. We recently published a post about the benefits of taking breaks and some tips on maximizing those benefits. As an IT contractor, it all may be a great idea but can raise an additional question — how do you charge your client when you take breaks?

In the simplest and most straight-forward terms, as an independent contractor, you should only charge your client for the time you are working for them. Most clients only require timesheets to say the total hours worked per day (or even a period) but you may come across some who want to see a breakdown of your hours worked. In theory, separating every chunk of time and submitting it to a client would be easiest to demonstrate your productivity; however, that is not a practical solution. Especially if you follow the “microbreak” strategy of time management and take 5-minute breaks every 25 minutes, that is going to be a long, complicated timesheet. It’s more common for independent contractors to charge in increments of 15 minutes and adjust their time for the entire day. For example, if you worked 8-4 with six 5-minute breaks throughout the day, you would only record 8:00 to 3:30, which makes up for the half hour worth of non-productive time.

There may also be a grey area in what is considered a “break” and what is billable. For example, some independent contractors eat lunch at their desk and deem that time as working so do not record a lunch break. In these cases, you must ask yourself how available and productive you actually are. Although you are sitting at a desk, if you’re busy eating and ignoring phone calls or emails, it is technically a break. On the other side of the coin, everybody’s day consists of a couple quick personal phone calls and of course “nature breaks”. Should your client really nickel and dime you for such situations? Finally, when you take a quick 5-minute walk to clear your mind, you’re sure to return more energized and productive. Given that quick bit of exercise was in your client’s best interest, can you charge them for it? How you respond to those questions is a combination of your personal ethics and the agreement between you and your client, but it is important to be aware of your activity.

Tracking your breaks can be an eye-opening experience, on both extremes. You could learn that you are over-charging your client or realize that you should add some breaks into your day. Tracking that time is as simple as keeping a spreadsheet or notebook. You can also download a time management app that lets you quickly turn on and off your work time. Though you’re unlikely to charge your client 6 hours, 41 minutes, 4 seconds, seeing that final time will hopefully make you think twice before billing out an even 8 hours.

An honest and open time management system is crucial to a working, trusting relationship with clients and staffing agencies. No ethical independent contractor is out to rip of their client, nor do they want to rip off themselves by undercharging or failing to take care of themselves with proper breaks. How do you manage breaks and time entry with your clients?

Older IT Professionals Can Still Rock a Career in Tech

Older IT Professionals Can Still Rock a Career in TechBetween news from Silicon Valley, advertisements from all industries, and countless Hollywood movies, the media is brutal for portraying all successful IT professionals as young, hip (and sometimes irritating) geniuses. The fact is, like all industries, successful organizations are most prosperous when they have a diverse team, including representation from all generations.

If you’re an IT contractor on the other side of 40, you likely played a heavy role in implementing technologies that brought your organization to the next level. So why can it be so challenging to find a new IT job at an older age? According to a recent Dice article by Leslie Stevens-Huffman, there are various stereotypes that follow senior IT workers and some professionals sabotage their careers by displaying these characteristics to a hiring manager. For example, is it possible you’ve been displaying a sense of entitlement, asking for too much compensation, or just being a stick in the mud?

To help out, Stevens-Huffman observed the most successful IT workers in the upper generation and compiled 5 traits they all have in common. Next time you’re looking for a new gig — either full-time or contract — here’s what you may want to highlight to avoid being lumped into the stereotype:

  1. Continuing Desire to Grow and Learn — the hottest skillset today may be useless in a few years. Clients and employers want to know that you’re willing to change with the times.
  2. Energetic — Speaking in an upbeat manner or using shorter sentences or paragraphs while writing can all make you appear more upbeat and project more energy than your younger counterparts.
  3. Clear Goals and Objectives — Referencing career coach Donald Burns, the author of the Dice article points out that a clear roadmap will help you avoid the mid- or late-career job search all together.
  4. Willing to Take Direction from Younger Colleagues — As noticed in point #1, you need to be willing to learn and often the younger generation can help do that. Be open to a two-way mentoring relationship.
  5. Present Day View — Learning from the past and using it as a way to make corrections going forward is positive; however, being stuck in the past and suggesting older technologies makes you appear out-of-touch.

Senior IT professionals with 20+ or 30+ years of experience might become independent contractors and consultants, where others prefer the stability of a full-time job. Regardless of your situation, although your skills are in high-demand, you will hit situations when you compete for gigs against the younger generation. By taking these points into consideration, you will ensure a focus on your experience, and not your age.