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Contractor Quick Poll: Will You Subscribe to Disney+?

For a couple years now, Disney has been teasing a streaming service that would rival all other services and give the leading Netflix a serious run for its money. Now, Disney+ is less than a month away and the hype around it is real. Disney is going all in, where for a lower monthly subscription than Netflix, viewers can get access to everything that is Star Wars franchise, the Marvel franchise, Disney classics and everything in between.

As we prepare for colder Winter months that typically include binge watching, we’re asking IT contractors what you think of Disney+ and, more specifically, if you’ll be subscribing. If you are, will you give up any of your current streaming or television services?

How Emotional Intelligence Makes You a Better IT Contractor

How Emotional Intelligence Makes You a Better IT Contractor

Emotional Intelligence (often referred to as EI or EQ) can be a fluffy term and not always simple to grasp. It refers to a person’s capacity to both identify and regulate emotions in themselves or others. Those with high EI are able to recognize, understand, manage and reason with emotions, which they can then leverage to manage their own behaviour and relationships. As Dr. Travis Bradberry has put it “Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.”

There is no shortage of documentation and articles advocating the importance of emotional intelligence in all areas of life, so we thought we’d investigate the benefits an IT contractor can reap with enhanced EI, specifically in the job search and while working.

How Emotional Intelligence Will Improve Your Job Search

Emotional intelligence becomes truly important for the IT contractor during the interview stage of your job search. Your skills and experience will help you sail through the technical evaluation, but EI is the piece that will help you build a connection with recruiters and non-technical hiring managers. These are the folks who, as much as they understand the value of your ability to do the job, are also ensuring you will fit into the team and work well with others.

Here are a few ways you can answer questions and describe past experiences in a job interview to highlight your emotional intelligence:

  • Show your ability to manage negative emotions by moving past bad experiences on past contracts. That means refraining from talking badly about previous clients or situations and focusing on the positive aspects.
  • Truly understand your strengths and weaknesses. Know how to communicate the areas you where excel and humbly accept the skills where you fall short.
  • Provide examples of times you accepted feedback and criticism and used it as a challenge to improve yourself.
  • Accept responsibility for areas that went wrong on a previous project without placing blame on other team members. Explain how you learned from your mistakes.
  • Take time to learn more about your interviewer and the position. Share their enthusiasm in what they do so you can build a connection with them.

How Emotional Intelligence Will Make You a Better IT Contractor

In 2012, a CareerBuilder survey showed that 71% of employers value emotional intelligence over IQ. Employers would rather hire people who have high EI than who are smart. Specifically, emotional intelligence is increasingly important for technology professionals for a myriad of reasons, some of them being:

  • It helps you get along with others. Tech workers regularly interact with non-technical people. The need to connect on a level where you can explain various concepts is crucial and emotional intelligence makes it happen.
  • It gives you job security. More and more we hear about how artificial intelligence and automation will steal our jobs. For the time being, these technologies still lack the human connection, including emotional intelligence.
  • It improves your decision making. By understanding others, and more importantly, yourself, you can push past biases and understand the emotions driving a situation to make decisions that are subjective and will be accepted by others.
  • It gets you through conflict. Your job as an IT contractor is to be the expert in an area. Naturally, with that turn comes conflict within your team and with your client’s employees. Emotional intelligence forms a sought-after leadership trait to work through conflict calmly and find solutions that work for everyone.
  • It means you can work well under pressure. The ability to control your emotions, listen and cooperate with others, all while understanding their emotions means you will be a prime candidate to lead a team through crisis and short timelines.

The great thing about EQ versus IQ is that emotional intelligence can be developed purposefully. There are a number of books and resources available that are worth researching if you’re seriously interested in improving yours. To get started, experts recommend reducing your stress levels as stress is known to mask your ability to tap into your emotions. From there, take some time to recognize your own emotions and learn more about your strengths and weaknesses, as well as read social cues to read into others’ nonverbal communications.

Breaking the Stigma of Independent Contracting and the Gig Economy

The “Gig Economy” is a prevalent buzzword and drastically grew in popularity as services like Uber became mainstream, but IT Contractors know it is nothing new.

While industry experts, economists and business experts frequently laud the trend, speaking of the benefits it brings to companies, economies and individuals, there continues to be a stigma to being an independent contractor or gigger. Some professionals are hesitant to accept a temporary or contract job, feeling that it’s a mere sign they’re unable to find full-time work and that this is a last resort. They believe it will lead to a dead-end job. It is also common to hear critics claim that participants in the gig economy are not there by choice and, in fact, are being exploited by greedy employers and staffing agencies.

Research proves that most contract professionals are in their positions by choice and are definitely succeeding in their careers. A 2016 McKinsey & Company study found that 70% of gig workers are participating in the gig economy because they want to. A little more than half of them are casual earners, who also have other full-time jobs, where others are free agents who are using it as their primary income.

Breaking the Stigma of Independent Contracting and the Gig Economy

The study found that those 70% are also experiencing strong job satisfaction. The MBO Partners State of Independence in America 2019 further backed the notion that contractors enjoy their career choice, stating that more than half of independent workers feel more financially secure than in their traditional jobs, and 70% plan to continue their current path.

In a world with so much criticism and stigma, why do IT professionals choose to be independent contractors and what makes those 70% never want to turn back?

  1. There are Plenty of Job Opportunities, Especially in IT. A combination of fast-paced technology projects that require specializations, a growing IT skills gap around the world, plus a desire to cut costs and headaches with fewer full-time employers are all leading organizations to raise the amount of IT contractors they use.
  2. The Flexibility is Insane. The freedom and flexibility that come with contracting is nothing that can be experienced as a full-time employee. There are some restrictions based on client needs, but overall, IT contractors get to choose where they work, when they work, and what kind of projects they take on.
  3. It’s a Break from the “9 to 5”. This goes beyond flexibility. For some people, working in that same environment all day every day is long, stale and depressing. Independent contractors can break things up, deciding to work for another client on certain days. Plus, they can eliminate awkward employer-mandated team-building workshops.
  4. Their Entrepreneur Spirit Can Shine. Some individuals are regular entrepreneurs. They want to oversee their own business, take on their own marketing and grow into something bigger. Independent contracting is the perfect steppingstone to start that journey.

Independent contracting, the gig economy and temp work (whatever you want to call it) is not for everyone. As noted earlier, 30% of people are stuck there and would prefer a full-time job. Being independent comes with stress and uncertainty. A permanent position is also the ideal place to build experience and skills that allow you to be a specialized contractor.

If you’re considering becoming an independent contractor but are hesitating, what’s stopping you? If you’re already there, would you ever go back? If you have gone back, why did you? We’d love to learn where you are in your journey and help you through your hesitations.

Regional Job Market Update for Toronto, Ontario

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

 

Toronto, Ontario Canada

 

The cat is out of the bag — Toronto is now an established world leader in IT and an innovation hub that rivals any city in the world.

Now what does this mean to the real job market?

Firstly, it means that a vast majority of Canadian fortune 100 companies have their IT headquarters in the GTA, plus IT start ups are finding Toronto to be the place to get started in record numbers. This brings an incredible opportunity to IT professionals, but what skill sets and profiles are the majority of these organizations looking for?

The answer to that lies in the customer. Companies today are all clamoring to create the best Customer Experience and the GTA job market reflects that, which can be seen in their position requirements. In addition to technical skills, they want to know their contractors can enhance the customer experience by knowing as much as possible about customers and, in return, provide that experience.

Specifically, companies are searching for:

Integration:

Resources with major project experience are in hot demand. There are many projects right now that are attempting to consolidate internal systems to ensure that when customers are contacting companies — regardless of the issue — they won’t be passed around from touch-point to touch-point, having to re-issue their info and explain their concerns over and over.

A meaningful customer profile is imperative in providing a positive experience.

Agile:

As more firms transition to the Agile methodology, the need for IT resources who truly understand the impact of their work on the overall customer experience is growing exponentially. In years past we have seen a large number of tester/QA positions go overseas. With the increased adoption of Agile, many of those requirements now sit locally as QA is part of every Agile team.

These business skills and knowledge are of course only part of it and in-demand IT skills remain. The hottest skills we see right now are:

  • Integration Experience
  • Full Stack Development
  • Core Java Development
  • Agile
  • Data Science
  • Security

It is important to note also that with this increased level of customer information and profiles comes an increased need for uncompromising security of that information. With that, the need for security resources remains high and demand far outweighs supply.

You may have seen the report Randstad recently published of the top IT jobs in the Toronto Market

  1. Developer/Programmer
  2. System Administrator
  3. IT Project Manager
  4. Quality Assurance Analyst
  5. Data Analyst
  6. It Business Analyst
  7. Help Desk Analyst
  8. IT Manager

While these positions may not look considerably different than they have in years past (except Agile), the difference we are seeing is in the requirement for business understanding and understanding of customer impact as well as the in demand traditional IT skills.

Understanding the customer is the goal of the companies hiring and they are looking for people who understand this goal and its impact on the bottom line.

Quick Poll Results: Keeping Up with the Latest News and Trends

Knowing what’s happening in your city, country and around the world is the crucial for remaining competitive in today’s job market. You need to understand the trends coming down the pipe, make informed decisions based on external factors, and have the ability to have conversations about current events during networking events and interviews.

While the need to be informed is standard, how you get that information is definitely not. Canadians have a plethora of options when it comes to choosing how they’ll get their news and in last month’s contractor quick poll, we set out to find out how people are doing so. The results were mixed, with social media taking the lead. An interesting observation, but probably not surprising, is how traditional outlets like newspapers and radio are at the bottom of the pack.

Quick Poll Results: How do you keep up with the latest news and trends?

Contractor Quick Poll: Do You Have a Personal Website

Paper resumes are all but useless in today’s digital job search economy, with virtually all employers and recruitment agencies demanding an electronic copy of your resume. These files are the only way their Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) can quickly scan through resumes and shortlist the best IT professionals for the job.

But while computers are doing much of the upfront prescreening, recruiters still want to get to know the top applicants more personally to ensure they’re not hiring a psychopath, and you can be certain that they are researching you in every way possible. Building your online presence is the only way you can control what recruiters learn about you and one of the best ways to do so is to build a personal website that communicates your brand.

Personal websites that include a digital resume go a long way in differentiating you from other IT contractors, yet so few people decide to build one. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to learn if you have a personal website and, if not, do you plan to?

Optimize the Contact Information Section of Your Resume

Optimize the Contact Information Section of Your Resume

Have you ever visited a company website and struggled to find contact information? You want to do business with them but have questions and there’s no obvious phone number or email address (at least not without having to sit through a sales pitch). Or maybe you want to understand where they’re located and there’s no sign whatsoever of a physical location. If you find that frustrating or immediately get a sketchy feeling about the company, then you officially understand how recruiters feel when they receive resumes with similar, shady contact details.

There are understandable and legitimate privacy concerns to not wanting to include too much contact information on your resume. However, these concerns have trade-offs that make recruiters question your credibility or struggle to get a hold of you when they’re interested in your experience. A better approach would be to include the necessary information and research the security practices of the third-party job boards to which you are applying. Or, although more time consuming, only submit applications directly to the companies who are hiring and have secure websites.

What Contact Information Should You Include on Your IT Contracting Resume?

The simple answer is “as much as possible.” A major difference between submitting your resume to a staffing agency as a contractor versus a company for a permanent position is that the latter resume is usually only going to be reviewed once. A contract resume with an employment agency will be searched over and over to match new opportunities as they arise. Among the many implications of this difference, that means your IT contracting resume must be easy to find in a database and ensure a recruiter can get in touch with you when they need to.

  • Email Address: Your email address should always be in your resume, and 99% of the resumes we receive at Eagle do have one. Nearly all job boards require an email address to create a profile, so it’s naturally included in your application anyway.
  • Phone: Your cell phone number is best because it guarantees you will be easy to reach and also opens the door for texting, which is faster and more convenient for everyone. It is helpful to specify which phone number goes to where (ex. Cell vs Home vs Office)
  • LinkedIn: The professional social network is a perfect way to keep an up-to-date version of your experience and it’s also a means to connect. When you include your LinkedIn profile, commit to responding to InMails from recruiters as they often communicate through the platform.
  • Website: Similar to LinkedIn, if you include a link to a personal website, be certain that also has an contact page, complete with a contact form so you can quickly be reached.
  • Physical Location: This is the line in contact information sections that we have seen disappear from resumes over the past few years, and it hurts candidates significantly. Recruiters — both at staffing agencies and corporate recruiters — regularly search databases of their applicant tracking system or third-party job boards. In the majority of their searches, they filter a search by location. When you do not include location in your resume, you are not appearing in the majority of search results. Of course, no recruiter wants to mail you a letter, so if privacy is your concern, feel free to leave out the street address. At a minimum, including city, province and postal code will cover your bases. It’s also worth noting that since cell phone plans today usually include nation-wide calling, contractors are less likely to update their number when moving. As a result, recruiters do not trust just an area code to determine if you are local.

Contact Information to Include on Your Resume When You Plan to Re-Locate

This is another common mistake we see by job seekers — they live in one city but want to work somewhere else. Many resume advice articles will tell you not to include a physical location, but for the reasons listed above (you’ll never be found and it makes you look sketchy) we strongly recommend you add something. If you are absolutely guaranteed to be moving, then use your new city, province and postal code as the main address in your contact section. Otherwise, include a note in your resume specifying your intentions including where you’re willing to work. In these complex situations, we encourage you to connect with a recruiter directly so they understand your intentions and can update their search criteria manually.

Finally, Consider a Section in Your Resume to Tell Recruiters Your Preferences

Would you rather receive an email before a phone call? Is there a better time of day that recruiters can call you? Or would you prefer to hear from them by text? Maybe there’s only a specific radius from your home address you’re willing to commute or you only check LinkedIn messages once per month. Whatever your preferences, a brief section in your resume that tells recruiters how they can get a hold of you most effectively means opportunities will come your way faster and more frequently.

20 Simple (and mostly free) Ways to Brighten Someone’s Day

20 Simple (and mostly free) Ways to Brighten Someone's DayWe’ve all had terrible days. We’ve also experienced the slightest gesture from somebody else that turned everything around. How many people do you interact with during your workday? Clients, their employees, other IT contractors, recruiters, the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be great if you were that person who turned around somebody else’s terrible day?

Many IT contractors are fortunate to interact with a variety of people, giving you more opportunities to brighten a day, and it doesn’t have to be grand like buying them lunch or delivering a speech filled with compliments. Many quick actions may seem small but, to the person on the receiving end, they are exactly what they needed to push them back to the bright side.

Consider trying any of these, at least once per day:

  1. Smile
  2. Help a busy colleague
  3. Compliment a teammate on their work
  4. Hold the door for somebody
  5. Bake (or bring donuts) for your client’s office
  6. Wish a nice day to a stranger in the elevator
  7. Lend your umbrella (or keep a spare one on-hand for people who forget)
  8. Ask someone about their children/pet/family
  9. Follow-up on a story they told a few days ago
  10. Fill the kettle in the office kitchen
  11. Introduce yourself to the contractor who’s new to the office
  12. Talk to the staffing agency’s receptionist when you arrive for an interview
  13. Send a hand-written thank you note
  14. Reach out to an old colleague just because
  15. Address someone by their name (studies have proven that a person’s own name is the sweetest sound they’ll here)
  16. Show your appreciation for the little things people do
  17. Invite someone you don’t know well to join you for lunch or drinks
  18. Actually listen when others speak
  19. Let someone get in line ahead of you
  20. Be nice and use your manners (it’s amazing how much these are missed in a busy world)

Doing little things to brighten somebody’s day will not only make them happier, but you’ll feel better about yourself as well. And the added bonus, they will remember you in a positive light, and that could come in very handy during your next job search.

IT Managers Want to Hire Critical Thinkers. Here’s How You Can Improve.

Critical thinking is a person’s ability to carefully and objectively think through a subject and eliminate personal feelings or opinions to arrive at a final decision. A great critical thinker not only systematically processes information to make rational, logical decisions, but they also fully understand a situation. It is an art of making logical connections between ideas and approaching a situation to get the best possible conclusion.

Many studies have been done about critical thinkers to determine what kind of people are most likely to excel in the area and there are a number of characteristics some argue which are shared among the best. We would argue that anybody can take their critical thinking to the next level and, for IT contractors, it is an absolute must if you want to remain competitive and best serve your clients.

Why Critical Thinking is Important for IT Contractors

Obviously, the ability to make tough decisions based on fact is a valuable skill for any leader. If you don’t plan on leading and are happy working as a team member, you still can’t overlook developing this ability. Critical thinking will help you evaluate situations, get your point across during a discussion (or argument), and develop the most effective solutions for clients. A strong critical thinker is also less likely to get manipulated, whether it be by a colleague, client or unethical recruiter (unfortunately, they are out there).

Most importantly, leading organizations are continually re-evaluating their job requirements and many soft skills — including critical thinking — are topping the list. In Deloitte’s 2019 Industry 4.0 readiness report, they surveyed 612 Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) organizations, with a close look at a subset of the respondents who were considered “high innovators”. Those companies said that the number one skill they’re trying to develop isn’t technical skills, but instead Critical Thinking skills. They believe that human skills like judgement and critical thinking are unique to humans, can’t be replaced by robots, and are essential for interpretation and final decision making.

IT Managers Want to Hire Critical Thinkers. Here's How You Can Improve.

How You Can Improve Your Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a hot topic that has been flooding the internet for years. We’d be absolutely shocked if this is the first post you’ve read about it and can guarantee it will not be your last. When looking for resources to improve, start with the low-hanging fruit. Explore the thousands of online articles, TED Talks, and books that  already exist to find something that works for you.

Here are just a few simple tips to get you started today:

  • Ask yourself the basic questions you may not have specifically answered yet. What are you trying to accomplish? What do you already know? Why is this an issue? In other words, make sure you truly understand the situation.
  • Know yourself and, more importantly, your cognitive biases that will affect your decisions (this is much more difficult than it sounds)
  • Understand any assumptions that are being made, and then question them. Are they still true or relevant?
  • Approach situations from different angles and with different mediums. For example, if you’ve only been discussing it, try writing it down or drawing a diagram.
  • Get other people’s point of view. Whether it’s talking to somebody you know or reading up on the topic (amateurs on online forums or published authors will all do).

As an IT contractor, improving your critical thinking will go beyond just serving your clients. It will also help you formalize your entire contracting plan and know which technology contracts to go after and staffing agencies to work with. You are also more likely to excel at tough job interview questions and impress recruiters. How are you improving your critical thinking?

Work Smart, Not (too) Hard in your Job Search

Work Smart, Not (too) Hard in your Job SearchContract or permanent positions — job searching is not easy. You must work hard if you want any chance of getting that phone call for an interview and, depending on your skill, job market and industry, it’s going to take time. But that doesn’t mean you should give into long hours and no social life just because you need to find your next gig.

Working hard is great if you’re doing the right things. Otherwise, 90% of that “hard work” will be wasted time, while only 10% of those hours are what get you a phone call from a recruiter. Create a successful, smart job search by bringing that percentage of quality time as close to 100% as possible. Here are four ways you can work smarter, and not harder, next time you’re looking for an IT job.

1. Manage Your Time

There’s a common illusion that putting in more time automatically means you will get more results. That is false. Whether you put in 5 minutes of 5 hours, time is irrelevant if you achieve the desired outcome. To best manage your time, embrace common time management practices and batch common tasks together. Check email during scheduled time blocks, answer the phone during certain periods and schedule specific time for breaks (yes, breaks are important!)

Avoid getting caught in common time-sucks due to misconceptions. Recruiters stress that a quality resume will set you apart from the competition, but, just like many software projects, searching for “perfection” is not always beneficial. Know when it is “good enough” to submit and move onto the next job application. Another misconception is that multi-tasking will save you time. Studies prove time and again that multi-tasking lowers productivity and leads to shabby work all-around. Still, so many of us fall into the trap, thinking we’re being more productive because we feel busy juggling multiple projects at the same time.

2. Take Advantage of Technology and Tools

There are so many technologies, tools and apps available (often at no charge) that will help you save time, maximize productivity, and work through the job search process. Start with your existing ones and learn how to maximize their shortcuts and settings. Templates, styles and macros throughout Microsoft Office can make resume-writing a breeze. The settings, automations and filters in Gmail (or any email client) will help you manage applications and recruiter responses as though you have a personal assistant.

After you’ve exhausted those options, evaluate other productivity tools. (Be careful, because here’s where you can fall down a rabbit hole.) Most major job boards allow you to set-up job alerts and some have apps that will send you push notifications. Make sure you review the leading tools to manage your calendars and reminders, store your resumes, keep your notes, and secure your passwords.

The more you can automate your life, the better – most of the time. Over-relying on technology, however, can also have disastrous effects. Working smarter can mean knowing when to eliminate the fancy stuff and sticking with tried, tested and true techniques, like picking up the phone and calling somebody.

3. Set Goals and Measure Results

The easiest way to let your job search (or any project) go off-track and waste your time is to have no defined direction. Ensure you know exactly what you want to accomplish — What kind of job do you want? Where and in what kind of industry? Which staffing agencies do you want to work with most? Then start each day by setting SMART goals. Review x jobs descriptions and apply to y of the postings. Call these recruiters, reach out those past colleagues on LinkedIn and follow-up on last week’s applications.

With proper goals and objectives, it’s easier to measure your success and track how you’re doing. Keep statistics and track data points to know what’s working and what’s not. Do certain job boards and staffing agencies bring better opportunities or rates? Is there a resume or email format that performs better than others? In the end, you’ll know where to focus your time and where time is being wasted.

4. Embrace Change (and know when not to change)

Change is inevitable and companies around the world are embracing it. If you want to succeed at your job search, you need to embrace change as well. A classic example of job seekers falling behind due to resistance to change is when the internet took recruiting by storm. Companies and recruitment agencies wanted to move to electronic formats, yet some job seekers were determined that the paper resume were still the way to go. The result? Recruiters ignored paper resumes because they were not in their electronic database and not searchable.

It’s smart to always adapt to changing environments and look for better ways to do those tasks you currently run through on autopilot. But, don’t change just for the sake of changing and never unnecessarily reinvent the wheel. Create templates of resumes, emails and interview questions that worked, or revisit and tweak those that did not. Trying a brand-new approach, simply for the sake of being different, is going to waste your time and is not smart.

Working smart is a must for anybody looking to get ahead in today’s busy world where time is a hot commodity. If you don’t believe us, then take it from Scrooge McDuck, the world’s richest duck. He relayed the message to his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie in his famous quote “I made [my fortune] by being smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies.