Talent Development Centre

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Quick Poll Results: What do you look for in a recruiter?

Last week, we shared a post rounding up advice to how to attract recruiters, get past their initial 5-second scan, and ultimately make them want to meet you. In the same way, recruiters are always wanting to understand what is most important to job seekers so they can also improve and be more sought-out.

Last month’s Contractor Quick Poll set-out to learn just that. We provided some common traits contractors look for in a recruiter and asked you to tell us the most important one. Here are the results…

What is the most important trait you look for in a recruiter?

Be More Successful by Knowing These Business Communication Styles

Solid communication skills are imperative for any professional to succeed and are required through the entire process of being an independent contractor — searching for jobs, sending emails, working with different people, explaining complex ideas — you get the idea. We need solid communication abilities if we want to succeed at anything.

Everybody gets their ideas across differently and interprets messages based on how they think. According to this infographic by Nextiva, there are four different communication styles — Analytical, Functional, Personal and Intuitive — and there are optimal ways to communicate with each. Take a few minutes to better understand your style, as well as those of the people you deal with on a regular basis, including clients, colleagues, recruiters and family.

Be More Successful by Knowing These Business Communication Styles

How to Prove that You Actually are “Detail-Oriented”

If you’re going to use a buzzword to describe yourself, at least make sure you can back it up with examples. One of the most common terms we see in resumes and social media, or hear in interviews, is “detail-oriented”.  What does that even mean? If everybody’s claiming to be “detail-oriented” is it really a differentiator?

Perhaps you actually are somebody who pays attention to every little detail and is dedicated to perfection. If that’s the case, you need to be aware that others have hi-jacked your word. It’s no longer enough to tell a hiring manager or recruiter that you’re detail-oriented because they’re numb to it. You must back it up in everything you do.

Not sure what we mean? Check out this video. It goes through an IT contractor’s entire job search process and provides insight on where you can pay a more attention to detail, and back-up your use of an overused buzzword.

Contractor Quick Poll: What’s your preferred web browser?

There are a number of factors that play into a person’s preferred browser, including availability, user experience, security, compatibility. Other times it’s simply about branding and loyalty to a specific company like Google, Apple or Microsoft.

Although Google Chrome is reported to be the most-used browser around the world, we’re still curious to know about technology professionals’ preferred browser. That’s why we’re asking the question in this month’s Contractor Quick Poll.

Here’s What Recruiters Do and Do Not Want to Hear from You

Here's What Recruiters Do and Do Not Want to Hear from YouThe key to selling anything, including yourself, is having a clear understanding of the client. In the case of an IT contractor’s job search, that means knowing your recruiters. Hiring professionals spend every day of their careers evaluating candidates — great ones, mediocre ones and terrible ones. Naturally, it does not take them long to know what they do and do not like.

For example, this article from Inc. reveals buzzwords often found on LinkedIn that recruiters despise reading. It states that you should avoid words that are vague, boastful, or too quirky because they detract from your actual accomplishments. The article also notes that these terms should not appear in a resume or pop-up in job interviews:

  • Growth Hacker and other cute or too creative job titles. State your job title as it is — Developer, Project Manager, etc. Other examples of annoying job titles include futurist, thought leader, champion and influencer.
  • Words you wouldn’t use in a job interview or face to face. For example, nobody would call themselves authentic or a visionary while in-person and expect to maintain credibility.
  • Strategic and innovative. The author’s opinion is that these are over-used words used by lazy people. Elaborate if you’re going to include them.
  • Any word you don’t own. These are classic buzzwords we love to use but don’t know what they mean. For example: synergize/synergy, tribe, game changer, silo, snapshot, bandwidth, traction, cutting edge, granular, omnichannel, paradigm shift, ideation, deliverable, digital transformation and touch base.

So how do you attract recruiters? This article from U.S. News has four helpful ideas and techniques you can use when setting up your job search that will make recruiters a little more eager to give you a call:

  • Play passive. The article suggests keeping your resume off of every job board and not applying to every This way, recruiters don’t perceive that you’re interviewing at 100 other places.
  • Convey your pain. “Pain” may not be the right word, especially for an IT contractor, but instead “interest” or “motivation”. Ensure to the recruiter that you are invested in the opportunity and will not jump ship.
  • Be flexible. The article states that respecting the recruiter’s process and timelines shows goodwill and a desire to work with them, but we will add to that. When working with many clients in the IT contract world, deadlines are real and failure to comply means you cannot be submitted. Flexibility is not about pleasing the recruiter, but complying with the job requirements.
  • Recommend good candidates. If for any reason you are not up for being submitted to the job, help a recruiter by recommending somebody who is interested. When successful, you’ll be helping the recruiter and your friend. Good karma is sure to come your way!

Recruiters evaluate thousands of candidates and, unfortunately, it is not possible to do in-depth research on every applicant they receive. Instead, they rely on their instincts and experience based on what they see in the first few seconds. Being armed with the right knowledge will help you pass that 5-second test so you can completely sell your skills when they dive into your resume.

Should You Pay for a Coding Bootcamp?

Perhaps more than any other trade, the IT space provides some of the most fast-paced change and biggest challenges in keeping up with the latest technologies and skills. Independent IT contractors have even bigger challenges because taking time to learn those skills means they cannot be making money, adding to the cost of professional development.

Coding bootcamps are a popular method of building new skills and, according to Switchup, have been appearing in major Canadian cities since 2013, backed by mega-companies such as Shopify, Salesforce and Cisco Systems. Coding bootcamps are certainly a popular option for skills development, but are they the right option for you?

This infographic from CodingNomads breaks down the decision into 8 questions. Bootcamps are far from free, nor are they always efficient, so if you’re considering one, follow the map and remember to answer the questions honestly.

Should You Pay for a Coding Bootcamp?

7 Tips for New Programmers to Improve Their Skills

Learning the ins and outs of various codes is challenging enough, and we tip our hat to anybody who has taken the time to become great at writing it. Solving problems and delivering creative solutions to clients takes skill and deserves credit, regardless of your level or experience. Still, there are subtle things beginner programmers do when they write code that make an intermediate or expert programmer cringe, and reveal a true noob.

If you’re starting out your programming career and want to improve your skills, check out this video by Andy Sterkowitz. He explains these 7 tips to help make your code more readable and easier to work with:

  1. Avoid Abbreviating Variables
  2. Limit Function Arguments
  3. Simplify Conditional Expressions
  4. Declare Variables Close to Their Usage
  5. Avoid Unintended Consequences in Functions
  6. Functions Should Do One Thing (avoid long functions)
  7. Stop Writing ZOMBIE CODE

From Side Hustle to Full-Time Contractor

From Side Hustle to Full-Time ContractorThe term “side hustle” refers to “… any type of employment undertaken in addition to one’s full time job. A side hustle is generally freelance or piecework in nature, providing a supplemental income.” What the definition doesn’t tell you is how to find, create, and maintain a side hustle. This can be particularly advantageous for a full-time technology employee considering jumping into the Gig Economy as an IT contractor.  The internet and social media has hundreds of suggestions about this type of transition, but here are some general ideas to consider:

Picking the focus of your side hustle:

When it comes to picking a side hustle, a lot of people instantly search or try ones that will earn them the most money off the bat. However, this may not be the smartest move, as our friends at buffer mention in their article. To sum up arguably one of their most important facts, a successful side hustle brings your creativity or passion to life. Picking a side hustle based on these two factors has dual benefits as it increases your productivity at work and allows the other half of your brain to work on a daily/consistent basis. If you’re unsure about what the most creative/passionate fit for your side hustle might be, do not be afraid to try several small projects (consistently) to test them out. When looking at becoming a full-time IT contractor the same theory applies, but the application differs a little bit. If there is one, or two, IT roles that you prefer doing above everything else, get the certifications to ensure that you can apply for as many positions as possible, and begin taking on small side hustles that allow you to gain experience in that particular role.

End-Goals:

When picking the end goal of your side hustle it is important to remember that this is a 100% FLUID step. You could begin a side hustle and realize you want it to stay that way, or you could embark on this journey with the intent of turning it into a full-time occupation. Regardless of what you choose, you must start small. Pick one or two small contracts/projects that you can fit into your schedule easily and work your way up from there. As time goes on and you do more projects, you could very well feel that becoming a full-time IT contractor is what you want to do. If that is the case, start to slowly take on more projects with your side hustle, to create a stable income, and then bite the bullet and quit your 9-5 position; because sooner or later, you won’t be able to juggle both. There are hundreds of websites and articles that contradict each other on this point but remember, this side hustle is all about what YOU want to develop/encourage in your life.

Scheduling:

Perhaps one of the most daunting facets of beginning a side hustle is re-organizing your life to accommodate all the new items on your to-do list. When you’re at this phase, there are several things you must remember to succeed: the first is that there will be days where your iron-clad schedule will have to bend to meet life’s demands (i.e. appointments, unscheduled work days/extra shifts, your side hustle may need more time one week, etc.); second, pick one or two times a week that are just for your side hustle…start with an hour or two, and then increase it when your schedule allows or when you have to; and third, remember that a side hustle, like anything else, is a commitment. Therefore, you may have to forego some things to make it happen (i.e. that extra show on Netflix, time in the gym, your longer lunch breaks, etc.). This ties nicely into the first point of picking something that you’re passionate about, or love doing. If your side hustle is pleasurable to you (i.e. not a daily grind), then spending these extra hours or foregoing that extra gym night will not be a big deal. Remember that as you slowly transition into becoming an IT contractor, the strain of maintaining your full-time position and your side projects, will wear off once you’re at the stage where you’re comfortable to become a full-time contractor.

Priorities:

When thinking and beginning to plan your side hustle, remember that this should begin by working ON THE SIDE meaning that it should not be done at your work. This is stressed for several reasons. The first is that you still have an employer who hired you to be present AT your work for a certain time period, certain days of the week, until a certain date. Essentially, remember that while your project is exciting, and may have deadlines, your regular job comes first. If you don’t put it first, it could come back to haunt you through potential law suits, non-compete clauses, or even tax problems. The second reason, as previously hinted, is money and hours. Double billing clients for the same time-period is never a smart option, and it can get confusing around tax season. So, to keep life simple, try to do one thing at a time, no matter how tight your deadlines become.

As you transition from a full-time employee to a full-time contractor, your priorities should reflect that. But it’s important to also be respectful and mindful of your boss/workplace. If you’ve gotten to a point in time where your side contracts are bringing in enough income; do not hesitate (or wait), to cut the cord with your permanent employer. If you overload your schedule with side contracts, they will notice eventually. In these instances, it is best to leave with as much grace, dignity, and goodwill as possible.

Money:

Money is often the main reason people get side hustles. That extra income can add up after a while, and if it’s put straight into savings it’s amazing how you’re suddenly able to make that payment, afford that down-payment, afford that trip, etc. BUT there are two hitches: the first is budgeting and setting goals to see how many projects you need to take on to meet that goal; the second is figuring out how much you’re going to charge for your time. Let’s face it, you WILL be giving up parts of your life for this – none of us can do it all. So how much is it worth it to you? There is no harm in making sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth (but remember to be reasonable – experience will dictate how much you are worth to many people’s eyes). Additionally, paying attention to how many hours you take to earn a certain amount becomes paramount for transitioning into a full-time contractor position. In order to break down your daily/hourly rate and know what type of projects you want/need to sustain the lifestyle you want, you’ll have to look over your past records and do some serious time/math crunching. It is more than possible, but your due diligence along the way will make that initial decision/breakdown easier to create.

All in all, turning a side hustle into a full-time career is a daunting task, but entirely doable if you’re up to the challenge. These five basic steps are the beginning of that journey but remember, transitioning from a side hustle to becoming a full-time contractor takes time, patience, and due-diligence. Neglecting it or your current 9-5 job is not the answer.

Fix the Poor Attitudes and Negativity That are Destroying Your Project

Picture this — you just started a project with a client you’ve been looking to get into for years. The rate is fantastic, the contract is the perfect length, the work is exciting and the entire experience is going to look amazing on your resume. But when you meet your team for the first time, you quickly learn that it is a toxic mess filled with negative attitudes, childlike behaviour and terrible moods.

As this detailed infographic from Quill.com points out, there are a variety of behaviours and attitudes that can foster such an environment. Not only do they lower productivity, they destroy the morale in a team and drastically set a project back. Fortunately, the infographic also has some great ideas for both dealing with bad attitudes, and also preventing yourself from falling into the same trap.

Fix the Poor Attitudes and Negativity That are Destroying Your Project

First-Hand Advice for New Immigrants to Find an IT Job in Canada

As one of Canada’s largest IT staffing agencies with a wide national presence, it’s no surprise that we hear from skilled technology professionals from around the world. The majority of Eagle’s clients require applicants that are already in Canada and legally able to work here, so unfortunately, there is little we can do for applicants that don’t to meet those requirements.

Coming to Canada from another country and finding work is no easy task. There are hundreds of details to get through, including completing paperwork, organizing your family, arranging living and, of course, the job search. A number of resources are in place to help get settled and find work in Canada, but perhaps one of the best strategies is learning from somebody who has already been through the experience.

Sim & Sid’s YouTube channel is only a few months old, but already contains over a dozen videos with valuable advice. Together, they share their experiences of coming to Canada and answer questions about common challenges. In this video, Sid shares his job search experience and provides first-hand advice for immigrants looking for an IT job in Canada.