Talent Development Centre

All posts by Eagle Talent

The 5 Easiest and Best Programming Languages to Learn Today

Last week week we shared a post with advice for aspiring IT professionals over the age of 30 who want to get into the technology industry. The article concluded with 5 languages to learn that would be easiest to pick-up and most likely to land you a job. If you weren’t convinced or satisfied with the advice provided in that post, then here’s one more source.

Clever Programmer put together a list of 5 languages that they recommend learning first AND you don’t need a college degree to do so. The items in the list were generated based on three factors: the time it takes to learn it and get a job, the current job market and demand for those skills, and how quickly you’ll be able to bring your ideas to life.

If you’re looking for your next skill to learn, this video may have the answer for you.

Contractor Quick Poll: Do You Make These Password Mistakes?

It never ends! It seems every time we turn on the news we hear about an organization who had their data hacked in one way or another. On a personal level, how many times have you received notes from people on Facebook or through email warning you not to click their links because they were hacked?

There are a number of ways your account may be hacked, but experts frequently tell us that the easiest way to avoid a hack is to follow best practices when setting passwords and avoid falling into slumps. In this month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we’re asking our audience — knowledgeable IT professionals — how many password mistakes they make.

Yet Another Post About Productive Meetings

The ability to host and/or be a part of productive meetings is an important skill to have. In fact, we believe it’s so important that we’ve shared tips to do so at least once every year since starting this blog: How to Host Productive Meetings (2014), Tips for Running Effective Meetings (2015), How to Improve Your Meetings (2016), Believe It or Not, Meetings CAN Be Productive! (2017). And now, in 2018, we’re back with yet another post to help you get maximum productivity out of what can be long, dreadful, useless wastes of time.

It’s crucial that IT contractors know how to run productive meetings. First, you bill your clients by the hour and they want to know that they’re getting the most out of you and that you’re not wasting their employees’ time. But what about the time you’re not billing? Now you’re sitting through meetings that are costing you money! This infographic from Wrike provides ideas to host productive meetings and you could use some of the tips when you’re not even the host (for example: confirm if you really need to be there or at the end of a meeting, take the initiative to ask the leader who is assigned to action specific tasks).

9 Proven Strategies to Make Your Meetings Highly Actionable (Infographic)

Considering a Career in IT? Don’t Let Your Age Stop You

“There’s no time like the present!” — that inspirational cliché is used around the world and can be applied to any topic… and it’s true! It’s never to late to start something new, including a career in technology.

There’s a myth that unless you’ve been immersed in tech from a young age, you’ll never understand it enough to build a solid career in the industry. According to Dice, that is a straight-up lie and anyone, even those over 30, can start or reboot a career in tech. Naturally, it will not be easy and you will have more hurdles than the IT professional who jumped from high school immediately to post-secondary education in the field and then right to the workforce.

Here are 5 tips Dice provides for anybody who wants to start a career in tech, but later in the game:

  1. Know Your Stuff: Begin by focusing on a specific language and the major frameworks supporting it, and also be able to prove that you’re not a “one-trick pony”.
  2. Network: Start digitally by following developers with careers you aspire to, then find local people in tech and attend their meet-ups. Remember to be positive and keep in mind that the tech community is small.
  3. Have an Online Tech Presence: Be easy to find on places like LinkedIn, as well as sites such as GitHub and Stack Overflow. Don’t underestimate the power of a blog!
  4. Take Side Projects: Get into the Gig economy by taking on a few extra jobs, but keep in mind you may need to undercut your price when starting out, especially if you use sites like Upwork.
  5. Accept the Tech Elephant in the Room: Ageism is real and you’ll need to deal with it head-on. Prove your skills and ability, but also be honest about your age and what prompted you to start so late.

Like many, you may have stopped at point #1 — what specific language or framework should you learn? Fortunately, Dice has you covered there in a separate article they wrote last Spring where they provide the best programming languages to learn first:

  1. Python
  2. JavaScript
  3. C#
  4. Swift
  5. Java

Dice believes that these are not only the easiest languages to learn but are also in high enough demand that you’ll get a job. Each also has specific uses, so it’s worth exploring which one interests you as an individual and working from there.

We hope this article has helped motivate you as well as give you a few tips if you’re looking to get into the IT industry but have been concerned about your age. If you’re already an experienced developer, please take a minute to share this with a friend who may be looking for a career change. It may be the best thing you’ve ever done for them!

A Surgeon Teaches Us How to be Super Human

One of the top reasons clients hire independent contractors is because they’re the best in the field. When an organization needs something developed in a specific way, they find an expert IT contractor with a niche skill set. That contractor will not only deliver the solution most efficiently, they will also transfer knowledge and provide more in-depth knowledge to the client’s IT department. It’s safe to say, if you want to improve at any skills, it’s best to ask an expert and those with the most experience.

With that said, we can all learn something from doctors and surgeons. Before you get concerned that this post is advocating learning about medicine and performing surgery through a video, we’re referring to another skill that all successful medical professionals have proven to be experts at: productivity.

In this video, plastic surgeon Dr. Jay of Med School Insiders provides some of his own productivity and efficiency tips that have allowed to get through med school, continue a successful career and still balance a fun life. Watch the video to learn how you can maximize your time efficiency and start getting more done today!

How to Control Your Anger at Work

It doesn’t matter how great your team is, how understanding your client is, or how simple your project is — there are going to be days when you get angry. Getting angry and frustrated is natural and acceptable, so long as you deal with it appropriately. Being great at this skill tends to go unnoticed; however, if you’re horrible at controlling your anger, your professional reputation will quickly go downhill.

Keeping a level head at work does not come naturally to everyone and is even more challenging when you’re under pressure. If this is an area where you have room to improve, here’s a summary from an article on the topic that Forbes published back in May:

  1. Deal with your body/mind equilibrium by taking a deep breath, drinking a glass of water or changing the physical scene.
  2. Contrary to current trends, sometimes you do need to repress your feelings, especially when planning your actions.
  3. Think long and hard before confronting a person with whom you’re angry.
  4. Is the situation making you angry or are there external factors enhancing the anger? (ex. something at home, reminder of a past situation)
  5. Take responsibility and consider where you went wrong and what you could have done differently to prevent this current situation.
  6. Wait 24 hours before writing an email about the situation.
  7. Avoid complaining to others at the client site.
  8. Reflect on the entire situation, going as far back in time as possible, and then imaging how it plays out into the future.
  9. Do some other work, absolutely anything, to get your mind off of the situation and bring yourself back to a positive headspace.
  10. When warranted, get even with the best scenario – to right to wrong – but remember the words of George Herbert, “Living well is the best revenge.”

The way you communicate in situations of anger are equally as important or you risk making things much worse. Inc compiled 31 pieces of advice from managers for communicating with their team, and many can be applied to situations of anger. Here are some of our favourites:

  • I use email or WhatsApp for simple topics, but phone or face to face for dealing with more complicated issues.
  • I always ask if I can improve on how I communicate.
  • I always prefer a face-to-face meeting or a call, followed by an email that answers, “This is what I think we discussed; did I get this right?”
  • It’s important to understand the other person’s emotional state and how he/she responds.
  • A mentor taught me about managing the “monkeys on your back”. The idea is that everyone is trying to shift tasks (monkeys) to someone else. As a manager, your job is to delegate a monkey, but your team member may try to hand it back. My mentor suggested replying with “How do you think X should be handled?” If the team member doesn’t have an answer, he/she gets sent back out to find a few solutions. Now my team members know that they should come up with a solution before bringing me the problem.

Have you ever been an office when a co-worker (or yourself) lost control of their anger and had an embarrassing outburst? How did it turn out for them? Probably not well. The slightest slip up in these scenarios can have devastating results on your career with lasting effects.

The Verbs Must Appear in an IT Contractor’s Resume

An IT contractor’s resume must be more than a document that tells a recruiter or future client where you worked and on what kind of projects. Those reading your resume want to know what you have accomplished in your career, what you did in order to succeed, and how you brought value to your clients… all of your actions.

To guarantee you include the most actions in your IT consulting resume, StandOut CV created this infographic of 10 essential verbs you should include in your resume. A good suggestion is to start nearly every bullet point describing your experience with one of these words. This ensures you’re always describing your actions. To make an even bigger difference in your resume, take some time to find powerful synonyms to the words so you don’t bore recruiters with what they may feel are cliché buzz words.

10 Essential CV Writing Verbs Infographic

Never Say These 7 Sentences in a Job Interview

You know those clichés and buzz words that recruiters hate seeing in resumes? They’re not doing you any justice when you bring them up in a job interview either. That’s according to this video published by Business Insider a few years ago. Sure, it may be dated, but we can speak from experience, these clichés have not gone away.

According to the video, there are 7 sayings that need to end:

  1. I’m a team player
  2. I’m the perfect fit for this job
  3. I’m open to anything
  4. I’m a perfectionist
  5. I’m a workaholic
  6. I have good leadership skills
  7. I wasn’t appreciated at my last job

The video dives into specifics as to why each saying’s bad and how it’s hurting you when you say it to a recruiter or client. If any of these seven lines have slipped out of your mouth recently, watch the video for more details and some suggested alternatives.

Applying to Government IT Jobs: 8 Things to Expect Will be Different from the Private Sector

If your independent contracting career has predominately been serving clients in the private sector and you’re considering moving into government, then read this article carefully because what has worked for you in the past will not work well when searching for jobs in the public sector. Especially if you’re moving into a “government town” like Ottawa or Edmonton, it’s important to know what you should expect when trying to land a contract with a government client.

  1. Expect RFPs

Government procurement processes are in place to ensure fair and transparent purchasing decisions and that holds true when they’re hiring IT contractors. Before we even hear about the opportunity, you can be sure that the job has been reviewed by many departments and requirements have been edited so it all fits into one fair (sometimes confusing) Request for Proposal. The good news is that when you work with a staffing agency, they will comb through the document, filter out the legalese, and give you what you need to know to apply.

  1. Expect Black and White

Due to the nature of RFPs and the government’s obligation to remain fair and transparent, you need to be aware that every decision is black and white. There is no such thing as wiggle room when responding to government bids — 5 years of experience is not 4 years, 11 months… it’s at least 5 years.

  1. Expect Grids and Matrices

How do government evaluators ensure they’re seeing all responses consistently and evaluating fairly? With grids (sometime referred to as matrices) that can get to be long and complicated. These tables allow for a simple cross reference between the requirements and resume so it’s easy to check off who will move onto the next round and who will be dumped. Grids have both mandatory and point-rated requirements and a failure to clearly demonstrate that you meet their minimum threshold is automatic disqualification. If you’re not prepared to put some effort into a grid, then a recruiter is not likely to consider you for government jobs.

  1. Expect Longer Resumes

Everything you write in a grid to prove your experience must be substantiated in your resume. This means that you can throw the old “2 page resume” rule out the window. If it takes 50 pages to create a resume that clearly demonstrates all of your relevant experience, then so be it. Content is a must.

  1. Expect Strict Rates

Past experience isn’t the only strict, black and white requirement the government insists on. Before being invited to provide IT resources, all suppliers (staffing agencies, individuals, consulting companies) must first get onto a pre-approved vendor list. During that process, they often have to provide a maximum bill rate and charging anything higher is unacceptable. When a recruiter tells you that their hands are tied and they can’t go any higher with the rate, they’re probably not bluffing and are contractually obligated to remain at that number.

  1. Expect Hard Deadlines

You should be noticing a trend at this point that government RFPs for IT contractors are quite regimented and there is no deviating from what they want. Submission deadlines are no different. Nearly every RFP you come across will include an exact submission deadline (ex. 2:00pm on a specific day). Even being 1 minute late could result in disqualification, demonstrating how much more important it is to meet all deadlines provided to you when working on an application to a government IT contract.

  1. Expect Security Clearances

Primarily in Federal Government, if you want to work, you’re going to need security clearance at some level. It may be as simple as Reliability Status, which just requires a short background check, or as high as Top Secret Clearance, which will ask for your history over the past 10 years, plus information about your immediate family, to do a complete review involving both the RCMP and CSIS. Depending on the clearance level and your personal history, this can take anywhere from 2 weeks to more than 2 years!

  1. Expect Long Wait Times

“Hurry up and wait.” That’s how you may feel after you’ve worked overtime updating your resume, spent hours working with a recruiter to perfect a grid, and rushed through the security clearance application forms. Because after your agency finally submits the proposal, getting a response from the government can take months. While some departments will have results back in weeks, it’s not unusual for other departments to spend much more time evaluating. This is usually due to the many responses they receive as well as their commitment to a thorough and fair evaluation process to ensure tax payer money is being spent wisely.

Working in the public sector is definitely a different experience than private and the application process ensures job seekers are aware of that early-on. Still, IT contractors who live it every day will tell you that it remains a good industry with plenty of opportunity, you just have to know your way around.

If you’re considering moving into the government as a next step in your IT contracting profession, we recommend starting today. Get in touch with your preferred recruiter to begin security clearances and to learn about new opportunities. Remember, even if you apply to a job this month, it may be another six months before the work begins.

 

The Latest Resume Tips and Trends for IT Contractors

Your resume is your IT contracting business’s number one marketing tool. When optimized, that is the document that will make a recruiter want to meet you as soon as possible or a client eager to hire you before sitting down for an interview. Given its importance, we like to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends and tips from resume writing professionals around the world. Here is a summary of some of the latest advice we’ve come across:

Highlight Skills Above all Else

It seems obvious that your resume should include your skills, but a recent article from Dice emphasizes how important a skills-based resume is. Referencing studies from HackerRank and Montage, the article highlights some key takeaways when writing your resume:

  • Recruiters and hiring managers prioritize experience, specifically how long an IT contractor has been working in a discipline.
  • Education such as degrees is at the bottom of the priority list of those evaluating tech resumes. They’re more interested in your deep history of personal objects and direct understanding of languages and frameworks.
  • More and more companies are hiring based specifically on skills, as seen in the rise of skills assessments and predictive analytics to determine who’s best suited for a position.
  • A list of side projects and proof you know your stuff will make your resume more attractive.

Links in Your Resume are Great, But Do Them Right

The Muse published a fantastic answer about links in resumes and it’s too good not so share. When Alyse Kalish asked career coach and job search expert Clatyon Wert if it was alright, Wert’s response was “It’s acceptable to use links in your resume, cover letter, or any form of the job application—assuming you’re submitting it online. I’m of the belief that 90% of applications are now online, and you should be adding links to your portfolio, your LinkedIn page, and possibly more depending on your industry and the type of work that you’ve done. It’s best to put as much out there as possible when applying to jobs, because attention is everything in the job search.

Wert also provided some extra tips for adding links correctly:

  • Link your proudest and best work, as well as projects related to which you’re applying
  • Use hyperlinks on keywords rather than an entire URL strand
  • If you must use an entire link (ex. Print documents), shorten it using tools like bit.ly
  • If you have a large list of potential links, create a separate portfolio or website
  • Place links in the header or beside your contact info
  • Test all links to ensure they work

Take Extra Care in Proof-Reading

Proof-reading your resume to avoid embarrassing mistakes is not a new trend, but this article from Grammarly has some unique tips for proof-reading (and they can be applied to more than just resumes!):

  • Take a break between the time you finish writing and start proof-reading
  • Print it out or change the font to view it differently
  • Read your work aloud to spot misspellings and repeated words
  • Use your finger to move along and force yourself to slow down
  • Keep a list of mistakes you make often
  • Pay special attention to titles, headings and lists which are often overlooked
  • Double check prepositions you aren’t sure about

Naturally, Grammarly also recommends trying their product to help edit.

How’s your resume been working for you lately? Have you tried any innovative techniques that are landing your more interviews with IT recruiters and hiring managers? If so, we want to hear about them! Please share your experience and tips in the comments below.