Talent Development Centre

All posts by Graeme Bakker

Navigating the IT Contract Extension Process

Navigating the IT Contract Extension Process

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

Extensions are a major part of IT contract work and, at times, are as important as getting a new position. Not every contract is guaranteed to be extended but as a contractor, you should know how to go about getting that information and what to do with it.

When your contract is coming to an end, it is important to make sure that you are communicating with both your manager at your current client and the recruiter who you worked with to get you that position. The recruiter will always be working on their end to help and push extension discussions; however, depending on client processes, they may not have as easy access to those answers as you do.

Asking your manager and your recruiter at the same time about your extension will prompt both sides to begin the conversation sooner. Within the last month or two of your contract, start following up to see if there are any chances for an extension. Depending on the response, you can start to plan your next steps based on your preferences.

When There Will Be an Extension…

If this is a role that you want to continue in, make sure to let both your manager and recruiter know. It is especially important that you share that information with your recruiter so that they can work for you to get that extension done. Extensions and the process to approve them can sometimes take time and this is something that you don’t want to leave to the last minute. You want to make sure that both sides have all the information and that communication can be as clear as possible.

When You are Ready to Move On…

If you are coming to the end of your current contract and you are not interested in being extended, tell your recruiter by the last month of your contract. You want to give the recruiter the opportunity to let the client know that you will not be accepting any pending extensions so that you leave the position in the best standing. When possible, provide as much knowledge transfer and even referrals so your work can be transitioned as smoothly as possible. Communication about this is as important as the communication to get an extension.

When There Won’t Be an Extension…

Coming to the end of a contract without an extension can be daunting but there are things that you can do to make the transition of finding that new position easier. Keep irons in the fire! Know what is out there, even if you are still on the current contract, and report that to your favourite recruiters. Let them know what kind of roles you are hearing about in your network and what roles you will be looking for going forward.

What else is out there? Call your recruiter and ask them what roles they are working on and give them details on your current end date and what specifically you were doing on your current project. Clients want contractors that are ‘working,’ and if you are finishing up a current contract and getting your resume in front of hiring managers, it can be a benefit to them to know you are just finishing up and are ready to jump to the next opportunity.

No matter if you are being extended or not, the key is to be proactive. Your recruiter will help you find that next position or work hard on your extension process, but making sure they have ample time to do so will only benefit you in the long run.

4 Job Search Tips to Help You Keep Getting Through 2020

4 Job Search Tips to Help You Keep Getting Through 2020

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

We’re now way past the half-way mark of 2020 and I think it’s safe to say, it’s been an unpredictable rollercoaster. We’ve all experienced a few unpleasant surprises and new challenges to stress us out. The good news with difficulties, though, is that we can always learn something from them.

Having been working with hundreds of IT contractors over the past few months to help them keep their careers moving, I’ve seen tons of job search advice — some good and some meh. These are the top four job search tips I’ve been passing along to my network as we start to get used to our “new world”:

1.  Communication is Key

Communication skills and the ability to explain your role and your skill set are more important than ever.  Clients are looking for individuals that can communicate in an effective manner to make sure that all issues and problems are addressed right away and correctly in remote work places.  They are looking for confident orators and individuals that have good writing skills.  Make sure to communicate strongly and effectively during your interviews and read over your resume for any grammatical and spelling errors.

2.  Relationship Building with Your Recruiter

Now is the time to make that relationship with your recruiter more than a couple quick phone calls every couple of months, and more a business relationship.  Make sure that your recruiter knows what you are willing to do and where you want your career to take you in these uncertain times.  Let them know what your rate range is, what your strengths are and what separates you from the rest of the pack.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and this is a perfect time to be the one contacting your recruiter regularly to make sure you are not missing out on any opportunities.

3.  Full-Time Opportunities

Many companies are sending out more full-time opportunities.  If you are a contract worker, maybe it is the time to ask some questions and see what some of the full-time opportunities look like in your area of expertise?  You don’t need to switch from contract work, but it is a good thing to know what is out there and what full-time opportunities can afford you as well.

4.  Try Something New — Remote work

A lot of the opportunities in the market are for remote work only.  This is a great time to look at companies that you normally would not have the chance of applying for due to geographic issues. With more companies forced into using remote workers this will open up the job market to people who are struggling to find the right projects when they live in areas that might not offer that type of work.  This is an opportunity to apply to projects outside of your city and see what kind of opportunities can come from working at home.  Worst case scenario, your name and resume get sent to a hiring manager!

How else have you adjusted your job search in the past few months so you can take advantage of a changing job market? Have any of these four tips in particular worked (or not worked) for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Please Don’t Ghost Recruiters After Being Submitted to a Client

Please Don't Ghost Recruiters After Being Submitted to a Client

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

A major part of a successful recruiter/consultant relationship, is building a connection that lasts. Afterall, when a recruiter and consultant are working together, it often takes a couple of opportunities and submissions before a placement occurs.

During this process, many forms of conversation need to happen, via both email and phone. Having been leading recruiters for a number of years now, I commonly hear “I can’t get in touch with Joe,” or “Sarah won’t confirm her interview availability.”  On the flip side, consultants provide feedback like “I never heard back about my submission,” or “Nobody ever called me about a possible interview.”

Contract opportunities often come in fast and close even faster. A major challenge contractors and recruiters have throughout the process is being sure to communicate back-and-forth quickly, as new information becomes available. And after all of that rush, the hiring manager is sometimes slow to review and feedback on submissions seems non-existent.  This causes anxiety for both recruiters and consultants.

Trust me when I say that recruiters LOVE getting feedback from clients about submissions. And there is nothing more that we would love than to let you know that feedback, in detail.  No feedback is as frustrating for everyone.

But a client’s hiring process is not simple and they are also dealing with many unknowns. There might be a delay for any number of reasons beyond their control, meaning it could be another week before the resumes even get to the right hiring manager.  We’ve also seen hold-ups happen because the client wants to hire two people instead of one person for the role and interviews get pushed for another week.  So many things can happen behind the scenes.

Still, it’s understandable that delays, lack of feedback and too many “no update updates” would cause a consultant to disengage with their recruiter. Sometimes this results in contractors “ghosting” their recruiter – completely ignoring emails or phone calls and not responding at all. This, however, can send the wrong message and may have negative effects.

As noted, clients’ hiring processes timelines can vary and be delayed for many reasons. Sometimes, the recruiter only hears something a couple weeks later, when they receive a notice that the client wants to interview the consultant. If you’ve already ghosted them due to a lack of feedback, then the recruiter is going to be forced to tell the client that you are no longer interested, and a new search begins to find somebody else for the job.  Furthermore, it decreases their confidence in considering you for future submissions.

Communication, or lack there-of, is a common reason we see job opportunities fall apart. I recommend working with your recruiter to make a communication plan upfront. Let them know how often and when you prefer updates to be sent (even if there is no update), plus if the recruiter doesn’t offer the information, ask them about how the client works so you can set your own expectations during the process.

Patience is something that both the recruiter and the consultant working together must understand.  Certainly, great recruiters must check-in with job applicants, even if there is no feedback, so the consultant is aware of what may or may not be coming down the pipe. And at the same time, as a consultant, you should trust your recruiter and have confidence that if there is information or feedback, you will receive it.

The Job Interview is YOUR Time to Shine… Be Sure to Prepare!

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The job interview is your chance to sell yourself.  The recruiter found you, helped update your resume as necessary and submitted you to the client.  We can prep you and give you insight into the culture and even specific questions that the hiring manager is likely to ask but as the candidate, this is where you need to shine.  Preparation is what is going to set you apart from the rest.

As a contractor, you know there’s fierce competition in every role you apply to. Putting in the effort to be prepared and knowledgeable will always give you the advantage in this stage of your job hunt.  This infographic from Ropella has a few tips to help you get there.

The Job Interview is YOUR Time to Shine... Be Sure to Prepare!

Create a Resume that Builds Trust

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Recruiters get a lot of resumes during the day. This infographic from StandOutCV provides some helpful resume tips that will make yours easier to read and cut down on the time you need to spend formatting and adding in necessary skills. The only piece I would say is less relevant to an IT contractor is surrounding the, these aren’t typically required nor desired in our space.

As you read through this infographic, there is one important tip to keep in mind: Trust is key in this back and forth so that the recruiter and you can get the best feedback and never miss out on any opportunities.

How recruiters read your CV

4 More Job Interview Tips for Independent Contractors

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The infographic below from CollegeAtlas.org contains some great job interview tips for anybody searching for a new job, including IT contractors. It was published here on the Talent Development Centre last year and I recently came across it again somewhere else, proving that it’s clearly been helpful to thousands of job seekers around the world.

On top of the stats and tips provided in the graphic below, I’d like to add a few extra interview tips that are often overlooked by contractors, based on feedback we recently received from hiring managers:

It starts in the lobby

One of the most important things to keep in mind is starting the interview “in the lobby.”  Sometimes people forget how important it is to make a good first impression with EVERYONE they meet along the way to the interview.  Be pleasant and kind to the receptionist and smile at anyone who makes eye contact.  A pleasant demeanor, matched with your skills goes a long way.

Be enthusiastic

Make sure you present an enthusiastic front when interviewing.  You want to make sure that the hiring manager knows that this is the role that you want.  Make sure to always come to an interview with knowledge of the company you are interviewing with.  See what news alerts they might have released.  Know what is going on with the company and the sector that you will work in and always come with questions.

Your Introduction

Prepare your introduction.  Every interviewer is going to ask you to “tell them about yourself.”  You want to be prepared and not stumble with um’s and ah’s when speaking about yourself.  This is your moment to make a good impression and start the interview the right way.  Write down your introduction and study it before you arrive, be confident.

Stay still

Nerves are something that everyone experiences before an interview.  Your hands might get sweaty and you might be bouncing your knees and that can be distracting to you and the interviewer.  Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and slow down.  Place your hands on your lap or in front of you on the desk.  Make sure that there is nothing for you to fidget with and maintain eye contact.

34 Crucial Tips for Your Next Job Interview

From Visually.

Job Seekers: It’s Time to Get Social!

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

In this competitive market, recruiters know that independent contractors are on the go and don’t always have time to speak with them on the phone or read large emails containing job specs.  In the technical savvy world we live in, social media is something that we ALL use.  With more and more millennials hitting the job market, recruiters are aware of how they find their information.  Sure, most people check their email and texts first thing in the morning but the vast majority of us check Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram as part of our daily routine… over and over and over again.

While recruiters are always trying to broaden their network and be in contact with their independent contractors, contractors can take a look at this infographic from Betterteam and find ways to make communication on the go in a more reliable and time saving way.  Yes, this is an infographic that is geared towards recruiters, but this is something that contractors should be aware of — recruiters like technology too!

Speak with your recruiters about how to share information through social media accounts.  For example, with recruiters whom you have built trust, give them your twitter handle so that they can send you a direct message with a link to the job description.  If you trust your recruiter to know your resume and your particulars when looking for a role, this is an easy way of cutting through the fat and communicate on the go. Here are a few additional tips to leverage social media:

  1. Use skype or periscope to talk with your recruiters about the roles that are coming across their desk.
  2. In your LinkedIn profile, add a description of the role you are looking for with some key skills that make you stand out from the crowd.
  3. Include career and job-related hashtags that directly relate to the roles you are looking to pursue.
  4. Add photos or quick stories on Instagram about your past experiences at companies that you have worked with to show how engaging you are when at work or the interesting projects that you have been a part of.

Work with your recruiter on these steps; afterall, they are doing it too.  Add them to Instagram, share twitter handles and LinkedIn profiles. Above all, get SOCIAL!

Can Social Recruiting Work for Your Office Space?

Contracting in a Competitive Market

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The contracting space is getting more and more competitive.  As organizations demand more from their contractors and more candidates enter the workspace, one needs to know how to stand out from the rest.

Contracting in a Competitive Market

Media and Social Media are Your friend

 

To stand out in a competitive market, you need to self-promote.  Social media and repositories like GitHub are the perfect place to display your work with like-minded individuals.  Promoting your work on social media or places like GitHub allow you to speak and display your work wherever you are, whether that be a meeting with a recruiter or in an interview with a client.  You’ll seem more prepared, invested and motivated in the project that you are applying for because you believe in your skills/abilities and you want to showcase them.

Invest in relationships and network

Referrals are becoming more and more beneficial to contract workers.  Positive recommendations from others in your field go a long way in getting calls from recruiters and getting you further along in the process.  The more people you know in your field (i.e.: Program Managers, fellow developers at other organizations etc.) the easier it is to get a foot in the door.  Take time to foster relationships from your past contracts and make sure to attend networking events. Know what projects organizations are working on before you attend these sessions so that you can speak to individuals about them and show off your knowledge and interest.  Never burn bridges and work harder in the last week of your contract then you did in the first!  If there is no extension, make sure to leave a last impression.

Certifications and Continuing Education

Certifications are mentioned on almost every job description that a recruiter sees.  Most of the time, these certifications are in the nice to have section.  Nowadays, anything in the nice to have section is code for “these will make you more competitive”!  Contracting can be hard work and breaks after 6 month or 12 month contracts can seem like the perfect time to take a vacation.  During breaks between contracts, you need to be aware of how to effectively fill that time.  Breaks for R&R are totally necessary but as a contractor in an ever changing market you need to have time to build new skills and show that you were productive during larger gaps between contracts.  Taking courses or getting certifications during breaks shows that you continue to self-improve and want to become more competitive for that next role.

Money Isn’t Everything

It is easy to say YES or NO to a role solely based on pay rate.  Recruiters understand that you have bills to pay and deserve a fair rate for your skills and abilities.  In a competitive market like today, you need to weigh your options.  If a role is paying you less than the last, ask youself the following:

  • Will this be a role where I can broaden my skills and expand my network?
  • Is this a role with a new organization/company that I have not yet had the chance to work in that will open doors in the future?
  • Will this role keep me in the tech space and engage me?

The key is not to short-change yourself but also understanding that the benefits to contracting is not always financial but to improve your own professional development.

How do you remain competitive in today’s contracting market?