Talent Development Centre

All posts by Jeremy Mason

5 Signs You’re Working with a Great Staffing Agency

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

5 Signs You're Working with a Great AgencyIs your “Staffing Agency” doing enough for you as an Independent Contractor? I often hear this question from both candidates and clients, wondering if the Agency representing an Independent Contractor is ‘doing enough’.  It’s a very fair question, and one that a great staffing agency should not take lightly.

An Independent Contractor has every right to choose whomever they’d like to represent them, and it is a HIGHLY competitive market.  It’s very important for agencies to build report with consultants, and really be able to offer them value.  How?  Here are few signs you’re working with a great staffing agency:

  1. They focus on meeting and exceeding client and candidates’ expectations.  A great agency will focus on more than clients, and also ensure they bring the very best opportunities to contractors. They work with clients to ensure contractors have a variety of excellent job options.
  2. They have long-standing client relationships. Research more than just an agency’s client list, but the history they have with each client. Developed relationships mean the agency is able to be part of large Client Programs, resulting in more promising opportunities.
  3. They have a solid recruiting team. Top recruiters will do much more than just send you job descriptions and submit your resume.  Look for a team who can coach, advise, negotiate, and help Independent Contractors through the entire placement cycle. Great recruiters will ensure your wants and needs are taken into consideration.
  4. They work to build TRUST with candidates. Trust is built over time and a great agency knows this, taking the time to build a relationship with all candidates.  Trust often comes from years of experience in the Industry, working with both clients and candidates to understand what they value most.
  5. They include extras. There are many great agencies out there that go above and beyond to bring extra value to contractors.  Look for the ones that bring you the most value with their extras. For example, Eagle hosts regular networking events for contractors and rewards top professionals with the Eagle Elite designation.

Ultimately in order for an agency to be “doing enough” for Independent Contractors, they need to ensure you see that value, experience, and trust all the time, in everything they do. These qualities are subjective and really depend on what you need most as an independent contractor.  Take a look at your agency – are they great enough for you?

Life After Company XYZ

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

The IT Market changes dramatically each and every year, whether it is due to technological advancements, consumer demand, demographics, the economy, or any other reason.  While often positive, these changes can also have negative effects, causing companies to have to look at downsizing or restructuring.  In these cases, senior employees may be laid off, given an early retirement offer or even choose to take their natural retirement if the time lines up.  Regardless of how it plays out, it often comes as quite a shock to these individuals who have been with a given Company for very long time and suddenly find themselves having to think about their next move for the first time in over a decade.

Senior IT Professional Looking to Become an Independent ContractorIt’s completely natural for an individual in this position to wonder about “what they still have to offer.” The good news is there IS life after Company XYZ!!! Retirement or a new full-time job is not always feasible so instead, the next logical step could be independent contracting.  Not only is this group in a unique position to offer a tremendous amount of value to potential clients, but contracting can be very rewarding.

Here are just a few reasons why independent contracting may be the perfect solution for you if you’re a senior IT professional who is suddenly out of the workforce:

  • As already noted, the IT industry is changing, and as a result, companies are losing a tremendous amount of ‘Intellectual Capital’. You can take advantage of your skill set and offer your expertise on a contract basis.
  • After being with a given company for more than 10 years (which is rare in today’s Market), you can now have more freedom and choose what opportunity looks right for you.
  • It’s a great opportunity to start easing your way into retirement, working a little less and enjoying life a little more.
  • You’ll get to reap the financial rewards that come with it.

Eagle’s Executive and Management Consulting division works specifically with senior IT experts and has a network of clients who are looking for your knowledge. There is a definite demand for this market and, as more senior professionals start to retire, this demand is only going to grow.  If you find yourself in the position I described above, contact us today to discuss your options — you may be surprised at what you can do!

Face-to-Face Meetings in a Social Media World? YES!

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

The recruiting industry has significantly evolved over the past ten years, especially considering how the advancements in social media have caused the way we communicate to drastically change.  For the most part, these changes have been welcomed by both contractors looking for jobs and clients looking to hire.  How we as a recruiting agency seek talent has also seen some dramatic changes, yet there are still some very basic traits and principles that hold true today.

Face-to-Face InterviewOne of the most powerful things we can do, as both recruiters and contractors, is meet people… face-to-face… in person.  Unfortunately, this has become somewhat of a lost art, in part because we have ‘too much to do’. We’re all busy, and it’s plain easier to phone, email, or text someone instead.  Although these forms of communication have made all of our lives easier, the fact remains that physically meeting with someone in person is something that we should not lose sight of.  The ability for us to really understand a candidate’s skills, career aspirations, personalities, goals, likes, dislikes, are not always possible with other forms of communications. Vice-versa, as a contractor, these tools limit how well you can really get to know a recruiter, learn their processes and understand if they’re the right person to help you land your next job. Meeting someone face-to-face is where this happens.

Where this becomes increasingly important is when interviewing for a potential job opportunity.  We as a professional staffing agency strive to meet and exceed our clients’ and candidates’ expectations.  We do this by personally meeting with both parties and fully understanding everybody’s needs, ensuring there is a mutual fit. If any one of us — client, contractor, or recruiter — fails to take the time to meet face-to-face, we all risk the potential of a miserable contract placement.

The world is extremely busy, but when considering your first or next job, you should make the investment to personally meet with your recruiter so that you are both comfortable and you build trust. Conference calls, texting, skype, emailing, social networks, and other forms of communication are all crucial elements in building and maintaining relationships; however, none of them captures the impact of meeting with someone face-to-face.

What’s your preferred method of communication?  Do you believe you can achieve the same relationship without face-to-face meetings?  Let us know in the comments below.

Who’s the Right Agency for You?

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

More and more these days, contractors looking for work have many different options of who they can deal with in assisting them in their job search. Because of this, it is even more important for staffing agencies to step up their game, distinguish themselves from their competitors, and ultimately show value to these candidates.

Having been in the Staffing Agency business for over 17 years, I can honestly say there are times that I could have done more for the candidates I was trying to help find jobs.  But, over time I’ve learned from those mistakes and recognized the importance of building relationships with our candidates, and our clients.

At Eagle, we understand that as a contractor you can use whatever staffing agency you’d like, so it is extremely important for us give you a fantastic experience from the beginning. This means ensuring certain levels of service, including (but not limited to):

  • Meeting with each candidate to build rapport and establish a relationship;Contractor shaking hands with recruiter
  • Clearly explaining the job opportunity, and arming contractors with as much information and intelligence as possible to ensure their success;
  • Prepping candidates prior to an interview so they can be properly prepared for the customer;
  • Following-up with the candidate after an interview to provide them feedback, good or bad;
  • Being honest with each and every candidate; and,
  • Having the best opportunities available.

These all sound like basic criteria anyone should follow, but sometimes they aren’t and candidates clearly want this. As one of Canada’s top professional staffing firms, we believe it is incumbent on on us to ensure we are always practicing this, day in and day out. After all, if we practice what we preach, candidates will want to continue to work with us in the future.

While most agencies in our industry do strive to live up to similar high levels of service, there are others who do not. At the same time, you as a contractor may feel that you’re happy to work with an agency that doesn’t fulfill these requirements — it’s a matter of priorities without a right or wrong answer.

What’s important for you is to decide what you want from your agency and do your research to find ones that meet your needs.  What’s important for us is to ensure we continue to meet your expectations!

Don’t Underestimate the Value of an Interview

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

It’s the little things that really make a difference!  In a world that is moving a million miles a minute, it is hard to remember that you actually need to set time aside to invest in yourself, ESPECIALLY before going on a job interview.

These days, contractors are being approached from all directions — Recruiters, Colleagues, Job Boards, etc. — about potential new opportunities.  While some contractors are aggressively looking for a new job and others are passively contemplating it, the reality is, once you decide to send out your resume, you have the potential to be called in for an interview.

So, what do we often see happening with contractors? With their busy schedules and Business interview.commitments, they sometimes do not spend enough time prepping for the job interview.  Instead, it gets treated as a lower priority task in their fast-paced life.

The truth is, clients can smell this a mile away and will see it as an immediate turn-off.  Why would they want to hire a contractor who doesn’t seem to take the project seriously or have the courtesy to prepare for a meeting?

Next time you get called for an interview, ensure you take at least a few extra minutes to prepare and show the client you appreciate their time.  Ask yourself: have you done your research on the Company?  Even if it’s a large Fortune 100 Company that is known within the Industry, have you researched the department? The hiring manager? Other relevant information available to you?

This is not extensive research and does not require an exuberant amount of time. These little things, though, will make you stand out in front of your client.

Have you ever “winged” an interview with little research?  How well did it go compared to the interviews where you’ve prepared?  Share your experiences in the comments below!

The Importance of Networking

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

When you talk about “6 Degree of Separation”, it really resonates within the IT Staffing Industry.  Over the past 17 years, I’ve been fortunate to have met some extremely intelligent and interesting Independent Contractors.  People from all walks of life, yet each person has one thing in common: IT (Information Technology).

The Staffing Industry has an enormous network and a large group within that network is IT contractors.  While almost everyone does some work to build new connections, I’m always surprised at how many independent contractors don’t do more to network with recruiters and other contractors.

Why should you network?

Networking is extremely important now more than ever. It allows you to both ensure a steady stream of work and share something in common with your peers.  You already Putting pieces together to solve a problemknow (or should know) that by building and maintaining relationships with recruiters across the staffing industry, you’ll be top-of-mind for opportunities and the first phone call they make when a new contract opens up.  But building a network of other independent contractors in your field is equally important.  These professionals can be your best support system when working on projects. Those new to independent contracting learn quickly that when you go out on your own, you lose the resources you once had when you were an employee.  Suddenly you no longer have your “go-to” group of people when you encounter a roadblock.   Your best option is to have your own network of other professionals you can call on for help.

How do you build that network?

The easiest way is to get active with Industry Associations, User Groups, and Community Portals.  For example, check out your local CIPS Chapter.  CIPS is an association of IT professionals and offers networking opportunities, certifications and accreditations.  Also, keep your eyes open for invitations to networking events. Many staffing companies including Eagle, often host events where you can meet like-minded people. Bottom line, make space in your agenda for networking events and practice your networking skills.  Many networking tips have been posted in the Talent Development Centre.

What about maintaining your network?

The problem is that we can forget these great connections.  Life gets busy and we all forget to ‘keep in touch’, but we should make an effort not only to build, but maintain our networks.  Whether you are an Independent Contractor, or working within the Staffing Industry, it’s important to remember to reach out to the people you’ve met along the way and reconnect.  Have conversations, touch base, or grab a coffee.  You’d be amazed to find out where people have landed since you last met.  In the staffing industry, recruiters improve their networks by getting involved with associations, picking up the phone and setting time aside each day to call old contacts.  Independent contractors can do the same thing. Set some time aside (once a month is fine) and speak to the like-minded contractors and recruiters you’ve dealt with in the past; they will appreciate hearing from you!

Do you have a network of recruiters and other contractors?  What sources have you used to build it?  Share your experiences below and help other contractors grow their networks.

The Risky Business of Dual Representation

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

The way independent contractors do business through staffing agencies has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. There are, however, still some very basic best-practices that both parties need to continue to respect.  One issue that seems to be ‘rearing its ugly head’ as of late is the problem of “Dual Representation”.

What is Dual Representation?

Essentially, dual representation is when a contractor gives permission to more than one Staffing Agency to submit their resume to a single job opening with a specific Client. Send Resume Button

Dual representation is unfortunately seen by all clients, but is more prevalent for large organizations who deal with a lot of agencies and specifically those who have MSP (Managed Services Provider) Programs in place.  There are a number of approved-Agencies within any large MSP Program, and the feedback from vendors is that dual representations are increasing significantly.  As a result, these MSP Programs are leading the way in implementing new policies to eliminate dual-representation.

Why should candidates care about this? 

Any Client, whether working with an MSP or not, does not want to deal with potential ‘squabbling’ between agencies as to who submitted the candidate first. Instead, they will simply disregard the candidate’s profile and move on to the next suitable candidate.

How can you avoid missing out on an opportunity because of dual representation?

Always be vigilant about where and when you submitted your resume to any given opportunity, and when you do, ensure only 1 agency is submitting your profile. Although it may seem tempting to allow multiple Agencies to submit your resume to an opportunity with hopes that it will ‘better your odds’, the reality of it is it may drastically reduce your chances. You may only be hurting yourself!

Of course, the onus isn’t completely on contractors.  A good and ethical Agency will not only take the time to explain the importance of only submitting your resume once, but will also always get your explicit permission and give you all details before sending your resume to the client.

If you need clarification or have questions about dual representation, you can always get in touch with your recruiter who will provide more information.  Better yet, though, ask us in the comments below so we can share the answer with other independent contractors as well!

Managed Service Providers and Independent Contractors

The Canadian IT Job Market has traditionally been very competitive. In today’s world, many Clients have increased that level of competition by engaging a Managed Service Provider (MSP).

What is an MSP?

An MSP or Managed Service Provider is a company engaged by the client organization to manage multiple staffing vendors.  MSPs are generally mandated to manage performance including tracking a variety of metrics to ensure staffing vendors are performing to the company’s set standards.  Metrics can include evaluation of the quality of candidates, turnaround times, review of rates, submissions versus candidates interviewed, etc.

How do MSPs affect the Independent Contractor?

When an agency receives a contract order request from an MSP, each agency is usually given the opportunity to submit their top two or three candidates.  Due to the number of Agencies working with these MSPs, there are generally a substantially high number of resumes submitted against one contract opportunity.   This means, that when an independent contractor is submitting a resume through an MSP it becomes increasingly more important for resumes to stand out among the pool of potential candidates.

In addition to a high volume of candidates, when working with an MSP, recruiters typicallyBalancing many resumes have less of an opportunity to sell you and your skills to the client, making it more important than ever to work with your Agency to ensure you distinguish yourself by making sure your resume accurately demonstrates your experience so that it stands out among the masses.

Here are some tips to ensure your resume rises to the top:

  1. Ensure your resume is current.  Don’t wait to do it later. Turnaround time with MSPs is usually extremely fast, so when an Agency calls you, it’s key to have a current electronic copy of your resume available. If you take too long to submit an updated resume, you can easily miss your chance at being submitted.
  2. Maintain multiple resumes if you perform multiple roles (i.e. Business Analyst, Project Manager, etc.).  Ensure that each resume iteration demonstrates your niche skills for the specific role to which you’re applying.
  3. Include all relevant technology experience as well as industry experience (i.e. Banking, Government, Insurance).   You want to prove to the client that you have more than the required skills and that you understand their specific environment.
  4. Don’t submit your resume to multiple agencies for the same opportunity, this will only hurt you!  If you give an Agency the “Right to Represent” (RTR) you for a particular opportunity, this means you’re giving them the right as an approved Agency within that MSP to submit your resume.  If you allow that to happen with multiple Agencies, it will result in your resume being submitted twice (a.k.a. Dual submission), and the Client may automatically disqualify you.
  5. Work with your Agency to understand all the relevant contract details.  If you have time, you’ll be able to tweak your resume to include relevant experience relating specifically to the client, industry or project.

These are some very basic tips that can increase the odds of your resume being selected among the hundreds that get submitted to an MSP.  Do you have any other tips to get noticed by a client working with an MSP?  Would you like to know more about MSPs?  We’d love your feedback.  Leave us a comment!