Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Searching

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to job searching.

Conduct an In-Depth Job Search

Conduct an In-Depth Job SearchSometimes you have no problems finding your next IT project — the market is strong, past clients are following-up, recruiters are calling and contracts are getting extended. Other times, it can be a stressful struggle and seems like nobody out there, not even in other regions, is seeking a technology contractor with your valuable skillset.  If recruiters are calling you, they’re offering jobs that don’t really match what you do or for a rate that you’re hesitant to accept. The only option is to roll up your sleeves and search for jobs on your own.

There are many strategies and techniques to search for jobs. You can build your online presence to get access to more jobs, improve your networking skills to get an inside scoop, and of course, the traditional online job search. That online job search should not be underestimated. If you perform a search with enough depth, it’s amazing what kind of opportunities you may uncover that other IT contractors don’t know exist. Here’s a route you could take when conducting an in-depth, online job search.

  1. Start at Google
    Like most great searches, it’s perfectly alright to start your job search at the world’s most popular search engine. Many job seekers already do this, but what they frequently miss out on are all of the results. Instead, they click the first link they see that looks like it has potential, and never return. When you see a link that interests you, right-click on it to select the “Open in a New Tab” option. Do this as you go through many pages of your job search until results are no longer relevant to you.
  2. Follow-Through on Everything
    Now that you have a bunch of tabs open, view the job that you opened up, but don’t stop there. For each one, whether it’s a company’s unique career site or a larger job board, search all possible job opportunities. If there’s nothing for you but it could have potential, create a profile and sign up for job alerts if they’re available. (you may want to check out this post about managing your job search footprint)
  3. Repeat
    This is the step skipped most often. Once you’ve been through steps 1 and 2 in detail, start over at Google, but with different search criteria. Every query will bring you some duplicate results, but you’ll also see some unique pages. Try changing around keywords, think of other job titles employers may use, or add in more details such as specific skills, cities or industries.

Ensuring your job search process is in-depth may be time consuming, but doing it is the only way to make sure you’re finding the most possible opportunities when you need them. Starting at Google is a solid start and this will not change. Google recently launched “Google for Jobs” in the US, which uses Google’s search intelligence to find jobs with titles you didn’t even know existed, but fit your needs. It will allow you to conduct a detailed job search, but with less effort. Keep posted to the Talent Development Centre when Google for Jobs is available in Canada for a full review.

How to Stand Out as an IT Consultant in Toronto

Sam Rahbar By Sam Rahbar,
National Training Manager at Eagle

How to Stand Out as an IT Consultant in TorontoThe world of IT consulting is a very competitive one. New certifications, tools, technologies and versions pop up weekly. As an independent consultant, you have one eye on the next enticing gig and the other on the next technology/version that you need to upgrade to. Most projects are running on aggressive deadlines, leaving you with minimal time to focus on your personal/professional development.

It is even more competitive in a city like Toronto (one of world’s Best Places to Live) where, in addition to the existing talent pool, there is a constant flow of talent that is migrating from elsewhere, integrating into the workforce.

It is not hard to pick Toronto as a destination to live. From an industry standpoint it is diverse — banks and financial institutions, telecommunication, health care, consulting firms, software development shops and startups — Toronto has it all!

Add “somewhat” affordable (at least when compared to Vancouver, Seattle and San Fran) cost of living and makes Toronto a dream destination for IT consultants.

University grads are another source of talent that populate the market — UofT, Waterloo, and UBC are perfect examples of winning Computer Science programs that pump out graduates who are ready to join the workforce. Consulting firms love campus recruiting and for good reasons. Talent is not only skilled but driven, ambitious and cost effective. Colleges are not far behind. Humber, Seneca and George Brown College have all been contributing to the tech talent scene in the city for years with shorter, focused programs.

It is populated and it is competitive, so how can you stand out as a job seeker in Toronto? What do clients and hiring managers want to know? Where do you start? Here is a quick guide on how to separate yourself from the other IT contractors looking for work in Toronto. There are two major platforms to highlight your expertise in your field

Enhance Your Public Profile to Stand Out in Your Job Search

There are opportunities everywhere to enhance your public profile, including LinkedIn, your Resume, GitHub, and Stack Overflow.

  • Details, details, details:Your resume needs to be less than 2 pages” does not apply to IT consulting resumes. In the IT recruitment industry, the entire game revolves around keywords and Boolean searches, so hiding details is only a disservice to yourself! If you have working experience with a tool/technology, make sure it is on your resume. Make sure you are findable.
  • How you saved time and/or $$: AKA “music to hiring managers’ ears“. Under each project, add a bullet that gets into more detail on how you brought more than just your skills to the role — how you went above and beyond by recommending solutions that saved the client time and money. (If that is the case of course!)
  • Fluff: Get rid of fluff! Each job you apply to is different so tailor your resume to what the client is looking for. Everyone is an “Excellent Team Player”, right?! Recruiters spend an average of only 8-10 seconds reviewing resumes before making a decision. Make sure your resume speaks to the role you apply to.

How IT Consultants Can Stand Out in Meetings

Every interview you go into is an opportunity to stand out above your competition.

  • Build connections/network: Before selling your skills, your first goal should be to “connect” with the interviewers. Hiring Managers/HR give preference to people who they like to work with, or someone they get along with.
  • Listen carefully: Make sure you understand what is asked. This is the most common mistake interviewees make in interview. Either too excited or nervous you might hear a word or two that trigger you to make assumptions. Instead, let the questions finish, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and proceed to answering.
  • Structure your answers: Always approach your answers like a story. Paint a background and provide context. Explaining When/Where/Why and the outcome.
  • How you saved time and/or $$: I cannot stress how important this is. It is your chance to shine and your time to stand above the rest of the pack.
  • Smile: Leave all your troubles, stress and worries for another time. Interviewing should be a positive experience.

What Independent Contractors Need to Know About Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)

Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

What Independent Contractors Need to Know About Canada's Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation (better known as CASL and often pronounced “castle”) officially came into force on July 1st, 2014 and is enforced by the CRTC, Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Its primary objective is to protect Canadians from unwanted, harmful electronic messages and computer programs or software. What you may not know is, thanks to this legislation, you may be missing out on job opportunities!

What Exactly is CASL?

In its simplest form, CASL requires that anybody sending a Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) must first obtain consent from their recipients. All CEMs sent must then also include their complete contact information and a functioning opt-out mechanism, where opt-out requests must be honoured within 10 days. These CEMs extend beyond email, and include text messages as well as other electronic communication mediums, like a LinkedIn or Facebook message.

Why Now?

As already mentioned, CASL was introduced in July 2014, but it included a transition period that ended on July 1st 2017. During that transition period, companies could continue emailing contacts with whom they had a relationship before 2014 without requiring further consent. In addition, although the government agencies were enforcing the new law, many believe they were still ‘testing the waters’ and now that the grace period has ended, enforcements will become more rigorous.

These two factors (as well as a now-suspended Private Right of Action that would have allowed individuals to sue spamming companies) are why you may have received a high volume of emails from companies this past Spring, asking you to consent to receiving further emails from them. Most organizations have always taken CASL seriously, but with the grace period ending, they wanted to ensure they were doing their due diligence to guarantee compliance.

How Does CASL Affect Independent Contractors?

Although the basic concept of CASL is clear, there are some “grey areas” of the law that is open to interpretation. Perhaps the most subjective piece as it pertains to job searching is when it comes to receiving job opportunities. Depending how you read it, job opportunities sent by recruiters may be considered CEMs and this naturally makes many staffing agencies cautious.

You may have already learned that some recruitment agencies are lenient in their interpretation, whereas other recruiters will push you aside if they do not have your consent to email you. Sure, they’re allowed to call you (but do you really want your phone ringing off the hook from recruiters, especially when you are working on a client site?), but without your consent, you may not receive any jobs opportunities or related material by email or text message.

The simplest way to ensure you’re getting information about jobs when you’re on the market is to provide express consent to all of the agencies with whom you want to work. By applying to a job, posting your email address to a job board or social network, or contacting a recruiter directly, you are giving implied consent; however, this expires over time. If there is an option somewhere to receive electronic communications, or if a recruiter asks for your permission to continue sending you emails, remember to say yes. You can always opt-out when you’re no longer looking for work.

What If You Want to Opt-Out of Recruiter Emails?

Perhaps you’re no longer looking for work, or maybe there’s an agency who you’ve decided is no longer the right fit for you. All companies are required under CASL to provide an opt-out mechanism in all of their CEMs. Keep in mind, though, just as express consent does not expire until you opt-out, opting-out does not expire until you opt back in. If you opt-out today and are looking for jobs again in 5 years, be sure you update your preferences.

If 10 days after you opt-out you’re still receiving what you believe are CEMs, your next step should be to call your recruiter directly to ask to be removed, and escalate as necessary. You may have not realized that opting-out of one thing (for example a newsletter) did not automatically opt you out of their job opportunities as well. Also, if a company’s opt-out mechanism is malfunctioning for any reason, they will appreciate your tip, given the fines for a CASL infraction can get up to $10 million. If after enough attempts, you still feel you’re being harassed with electronic communications, then you can report it at the Government of Canada’s SPAM Reporting Centre.

A plethora of content and documentation has been created about CASL over the last three years by various organizations, and they all have some different interpretations. If you’re unsure about anything, or would like more information you can visit the official CASL information website at fighspam.gc.ca.

18 Jobs You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

Are you coming back from the long weekend feeling tired of working the same old boring job? Are you looking to spice things up with something fresh, fun and exciting?

In this Infographic, Big Assignments Australia shows us that there are many jobs out there to choose from, maybe even some that you did not know existed. From paper towel sniffer to a professional sleeper – who knows – you might just be qualified for one of these extraordinary professions! Or… maybe an IT contractor is still the best fit for you.

18 Jobs You Probably Didn't Know Existed

 

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?

How Did a Recruiter Find Me When I Never Applied to Their Job?

How Did a Recruiter Find Me When I Never Applied to Their Job?

We hear this question occasionally from IT contractors — “How did you get my email or phone number when I’ve never created a profile with your staffing agency?” Some technology professionals may let a recruiter know they’re happy in their current full-time job and others may jump at the opportunity for an upcoming project, but all who ask the question are curious as to the methods a recruiter has taken when seeking new, fresh technology talent.

First, let us put your mind at ease, while recruiters are resourceful, they’re not spying on you, buying lists, or doing anything else considered unethical to get your contact information. They use various tools and techniques when filling a client’s job opening and if you happen to be a good fit for the position, your name is sure to appear at some point during their research.

Here are some things you may be doing that are helping recruiters find you:

You have a detailed LinkedIn Profile

It should not come as a surprise to you that technology recruiters seek out top talent on LinkedIn. If you have an up-to-date, detailed profile, including project descriptions and recommendations, your chances of receiving connection requests from recruiters are raised. When your email address and/or phone number are made public in the contacts section, anybody can access them to connect with you that way. You can request not to be contacted by email, either directly on your profile or with a polite response to the first message you receive from somebody. The ethical recruiters will always respect your wishes.

You uploaded your resume somewhere online

Major job boards sell access to their database to recruiters, both in staffing agencies and private companies. When you apply to any job or create a profile with them, you’ve also opened yourself up to receiving phone calls and emails about new opportunities. Again, depending on your current situation, this can either be a benefit to your job search or a bit annoying. You usually have the option to disallow your resume to be shared, but remember to return and change those settings when your job search continues.

You participated in an online forum

Many knowledgeable technology professionals, especially developers, participate in online forums on websites like Stack Overflow, GitHub and Quora. IT contractors active in these places are often the type of quality people recruiters want working on their projects so, naturally, they keep an eye on these websites. Even if your profile does not include your contact information, when a recruiter sees that you are skilled, they will seek you out on LinkedIn or a job board so they can learn more about your professional interests.

You did good work somewhere else

The old fashioned, non-internet word-of-mouth! It’s difficult for a great IT contractor to stay under the radar. When you do exceptional work for a client, your manager or other technology professionals on your team will be quick to recommend you when asked by a recruiter. It’s a fact that the best contractors rarely search for work at all — the opportunities come to them!

You did create a profile, you just don’t remember

As the old saying goes: “Never say never.” Sure you never applied to a recruiter’s job… in the past few years, but what about 5 years ago? Or 10 years ago? Staffing agencies keep their database of candidates and their resumes for a long time and recruiters may review people who they haven’t heard from in some time. They’ll understand that your resume needs updating; however, they’ll also anticipate where you may be in your career today and take the opportunity to check-in and see how things are going.

Keep in mind that a recruiter only contacts you if they believe you could be a good fit for one of their clients and that the position is a good fit for you too. They don’t want to waste your time, and also have no interest wasting their own time with an uninterested candidate. If you’re not seeking new opportunities, politely let them know and you can both move on. Otherwise, take a few minutes to learn about their recruitment agency and its clients — it may be the next best thing for your career!

The Key Differences Between Contract and Permanent Resumes

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Key Differences Between Contract and Permanent ResumesYour resume is one of your best marketing tools.  In addition to a great social media profile, your resume is the primary tool used to get you through the door for an interview, affording you valuable face-to-face time to ultimately sell yourself to a potential employer.

Candidates often ask how their resumes should differ if they are targeting permanent vs contract employment.  In many cases there would be significant differences, and we strongly recommend having more than one CV if candidates are genuinely interested in both permanent and contract work.

For consulting opportunities, clients are generally focused on a candidate’s ability to come in, hit the ground running and successfully deliver on a very specific mandate.  Consulting resumes are often longer and more detailed, particularly when consultants are bidding on public sector work.  In these cases, clients require very detailed information to clearly show that a consultant’s experience fits their mandatory requirements.  Clients are typically seeking someone who has ‘been there, done that’ as there is little ramp up and training time afforded in the contract world.

For permanent employment opportunities, clients are trying to gauge a candidate’s overall fit for not only the role, but the organization as well.  It is, therefore, not only essential to focus on past achievements and quantifying details on how you have benefited your previous employers and added value to the organization, but also to provide some insight into your work ethic, leadership style and ultimately your personality.

To offer an example, a Project Manager’s consulting resume should always have details provided for key projects including budget, team size, initiative and the outcome (was the project completed on time, under budget).  It’s also important to list specific dates as clients are particularly interested in frequency and duration of contracts.  For a Project Manager’s permanent resume, it would be more important to keep the resume concise and to capture the reader’s interest — but also to show how you can provide value to the organization beyond just leading projects.  It might make sense to provide more of an overall synopsis of achievements but offer an addendum of projects that can be provided on request.

There are many free tools and templates available today, so be sure to do ample research and ensure that your resume is keeping ‘up with the times’.   Is it time for you to revamp your resume(s)?

Applying for a Contract Job vs a Permanent Position

How to Adjust the Way You Search for Jobs When Looking for IT Contract Work

Applying for a Contract Job vs a Permanent PositionSwitching from being a full-time employee to an independent contractor comes with many changes. Everything from your lifestyle to how you get paid to where you go to work will suddenly be different. One change often overlooked by new IT contractors is the way they search for new work.

The first step in understanding how to look for work as a contractor is to know how and why hiring managers are seeking contractors. When dealing with permanent employees, HR departments search for long-term team members who will be a fit with the organization. They want a professional who will be there long-term to grow with the company. When contractors are the preferred choice, it’s often for a specific project and the hiring process is often managed through a separate department such as Procurement. The manager is primarily seeking somebody who has the skills to complete the job at the right price — personality and cultural fit is important, but rarely the top priority. Essentially, it becomes a business-to-business relationship.

Where Should You Look for IT Contracts?

Like any other job search, job boards and social networks are a good start for finding IT contracts. As well, there are websites such as Upwork and Freelancer that are designed specifically for connecting freelancers with companies looking for projects.

Don’t ignore the power a recruitment agency can have in finding you contract work. Staffing agencies will have multiple contracts available for you and the great ones will help you throughout your career. Building valuable relationships with the right recruiters could mean you’ll never have to search for work again. Instead, work will find you.

Finally, keep networking. Not just with Recruiters, but every professional you meet. As your network and reputation as a quality IT contractor grows, the effort you need to put into finding work will shrink.

Change the Way You Communicate

We can’t say it enough — being a contractor is completely different than being an employee and companies want to know that you understand that difference to protect them from certain risks. Demonstrate that you are in the correct mindset by adjusting your communication in resumes, interviews and on the job.

  • Ditch the cover letter. This traditional standard is in the process of phasing out for full-time jobs, but in contracting, it’s nearly useless. If anything, a summary in an introductory email will suffice.
  • Within your resume, eliminate any personal hobbies or career goals that employers typically look at to understand if you’re a fit in their organization and make sure you include a Profile Summary which outlines your key skills and experience.
  • Your interview will be more skills-based with questions targeted at learning how you will complete a specific project. While preparing for it, focus at answering questions related to the environment rather than where you see yourself in five years.
  • Keep in mind specific vocabulary that needs to change. For example as a contractor, you should talk about “rate” and rather than “salary”.

Before You Start Applying to IT Contracts

Prepare yourself before you start applying to these contract roles by understanding everything that comes with being a contractor. This includes a thorough comprehension of the business risks, knowing how accounting and taxes will be managed, finding a suitable insurance package and properly budgeting for the fact that paid vacation days and benefits are a thing of the past. We also strongly recommend incorporating your independent contracting business, as it will come with long-term tax benefits and make you more attractive to future clients. Finally, conduct extensive research to understand your rate as an independent contractor. Without this, you will either get stuck working for much less than you’re worth or not working at all due to a rate demand that’s out-of-sync with the current market.

Switching to independent contracting is an exciting. By understanding the application process and leveraging the tools available, you can cross “finding work” off of your list of stressors.

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?

Quick Poll Results: Where do you search for jobs?

When and where are you searching for jobs? We asked that question in last month’s quick poll and, as usual, we’re sharing the results. Take a look and, just for fun, see if you follow the same routine as other technology professionals. Do you prefer to browse at home, on your lunch break at work or on the way to work (assuming you don’t drive)? Alternatively, maybe you don’t have a set routine and prefer to search anywhere when you have a few minutes or wait to be prompted by a notification.

Of course, there is no right way to search for jobs, as long as it is effective for you, and fits into your planned schedule. If you’re not setting aside time specifically for business development and searching for new contracts, that is a whole other issue. Consider some of these preferred times to take 5 minutes and browse your favourite job boards for new IT contract opportunities.

Quick Poll Results: Where do you search for jobs?