Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Searching

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

Job Search for the IT Contractor

Searching for an IT job in a competitive job market is never easy. You need to understand your target companies, including those that are looking for technology professionals, what skills they specifically need and their projects. You also need to ensure you have a solid understanding of yourself, what kind of work you want, and how that will affect your job search.

A common misconception among new IT contractors is that a job search is a job search. As long as you keep submitting your resume to different job postings and show up at interviews, you’ll eventually get a job. To an extent, that’s true. But when you go from being a permanent employee to an IT contractor working on your own, there are changes you can make to your job search process that will significantly improve your chances of keeping a steady stream of work. Specifically:

  1. The Places You Look for Jobs,
  2. The Way You Communicate; and,
  3. Your Business Mindset (because you’re now running a business)!

Check out this video for more details…

Contractor Quick Poll: What’s the Most Important Trait You Look for in a Recruiter?

Working with the right IT recruiter(s) is imperative to getting the best IT jobs but also to ensuring you get the best overall contracting experience. The right recruiter affects everything from searching for a technology gig to your time working on the project.

There are a variety of signs to look for in an ethical recruiter and many questions independent contractors should ask their recruiters. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we want to know the number one, most important trait you look for in a recruiter when deciding who to work with.

Motivation and Opportunity: Entrepreneurship, Career Change in Canada’s Female Workforce

Guest post by Gloria Martinez of womenled.org

Motivation and Opportunity: Entrepreneurship, Career Change in Canada’s Female WorkforceA recent study of Canadian workers by the recruitment agency Hays Canada has revealed that half of the working professional population are unhappy in their current jobs. And unhappiness among female workers appears to be at an all-time high — 54 percent of Canadian women fantasize about quitting their jobs with many claiming they want more money, while others put the blame on a bad culture fit.

For many Canadian women, happiness at work didn’t happen until they made a career change. Many chose to follow a private passion rather than fight their way along a difficult and frustrating career path to advancement in companies that showed little interest in cultivating and promoting in-house talent. The fact that Canadian women are starting businesses at a higher rate than women in any other G20 country is a positive and encouraging indication that many are seeking personal happiness through entrepreneurship.

Opportunity and pay

Many have gone out on their own having grown tired of too few opportunities to take advantage of their education and experience. Canada’s gender pay gap is one of the largest among industrialized countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Pay inequity has led many Canadian women to seek better options in other fields, including finance, construction and civil engineering, and take advantage of hot new job markets, such as computer and information systems, medicine and human resources.

A new career

One of the most positive life changes you can make is deciding to turn a passion into a career and start enjoying the prospect of going to work every day. Former Toronto advertising exec Jane Canapini decided to start a travel blog after a memorable hiking trip to Greece and Italy. Andrea Raco left the insurance business to become a personal success coach. If that sounds appealing, decide on what happiness and success mean to you. It could lead to anything from starting a dog-walking service to designing commercial websites or writing online marketing content for a broad range of clients.

Emphasize personal strengths

Becoming an entrepreneur can mean embracing radical change, like working from home or working a second job while getting a new business idea off the ground. Phoebe Fung of Calgary gave up a career in the oil and gas industry to pursue her passion for wine to open Calgary’s first wine bar. Despite struggling to find financing, within a decade Fung’s Vin Room had opened three locations in the Western Canadian city. The appeal of doing what she loves was strong enough that Fung was willing to forego a salary in the first two years according to the details of the financing deal she was able to secure.

Refreshing your resume

For anyone wanting to sell their strengths and experience to a prospective employer or seek funding for a new venture, an updated, well-written and attention-grabbing cover letter and resume are essential. Remember that a good resume should strike a balance between brevity/concision and compelling information, while a solid cover letter will be written toward the industry to which you’re applying.

If your resume needs a good overhaul, check out online resume templates for appealing designs/layouts and color combinations. A potential employer in a different industry will want to see evidence of initiative, creative thinking and resourcefulness; in other words, evidence that you would make a good addition despite having come from a different field.

Today, women in Canada are heading financial technology companies, philanthropic organizations, fashion companies and boutique bakeries, while organizations like Women in Communications and Technology seek to encourage greater female participation in the digital industry. An increasingly tech-savvy and agile workforce is helping create new – and, in some cases, unforeseen – opportunities.

Watch an Expert Tear Apart Some Common Resume Mistakes

If you submit a terribly thought-out resume riddled with errors and nonsense, and assume nobody is judging you, we’re sorry to tell you that you are sadly mistaken. Your resume is your first impression to a recruiter or a client. It’s also the number one selling tool for your business. On top of the obvious proof-reading, details and honesty we always talk about, you must understand the situation and write for your target audience.

To get an understanding at how quickly and easily resume errors stand out to a recruiting professional, just watch this quick video from Business Insider. They hand a stack of resumes to an industry veteran and she provides her brutal feedback. Many of her criticisms are small details. An average job seeker won’t put much weight on these mistakes, but they will stand out to a recruiter like a sore thumb.

Essential Email Etiquette Advice for Job Seekers to Succeed

Guest Post by Freddie Tubs, Business Writer and Communication Manager at Ukwritings

Essential Email Etiquette Advice for Job Seekers to SucceedLooking for a job used to mean going out and handing out resumes, or maybe even making a few phone calls. But now almost all applying is done online, and a lot of businesses don’t even want you to walk in with your resume in hand. So, it’s important that you know a thing or two about how to properly email a potential employer. Here are seven email tips that will help you get hired.

Have a professional email address

This probably seems like common sense to most people, but it’s surprisingly common for people to send job seeker emails with an inappropriate email address. Don’t use an email with slang or really anything besides your first and last name. Soccer_fanatic95@hotmail.com is not a professional email address. It won’t matter how qualified you are, sending out emails with that address will never get you hired.

Send it to the right person

Do you know who you are applying to? Whenever possible, avoid addressing an email as “to whom it may concern.” Always try and find out who is the best person to send your message to. You have a much better chance doing this than just sending your email to a general company inbox. While you’re at it, send yourself a copy as well. By doing this you create a record of where you have already inquired and you won’t accidentally email the same company twice, that’s a big no-no.

Appropriate subject lines

Whenever you send out a job seeking email you need to include a subject line. Your subject line helps the recipient by letting them know what you are messaging them about. Not including a subject line, or a poorly chosen one, dramatically lowers the chance of your email being opened and read. Your email could even end up in a spam box. In your subject line write the position you are interested in, and you can include your name as well if you like. Companies receive a ton of email, so you need to give them a reason to open your email.

Write it like a business letter

Write your email formally, as if you were writing a business letter. That means no slang, no acronyms, and definitely no emoticons. Keep in mind that you are communicating with a person you would like to work for, not your friends and family. Begin your email with a polite salutation and close it with a signature. The only real difference between your email and a formal business letter is that you don’t need to include the recipient’s contact information in the upper left corner. In every other aspect it should be identical to a letter you would send in the mail.

Include a signature

As mentioned above, end your email with a signature. We’re not talking about the kind you would write on paper, but an email signature. Your signature will include your first and last name, your email address, your street address, and your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, then strongly consider setting one up. They are very useful for showing recruiters your skills.

Properly edit and format your email

Part of following proper email etiquette is taking the time to edit and format your email. As a job seeker, you don’t want to leave in any mistakes that could disqualify you.

Don’t forget the attachments

Don’t forget to attach any documents you have mentioned in your letter. If you forget and need to send a second email with the attachments, you will not make a good impression. These documents, such as resumes, are important because they give the employer a lot of information you don’t have time to discuss in your email.

Conclusion

The majority of applying for jobs now happens online. Your email skills and etiquette are very important because they are the first impression you make on an employer. Use these seven email tips that will help you get hired

About the Author

Freddie Tubbs is a business writer and a communication manager at Ukwritings. He regularly attends recruiting and communications events, and contributes columns to Boomessays and Essayroo blogs.

5 Pieces of Old Job Search Advice That No Longer Apply

The world has come a long way in the past 10-15 years. The Internet and digital world developed into something we never dreamed possible and there has been a complete change in lifestyles. Among the many areas of our lives that are different, the way we search for IT jobs has advanced significantly. In fact, the entire landscape has had a makeover. In 2003, we were in a transition from offline to online — IT job boards were buggy, social media was barely a thing, the fax machine was in-use, and only 64% of households had at least one member who used the Internet regularly.

To get a better understanding of just how much has changed, we sought out articles with job search advice from the past 10-15 years. Not surprisingly, a lot of the standard rules remain; however, there are also some out-dated tips that can be ignored today. Here are some of our favourites:

Keep a Collection of Index Cards to Help Track Your Contacts

5 Pieces of Old Job Search Advice That No Longer ApplyAs one of the oldest job boards, it’s no surprise that Monster is filled with 15-year old articles for job seekers. In this one about building your job search network, the author stresses the importance of keeping detailed records of your network with a collection of index cards, a note book or a computer application. While still feasible, the efficiency of these tools is not as great as a solid LinkedIn network, database, or free personal tools like Google Contacts.

Keyword-ize Your Internet Resume

Given the growing popularity of Applicant Tracking Systems at the start of the millennium, this article from CollegeGrad was far from the only one of its kind. In addition to recommending an “internet resume” for “the Net” and a paper resume, they stress the importance of including keywords in your resume. This concept is far from expired, but the way we think about it is different. Where the article remains valid suggesting a planned keyword strategy using nouns and being specific to make it easy for ATSs, it’s no longer necessary to be “keyword-centric”. AI and semantic search technology give Applicant Tracking Systems the intelligence to recognize words and combinations of words so they can analyze and classify resumes. As long as you ensure the content in your resume is of quality and descriptive, the keyword aspect will take care of itself.

Prepare a Plain-Text Resume

Again, advances in technology have changed the rules when submitting resumes. LiveCareer once advised that job seekers should have a plain text version of their resume, in .txt format. This would be used for uploading resumes or copy/pasting directly into the body of an email. Today, any ATS or online job board worth its weight can handle and read, at the very least, an MS Word document. Most have no problems with .PDF format resumes; however, these can still cause problems.

Cleaning Up Digital Dirt

In the past 15 years, there has been no shortage in stories of people’s lives and careers being shattered because of thoughtless information they put on social media. The way we view and clean up that “digital dirt” has changed since Women for Hire provided their advice. First, there is a suggestion in the article that it’s only teenagers and people in their early 20s who are using social media and that they should be concerned of incriminating pictures and comments. It’s safe to say that social media adoption has grown and there is no age range that is more or less at risk. In fact, all of the information in this article is still relevant (although MySpace is gone and “Facebook.com” has grown to be less of a place to create a professional image) but it is what’s lacking that stands out in this article. It is good to keep a clean profile and remove anything that could cause trouble, and all networks now have advanced privacy settings that you should take advantage of. Locking down your profiles to only a small circle of trusted friends makes it less likely (not impossible) for out-of-context jokes and pictures to harm your future.

Using Google to Find a Job

This is another example of advice that is not necessarily irrelevant but more out-dated. For many people, Google remains the number one way to find a job; however, the tactics suggested in this article by ODOJ could use a refresh. For starters, this year’s launch of Google for Jobs in Canada changes the game completely. We also know that Google has become exponentially more intelligent. While adding operators and tricks to improve your job search will not hurt, there is a good chance the world’s leading search engine will bring you the most relevant pages regardless of how you search it.

As noted at the beginning of this post, most job search principles have remained unchanged in the past 15 years, and in many cases, the past 50. Technology innovations are driving the majority of changes, but the non-technological pieces of advice — explain your accomplishments in your resume, follow-up after an interview, diversify how you search — have always been around and will likely stay for much longer.

“New Year, New Job” — 5 Steps to Get Started in 2019

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

"New Year, New Job" -- 5 Steps to Get Started in 2019 January.  A fresh start for the New Year.  The month where we set goals, commit to self-improvement and kick bad habits.

The New Year also often brings thoughts of new jobs and new career challenges – why wouldn’t we apply that same mentality to our careers?  Much like getting results from hitting the gym and eating more greens, a successful career also requires focus, commitment and hard work.  If New Year, New Job resonates with you, here is a quick guide to setting yourself up for a successful job search:

Step 1:  Get Your Resume Job Search Ready

Priority number one is to update your resume.  There are a lot great tips available online and many offer different opinions (our favourite tips can be found here).  Your resume is often your first chance to make a first impression, so be sure to check it for accuracy.  The devil really is in the details.

It is also a good idea to take stock of where you are today and put some thought in to where you want to get to.  From there, set some annual career goals.

Step 2:  Get Social, Network & Apply!

These days, having a current, online presence is just as important as having a great resume.  Make sure you have a professional online persona and that you are connected to everyone you know.  Think of your online profile as a personal brochure, but DO NOT hide behind it.  Step away from screens and get out in front of people.  Meet everyone you can – your contacts, industry events, meet-ups, contacts of contacts and reputable recruiters.

While you are networking, find the right jobs to apply for.  We believe in quality over quantity.  Your time is much better spent on a few great applications that are a good fit for your experience rather than blasting your resume to every posting you see.

Step 3:  Get Job Interview Ready

The job interview is your time to shine, but it can be stressful if you aren’t prepared.  Do your homework and read these tips and tricks to help you calm your nerves and bring your “A” game to the interview.

Step 4:  Master the Marketplace:  Learn & Grow

One of the realities of being a successful IT professional is that you always need to stay on top of trends.  Change is constant in this industry and – as technology advances – so must your knowledge and skills.

The most successful people we know are always broadening their knowledge and one of the most effective ways to open up new career opportunities is to develop new skills.

Step 5:  Stay on Track

We all know that the easiest thing to do with a New Year resolution is to simply forget about it or to give up when things start to get tough.  Don’t take the easy way out!  Stick with the job search process and you will have something new before you know it.

2018 in Review: The Job Search Process

Job hunting sucks. It’s a long drawn out process of non-billable time, filled with the same old resume-writing and interview questions (you do, however, get to have conversations with some pretty awesome recruiters!). Still, it’s inevitable. Unless you want to be unemployed when your current contract is up, the life of an IT contractor means you are always on the look-out and you should be keeping current in your job search skills.

At Eagle, we often come across new trends in job searching or recognize major shortfalls in how independent contractors approach the task. One of the Talent Development Centre’s top priorities is to compile this information and share tips and tricks to help you succeed in your job search. Not surprisingly, this is the most extensive list in Eagle’s “2018 in Review” series…

General Job Search Tips and Trends

Resumes

Job Interviews

Industry-Specific Job Search Tips

Why Every IT Professional Needs a Digital Resume

Guest Post by Victoria Greene, Ecommerce Marketing Expert

As technology has developed over the last twenty years, more and more parts of our lives have moved into the digital realm. The iPod supplanted CD players, then streaming services like Spotify took all our music into the cloud, allowing ready access from anywhere. And if you need to book a ticket for an event, you don’t head down to the venue or a ticket office — you visit the website (or use a booking app) and get what you need without needing to move a muscle.

So why are so many of us still putting so much time into the tired old paper resume? If you’ve ever spent any time applying for jobs (probably a safe assumption), then you’ll know how irritating it is mess around for ages trying to get everything formatted in a certain way, and how frustrating it is trying to tweak things for specific roles. Then you hand it out, and… nothing.

It’s particularly silly if you work in the IT industry, because your skills are electronic, computational, complex. How are you supposed to stand out in 2-3 pages of blandness? Well, the winning move is not to play. Instead of trying to make your regular resume creative, keep it standard and throw your creativity into a digital resume to accompany it — here’s why:

They’re faster, easier, and cheaper to share

Want to share a paper resume? No problem! But you’ll need to print it first. Better make plenty of copies, because you won’t know how many you’ll need. What if you go to a networking event and you want to show your professional qualities? Maybe you should take a hundred copies just to be safe, but then you need to carry them around, and face the indignity of rustling around in your bag for a few sheets to hand to someone.

Digital resumes are infinitely easier in a time of 24/7 online connectivity and advanced smartphones. Just have your resume as a website — find a short URL that suits your personal branding, or (if you can’t) just use a URL-shortening service and pick something memorable. You can put the URL on a T-shirt, or a business card, or just tell people.

And when you go through a standard application process that allows some freedom in your submission, or email a recruiter, you only need to advance that one thing. Let them know that anything they need is on that one site. No copying needed, no printing expenses to get glossy versions made, just the cost of hosting.

They naturally supplement standard resumes

In a perfect world, you’d only need one comprehensive resume to apply to any position — but this isn’t a perfect world. Plenty of recruitment services and company portals still require you to submit a .PDF, or even a .DOC (or .DOCX) file, with no room for compromise. Sometimes it’s because they want to run every submission through an automated assessment service, and sometimes it’s because they’re just behind the times and don’t understand digital resumes.

This can be frustrating, yes, but needing to submit an electronic resume needn’t totally hamper your efforts. Not only might you have some design flexibility allowing you to pull over some stylistic elements from your digital resume (though it’s something to be careful with, since an Applicant Tracking System might not be able to parse complex elements), but you can also simply add a shortened URL to the content.

If your resume gets automatically rejected, then it won’t help you much — but if at least one actual person gets to read it, they might be willing to head to that URL to see what you have to offer, giving you a great chance to add to what’s on your regular resume without trying to stuff ill-fitting copy into a two-page document.

They’re quick to revise or customize

Have you ever found yourself furious after an interview because you realized too late that you’d missed a typo on your resume? When you go to the printing stage, you commit to the copy you have, and that’s it — it’s fixed in place until you get a fresh batch printed. And if you want to provide a custom resume for an application (which is often advisable, since you should cater to the specific job you’re applying for), you’ll need to print a separate version for it.

When you provide a digital resume, you don’t need to worry about that kind of inflexibility. If you notice a typo as you’re heading to an interview, you can log in and change it on the fly. And if you want to provide different versions for different places, you can simply make duplicates of your site at different addresses and change them as needed.

They’re natural segues for other web projects

If you have a personal website you’d like to show people, or a program you developed, or a big live project you worked on, you can include a URL on a standard printed resume, but there likely isn’t much point. Do you really expect someone to go out of their way to head to a computer and type in that address?

A link in a digital resume, though, is much more powerful. It just takes one click to see what’s on the other end. That probability that a well-placed (and presented) link is going to get clicks gives you ample reason to look for other things you can achieve online. The more you can link out, the more compelling your overall candidacy becomes without adding any weight whatsoever to your main resume page.

Imagine that you were trying to attract interest at a really large company, possibly someone you’d wanted to work for a long time, but you felt that your current accomplishments weren’t up to scratch. Instead of simply trying and trying again in the hope that something would change, you could do something new, such as:

  • Document your efforts. Showing personal and professional development is incredibly important, but it isn’t always easy to showcase that kind of work on a resume. A one-liner about a new language you’re learning won’t go too far — you need to actually chart the challenges you face. If you set up a blog, or even a talking-to-camera video series about what you’re trying to achieve, you can link to it on your digital resume and add some meaningful character context.
  • Run a side business. IT and business savvy don’t always correspond. If you set up a freelance business and get even just a few clients, you can turn the site into a testimonial of sorts. Or you can run an ecommerce store. Set one up, or buy one — if you have money saved, there are top businesses for less than $10,000 that you can turn into meaningful sources of income. Link to your secondary sites, and you’ll be able to show entrepreneurial hustle without adding any clutter.
  • Collaborate on content. Networking is obviously vital in most industries, and though IT demands more of a close focus on your skills, it has its fair share of personal recommendations. If there are influential figures in your niche that you think you could work with, you can reach out to them and pitch some collaborative work — team up for a blog series on their website, for instance. You can then link to their site on your resume, lending authority to your case.

Think of a digital resume as your personal homepage, and turn it into a fleshed-out hub telling a professional story that spans numerous sites and resources.

They’re creatively fitting and freeing

Perhaps most importantly, a digital resume gives you the opportunity to show off what you can do with your career skills. Are you a web designer? Build a finely-polished resume website that will impress prospective employers before they even get to your conventional resume content. Are you a software developer? Make your resume an interactive application of some kind.

Instead of being stuck with whatever you can fit on a few sheets of paper, you have complete freedom to go in whatever creative direction you want. Now, you can go too far with that kind of creativity and sabotage your chances (limitations are important), but that’s not an issue with the medium — that’s just the added responsibility of controlling your own destiny.

With everything we’ve looked at, why wouldn’t you want to have a digital resume? Because times are still changing, you’re going to need to retain your basic paper and electric versions too, but leave all your creativity for your digital showcase. The more freedom you can exert in your candidacy, the more you’ll expand your opportunities.

Victoria GreeneVictoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who loves having so much of her writing available online. You can read more of her work at her blog Victoria Ecommerce.

 

New and Growing Job Opportunities for IT Contractors by 2022

According to a recent survey from Nintex, 71% of decision makers across multiple industries say automation will affect up to one out of five positions at their companies. In IT departments, this could include those in roles that include troubleshooting, password resets, and upgrading security patches.

Given the numerous studies being released on this topic every day, should IT contractors and technology professionals be concerned about their future? Only if they’re not willing to change and learn future skills says the Future of Jobs Report published by the World Economic Forum. In fact, there are a number of opportunities! Just have a look at this very brief summary of the report:

1. Automation, robotization and digitization look different across different industries

The many faces of the robot revolutionWhile it’s expected that companies world-wide will be developing robots and automation, different industries will have different needs. As such, WEF says we can expect to see fewer of the robots we’re used to seeing in sci-fi movies, and more stationary robots.

2. There is a net positive outlook for jobs – amid significant job disruption

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2022, 75 million current job roles will be displaced due to machines and algorithms. That may sound devastating; however, they also expect 133 million new job roles will emerge. Moreover, occupations like Data Analysts, Software & Applications Developers, and E-Commerce & Social Media Specialists should see some significant growth.

3. The division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms is shifting fast

Of all of the industries covered in World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, there is currently a 71%/29% split in task hours performed by humans versus by robots. By 2022, this is expected to be 58%/42% and 48%/52% by 2025.  According to the report, “Even work tasks overwhelmingly performed by humans today — communicating, interacting, coordinating, managing and advising — will begin to be taken on by machines, although to a lesser degree.”

4. New tasks at work are driving demand for new skills

Skills such as precision, memory, reading/writing, even management are expected to be less and less significant on resumes. Instead, the experts at World Economic Forum predict that you’ll get ahead in the next few years if you start highlighting skills such as analytical thinking, active learning, technology design and emotional intelligence.

5. We will all need to become lifelong learners

As noted in the previous point, learning is more and more important. Both individual workers and senior leaders are seeing a growing skills gap that can obstruct an organization’s growth if not managed properly. This shows opportunities for independent contractors in IT who manage to keep up with the latest skills and trends. It’s expected that one-half to two-thirds of the world’s companies will be turning to them for help.

What are you doing to prepare for the future and the inevitable changes due to automation? Will you be a leader taking advantage of the new opportunities or will you fall behind due to fear and resistance?