Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Searching

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

Optimize the Contact Information Section of Your Resume

Optimize the Contact Information Section of Your Resume

Have you ever visited a company website and struggled to find contact information? You want to do business with them but have questions and there’s no obvious phone number or email address (at least not without having to sit through a sales pitch). Or maybe you want to understand where they’re located and there’s no sign whatsoever of a physical location. If you find that frustrating or immediately get a sketchy feeling about the company, then you officially understand how recruiters feel when they receive resumes with similar, shady contact details.

There are understandable and legitimate privacy concerns to not wanting to include too much contact information on your resume. However, these concerns have trade-offs that make recruiters question your credibility or struggle to get a hold of you when they’re interested in your experience. A better approach would be to include the necessary information and research the security practices of the third-party job boards to which you are applying. Or, although more time consuming, only submit applications directly to the companies who are hiring and have secure websites.

What Contact Information Should You Include on Your IT Contracting Resume?

The simple answer is “as much as possible.” A major difference between submitting your resume to a staffing agency as a contractor versus a company for a permanent position is that the latter resume is usually only going to be reviewed once. A contract resume with an employment agency will be searched over and over to match new opportunities as they arise. Among the many implications of this difference, that means your IT contracting resume must be easy to find in a database and ensure a recruiter can get in touch with you when they need to.

  • Email Address: Your email address should always be in your resume, and 99% of the resumes we receive at Eagle do have one. Nearly all job boards require an email address to create a profile, so it’s naturally included in your application anyway.
  • Phone: Your cell phone number is best because it guarantees you will be easy to reach and also opens the door for texting, which is faster and more convenient for everyone. It is helpful to specify which phone number goes to where (ex. Cell vs Home vs Office)
  • LinkedIn: The professional social network is a perfect way to keep an up-to-date version of your experience and it’s also a means to connect. When you include your LinkedIn profile, commit to responding to InMails from recruiters as they often communicate through the platform.
  • Website: Similar to LinkedIn, if you include a link to a personal website, be certain that also has an contact page, complete with a contact form so you can quickly be reached.
  • Physical Location: This is the line in contact information sections that we have seen disappear from resumes over the past few years, and it hurts candidates significantly. Recruiters — both at staffing agencies and corporate recruiters — regularly search databases of their applicant tracking system or third-party job boards. In the majority of their searches, they filter a search by location. When you do not include location in your resume, you are not appearing in the majority of search results. Of course, no recruiter wants to mail you a letter, so if privacy is your concern, feel free to leave out the street address. At a minimum, including city, province and postal code will cover your bases. It’s also worth noting that since cell phone plans today usually include nation-wide calling, contractors are less likely to update their number when moving. As a result, recruiters do not trust just an area code to determine if you are local.

Contact Information to Include on Your Resume When You Plan to Re-Locate

This is another common mistake we see by job seekers — they live in one city but want to work somewhere else. Many resume advice articles will tell you not to include a physical location, but for the reasons listed above (you’ll never be found and it makes you look sketchy) we strongly recommend you add something. If you are absolutely guaranteed to be moving, then use your new city, province and postal code as the main address in your contact section. Otherwise, include a note in your resume specifying your intentions including where you’re willing to work. In these complex situations, we encourage you to connect with a recruiter directly so they understand your intentions and can update their search criteria manually.

Finally, Consider a Section in Your Resume to Tell Recruiters Your Preferences

Would you rather receive an email before a phone call? Is there a better time of day that recruiters can call you? Or would you prefer to hear from them by text? Maybe there’s only a specific radius from your home address you’re willing to commute or you only check LinkedIn messages once per month. Whatever your preferences, a brief section in your resume that tells recruiters how they can get a hold of you most effectively means opportunities will come your way faster and more frequently.

Work Smart, Not (too) Hard in your Job Search

Work Smart, Not (too) Hard in your Job SearchContract or permanent positions — job searching is not easy. You must work hard if you want any chance of getting that phone call for an interview and, depending on your skill, job market and industry, it’s going to take time. But that doesn’t mean you should give into long hours and no social life just because you need to find your next gig.

Working hard is great if you’re doing the right things. Otherwise, 90% of that “hard work” will be wasted time, while only 10% of those hours are what get you a phone call from a recruiter. Create a successful, smart job search by bringing that percentage of quality time as close to 100% as possible. Here are four ways you can work smarter, and not harder, next time you’re looking for an IT job.

1. Manage Your Time

There’s a common illusion that putting in more time automatically means you will get more results. That is false. Whether you put in 5 minutes of 5 hours, time is irrelevant if you achieve the desired outcome. To best manage your time, embrace common time management practices and batch common tasks together. Check email during scheduled time blocks, answer the phone during certain periods and schedule specific time for breaks (yes, breaks are important!)

Avoid getting caught in common time-sucks due to misconceptions. Recruiters stress that a quality resume will set you apart from the competition, but, just like many software projects, searching for “perfection” is not always beneficial. Know when it is “good enough” to submit and move onto the next job application. Another misconception is that multi-tasking will save you time. Studies prove time and again that multi-tasking lowers productivity and leads to shabby work all-around. Still, so many of us fall into the trap, thinking we’re being more productive because we feel busy juggling multiple projects at the same time.

2. Take Advantage of Technology and Tools

There are so many technologies, tools and apps available (often at no charge) that will help you save time, maximize productivity, and work through the job search process. Start with your existing ones and learn how to maximize their shortcuts and settings. Templates, styles and macros throughout Microsoft Office can make resume-writing a breeze. The settings, automations and filters in Gmail (or any email client) will help you manage applications and recruiter responses as though you have a personal assistant.

After you’ve exhausted those options, evaluate other productivity tools. (Be careful, because here’s where you can fall down a rabbit hole.) Most major job boards allow you to set-up job alerts and some have apps that will send you push notifications. Make sure you review the leading tools to manage your calendars and reminders, store your resumes, keep your notes, and secure your passwords.

The more you can automate your life, the better – most of the time. Over-relying on technology, however, can also have disastrous effects. Working smarter can mean knowing when to eliminate the fancy stuff and sticking with tried, tested and true techniques, like picking up the phone and calling somebody.

3. Set Goals and Measure Results

The easiest way to let your job search (or any project) go off-track and waste your time is to have no defined direction. Ensure you know exactly what you want to accomplish — What kind of job do you want? Where and in what kind of industry? Which staffing agencies do you want to work with most? Then start each day by setting SMART goals. Review x jobs descriptions and apply to y of the postings. Call these recruiters, reach out those past colleagues on LinkedIn and follow-up on last week’s applications.

With proper goals and objectives, it’s easier to measure your success and track how you’re doing. Keep statistics and track data points to know what’s working and what’s not. Do certain job boards and staffing agencies bring better opportunities or rates? Is there a resume or email format that performs better than others? In the end, you’ll know where to focus your time and where time is being wasted.

4. Embrace Change (and know when not to change)

Change is inevitable and companies around the world are embracing it. If you want to succeed at your job search, you need to embrace change as well. A classic example of job seekers falling behind due to resistance to change is when the internet took recruiting by storm. Companies and recruitment agencies wanted to move to electronic formats, yet some job seekers were determined that the paper resume were still the way to go. The result? Recruiters ignored paper resumes because they were not in their electronic database and not searchable.

It’s smart to always adapt to changing environments and look for better ways to do those tasks you currently run through on autopilot. But, don’t change just for the sake of changing and never unnecessarily reinvent the wheel. Create templates of resumes, emails and interview questions that worked, or revisit and tweak those that did not. Trying a brand-new approach, simply for the sake of being different, is going to waste your time and is not smart.

Working smart is a must for anybody looking to get ahead in today’s busy world where time is a hot commodity. If you don’t believe us, then take it from Scrooge McDuck, the world’s richest duck. He relayed the message to his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie in his famous quote “I made [my fortune] by being smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies.

 

Make Your Resume Pass a Recruiter’s 5-Second Scan

As though you are someone just passing them on the street, recruiters give you the quick up-and-down or pass by you all together. Like a bright shirt, there are tips and tricks to prompt recruiters to stop and give your resume a sufficient review.

Check out this video and make sure that your resume is wearing that bright shirt so it stands out from the crowd and demands to be noticed.

Save Time in your Job Search by Setting Up Job Alerts

In order to keep a steady flow of income, you need a steady flow of work. That means that when one contract ends, your goal is to start the next as quickly as possible. If you’re only reactively looking for jobs at the end of a gig, you risk a long gap of no work. Of course, a detailed search while you’re putting in hours for a client’s project also isn’t always feasible. That’s why we recommend setting up search agents and email alerts to do the work for you, and email relevant jobs as they arise.

Did you know that Eagle’s job board has a feature that does just that? It’s been one of our job board’s core functions for over 5 years and thousands of IT contractors are already taking advantage of it, gaining an advantage as the first to apply to new jobs! Here’s a quick video that show you how you can set one up right now.

AI is Changing the Way Clients and Staffing Agencies Recruit (and you need to pay attention)

AI is Changing the Way Clients and Staffing Agencies Recruit (and you need to pay attention)Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming our world every day and regularly changing the way we live our lives. Whether you’re listening to music, ordering fast food, or interacting with an online customer service agent, AI lets you work faster, be more efficient and get what you need.

There are many implications of AI to an IT contractor. First, as implied above, AI is bringing new opportunities to companies across all industries, and that results in more IT projects across the board. More specifically, you should take time to understand how AI is affecting the ways clients and staffing agencies hire, so you can better adjust the way you search for jobs.

Clients are Re-Evaluating their Job Opportunities

There is an ongoing debate of whether or not robots will steal all of our jobs, leaving more people unemployed. According to this recent article from Entrepreneur, though, companies are not using AI to replace skilled professionals but are using it to fill talent gaps. This is especially true in the IT industry.

The article references research by Korn Ferry that predicts a talent shortage of 1.1 million in the US technology, media and telecom industries by 2020, and a 4.3 million shortage by 2030. To fill that gap, AI will be used for some coding tasks, as it can identify an objective, autonomously develop a framework, generate code and find the ideal mixture of APIs and SDKs.

Of course, companies know that artificial intelligence cannot replace the critical thinking and human element that a real person brings to the table. So, instead, they’re using new tactics, combining multiple job roles into one and recruiting skilled talent that work with the AI. Hiring managers are analyzing specific job postings and determining which tasks from a job can be handed off to a computer, thus allowing one person to do more value-added work. In theory, your work should become more interesting with fewer monotonous, “housekeeping” tasks.

Recruiters are Looking at Your Resume Differently (if at all)

This Fast Company article is written around the fact that staffing agencies, clients and employers are mostly using some form of artificial intelligence within their recruiting processes, and that changes how you should write your resume. Sometimes tools are used to screen your resume against a specific job after you apply, and other times it helps a recruiter search a database of thousands of people for the right matching candidates. In all cases, it means a human is not going to evaluate your resume unless you first make it past that AI gate keeper. The article offers three suggestions for your resume:

  1. Focus on Your Skills: This is the most important tip. The article stresses not to bother with fluff in your resume like metaphors and weird titles like “Coding Ninja”. It even goes so far as to suggest that soft skills are not relevant to get past an AI. What really matters is to include specific skills you use in a project, and known titles to match those skills. It is also wise to include common seniority terms, such as “Lead” or “Senior” before your title.
  2. Skip the Personal Statement: The personal statement is similar to the soft skills — computers don’t care. Of course, if your resume does get into the hands of a human, a brief elevator pitch to sell yourself might benefit you.
  3. Customize Your Resume, But Not Too Much: The article says not to waste too much time customizing every resume to every specific job. Instead, as long as you weave the proper skills throughout the resume, the AI should be smart enough to recognize you are a fit for a job.

How else has AI affected the way you search for jobs? Leave your experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear more and share our advice to overcome obstacles you may be facing.

Get the Best References and Testimonials for Your Independent Contracting Business

Get the Best References and Testimonials for Your Independent Contracting BusinessA stunning testimonial can grab a recruiter or new client’s attention and get you considered for an interview before they begin to look at your qualifications. The right reference will seal the deal on a new contract and might even help negotiate a better offer. Above all, a well through-out approach to securing and displaying these assets is invaluable to your IT contracting business.

Testimonials and references are a marketing tool used by all businesses, from international corporations with thousands of employees and selling hundreds of products to independent contractors going from gig to gig. Regardless of the business size, it’s a struggle to get detailed references and not everyone uses them to their highest potential.

Having a list of great references is a mandatory requirement for any job seeker. It’s often advised to have a number of recent ones up your sleeve, guaranteeing you have a back-up if one is suddenly unavailable, a new client or recruiter requests something else, or you learn that a reference you thought liked you is actually giving some unpleasant feedback.

And what about testimonials? A great description from a client explaining your invaluable contributions to a project or from a recruiter vouching for your work ethic and dependability can go a long way if you use it correctly. For example, adding more chunks of text to your resume is bound to be ignored by a busy recruiter or hiring manager; however, glowing reviews fit perfectly on a LinkedIn profile or personal website and immediately add credibility to your story.

Given the benefits, what strategies can an independent contractor or technology professional use to source the best testimonials and references?

  • Develop a formal process. Work out the exact plan and approach of how and when you’ll ask for references for every single project you work on. It will get easier every time and you’ll end up with consistent information saved in one file, plus a variety to choose from to match on relevant project applications.
  • Keep notes. Make a note every time you receive a compliment or great feedback during a project. Remind your client of that when asking for their support. You’ll also have specific examples for your client to reference.
  • Do the legwork. It is certain that whoever you are asking is busy, so make their life as easy as possible. Prepare all of the details, contact information and a draft testimonial of what you think they would say. The only work left for them will be minor edits and a signature.
  • Understand what they can say. Recruiters and staffing agencies can rarely give a reference about your work because they were not there and their feedback is only second-hand. They may, however, confirm you worked on that project for a period of time, as well as speak to your ethics and work habits. Asking “Can you give me a reference” may not be successful, but phrasing it as “Would you be willing to speak to my work ethic and ease of working together” can have a positive impact on your relationship with future recruiters.
  • Use LinkedIn testimonials. Ask for testimonials on LinkedIn. Once you have them, display them proudly on the social network and ask the person for permission to use their words elsewhere in the future.
  • Timing is key. Asking for a reference or testimonial is generally not a good idea while simultaneously seeking payment or when you know the project went terribly wrong. Wait until you’ve added value and they’re already giving you positive feedback before you ask “Would it be alright if I shared your words on my marketing material?”
  • Endorse them. Your clients and recruiters are also running a business so testimonials are just as important for them as they are for you. Before or after you receive a reference, look them up on review sites like Google, Glassdoor, Indeed, Yelp or LinkedIn to tell other independent contractors how happy you were working with them.

For every reference or testimonial you receive, always remember to show appreciation. It doesn’t have to be complicated and showing gratitude for a favour is necessary to build relationships. Like so many situations, a hand-written thank you card goes such a long way, it’s incredible.

How do you solicit client and recruiter feedback?

Why Recruiters Ask You to “Rewrite Your Resume” for an RFP Response

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Why Recruiters Ask You to "Rewrite Your Resume" for an RFP ResponseI was recently at a networking event and overheard IT contractors discussing how their staffing agency was having them basically rewrite their resume for an RFP response and they couldn’t understand why they were having them do all of the work. There was mutual agreement around the group that they’ve all experienced this and that they weren’t happy about it. I thought that was a great time to introduce myself and apologize for interrupting, but I couldn’t help but overhear their topic.

I asked them if their agency educated them on why they require the information they were asking for. All of them explained that they were simply sent a set of instructions and were told that they had to “send everything back” before the deadline. I took some time to discuss the reasons to them and after a lot of back and forth questions and answers, they understood the importance.

Remember, you, as the consultant, are the person doing the job every day. Between yourself and your recruiter, you are the only one who knows what you did, how you did it, in what context, with whom, what tools were used, etc. The last thing we want to do as an agency is guess or assume your experience. This is why your recruiter comes back to you to ask you to update your resume with the details. Yes, they can help you put your thoughts together but they need you for the details.

After discussing why it’s important to have a “federal government” formatted resume with the group consultants, I sent them this Talent Development Centre post I wrote a year and a half ago. It is a great starting point when any consultant is getting ready to respond to a Federal Government RFP.

Why You Need a Custom Email Domain for Your Job Search (and how to set one up)

EmailYou already (hopefully) know that the email address you created in high school or when first discovering Hotmail is not appropriate for your professional resume. Fortunately, most IT contractors we work with are not using awesome_dude1234@hotmail.com or golden-girls-fanatic@gmail.com. They have switched to a more professional format like john.smith@gmail.com.

But, did you know you might still be hurting your job search with a free email, school email, or the email address supplied by your ISP? A smaller proportion of applicants are differentiating themselves and their emails by investing in a custom domain like johnsmith.com and using it to create an email address like projects@johnsmith.com. Here are just some of the benefits you can get from it:

  • It looks more professional than a free domain or one supplied to you by an Internet Service Provider or school
  • Emails coming from a custom domain appear more credible and are less likely to end up in a spam folder
  • If you host a website at that domain, a recruiter will easily find it for more information about you
  • You gain more control in choosing a service provider because you don’t get tied down to an ISP (ex. Sympatico.ca).
  • It is an extra expense to claim in your business
  • It makes it easier to separate the emails from your personal and business life
  • Investing in a custom domain shows you’re serious about your business

How Can You Create an Email Address with a Custom Domain Today?

  1. Find the Domain

Purchasing a domain can costs around $15-$30/year on average. If you already have one to host a website, great! You can use that and proceed to the next step. Otherwise, perform a detailed search to learn what’s available. You can do so through any website that registers domains, and we recommend sticking with one that you can also use as a host. Popular ones like GoDaddy or iPage are often a go-to, but a quick Google search will display a number of options.

When choosing a domain, it’s recommended to stick with something simple like firstnamelastname.com; however, if you have a common name, there is a strong chance it is no longer available. Instead, try searching for the same name at a different top-level domain, such as .ca, .net, .me or .info. You might also use your company name or add a description to your domain, like firstnamelastnamePMP.com or lastnameprogramming.com. It is not recommended to add numbers or hyphens to your custom domain.

  1. Decide on an Email Host

The majority of the time, the registrar of your domain will also offer hosting for both websites and emails. Some will even offer free email hosting for a period of time. Otherwise, you can shop around to find an email hosting service that works for you. Considerations when deciding on the right host should include security, dependability, convenience, support and cost (remember to read the fine print, often times prices shoot up drastically after the first year or two).

Regardless of the host, you’ll almost always be able to access your email through their webmail services, as well as use the credentials provided to set-up your email on your phone, a more common tool like Outlook, or connect it with your favourite webmail application like Gmail.

  1. Create a Mailbox

Now that you have a domain and an email service, the next step is to decide on a mailbox. Common formats are firstname@yourdomain.com, FirstnameLastname@yourdomain.com, or Firstinitial.LastInitial@yourdomain.com. We recommend avoiding names like, “info”, “contact”, or “jobs”. These are more likely to be caught in spam filters and should be reserved for aliases and forwarding.

Aliases do not have their own mailbox, but instead forward to other mailboxes. Create that “info” address by making an alias like info@yourdomain.com that forwards back to your main email address. It is easy to remember and provides a generic email address to put on a website. Or, an email sent to accounting@yourdomain.com may automatically go to a folder in your inbox and to your bookkeeper.

While aliases can be helpful, we caution their use because it gets confusing for both recruiters and yourself. A recruiter who saves your alias may miss your response when it comes from your primary inbox. Aliases are also a sure way to end up with 2 or 3 profiles in one job board or staffing agency’s database. Not only will a recruiter consider this sketchy, but it leaves you wondering why you got emailed three times from the same recruiter for the same job opportunity!

  1. Choose an Email Client

There are a number of options for choosing an email client, the program from where you will read and write emails. Most hosts provide a webmail service that you can use; however, they tend to be clunky and inconvenient to access. Instead, you can use credentials provided to set-up your email on your phone, a more common tool like Outlook, and/or connect it with your favourite webmail application like Gmail.

The fact is, if you’re skilled in your technology and a reputable IT contractor, no recruiter is going to turn you down based on your email address, even if it’s ridiculous. They will, however, judge your professionalism, even if subconsciously. When you’re in tight competition for a gig or negotiating your rate, that subtle detail will make a difference.

Job Searching Does Not Take a Summer Break

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Job Searching Does Not Take a Summer BreakAs we approach the Canada Day Long Weekend — the unofficial but nonetheless highly anticipated and (for most of us) deserved kick-off to a Canadian Summer — many have vacations pending with beaches, camping, travelling and just relaxing our minds. But what of those who are looking for their next assignment, contract or permanent? How do we navigate vacation season for clients and colleagues alike while searching for our next assignment?

Summer can be a tough time to job hunt. Here are some observations to consider that hopefully help achieve both!

  • Clients still need to move projects forward and, in fact, contractors may align perfectly in helping augment down time for FTE’s
  • If you are looking for perm, yes it’s true many contacts and clients in HR will be away, but what better time to differentiate yourself? In being available to interview, your “competition” for roles may also be on vacation and unavailable, to your advantage.
  • If clients are away, use this downtime to network and actively expand your network. Having “coffees” and meeting people on a soft visit can be easier in the summer months. Prepare your elevator speech/pitch so that you are ready for anyone you meet in the summer. You never know who that right connection may be at a BBQ, golf course or party.
  • Update your resume to be “ready to go”. It’s also a good opportunity to update your skills with online or other available course and options, if you anticipate a break.
  • If you are going away, be sure you are accessible. Going totally off the grid can lead to missed opportunity allowing clients to move to the next candidate as hiring cycles are quicker.
  • Be upfront and communicative to your recruiters and prospect pipeline if you are going to be away (especially if you are in the interview process) and follow up as soon as you can on return. Hiring Managers tend to act fast in the summer to ensure they get approvals and can close open positions before they and their colleagues go on vacation.

The perception that organizations don’t hire in the summer months is a myth. Hiring today is critical and a 12-month-of-the-year activity, with very little down time built in. Don’t miss out!

What You Need to Consider Before Accepting a Counter Offer

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Permanent Placement Specialist at Eagle

Nearly all IT careers begin in a permanent employment position, as opposed to jumping right into the market as an independent contractor. Naturally, then, at some point you’ll be in a situation where you land a new job, either as an employee at another company or as a contractor, and the time comes to tell your current boss you are leaving. It’s something that most people dread. Upon giving your notice, what happens if your company comes back with a pay increase and/or a promotion? Most people’s first thought is “Wow, I’m really valued here and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep me”. But before accepting that counter offer, be sure to consider all of the facts and do your research!

There are a plethora of articles out there explaining the reasons that accepting a counter-offer is equivalent to corporate death. Statistics prove that “over 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year.”

It’s important to ask yourself some important questions. Why were you willing to leave in the first place? What has changed? If it was strictly compensation, it’s possible that a counter-offer makes sense, but in the vast majority of situations there are other factors at play that just aren’t resolved by earning additional pay. If you are truly a valued employee, why did it take you almost walking out the door for them to pay what you know you are worth?

In many cases, an employer will be scrambling to backfill a position within your 2-week notice period and there will inevitably be gaps that will impact their business. By offering a nominal increase to keep you, they may be ensuring they are covering their bases but working towards replacing you on their own timeline. The other important factor is that you will always be the employee who wanted to leave, so if there is a restructuring, your name will likely be the first on the chopping block.

Be sure to carefully consider all of the aspects of consideration before declining that new opportunity and be sure you are doing what is right for your career in the long run.