Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Searching

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

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.

10 Tips for Writing a Job-Winning Developer Resume

Recruiter Reviewing Job Applicant's ResumeWriting the perfect resume is not just time-consuming; it’s challenging. With a market that is bursting with talent, job posters can quickly receive hundreds of applications for the same project. Showcasing your skills in the best way possible is a practice in precision.

While there are different schools of thought on resume writing, web developers should be aware of a few critical factors. The best way to get an edge on the competition is with great style and well-presented information. Let’s take a look at what developers ought to do to craft a job-winning resume.

Formatting

As with any writing, utilizing good structure is important. Recruiters generally scan resumes to maximize their time during job searches. Therefore, using effective formatting can help get your resume to the top of the pile.

Consider organizing the information in your resume in this order:

  • Professional Career Summary
  • Skills
  • Work Experience
  • Projects
  • Software/technology programs
  • Education
  • Certifications

Today’s recruiters tend to prioritize good experience above all else. Your education and certifications still have value, but they don’t need to appear first on your resume.

Personal  information

Traditional resume formats included too much personal information. Clients don’t need to know your weight, height or eye color. While adding some personal data is necessary, it should only be the bare minimum.

Your name, title, email, phone number, and website are all you need to write on your resume. Although some are against it, feel free to include a photo of yourself. Depending on where your client is based, they might even expect to see your headshot in the top corner.

Professional Summary

Chances are if you are searching for a job, you have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has made it the norm for job seekers to present themselves with a professional summary. These summaries allow you to quickly highlight your soft and technical skills as a web developer.

In summary, you provide recruiters an overview of your career. Thus, be sure to include how many years you’ve been in the field. Also, write about any tech programs you’ve completed in that time. If you were in charge of training or managing other employees add that, too.

Keywords

Using the right keywords isn’t just for top-notch SEO; it works for your resume, as well. Pay attention to the terminology clients use to describe a project. If you use the same terminology as them, you’ll have a higher chance of being selected.

Plenty of businesses use automated systems to sift through resumes and keywords are vital to their algorithm. Unfortunately, if your word choice doesn’t match with a prospective client’s criteria, your resume may be wholly passed over. Ensure that you get a foot in the door by fine-tuning the keywords in your resume.

Experience

The experience you include on your resume is a primary deciding factor for your candidacy. Remember to remove any irrelevant experience. Furthermore, remove any experience from over ten years ago.

Hiring managers want to see what explicitly makes you perfect for the position they are looking to fill. Write a short paragraph about what your main contributions were to previous positions. Also, highlight previous experience that directly connects with the project you are currently applying for.

Spotlight Projects

While experience is essential,  projects can also help prove your worthiness as a candidate. Especially, if you are entry level and don’t have much experience, yet. Whether it’s an internship or a freelance project, adding it to resume helps you stand out.

First of all, they show your dedication and drive. Second, they illustrate any unique skills you may have acquired. If your projects are online, include a link!

Education

Although your education has to be on your resume, it’s not as crucial as your experience or projects. One line descriptions will suffice. However, you can certainly include extra information if you feel it will be particularly interesting for the position.

Education must be in reverse chronological order. Additionally, ensure that you list any special programs, boot camps or courses you completed. Certifications can go here, as well.

Technical Skills

When arranging your technical skills, be sure to eliminate any that are outmoded. No one will be impressed if you say you know how to use Windows 95. Show that you are keeping up with the latest software and programs in this section.

Connect your knowledge to your experience and elaborate on how you used your technical skills in the real world. Recruiters will appreciate concrete examples. Also, label your skills with a proficiency level, but avoid saying you’re a beginner.

Interpersonal Skills

Although web developers’ primary skills should be technical, interpersonal skills are important, too! Clients will appreciate a programmer who is a people person. Show your interpersonal abilities by utilizing specific language.

Strive to include active verbs like delivered, organized or elevated. Showcase your sensitivity to time and your ability to work well with deadlines. Moreover, go into detail about any leadership roles such as training or leading projects.

Tailor Your Resume

It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s essential that you adjust your resume for each job posting. Even though the jobs may be similar, you need to optimize keywords and reorganize every time. The relevance of your resume depends on it.

Furthermore, keeping your resume as up-to-date as possible is never a bad thing. After all, technology is continually evolving. Tailoring your resume for each job is an excellent opportunity to check that your information matches your current skills.

Conclusion

Once you’ve perfected all of your content, take care to adjust your presentation. Opt for a spacious set-up instead of cramming information in. Don’t get too caught up in whether your resume fits into a single page.

Instead, please pay attention to your content and ensure its scannable. A colorful and creative presentation can be eye-catching; however, don’t go overboard trying to impress. Do your best to incorporate these ten tips, and you’ll be on your way towards your next web dev position.

Kristin SavageKristin Savage is interested in writing and planning to publish her own book in the nearest future. Also, she has been a reviewer at Pick Writers for a few years and is known for her thorough approach to accurately assess newcomer translation services. You can find her on Facebook.

Make Twitter Part of Your Job Search Strategy

Although growth is declining and it is not the most popular social network, Twitter is still far from joining Google+ in the social media graveyard. HootSuite shows that there are 326 million users every month contributing to an average of over 500 million new tweets each day, and they range across all demographics. In addition, most businesses are on Twitter, making it a hot spot to potentially connect with new clients. So, if you’re on Twitter, are you leveraging it to improve your job search?

This infographic by CRH Americas collects some quick tips to “tweet your way to a new job”. While we would never recommend using Twitter as your only job search tool, or your primary one for that matter, it can absolutely be a valuable complement to your job searching strategy. Take a look and see if you can leverage Twitter to land your next contract.

 

Make Twitter Part of Your Job Search Strategy

If You Don’t Upload a Resume, Nobody’s Going to Call You

The title of this post seems like an obvious statement, but we’re shocked at the amount of candidates who apply for jobs without uploading a resume for recruiters to evaluate. Or, they do upload a resume but it lacks the detail required to determine if a candidate is qualified for a job.

Why You Must Submit a Quality Resume to Recruiters If You Want a Job

If You Don't Upload a Resume, Nobody's Going to Call YouThe days of having one copy of a brief, generic resume and submitting it to every company are long gone (assuming they were ever here). In the last 20 years, online job boards have changed the entire game of job searching and resume writing. Yet some people, aside from embracing online tools, are still playing the game like it’s the ’90s.

As job boards continue to focus on candidate experience and make the application process easy for you, keep in mind, they’re making it easier for every job seeker. When it’s easier, more people apply. When more people apply, recruiters are receiving more applications. When recruiters have more options, they ignore bad resumes, and they especially ignore the candidates who don’t submit one at all. Just because you wrote a compelling cover letter, a recruiter is not going to call you for more information. It all must be available to them right away. Anything less gives a perception of laziness, apathy, and just not caring.

This, of course, is assuming a recruiter even finds you. Automated applicant tracking solutions, complete with artificial intelligence, are increasingly more affordable and accessible to companies of all sizes. Even the smallest staffing agencies and employers are taking advantage of these screening tools, ensuring that busy recruiters and hiring managers only review resumes that a computer deemed valuable. When your resume does not include enough details and explanations about your experience, it will fail to pass a preliminary screening and sit in a database never to be seen again.

Furthermore, low-detailed resumes are often the reason you keep getting phone calls from recruiters for jobs that do not match your skillset. If you barely put in details explaining what you do, when your name does appear in a recruiter’s search, it will be for job opportunities irrelevant to your actual experience and job role.

A link to a public profile is also a great compliment to an uploaded resume, particularly when a resume is dated as it allows a recruiter to find more recent experience. However, as a stand-alone, the information detailed in the link will not be uploaded to a database and the chances of getting found for a particular position are significantly decreased.

We Understand, Badly Uploaded Resumes Are Not Always Your Fault

Yes, there are a few lazy IT professionals out there who are submitting useless resumes, and most independent contractors do put hours of work into their resume. So why do recruiters still complain about too many bad resumes being submitted?

In some circumstances, an applicant wants to apply to a job when it is posted, but because they’re on a phone, tablet or the wrong computer, the right resume was not available. In other cases, an error occurred that you were not aware of. Some resume formats are not readable by automated resume screeners and other times, though much less frequently, technology does what it does best and a glitch prevents your resume from being submitted properly.

How Can You Guarantee Your Detailed Resume is Submitted and Reviewed by a Recruiter?

First, double-check to ensure it is actually as detailed as you need it to be. The old rule of keeping a resume under two-pages is less significant today. Computers can read hundreds of pages in seconds, so if you need to add a few to ensure your experience is clearly explained, go ahead and do it.

Next, keep your resume in a simple format. That means Microsoft Word (even PDFs can cause headaches) and skip out on the fancy fixings. Tables, text boxes, images and locking can all prevent an automated resume screener from interpreting your content.

Finally, be patient at the fact technology has its downfalls. Return to your online profile to double-check that your resume was uploaded how you want it to be. If a recruiter does contact you for a copy of your resume, accept that there may have been an error, and politely email them the version you uploaded, including any updates they request.

Your resume is your number one selling tool as an independent contractor, and that cannot be understated. Automated resume screeners, artificial intelligence and other technologies (including their errors) are reality and that cannot be ignored either. Embracing these facts are a crucial first step in successful job applications.

Quick Poll Results: What do you look for in a recruiter?

Last week, we shared a post rounding up advice to how to attract recruiters, get past their initial 5-second scan, and ultimately make them want to meet you. In the same way, recruiters are always wanting to understand what is most important to job seekers so they can also improve and be more sought-out.

Last month’s Contractor Quick Poll set-out to learn just that. We provided some common traits contractors look for in a recruiter and asked you to tell us the most important one. Here are the results…

What is the most important trait you look for in a recruiter?