Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Search

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

4 Job Search Tips to Help You Keep Getting Through 2020

4 Job Search Tips to Help You Keep Getting Through 2020

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

We’re now way past the half-way mark of 2020 and I think it’s safe to say, it’s been an unpredictable rollercoaster. We’ve all experienced a few unpleasant surprises and new challenges to stress us out. The good news with difficulties, though, is that we can always learn something from them.

Having been working with hundreds of IT contractors over the past few months to help them keep their careers moving, I’ve seen tons of job search advice — some good and some meh. These are the top four job search tips I’ve been passing along to my network as we start to get used to our “new world”:

1.  Communication is Key

Communication skills and the ability to explain your role and your skill set are more important than ever.  Clients are looking for individuals that can communicate in an effective manner to make sure that all issues and problems are addressed right away and correctly in remote work places.  They are looking for confident orators and individuals that have good writing skills.  Make sure to communicate strongly and effectively during your interviews and read over your resume for any grammatical and spelling errors.

2.  Relationship Building with Your Recruiter

Now is the time to make that relationship with your recruiter more than a couple quick phone calls every couple of months, and more a business relationship.  Make sure that your recruiter knows what you are willing to do and where you want your career to take you in these uncertain times.  Let them know what your rate range is, what your strengths are and what separates you from the rest of the pack.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and this is a perfect time to be the one contacting your recruiter regularly to make sure you are not missing out on any opportunities.

3.  Full-Time Opportunities

Many companies are sending out more full-time opportunities.  If you are a contract worker, maybe it is the time to ask some questions and see what some of the full-time opportunities look like in your area of expertise?  You don’t need to switch from contract work, but it is a good thing to know what is out there and what full-time opportunities can afford you as well.

4.  Try Something New — Remote work

A lot of the opportunities in the market are for remote work only.  This is a great time to look at companies that you normally would not have the chance of applying for due to geographic issues. With more companies forced into using remote workers this will open up the job market to people who are struggling to find the right projects when they live in areas that might not offer that type of work.  This is an opportunity to apply to projects outside of your city and see what kind of opportunities can come from working at home.  Worst case scenario, your name and resume get sent to a hiring manager!

How else have you adjusted your job search in the past few months so you can take advantage of a changing job market? Have any of these four tips in particular worked (or not worked) for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Devil is in the Details and Why It Should Matter to Contractors

The Devil is in the Details and Why It Should Matter to Contractors

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

For most of Eagle’s clients, extensive background checks are part of the onboarding process. Gone are the days when a client would accept reference checks and a simple criminal check.  Due to increased privacy and security issues, along with global security standards such as ISO 27001, clients require extensive background checks that include verification of past employment (often for the past 5-7 years — this includes every contract a contractor may have held), education verification, and criminal checks. In addition, many organizations, specifically financial institutions, also require a credit check.

Some of these checks extend beyond Canada and include extensive international checks that take several weeks to complete.  Due to the rigorous process involved with completing these checks, it is critical that contractors complete the intake forms properly and ensure that ALL data is accurate, properly aligning with past contracts and information found in your resume.

Varying details may seem minor, but we’ve seen these inconsistencies create huge headaches for independent contractors. First, it can extend the process, and ultimately the project start date, as companies keep coming back for additional information. We especially run into trouble when the in-depth security process follows up with past clients and insitutions. Some common issues have included:

  • Project dates listed on the resume and the background check form not aligning with what the actual dates verfieid by the end client;
  • Job titles on the resume and/or background check forms not aligning with what the client has listed; and,
  • Education degrees and completion dates being different than what the contractor lists on their resume and background check form.

If the data comes back incomplete or false, the agency and the end client are allerted to the information discrepancies.  Sometimes, and this is more often that case these days, contracts are then cancelled. Clients whose projects require the utmost integrity feel they simply can’t take the risk. If a person is willing to lie about their job title or education, where else might they cross the line.

Contractors are often rushed when completing this part of the onboarding process or they might brush off the importance.  As we’ve learned, though, it is critical that contractors cross-reference the data in their contracts (you do keep them, right) and the information is found on their resumes and background check forms.  A simple, honest error can make you appear unethical and lead to losing a valuable contract. Worse, your entire career could be affected by potentially being flagged for future contracts with the agency and the end client, all due to a preventable mistake that led you to providing false information.

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details so take the time to own your data and ensure its accuracy.

Contractor Quick Poll Results: When do you prefer to hear from recruiters?

When the perfect opportunity for you comes across a recruiter’s desk, they want to get a hold of you as quickly as possible to find out if you’re interested and submit your application to the client. For some jobs, it’s a matter of hours before the opportunity closes, so speedy contact is key. Emails and texts are great, but there’s no better way to contact somebody quickly — and to have a good quality conversation — than by phone.

We all have different schedules and there are points in our day where a phone call with a recruiter simply isn’t feasible. In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked you what times of day would be best to hear from a recruiter. The results were mixed, but it looks like we can draw one conclusion: few people want to talk to anyone before they’ve finished their morning coffee!

Networking During a Pandemic

Networking During a Pandemic

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Director of Delivery, Strategy and Development at Eagle

A couple years ago, I shared a post here about the benefits of networking events and why it’s a good idea to attend them. Today, with physical distancing measures due to the pandemic, face-to-face networking events are non-existent, but nurturing relationships remains prevelant. Everything we do now in our networks has become more important than ever, including sending emails, making calls, texting, sending a social message, etc. How we make people feel during this is going to remain longer during these unstable times.

Remember, face to face networking may be on pause but our relationship building isn’t. The contacts you make have to be more personal so think of communications you can send out that YOU would be happy to receive. There are a number of simple gestures that give a personal touch and will do more to build and strengthen your relationships, rather than sending out impersonalized mass communications. For example:

  • Wishing someone a happy birthday
  • Reposting their LinkedIn share
  • Sending them a text just to say hello and to check in
  • Sending an article that may be of interest to them
  • Sharing helpful market information

There are also a number of virtual conferences happening that you can still take advantage of as they offer the opportunity to “virtually” network. For example, email speakers after the event to ask questions or offer feedback. Or, if there is a particular area you are interested in, ask them if they’d be willing to brainstorm or have a brief discussion with you about it. It may be different and uncomfortable for you, but do your best to bring value to the virtual conference in any creative way you can.

The main goal here is to take the risk and put yourself out there. Today, creating and maintaining virtual relationships is the key to your business success and building a strong network.

Make Note of These 5 Sections in Your IT Contract

Make Note of These 5 Sections in Your IT Contract

Do you carefully read through your new contracts before signing them? Of course you do.  You need to protect yourself and your business, so at a minimum, you’re hopefully reviewing the job description one last time, double-checking that it shows the rate you agreed to, and having a lawyer comb through those legal clauses to highlight any flags.

Aside from ensuring it’s legally sound and risk-free, there are also details in most IT contracts that you should write down and remember because they’re going to come in handy once the gig gets going. Here are the top 5 common ones that, in our experience, contractors are more likely to skip over and ask questions about later:

  1. Client Policy and Procedures
    Many clients require that contractors also review and sign-off on their internal policies and procedures. These can span across a number of topics including office behaviour (ex. dress code, hours of operation) or health and safety (ex. use of equipment or rules at specific sites). If you’re asked to sign-off on a contractor handbook or something similar, be sure to actually read and understand it. Failure to follow client policies can result in a quick termination of your contract.
  2. Confidentiality and Ownership
    IT contractors are privy to competitive client information as you’re part of the teams building out their future innovations. Often contracts include clauses protecting the client and stating that what you see or build must remain within the client’s walls. That also means that anything you create is owned by the client and not you. You have no right to bring it over for use on another project.
  3. Timesheet Requirements
    Each client has different preferences on how time is submitted and approved. Some will ask you to use their own timesheet system, others will ask you to use your agency’s system. Timesheets may be electronic and they might be paper. The due date and frequency also vary by client, as well as the number of approvers required. Understand all of these requirements at the start of your contract in order to avoid confusion when the first timesheet is due, and ensuring that there is no delay in your first payment.
  4. Invoicing Requirements
    Clients will have timesheet preferences and your agency is going to have invoicing preferences. How frequently must you submit your invoice and by which date in order to get paid on time? There might also be mandatory information to display on your invoice in order for it to be approved and paid out. Again, knowing these instructions upfront eliminates surprises when it’s time to invoice and get paid.
  5. Your Contact Person
    Depending on the agency and the client, you’ve probably spoken with many different people at this point in the job search and contract process. Emails are floating around your inbox from the recruiter who originally helped you find the job, the account executive who deals with the client and the onboarding team who finalized your contract details. So, which one should you reach out to now if there is a problem at the client site? Are there different people depending on the scenario?

Every line in your IT contract is important and should be carefully reviewed to protect yourself and ensure a smooth relationship with your client and staffing agency. The five items above should be highlighted and kept in the back of your mind to help you along the way. If you don’t notice them in your contract, ask about them to avoid confusion when it comes up later on.

Contractor Quick Poll: When do you prefer to receive a phone call?

IT contractors are busy people and, while you may want to hear from recruiters about upcoming contract opportunities, you also have a preference as to when you’d like to be called. Great recruiters are flexible and will contact you when it works best for you. We’ve learned that some professionals prefer an early-morning call, others late at night and others are somewhere in between.

In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re out to see if there’s a common preference among our readers. When do you like hearing from recruiters?

Handling a Recruiter’s Unexpected Cold Call While Maintaining a Positive Relationship

 

Handling a Recruiter's Unexpected Cold Call While Maintaining a Positive Relationship

IT contractors who have been in the community for long enough know that cold calls from tech recruiters are inevitable. Sometimes you welcome them, other times you find them a nuisance, but one thing you’ve learned is that they’re not going away.

Naturally, we prefer that you embrace these calls. Recruiters dream of calling a contractor who answers the phone on the first ring, drops everything to listen intently about the opportunity, provides all the information required and gratefully thanks them before hanging up and emailing an updated resume right away. Ha! We also understand the reality that you’re a busy professional receiving calls from other agencies too and you simply don’t have time to humour us all.

Great recruiters understand that they need to build respectful relationships with IT contractors if they want to do business with them in the future. Similarly, smart contractors are aware that it’s wise to build relationships with recruiters today if you want to increase your chances of getting a gig tomorrow.

Why Are Recruiters Cold Calling You?

When a recruiter contacts you out of the blue, they might have a specific job opportunity and are wondering if you’re interested or they may have some intelligence that a company or several companies will soon be looking for contractors with your unique skillset. In any case, they are not calling to offer you a job on the spot, but rather want to understand your current status and if you’re open to opportunities.

The Best Way to Handle a Recruiter’s Cold Call

If you pick up the phone and find a recruiter on the other end, the first thing is to remain polite, even if you’d rather not hear from them. Remember, it’s always important to build that relationship… plus they’re human and deserve respect. If you don’t have time but are interested, ask to reschedule at a better time. If you’re not interested at all, let them know that quickly as well, to save everyone some time.

When you have a few minutes and know you’ll be looking for a contract in the coming months, we recommend taking the time to listen to what the recruiter is asking about. A respectful recruiter will keep it brief and transparent. A few questions you should be prepared to answer include:

  • When are you available to start your next contract?
  • What industries and/or disciplines do you prefer?
  • What’s your current rate range?
  • What area(s) of the city do you prefer to work in?

If You Choose to Ignore That Call

Every recruiter would love it if you answered the phone but we understand if you don’t. Especially In today’s world, an unfamiliar number is usually somebody trying to sell you something or a computer notifying you that you’re under arrest. That said, the recruiter is almost definitely going to leave a voicemail and/or follow-up with an email. Do your best to respond promptly. Like you would on the call, briefly let them know your interests and availability for your next contract. Sending an updated resume is always a nice touch. Or, if you’re happy where you are with no intentions to leave, be open about that as well.

Every relationship has micro-opportunities that allow you influence it in a positive or negative way. A simple 3-minute phone call can make a huge difference in whether or not you hear from a recruiter down the road.

Simple Tips to Lighten the Mood in a Job Interview

Simple Tips to Lighten the Mood in a Job Interview

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Director of Delivery, Strategy and Development at Eagle

Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience and a struggle for most people. Wouldn’t it be nice to head into an interview knowing that you can control the mood of the interview? Here are some tips and suggestions to not only make a great impression but to also help you lighten the mood of the interview.

First and foremost, smiling is the one thing that can make the most difference in an interview. Even if you aren’t feeling happy, simply smiling can brighten your mood and your tone. Walk into the office and into the interview room with a smile on your face. It will start your interview off on the right foot. You will come across as confident and positive.

You should always focus on demonstrating a positive, friendly attitude when speaking to a potential employer, client or recruiter. Employers want to hire people that appear positive and someone who would likely get along with their team members and clients.

Find ways to incorporate humour into your interview, but use it sparingly. Don’t head into an interview telling jokes but rather use real life examples. Balance your humor with statements and examples that paint the picture that you’re a smart, dynamic, results-driven team player. Humour is part of your professional image so don’t lay it on too strong and don’t neglect your other professional attributes. Read your audience and follow your interviewer’s lead. Pay attention to cues. How does the interviewer react to your humor? You don’t want it to ever feel awkward or unprofessional. Practice your humor before the interview. Decide which stories you want to tell and practice it on your family or your friends, or even the neighbour. If they don’t laugh then try a different approach. Remember, if it isn’t natural, don’t try to force it. There are plenty of other great ways to connect.

This video is a great 2-minute discussion on how to lighten the mood in a job interview. Darryle Brown gives some great simple tips to follow:

  1. Relax — if you’re tense in an interview setting it can make the entire atmosphere tense as well. Be on time or early so you can concentrate on your thoughts and the things you want to say before the interview begins
  2. Tell a personal story — preferably something humorous. Something to help lighten the mood that the people within the interview setting will consider appropriate for that particular setting.
  3. Have a sense of humor — if you’re tense it makes it impossible for you to really be able to deliver, relate or connect with the interviewers in the midst of the interview setting.

So remember, it’s important to relax, tell a personal story that can connect with the interviewers and have a sense of humor so that you’re able to win them over and lighten the mood in an interview setting.

Get More Job Opportunities by Keeping Recruiters Up to Date on These 5 Things

If the information about you in a recruiter's database is wrong or outdated, then expect to get calls for jobs that don't match what you want!

As an IT contractor, you probably have relationships with dozens of technology recruiters. Those recruiters keep you in a database, filled with thousands of other qualified contractors. While a couple might always keep you top-of-mind, the reality is that unless you have an extremely niche, in-demand skill set with incredible results, you’re only going to get a call if you match their search criteria. If the information about you in their database is wrong or outdated, then expect to get calls for jobs that don’t match what you want! Therefore, it’s in your best interest to keep recruiters up to date on your job status and career.

One solution is to create a distribution list of your favourite recruiters. If there’s a change to any of the following, send out an email notifying them of the update. Or, visit the staffing agency’s self-serve portal (if available) to update the information as soon as you have it.

New Skills and Certifications

You do not need to send an update saying “I gained another year of experience as a Systems Analyst” but if you learn a brand-new skill or earned a certification that is nowhere to be seen on your existing resume, your recruiter should know! It’s smart to send an entirely new resume with updates like this because they will need to pass that along to potential clients.

Contact Information

Recruiters need to get a hold of you! If there is a change to your email address or preferred phone number, let everyone know as soon as possible. Depending on how your recruiter’s database is set-up, once your number or email address is deemed “unreachable”, your resume may end up in a black hole forever. While it’s less urgent when you move a few blocks, relocating to a new city is important for your recruiter to know as well.

Date Available

Smart recruiters keep on top of contractors’ availability because they want to send you relevant job opportunities when you’re actually looking. If you haven’t already, tell all of your favourite recruiters when your current contract ends. Do that right now. Remember if a contract is extended or ends early, update them about that too.

Interest in Permanent Job Opportunities

Recruiters safely assume that an independent contractor has chosen this style of work as their career choice and that they are not interested in hearing about full-time, permanent job openings. If you’re in the minority and you’re a contractor who would like to hear about permanent jobs as well, make a point of telling your recruiter. Otherwise, you will only hear about a portion of the job opportunities that are out there.

Other Openings at Your Client

We hinted at the beginning of this post that being top-of-mind to a recruiter is your best chance of hearing about new jobs, and helping them out every now and then is the best way to get there. When you hear about upcoming projects or planned hiring sprees at a client, pass this lead onto your favourite recruiters. IT contractors who help recruiters win new business become unforgettable to those recruiters and their entire recruitment agency.

There is no need to call recruiters every month for a small chat or to send small resume updates when you’re on a contract for two more years. But if you remember to keep recruiters updated on just these few areas, you might be surprised at the number of relevant opportunities you start to receive!

Video Interview Tips That Will Get You the Job

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Video Interview Tips That Will Get You the Job

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down and it has resulted in some significant changes to our professional lives. Working from home with spouses, kids, pets and other distractions has been a big adjustment, as has limited social contact outside of our “bubbles”.

Many of our clients offer “essential services” ranging from banking to telecommunication to energy and all things in between. For these companies, the show must go on and many projects are continuing on as planned. This has resulted in some very quick changes to standard hiring procedures.

Over the past 2 months at Eagle, virtually all of our clients have switched to video interviewing. While this capability has been in existence for years, most of our clients have preferred traditional in-person interviews. COVID-19 has forced this shift and many of our clients are adjusting to this new normal, as are the candidates that we work with.

While the interview questions are likely to remain the same, there are some differences between an in-person and a virtual interview. Whether you are facing uncertainty in your current role or are trying to make some progress in your job search during this time, we are here to help.

Prepare Your Technology

As great as technology is, Murphy’s Law says your video interview is exactly when it will misbehave.

  • Test everything before-hand. How is your Wi-Fi connection? Do you need to download software?
  • Avoid surprises from popping up during the interview. Close unnecessary apps, disable notifications, plug in or be sure your battery is fully charged, etc.
  • Log in a few minutes early to be sure you have time to address any unexpected problems.
  • Always have a back-up plan. Make sure you have the interviewers phone number just in case you have problems connecting.

Your Interview Space

The right space will set the right impression with the interviewer and help you focus properly to put your best foot forward.

  • Is it professional?
  • Is it quiet and distraction free?
  • Does everyone in your home know that you cannot be interrupted?

Be Well Prepared

Preparation is just as crucial for a video interview as it is for an in-person interview.

  • Research the company and go beyond the website. What are they sharing on social media? What is important to the organization? Who are you talking to?
  • Make sure you understand the role. Give the job description an extra read-through and mark any uncertainties.
  • Practice speaking in front of your camera and don’t be afraid to record yourself so you can hear how others hear you.
  • Be ready to talk about your experience and what you can contribute. How does this role fit into the bigger picture of your career?

Cheat – Just a Little

One of the benefits of a virtual interview is that the interviewer can’t see what is behind the camera, so take advantage of that! Have some talking points that you want to be sure to work into your conversation posted behind your screen. Keep them simple, don’t go overboard and be sure not to read them.

Dress to Impress

First impressions count and this is an interview. It is important to dress for the job you want and make a good first impression. It is equally important for the top to match the bottom – just in case you need to get up.

Be Patient. 

Although the word “unprecedented” has been overused over the past 2 months, there really isn’t any better way to describe our current situation. Most companies are now working in a new and completely remote set-up. While many of our clients have worked out the ability to onboard workers in the midst of the pandemic, none of the processes have been perfected. Hiring decisions typically require approval from a number of different people. With everyone working remotely, approvals are taking longer.