Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Working with Recruiters

Advice for IT job seekers and independent contractors in Canada when working with recruiters and staffing agencies to successfully get a job.

Contractor Quick Poll: What’s your top consideration when choosing a recruitment agency?

If you’re a talented IT contractor, and your skills have ever been in high-demand in a hot job market, then you’ve probably received phone calls from multiple recruiters within a matter of minutes, all trying to sell you the same gig. A client came out with a new role and needs a response ASAP, now every recruiter in the city wants to submit that top fit for the job — you!

IT consultants often get the opportunity to choose which agency they will work with on a job. Sometimes it’s due to the example above and, in other cases, there are multiple job offers on the table, each with different recruitment agencies, and you need to decide which you will take. There are many factors that make up your decision and you weigh them all carefully before finally choosing how to proceed. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re out to learn what that most important consideration usually is when you have to make that decision.

Backing Out of a Contract Without Ruining Your Reputation

Backing Out of a Contract Without Ruining Your Reputation

Arek Godlewski By Arek Godlewski,
Recruitment Specialist at Eagle

September 2020 marks 20 years of me being a technical recruiter.  There are a lot of stories and situations that will stay with me forever — most very positive, some befuddling, and then, in the minority, negative. Believe it or not, the scenario of consultants backing out of a contract they have accepted falls into all three.

As a recruiter I dread the call that starts with “Arek, we need to talk…”; however, it’s something that happens. It’s part of this business we call contracting. An important factor is how you approach the reneging. By nature, breaking a contract will almost definitely harm your professional relationship to some degree, not only with the recruiter/agency you work with, but also the client. So, if you are going to do it, at least do it right.

The most important point that I would like to make is that as a contractor, your reputation is your main selling point, so make your decision carefully and think about what will happen in 1 or 2 or 10 years from now. Sure a few dollars more will benefit you in the short term, however; will breaking a potentially long-lasting professional relationship worth it?

If there are no other options and you will need to break your agreement with the client, my top advice is to tell the truth and talk about it. More specifically:

  1. Be honest — Getting caught in a lie will only hurt your reputation further.
  2. Make it a phone call or in-person conversation — This will help you set the tone and explain your reasoning.
  3. Demonstrate that you’ve tried everything possible not to have to break the contract.

Full disclosure: I will always, always ask if there is anything that I can do, or facilitate with the client, to change your mind. Having said that, the person walking away from the contract will always have me championing their decision. I totally get that certain situations and life in general can get in the way. Even if I disagree wholeheartedly with the reason (#1 is getting an offer that pays few dollars more — but that’s an article in itself), I will make sure that I will have your back with my management and the client.

Naturally, there are a couple definite don’ts that I would like to highlight. These are in poor form, leave a lasting impression of the worst kind and, unfortunately, are way too common:

  1. Don’t ghost us. Don’t send an email after hours and then not pick up the phone (there’s no need to be afraid of the person on the other side).
  2. Don’t use a false family emergency as a reason. I am loathe in including this example, but it’s the most used line to back out of the contract. In my experience, albeit anecdotal, those individuals update their LinkedIn with a new job the next week (yeah, we check).

In closing, stuff happens and sometimes one has to make difficult decision, but before you do, think about how it will affect you in the long run and always be honest, it’s the best way to live.

What to Do When You Change Your Email Address

What to Do When You Change Your Email Address

Email is the preferred method of communication for most IT contractors during their job search. Because of their busy schedules, it’s challenging to answer a phone call in the middle of the day, so they usually ask recruiters to send them the details of a job and they’ll look at it later. Some urgent jobs require a phone call to get an immediate response, but for the most part, recruiters are happy to send notifications primarily by email… but they need to know the right email address!

There’s nothing worse than finding an opportunity that is perfect for somebody but when we try to reach out, that email address is not in service or we get a response much later on because they barely monitor that inbox. And these are addresses that had activity within the last few months!

There are many reasons you might get a new email address, for example, you might decide to create an address using your own custom domain or you might change ISPs. Regardless of the why, when you do change contact info, here are a few tips to make sure recruiters, clients and everyone else can still find you:

  • Are You Sure? Prevent yourself from going through this process again by making sure your new email address can pass the test of time and that it’s extremely unlikely you’ll need to get a new one. Keep it generic and use a provider like Gmail or Outlook that you know isn’t going anywhere. Using your ISP like Bell or Telus is a risk because you may change providers in the future, forcing you to be on the lookout for yet another email address.
  • Keep the Old Address. For as long as possible, hold onto that old address to prevent anyone from receiving hard bounce-backs when they use it. Keeping access also means you can set-up email forwarding to your new address and a custom bounce-back message to senders, letting them know your new contact info.
  • Export/Import When Possible. They all have a different process, but most email systems will allow you to export all of your contacts and even your emails. Use these tools to bring information and set-up your new email for a flawless transition.
  • Let Your Favourite Contacts Know. Not everybody who you’ve ever sent an email to cares that you’ve changed, but it is a good idea to notify all of the contacts who really need to know. Some people keep strict SPAM filters and will need to add your new address to the safe list.
  • Update Your Online Profiles. If you use a password manager, or keep a list of passwords anywhere, this is a good place to start at to find all of those profiles you have created that need updating. And yes, whenever possible, update your profile as opposed to creating a new one with your new email address.
  • Don’t Look Back. Now that you’ve switched, it’s time to commit to that address and stick to it. Unless you have obvious, black and white rules as to which address is used when, you will confuse all of your contacts if you use different addresses at random times. We’ve seen IT contractors actively use multiple addresses and not only is it difficult to manage, but it raises red flags that they might be trying to do something sneaky.

While it would be great if we could always use that same tried and true email address, extenuating circumstances cause everyone to get a new one now and again. How you manage that change will affect your job search and business relationships. But, like any change, the transition will be smoother if you plan out the process and communicate well.

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!

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!

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.

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!

You Need to Listen to Your Recruiter

You Need to Listen to Your Recruiter

No, we are not implying that recruiters are always right and you should always do what they say. Instead, we’re stressing how important it is to actively listen to your recruiter, not just hear what they’re saying.

Exemplary listening skills take practice to perfect and when you excel at it, you’ll find more success and build better relationships. If we examine just the interactions you have with recruiters through your IT contracting career, active listening can make a massive difference. For example:

  • When you truly hear and understand the description of a job and the environment, you know that the job will be right (or wrong) for you.
  • When you listen carefully to a recruiter telling you about a client project, you have a better interview with the client because you understand their situation.
  • When you understand everybody’s concerns, situations and expectations, you increase your bargaining power when negotiating a rate.
  • When you listen properly during a heated situation, you appear more polite and professional, plus you improve the chances of a positive resolution.

When you’re a good listener, you build better relationships and have an easier time winning contracts. It’s that simple!

Business Insider recently put together a list of 7 things great listeners do that set them apart and it’s a perfect summary of simple steps you can take to improve your job search and relationship with a recruiter.

  1. They Self Regulate: Regardless of triggered emotions, great listeners moderate their strong reactions and encourage the other person to keep talking. When a recruiter is giving you feedback — maybe they’ve reviewed your resume or they’re passing on performance feedback from the client — your instincts might be to defend your position. Instead, bite your tongue and hear them out so you can learn and improve.
  2. They Treat All Perspectives as Valid: Certainly, there are undisputable facts in life, but a person’s perception based on their experience and point-of-view is never wrong. Understanding perspective is valuable when resolving any conflict, as well as negotiating rate. While you may not agree with your recruiter’s arguments or justifications, knowing what brought them to their stance will make it much easier to find common ground and a win-win solution.
  3. They Check for Understanding: This is key when learning about an opportunity. You’d hate to go through the application process only to realize close to the end that this job isn’t for you. Or even worse, show up on your first day of the contract only to learn that there was a miscommunication and the gig is not what you thought it was. If there is any doubt, restate what the recruiter just told you, but in your own words. They can then clear-up any misunderstanding.
  4. They Ask Clarifying Questions: Assumptions are dangerous. Instead of shrugging your shoulders and assuming you understand, be curious and follow-up with more questions. Which specific location is the work being done? How long will it be before you get an answer from the client? What exactly does the client environment look like? What requirement are you missing that prevents the rate from going any higher?
  5. They Listen with Their Eyes as Well as Their Ears: Watch your recruiter during an interview to gauge their reactions to your responses. They might not verbally tell you that your response lacked detail, but facial expressions or tone of voice will indicate that something’s missing. Use that opportunity to ask if they need clarification and improve your answer.
  6. They Make Sure Everyone is Heard: When Business Insider raised this point, it was to point out the quiet people in a meeting whose voices aren’t being heard. This advice is also relevant for the two-person relationship between you and your recruiter. Give them time to speak in all situations — when you’re discussing opportunities, client issues, or just getting to know each other. Be aware if you tend to be overbearing in conversation, and consciously stop to listen.
  7. They Note What’s Not Said: Intentionally or accidentally, when a recruiter leaves out pertinent information, it leads to misunderstandings that can drastically affect your career. Note when a job description lacks details that are typically included in other postings. Recognize what’s being glossed over too quickly when the recruiter presents an opportunity. Then ask about it and ensure the answer is what you need it to be.

There is no arguing that listening and communication requires two people but unfortunately, you only have control over yourself. You can help your recruiter improve their listening by being patient and thorough with their follow-up questions, being cognizant of your body language and tone of voice, and slowing down to make it as easy as possible for them to hear what you’re saying.

Can you be a better listener? The answer for everyone is almost definitely “Yes”, we just need to identify where to start.