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.

Navigating the IT Contract Extension Process

Navigating the IT Contract Extension Process

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

Extensions are a major part of IT contract work and, at times, are as important as getting a new position. Not every contract is guaranteed to be extended but as a contractor, you should know how to go about getting that information and what to do with it.

When your contract is coming to an end, it is important to make sure that you are communicating with both your manager at your current client and the recruiter who you worked with to get you that position. The recruiter will always be working on their end to help and push extension discussions; however, depending on client processes, they may not have as easy access to those answers as you do.

Asking your manager and your recruiter at the same time about your extension will prompt both sides to begin the conversation sooner. Within the last month or two of your contract, start following up to see if there are any chances for an extension. Depending on the response, you can start to plan your next steps based on your preferences.

When There Will Be an Extension…

If this is a role that you want to continue in, make sure to let both your manager and recruiter know. It is especially important that you share that information with your recruiter so that they can work for you to get that extension done. Extensions and the process to approve them can sometimes take time and this is something that you don’t want to leave to the last minute. You want to make sure that both sides have all the information and that communication can be as clear as possible.

When You are Ready to Move On…

If you are coming to the end of your current contract and you are not interested in being extended, tell your recruiter by the last month of your contract. You want to give the recruiter the opportunity to let the client know that you will not be accepting any pending extensions so that you leave the position in the best standing. When possible, provide as much knowledge transfer and even referrals so your work can be transitioned as smoothly as possible. Communication about this is as important as the communication to get an extension.

When There Won’t Be an Extension…

Coming to the end of a contract without an extension can be daunting but there are things that you can do to make the transition of finding that new position easier. Keep irons in the fire! Know what is out there, even if you are still on the current contract, and report that to your favourite recruiters. Let them know what kind of roles you are hearing about in your network and what roles you will be looking for going forward.

What else is out there? Call your recruiter and ask them what roles they are working on and give them details on your current end date and what specifically you were doing on your current project. Clients want contractors that are ‘working,’ and if you are finishing up a current contract and getting your resume in front of hiring managers, it can be a benefit to them to know you are just finishing up and are ready to jump to the next opportunity.

No matter if you are being extended or not, the key is to be proactive. Your recruiter will help you find that next position or work hard on your extension process, but making sure they have ample time to do so will only benefit you in the long run.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Technology Recruiters Are Using to Serve You Better

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Technology Recruiters Are Using to Serve You Better

Like every leading company today, many staffing companies embrace technology and invest in solutions that let recruiters focus on their core job – finding you a contract and supporting you during your gig.

IT Recruiters want to focus on building relationships with you, the top candidate who’s most likely deliver results to the client. They want to spend time talking to you, getting to know you, and helping you build your application. When a contract starts, great recruiters ensure a pleasant experience by keeping in touch with you and helping you solve problems. In order to achieve these goals, they try to minimize the time they spend doing things like admin work or reading unqualified resumes so they can maximize the time they spend with you. How do they do that? Through automation and various other innovative technologies.

Being aware that these technologies exist and understanding what’s happening behind the scenes can help you adjust your job search process and work even better with the recruiter. Here’s an inside scoop on some of the automations and technologies staffing companies might be using and how it would affect you:

Chatbots

More than just employment agencies have integrated these tools on their websites. If you open up the little chat box while visiting a website to ask questions, it’s almost certain that you will not be chatting with a human right off the bat. These are run by intelligent chatbots who ask a few screening questions to understand exactly what you’re looking for. Sometimes they can answer your question and no human is required. If the conversation goes astray, the chatbot will eventually connect you to a person. Chatbots on job boards might ask you screening questions or provide you with more information about a job, all before sending your responses to a recruiter who will then get in touch with you.

What does that mean for you? First, try not to get put-off by speaking with a computer. Simple questions can be answered quickly if the chatbot is configured properly. Of course, not all chatbots are made equally with the same sophistication. When starting a chat, use simple, direct language to ask your questions to help the bot better understand what you need. If all else fails, ask to speak to a human or you may need to pick up the phone.

Resume Screeners

It’s no secret that your resume is often put through a machine and matched to a job to see if you qualify, and recruiters are not reading every single resume that gets submitted. Recruiters receive hundreds of resumes each day so if they were to read every one of them in detail that is the only thing they would do!

What does it mean for you? Write your resume knowing that it may be read by a computer and format it so the technology can easily understand who you are and your experience. Here’s a post we wrote a few years back with some tips to write your resume for an automated resume screener.

Candidate Search Aggregators

How did a recruiter find me when I never applied to their job? We get that question from confused candidates sometimes when they get contacted by an agency they never even heard of. Recruiters have a database of qualified candidates who they’ve spoken with, but they also go outside of that database sometimes, when they need some niche talent. They subscribe to other job boards’ databases like Monster or Indeed and scour social media platforms like LinkedIn and GitHub to find new contacts. To make it easier, many invest in technology that aggregate all of these searches. In one search, the technology returns candidates across all of these sources, meaning if you’re a talented IT contractor, you’re going to be found.

What does it mean for you? Be aware of where you put your information and that you may be found by recruiters, especially if you hold some niche skills. If you’d rather not be found and contacted, when you submit your resume on a job board like Monster or CareerBuilder, it should have an option to keep your information private. On profiles like LinkedIn, make a clear note stating whether or not you’d like to hear from recruiters, or under which circumstances you’d prefer they contact you.

Scheduled Emails

Scheduling emails allows a recruiter save time and keep organized by preparing a message in advance, and ensuring it’s sent at the right time. Again, this practice isn’t limited to just the recruiting profession, Gmail added a Schedule feature not too long ago for all users. Many companies also go a step further and automate the emails, with the most basic example in your job search being that notification you receive each time you apply to a job.

What does it mean for you? Inevitably, technology can have its bad days and you may receive a scheduled email that seems a bit funny. For example, a recruiter might schedule an email but then end up connecting over the phone, before the email is sent. If they don’t get a chance to cancel the scheduled email, you’ll receive an email that seems a little out of context.

Texting

Recruiters and candidates often text back-and-forth. It’s easier than email, faster than a phone call and overall convenient. A recruiter working with dozens of candidates can easily lose track of who’s who on their phone, so companies invest in technology to simplify it for them. Although you’re texting from your phone, your recruiter may be using a desktop application that connects with your profile.

What does it mean for you? This experience should be seamless and, if anything, easier for you. The biggest benefit is that if your recruiter is out sick or on vacation, your history and conversations can easily be picked up by their replacement, ensuring your job search isn’t affected.

Technology helps companies, organizations and governments make their processes more efficient, ensuring teams can focus on their core jobs, which for recruiters, means building relationships and matching candidates to opportunities. This is just a sample of some of the common solutions being implemented by staffing agencies around the world.

How to Tell Your Recruiter They Screwed Up (and you’re not happy about it)

How to Tell Your Recruiter They Screwed Up (and you're not happy about it)

Building relationships and working with IT recruiters is one of the best strategies to find contract opportunities and keep a steady stream of work. Like any relationship, situations can go badly and solving problems effectively is important to maintaining a strong connection.

Many things can go astray in the contractor/recruiter relationship and you might feel the blame lies with the recruiter. After all, nearly every contractor has a story about a recruiter who did them wrong. Maybe they failed to include you on an opportunity that would have been a shoe-in for you. Perhaps they miscommunicated information about an interview and made you look like a fool. Or they might have completely abandoned you after the job started, leaving you scrounging to figure out how to get paid and solve certain problems on your own.

If you’ve met plenty of recruiters in your career, then you know who you should cut loose from your future job searches and who’s worth keeping around for a second chance. You want to work out your problems with that recruiter who has had a good track record, always has awesome opportunities and is part of a trustworthy staffing agency. However, you also can’t let them off the hook for their sloppiness that has affected your business. So, it’s time to have a direct conversation and provide (sometimes difficult) feedback, ensuring a strong path forward.

Preparing for a Difficult Conversation with a Recruiter

Your goal is to make sure the conversation goes as smoothly and constructively as possible. Here are a few items to think about before you pick up the phone (yes, the phone… don’t even think about sending an angry message through text or email):

  • Change your mindset. Instead of preparing for a difficult conversation or a call to complain, think of it as providing feedback or solving a problem.
  • Plan, but don’t script it out. Have an idea of what you’d like to say, but don’t expect it to go word-for-word as you’d like. The recruiter doesn’t know the lines you’ve prepared for them.
  • Have your facts straight. Know the exact timeline of events, who did what (or didn’t), and what specific outcomes resulted of these actions. This must go beyond emotion.
  • Consider their perspective. Think about the recruiter’s situation and why they may have acted as they did. Are they going to be surprised by your phone call?
  • Understand your own emotions, motivations and shortcomings. Take a step back before calling your recruiter on their mistakes. Think carefully about why you’re upset, as well as if there is anywhere you could have done better.

During the Conversation

Here are tips to keep in mind during the discussion (no, it’s not a rant where you say your piece and hang up, this is a two-way dialogue)

  • Be confident and assertive. The recruiter needs to know that you are dissatisfied and there is a problem to be resolved.
  • Practice active listening. Listen to their response to ensure the message you’re trying to deliver is properly received. Remember to speak slowly enough to allow the recruiter to ask questions and participate in the conversation.
  • Practice emotional intelligence. Being aware of both your emotions and the recruiter’s emotions throughout the discussion will help you guide the conversation effectively.
  • Keep the conversation constructive. Stay positive and avoid getting dragged into an endless debate of who’s right or wrong.
  • Watch your language. Choose your words wisely to avoid words that are confrontational and will make the recruiter defensive. Speaking slowly and following your plan is a good way to do this.
  • Give something back. You need to hold the recruiter accountable for where they slipped up, but you can also offer responsibility for your own shortcomings, as well as suggestions for next steps in moving forward.
  • Be respectful. Above all, you’re dealing with a human being. Even if the end of this conversation is going to result in you severing ties with this recruiter, there is never a reason to be rude and harsh in your conversation. Always be the bigger person.

Discussing a recruiter’s mistakes is only one example of difficult conversations you have in your professional life. You might also need to tell a client why their project is going badly, tell a colleague that their work is poor, communicate change out to a team… the list goes on. All of the tips listed above are transferrable to your unique situation. How will you improve your difficult communications in the future?

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?