Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Staffing Agencies

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to staffing agencies.

Technology Recruiters’ “Unwritten Rules”

Technology Recruiters' "Unwritten Rules"We understand. IT contractors would prefer not to have to work with recruiters at all. In a perfect world, clients would contact you directly and you’d arrange your own contracts saving everybody the fuss of using a middle man.

Clients prefer to work with recruitment agencies because it saves them money, risk, and hassle. Independent contractors also have plenty to gain from building a relationship with recruiters, including the reduced risk, as well as exclusive access to unlisted project opportunities and resume and interview advice. The key to building that solid relationship is understanding how to work best with recruiters.

In the past year, the Talent Development Centre shared many inside tips about working with recruiters. The Secret to Being Called First by a Recruiter explained how to stay “top-of-mind”. How to Get on a Recruiter’s Bad Side told you how to do the opposite. Cameron McCallum, Regional Vice-President at Eagle, also wrote about some specific communication tips with recruiters, and another post summarized Eagle’s recruiters’ favourite and least favourite traits of IT contractors.

In addition to the articles referenced above, if you’re looking for similar advice but perhaps with a less biased view, check out this article from the Dice  Insights Blog written by Leslie Stevens-Huffman. She discusses five ground rules for working with tech recruiters, and refers to them as “recruiting’s unwritten rules of engagement.”

  1. Don’t Waste Their Time
  2. Honesty About Your Hands-On Experience
  3. Let Them Do Their Jobs
  4. Show Respect for Their Abilities
  5. User Your Power in a Positive Way

Would you agree with Stevens-Huffman or argue that some of these rules shouldn’t always apply. Are there any rules you’d add for a successful relationship with a recruiter? Vice-versa, are there any rules of engagement you believe all recruiters should always follow? Leave your opinion in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you!

Quick Poll Results: Contact from Recruiters

The Talent Development Centre is filled with inside information from recruiters that give job seekers insight into the best ways to work with recruiters. We’ve shared tips about how they like to see a resume, their pet peeves, and the best ways to contact a recruiter.

Last month’s contractor quick poll turned the tables and we learned more about how IT contractors prefer to work with recruiters. Specifically, we asked how they like to be contacted when it comes to hearing about job opportunities. The results are in and displayed below. Take a look. We encourage you to leave any additional feedback about the poll in the comments below.

How do you prefer to get job opportunities from recruiters?

Quick Poll Results: How do you like to hear about job opportunities from your recruiter?

 

The Significance of Supply Arrangements to Contractors

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

What are Supply Arrangements and Why Should a Staffing Agency’s Matter to IT Contractors?

Supply Arrangements: What are they and why should they matter to IT contractors?Within the staffing industry there are a dozen or more business models employed by various employment agencies.  There are the smaller staffing agencies who focus their marketing efforts on smaller companies, on very specialized niches, with a handful of very strong relationships they might have, or a combination of these.  There are the huge international recruitment agencies that tend to focus on companies with international operations and may be generalists in the sense that they support multiple lines, from casual labour to general staffing positions to professional positions to technical positions, in an attempt to serve companies that want a single vendor to handle all of their contingent workforce needs.  Between these two extremes, there are the Regional and National staffing agencies that often service or specialize in only one or two different types of hiring needs, but often limit these to provide the level of expertise/focus that means so much to their clients.  Then there are mixtures and blends of the above.

The one thing that most recruitment agencies have in common is that they work to put formalized Supply Arrangements in place with the clients that they service.  A supply arrangement is simply an agreement that defines the relationship between the agency and the company that they serve/support.  Typical to most supply arrangements are the following:

  • Term of Agreement (date range within which the agreement will be valid)
  • Definitions (define the terms used in the agreement)
  • Commercial Terms (concerning insurance, rates, timesheets and invoicing)
  • Performance (defines the service the agency will be providing)
  • Termination (terms under which the agreement might be concluded)
  • Confidential Information (how to manage and keep safe important company data)
  • Indemnity and Limitation of Liability (keeping each party “safe” and legally separate from each other)
  • Signatures/Sign-Offs/Dates/Etc.

If these look familiar, they should!  They are the very same components that incorporated contractors find in any sub-agreement that they would sign with a staffing agency. After all, we jointly enter into a company-to-company relationship, so the terms should include the same content.  In fact, a good number of the terms that a contractor finds in their sub-agreement with their staffing agency are actually “flow-down” terms from the agency’s own supply arrangements with the end client.  That is often the reason why agencies cannot be very flexible with the terms — they have committed contractually to work with their clients in certain ways and must, legally, have their sub-contractors comply to the same terms.

Despite a lot of similarities in the terms between supply arrangements, it is extremely rare that any two supply agreements would be exactly the same.  Employment agencies are required to be chameleons, adapting perfectly to the business requirements of each of their clients.  The best agencies have detailed processes to ensure their compliance across many different agreements. For example, Eagle has tools and processes dedicated to this and is part of our ISO 9001:2008 quality framework.  That big stack of paperwork that we present to contractors at the beginning of each assignment is part of that process.  In this way, we ensure that both Eagle and our sub-contractors stay “on-side” of our supply agreement Terms & Conditions.

So, why should this matter to independent contractors?  Well, that’s a question with many answers. Here are just a few of the reasons why contractors should want to work with agencies that A) create good supply arrangements with their clients and B) have strong mechanisms in place to ensure adherence to the terms (both on their side and by their sub-contractor partners):

  • Legitimacy – Having an official supply agreement in place signifies a deep level of commitment between staffing agencies and their clients. It suggests that the company is committed to using the agency and that there will be a certain level of exclusivity.  If a technology contractor is working with a recruiter that has a supply arrangement in place, you can be confident that the recruitment agency has the right to represent you and that there will be some standardization in place to manage the hiring process.
  • Access to the Best Companies/Jobs – The best staffing agencies have the best relationships. Often there is a barrier to entry for agencies who do not have supply arrangements in place with companies.  By partnering with staffing agencies with many supply arrangements, it means that you will have access to suitable roles that come available at these companies.
  • Confidence in Staffing Agency Rates – Supply arrangements often define what levels of profit are associated with the services provided (also defined), so recruiters are working off a prescribed methodology for setting their rates. Companies agree to pay staffing agencies “X” for their services should they identify, qualify and place top resources into their open roles. For contract work, that means that independent contractors set their rates “Y” and the client is charged “X+Y” (or “X x Y” if “X” is a %).
  • Risk Mitigation – Working for a recruitment agency with a supply arrangement in place ensures that the “rules of engagement” have been set out. Working with recruitment agency who has strong compliance mechanisms in place means that the recruiter will set you up for success and ensure that you are protected against potential missteps.  Be aware of the 2 to 3 page Sub-Agreement contract!  Eagle’s sub-agreements are typically 8 pages at a minimum, but depending on the flow-down terms and requirements, it could add up to 20+ pages for your review.  Ultimately, this all protects you from risk.

Eagle has numerous supply arrangements in place with many of Canada’s largest companies across multiple industry sectors and across all levels of government.  We are national leaders in Oil & Gas, Energy, Telecommunication, Education, Health Care as well as having 3 of Canada’s 5 big banks as our clients.  Our Supply Arrangements with our clients are often 80+ pages long and our sub-agreements to our sub-contractor partners are often 10+ pages long. Although more work to put in place, this is a good thing.  Through this process we ensure our contractors’ success and, in doing so, our own as well.

Next time you’re interviewing recruiters to decide on your preferred staffing agency, remember to ask how many supply arrangements they have. A response to that simple question will speak volumes in terms of their legitimacy, access to opportunities, rates and risk mitigation.

2016 in Review: Working with Staffing Agencies

2016 in Review: The Inside Scoop on Working with Staffing AgenciesThere are many benefits to working with staffing agencies. Topping the list is that we help IT contractors connect with the top clients and the best technology projects. Naturally, then, being able to build relationships and work with recruiters provides a major competitive advantage. The Talent Development Centre is all about growing independent contractors’ success, so 2016 was packed with inside information on how you can enhance your relationship with employment agencies.

Top-of-Mind Candidates

The best position for you to be in is as one of your recruiters’ “top-of-mind” candidates. To provide insight on this topic and help you achieve this spot, we surveyed our recruiters to learn more about being top-of-mind. The result was a series of posts, including these:

Building a Relationship with a Recruiter

Of course, it all starts with a solid relationship with your recruiter. These posts will help you develop that relationship.

Choosing the Right Staffing Agency

Finally, the most important part of building a relationship with a staffing agency is to make sure you’ve chosen the right one. We always recommend you build relationships with at least three recruiters from different agencies. In this post, Frances McCart, VP Business Development, provides advice on how to choose that partner.

Deciphering 3 Common Recruiter Calls and Emails

By Brendhan Malone (Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle) and Graeme Bakker (Recruitment Team Lead at Eagle)

Deciphering 3 Common Recruiter Calls and EmailsRecruiters know that contractors get tons of calls and emails throughout the day.  Recruiters also know that time is valuable and we want to make the process of finding your next contract as stress free and smooth as possible.

Once you’ve decided on your staffing agency with the best candidate experience, it’s important to know exactly what your recruiter is looking for when you receive these common phone calls or emails:

Scheduling a Phone Interview:

When a recruiter calls or sends an email about scheduling a phone interview they just want to make sure these three things are a go:

  • You’re available to do the phone interview at the time the client has provided.
  • You will be in a location with no distractions or phone issues.
  • Let the recruiter know if you want to touch base to discuss anything prior to the phone interview. Reply with a couple times that you are available to prep and the recruiter will appreciate being able to work around your schedule.

Interview Feedback:

When a recruiter calls or emails you for interview feedback, this is why they’re doing it:

  • They want to know if it was positive for you and if you’re still interested in continuing with the process. If you are positive about the interview and more excited about the opportunity, your recruiter wants to relay that information to the client.
  • If you have negative feedback or any questions/concerns about the interview, your recruiter wants to know about it. This way they can answer any questions you might have or smooth over any concerns you have going forward with the process.
  • Eliminate any surprises. The recruiter wants to confirm the possibility of any other offer or opportunities on the table.  Are you more in favour of this role that you interviewed for than another?  Would you accept this opportunity should they come back to us with an offer?  The recruiter wants to make sure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

Resume Review:

You’ve received a call and/or email from a recruiter about a role.  You’re interested in the role and are qualified for it.  You just sent the recruiter your updated resume, so why does the recruiter need to chat with me?

In this competitive MSP driven job market, what is in your head NEEDS to be on the resume.  The person first seeing your resume and determining if it should go on is very rarely the technical manager responsible for hiring.  Recruiters know we can leave nothing to chance in this environment.

  • Recruiters know that if you are a front-end developer, you have experience with HTML and CSS. We might not be that technical but we know that!  If you have 10 years of development experience and 8 years of HTML and CSS experience it needs to be in the resume!
  • We know it can be frustrating to answer basic questions about your skills and then add it to your resume, but recruiters are doing it for your benefit. They know that if they don’t correctly put where you have had this experience send your resume won’t get past the gatekeepers and over to the hiring manager.
  • If you get back to the recruiter with a couple minutes to chat and answer those questions you will have the benefit of knowing you are hitting all the marks described in the job description. As an added bonus, your staffing agency will l have an updated resume on file that is correctly updated.

Understanding what’s inside a recruiter’s head may not always seem simple, but it’s easier then you may think. In the end, we all share the same goal of getting you placed into the right contract. This insight into these three common conversations recruiters have with you will let you stop trying to read between the lines and focus on your business.

Closing the Loop with Your Recruiter

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Closing the Loop with Your RecruiterAs an independent contractor, you probably work with any number of Recruiters whenever you need assistance in finding your next IT contract. The complaint I hear most often from contractors is that after having any number of discussions with an agent, the line of communication suddenly goes cold and they are left wondering what happened… were they really being considered for the job, was their resume submitted, has the client seen their resume, what are the timelines etc.

There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing the status. We hear about the concept of “closure” as being important for humans after traumatic incidents. It gives us the ability to move on, start anew and leave the past behind. Closing the loop acts in much the same way and is an important part of any business relationship. The following concepts are essential to creating an atmosphere of trust and continuity when dealing with the staffing industry:

CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

Setting expectations is the key to setting the stage for the final step of closing the loop. What are the steps involved, what is the timeline and what will be the final outcome? When dealing with a Recruiter, you might ask them, when will you decide whether you are going to submit my resume to the client? What happens once you’ve submitted? When do you expect interviews to take place? Will you call me if I am not selected? Remember that the loop is an ongoing process and so not all of these questions may be asked or answered the first time you speak. As the process moves forward, other questions will be generated but the key is that clear expectations need to be set and ultimately, the final stage of closing the loop will take place.

COMMUNICATE APPROPRIATELY

Sometimes trying to set or negotiate expectations can be perceived as one party being demanding. This is especially true when speaking to a person who resists being tied to specific expectations. This might be because they fear they won’t meet them or they don’t want to be bothered having to meet them. That’s why you need to constantly listen to what people say and confirm that you are on the same wavelength. Setting expectations with a Recruiter doesn’t have to mean that you are being unreasonable or that it has to be a huge time commitment. It may mean that one or two emails are exchanged before the final step in the process… closing the loop.

NOTE EXPECTATIONS

The single most important action to take is to reiterate expected actions or timelines both by repeating it prior to the end of your phone call or in-person meeting. And to add strength to the process, you may want to send a quick email outlining your understanding of the process and expectations. This may seem like a lot of work but it creates a process map and helps you to manage your job search ie. Where you’ve been submitted, what was the role or what is the timeline for specific action to be taken. Sending out a meeting note creates a natural follow-up point that can then be leveraged to close the loop on various actions throughout the process.

DO UNTO OTHERS…

If you want your recruiter to follow up promptly and as promised, then you had better reciprocate. By demonstrating that you are on board with the process and a professional in your actions, you will help establish the protocols for your interactions with the Recruiter. Send required documentation as needed, respond promptly to email or phone messages. Nothing tells someone that it’s important to close the loop like doing everything you can do make it easier for them to do so.

DON’T GIVE UP

Just because you believe you’ve reached agreement on a set of actions leading ultimately to a closed loop, does not mean that it will happen automatically. Repeating the above steps until you reach the resolution you want is essential to the process. And even if the other party is not cooperating, don’t give up.  But if it does happen that you don’t gain closure and the loop is never fully closed on a particular opportunity or with a particular Recruiter, then you might want to re-evaluate your working relationship with that person. After all, it only makes sense to work with those whose goals reflect yours.

Closing the loop is the penultimate stage of any requested action. Whether it is a part of your professional business life, being a parent, a coach, it only makes sense that this final step in any request for action takes place.

Start Your Job Search with the Right Recruiter

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

How to Choose the Right Professional Recruitment Agency to Work With

How to Choose the Right Professional Recruitment Agency to Work WithChoosing a professional staffing firm to work with can sometimes be a daunting process.  There are many recruitment agencies out there, and choosing who will be representing you to the marketplace can be (and should be) an important consideration.  At first blush, most employment agencies appear the same – they focus on placing candidates – but as a consultant or job seeker, you should spend as much time vetting your staffing agency as they are vetting you.

Here are 10 questions to help you determine if you are working with the right recruitment agency to help you land your next role:

#1 – How long has the firm existed?  In the placement industry, there are very few barriers to entry and starting one’s own recruitment firm can be fairly easy. When choosing a firm, it is important to go with one that is established and has a solid foot print in the marketplace you are working in.

#2 – What do they specialize in?  Is it in line with what you are looking for?  There are specialist firms, such as IT recruiting, and there are generalist firms.  It is important for candidates to understand what the agency specializes in and what their client reach is in a particular area or industry.  The staffing agency’s website and job postings will be a great indicator of the types of resources that get placed by their firm.

#3 – Do they interview their candidates?  Did they take the time to understand what you are looking for?  A good recruitment agency will take the time to speak with candidates they are actively working with.  An agency should either do a phone interview or an in-person interview.  If neither has been done, and the recruiter is asking the right to represent you, think again.

#4 – Will they ask for the right to present you to a client, each and every time? Every time an employment agency speaks to you about a client job opportunity, contract or permanent, they must ask for explicit permission to be your representative.  If this is not a policy of the agency that you are working with, chances are they are sending your credentials out to the marketplace without your knowledge.  It can be very detrimental to your reputation when you give one recruiter permission to submit your resume, and another agency also submits you to the same role.  Avoid ‘blanket representation agreements’ as clients who receive your resume from two different sources may fault you for the discrepancy.

#5 – What specifics are outlined in their contract?  Payment terms?  Non-competes? A reputable staffing agency should be open to you reviewing their contract proactively. There is nothing worse than landing a dream technology contract role, and then finding out that your agency’s policy is not to pay their contractors until they are paid by their client (which is surprisingly common with smaller or start-up firms).  You should also ask your recruiter to outline their candidate care program – what kind of treatment can you expect once they place you?

#6 – What is their reputation in the staffing industry?  If a recruitment agency is large enough or specialized in your area of skills, you should be able to check out their reputation from colleagues and on social media.

#7 – How professional is their website?  What is their digital footprint? One can often tell a lot from a staffing agency’s digital footprint, including how professional their website looks and feels.  A professional agency should be able to demonstrate, at a minimum, their corporate history, candidate screening and hiring processes overview, and have a career page listed with postings. A code of conduct and ethics page is also a great piece to look out for.

#8 – Who are their clients?  Will the placement agency provide you with the best opportunity to land your next role?  When speaking with a recruiter, don’t be afraid to ask them how large their presence is in the marketplace and who their clients are.  Do they specialize in an industry vertical (ex. Technology, Financial Services, Healthcare, Oil and Gas) or corporation size (Fortune 500 or Small/Medium businesses)?

#9 – How professional are their recruiters?  Once you do get a chance to speak with a recruiter, were they easy to work with?  Did they understand what you are looking for and the parameters around your job/contract search?  Did they go over your recent experience with you and find out what your core skills are?

#10 – What is their candidate turnover rate with a client and how often do they re-work with the same candidates (candidates re-use)? Don’t be afraid to ask the agency this question as this speaks volumes on how well they understand their clients’ needs in terms of candidate fit.  If the turnover ratio is high (more than 2%), then treat this as a red flag! The agency has not taken the time to understand the fit between both parties.  Another great indicator of how well an agency does with its candidates is how often they re-work with candidates (in particular contractors).  Most good staffing agencies will want to work with resources they have placed in the past and these long standing agency/candidate relationships exemplify satisfaction from both parties.

These questions are just the starting point to working with an agency.  In the end, it comes down to your comfort level when dealing with the staffing agency’s recruiters and how they treat you.

Convince Your Recruiter to Call You First

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

7 Ways to Get On Your Recruiter’s Speed Dial! (plus 1 Bonus Tip!!)

7 Ways to Get On Your Recruiter's Speed Dial! (plus 1 Bonus Tip!! )Not to be one to bash the Canadian health system, but I believe every one of us has experienced the long wait times to see a specialist.  In some cases it could be 6 months or more to get an appointment.  Most doctors’ offices have a “waiting list”, where they’ll call someone on the list when a cancellation happens.  So, when there is a cancellation and the Doctor’s admin needs to call someone to come in to fill the gap, is he going to call the person who told him that it can only be M/W/F and never over lunch or before 9am?  …or is he going to call the person who tells him, “Call me on my cell phone anytime of the day, and I’ll drop whatever I’m doing and be there in 20 minutes”?  Chatting with some of the doctors, I can tell you that in most cases – all things being equal – it is first come, first served.  However, the Admins are busy, they don’t want to spend 20 minutes on the phone searching for a replacement.  Things are not equal… if they believe you will pick up and make arrangements to come in without any hassle, they are going to call you first.

Working with a Recruiter isn’t so different, except that there are more things important to them that can give you an edge over your contractor competitors.  Recruiters are most often working under heavy time pressures to deliver the best candidates, as quickly as possible.  If they know that you are reachable, available, motivated and qualified, they will want to speak with you asap.

The following are 7 ways to convince your Recruiters to call you first!

  1. Be Clear – Your resume must be clean, concise and up-to-date.  Contact information must be easy to access and correct.  If it isn’t, they will go looking for you on LinkedIn or other social media sources, but only after they’ve connected with the rest of the professionals that they know they can reach.
  2. Be Responsive – As mentioned above, Recruiters are on the clock to find/qualify/deliver candidates quickly.  Make sure you keep your cell phone close and fully charged up; and answer the call rather than leaving it to go to vmail.  Many Recruiters are now texting regularly as well… be sure to turn audible notifications ‘on’.
  3. Be Flexible – This comes in a variety of flavours.  Arrange to meet with Recruiters (or Clients) at a place and time that is convenient for them and on their  schedule. Business moves fast… showing that you are highly engaged in the opportunity is the price for admission and not doing so will get you overlooked.  Also, very important to your Recruiter is that you are open, willing and able to make requested updates to your resume.  Your recruiter knows the client very well and, often, the resume needs to pass screening to move to the interview stage.  If your Recruiter knows that you will make the investment in time and effort needed to get your resume “just right”, they are going to want to work with you.  Timely resume updates are also extremely important.
  4. Be Certain and Committed – As Yoda famously said, “Do or do not… there is no try”.  Either you are interested in the role being discussed or you are not.  “Maybe” is a sure way to get yourself at the bottom of a call list.  A quick “no” is a perfectly valid decision and any Recruiter worth their salt will not hold this against you, but being uncertain is viewed as a potential waste of time.  If you do wish to pursue the opportunity, it is important for you to understand and clearly communicate your rate expectations.  Stay away from rate ranges.  It is our experience that when it comes to rate ranges, the contractor is thinking the top of the range while the client is thinking the bottom.  This results in a painful negotiation process at the end.  Certainty around rates simplifies the process… and Recruiters like simple.
  5. Be Specialized – This point can be counter-intuitive.  If you can perform multiple jobs/functions, why not create a broad-based resume that showcases it all?  Well, it has been proven time and time again that “generalists” rarely get selected by clients for interviews.  Agencies’ clients are most often looking for people who have “been there, done that and are ready to do it again”.  These are rarely generalist positions.  If you have a generalist resume and you are competing against other contractors that are specialists in the desired skill/experience, you will not be requested to interview.  If you do have experience across several solutions/skill sets, your best bet is to pick either your best or most recent skill and focus on that; or, you may create separate, custom resumes for each of your areas of specialization.  Just remember that for industries such as IT, experience over a year old is ancient history and will also fail to excite your Recruiter.
  6. Be Loyal – It should go without saying that Recruiters expect contractors to stick with them throughout the hiring process; yet it is surprising how often contractors attempt to be submitted through multiple agencies for the same role… or try to end-run their Recruiter by going to the client directly.  Neither of these tactics are particularly successful and they won’t just put you down at the bottom of future lists… it will get you delisted completely which will significantly impact your future market success.
  7. Be Value-Centric – The most successful outcome for a contract placement opportunity is one that is a win for the candidate, the client and the agency.  Win-win-win.  When discussing a role with your Recruiter, always speak to the value that you will deliver to the client and to your staffing agency.  This will come across loud and clear to your Recruiter and it will also help him/her build a sales message around your skills and capabilities.  By hearing that you value what your agency is doing for you, it encourages your Recruiter to work harder for you.

Now, you will notice that all these points suggest a past relationship – leveraging the “currency” that you’ve built up in your “relationship account” with your Recruiter.  So, just how do you get onto the top of your Recruiter’s “top-candidates” call list when you don’t have a previous relationship with him/her?  That is the subject of the Bonus Tip below!

Bonus Tip –  TALK about these things when you introduce yourself to a Recruiter.  Be clear about recognizing the importance of these points and describe how you’re committed to these.  So rarely do contractors speak about any of these key aspects of the Contractor-Recruiter relationship that, by doing so, you will clearly differentiate yourselves from your competition.   This may not seem like much, but I assure you this is “Gold” to your Recruiter.  They will remember you and reach out when a suitable opportunity presents itself!

Have you any tips for building great relationships with a staffing agency Recruiter?  I encourage you to share these with other readers by commenting on this blog post.  Good luck on your relationship building!

Contractor Quick Poll: Staffing Agencies

Aside from contract opportunities, what qualities of a staffing agency affect how likely you are to work with them?

IT contractors have a great deal of options when it comes to selecting an agency. At Eagle, we always encourage people to carefully evaluate all options and work with the company that best meets their needs. This month, we’re asking what your priorities are when choosing the agency that’s best for you.