Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: add value

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to adding value.

Three Reasons to Postpone Your Summer Vacation

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle

Summer time and the living is easy….or so the saying goes. And why not in a country that has to pack all of its outdoor fun and vacation in about a two month window (ok West coasters you have the rest of the country on that window). The dog days of summer are now upon us but as Contractors, is it really the time to go off the radar and on vacation or wait until better times?

Canada appears to be, at least statistically, in the grips of a recession. A struggling dollar, stagnant oil prices combined with uncertainty over Europe – in particular the Greece crisis – has caused many organizations, private and public to retrench, downsize and pull back on major capital expenditures . It’s times like this that employees and contractors need to be acutely aware of their continued value proposition as companies become ever leaner and yes meaner to counter the downward cycles. In employment surveys CEO’s and CIO’s are projecting very weak hiring plans, sometimes an opportunity for increased opportunities in contracting; however,  we have certainly seen many organizations look across the entire workforce looking for efficiencies and cost-savings including those found in their contact or variable work force. Several have implemented across the board rate reductions as a key strategy.

So is all doom and gloom? No! If it is a recession, many economists look for Canada to pull out in the last half of the year. But to get back to our original question, is it really the right time to vacation? Let’s look at opportunities and reasons to consider deferring that summer vacation.

Consider the following:

  1. Summer will no doubt see a lot of full time employees take time off. What better way to strengthen and deepen your value as a contractor than to pick up the slack and fill the vacation holes?
  2. Projects need to continue to move and deliverables need to be met as September is typically a great reset. Extra hours and effort in the summer will help build that positive momentum towards the Fall and clients now, more than ever, are under pressure to deliver on time and under budget.
  3. You need to ensure your value to your client. Do you really want to be the cause of a delay or a missed deliverable or worse yet have your client deem you expendable once you’ve taken time off?

Tough times indeed and we all have to be sure we are providing good ROI.  And hey, what’s wrong with a vacation to a warm, sunny island when the snow and ice return!

 

Happy Birthday to the Talent Development Centre!

Today marks the first anniversary since the Talent Development Centre’s first post.  In the past year, we’ve posted about a variety of topics.  More importantly, we’ve had the opportunity to share content from some interesting people, have had conversations with many different readers, and supplied information specific to independent contractors.

We want to do even more in our second year, but to do that, we need your help. Please take a few minutes to complete this TDC Visitor Survey and let us know what more you would like to see from the Talent Development Centre to ensure your independent contractor business can thrive. The survey is only 15 questions and should take you no more than 3 minutes to complete. It will be open for all of June, so you can come back and complete it any time.

We want to take this special day to thank all of our readers for your comments and contributions, your shares, and your loyalty.

Take the TDC Visitor Survey

 

5 Signs You’re Working with a Great Staffing Agency

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

5 Signs You're Working with a Great AgencyIs your “Staffing Agency” doing enough for you as an Independent Contractor? I often hear this question from both candidates and clients, wondering if the Agency representing an Independent Contractor is ‘doing enough’.  It’s a very fair question, and one that a great staffing agency should not take lightly.

An Independent Contractor has every right to choose whomever they’d like to represent them, and it is a HIGHLY competitive market.  It’s very important for agencies to build report with consultants, and really be able to offer them value.  How?  Here are few signs you’re working with a great staffing agency:

  1. They focus on meeting and exceeding client and candidates’ expectations.  A great agency will focus on more than clients, and also ensure they bring the very best opportunities to contractors. They work with clients to ensure contractors have a variety of excellent job options.
  2. They have long-standing client relationships. Research more than just an agency’s client list, but the history they have with each client. Developed relationships mean the agency is able to be part of large Client Programs, resulting in more promising opportunities.
  3. They have a solid recruiting team. Top recruiters will do much more than just send you job descriptions and submit your resume.  Look for a team who can coach, advise, negotiate, and help Independent Contractors through the entire placement cycle. Great recruiters will ensure your wants and needs are taken into consideration.
  4. They work to build TRUST with candidates. Trust is built over time and a great agency knows this, taking the time to build a relationship with all candidates.  Trust often comes from years of experience in the Industry, working with both clients and candidates to understand what they value most.
  5. They include extras. There are many great agencies out there that go above and beyond to bring extra value to contractors.  Look for the ones that bring you the most value with their extras. For example, Eagle hosts regular networking events for contractors and rewards top professionals with the Eagle Elite designation.

Ultimately in order for an agency to be “doing enough” for Independent Contractors, they need to ensure you see that value, experience, and trust all the time, in everything they do. These qualities are subjective and really depend on what you need most as an independent contractor.  Take a look at your agency – are they great enough for you?

Are You a Master of Workplace Adaptation?

Gilbert Boileau By Gilbert Boileau,
Vice-Président, Québec at Eagle

As an IT consultant, you probably are.  If not, you should be.  In fact, having to adapt to different workplaces very quickly, in comparison to your permanent coworkers, puts you in the unique situation of being or becoming a “master” of workplace adaptation.

Each client expects that you adapt quickly, as it is an implied characteristic of a “true” consultant.  They require that you understand the nuances of their corporate culture, way of doing things and employee mix.  And you have to do that quickly and with minimal guidance, contrary to most permanent IT employees who have a thorough onboarding process and weeks or months to adapt to their environment. As an IT consultant, time is never on your side.  Notwithstanding each organization’s corporate culture and management styles, here are 3 simple facts about today’s workplace:

  • Never before has there been a workforce and workplace so diverse in race, gender, and ethnicity;
  • We have four generations working side-by-side for the first time in history; and,
  • All have unique experiences and attributes which influence their attitudes towards work.

I want to bring your attention to the second point, what some have called the “generational divide” in the workplace. As mentioned, for the first time in history we have four generations working side-by-side. It is important to understand their main attribute so you can “navigate” in your new team and work environment.

Generations working side by side:

  • Seniors/Veterans: born between 1920 and 1945 are loyal, respect authority, Many Generations in a Companyappreciate discipline and hard work, are more formal and are able to wait for rewards. While most of them are retired, the one who are still in the workforce value structure, commitment, conformity and responsibility.
  • Baby-Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964, are competitive and think workers should pay their dues. They are independent, work long hours to get ahead and struggle with work-life balance. They are sometimes called the “Me” generation.
  • Gen Xers: born between 1962 and 1977, are more likely to be skeptical and independent-minded.  They are techno-literate and are sometimes called the “Not impressed” generation.
  • Gen Ys (also known as Millennials): born in 1978 or later and like teamwork, feedback and technology. They are more impatient and independent.

A lot of articles have been written on the subject as well as dozens of books.  I invite you to learn more and read about it.  This is just a reminder that you not only need to understand where you are on this generation spectrum but, to be a valued consultant, you also need to recognize that each generation brings their own set of skills and cultural norms.  Today’s environments are a mix of those different generations, cultures and talent.

And never forget: everywhere you go, your listening skills and your attitude are your most important “weapons” of adaptation. Major studies have shown that one of the best attribute to integrate a workplace and show leadership in your domain is directly related to your ability to ask the right questions and listen.  As for attitude, we are social animals. Across generations, ethnicity and gender, peer mimicry is part of every workplace. So working on yourself and projecting the right attitude will also ease the adaptation process.

As a consultant, you have to adapt to every new client.  Being able to master this will build a unique set of skills and add more value for both you and your future clients.

Creativity

You equate creativity to “the arts”, to “Silicon Valley start-ups” and maybe to some Easel designing a paintingentrepreneurs you have read about. You probably DON”T equate creativity to your day-to-day job because that is just something you do!

The reality is that creativity is a great way to:

a)      Differentiate yourself from all those other contractors who just “do their job”;

b)      Make your job more interesting;

c)       Re-engage your brain in a way you cannot do, if you are just “doing your job”; and,

d)      Become a person who can bring positive change and innovation to a client.

How can YOU bring some creativity to YOUR world?

  1. Don’t accept the “status quo.” Just because it was always done this way, doesn’t mean it should still be “done this way”!
  2. Try to look at your job with fresh eyes. Put yourself in the shoes of your client, the end-user, or just maybe put yourself into the “observer mode”, detached and uninvolved, looking for ways to improve things.
  3. Ask lots of questions. “Why?” questions. “What if?” questions.
  4. Make lots of notes. What do you see? What don’t you see? What are obvious things? What are not so obvious things? What are your opinions? What are other people’s opinions?
  5. Compare your project to similar projects you worked on in the past.  Are there lessons to learn from one industry that you can apply to the one where you’re currently working?
  6. Read about your client’s industry, about your role, and about innovations in both.
  7. Keep learning. Take courses, attend industry conferences, and understand what industry experts, competitors and others are saying.
  8. Be constructive with your suggestions. Change is tough for anyone, and your client may be as resistant to change as most!
  9. Be pragmatic in your suggestions. Having the world’s best customer service application at a cost that the client can’t afford isn’t going to fly far.
  10. Do this continually. The world is constantly changing and there are opportunities for change all around you. If nothing else, it keeps life interesting but most likely will get you noticed in a positive light!

How much creativity and innovation to you bring to your clients?  Have you ever wowed a client with a great suggestion?  Have you had a client who refused to open their eyes to a beneficial change?  Share your stories in the comments section.