Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: communication

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to communication.

Looking for Jobs? Have You Prepared Your Elevator Pitch?


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Looking for Jobs? Have You Prepared Your Elevator Pitch?Grabbing somebody’s attention and easily explaining a product to them is the first step in any successful sales pitch. As such, sales professionals develop and polish an Elevator Pitch, a speech they can quickly blurt out to any potential client.  Not only does this makes the buyer know exactly what the product is, but also leaves them eager to learn more. As an IT contractor, you’re also always trying to sell your product (you) to your next client, so do you have an elevator speech prepared?

A few years ago we shared an infographic containing 5 simple steps to create your elevator pitch when searching for jobs. As helpful as it is, the design of infographics constrains the fine details so here is some additional information about elevator pitches, how independent contractors can create them for their technology consulting business, and best practices when delivering it.

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a 15-30 second summary or commercial about yourself, the premise being that 15-30 seconds is the time you have to get your point across in an average elevator ride. The ultimate goal is to explain to a recruiter, client, or colleague who you are, why you’re unique and what you can provide. Your elevator pitch comes in handy in multiple situations — job interviews, career fairs, voicemails, resume summaries and networking events.

How Job Seekers Can Create an Elevator Pitch

To achieve the best elevator pitch, you must plan it and improve it over time. Failure to do so can result in disaster. Especially when you’re nervous, an unprepared person can blurt out words out that they never imagined and will later regret. It’s not enough just to think about your elevator pitch, you also have to write it down… and practice it!

The first thing to remember while creating your elevator pitch is to keep it simple. Tell your story and paint a picture that perfectly describes you, but you don’t confuse or distract your listener with too many details. In it’s simplest form, your elevator speech should include your name, your field and what you provide. Depending on the situation, you can also include what you’re seeking, your goals, why they should care, and a request for action.

That’s right! Different situations mean you’ll need to prepare multiple elevator speeches. For example, when at a networking event and meeting somebody for the first time, it would be tacky to immediately jump into a sales pitch that tells your listener why they should hire you and where you’d like to go in your career. On the other hand, when an interviewer asks point blank “Why should we hire you?” they would welcome such a detailed response.

Giving Your Job Search Elevator Pitch

When the time comes to finally introduce yourself and deliver the work of art you’ve prepared, don’t blow it. The delivery is just as important as the preparation. Remember to smile, be confident and have energy. At the same time, though, relax and avoid talking too fast or rambling. Finally, have a business card prepared to hand out afterwards.

A solid elevator pitch is a crucial sales tool for every professional so if you don’t have one, we highly recommend you get started. If you have already created a successful speech, then we’d love to learn more about your process in creating it and what you do to shine above the others. Please share your tips in the comments below!

If You’re Going to Complain, Do It Right


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There’s always going to be something to complain about in your life. But the question is, how do you do complain effectively to get the outcome you want? One of the main rules to follow is to keep calm and make a plan.

Nowadays it’s even easier to complain with social media platforms or online review sites like Yelp. With those complaints being more public, there’s a chance for a response. Take a look at this infographic from NetCredit to see a step by step guide on how to take your complaining game to the next level.


Courtesy of: NetCredit

Breaking Down Complex Ideas So Anyone Can Understand Them


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As you get more senior in your IT contracting profession, you naturally become more specialized and knowledgeable in your field. While you learn more and more, you begin to realize how much others don’t understand terminology and situations. Because of your extensive experience, it all comes naturally to you, but in reality, it’s remains complex for the Average Joe. This gets especially frustrating when trying to explain to a client why they should take a certain route in a project or, vice-versa, why they should not implement the solution they want to.

We’ve provided some advice in this area before on the Talent Development Centre, including How to Deal with Recruiters Who Have No Clue What They’re Talking About and how to handle Those Non-Technical People Who Work on a Tech Project. Recently, The Muse also shared some ideas for breaking down complex ideas so anyone can understand them. Here’s what they suggest:

  1. Get to Know Your Audience: Find out their background, what motivates them, and how they prefer to communicate. This way you can use their common knowledge to decide how to best explain your idea.
  2. Choose the “One Thing” They Should Understand: If people have to tackle too much new information at once, they’ll get confused or forget it. Instead, focus on the critical details that they must understand and remember.
  3. Give Context and Use Examples: Put everything into context by painting a verbal picture and showing exactly how the situation relates to the audience’s life. This makes the problem more tangible and the solution more appealing.
  4. Watch Your Language: Use simple, every day language, rather than long terms that may seem impressive. If you must use acronyms, jargon or highly-niche phrases, take the time to explain what they mean and how they relate.

How do you explain complex situations and terminology to your teams or recruiters? Please share your tips and tricks for other IT professionals in the comments below.

The Best Way to Follow-Up with Recruiters (even if you shouldn’t have to)


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Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Best Way to Follow-Up with Recruiters (even if you shouldn't have to)One of the most common complaints that we hear from contractors/consultants is the inevitable ‘black hole’ of communication when working with agencies.  We often hear that contractors agree to be submitted for opportunities, but then don’t hear back from the agency – and even worse, have calls and emails not responded to.  While this should be considered unacceptable, there are several factors at play that are often make this unfortunate scenario a reality in today’s market.

The vast majority of large organizations in Toronto are now using VMS providers, which means that the days of being able to provide feedback to candidates or to provide status updates on where things stand with a particular opportunity are virtually over.

This can be extremely frustrating for candidates who are trying to manage multiple interviews and opportunities or who have no idea why they are not securing interviews for roles that they’ve been submitted for.  Agencies are required to respond to a huge volume of VMS orders so are often unable to provide updates to candidates – particularly when there is nothing to update.

While we always try to set the expectation that we may not hear back with feedback or next steps unless an interview is granted, we still often get repeated requests for updates.  A good recruiter will always respond to an email or call even without having information to provide, but this can be taxing.

We strongly recommend that you take an approach for ongoing communication that will show your interest and keep you top of mind, but not necessarily require a response.  This ultimately shows that you remain interested in an opportunity, but have a healthy respect for the volume of work that is being managed on the agency side.  Below is a great email template that you can use.

Hi (Recruiter Name),

I wanted to follow up on the opportunity that we spoke about last week.  I assume that there hasn’t been an update as of yet, but please do let me know if otherwise.  I remain interested and available and am open to hearing about any other suitable opportunities that come up.

Thank you,
(Your Name)

While all great recruiters will get back to you as soon as they have an update, this simple message demonstrates that you’re still interested in the role and that you have an understanding of the situation. Your recruiter will appreciate hearing from you and will surely be grateful for your approach.  Remember, how you communicate in these small circumstances could make the difference in whether or not your name gets put forward with future clients.

Quick Poll Results: Soft Skills and Team Members


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In last month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we asked Talent Development Centre readers about their co-workers. More specifically, what skills they most desire in a co-worker, aside from technical skills. The poll listed common soft skills and we asked which one you’d prefer people on your team to have, and the results were pretty clear.

While some people value emotional intelligence, time management and email etiquette, the majority of independent contractors want their IT team members to to have great communications skills. That’s something to keep in mind before you mumble your way through your next interview!

Adjust Your Communication Style for a Successful Interview


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Adjust Your Communication Style for a Successful InterviewRecruiters will be the first to tell you that everybody is different. They meet thousands of people throughout their careers, all with diverse personalities and backgrounds. As such, the best recruiters excel at understanding you and how to work with you in order bring you the right projects. Topping the list of a person’s unique qualities is your communication style.

By knowing an individual’s preferred communication methodology, recruiters convey the right information and minimize misunderstandings. A skill this valuable shouldn’t be limited to recruiters. Because you’re bound to come across recruiters, clients and team members who are brutal at communicating, you too should perfect the art of adjusting to others’ communication styles.

A common time when communication fails is during an interview, either with a recruiter or client. It’s often a first meeting and, as such, there is no past experience for the parties to fall back on. If an explanation comes across poorly, that first impression has a more severe impact on their decision to hire you. Let’s examine four common styles of communication. By understanding them, you can identify which your interviewer prefers and adjust what you say to match their style.

Director

A Director likes to have control and wants to get things done as quickly as possible. They’re fast-paced and goal-oriented and have no time for small talk. While they may come across as impatient and insensitive, they’re just focused on achieving that end-result. If you find yourself interviewing with a Director, refrain from long, wordy explanations, and answer their questions directly. Provide straight-answers and back-up your experience with quantitative facts.

Socializer

The Socializer is the extreme opposite of the Director. Usually an extrovert, this person is all about relationships. They’re also more likely to make decisions based on their gut feelings. If your recruiter or client is a Socializer, then don’t brush them off when they ask about your weekend, and take the time to hear their stories (even if you think they’re boring and irrelevant to your work). You want them to leave the interview with a good feeling about you. Finally, because this group tends to have a short attention span, you will also need to ensure all of your strengths are clearly and simply articulated.

Thinker

The Thinker is a very analytical problem solver. It will take them longer to make decisions and they will want to make sure they have all of the facts about you. For this reason, you can expect a Thinker to ask more questions and dig deeper.  This is also the person who is most likely to catch you lying, so while we never recommend it, definitely don’t try it with a Thinker. For a successful interview with a Thinker, answer questions to the point, similar to a Director, but feel free to go into more detail, with more examples to back-up your experience.

Relater

A Relater is all about the warm, fuzzy feeling. They are very people-oriented and nurturing individuals who value relationships. Because of this, brushing off conversation, showing a colder side of your personality, or trying to play hardball in negotiations is going to leave a bad taste in their mouth. Instead, work at building a relationship with your recruiter or client and provide examples of your team work, showing your willingness to work and get along with anyone.

This high-level overview of communication styles is just the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of if you buy into the traits above, you at least need to understand that everybody is different, and the more you can adjust to their styles, the more successful you will be — in interviews, at work, or your personal relationships. If you disagree with our communication styles, we encourage you to take some time to learn more on the topic to find a model that works for you.

What to Do When You Have Multiple Job Offers


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

What was once rare is now common within the IT community — the dilemma of what to do when you have multiple job offers coming in.

What To Do When You Have Multiple Job Offers

Being in demand is great!  As the saying goes, “when it rains, it pours”.  Candidates often ask me what they should do when they are in the midst of interviewing for several positions with multiple firms and what they should do if they receive offers at the same time.  My number one rule: honesty is the best policy.  Keep everyone informed about where you are in your job search process.  If you have several interviews on the go, and you have just met with another new potential company, let them know where you are in process with other firms (ie. just had a second interview, an offer is coming, etc…)  Being professional is very important, especially in a community as small at the IT sector.  Some people think it is none of anyone’s business where you are in your search but being upfront and honest is never a bad thing.  The agencies and companies that you are working with will 100% appreciate the candor and will often see you as a better candidate than others due to your honesty and approach.

Here are some steps that will make decisions process a little easier…

1- Verbal offers – are they as good as a written offer?

Short answer is NO.  Until you have all the details, a verbal offer is not binding.  It does not happen often, but I have seen clients renege on a verbal offer as they lose funding during the approval process.  If you do receive a verbal offer first, express enthusiasm and that you are looking forward to seeing all the details before committing.

2- Written offers – what is really being offered?

Once you have your written offers, take the time to thoroughly go over all the details.  If you are missing information, don’t hesitate to ask for the extra details.  Offer letters often refer to policies that all employees must adhere to but they are often missing from the offer package.  Ask to see these policies as they may impact your decision.  Offers should contain more than just the start date and the compensation package.  Packages should include role description, job title, who you report to, total compensation package including bonus payouts, share options (if applicable), vacation entitlement, benefits package, expense policy, technology policies (i.e. cell phone plan, laptops, etc..).  Important policies to review are intellectual property and non-compete agreement, especially if you are working with new technologies and start-ups.

3 – Take the time to make the right decision.

The interview process is typically a long process, usually due to the client’s hiring hurdles that all candidates must go through.  It is a lot of hurry up and wait and then the offer comes.  Typically, once a verbal offer has been extended (and clients often ask for a verbal confirmation over the phone accepting the offer), they do not give candidates enough time to thoroughly review the details.  It is important to set an expectation with the client that you do need time to review and when you will have a firm answer back them.

If you need extra time, let the hiring managers know.  Be upfront with them they reason why.  Let them know you have a competing offer and want to ensure you are considering all factors in your decision  process.  Clients 100% prefer to know if a candidate has a competing offer rather than be surprised down the road when you start… and then soon after quit.

4 – Develop a pros and cons list for each offer.

Having multiple offers at once is exciting and flattering and sometimes overwhelming.  The best way to review offers is to create a decision matrix listing what each offer has and assigning value to each point.  Factors outside of compensation that have impact on the decision may be benefits, stress level, reporting structure, projects under way, advancement opportunity, work life balance, commuting time, flexibility, etc.  It is often the “soft” factors that sway your decision to take one over the other.

5 – Be professional.

Far too often, candidates that are in demand become arrogant when they receive multiple requests for interviews and then receive multiple offers.  Candidates sometimes exhibit negative behaviour such as dishonesty and game playing.  I agree that people must look out for themselves but there is a fine line between this point and being self-centered.  Candidates should take into consideration the repercussions their actions will have on the potential employer they “game” and their career.  Even though they may not end up with that firm, a client will remember how a candidate treated them and stories of unprofessional behaviour tend to get passed around, especially in a small community such as IT.  Like candidates, hiring managers move from company to company, and they have a long memory, especially of those people who were high handed and unprofessional in a hiring process.  Please be professional and keep all parties informed of where you are in the decision process.  Honesty goes along way.  So does professionalism.

6 – Once an offer has been accepted

Once an offer has been accepted, remove yourself from consideration.  Notify the other would-be employers of your final decision immediately .  Be professional.  Don’t be that candidate who takes the first offer they receive, knowing they have other offers coming, only to start one day and quit the next week.  Send a round of sincere thank yous to all involved, from the agency, to the HR team to the hiring manager.

Depending on your industry and skillset, as your skills continue to increase and the looming skills gap in the IT sector grows, multiple job offers may be more frequent for you in the future. While this is exciting and also tends to lead to higher pay rates, it’s equally important to think of the long-term effects of your actions. Remember to continue to act ethically and be aware of the many stakeholders involved in your hiring process. The more respectful you are to them now, the more respectful they will be to you down the road.

Quick Poll Results: Contact from Recruiters


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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?

 

Are You Making Offensive Comments Unknowingly?


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This post by Mark Swartz was originally published to the Monster Career Advice blog.

Are You Making Offensive Comments Unknowingly?You don’t think of yourself as insensitive. Co-workers generally laugh or smile at your jokes. It’s rare that someone complains you’ve hurt their feelings by something you’ve said.

Then a colleague files a complaint against you for making an offensive remark. How can this be? You ask yourself. I don’t remember being inappropriate.

The rules of office etiquette are changing. Yesterday’s tolerated comments may be unsuitable today. Do you know how to avoid being an offender?

Diversity Can Create Uncertainty

If everyone at work was similar to you it would be simple not to offend. There might be unspoken rules about off-limit subjects and acceptable ways to communicate.

In diverse workplaces cultural norms vary. It can be harder to tell who you might upset by saying the wrong thing. You may sincerely believe that you aren’t coming across as abrasive. After all, your friends, family and work buddies never complain.

Definition of Offensive Comments

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, offensive remarks are in the ear of the receiver. Each person will weigh what you’ve said against their own sense of what’s tolerable.

If they consider your remark offensive they’ll see it as one or more of the following:

  • Personally repugnant, in violation of their moral or decency standards. For instance if you make a sexually suggestive joke.
  • Personally insulting, like when you belittle their work performance or intelligence.
  • Bigoted, as in judging others based only on their skin colour, religion or political beliefs.

Offensive statements cause people to cringe. Those who are affronted feel attacked or otherwise upset. That’s why you need to be aware of the impact your words are having.

Bigotry

A remark can be distressing if it stereotypes people. Bigotry is a broad category that covers some heavy duty typecasting. Statements that reduce a person to a set of prejudged traits belong here. They diminish the importance of respecting others as individuals.

Racism and sexism are in this category. So are sweeping comments based on age bracket, disability or sexual orientation. Same for marital and family status or country of origin.

Good thing there are ways to minimize your tendency to pigeonhole people.

Put Downs and Insults, Even In Jest

It’s unlikely you blatantly insult your boss and colleagues. More probably any put downs are made with a measure of humour. It can be fun to point out someone’s shortcomings – or to exaggerate their behaviour – in a non-hurtful way.

Except there’s a possibility of your intent being misinterpreted. Some people don’t find those sorts of comments comical. There’s also a risk that no matter how harmless the remark, the person on the receiving end is insecure or overly sensitive. They could react negatively.

Be careful about making people feel vulnerable. That’s especially true when publicly shaming others to motivate them.

Raising Sensitive Issues

Are there topics best avoided where you work? You might offend accidentally by bringing them up, even if you do so innocently.

Recalling embarrassing incidents that everyone wants to forget falls under this banner. Revealing somebody’s personal information without their permission does as well.

Watch That You Don’t Violate Policy

The workplace is not a 100% free-speech zone. Your employer may have policies that govern what’s off-limits. Read the employee manual for guidance. Study the sections on mutual respect and acceptable communication practices.

These policies could extend to what you say online. Express your controversial opinions to trusted followers. Offensive social media remarks that are publicly visible might get you called in for chat.

Online and off, it isn’t that you have to walk on eggshells in fear of offending someone. What you need to ensure is that you’re delicate in what you say or write, and never blurt out something that could be taken as harassment or bullying.

Contractor Quick Poll: Hearing from recruiters?


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How do you prefer to get job opportunities from recruiters?

A couple years ago, we asked Eagle’s recruiters about their preferred method to be contacted by IT contractors and passed it on to help our readers understand the most successful ways to build a relationship with a recruiter. Not surprisingly, we learned that everybody has different preferences for being contacted, based on their time management and organization processes.

This month, we’re curious to learn more about technology independent contractors and how they prefer to be contacted by recruiters at staffing agencies regarding new opportunities. What’s your preference in most cases? Do you like to hear a voice so you can ask questions immediately? Would you rather an email with the details or a text with a brief overview? Do you like to be contacted on LinkedIn? Or would you prefer to do your own searching and reach out to the recruiter when you find something that interests you?