Talent Development Centre

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

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.

Liar, Liar…

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

Liar Liar

Shocking news — people lie!

There are many, many sources on the web showing how prodigiously people fib on their resumes and social profiles.  One such article suggests that over half of resumes and job applications contain falsehoods.  Misrepresentations can range from job titles and dates of employment to out-right lying about where one has worked and the education that they have… and everything in between.

In a slower economy, where there are more applicants than jobs, staffing agencies have witnessed a greater “stretching of the truth” by some independent contractors.  For example, something that our company has been calling “resume blurring” becomes much more common.  This is less of an outright lie, but more of a stretching of the truth.  Resume blurring comes into play when people re-write their resumes to broaden the types of roles for which they might be a fit.  For example, an IT contractor who has been a Project Manager might now have a resume that appears that they’ve got a lot more Business Analysis experience than they really do, or vice versa.  As the two roles work so closely hand-in-hand, it is often difficult for clients and employers to weed out the candidates that kind of know the job versus the ones that have actually been doing the job and are experts at it.

Other times the deceptions are even more blatant.  We have seen instances where contractors actually “buy” resumes and other people take phone interviews for them to win them the job.  We’ve even had someone complete a skype interview for another person!  (That’s a harder one to pull off)  Regardless of what the falsifications are, it comes down to the fact that there needs to be a much deeper level of due diligence completed by recruiters.  Honest contractors deserve a fair shake and the only way this is going to happen is through deeper background and reference vetting.

Again, when the economy offers fewer jobs than there are qualified applicants, companies often feel that they don’t need the services of employment agencies as they can gather more than enough resumes on their own.  But given the propensity of some people to embellish or outright lie on resumes/applications, this is the time when they really need a good staffing agency partner the most.  At Eagle, over our 20 years in business, we have come to know a large percentage of the independent contractors in the market. We’ve tracked their careers and we have relationships with many that span years.  We know these technology professionals, we know what they do and have done, we know that they are the “real deal” and we share this information with our clients.  And for contractors that are new to us, we complete a series of interviews, background vetting and reference checks before sharing their information with our clients; in this way, we get to know them and ensure they are what they claim to be.

For the reasons listed in the paragraph above, honest and professional contractors should make it a point to build strong relationships with their recruiter partners as we can be the voice of reason helping you to compete with the desperate people (or outright charlatans) in the market.

Have you witnessed any new or innovative ways that some people try to fool their way into jobs?  I encourage you to share your stories below!



Are Business Ethics Any Different Than Regular Ethics?

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

Whether you’re a manager, a contractor or an employee, don’t surprise yourself with the answer!

Palmer and CecilThere has been a lot of recent news about the Dentist who, along with his paid guide, lured a protected lion from a sanctuary to shoot it as a trophy.  Did he trust his guide too much and forget to question his own ethics as he claims?  Or was it more likely that his own personal ethics had been “expanded” to allow for this behavior?  The latter happens much more often than one might think.

There is a lesser known concept called the Normalization of Deviation that explains the human tendency to “push the boundaries”.  Astronaut Mike Mullane speaks about this concept in a speech, where he explains the details around the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and how normalization of deviance created a situation that he calls a “predictable surprise”.  Mike uses this story to illustrate how on-the-job safety can be and often is compromised.

Are Business Ethics Any Different Than Regular Ethics?This concept can also be used to explain how one finds themselves on the wrong side of an ethical dilemma, without even realizing how this came to be.  It goes something like this:  you are an ethical person and you draw a line in the sand that you would never cross.  However, life happens and you inadvertently – not on purpose – put your toe over the line.  Not a big deal, not much over the line, and when you realize it you quickly correct the situation.  What happened to you as a result of crossing that line?  Most typically, nothing.  In fact, you may have reaped a small reward or benefit from having it happen.  Hmm.

What separates us from other animals is our ability to rationalize and this kicks in. There were special circumstances, no one was hurt, no “real damage” was done, it could even be said that it was a good thing that it happened.  You’ve now rationalized the deviation from your ethics.  This was “ok” and, after all, at heart, you are an ethical person.

Time goes by and a similar situation comes up. The last “solution” actually worked pretty well and there were no negative consequences.  A quick fix where no one really gets hurt, solves the problem and lets you continue on your way?  Well, you’ve already rationalized this  so this time you cross the line on purpose.  Again, not a big deal, no negative consequences, and the issue is resolved.  All good, right?  Yes, except that your “line” has now moved — just a little — hardly worth noticing.  This new line becomes the new normal and you don’t even think about it anymore. It works, it’s ok, no repercussions — it’s now a good solution.

The next time, maybe the situation is just a little different and your toe inadvertently crosses the line again.  You pull it back quickly and… hmm… nothing bad really happened, but you swear that this is too far, you should never do it again.  But over time you rationalize again. It’s what humans do and has been a successful strategy bred into us over eons.  It happens again,  it becomes your new “normal”, and the line moves again.

Over a few cycles of this, if you stopped to consider, you would realize that you are no longer just a toe over the original line that you had drawn in the sand but rather a giant step past.  Then you get caught and wonder how did you ever let yourself get to this place?

ChallengerThis concept can help explain how some, completely avoidable, accidents could have been prevented (even predicted as in the case of the space shuttle disaster).  But it also explains how people can find themselves fighting addiction, how people find themselves on the wrong side of the law, or how they get caught compromising some of their most fundamental beliefs and personal ethics.

In this respect, Business Ethics are no different.  In fact, I would argue that there are more frequent opportunities for finding your toe over the line in business.  More iterations of the cycle and the further over the line you can go.  You may have wondered how people can start “Ponzi Schemes”. Their beginnings may have been as innocuous as a simple toe over the line that did not immediately get stepped on.  They may not have started out as “bad people”.

It is worth taking some time to review your own beliefs, your own ethical standards and look to see if your own line has moved over time.  If not, very good, carry on.  If so, consider, is it something that should be corrected, before it does catch up on you?

There is nothing more soul-wrenching than finding yourself a victim of your own personal predictable surprise.

The Lies We Tell on Resumes

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Last August, we posted about the implications of lying on your LinkedIn profile. The article implied that no professional would lie on their resume, but would you believe that more than half of the population has embellished skillsets and responsibilities? According to this infographic from BackgroundChecks.org, it’s true, along with a number of other surprising statistics. Take a look.  Do you believe it? Are you guilty of any of these?

Resume Lie Statistics

The Lies People Tell to Get a Job [INFOGRAPHIC]

Compliments of BackgroundChecks.org

If You Absolutely Must Leave a Contract — Here’s How

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

As a professional contractor, it’s good practice to complete a contract and avoid leaving your client high and dry, at all costs. If you do find yourself in this situation, it’s Important to remember that what you do and, just as importantly, how you do it, builds your reputation for good or for ill.

Signing a ContractFirst and foremost, carefully consider the reasons for leaving a contract.  Not getting the rate increase you wanted or finding another opportunity for a few dollars an hour more may have negative consequences down the road.  Again, what you do impacts your market reputation.   The contractor market is really very small and a bad rep can seriously impair future opportunities.  It is also important to remember if you are an incorporated contractor, your relationship is a business-to-business relationship with your client/agency and your company is contractually obligated to fulfill the terms of the contract. If you are terminating a contract early for purely selfish reasons, there may be legal implications to your doing so.

Even for the most ethical contractors, though, leaving a contract is sometimes unavoidable and can be for any number of reasons — fit, insurmountable challenges, other opportunities, etc.  The key points to remember are Professionalism and Transparency, and these go hand-in-hand. Here are a few tips that will help you maintain your integrity and work toward building a positive reputation, while enhancing others perception of you as a professional:

  • Let your employer/agency know early.  Especially if there are fit or challenge issues, there may be accommodations that can be made that would turn things around for you on this assignment.
  • Consider giving more notice than is contractually required  if:
    • You have been on contract for a year or more
    • Your project is in a sensitive phase
    • The company that you are working for has lost other key people in your area/project
    • There will be a fair bit of knowledge transfer needed to ensure continuity
  • Notice should be face-to-face whenever possible, phone if absolutely necessary, but never email or text.
  • Communicate often throughout the process, asking for feedback and pro-actively managing the hand off of responsibilities.
  • If you have to terminate a contract because of an emergency or for health reasons, you may not be able to provide additional notice.  If it is truly something of this nature, people will understand and empathize with you.  Still, you must:
    • Communicate quickly with your client/agency
    • Explain the situation in as much detail as you are comfortable with. This is important as the reason will be key for your client/agency to understand  why a short/abrupt contract termination is necessary.
    • Be pro-active, making suggestions of what you can do or your client will need to do to cover off your role when you leave
    • Apologize.  Even if it is something that is completely out of your control and people will (or should) understand, you must realize that this is causing some level of hardship for your client and that this will be an inconvenience at best for them.
    • Work with your agency partner to identify potential people who might be candidates to backfill your position.  The agency will do all the leg work to ensure your recommendations are contacted, informed, vetted and are interested – leave this leg work to your agency and spend your time helping with the transition or on personal matters if they are critical.
    • If possible, make yourself available, should there be any follow up questions that come to light after you leave.  Rarely is this leveraged, but it does demonstrate your concern and commitment.

Having to end a contract early is not ideal.  But if you have been contracting long enough, there will likely be a time when you will have to do so.  By following the advice above, you will increase your chances of doing so professionally and maintaining your good reputation.  Have you ever had to leave a contract early?  How did it turn out?  Please share your experiences below.

Integrity Matters as an Independent Contractor

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

“Success will come and go, but integrity is forever”.  

This article from Forbes by Amy Rees Anderson highlights the importance of integrity, and is an essential read for any business professional.  Integrity is defined as:  “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”.  It can also be defined as “the honesty and truthfulness of one’s actions” or “doing what you say”.

As an independent contractor, your integrity in dealings with agencies, vendors and clients Integrityis critical to your success.  Social Media has become a tool that most recruiters use extensively, and a good (and well connected) recruiter will rarely work with an individual without doing some background investigation to ensure that dates are accurate and that work performance has received positive ratings by previous clients and peers.  It only takes one instance of ‘overselling and under-delivering’ to tarnish a professionals reputation, and as most of us know, it’s a small world out there. Dates of employment or project histories should be honest and accurate, and contract commitments should always be fulfilled.

Most consultants have encountered situations where they are tempted to leave a commitment for a variety of reasons: more money, less of a commute, or the opportunity to work on a more interesting project.  But those who choose to see commitments through and honor their agreements are the ones who ultimately become most successful.

As Amy Anderson stresses in this article, “building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it only takes a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity”.

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” – Harvey Mackay

3 Ways to Build Trust as a Consultant

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Guest Post by CA4IT

Fostering credibility and trust with new clients is a vital aspect of a consultant’s job. It’s up Thank Youto you to establish this bond and create an environment where positive business – and interpersonal – relationships can grow and evolve into a valued and lasting relationship.

Let’s take a look below at three important facets of building trust in a consultant-client relationship and how to improve business practices and outcomes in the process.

#1 – Listen and Connect

It’s always important to show empathy and try to understand what’s going on in the mind of your client. Show that you really care. You don’t necessarily need to talk their ear off about every little thing. Simply answer client questions succinctly and with enough detail to convey your knowledge and point of view. Spend more time listening – and hearing – then try to show how much you know.

Respect their time, conform to their work preferences/style, be prompt and adhere to set scheduling, and work toward solving their lingering business-related problems. Delve beneath the surface – by listening closely – to find potential root causes of issues potentially blocking client progress. Get all the facts – past project failures and successes and their future priorities, for instance – in order to glean a better understanding of your clients’ needs and gain their trust to move toward a positive business outcome.

#2 – Help Your Potential Client Spend Their Money Wisely

Don’t worry about the immediate sale – and the potential for large returns right off the bat – and instead work toward helping the client spend their money in an effective manner on what they actually need (and something that would truly assist their company). As well, look to provide time and resources with an expectation of nothing in return. Basically, show a desire to serve others through your generosity and be ready to lend a helping hand without the thought of remuneration at the forefront of your mind.

It’s also okay to let customers know you’re a real human being: there’s a certain vulnerability about you and, like the rest of us, you have shortcomings you’re working to overcome. Be real with the client and let them see you as a real person.

#3 – Make It a Total Strategy

Change the way you approach business as building trust should be a total business operation. Start with being helpful and kind, follow through to closing the deal and interacting with your client in a way that makes them feel special. If need be, hire the right people to make it a full scale operation with everyone on the same page and all workers focused on the same goal.

In the end, it comes down to doing a great job on the project in order to build credibility and trust with your new client. It also helps to give the client something unexpected – over and above what was initially promised – in order to impress them, earn their trust and respect, and create a lifelong client/friend in the process.

CA4IT/Wall & Associates P.C. has 30 years’ of experience dealing with and supporting independent IT professionals.  Over this period of time, they have developed a suite of resources and financial services based on hands-on experience with over 10,000 clients. CA4IT provides consulting advice on financial  and tax planning strategies designed to maximize after-tax income and to minimize personal and corporate taxes for incorporated consultants and sole proprietors, project managers and service based small businesses.  CA4IT concentrates on maximizing the financial rewards of being an independent contractor. They have been an active member of NACCB (National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses) since its inception and a primary goal is to work with professional firms like Eagle to add value to the Knowledge Worker industry.

Doing it Right

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Sometimes it is hard work to do things the right way.  It is often easier to take shortcuts.
You have to actually remember stuff in order to do things the right way.  Flying by the seat of your pants is just that much easier.  You are busy so people can’t expect too much, right?

Can YOU hear yourself?  Hopefully not, because this person doesn’t CARE, and that sucks!

Here is the deal:Thumb Up

  1. Not doing it right it puts your reputation at risk. You sold yourself to your client by saying that you will do it right!
  2. Not doing it right impacts clients!
  3. Not doing it right impacts business partners!
  4. Not doing it right inconveniences people in other parts of the project!
  5. Not doing it right costs you a client, money or your next gig with an agency because they only want to work with contractors who do it right!

Good professionals do it right because they CARE. Good companies make sure they work with contractors who understand that doing it right is the only option!

Do you care enough? Do clients want to work with you again or are they happy to see you leave when the contract is over?