Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: ethics

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

Liar, Liar…

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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?