Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: google

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

How Google Discovered This Secret to Every Team’s Success

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Successful Team CelebratingMost of us, and especially IT contractors, have had a range of experience in dealing with teams, most likely in a work context but not entirely exclusive to work. I would bet we could all cite stories of teams gone sideways and opine as to why. The challenge, though, and hence the real question, is what does make teams successful or work? Why aren’t the best teams just a collection of the top people at the skills needed? Examples abound of this seemingly intuitive notion of “I will simply gather the best developers/salespeople/athletes/actors as needed to make my team win.” As we all know, though, in many of these cases, quite often the whole does not equal the sum of all its parts. Scores of evidence will show the assembly of the highest paid or skilled athletes (see Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Yankees,1980 Russian Olympic Hockey Team vs US) or the multi-chain store that has the same culture, policies and location demographics across its entire chain see huge variances in success in spite of all these commonalities.

Google, arguably the world’s most successful technology company, has a widespread reputation for only hiring the best of the best (just take a look at 41 of Google’s Toughest Interview Questions). In 2012, Google sought to understand what makes teams succeed and created Project Aristotle. The majority of modern work from early education through MBA school, and then on in to the workforce, is done in a group environment, to the extent that time spent in collaboration by employees and managers has ballooned over 50% in the last 20 years.  It is a given today that people are more productive and happier in a collaborative group dynamic. At first, the study, though overwhelmed with data, found that there were no obvious difference makers in terms of types of personality, skills or background that affected successful team outcomes. What they did find, though, as critical were the group “norms”, those unwritten set of criteria, standards and behaviors. There were two very definitive norms that distinguished successful, high functioning teams and they were:

  1. Good teams presented what researchers term a “psychological safety”. That, in effect, means team members on good teams felt free to speak /contribute equally without fear or retribution, and that everyone has an opportunity to speak. As long as everyone had a chance to speak, the team did well; whereas, in teams that were dominated by one person or a small group, “the collective intelligence” declined. This shared safety built by respect and trust was critical to success.
  2. Not surprisingly, good teams all had high “average social sensitivity” or were more empathetic. These teams were made up of people who were adept at reading people’s feelings through things like tone, non-verbal communication and expressions. In other words, the teams had high Emotional Intelligence. Successful team members know when people are upset, whereas people on ineffective teams scored worse, having less sensitivity to others on the team.

What was interesting for the Google researchers was that it was very evident that many of those who may have chosen Software Development as their career did so to avoid “discussing feelings” and were often naturally introverted.

This is a fascinating study that emanated from Silicon Valley, a world dominated by data. These technology professionals now have the data to rethink and reset the course, perhaps in getting away from conventional wisdom.  I encourage you to look into it and draw your own conclusions to perhaps redraw the way you as an independent contractor may operate within teams. As the saying goes: “teamwork makes the dream work.”

Google’s Most Popular Software Technologies

Diversification is a common technique used to reduce risk in many situations — investment portfolios, client lists, services offered — but how diverse is your skill set? Great Software Developers already know that having a variety of tools under their belt makes it easier to land the highest paying contracts. If you’re considering learning something new or brushing up on your skills, have a look at this article by Nick Kolakowski that was recently published by Dice. He reviews the top technologies as listed by Google in 2015.

While terming a particular technology “most popular” is always a problematic endeavor, Google’s gargantuan amount of search data offers some excellent insights into which technologies seized the world’s attention in 2015.

Google’s list of the most-searched software technologies last year included, in descending order:

  1. Java
  2. HTML
  3. Python
  4. JavaScript
  5. SQL
  6. CSS
  7. Adobe Flash
  8. R
  9. C
  10. GO

These rankings should be unsurprising to tech pros and Web developers; the top five technologies, for example, undergird the modern Web.

Further down the list, however, is where things get a little more interesting: Windows PowerShell (a task-automation and configuration management network), Scratch (a visual programming language), and Go (a programming language developed at Google) all made first-time appearances on the list in 2015. Adobe Flash was also new to the list, despite its age; perhaps the increased search volume was due to controversies over the platform’s security, or Adobe’s announcement that it would soon commence HTML5 support for Flash Professional CC.

For Web developers (and pretty much anyone whose job intersects in some way with the Web and mobile), knowledge of Java, HTML, and JavaScript is a given. But giving Go, Scratch, and PowerShell another look in 2016 might be a good idea; if those technologies catch on, they could climb further up the list—at which point, knowing them will be absolutely essential.

Freelancing 101: Professional Networking Made Easy (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a post originally published by Justine Smith on the FreshBooks Blog August 19, 2015

Freelancing 101: Professional Networking Made Easy (Part 2)Imagine waking up one morning, checking your email and finding several new leads from interested prospects. Now, imagine experiencing that every morning.

How can this happen? Through the power of professional networking.

When you take the time to build a strong network, that investment will bring results. People start seeing you as an expert and will come to you for services, whether you’re a writer, designer or massage therapist.

But this only happens through successful networking. A strong strategy is a must for keeping you and your business top-of-mind when new opportunities arise.

In the article below, you’ll find a few no-hassle, professional networking tips for freelancers. Use them to build your network, acquire new business and establish yourself as the go-to authority. Let’s dive in…

Craft a Comprehensive Marketing Toolkit

This toolkit will serve as your go-to resource when you land new leads during networking events. It’s essentially a pre-packaged form of sales collateral. Keep some copies in the car or carry some on-hand to make sure you never find yourself without your toolkit when the moment to exchange information strikes.

Ok, so what goes in this pre-packaged marketing toolkit?

Good question. You’ll find an array of choices for printed marketing materials. Some of these include:

  • Business cards
  • Post cards
  • Flyers
  • Booklets
  • Brochures
  • Calendars
  • Greeting Cards
  • Stickers
  • Newsletters

As a freelancer, you can use one or all of these items to creatively promote your business. But for the purpose of this package, try to keep things simple.

Business Cards

This is a no-brainer. Every professional at a networking event will carry a handful of business cards. In fact, you should too, above and beyond the ones you include in your networking toolkit. Then, when someone needs your number, just hand over your business card and set up a time to chat.

But what if a prospect wants to learn more about what you offer? When this happens, it’s time to hand over a bit more information. Your business card is your foundation, but let’s add to it a bit…

Brochures

In addition to the business card, include a brochure that highlights your services, capabilities and accomplishments. If you want, you can even take things a step further by offering a simple discount within the brochure.

When creating your brochure, keep these tips in mind:

  • Write to your target audience.
  • Share benefits, not just features.
  • Get a professional design.

Remember, you want to pass out this toolkit and let it do the selling for you. Do everything possible to create good, high-quality marketing materials.

One Miscellaneous Item

Round out your marketing toolkit with one of the materials left on the list above. This is a miscellaneous item by default, because different materials will work better or worse, depending on your industry.

For example, here are a few different ways you could use this third part of the package:

  • Music Teacher: Include a flyer that features an introductory discount for new students.
  • Writer: Use a newsletter to show off your writing skills.
  • Designer: Print a cool sticker that showcases your best design capabilities.

Once you have the package completed, it’s time to get out there and start building your professional network. Don’t be afraid – everybody gets nervous about networking, but preparation is the key. When you use this system, you’ll make the entire process as “no-hassle” as possible.

Search Google Like a Pro (Infographic)

Do you Google? Of course you do! Do you Google efficiently? That’s a different question. Many people don’t know it, but there are many operators that will help you get through a search to find what you need much faster. Next time you turn to Google for help, before you waste time, scrolling through pages or trying different search terms, take a look at this infographic from Splashsys.

Search Google Like a Pro

Freelancing 101: Professional Networking Made Easy (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of a post originally published by Justine Smith on the FreshBooks Blog August 19, 2015

img_professional-networking-made-easyImagine waking up one morning, checking your email and finding several new leads from interested prospects. Now, imagine experiencing that every morning.

How can this happen? Through the power of professional networking.

When you take the time to build a strong network, that investment will bring results. People start seeing you as an expert and will come to you for services, whether you’re a writer, designer or massage therapist.

But this only happens through successful networking. A strong strategy is a must for keeping you and your business top-of-mind when new opportunities arise.

In the article below, you’ll find a few no-hassle, professional networking tips for freelancers. Use them to build your network, acquire new business and establish yourself as the go-to authority. Let’s dive in…

Identify Networking Opportunities

For the sake of this article, I’m going to discuss in-person networking opportunities. Generally speaking, this is where most freelancers struggle. My personal experience has taught that many (if not most) of my freelancing peers are introverts.

That makes in-person networking a bit of a struggle. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are a couple different methods I use to identify local networking events:

Meetup.com

Spending hours working alone in a home office can make it difficult to get outside and forge profitable business connections. That’s why places like Meetup.com often become an integral part of freelancers’ networking strategies.

Meetup’s website outlines their basic mission within the community, saying:

“Meetup’s mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.”

As a freelance professional, you’ll quickly learn (if you haven’t already) that profitable things come from strong networks. Meetup can help you build the connections that will ultimately support your business’s growth.

I’ve used these steps to find the perfect meetup groups:

  1. Look through the top level categories. Sign in and click the search bar on the home screen. It’ll pull in several basic categories (e.g. Career & Business, Fitness, Music, etc.). Choose the one relevant to your industry.
  2. Narrow down your meetups through industry-related keywords. For example, let’s say I’m looking to offer my freelance services to marketers. I’d go to the “Career & Business” category and try the following search phrases.
    1. Marketing / Marketer (i.e. my target market)
    2. SEO / Content Marketing / Adwords (i.e. services my market offers)
    3. Small Business Owner / Entrepreneur (i.e. my target market’s target market)

Those two steps should give you plenty of options for relevant meetups.

Google

If Meetup doesn’t feature many events in your area, there’s another option: Google your way into your next local networking group or event. A few simple search queries can bring up great results, especially around larger cities.

Get started with these basic searches:

  • “yourcity business networking”
  • “yourcity networking events”
  • “yourcity networking groups”

Some of these events will have their own web pages or use a platform other than Meetup.com. Another quick Google search should reveal which of these events are most relevant for you to attend.

Create a Schedule at the Beginning of the Month

Once you’ve identified ideal opportunities in your area, it’s time to set priorities. After all, you can’t spend all month networking and no time actually doing the work your clients are paying for.

At the beginning of each month, look at all the possible events you’d like to attend and create a schedule based on your expected workload.

Write it Down

Grab a pencil, open your calendar and start writing in events. Ultimately, this action requires you to make a small commitment to attend. But remember – the less hassle, the better.

Don’t try to remember all the dates or rely on weekly digests from Meetup.com. Either something will come up or the event won’t seem that important in the moment (or, worse, you’ll forget about it altogether).

As a freelancer, we have dozens of responsibilities. I can’t use up all my brain’s bandwidth trying to remember these events. So, I write it down. And I always end up feeling thankful that I did.

Go Ahead and Pay for It

If there’s a fee to attend the events you’re sure you want to participate in, go ahead and pay it. What better way is there to ensure you’ll go than to financially invest in the event? Putting money down on something creates a loss if you decide not to show up. And, I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy losing – especially when it comes to money.

Even if the event doesn’t ask for a fee, find other ways to commit financially. If you’re afraid you’ll back out, give $20 to a friend and tell them that they can only give it back after you attend the event. Get creative with it. Remember, the goal here is to make going to networking events a no-brainer.

Don’t Overbook Yourself

Don’t get too overzealous – you’ll get overwhelmed by all the events and stall out. Instead, start with no more than 1 event each week. This amount keeps it reasonable without feeling stressful or getting too expensive.

And make sure not to overbook yourself. I’ve been too overzealous about networking in the past and it can become detrimental to business. You never want to neglect your current workload or clients for new business. That kinda defeats the purpose.

How to Be More Productive with Google

Google is a powerful tool that has evolved to be a lot more than a search engine.  When you leverage it properly, you can create one Google account (that doesn’t mean having to use a Gmail address anymore), and connect all of its services.  You can go on to manage them all together on the cloud and significantly increase your productivity.

The infographic below from GCFLearnFree.org shows just a few of the more popular services.  If you’re not on all of these today, can you be?  If you do have accounts with them, are they connected?

Once you’ve explored these, we recommend you also get familiar with Google Keep, Google Play, Google Contacts and Google Maps.  Of course, connecting all of these tools can raise privacy and security concerns.  Google has published this page to help you manage that as well.

Note: The infographic is slightly outdated.  Instead of limiting yourself to just Google Docs, apps like Sheets, Slides and Forms can be just as handy and are all now part of Google Drive.  Also, Google Reader has since been shut down.  For alternate RSS Readers, we recommend Digg Reader or Feedly.

Infographic: What can you do with Google?

How to Stalk Your Potential Client Online

Jennifer Farrell By Jennifer Farrell,
Proposal Team Lead at Eagle

We are often surprised by the number of contractors who attend a client interview unprepared. Reading and understanding the Job Description is important and its a good starting point. But let’s not stop there. If you really want to win the contract and land the perfect role, you need to understand the client better than your contractor competition. What you need to win is a basic understanding of your potential client.

The easiest way to start is with a Google search and a visit to the company’s website.  Look up their press releases, review their service offerings, and read their entire management page. [Tip: If you’re serious about this contract, read their entire website. If you don’t, someone else will and that gives them a serious competitive advantage over you.] While you are reading, take lots of notes and make sure to answer the following questions:

  • What do they do?
  • Where are they located?
  • Are they publicly traded and, if so, how is their stock doing?
  • Have they been in the news lately?
  • Who is the Executive Team?
  • What are their Vision, Mission and Core Values?

Next, find the company on LinkedIn, join their main page, and then read the five most LinkedInrecent articles they have published to get a ‘flavor’ for what the company is doing.  Search their employees and find the interviewer.  Click through to the Hiring Manager’s LinkedIn page and review their professional background. Don’t be nervous that they will know you checked them out. It is very gratifying to see a potential contractor conducting their due diligence and we’ve never met a client who was offended that a candidate prepared in this way.  [Tip: Prior to clicking through to the Hiring Manager, make sure your own LinkedIn page is flawless.  Copy your own page content into Word and run a complete spelling and grammar check. Read it again. Then print it off and read it again. Most mistakes are caught faster on paper than on screen. Once you’re happy with it, go ahead and update it.] While you are on the page of the person who is interviewing you, find something that you both have in common and write it down in your notebook. If you can, find a way to bring up your common interest during the interview.  This trick will help you connect on a personal level, which ensures you stand out from your competition.  [Tip: Don’t force the conversation about the personal interest. It is more important to keep up with the real-time pace and topics of the interview.]

Remember, while you are conducting all of this research you should be taking lots of notes in a notebook – a key tool to interview success. This is the same notebook you’ll use to brainstorm questions for the client and the same notebook you’ll bring to the interview.

The client’s website, Google, and LinkedIn are the three easiest online sources for researching a company before an interview.  There are, of course, many other great sites across the Internet.  Do you have any favourite websites you use to prepare for an interview?  Add to our list by leaving us a comment.