Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: inside scoop

All posts in the Talent Development Centre, written by recruiters, with an inside look at Eagle and other staffing agencies.

The Myth of the ‘2 Page Resume’

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

We often have candidates tell us that they received advice from others (often outplacement agencies) to pare their resume back to fit into a 2 page format.  While this is possible for some to accomplish, it can pose a challenge for people who are several years in to their career and have many experiences and successes to highlight. The Myth of the ‘2 Page Resume’

We recommend keeping a resume as clean, clear and concise as possible but don’t mind seeing a 3 or 4 page resume, particularly for someone with over 15 years of experience.

It is well known that most recruiters or hiring managers will spend 5-10 seconds reviewing a resume to determine if a candidate is worthy of further exploration. Once you capture someone’s attention it is important to have enough details to further substantiate your fit for an opportunity.  The following are a few key tips to ensure that your resume makes it past the ‘5 second scan’.

  • Keep it chronological rather than functional. Highlighting your overall skills in a functional format is frustrating for anyone reading your resume.  They must spend time figuring out where in your employment experience each functional area ties back to.  If you have a great skill or success but it is from your first job out of school 20 years ago, it may not be considered marketable.
  • Avoid lengthy intros/bio summaries. Your ‘intro’ statement should be no more than 2 sentences, and should be very concise.  Paint a picture for the reader that summarizes your history, highlights and career goals in a very streamlined manner.  An example might be:  A global Program Manager with 20+ years of experience successfully managing highly complex, enterprise wide transformational initiatives.  Seeking a challenging opportunity with an industry leader that will afford me opportunities for growth.
  • Forget the long list of skills at the beginning of the resume. Anyone and everyone can mention ‘Hard Working, Great Time Management Skills, Team Player, Conscientious’.  Focus on highlighting quantifiable achievements rather than a vague listing of skills that simply take up valuable space.
  • Focus on successes/achievements rather than highlighting ‘day to day’ core activities. Every bullet point that you list should be impactful and highlight a success, achievement or initiative that you undertook.  Use words like ‘Successfully, Spearheaded, Exceeded, Efficiently Created, Fostered’, etc.  then finish the sentence with what positive result you achieved from the initiative.
  • No paragraphs, ever.  A bullet point should be less than 2 lines, and should not contain more than one sentence.  If you are using a paragraph format, the reader will lose interest very quickly and you likely won’t make it past 3 seconds!
  • Keep a reasonable font. It is not a great achievement if you manage to get your resume to 2 pages by reducing the font size to 5.  Use a professional font that is easy to read and as a general rule, never use a font below 10.

Ask your recruiter for feedback on your resume, and take their advice.  A resume should be a constant work in progress and should be ever evolving as your career progresses.

For insight into the differences between a typical contractor vs permanent employee resume, stay tuned for my next post!

The Top 5 Sections of a LinkedIn Profile that Recruiters Care About Most

Earlier this month, we shared a LinkedIn Checklist that will we said, once complete, will do wonders in helping you connect with more recruiters and finding more IT contracts. While we stand by that claim, we also understand that busy contractors don’t have time to update every element of their LinkedIn profile. As such, you need to prioritize.

We surveyed Eagle’s recruiters to learn what they believe are the most important parts of a LinkedIn profile and what they consider most. This video quickly sums it all up for you.  Are these five elements of your LinkedIn profile up-to-date?

Why You Should Complete a Skills Matrix and the Secret to Filling One Out

Melissa Bryanton By Melissa Bryanton,
Proposal Manager at Eagle

Have you ever been contacted by a Recruiter who had a great IT contract opportunity where you’re perfectly qualified, but when they send you the details, it includes a massive skills matrix to complete? Suddenly, the job application that you thought would only require a quick resume update and email is turning into a daunting, time-consuming project. You think: Is this job even worth it? Why is the Recruiter wasting my time?

Why You Should Complete a Skills Matrix and the Secret to Filling One OutThe last thing the Recruiter wants to do is waste your time. However, they do need your help highlighting your relevant experience and qualifications that make you a great fit for the job. You would be wise to question any Recruiter who claims they can take your resume as-is, update it and complete the matrix for you. While this seems like a great time-saver, you are the only person who can legitimately explain how your experience matches the client’s job requirements. The risks in allowing an agency to take your resume and run with it is: 1) the resume becomes full of fabricated experience that may or may not make sense – not all recruiters may understand the complexity of your skills or 2) you and the Recruiter spend a lot more time going back and forth on the details in the 11th hour. The outcome of either scenario is going to be negative. Collaborating with the Recruiter on tailoring your resume and completing the matrix is the best option to increase your chances of winning the contract.

What is a Grid/Matrix?

A matrix, also sometimes referred to as a grid, is client-mandated, and usually required when the staffing agency must submit a proposal to their client in response to an RFP, rather than simply submitting a few resumes to the client. The matrix is a document with a table that the client developed, which often includes mandatory and point-rated requirements in one column, and a space in the other column for the candidate to explain their relevant experience and qualifications. The purpose of the matrix is to demonstrate how the candidate meets all the client’s requirements.

What Makes a Successful Matrix?

The key to submitting a winning matrix to a client is detail. Usually, if a candidate is requested through an RFP process, it means 1) there will be many other applicants, and 2) the client must back-up their selection by clearly demonstrating they chose the candidate who meets all the job requirements. As such, if you want a shot at winning a contract that requires a proposal submission, you must be prepared to show as much evidence of your experience as possible.

What Should You Do If Your IT Contract Requires a Matrix?

If your Recruiter tells you your submission will require you to complete a matrix or grid, try not to run for the hills. Keep in mind that many other candidates will also pass up on the opportunity, so you’re already more competitive by proceeding. Here are a few tips to make the process easier and more efficient for yourself:

  • Don’t Panic! Matrices can look challenging with way too much of a time commitment. They can also be confusing. If you open a matrix and immediately feel the pit in your stomach, then contact your Recruiter. The good ones will walk you through the process, explain the requirements, and help you confirm your chances at winning the contract.
  • Start Right Away. As mentioned, matrices are usually associated with RFPs, which have hard deadlines. When a Recruiter tells you they need your information by a certain day, there is little to no flexibility. Therefore, start working on matching your experience to the requirements as quickly as possible.
  • Build Out Your Resume. Matrices actually provide a major competitive advantage in a job search because the client reveals exactly what they are looking for. Go through the matrix, item by item, and highlight all the relevant experience in your resume. If more detail is needed, tailor your experience in your resume and explain how you meet each requirement. Don’t be concerned if your resume becomes extremely long – the “2 to 5-page resume” advice doesn’t apply to RFP responses as the client is looking for as much detail as possible.
  • Quickly Cross-Reference to Your Resume. Number each contract or project in your resume for cross-referencing purposes. Without writing any content in the matrix, go through each item and refer to the project or contract in your resume where you have the relevant experience. Also include the length of time of each project or contract, to quickly see how well you qualify for this role, or if you’re coming up short against any of the requirements.

The Overall Secret to Completing a Skills Matrix

The best advice for completing a matrix is to focus on your resume. We often see candidates get fixated on that matrix and wanting to write specific explanations, but if those details are not backed-up in your resume, they will mean nothing. Instead, spend your time expanding on your experience in your resume. Even if you think a task is implied or too basic, if it will help prove you meet a requirement in the matrix, write about it in your resume. As long as you meet their deadlines, a good staffing agency will confirm you meet the requirements, polish your resume and develop the matrix to meet the client’s very stringent RFP response criteria. Matrices can be complex and seemingly impossible, but with the right staffing agency they shouldn’t be time-consuming or overwhelming.

Technology Recruiters’ “Unwritten Rules”

Technology Recruiters' "Unwritten Rules"We understand. IT contractors would prefer not to have to work with recruiters at all. In a perfect world, clients would contact you directly and you’d arrange your own contracts saving everybody the fuss of using a middle man.

Clients prefer to work with recruitment agencies because it saves them money, risk, and hassle. Independent contractors also have plenty to gain from building a relationship with recruiters, including the reduced risk, as well as exclusive access to unlisted project opportunities and resume and interview advice. The key to building that solid relationship is understanding how to work best with recruiters.

In the past year, the Talent Development Centre shared many inside tips about working with recruiters. The Secret to Being Called First by a Recruiter explained how to stay “top-of-mind”. How to Get on a Recruiter’s Bad Side told you how to do the opposite. Cameron McCallum, Regional Vice-President at Eagle, also wrote about some specific communication tips with recruiters, and another post summarized Eagle’s recruiters’ favourite and least favourite traits of IT contractors.

In addition to the articles referenced above, if you’re looking for similar advice but perhaps with a less biased view, check out this article from the Dice  Insights Blog written by Leslie Stevens-Huffman. She discusses five ground rules for working with tech recruiters, and refers to them as “recruiting’s unwritten rules of engagement.”

  1. Don’t Waste Their Time
  2. Honesty About Your Hands-On Experience
  3. Let Them Do Their Jobs
  4. Show Respect for Their Abilities
  5. User Your Power in a Positive Way

Would you agree with Stevens-Huffman or argue that some of these rules shouldn’t always apply. Are there any rules you’d add for a successful relationship with a recruiter? Vice-versa, are there any rules of engagement you believe all recruiters should always follow? Leave your opinion in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you!

5 Things Recruiters Hate About Your Resume (Video)

For IT Contractors, recruiters are the gatekeepers of your employment destiny as they are the ones who read and evaluate your resume. If they like what they see, you’ll move on in the process; if not your hopes for that role are over and your jobs search starts over again. So, it is pretty important to tailor your resume to what they want to see.  This quick video shows you 5 things you absolutely must avoid having on your resume, under any circumstances, no matter what, if you want to keep your recruiter happy!

Are You Awesome or Annoying? (Video)

If given the choice, we hope that you would prefer to be awesome rather than annoying, especially in the eyes of recruiters and clients when they’re interviewing you for a gig. Of course, we all think we’re awesome, but are you really that great… or are you kind of annoying?

Don’t stay up all night worrying about what recruiters think of you. Instead, have a look at this video we created with input from our recruiters and confirm if they think you’re awesome or annoying. If you fall in the annoying category, perhaps it’s time to change some habits.

2016 in Review: Working with Staffing Agencies

2016 in Review: The Inside Scoop on Working with Staffing AgenciesThere are many benefits to working with staffing agencies. Topping the list is that we help IT contractors connect with the top clients and the best technology projects. Naturally, then, being able to build relationships and work with recruiters provides a major competitive advantage. The Talent Development Centre is all about growing independent contractors’ success, so 2016 was packed with inside information on how you can enhance your relationship with employment agencies.

Top-of-Mind Candidates

The best position for you to be in is as one of your recruiters’ “top-of-mind” candidates. To provide insight on this topic and help you achieve this spot, we surveyed our recruiters to learn more about being top-of-mind. The result was a series of posts, including these:

Building a Relationship with a Recruiter

Of course, it all starts with a solid relationship with your recruiter. These posts will help you develop that relationship.

Choosing the Right Staffing Agency

Finally, the most important part of building a relationship with a staffing agency is to make sure you’ve chosen the right one. We always recommend you build relationships with at least three recruiters from different agencies. In this post, Frances McCart, VP Business Development, provides advice on how to choose that partner.

2016 in Review: Business of Independent Contracting

2016 in Review: The Business of Independent ContractingIt’s well-known that successful independent contractors are hard workers, experts in their field and know the best ways to keep a steady flow of work. Something often over-looked by an outsider is all of the extra work an independent contractor has to do just to manage their business. Since we know that IT contracting goes beyond searching for jobs and working on projects, the Talent Development Centre is filled with helpful business tips and contracting advice.

Taking the Leap into Independent Contracting

Just getting into contracting can be a scary endeavor, which is why we posted these articles to help IT professionals in that situation:

Managing Your Independent Contracting Business

We also shared these posts to help manage the business once it’s moving:

Inside Scoop from Eagle’s Executive Team

One of the greatest benefits of the Talent Development Centre is the inside scoop we provide from our executives, who work closely with industry associations. As a result, 2016 also saw these policy-related articles:

What did we miss in 2016? Use the comments below to tell us what you want to learn more about next year.

2016 in Review: Resumes

Year in Review: ResumesYesterday we summarized the top job search tips that were shared on the Talent Development Centre throughout 2016. You may have noticed, there was a very important element missing: resumes!

Every job search must start with an outstanding resume. Here are just a few of the many articles we posted in the past year on this topic:

Plus these ones, which were written with direct input from Eagle’s Recruiters and Management Team:

Are there any specific resume tips you’d like to see in the Talent Development Centre in 2017? We’d love your feedback. Please let us know in the comments below.

2016 in Review: Job Searching

2016 in Review: Job Search AdviceA job search has a number of aspects to it and nobody understands that better than an independent contractor who’s always looking out for new opportunities. Beyond knowing how to spruce up your resume and ace an interview, to be really successful, you have to understand the ins and outs of job search strategies.

Basic Job Search Tips

For starters, here are a few basic job search tips:

Advice for Your Next Job Interview

A major milestone in your search is the job interview. Here are the top posts we shared this year on that topic:

Insight from Eagle’s Executive Team

Finally, here are some posts with insight from Eagle’s own Executive Team: