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.

Why Recruiters Ask You to “Rewrite Your Resume” for an RFP Response

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Why Recruiters Ask You to "Rewrite Your Resume" for an RFP ResponseI was recently at a networking event and overheard IT contractors discussing how their staffing agency was having them basically rewrite their resume for an RFP response and they couldn’t understand why they were having them do all of the work. There was mutual agreement around the group that they’ve all experienced this and that they weren’t happy about it. I thought that was a great time to introduce myself and apologize for interrupting, but I couldn’t help but overhear their topic.

I asked them if their agency educated them on why they require the information they were asking for. All of them explained that they were simply sent a set of instructions and were told that they had to “send everything back” before the deadline. I took some time to discuss the reasons to them and after a lot of back and forth questions and answers, they understood the importance.

Remember, you, as the consultant, are the person doing the job every day. Between yourself and your recruiter, you are the only one who knows what you did, how you did it, in what context, with whom, what tools were used, etc. The last thing we want to do as an agency is guess or assume your experience. This is why your recruiter comes back to you to ask you to update your resume with the details. Yes, they can help you put your thoughts together but they need you for the details.

After discussing why it’s important to have a “federal government” formatted resume with the group consultants, I sent them this Talent Development Centre post I wrote a year and a half ago. It is a great starting point when any consultant is getting ready to respond to a Federal Government RFP.

Do You Have Questions? Here’s How to Get Answers Directly from Eagle’s Recruiters

Do You Have Questions? Here's How to Get Answers Directly from Eagle's RecruitersIt’s an AMA, Talent Development Centre style! We often see comments across social media or hear from IT contractors directly who have a variety of questions. So, for today’s special post, we’re asking our readers what they want to know from Eagle’s recruiters.

Are there specific job search tips you’d like to hear? Do you want to learn more about hiring processes at staffing agencies? Would you like to know what’s happening inside a recruiter’s head at any given time? Whatever the question, we want to answer it.

Leave your question in the comments section of this post below. We’ll collect all of them and send them off to Eagle’s most experienced recruiters. Then watch the Talent Development Centre and we’ll share the answers at the end of the month.

Land More Jobs by Building a Relationship with Your Recruiter

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

“Communication–the human connection–is the key to personal and career success.” - Paul J. MeyerWhen you’re an IT contractor, working with recruiters is inevitable in your career, so maintaining a strong candidate/recruiter relationship should be top priority. Having an honest, open and trusting relationship with your recruiter is beneficial as you make major decisions throughout your career.  Just as every strong relationship has give-and-take, so is the one between the job seekers and the recruiters. Recruiters provide expertise, industry knowledge, industry contacts and job leads. They can also provide tips and guidance to improve your chances and direct you to the best job opportunities for you. So what’s the role of the IT contractor as the job seeker?

First, you need to help recruiters find you so you can do your part to build relationships with them. It is a known fact that more senior recruiters have an easily accessible pool of highly qualified candidates. These are people in their network that they often refer to first when they are recruiting for a job opportunity. If you’re not in that pool then you’re making your job search a lot more difficult. The internet and social media are swimming with candidates who are constantly applying to positions and you need make sure you are standing in front of the competition. So, start by building your social media presence including LinkedIn, Twitter and any local boards. Recruiters often use job boards and social media to find their candidates so make it easy for them to find you. If you get unsolicited calls or emails from recruiters, take them and respond. If the job opportunity is not what you’re looking for, then the best advice is help them with their search by recommending people you know who are a fit. Recruiters remember candidates who are helpful, so it’s the perfect way to start building a relationship.

Another way to ensure you are building a strong relationship with your recruiters is to have conversations with recruiters in real-time. Meet your recruiters face-to-face whenever possible. Provide them with regular updates on your status and any exciting projects you are working on. Also, put in an effort to understand their business, how recruiting works, their recruiting cycle timelines and how you fit into that scenario. It is also important to gain expectations in the beginning. Having this general understanding can help you figure out which relationships to prioritize. You would want to prioritize recruiters who specialize in what you do.

Developing a relationship with recruiters benefits your future job search. Even if you aren’t immediately looking for a new job or if a particular job opportunity isn’t quite right for you, it’s worth it to find out more and use that time to develop that relationship. Recruiters are often the link to many potential employers. They know what’s happening internally at these companies and before most, know where the next vacancy will be. So always welcome opportunities to speak to recruiters.  Keep an open mind and you might be pleasantly surprised.

“Communication–the human connection–is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

Recruiters Love (and Need) Your Feedback

Recruiters Love (and Need) Your FeedbackAs with any top-performing professional, great recruiters strive to improve so they can better help IT professionals find the right job with the right client. Also like all professionals, recruiters can only get better if they know how to improve. They take the same approach you would to deliver better service to your clients (reviewing past successes and failures, professional development, etc.) but they too can only fix the shortcomings that have been identified to them.

Perhaps you consider giving feedback to a recruiter uncomfortable or even unnecessary, but there are several benefits to you that will make you thankful you did. First and foremost, as we already alluded to, feedback is the only way your recruiter can truly improve. Both positive and negative, when recruiters know what they’re doing right and in which areas they lack, the best ones will build off their strengths and work on their weaknesses. The result will be more positive experience next time you work with them.

If you don’t believe it’s your responsibility to help a recruiter with their professional development, then consider that it is your shared responsibility to ensure proper communication. Especially when you’re dissatisfied with what’s happening, talking about anybody behind their back will not solve the issue. Instead, by expressing concerns and sharing your feedback, you create an opportunity for dialogue. Often in these cases, miscommunications and misunderstandings of expectations are identified and processes can start to be fixed. Finally, sharing feedback with a recruiter helps relationships. A humble recruiter always appreciates feedback and when you demonstrate a genuine effort to help them improve, they will remember it next time a job comes across their desk that fits your skillset.

How Can You Give Feedback to a Recruiter?

Excelling at giving feedback is a challenging task for anybody and recruitment agencies understand that. Most will provide multiple options for you to give feedback, but here are just a couple common ones:

  • Contact the Recruiter Directly. The obvious one is to call, email or arrange a face-to-face meeting. Tell your recruiter exactly how they’re doing or how they did, what they should keep doing and where they need to improve. This is the best solution if you want dialogue but also the most awkward and may not suit everyone’s personality.
  • Surveys. When you receive a survey from a recruitment agency, complete it. Not only do you get to respond at your convenience, but it is the easiest way to give them what they want to know AND rant about anything else you feel is relevant. More importantly, survey responses are almost always guaranteed to be seen by your recruiter’s manager. If you feel your direct feedback wasn’t received properly, this will deliver the message.

Giving feedback — both positive and negative — is a natural part of a successful career. It’s a good habit to provide feedback to your teammates, partners, clients, and of course recruiters. In addition to giving it, it’s even more important to be able to accept feedback. For many, that’s an entirely different challenge.

How You Can Contribute to an Awesome Onboarding Experience

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

How You Can Contribute to an Awesome Onboarding ExperienceWe’ve all been there – starting a new job always means lots of uncertainty, heightened levels of stress and a general sense of discomfort.  Clients and employers have come a long way to ensuring the onboarding of both permanent employees and contractors is pleasant. In doing so, they strive to mitigate the stress that starting a new job tends to have on the vast majority of people.

Back in the day, it was common to have someone point to an empty desk, hand you a bottle of Windex and say “Off you go, figure it out!”  Luckily, companies have since recognized the importance of a robust onboarding program including socialization, training, wide spread introductions and announcements – all of which go a long way to fostering a feeling of inclusion.

As an IT contractor, independent professionals are accustomed to starting new positions on a fairly regular basis so tend to roll with the punches more so than most.  A good agency understands the importance of you having all of the tools and information you need to start an assignment successfully, and will do everything that they can to assist with that process.  But the contractor has a role to play in that as well.  In speaking with our back-office onboarding team, we asked what some of the common misconceptions or missteps were.  They confirmed that if you focus on just these four areas in the days leading up to your contract start date, it will ensure a much smoother onboarding process for all.

  • Have all requested paperwork completed. More importantly, complete all required fields, on time, and submitted as requested.
  • Ensure that all business paperwork is accurate. Everything you provide needs to be clear and correct. For example, confirm that your HST # is valid and that your chequing account is under business name rather than personal.
  • Know where to go for information. Your agency cannot (and should not) act as an accountant, a lawyer, or a business assistant. Be sure you have your own business considerations covered
  • Realize that staffing agencies can have different processes. Just because the recruitment agency you worked with last did things one way, it doesn’t mean it was the “right” way. You may have to adapt to a new (and potentially better!) way of doing things.

When you start a new contract it’s your job to get acquainted as quickly as possible and to hit the ground running.  Ensuring that all of your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed from an administrative perspective will go a long way in allowing you to focus on what is important — doing a stellar job for your new client.

The Job Interview is YOUR Time to Shine… Be Sure to Prepare!

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The job interview is your chance to sell yourself.  The recruiter found you, helped update your resume as necessary and submitted you to the client.  We can prep you and give you insight into the culture and even specific questions that the hiring manager is likely to ask but as the candidate, this is where you need to shine.  Preparation is what is going to set you apart from the rest.

As a contractor, you know there’s fierce competition in every role you apply to. Putting in the effort to be prepared and knowledgeable will always give you the advantage in this stage of your job hunt.  This infographic from Ropella has a few tips to help you get there.

The Job Interview is YOUR Time to Shine... Be Sure to Prepare!

Building Your Resume to Respond to Government Matrices

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Building Your Resume to Respond to Government MatricesDeciding to move into public sector IT contracting? One of the biggest challenges a contractor faces is getting their resume ready to respond to large RFPs and extensive government matrices.

Here are some guidelines to help with the process:

  1. You must have a detailed PROJECT description for every position you list in the resume. The project description should include:
    • The project type (transformation, migration, implementation, etc.) along with any main systems or main technologies used.
    • Describe what the goals/objectives are of that project. If applicable, discuss any project successes/failures
    • What was the team size?
    • What was the project budget?
    • Any other relevant information that can help to explain and understand the project.
  1. When you list your work experience, be sure to include the following information for each position:
    • Job Title (including the level)
    • Employer’s name and city
    • Duties and accomplishments
    • Supervisor’s name and phone number (this is particularly good to have when an RFP requests a reference for each project listed in the matrix)
    • Start and end dates (month AND year)
  1. It is often a requirement of an RFP response that you send supporting documentation, including proof of education, certifications or security clearance. It is always a good idea to keep a scanned copy of these documents ready to send if necessary.
  2. Organize your resume information. You may want to consider sub-headings for different flavors of your resume. This will allow you to add bullets to your resume easily for targeted matrix responses or remove bullet points or sub-headings from your resume if the experience is not relevant to that particular job posting.
  3. You should never submit a resume to a job posting without updating the responsibilities section of your resume. It is important that you demonstrate that you are qualified for the role and gear your resume updates toward demonstrating this. Review the qualifications of the job posting/matrix for the position you are targeting. By reviewing this it allows you to better understand which of your qualifications you should emphasize and elaborate on in the 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.
  4. Keywords, keywords, keywords. Look for Keywords, such as repeated verbs or technical terminologies that are listed in the job posting or matrix. Once you have identified these words then use them in your resume and more importantly provide proof that you have the experience by elaborating on the context of how you gained the experience. A good way to do this is to use numbers, provide examples and focus on the outcome of your activities to emphasize results.
  5. Update job titles frequently. You may need to change your job titles to better fit the job description, such as changing “Project Producer” to “Project Manager” or “Data Scientist” in a private-sector job to “Data Architect.”
  6. Go long. Federal resumes are always longer. Use as many pages as needed to provide a thorough review of your work and education. Be detailed and remember, you’re using your updated resume to make your case and prove that you’re the best fit for this job.  That being said, carefully open with your key qualifications and avoid losing your reader/qualifiers. You could also add a profile statement or qualifications summary to the top of your resume to highlight your most noteworthy and relevant accomplishments.
  7. Proof read your resume. Similar to other resumes, editing and reviewing is important. Not only are you outlining your qualifications but you are also submitting a writing sample. Proof read and edit the resume at least 3 times before submitting your resume for a job posting.

What Makes a Client Hire Quickly… or Take Forever to Decide? (And Why Independent Contractors Should Care)

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

What Makes a Client Hire Quickly or Take Forever to Decide? (And Why Independent Contractors Should Care)Many factors impact just how quickly a company will progress through the hiring process.  Having a sound understanding of the speed of hiring can help a contractor immensely.  For example, if you are on contract and your assignment will be wrapping up, knowing how long the hiring process will take ensures you begin earnestly looking for your next “gig” at the correct time – not so soon that a new offer comes in before you’ve fully completed your assignment; and not so late as to have an uncomfortable gap in your work and income.

Having multiple offers in hand is a great scenario for a contractor but having multiple interviews on the go and one mediocre offer in hand is a little more difficult to manage.  Do you turn down the offer in the hope that one of the better interviews results in some business?  After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Having a solid understanding of the timelines involved may help you to determine whether you can wait to provide your acceptance of the present offer or whether you need to jump at what you’ve got for certain.

The following is a list of factors that lengthen or shorten the hiring cycle and why:

  • Reason for hire: Is the company initiating a brand-new project?  If so, there could be delays in the process.  Or are they replacing a key person within an ongoing project?  This could indicate a need for someone very quickly.
  • Interview Process: How many interviews will be required as part of the client’s hiring process.  It isn’t uncommon for some companies to have one interview and make an offer.  However, some clients like to have multiple interviews before settling on their candidate of choice.
  • Market conditions: When supply of contractors is robust vs. the demand for work, we often see companies taking more time to make a hiring decision.  The opposite is also true… tight labour markets mean that qualified contractors need to be snapped up more quickly or risk losing them to another company.
  • Complexity of the job description: Some customers ask for a “shopping list” of qualifications and experience that is so long that no-one exists with everything that they want. These clients need to scale back their “must-haves” and will begin interviewing the candidates that have portions of what they desire.  These customers are often slow to make a hire, hoping that some unicorn-candidate will magically become available.
  • Number of candidates being considered: If a company interviews 2 or 3 potential candidates, they tend to make quicker decision than companies who interview 7 or 8 or more.
  • Motivation of the hiring manager (or lack thereof): Deadlines, looming vacations, competing priorities all factor into the level of urgency hiring managers will have.
  • Level of bureaucracy: Some companies have an extensive internal hiring process that require levels of approvals and sign-offs that can drag offers out for weeks.
  • Dynamism of the environment: Many corporations have a very fluid environment, where programs and projects are continually in flux.  Timing of hiring is often impacted when this occurs as they attempt to coordinate the entry of the new contractor(s).  Depending on the situation, this could speed up the hiring process or slow it down.
  • Timing of other, similar projects in the local market: Projects may be delayed or fast-tracked based on other projects of a similar nature either starting up or winding down elsewhere in town.  For example, if there are a number of simultaneous SAP projects already in-flight in the local market, a company wishing to start one of their own may delay their hiring to coincide with one of these other projects winding down.  The opposite can also be true… back when everyone had a Windows 7 implementation in their plans, the companies who moved fastest to hire/build their teams were able to acquire the cream of the crop… they were motivated to move quickly.

These are just some of the things that can impact the speed at which an offer is made.  Be sure to ask your recruiter about these the next time they speak with you about a new opportunity and you will understand the issues at play – the better the information that you collect, the better your decision making will be.

2018 is Looking Great for Jobs in Canada… What Does That Mean for Employers?

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

As we head into the New Year, the economic news across the country, especially as it relates to employment and jobs in Canada, would strongly suggest we are at or close to peak full employment in Canada. While some regions are more active than others, we are seeing in many cities and provinces the lowest unemployment recorded in over 40 years! Canada created over 422,000 jobs last year, the best year since 2002, and many are full time. Quebec is at a record low 4.9%, plus Ontario and the West are also performing.

2018 is Looking Great for Jobs in Canada... What Does That Mean for Employers?Further economic indicators point to and back up this booming jobs market as wages have begun to creep up, a sure sign of a tight labour market. The Bank of Canada increased its rate a quarter point early this month, the 3rd increase since last July. The US economy looks to be also firing on all cylinders with recent massive tax changes which will only serve to increase the Canadian export economy provided a certain “very stable genius” doesn’t cancel NAFTA.

Here at Eagle, we are undoubtedly experiencing the effects of such a market in seeing a shortage of available candidates, candidates receiving multiple offers and down time between assignments being very short or non-existent. The ACSESS Staffing Index, a measure of billing hours in Canada among temporary labour, bears this out as it hits some of its highest levels in years. We also know that the “Technology” unemployment rate in Canada is likely less than half the nominal rate, likely in or around 2%.

Recent conversations with both the Federal Government and Ontario government suggest a looming crisis in attracting the next generation of technology professionals so desperately needed as their workforce ages out.

So what can clients, companies and governments do to thrive in a very tight job market? Here are a few suggestions meant to help navigate successfully to get the right people at the right time.

  • Review your hiring processes to be sure they are tight and efficient. Accelerate your hiring process where you can. Candidates with multiple offers — the “A” candidates — will not be available through an extended interview or hiring process in this market.
  • Hiring Managers need to review expectations. Many skills will not see multiple candidates to assess and therefore be sure you prioritize your “must have criteria” as the days of a candidate having 10 out of 10 requirements may no longer be realistic.
  • Work with your agency partners. Ensure a good and accelerated feedback loop exists, be proactive with your staffing partners on upcoming needs, be nimble on offers, and review competitive rates and salaries with your agency partners and others in the market to be sure your expectations align.
  • Make sure you understand your value proposition as a company to attract “A”candidates and articulate it to your partners so that we can help you. Know your organization’s “sizzle and its steak “. Understand your market, your comp structures and skills availabilities in your market and engage your staffing partners to fill in the gaps
  • It’s not the time to “overplay” your hiring hand. The market has changed and being slow to the market will not reward you. Be flexible. You will need valued partners because all but a very, very few elite companies will need help since the days of advertising an opening and sitting back to see what comes are gone

There will always be other ongoing events to stay abreast of, for example Toronto recently making the “shortlist” for the new Amazon HQ, (a move Apple no doubt is now likely to repeat). Although chances are slim they ultimately win, imagine if they did. It would present a huge game changer and competition for not only all of Toronto’s employers but many in Canada as well!

Organizations can still get the “A” candidates if they take to heart some of these and other suggestions and adapt to the marketplace. If not, it’s going to be costly with C and D level candidates.

Contractors/Small Business Owners: Your Agency is an Extension of your Marketing Department

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

Contractors/Small Business Owners: Your Agency is an Extension of your Marketing DepartmentAs an independent contractor, you are a small business owner. And just as every business needs to sell its products and services so, too, must you from time to time. Long term, multi-year contracts aside, contractors’ businesses are very often defined by frequent client engagements. When you are busy delivering your service it can be a challenge to find the time to market your company, after all there are only so many hours in a day. Likewise, sales isn’t typically your primary business and many contractors and consultants struggle with this part of their business (or, at least, it isn’t their favorite part of running the business).

What’s an independent contractor to do? There are some basic things that every small business can do to ensure they are getting their brand out to the market. These include:

  • Maintain a nice clean, easy-to-navigate website that lets prospective clients know what you do best and have accomplished
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile is accurate and up-to-date… and “connect” with as many people as possible… and participate in work-related, online forums and chat groups
  • Invest in business cards and stationery, an important part of your branding strategy
  • Network, network, network… Just as a restaurant’s success has a lot to do with its location, your business success is a result of people in your industry knowing about you and the work that your company does better than anyone else. Getting out where industry peers and potential clients meet and engaging with these people is vitally important
  • Work your “champions”. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you will have made some deep and lasting professional relationships. These people will want to see you succeed and knowing that you are interested in pursuing new opportunities, they will do their best to help you identify new prospects by making introductions.

…And, as the title of this blog suggests, leverage your staffing agency partners to the fullest! Your agency doesn’t technically work for you as it is their customer base that hires them to conduct searches on their behalf; but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from your affiliation with them. Especially when it comes to marketing your business. Eagle, for example, holds multiple networking events each year, we send out industry and market updates regularly, and our Recruiters are great sources of information and ideas. Staffing companies make their business by finding the best possible talent for their clients and, if you happen to be a good fit for one of their open roles, they will do the selling for you!

Staffing companies do not charge you (the contractor) to work for them. Instead their clients negotiate hourly fees that they will pay over and above the rates that you charge. Most end-clients are content to pay a premium to off-load the search, vetting, qualification, onboarding, hiring, and payment functions to staffing specialists as it is much more efficient and cost effective than doing so themselves. And they find the best talent available in the market this way. Therefore, you are able to charge your regular rates and get the benefit of agencies selling your services for you. Be sure to visit their job boards regularly and by responding to their Recruiters when they call, you will be better aware and engaged in new opportunities.

Other things you can do to help your agency partners to make a better impact on your sales efforts is to be consistent in your messaging. Branding is very important for any business… what is it about your business that sets it apart? If your website,and resume and “elevator pitch”/sales messages are all on-point and consistent it makes it much easier for Recruiters to understand your value proposition and to sell your company to their clients. Recruiters will often prefer a consultant who does one thing very well (and can demonstrate this through past work experience) to people who are good at a lot of different things. It is easier to sell and easier for the end-client to see where the “fit” is in their own teams; so tailor your branding and messaging to the job you want and communicate this to your agency.

Another little thing that makes a big difference is to invest some time into building relationships with key Recruiters that you trust. With very little effort you can build your Recruiter contact into a business champion of yours. Ensuring that you are reachable and making yourself available to meet or talk goes a long way towards building a Recruiter’s preference for working with you.

A lot has been written in Eagle’s Talent Development Centre blog site over the years about building strong and successful relationships with agency Recruiters. Any and all of these hold great tips that will turn an agency into a salesforce that works for you! Here are some links to these past articles:

Breaking the “Working and Not Selling” and the “Selling and Not Working” cycle takes some focused attention… but by spending some time getting your business’s Marketing program in place, you can avoid some of the time-gaps between engagements and develop your career in the direction for which you’ve planned!