Talent Development Centre

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

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!

2017 in Review: Independent Contracting

2017 in Review: Independent ContractingAt the core of the Talent Development Centre is our desire to help independent contractors gain more opportunities and be more successful in their business. That is this blog’s mission. So, when summarizing a year, it’s only natural to review some of the most popular posts on the topic.

First, there’s the business of independent contracting…

Another part of being a contractor is working with staffing agencies. In many cases, it’s inevitable. Here are a few tips to help the relationship go smoothly…

A Holiday Job Search Could Get You Your Next Job

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

A Holiday Job Search Could Get You Your Next JobWith mid-December upon us, many people are winding things down for the year and already feeling like they are in ‘vacation mode’.  If you happen to be between contracts or if you are actively seeking your next career move, there is no better time to keep up the search!

As noted in this Forbes article, “January is the toughest, most competitive and most crowded job market of the year — precisely because so many people stop job hunting during the holidays.”  While job activity does tend to drop off a bit in December, it’s often the best time to network, catch hard to reach people on the phone, or further develop a relationship with the agencies/recruiters you’ve been working with.

Here are a few tips to keep your job search active over the holidays.

  • Find holiday events or meetups to attend to increase your visibility and network.
  • Take some time to increase your LinkedIn connections by sending invitations to anyone you met with during the year prior.
  • Send holiday greetings to all of your contacts – it’s a great touch point. Request a follow up meeting in the New Year.
  • Look for opportunities to volunteer – it’s a great time of year to contribute to a worthy cause and you never know who’ll you meet!

All the best to you and yours for the holidays, and Happy Job Hunting!

Create a Resume that Builds Trust

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Recruiters get a lot of resumes during the day. This infographic from StandOutCV provides some helpful resume tips that will make yours easier to read and cut down on the time you need to spend formatting and adding in necessary skills. The only piece I would say is less relevant to an IT contractor is surrounding the, these aren’t typically required nor desired in our space.

As you read through this infographic, there is one important tip to keep in mind: Trust is key in this back and forth so that the recruiter and you can get the best feedback and never miss out on any opportunities.

How recruiters read your CV

Calgary IT Job Market Update at the end of November 2017

By Morley Surcon (Vice President Western Canada at Eagle) and Brianne Risley (Delivery Manager at Eagle)

The following is a short summary of the IT Labour and Job Market in Calgary – supply, demand, and dynamics.

There are 3 “Trends” That Eagle has Noticed Over the Past Months:

Calgary IT Job Market UpdateCalgary has Developed an IT Skillset Gap: Information Technology changes and evolves very, very quickly. This means that what is “leading edge” today, may be “old news” in a matter of months. Over the past 18 months, Calgary companies have had a focus on sustainment. As a result, contractors have not had the opportunity to work on the technologies that are pushing the industry forward and a noticeable gap has developed between the skills available in the local Calgary IT community and the types of technology that are now starting to be requested by some organizations. Eagle is finding that in areas such as Dashboarding, SaaS, Front-end Development and Cloud development, it is difficult to find local people with the experience/knowledge in newly-in-demand technology. For example, we are now seeing demand for people with CSS/Javascript vs. the C# .NET that used to be so prevalent in the Calgary market. The same is true in the SAP space, where our customers are now looking for people with Fiori or HANA experience. We are seeing that companies are reaching out to out-of-town resources to fill these ‘niche’ skills and, in some cases, are paying elevated rates to do so. Companies may also be bringing in outsourcing companies and/or specialty partners to implement new-technology focused projects, going the way of out-sourcing or out-tasking to supply niche resources rather than running the projects in-house themselves.

Move Toward Greater Simplification:  Companies have been working towards consolidation and standardization over the past months. This encompasses both the technology that they use as well as the business partners with which they choose to work. Organizations in Calgary have shed roles over the past year(s) and must, therefore, focus on their core business/industry. It is increasingly difficult to find “the cycles” to complete projects that they do not have the in-house skills to complete. We are seeing much less custom development work in favor of their chosen ERP’s solution and/or implementing off-the-shelf software packages with little customization. And, instead of building up their own teams, more organizations have been opting to outsource or out-task project work to 3rd parties. Additionally, many of the companies in Calgary have undergone a vendor rationalization, reducing the number of suppliers/outsourcers that they deal with on a daily basis. This represents a clear shift in the quantity and types of roles for which staffing agencies are being hired and a greater degree of simplification for the companies themselves.

M&A Project Work: In Calgary, the majority of any new project work across many sectors is attributable to mergers and acquisitions. The necessity of integrating IT departments, reporting capabilities and business processes standardization work has created a short-term ‘bump’ in contract work. Many of the projects are due to be completed early in the New Year (or before). Once finished, these companies will be shedding staff once again to remove redundancies due to overlap in roles between the two companies and freeing up the staff that were solely employed for the integration project work itself.

The Following Market “Conditions” Have Also Been Noted:

Rates: Rates for non-specialized roles have remained flat for the past 6+ months. The exception is for ERP as demand has increased, albeit often for specialized skillsets as described above. Company “rate roll-backs” have halted as the employee and contractor rationalizations have been completed.

Skills with High and Growing Demand:  Eagle has noticed increased interest for contractors with the following skillsets:

  • Front-End Developers
  • Java Developers/Software Engineers/DevOps
  • Cyber Security Consultants
  • Project Managers (Agile, ERP, some Infrastructure)
  • ERP (Fiori/UI5) enhancement/upgrade work
  • IT Reporting – Cloud tools for data visualization – Tableau, Spotfire, Hana and related data warehousing/BI work. Predictive analytics and driving business value from data stores.

Skills with Neutral Demand:

  • Network/Storage Administrators
  • SaaS implementations (Sales Force, Service Now, Workday) + Traditional ERP (SAP/PS/Oracle)

Skills for Which We Have Seen a Decline in Demand:

  • .NET Developers (this is the first time in 10+ years that demand for Java/Front-end skills have outstripped .NET in Calgary)
  • Server Analysts/Administrators (Outsourcing companies are handling much of this demand by leveraging overseas options)

Existing open roles for Calgary can be viewed on here Eagle’s Job Board.

**Disclaimer: The market summary above reflects Eagle’s own experience. Please understand that this does not include interaction with 100% of the market. Eagle’s clientele tend toward the larger enterprise companies, therefore experience in Calgary’s SMB market may be substantially different.

If your experience or observations have been different, I encourage you to leave a comment so all may learn from your perspective as well!

A Job Seeker’s Guide to Brand Building — How to get Started

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

A Job Seeker's Guide to Brand Building -- How to get StartedChances are if you’re engaging in a career search, you’ve heard about the key role Personal Branding plays in landing you the job you want. A brand is your elevator speech. It is your career and unique value proposition shared in 30 seconds. It is how you want others to view you — hiring managers, colleagues, peers, friends.

For as important as it is, it can be daunting to figure out where to start to build a personal brand of your own. I recently reviewed many articles and sources on this topic which all suggest this basic framework or something similar to it. Answer these questions simply and read the result aloud. The result should be the beginning of your 30 second elevator speech that you can tweak before your next interview:

Step 1: State WHAT you are — your primary job role.

“I’m a visionary coding artist who connects bipeds to binary”.  No.

“I’m a career Business Analyst….” Yes.

Be specific on what your primary job role is — two words. Don’t come with a long list of your capabilities, just mention the one that aligns well with the job you are interviewing for. A hiring manager won’t want to hear how passionate you are about Management Consulting when she’s interviewing you for a Business Analyst position.

Step 2: Share WHO you enjoy helping.

“I can work with anybody, I like People!” No.

“…. and I’ve enjoyed success partnering with Fortune 500 companies….” Yes

Mention specific industries? Business groups? Methodologies? Keep it short and simple. This line captures an element of what makes you passionate about your job. When you say it, it should get you smiling, or at least give you a charming eye twinkle.

Step 3: Say HOW you make their life/work better.

“…to give individual teams the chance to collaborate and voice design ideas. Small design stories have made the biggest impact on my best projects.”

Step 4: Give PROOF that you are credible.

“I am a proud holder of my CBAP designation…”

Results? Rewards? Credentials? Pick one to mention here.

Step 5: Wrap it up and turn it over to the manager.

“I’m looking forward to hearing more about your project team and how I can help”

You’re expressing interest in the role (ie: I want to hear more) and giving the manager an opening to do some of the talking about his/her project team.

Just like consumers who line up to buy the newest phone, hiring managers are making an emotional buying decision when they select a candidate for hire. A personal brand is your ticket — your bridge to move beyond just the skills on your resume and connect with your leader on a more personal level. It gives you access to that emotional buying centre. Invest the time, build your brand, and be prepared to really impress someone in your next interview.

Other Tips:

PRACTICE — Sit in front of the mirror, make eye contact with yourself, and practice it until your branding pitch is second nature. Focus on making sure you get a little sparkle in your eye when you say it — that’s how you know it’s personal enough, and it will help you connect emotionally with a manager!

VALIDATE IT — Use the dinner party rule. If you shared your brand with a stranger at a party, can you get through it without sounding ridiculous? A brand is personal and central — if you feel silly saying it, the statement needs fixing. “I’m a visionary coding artist who connects bipeds to binary”.  No.

IF YOU ARE STILL STUCK – If you don’t know where to start, LinkedIn is like the “Amazon” of personal branding. You can shop, browse, and select something that works. The “Whos” in your industry — how have they branded themselves? Is there anything that works for you? Ask people you know and trust what your brand is — how might they describe you to a person you don’t know.

4 More Job Interview Tips for Independent Contractors

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The infographic below from CollegeAtlas.org contains some great job interview tips for anybody searching for a new job, including IT contractors. It was published here on the Talent Development Centre last year and I recently came across it again somewhere else, proving that it’s clearly been helpful to thousands of job seekers around the world.

On top of the stats and tips provided in the graphic below, I’d like to add a few extra interview tips that are often overlooked by contractors, based on feedback we recently received from hiring managers:

It starts in the lobby

One of the most important things to keep in mind is starting the interview “in the lobby.”  Sometimes people forget how important it is to make a good first impression with EVERYONE they meet along the way to the interview.  Be pleasant and kind to the receptionist and smile at anyone who makes eye contact.  A pleasant demeanor, matched with your skills goes a long way.

Be enthusiastic

Make sure you present an enthusiastic front when interviewing.  You want to make sure that the hiring manager knows that this is the role that you want.  Make sure to always come to an interview with knowledge of the company you are interviewing with.  See what news alerts they might have released.  Know what is going on with the company and the sector that you will work in and always come with questions.

Your Introduction

Prepare your introduction.  Every interviewer is going to ask you to “tell them about yourself.”  You want to be prepared and not stumble with um’s and ah’s when speaking about yourself.  This is your moment to make a good impression and start the interview the right way.  Write down your introduction and study it before you arrive, be confident.

Stay still

Nerves are something that everyone experiences before an interview.  Your hands might get sweaty and you might be bouncing your knees and that can be distracting to you and the interviewer.  Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and slow down.  Place your hands on your lap or in front of you on the desk.  Make sure that there is nothing for you to fidget with and maintain eye contact.

34 Crucial Tips for Your Next Job Interview

From Visually.

The Best Way to Follow-Up with Recruiters (even if you shouldn’t have to)

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Best Way to Follow-Up with Recruiters (even if you shouldn't have to)One of the most common complaints that we hear from contractors/consultants is the inevitable ‘black hole’ of communication when working with agencies.  We often hear that contractors agree to be submitted for opportunities, but then don’t hear back from the agency – and even worse, have calls and emails not responded to.  While this should be considered unacceptable, there are several factors at play that are often make this unfortunate scenario a reality in today’s market.

The vast majority of large organizations in Toronto are now using VMS providers, which means that the days of being able to provide feedback to candidates or to provide status updates on where things stand with a particular opportunity are virtually over.

This can be extremely frustrating for candidates who are trying to manage multiple interviews and opportunities or who have no idea why they are not securing interviews for roles that they’ve been submitted for.  Agencies are required to respond to a huge volume of VMS orders so are often unable to provide updates to candidates – particularly when there is nothing to update.

While we always try to set the expectation that we may not hear back with feedback or next steps unless an interview is granted, we still often get repeated requests for updates.  A good recruiter will always respond to an email or call even without having information to provide, but this can be taxing.

We strongly recommend that you take an approach for ongoing communication that will show your interest and keep you top of mind, but not necessarily require a response.  This ultimately shows that you remain interested in an opportunity, but have a healthy respect for the volume of work that is being managed on the agency side.  Below is a great email template that you can use.

Hi (Recruiter Name),

I wanted to follow up on the opportunity that we spoke about last week.  I assume that there hasn’t been an update as of yet, but please do let me know if otherwise.  I remain interested and available and am open to hearing about any other suitable opportunities that come up.

Thank you,
(Your Name)

While all great recruiters will get back to you as soon as they have an update, this simple message demonstrates that you’re still interested in the role and that you have an understanding of the situation. Your recruiter will appreciate hearing from you and will surely be grateful for your approach.  Remember, how you communicate in these small circumstances could make the difference in whether or not your name gets put forward with future clients.