Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: job applications

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

Practical Tips to Make Your Next Job Application Get Noticed

Practical Tips to Make Your Next Job Application Get Noticed

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

Job searching on the surface sounds fun, but after filling out endless forms and creating dozens of online profiles it can get tiresome. Let me share with you the best life-hacks to save you time, and increase your client response rate when you are shopping for your next career or gig! (NOTE: I’ve made the assumption that you’ve already created a resume you are happy with. If you’d like to make some last minute revisions, check out my guide to resume creation and interview preparation here. )

Make your resume ‘pop’. It may surprise you to learn that up to six people may review your resume before it ever lands on a technical hiring manager’s desk. Most of those reviewers are either computer systems, or non-technical people who are trained to eliminate anyone who is missing key skills or titles. Let’s make it very easy to match your resume for an open job.

  • Customize your resume Job Titles to match the job you are applying for (where appropriate). IT job titles are often very fluid – a Systems Analyst at “company A” can have very similar duties to a Technical Analyst at “company B”. If the job you are applying to is for a Technical Analyst, make sure your resume matches that title so that a reviewer is comparing ‘apples to apples’.
  • Pick out the top 3 skills in the job requirement, and make sure they appear early and often in your resume. If your target job asks for PowerBI skills as the top requirement, make sure PowerBI appears in as many places in your resume as possible. An applicant tracking system ranks your resume not based on experience, but on how many times a keyword is mentioned. When listing your skills, more is better.

Autofill is your friend. Much of your job application time is spent filling out repetitive, online forms. Make sure you have your browser’s form autofill features turned on to save yourself time. This also helps you keep track of all the usernames and passwords you’ll be asked to create for your company-specific online HR profiles.

Is an online application asking you to break-down your resume into custom text fields? Don’t agonize over it. Confidently parse, copy/paste the text of your resume – do NOT reinvent the wheel and spend time customizing text for these online fields. There is often only an automated system accessing the data on the other end, and no actual person is reading it. If a recruiter wants to know more about you, they’ll open the resume. Spend the same amount of time filling out custom text forms as the company does reviewing it – that means, spend as little time as possible once you have a well-written resume! Copy/Paste will serve you well here!

Subscribe to job alerts broadly, even for job titles that don’t immediately appeal to you. Job seekers often subscribe to job alerts for their narrow, perfect dream job. I would encourage you to not be too specific. You may want a Sales Manager job, but try typing in “Sales” to auto-select all the other titles that appear (ie: Sales Executive, Sales Leader, Sales Consultant). This opens you up to the maximum number of jobs in your area. The more applications you have, the greater chance you have at uncovering a great opportunity. This leads me to my next point…

When in doubt…Apply! As long as you’re qualified for the job, there is no down-side in applying, even if on the surface it doesn’t seem like your perfect gig. Job descriptions aren’t always flashy, and the best descriptions don’t always correlate to the best actual work environments. Don’t be too choosey when applying – it’s a numbers game. You want to apply broadly to start getting your name out there in the market! Think about job applications like restaurants – the $100 plate of food may look great on Instagram, but the $10 plate from the local hole-in-the-wall can be more satisfying when you try it.

Spend extra time on the applications that you are excited about. Applying broadly to jobs should give you an idea of what is on the market. When you come across something special – your perfect role – go the extra mile by making contact with the company via a phone call to increase your chances of a call-back.

If a role has been posted for a long time, just apply. The hiring process can be quite slow, especially given the current hiring environment with extra approvals or remote onboarding causing delays. If a role has been posted 30 days, it’s still worth applying. Applying to a role when it’s fresh on the market is always best, but your older application can also get you considered for the next time that role is released at the company ahead of the competition because your name is in their system.

Job shopping can be an exciting time! I hope these tips make it fast, easy, and enjoyable as you find your next, greatest role.

The Most Effective Way to Apply to Jobs

A lot of effort goes into an effective job search. Searching for the best jobs, networking through companies and preparing resumes are all labour intensive and require significant amounts of time. Once you’re prepared, submitting the actual application is quick and easy; however, it should still receive as much attention as any other step. After all, you’ve done all that work, why waste it by being careless during a company’s online application process?

The simple action of applying to a job is not complicated but failing to pay attention to the details could cost you an interview. These simple items help you stand out when you submit a job application online:

  • Ensure you definitely qualify. Review that job description once more to guarantee that you meet the absolute must-haves of the job. This includes a willingness to work at the location. If you’re not willing to move and they want you in their city, then don’t bother applying.
  • Review the name of your resume file. Naming your resume “Resume.doc” is not very helpful to a recruiter looking at multiple files. At the minimum, include your name in the filename. It’s also wise to include your title and the date it was last modified.
  • Provide multiple contact options. As much as a good recruiter will always contact you in your preferred manner, there are always exceptions. Give them as many options as possible if they need to speak with you immediately — email, phone, cell phone (are you open to texting?), and LinkedIn are all helpful.
  • Complete all requested fields. Staffing agency job boards often ask for additional information to help keep their records up-to-date and match you with future opportunities. Even when it’s not mandatory, it’s a good practice to complete all fields. This helps you appear in future searches and recruiters will call you as job opportunities arise.
  • Avoid Creating Multiple Profiles. We see this happen often at Eagle. Candidates start using a new email address and end up creating a separate profile under their new address. The result is duplicate profiles in a database, which will cause confusion and you may miss out on future opportunities.
  • Save Information from Your Applications. Tracking all of your job applications means you can follow-up later and know the status of all jobs. Specific details you’ll want to reference when following-up with a recruiter include: Job Title, an ID number associated with the posting, the location, and the date it was posted.
  • Follow-Up… but be Realistic. Speaking of following-up, we always recommend it. If anything, it gets you in contact with a recruiter and helps you network. That said, be realistic about it. Following up hours after applying does not give a recruiter enough time to review all applicants and you will not get a good response. You should also avoid following up too frequently and keep in mind that it’s not worth arguing when you don’t receive a favourable answer.
  • Save and Return Later. Finally, there are going to be situations when you want to apply to a job but don’t have time to complete all of these suggestions. That’s OK. Save the job information and the application then return to complete the details at a more convenient time.

As the old saying goes “A job (application) worth doing is worth doing right.” The more you pay attention to detail and provide the right information, the easier you make the job of a recruiter, and the more likely you are to get that interview.

Applying to Jobs from Your Mobile Device

Applying to Jobs from Your Mobile Device

Mobile technology and smart phones are widely used for nearly all purposes. Thanks to the Internet of Things, cell phones are no longer just about calling people, playing games and checking email, but individuals can control their entire lives through their phones. Still, though, according to data collected by Eagle, job searching and applying to jobs tends to be primarily managed on a computer.

There are some obvious reasons why independent contractors choose to stick to their desktop when applying for new IT jobs rather than browsing on their phone. First, many professionals are simply more comfortable on their computer and dislike navigating the browser on a small screen and trying to click through on websites that aren’t completely mobile optimized. Even for those who are savvy on their phone, mobile job searches are difficult to organize and create challenges when uploading resumes — especially if it’s a resume you want to customize.

Taking advantage of your mobile device during your job search can have some clear advantages as well. For instance, you can:

  • Apply to jobs immediately as they’re posted, raising your chances of being evaluated;
  • Privately search for jobs while you’re at work; or,
  • Use “wasted” time more efficiently (ex. sitting on the bus, in a waiting room, or during an awkward evening with people you don’t really like).

To get started, it’s best to be organized and have a plan on how you can best search for jobs using your phone. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Know your favourite places. Starting with a Google search is a great way to do anything, but can alsolead you on a wild goose chase. Instead, download some top job search apps and know your favourite websites to visit right away.
  • Create profiles at home. Once you know your favourites, take a few minutes while at home to create a profile on those websites. This is where you’ll want your computer because it will take extra typing and file uploading. Once it’s done, applying on your phone is much easier.
  • Make jobs come to your phone. Instead of hunting the jobs, have them delivered to you by signing up for job alerts wherever possible. This can usually be set-up once you’ve created your profile.
  • Read your emails. Recruiters and past colleagues may be sending you job opportunities. If they’re contacting you, it means there’s a good chance you can get the job, so read them and reply promptly.
  • Save the jobs you like. If you have a profile with that job board, then mark it as a favourite. Otherwise, email yourself a link to the job or bookmark it. This way, if anything happens (you get a phone call and accidentally close the browser) it will be easy to find the opportunity again.
  • Keep a copy of your resume in the cloud. Google Drive and Dropbox, for example, are great places to store different versions of your resume. You can access them from your phone so can easily attach them when applying to jobs.
  • Pick up the phone. We sometimes forget that cell phones can be used to call people! If there’s a job you want and are unable to complete the application on your mobile device, get the contact information for the recruiter and call them. You will show interest which will buy you time and put you at the front of the line until you can formally apply.
  • Know when a computer is necessary. Of course, a cell phone can’t always be the solution. Sometimes it’s best to save the information and wait until you’re home so you can properly customize a resume and avoid putting in a badly formatted, misspelled submission.

Do you have a preference or strategy when searching or applying for jobs? Do you use your cell phone in the process? We’d love to learn more about what works (and doesn’t work) for you. Please share your feedback in the comments below.

Quick Poll Results: Where do you search for jobs?

When and where are you searching for jobs? We asked that question in last month’s quick poll and, as usual, we’re sharing the results. Take a look and, just for fun, see if you follow the same routine as other technology professionals. Do you prefer to browse at home, on your lunch break at work or on the way to work (assuming you don’t drive)? Alternatively, maybe you don’t have a set routine and prefer to search anywhere when you have a few minutes or wait to be prompted by a notification.

Of course, there is no right way to search for jobs, as long as it is effective for you, and fits into your planned schedule. If you’re not setting aside time specifically for business development and searching for new contracts, that is a whole other issue. Consider some of these preferred times to take 5 minutes and browse your favourite job boards for new IT contract opportunities.

Quick Poll Results: Where do you search for jobs?

Contractor Quick Poll: Where Do You Normally Apply to Jobs?

We all have different routines and lifestyles, with varying tasks that we need to get done in a day. Two regular tasks that nearly all IT contractors have in common including completing client projects and applying for new projects. With your busy schedule, when do you complete the latter? That’s what we’re asking in this month’s Contractor Quick Poll.

Quick Poll Results: Self-Screening

What skills do you meet before applying to a technology contract or job?

Last month, the Talent Development Centre’s Contractor Quick Poll asked our readers what skills they ensure they meet before applying to a specific job. The results show that the majority ensure they meet all of the mandatory job requirements plus some desirable ones. Below is a look at the final results. Do you agree? It’s not too late to have your say. Complete the poll here.

Quick Poll Results: What skills do you meet before applying to a job?

If you want to know what recruiters think, take a look at this post from last fall.

How to Use the Job Description to Nail Your Next Interview

This article was posted October 18, 2015 on TheSavvyIntern by JobScan Blog

ow to Use the Job Description to Nail Your Next Job Interview The most underutilized tool in preparing for job interviews?

The job description.

As a job seeker, you rely heavily upon the job description in the early stages of the hunt—after all, it’s the only piece of information you have to help you land an interview. But, once many job seekers have landed the interview, the job description gets tossed aside.

Too bad, because job descriptions contain a secret wealth of knowledge that can aid you in preparing for an interview!

Instead of closing that browser tab, here’s how to use that job description to nail your next interview…

Talking Points

When preparing for an interview, most people will focus on what questions they think the employer is going to ask. While this is a valid approach, it can also be a complete guessing game. Instead of focusing on what the employer might ask, focus on creating answers you can use for any number of different questions based on the things included in the job description.

A good job description will lay out all the essential skills the employer is seeking. The employer wants to understand how you developed those skills and what you’ve accomplished using them.

Prepare for your interview by brainstorming a talking point for each technical or hard skill or listed in the job description. Focus on highlighting your accomplishments, milestones, and the goals you’ve achieved using that specific skill.

For instance: If they are seeking someone with “2+ years of experience leading a team,” make notes on the key successes that a team has accomplished under your direction in the last few years.

Create Your Soft Skill Stories

Also, take the time to identify quantifiable stories that will demonstrate you possess the characteristics and soft skills the employer is seeking.

Assessing soft skills in an interview is difficult because the employer usually spends less than an hour with you. While they’ll be able to get a snapshot of your general personality and interpersonal skills during the interview, you need to paint a complete picture of what you’re like in a professional setting day-in and day-out.

Create a list of stories from your previous jobs, school, and volunteer work that correspond to soft skills in the job description. If they want someone “highly communicative and client-centric” be armed with a story of a specific time you went above and beyond your normal job duties to satisfy a client or kept them abreast of developments in a highly important campaign you headed up.

If you’re prepared with talking points about both your hard and soft skills, including specific stories and examples to back up your claims, you don’t need to stress over what the questions will be—you’ve already got your answers!

Identify Weaknesses

Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t meet all of the criteria for a position. In a job description, the employer essentially lays out their “unicorn employee.” In reality, most candidates will have mastered some skills, but lack others.

In preparing for the interview, your weaknesses should become apparent. As you developed your talking points in step one, you probably struggled to come up with stories for some of the desired qualifications. Those are your weak spots, and you need to be prepared to talk about them.

To combat your weaknesses before the interview, be honest with yourself about your skill levels. If you exaggerate your skills during the interview, and can’t perform them upon landing the job, it will reflect poorly upon you—and could even get you fired.

Then, start learning as much as you can about the areas in which you are weakest. Even if you only spend a couple hours reading up on the subject, you will at least have enough knowledge of the topic to understand what the employer is seeking. Plus, there’s always the chance you know more about the subject than you realized!

Be armed with specific plans about how and where you can learn the skills where you are weak or lack experience. And, of course, share any related skills you already possess that will speed up the learning curve.

Create Your Own Set of Interview Questions

While a job description can give you a ton of useful information on how to prepare for your interview, it does not present a complete picture. Company websites and resources such as Glassdoor can be useful tools to gather further information, but interviews provide the best access to information—directly from the source.

After you’ve read the job description, you should have a broad sense of what the position entails, what the company values, and how you stack up. Ask yourself what the job description doesn’t tell you. Those are the questions you want to ask during the interview!

Consider the following:

  • What does the job description tell you about company culture?
  • Do you get a clear sense of what the company’s ideal candidate would look like?
  • Do you understand how this role fits into their team? Their organization? The company?

Use your answers to these questions to guide you; think about what missing information you want to gather during the interview. Remember: most interviewers expect you to have questions prepared, because it demonstrates that you’ve been researching the company and are serious about the job!

The other bonus to crafting questions based on the job description is that you can verify how accurately it portrays the job and the company. If the job description says the company values a good work/life balance, and that’s a big selling point for you, don’t be afraid to ask:

“The job description mentioned this company prioritizes work/life balance. Can you tell me about how the company helps actively promote the balance? How does it impact your work here?”

The job description is only a starting point, but it can help you assess what you don’t know, as well as what you do know about the job. It’s up to you to collect the rest.

When you land an interview, keep in mind that one of the hardest parts is already over. Your resume beat their applicant track system and now you have the opportunity to meet with someone face to face. The company has already shown an interest in you, so showing up to the interview prepared and relaxed will just affirm their decision to select you

Do You Have a Job Application Strategy?

Do You Have a Job Application Strategy?About a month ago, we let out a couple secrets on the best ways to grab a recruiter’s attention, according to Eagle’s recruiters. A survey revealed that you’ll get best results when contacting them directly, but the reality is, due to their hectic schedule, they may not get back to you immediately. The next best step is to apply for jobs and build online profiles to make sure they find you. In a follow-up post, we provided some ideas on where to apply and build a profile, but have you thought about a job application strategy?

That seems like an odd question. Of course you’ll apply to the jobs that match your profession. But how deeply to you review the qualifications? Do you apply to jobs for which you’re barely qualified, as long as the title is somewhat similar to what you’ve done in the past? Or do you make sure you meet 100% of the experience a client is seeking before submitting your resume? Eagle’s recruiters have an opinion about that too!

Read the Job Description Before Applying

Most job postings will include some mandatory qualifications and some desirable qualifications, and it’s a good idea to carefully review them all. The vast majority of Eagle recruiters (85%) want you to meet all of the mandatory requirements before you apply to their job, otherwise you will be rejected. There are, however, mixed opinions on the topic of desirables. While few recruiters expect you to meet all of them, some do want you to have a large percentage of those optional qualifications. Others aren’t as concerned and will keep you on the shortlist as long as you pass the mandatory section.

While these preferences are a great guideline to consider, it isn’t black and white. It’s important that you know and understand the current market. If the contract opportunity is in a competitive market, for a role where there are many potential applicants, you’ll need to make certain that you meet most, if not all, of the qualifications. If the opposite is true, and the role requires some niche skills that you can provide, the desirable requirements can be less important.

You Need to Demonstrate that You Qualify

Knowing that you’re qualified and demonstrating that you’re qualified for a position are two very different things. Last month, Morley Surcon wrote a post about adding focus to your resume and customizing it for each role. Recruiters review many resumes so will not always take the time to read between the lines. If you know that you meet requirements, clearly show it and demonstrate exactly how you gained that experience. It may take some extra work, but it will go a very long way!

Don’t Throw Spaghetti at the Wall

Some contractors take a strategy of applying to absolutely everything, hoping to eventually get a call for something, the equivalent of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. This approach can have some negative consequences. In fact, more than half of Eagle’s recruiters say that if you apply to everything, they’ll eventually start ignoring you. Throwing your name into the hat for every job gives a perception of desperation and can make it difficult for a recruiter to take you seriously.

One recruiter put it this way “Applying to every job indiscriminately is like ordering every dish on a menu – as nice as it would be to eat EVERYTHING, you will only actually eat 1-2 preferred dishes. An applicant must have a handle on their skillset, and a strong understanding of what they are qualified to do. Untargeted submissions lead me to believe that a candidate lacks confidence in their skills/abilities. If an applicant is not confident in their skills, how can I – a recruiter – represent them with confidence?

So, do you have a job application strategy? Are you carefully considering if you qualify or do you throw spaghetti at the wall? What have been the results of those applications? Let us know in the comments below.

8 Things to Ponder When Applying for a Contract

You may find yourself in a position where you are unsure about whether to apply for a contract. It could be that you’re unsure if you have the experience; it could be that it’s in a different city and you’re hesitant about travel or perhaps another reason. If you apply for the contract with this mindset then you are bound to let that show in your application which will probably be the end of your chances!

There are many factors to consider before hitting that submit button including:

  1. Unsure about submitting an application for a contractIf you really have little or no interest in the job then absolutely do not apply.
  2. Never apply just for the experience of applying.
  3. If you decide to apply, then get in the right frame of mind and commit.
  4. Apply as though it is the contract of your dreams.
  5. Be honest about your fit. Don’t oversell yourself or sell yourself short.
  6. Demonstrate how you can fit the role with your experience and skills.
  7. Make your application very personal to this project. Customize your resume to highlight the appropriate skills and experience.
  8. If you need more information, get in contact with the Recruiter to learn more about the project, the company, and if possible any decision makers.

With these consideration in mind, you will be putting your best foot forward and will have a great chance of having your resume submitted to a client for consideration. If the client like what they see, you’ll be on your way to the interview and hopefully a new contract!