Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: job search

Job Search for the IT Contractor

Searching for an IT job in a competitive job market is never easy. You need to understand your target companies, including those that are looking for technology professionals, what skills they specifically need and their projects. You also need to ensure you have a solid understanding of yourself, what kind of work you want, and how that will affect your job search.

A common misconception among new IT contractors is that a job search is a job search. As long as you keep submitting your resume to different job postings and show up at interviews, you’ll eventually get a job. To an extent, that’s true. But when you go from being a permanent employee to an IT contractor working on your own, there are changes you can make to your job search process that will significantly improve your chances of keeping a steady stream of work. Specifically:

  1. The Places You Look for Jobs,
  2. The Way You Communicate; and,
  3. Your Business Mindset (because you’re now running a business)!

Check out this video for more details…

3 Keys to Success in IT Consulting

Sam Rahbar By Sam Rahbar,
National Training Manager at Eagle

I have been working in the Technology/Talent space in Canada for the past 13 years. I love it! It is an ever-changing scene — new technologies pop up monthly. Many are fads and disappear, while some stay and become a trend, evolve and make their way into enterprise environments.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about How to Stand out as an IT Consultant, which focused on the job search and included specific tips to differentiate yourself during the job search and in interviews. In this post, I want to itemize the keys to a successful career as an IT consultant.

Success has a different meaning to different people. To some, it could be growth and promotion, while to others it means hitting a specific $X Salary/Rate, working for a big name brand or opening their own start-up.

Regardless of the definition, here are my thoughts on the key elements to success in IT Consulting:

  1. Specialty/Niche:IT consulting is all about Specialties. Above and beyond the primary skills required for the job such as design/development or project management, there are other aspects to the role that you should plan, prepare and strategize for:
    • INDUSTRY (Fintec, Telco, Gaming…) Do you have any prior knowledge, experience or feelings towards an industry? Do any of their products/services feel close to home for you? Which one do you care for more than others? The closer you feel to the product and offering the least it will feel like a chore/work.
    • SIZE (Enterprise, Midsize, Start-up…) With different sizes come different cultures. Where do you see yourself fit in best? Do you care for a foosball table in the lounge? Or do you like to work in a team of 50? Some do, some don’t. Put some extra thoughts into what you target and what you can bring to any of those environments.
    • PROJECT (Development, Migration, Compliance, Operations…) This is a no brainer. Candidates who have had a project focus throughout their career are often preferred over candidates that have a bit of everything.
  2. Life time Learning:The Tech Industry evolves fast, sometimes too fast for its own good! Think about your niche. Is it going to be applicable/relevant 5 years from now? How often does it get upgraded? Are you keeping up to date? How are you setting yourself up to make sure that you are marketable if/when that tech is being phased out? And yes, there are folks out there who still work with CICS/COBOL but how many technologies are out there that last that long?! Try to name another technology you are using that’s 49 years old!
  3. Network:As a Consultant/IT Professional you need to network all the time. As you never know:
    • When your contract could abruptly end; or,
    • If you are standing in front of the next hiring manager!

As a Consultant you need to invest in your brand and network. You should aim to leave a great taste with every client you work with, as they can be your next clients’ neighbour! As well, you need to build a relationship with multiple recruiters because not all agencies/recruiters work on the same types of clients/opportunities.

Being an IT Consultant means that you are a business owner and always have an eye out in the market to see what is out there, as everything has an end date attached to it.

Hustle should never end!

 

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

“New Year, New Job” — 5 Steps to Get Started in 2019

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

"New Year, New Job" -- 5 Steps to Get Started in 2019 January.  A fresh start for the New Year.  The month where we set goals, commit to self-improvement and kick bad habits.

The New Year also often brings thoughts of new jobs and new career challenges – why wouldn’t we apply that same mentality to our careers?  Much like getting results from hitting the gym and eating more greens, a successful career also requires focus, commitment and hard work.  If New Year, New Job resonates with you, here is a quick guide to setting yourself up for a successful job search:

Step 1:  Get Your Resume Job Search Ready

Priority number one is to update your resume.  There are a lot great tips available online and many offer different opinions (our favourite tips can be found here).  Your resume is often your first chance to make a first impression, so be sure to check it for accuracy.  The devil really is in the details.

It is also a good idea to take stock of where you are today and put some thought in to where you want to get to.  From there, set some annual career goals.

Step 2:  Get Social, Network & Apply!

These days, having a current, online presence is just as important as having a great resume.  Make sure you have a professional online persona and that you are connected to everyone you know.  Think of your online profile as a personal brochure, but DO NOT hide behind it.  Step away from screens and get out in front of people.  Meet everyone you can – your contacts, industry events, meet-ups, contacts of contacts and reputable recruiters.

While you are networking, find the right jobs to apply for.  We believe in quality over quantity.  Your time is much better spent on a few great applications that are a good fit for your experience rather than blasting your resume to every posting you see.

Step 3:  Get Job Interview Ready

The job interview is your time to shine, but it can be stressful if you aren’t prepared.  Do your homework and read these tips and tricks to help you calm your nerves and bring your “A” game to the interview.

Step 4:  Master the Marketplace:  Learn & Grow

One of the realities of being a successful IT professional is that you always need to stay on top of trends.  Change is constant in this industry and – as technology advances – so must your knowledge and skills.

The most successful people we know are always broadening their knowledge and one of the most effective ways to open up new career opportunities is to develop new skills.

Step 5:  Stay on Track

We all know that the easiest thing to do with a New Year resolution is to simply forget about it or to give up when things start to get tough.  Don’t take the easy way out!  Stick with the job search process and you will have something new before you know it.

2018 in Review: The Job Search Process

Job hunting sucks. It’s a long drawn out process of non-billable time, filled with the same old resume-writing and interview questions (you do, however, get to have conversations with some pretty awesome recruiters!). Still, it’s inevitable. Unless you want to be unemployed when your current contract is up, the life of an IT contractor means you are always on the look-out and you should be keeping current in your job search skills.

At Eagle, we often come across new trends in job searching or recognize major shortfalls in how independent contractors approach the task. One of the Talent Development Centre’s top priorities is to compile this information and share tips and tricks to help you succeed in your job search. Not surprisingly, this is the most extensive list in Eagle’s “2018 in Review” series…

General Job Search Tips and Trends

Resumes

Job Interviews

Industry-Specific Job Search Tips

AI Assistants for the Independent Contractor

AI Assistants for the Independent ContractorIt’s no surprise to any IT professional that Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is growing at a crazy pace. Companies are investing heavily in it and creating more and more job opportunities for those who specialize in it. But new jobs are not the only way AI can benefit you, as an IT contractor. There are a number of tools out there that you may not be taking advantage of to help you navigate your job search and manage your business. Some are common and right in front of you (ex. Siri, Alexa, Google, Cortana) and you may need to dig a bit more for others. Here are just a few ways your AI Assistant can help you today:

General Organization

Knowing what’s in your calendar, and more importantly making sure everything is actually in that calendar, is one of the most valuable things your personal assistant can do for you. With the proper settings, Google or Siri will even add information into your calendar for you based on emails. All you need to do is ask your assistant at the start of the day what’s happening when and where, or what tasks are due soon.

Job Hunting and other Research

It’s also common to use the big-name personal assistants for research. You can win an argument with a group of friends or seek directions, but on a professional level, you can also research jobs. With the Canadian launch of Google for Jobs, their assistant is a sure bet to find what you need. In addition, there are AI assistants designed specifically for your job hunt. For example, tools like Mosaic and LinkedIn’s MS Word tool can help you build resumes, and newer AI assistants like Wade, Newton and Woo are helping job seekers find new opportunities every day (Canadian content is minimal at this point, but the technology is out there).

Collaboration

AI assistants are also willing and ready to help you collaborate and work with team members. Tools like x.ai provide assistants who just need to be copied on emails and given an order like “schedule an update meeting with Bob”. With access to your calendar, they will continue talking with Bob to finalize the plans.  And that’s just one example. Howdy, Yva.ai and Collaboration.ai all provide similar but varying collaboration abilities like tracking skills and performance, organizing tasks and sending reminders, and working in Slack.

Working with Job Boards and other Online Tools

Being aware of AI assistants is another important step to using them to your advantage. There are many job boards and other online tools who use chatbots to qualify sales leads or candidates and decide how to proceed. Their technology is advanced with the ability to recognize phrases and patterns, but they do not read minds or always understand nuances as a human does. That means you could be talking yourself out of a job if you’re short with the chatbot or forget to mention certain keywords.

There are so many AI tools helpful for IT contractors and their clients in all specialty areas — just check out this article from Nudge and this older one from Medium. Both demonstrate how whether you’re working in Data, Finance, Development, Cybersecurity or nearly any industry, AI is coming into your life, if it isn’t already. You just need to be prepared.

The Hardest Person to Motivate is Yourself — Here’s What to Do About It

The Hardest Person to Motivate is Yourself -- Here's What to Do About ItIf you’ve ever led a team, then you’re all too familiar with the challenges in motivating others who just aren’t feeling it. If you’ve ever had to search for a job, then you’re all too familiar with the challenges in motivating yourself!

Self-motivation is no easy task. Some days you wake up and you can take on the world and be the most productive person ever. Other days, you’d prefer to watch Netflix or play video games rather than to continue with the job search, complete the grid or do your accounting. Lack of self-motivation isn’t just limited to tasks you dislike. You could be working on the most interesting project for your client and getting paid a fair rate, but some days, you’d still rather chat with your colleagues.

Motivating yourself extends beyond time management. Even the most organized and productive IT contractors fall into a slump. That’s because motivation is emotional. It ignores rational thinking and if you’re not in the proper headspace, it’s just not there. So how can you overcome your temporary lack of drive and push yourself to do what needs to be done? Here are a few hacks to get you started:

Get Yourself in a Positive Mindset

You’re more likely to procrastinate when you’re in a bad mood, so the logical first step is to make sure you’re in a good mood. There are various ways to do that, including:

  • Remaining optimistic by tracking your progress and celebrating success
  • Setting the right environment with a clean workspace and happy music
  • Getting plenty of sleep and exercise
  • Taking breaks as necessary

Set Meaningful Goals

Obviously you have goals: “Update my resume by the end of today”, “Complete the project on time and on budget”, “Do my taxes before the deadline”. Now you need to take those goals and make them more meaningful:

  • Make your goals mean something to you that’s deeper than “If I don’t succeed I’ll get fired.”
  • Keep reminding yourself of that goal AND its benefits and why you’re truly trying to achieve it
  • Don’t punish yourself for not achieving a goal, rather be constructive to understand what happened and move on.

Don’t Go It Alone

Even if you prefer to work alone, it still helps to have somebody on the sidelines who knows your goals. This will help to keep you motivated. When there are other people involved, you make yourself accountable and suddenly there’s extra pressure to get the work done.

  • Find others who are as motivated as you are (or more) and bring them into your circle
  • Expand your network with other IT contractors to share challenges and mentor each other
  • Don’t be afraid to get a little competitive to help drive your motivation
  • In times you really need motivation, try a commitment device. Give a friend (or even better, a foe) $100. If you don’t succeed, they keep the money. stickK will help you create a commitment contract, set stakes and manage the entire process online.

Get Moving

At some point you might have to fake it ’til you make them. If it takes a cold shower or jolt of coffee to wake you up so be it, but if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never start at all.

  • Reduce all possible distractions so you have no choice but to work
  • Set routines that will let you know where to start — and change up those routines occasionally to keep it interesting.
  • Take baby steps with small simple tasks. Often just working 5 minutes will get you into the flow.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, everybody falls into unmotivated slumps. The most successful people are those that know how to deal with it. How do you motivate yourself to get moving? Are there are any specific tasks you find are harder to get started than others?

The 10 Scariest Job Seeker Mistakes

What scary character are you going to dress up as for Halloween? A witch? A zombie? How about job seeker mistake? OK, so maybe that last one isn’t an actual character, nor will it eat your brains or turn you into a frog, but it could hurt your chances at winning your next IT contract!

This seasonal infographic from careerleaf is fun to go through, and more importantly, it shines a light on 10 common mistakes made by job seekers that prevent them from finding their next job. All of these can apply to an independent contractor and we dare you to honestly tell us that you never make any of these mistakes. In what area can you improve?

Happy Halloween week!

What To Do with Your Hands During a Job Interview

As Kelly Benson pointed out back in July, when you’re job hunting, the devil is in the details. Every little step counts, from the spelling in your resume to how you format your resume to how you submit an application. And if you’re fortunate enough to receive one, that attention to detail needs to carry-on to your interview. When you arrive, how you dress, and what kind of handshake you give will all affect the client’s perception of you.

If we’re going to talk about small details, let’s take a look at a really small one we rarely think about — what you do with your hands during the job interview. Business Insider thinks of everything to help you succeed in your job search, and this video is no different. Take a look so you’re more cognizant next time you’re sitting across the table from someone. It’s amazing what kind of effect simple hand gestures can have on whether ornot you win an IT contract.

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.