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Work Smart, Not (too) Hard in your Job Search

Work Smart, Not (too) Hard in your Job SearchContract or permanent positions — job searching is not easy. You must work hard if you want any chance of getting that phone call for an interview and, depending on your skill, job market and industry, it’s going to take time. But that doesn’t mean you should give into long hours and no social life just because you need to find your next gig.

Working hard is great if you’re doing the right things. Otherwise, 90% of that “hard work” will be wasted time, while only 10% of those hours are what get you a phone call from a recruiter. Create a successful, smart job search by bringing that percentage of quality time as close to 100% as possible. Here are four ways you can work smarter, and not harder, next time you’re looking for an IT job.

1. Manage Your Time

There’s a common illusion that putting in more time automatically means you will get more results. That is false. Whether you put in 5 minutes of 5 hours, time is irrelevant if you achieve the desired outcome. To best manage your time, embrace common time management practices and batch common tasks together. Check email during scheduled time blocks, answer the phone during certain periods and schedule specific time for breaks (yes, breaks are important!)

Avoid getting caught in common time-sucks due to misconceptions. Recruiters stress that a quality resume will set you apart from the competition, but, just like many software projects, searching for “perfection” is not always beneficial. Know when it is “good enough” to submit and move onto the next job application. Another misconception is that multi-tasking will save you time. Studies prove time and again that multi-tasking lowers productivity and leads to shabby work all-around. Still, so many of us fall into the trap, thinking we’re being more productive because we feel busy juggling multiple projects at the same time.

2. Take Advantage of Technology and Tools

There are so many technologies, tools and apps available (often at no charge) that will help you save time, maximize productivity, and work through the job search process. Start with your existing ones and learn how to maximize their shortcuts and settings. Templates, styles and macros throughout Microsoft Office can make resume-writing a breeze. The settings, automations and filters in Gmail (or any email client) will help you manage applications and recruiter responses as though you have a personal assistant.

After you’ve exhausted those options, evaluate other productivity tools. (Be careful, because here’s where you can fall down a rabbit hole.) Most major job boards allow you to set-up job alerts and some have apps that will send you push notifications. Make sure you review the leading tools to manage your calendars and reminders, store your resumes, keep your notes, and secure your passwords.

The more you can automate your life, the better – most of the time. Over-relying on technology, however, can also have disastrous effects. Working smarter can mean knowing when to eliminate the fancy stuff and sticking with tried, tested and true techniques, like picking up the phone and calling somebody.

3. Set Goals and Measure Results

The easiest way to let your job search (or any project) go off-track and waste your time is to have no defined direction. Ensure you know exactly what you want to accomplish — What kind of job do you want? Where and in what kind of industry? Which staffing agencies do you want to work with most? Then start each day by setting SMART goals. Review x jobs descriptions and apply to y of the postings. Call these recruiters, reach out those past colleagues on LinkedIn and follow-up on last week’s applications.

With proper goals and objectives, it’s easier to measure your success and track how you’re doing. Keep statistics and track data points to know what’s working and what’s not. Do certain job boards and staffing agencies bring better opportunities or rates? Is there a resume or email format that performs better than others? In the end, you’ll know where to focus your time and where time is being wasted.

4. Embrace Change (and know when not to change)

Change is inevitable and companies around the world are embracing it. If you want to succeed at your job search, you need to embrace change as well. A classic example of job seekers falling behind due to resistance to change is when the internet took recruiting by storm. Companies and recruitment agencies wanted to move to electronic formats, yet some job seekers were determined that the paper resume were still the way to go. The result? Recruiters ignored paper resumes because they were not in their electronic database and not searchable.

It’s smart to always adapt to changing environments and look for better ways to do those tasks you currently run through on autopilot. But, don’t change just for the sake of changing and never unnecessarily reinvent the wheel. Create templates of resumes, emails and interview questions that worked, or revisit and tweak those that did not. Trying a brand-new approach, simply for the sake of being different, is going to waste your time and is not smart.

Working smart is a must for anybody looking to get ahead in today’s busy world where time is a hot commodity. If you don’t believe us, then take it from Scrooge McDuck, the world’s richest duck. He relayed the message to his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie in his famous quote “I made [my fortune] by being smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies.

 

Job Searching Does Not Take a Summer Break

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

Job Searching Does Not Take a Summer BreakAs we approach the Canada Day Long Weekend — the unofficial but nonetheless highly anticipated and (for most of us) deserved kick-off to a Canadian Summer — many have vacations pending with beaches, camping, travelling and just relaxing our minds. But what of those who are looking for their next assignment, contract or permanent? How do we navigate vacation season for clients and colleagues alike while searching for our next assignment?

Summer can be a tough time to job hunt. Here are some observations to consider that hopefully help achieve both!

  • Clients still need to move projects forward and, in fact, contractors may align perfectly in helping augment down time for FTE’s
  • If you are looking for perm, yes it’s true many contacts and clients in HR will be away, but what better time to differentiate yourself? In being available to interview, your “competition” for roles may also be on vacation and unavailable, to your advantage.
  • If clients are away, use this downtime to network and actively expand your network. Having “coffees” and meeting people on a soft visit can be easier in the summer months. Prepare your elevator speech/pitch so that you are ready for anyone you meet in the summer. You never know who that right connection may be at a BBQ, golf course or party.
  • Update your resume to be “ready to go”. It’s also a good opportunity to update your skills with online or other available course and options, if you anticipate a break.
  • If you are going away, be sure you are accessible. Going totally off the grid can lead to missed opportunity allowing clients to move to the next candidate as hiring cycles are quicker.
  • Be upfront and communicative to your recruiters and prospect pipeline if you are going to be away (especially if you are in the interview process) and follow up as soon as you can on return. Hiring Managers tend to act fast in the summer to ensure they get approvals and can close open positions before they and their colleagues go on vacation.

The perception that organizations don’t hire in the summer months is a myth. Hiring today is critical and a 12-month-of-the-year activity, with very little down time built in. Don’t miss out!

Make Twitter Part of Your Job Search Strategy

Although growth is declining and it is not the most popular social network, Twitter is still far from joining Google+ in the social media graveyard. HootSuite shows that there are 326 million users every month contributing to an average of over 500 million new tweets each day, and they range across all demographics. In addition, most businesses are on Twitter, making it a hot spot to potentially connect with new clients. So, if you’re on Twitter, are you leveraging it to improve your job search?

This infographic by CRH Americas collects some quick tips to “tweet your way to a new job”. While we would never recommend using Twitter as your only job search tool, or your primary one for that matter, it can absolutely be a valuable complement to your job searching strategy. Take a look and see if you can leverage Twitter to land your next contract.

 

Make Twitter Part of Your Job Search Strategy

Here’s What Recruiters Do and Do Not Want to Hear from You

Here's What Recruiters Do and Do Not Want to Hear from YouThe key to selling anything, including yourself, is having a clear understanding of the client. In the case of an IT contractor’s job search, that means knowing your recruiters. Hiring professionals spend every day of their careers evaluating candidates — great ones, mediocre ones and terrible ones. Naturally, it does not take them long to know what they do and do not like.

For example, this article from Inc. reveals buzzwords often found on LinkedIn that recruiters despise reading. It states that you should avoid words that are vague, boastful, or too quirky because they detract from your actual accomplishments. The article also notes that these terms should not appear in a resume or pop-up in job interviews:

  • Growth Hacker and other cute or too creative job titles. State your job title as it is — Developer, Project Manager, etc. Other examples of annoying job titles include futurist, thought leader, champion and influencer.
  • Words you wouldn’t use in a job interview or face to face. For example, nobody would call themselves authentic or a visionary while in-person and expect to maintain credibility.
  • Strategic and innovative. The author’s opinion is that these are over-used words used by lazy people. Elaborate if you’re going to include them.
  • Any word you don’t own. These are classic buzzwords we love to use but don’t know what they mean. For example: synergize/synergy, tribe, game changer, silo, snapshot, bandwidth, traction, cutting edge, granular, omnichannel, paradigm shift, ideation, deliverable, digital transformation and touch base.

So how do you attract recruiters? This article from U.S. News has four helpful ideas and techniques you can use when setting up your job search that will make recruiters a little more eager to give you a call:

  • Play passive. The article suggests keeping your resume off of every job board and not applying to every This way, recruiters don’t perceive that you’re interviewing at 100 other places.
  • Convey your pain. “Pain” may not be the right word, especially for an IT contractor, but instead “interest” or “motivation”. Ensure to the recruiter that you are invested in the opportunity and will not jump ship.
  • Be flexible. The article states that respecting the recruiter’s process and timelines shows goodwill and a desire to work with them, but we will add to that. When working with many clients in the IT contract world, deadlines are real and failure to comply means you cannot be submitted. Flexibility is not about pleasing the recruiter, but complying with the job requirements.
  • Recommend good candidates. If for any reason you are not up for being submitted to the job, help a recruiter by recommending somebody who is interested. When successful, you’ll be helping the recruiter and your friend. Good karma is sure to come your way!

Recruiters evaluate thousands of candidates and, unfortunately, it is not possible to do in-depth research on every applicant they receive. Instead, they rely on their instincts and experience based on what they see in the first few seconds. Being armed with the right knowledge will help you pass that 5-second test so you can completely sell your skills when they dive into your resume.

First-Hand Advice for New Immigrants to Find an IT Job in Canada

As one of Canada’s largest IT staffing agencies with a wide national presence, it’s no surprise that we hear from skilled technology professionals from around the world. The majority of Eagle’s clients require applicants that are already in Canada and legally able to work here, so unfortunately, there is little we can do for applicants that don’t to meet those requirements.

Coming to Canada from another country and finding work is no easy task. There are hundreds of details to get through, including completing paperwork, organizing your family, arranging living and, of course, the job search. A number of resources are in place to help get settled and find work in Canada, but perhaps one of the best strategies is learning from somebody who has already been through the experience.

Sim & Sid’s YouTube channel is only a few months old, but already contains over a dozen videos with valuable advice. Together, they share their experiences of coming to Canada and answer questions about common challenges. In this video, Sid shares his job search experience and provides first-hand advice for immigrants looking for an IT job in Canada.

5 Ways You’re Screwing Up Your Job Search

5 Ways You're Screwing Up Your Job SearchThere are many reasons a job search may not be going your way, and you can blame different people, circumstances and even the universe for it. However, if you’re a talented technology professional with a solid track record and you’re still having extended difficulties landing your next IT contract, it’s time to reflect on yourself. Here are 5 possible ways you’re screwing up your job search, courtesy of a few of the world’s most popular blogs and publications:

Your resume is out-of-touch

Back in January, Glassdoor published an article to “age-proof” your resume, noting that competing for work against the younger generation is a regular challenge for older workers. Some of the points suggest limiting the length of your resume or only focusing on recent experience. As we’ve discussed before, though, IT contractors can benefit by showcasing their lengthy experience and older skills, plus longer resumes are less of an issue when computers do the screening.

The rest of the points in the article are relevant to professionals in any age category. That’s because they focus on updating your resume so it meets the latest trends and fits into how a recruiter wants to see your work experience. For example:

  • Optimize your resume with keywords (make it easy for computers to identify that you’re a fit)
  • Upgrade your email address (thejohnsons@randomISP.net doesn’t cut it anymore)
  • Join the LinkedIn bandwagon (include the link to your profile in your resume)
  • Focus on achievements, not tasks (show how you bring value to clients)
  • Ditch the objective statement (replace it with a value statement or profile summary)

You’re not prepared for new interview trends

Hiring managers regularly experiment with new ways to screen candidates and ensure they’re talking to the best people. For example, this Glassdoor article discusses job simulation, the types of exercises used in interviews, and how you can succeed at them. In the IT space, simulations typically come as whiteboards and coding problems, and the article goes more in-depth to discuss types of assignments, online exams, role playing and virtual simulations.

Before going into an interview, discuss with your recruiter and research the client to find out if their interviews tend to use these techniques. It’s also wise to look into common forms of simulations for your specific role and the client’s industry. Finally, a Google search can help you find some practice assessments and prepare.

Your interview responses are too cliché

Fast Company is another source that provides great job interview advice, including this piece with 6 phrases that make hiring managers roll their eyes. When you look carefully, you’ll notice they’re all clichés and do not differentiate you from other candidates. If you can’t back-up these statements with specific examples, make commitments to your performance and explain how it will bring value to your client, don’t bother blurting these out:

  1. I’m an overachiever
  2. I give 150%
  3. I really love this company
  4. I’m hardworking/a team player/committed
  5. I’m extremely detail oriented
  6. I feel like this is a place where I can learn and grow
  7. I really love this company

You’re coming off as a narcissist

That’s a Inc‘s polite way of saying “the hiring manager or recruiter thinks you’re an arrogant jerk” and many job seekers do this accidentally. As the article says, nerves are a common cause of over-selling yourself in a way that makes you unattractive to the interviewer, but being aware of the risk is the first steps to avoiding it. Three examples they provide are:

  • Acting like a pushy sales person (instead listen to what the hiring manager has to say);
  • Claiming you don’t care if you didn’t get the job (instead follow-up and ask the recruiter for feedback); and
  • The interviewer thought you were over-qualified (that may be a sign you spoke too much or provided too much detail – try coming across as humble and emphasizing how much you still have to learn).

You’re not respecting yourself

The final job search mistake we recently came across has nothing to do with how you search for the job, but whether or not you choose to accept a position that does not deserve you.

A viral story swept the world early this year when a job seeker in England shared a brutal job interview experience. Olivia Bland was called back for a second interview where the company’s CEO spent the entire time talking at her and telling her how terrible she was at everything. Shortly after the interview, the company offered her the job.

Blant ended up declining the offer and shared her response to the company in a Tweet. Her courage is a crucial lesson to all job seekers to recognize red flags in an interview and don’t accept a position where you know the environment will be toxic for your mental health.

You are destined to mess up a job search at least once or twice throughout your career, but hopefully these tips will help you avoid one of these slip-ups. Can you help our readers avoid mistakes by sharing your experiences? Please share your stories in the comments below.

10 Productive Things to Do When You’re Not Making Money

10 Productive Things to Do When You're Not Making MoneyThe concept of income is pretty simple for the independent contractor — if you don’t work, you don’t make money. But that simple notion is perhaps also one of the most stressful elements of IT contracting. When one job ends and you still haven’t found that next gig, you find yourself at home knowing that you made $0 today along with the uncertainty of when the next cheque will come in.

The fact is, there is nothing you can do to change the current situation but there are many tasks you can do that will ensure you’re set up well to find your next technology-related job quickly and reduce stress in the future. Here are 10 things you can do that are better than stressing over no income:

  1. Update Your Resume (or make multiple versions of the same one). Very frequently in the IT contracting world, a job is filled within hours of it being posted to a job board. You need to be ready with your resume as soon as you learn about it. Create an extremely detailed resume of everything you’ve done or multiple resumes with different themes. This will make it easier to quickly customize a resume the second an interesting job posting becomes available.
  2. Review Your Social Media. Now that your resume is up-to-date, take a look at your social networks, specifically LinkedIn. Recruiters often check here first when searching or they cross-reference it with your resume to look for red flags. Having all of the details from your resume on LinkedIn will help significantly.
  3. Search and Apply for Jobs. Don’t expect your favourite recruiters to call you just because you’re available. Continue searching for jobs on all of the major job boards and apply to all of the ones for which you’re qualified. The more staffing agencies with your resume, the more chances you have of getting a phone call down the road.
  4. Review Your References. Have you been giving the same list of references for a few years now? It may be time to review. Check to ensure all contact information is up-to-date and look at some recent contracts to see if there are better references you can use.
  5. Go to Interviews. If you have done a good job at updating your LinkedIn profile and resume, as well as applying to plenty of jobs, then you’re hopefully also receiving phone calls from different recruiters. Take the interviews even if they do not have an opportunity at the moment. Meeting them now means, with your consent, they can quickly submit you to a client when a job opens up.
  6. Organize Your Accounting. Your accountant might take care of your accounting but it’s still up to you to have the information together. The more organized you can be with credit card receipts, invoices, and reconciliations, the lower your bill will be from your accountant.
  7. Professional Development. Downtime is the perfect opportunity to improve your skills. You’re well connected in your field of IT and should already know exactly where you need to improve (be honest with yourself). Look for resources online or sign-up for a course. The investment will be worth it on your next contract.
  8. Join a Networking Group. Being around like-minded professionals can be a better way to build skills than formal training. We guarantee there are plenty of networking groups available that meet your needs (either locally or online), you just need to find them. Get involved and meet people!
  9. One-person businesses need marketing too. Have you updated (or even created) your website recently? Do you have business cards to hand out? Not only do these tasks make you more professional and memorable to recruiters and clients, but they are another step you can take to protect yourself when the CRA is reviewing your independence.
  10. Take a Vacation. Take advantage of the fact you’re suddenly without work. Unplugging and destressing is extremely important to your mental health and makes you more productive when you do start working again. If it’s been a while since your last holiday, you caught up with friends, you’ve done work around the house, or you’ve just done nothing, then don’t feel guilty about taking time for you.

The least productive thing you can do when you have no work is sit around and worry about money. In fact, any experienced independent contractor will tell you it’s the nature of the beast and you should plan for it. When you are working, ensure a portion of your income is being allocated for these “rainy periods.” Then you can work on any of the above tasks with no stress and full commitment.

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