Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: job searching

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

A Beginner’s Guide to Recruitment Agencies

The Talent Development Centre is loaded with advice for working with recruitment agencies: How to choose an agency, how to grab a recruiter’s attention, questions recruiters will ask you, questions you should ask a recruiter, how to follow-up with recruiters, etc. But for newer job seekers and IT contractors, there are more basic questions that need to be answered: What does a recruitment agency do and why should I even work with them?

How Does a Recruitment Agency Work?

Recruitment agencies (also known as Staffing Agencies, Employment Agencies, Head-Hunters, etc.) help companies and organizations find workers, whether it be as full-time employees or for temporary, contract positions. Some agencies take a focused approach and recruit a specific skillset for their clients (for example, the majority of Eagle’s services centered are around IT contract professionals) while other companies take a broader approach and source a wide spectrum of talent for clients.

Recruiters at an employment agency usually conduct the complete recruiting and screening process for their clients, which includes not just searching, but also resume screening, interviewing, reference checking and negotiating with applicants. They continuously build relationships with professionals to understand their skills, interests and availability which ensures they can present candidates to a client as quickly as possible after receiving a request. Therefore, the end result of recruiters properly serving clients is that they also help job seekers find work.

How Do Recruitment Agencies Make Money?

Staffing agencies are always paid by the hiring company, and never by the job seeker.

In the case of permanent placements, the client usually pays the agency an agreed upon fee, which varies based on agencies, industries and roles. When a recruitment agency places a candidate in a temporary or contract position, the agency will hire that individual as a temporary employee or as an independent contractor in a business-to-business relationship. The agency then signs a contract with the client, stating they will provide somebody to perform the work. The staffing agency pays the individual for doing the work, and bills the client for both the cost of the individual and the cost of recruitment efforts. Hiring companies can be billed as a flat fee or an hourly rate that gets added to the worker’s hourly pay rate.

Should You Work with Recruitment Agencies?

You should cover every possible base when looking for a job and that includes talking to staffing agencies. Of course, applying to jobs directly and networking with people in your industry needs to happen, but so should building a relationship with a recruiter. They add value and help with your job search by providing access to unpublished job opportunities, providing advice to improve your resume, giving feedback on your interview skills, and connecting you to business resources such as contractor insurance (just to name a few).

Next time you’re scrolling through a job board and come across a bunch of postings from the same employment agency, don’t assume the situation is too good to be true. Apply to the job and meet the recruiter. While the job you originally applied to may no longer be available, you will be surprised at what else they can provide!

Do you have any other questions about staffing agencies and how they work? We’d love to clarify them for you! Just leave your questions in the comments below.

IT Contractors Should Take an SEO Approach to Writing a Resume

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science that digital marketers in all industries use to maximize their presence on top search engines, like Google. They use a variety of tools and strategies to ensure the content on their website is of top quality and the topic is clear to the search engines. The more a search engine trusts that page to answer a user’s question, the more likely it is to display a website at the top of the results.

When searching for candidates, nearly all staffing agencies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that scours through a database containing thousands of resumes. It uses intelligent algorithms to read through the content and return the candidates who best match a specific search — much like Internet search engines. So, if you want to get to the top of a recruiter’s search when they look for IT contractors with your skillset, then doesn’t it make sense to apply the same strategies a digital marketer uses to make their website appear at the top of a relevant search?

Perhaps the oldest but still extremely relevant SEO tactic is the use of keywords. Marketers plant relevant keywords and variations of them throughout their content and you should do the same with your resume. Continuously writing a specific skill throughout your experience or ensuring all of the titles in your past experience match what a recruiter would search will help boost your profile to the top of ATS results.

There are of course best-practices to adding keywords. When digital marketers fail to follow them, they quickly suffer negative results. The same can happen to an IT contractor who doesn’t properly think it through with their resume. A recent post on Recruiter.com by James Hu, the CEO of Jobscan, provides five types of keywords that will hurt your resume’s search results:

  1. Too-Soft Soft Skills: The generic, cliché keywords that mean nothing, nor separate you from others (ex. Hard Working and Team Player).
  2. Keyword Variations: Yes, above we mention that digital marketers use variations of keywords throughout their content, which helps capture the different ways people search. But search engines are intelligent enough to recognize all of these variations and connect them with different searches. Unfortunately, many Applicant Tracking Systems are not, meaning if you type “Project Managed” and the recruiter searches “Project Manager”, you may not appear.
  3. Almost Right Keywords: Again, Applicant Tracking Systems’ minimal intelligence compared to a large search engine means they don’t recognize your spelling mistakes. While your entire resume should be spellchecked, pay careful attention that your keywords are spelled correctly.
  4. Not-True-at-All Keywords: Unethical digital marketers stuff keywords onto irrelevant pages to get results. While this worked in the early years of SEO, search engines quickly caught on and blacklist these websites. Recruiters will do the same if you start putting keywords in that don’t even apply to your experience. It goes back to some of the best advice we can give: don’t lie on your resume.
  5. Out-on-an-Island Keywords: These keywords aren’t lies, but they do water down your relevance. Ensure the bulk of your content is related to the job to which you’re applying. A recruiter searching for a Business Intelligence Specialist probably won’t be running a search for “Horseback Riding” so you’re safe to remove that hobby from your resume. We promise.

We recently provided some additional resume tips for formatting and saving your resume to end up at the top of a recruiter’s search, and more specifically, to succeed in being found for government IT job opportunities. Do you strategically add keywords to your resume or take any other measures to ensure you end up at the top of a recruiter’s search? If not, you could be missing out on top IT contract opportunities.

Should You Hold a Grudge Over Your Recruiter?

Should You Hold a Grudge Over Your Recruiter?Do you have to forgive a recruiter who’s done you wrong or made you angry during your job search? The simple answer is no, you don’t have to forgive anyone. There are plenty of staffing agencies in the market and you can easily find a new partner.

As with every other aspect of life, you never have to forgive somebody, but should you? That’s a more complex question, so naturally, has a more complex answer. Almost every personal development expert will tell you that holding grudges does little to improve your life, wastes a lot of energy, and can cause you to miss out on positive things in your future. While we don’t expect forgiving a recruiter will bring you eternal happiness, it may prevent you from missing out on future IT contracts. Before writing your recruiter and recruitment agency off the books forever, step back and ask yourself a few questions:

Why am I angry?

This is the first and most important question. After the dust settles, reflect on what made you so angry and decide if it is as grave a situation as it was when you were furious. Were your recruiter’s wrong-doings based on a mistake or lack of knowledge, or was it an ethical situation that speaks to who they are as a person?

Is it all the recruiter’s fault?

A tough question to ask yourself, but was there anything you could have done better to improve the outcome of this mishap? Often communication on both parts, or lack thereof, is the root a preventable misunderstanding.

Am I being empathetic enough?

Try to understand the recruiter’s point of view. They get pressure from many different directions and have to make difficult decisions.  Have you properly communicated the situation to your recruiter to give them a chance to make it right?

Does this issue reflect on an individual or the staffing company?

Staffing agencies are more than just the one or two recruiters you speak to. The best ones have solid processes that ensure you’re paid on time and protected tax-wise, as well as long-standing relationships with clients who have the best technology contract opportunities. It would be a shame to walk away from all of this because of a poor recruiter. If you truly can’t work it out with the recruiter, escalate to a manager so you can continue your relationship with the recruitment agency.

Forgive and forget?

We often hear the expression “Forgive and forget.” This may be true in playground rules, but does not apply in business. When somebody does you wrong, forgiving them is your choice, but there is no obligation to forget. While we do recommend moving on and continuing with business, it’s always safe to keep past situations in mind. Use what you learned to understand how you can work better together and proceed with caution where necessary.

Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way Recruiters Find You a Contract

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

Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way Recruiters Find You a ContractArtificial Intelligence, AI, is here and changing our world every day; however, most of what we hear has been quite ominous at best. Perhaps Stephen Hawking’s statement that AI will be “either the best or worst thing” for humanity is a pretty foreboding statement depending on if you are a glass half full or half empty person.

The reality is that we know AI is present today in our everyday lives and is beyond the realm of science fiction. We see it in the ads presented to us in our social media, our use of Siri, Cortana, smart cars, predictive purchasing, fraud protection and apps like Netfix, Spotify and the like. But where are we in the world of Recruiting and Artificial Intelligence?

There are a number of exciting platforms that will undoubtedly change fundamentally business processes, and I believe very positively and the world of recruiting is one of them. Recruiters have used Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s) to source, track and manage candidates for many years. Today, there are a number of AI applications that incredibly enhance and leverage those ATS systems to the next level.

How is Artificial Intelligence Enhancing Recruiting?

The likely biggest challenge for most recruiters is effectively and efficiently screening multiple applicants to find the best candidates. Recruiters can spend upwards of 50% of their time “stuck” in this application and screening phase. Automated screening with AI can reduce this time significantly by eliminating a majority of candidates who may be unqualified while making recruiters significantly more efficient. With analytics and AI, these systems will only become more intelligent, ultimately leading to better candidates and certainly shorter times-to-fill, and allowing recruiters to let their clients know when their requirement will be expected to fill. The biggest win for recruiters and contractors alike will be that with this added efficiency tool, recruiters can focus more time on really connecting with and engaging candidates for true full fit, as well as through the entire hiring and on boarding cycles. Most would say these are the real high value aspects of recruiting that lead to stronger candidate and client relationships — essentially the human elements of the profession.

AI in recruiting also provides the capability to offer deeper, more enriched candidate data that encompasses more data by scraping public social media profiles or any online professional work data or profiles. All of this contributes to better fit engagements, which of course for contractors means more successful placements, better references and ultimately more opportunities.

Additionally, we have seen together with advancement of AI in recruiting the addition of recruiter chatbots that engage with candidates in real time interaction to further pre-qualify and, in fact, digitize early stage interviews, further freeing up recruiter time to create more time to build relationships with contractors. This capability as it pertains to the future of AI in recruiting is often referred to as Augmented Intelligence, which underscores the importance and necessity of the human element in recruiting so that, far from replacing the human component, it rather enhances it.

2016 in Review: Job Searching

2016 in Review: Job Search AdviceA job search has a number of aspects to it and nobody understands that better than an independent contractor who’s always looking out for new opportunities. Beyond knowing how to spruce up your resume and ace an interview, to be really successful, you have to understand the ins and outs of job search strategies.

Basic Job Search Tips

For starters, here are a few basic job search tips:

Advice for Your Next Job Interview

A major milestone in your search is the job interview. Here are the top posts we shared this year on that topic:

Insight from Eagle’s Executive Team

Finally, here are some posts with insight from Eagle’s own Executive Team:

Start Your Job Search with the Right Recruiter

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

How to Choose the Right Professional Recruitment Agency to Work With

How to Choose the Right Professional Recruitment Agency to Work WithChoosing a professional staffing firm to work with can sometimes be a daunting process.  There are many recruitment agencies out there, and choosing who will be representing you to the marketplace can be (and should be) an important consideration.  At first blush, most employment agencies appear the same – they focus on placing candidates – but as a consultant or job seeker, you should spend as much time vetting your staffing agency as they are vetting you.

Here are 10 questions to help you determine if you are working with the right recruitment agency to help you land your next role:

#1 – How long has the firm existed?  In the placement industry, there are very few barriers to entry and starting one’s own recruitment firm can be fairly easy. When choosing a firm, it is important to go with one that is established and has a solid foot print in the marketplace you are working in.

#2 – What do they specialize in?  Is it in line with what you are looking for?  There are specialist firms, such as IT recruiting, and there are generalist firms.  It is important for candidates to understand what the agency specializes in and what their client reach is in a particular area or industry.  The staffing agency’s website and job postings will be a great indicator of the types of resources that get placed by their firm.

#3 – Do they interview their candidates?  Did they take the time to understand what you are looking for?  A good recruitment agency will take the time to speak with candidates they are actively working with.  An agency should either do a phone interview or an in-person interview.  If neither has been done, and the recruiter is asking the right to represent you, think again.

#4 – Will they ask for the right to present you to a client, each and every time? Every time an employment agency speaks to you about a client job opportunity, contract or permanent, they must ask for explicit permission to be your representative.  If this is not a policy of the agency that you are working with, chances are they are sending your credentials out to the marketplace without your knowledge.  It can be very detrimental to your reputation when you give one recruiter permission to submit your resume, and another agency also submits you to the same role.  Avoid ‘blanket representation agreements’ as clients who receive your resume from two different sources may fault you for the discrepancy.

#5 – What specifics are outlined in their contract?  Payment terms?  Non-competes? A reputable staffing agency should be open to you reviewing their contract proactively. There is nothing worse than landing a dream technology contract role, and then finding out that your agency’s policy is not to pay their contractors until they are paid by their client (which is surprisingly common with smaller or start-up firms).  You should also ask your recruiter to outline their candidate care program – what kind of treatment can you expect once they place you?

#6 – What is their reputation in the staffing industry?  If a recruitment agency is large enough or specialized in your area of skills, you should be able to check out their reputation from colleagues and on social media.

#7 – How professional is their website?  What is their digital footprint? One can often tell a lot from a staffing agency’s digital footprint, including how professional their website looks and feels.  A professional agency should be able to demonstrate, at a minimum, their corporate history, candidate screening and hiring processes overview, and have a career page listed with postings. A code of conduct and ethics page is also a great piece to look out for.

#8 – Who are their clients?  Will the placement agency provide you with the best opportunity to land your next role?  When speaking with a recruiter, don’t be afraid to ask them how large their presence is in the marketplace and who their clients are.  Do they specialize in an industry vertical (ex. Technology, Financial Services, Healthcare, Oil and Gas) or corporation size (Fortune 500 or Small/Medium businesses)?

#9 – How professional are their recruiters?  Once you do get a chance to speak with a recruiter, were they easy to work with?  Did they understand what you are looking for and the parameters around your job/contract search?  Did they go over your recent experience with you and find out what your core skills are?

#10 – What is their candidate turnover rate with a client and how often do they re-work with the same candidates (candidates re-use)? Don’t be afraid to ask the agency this question as this speaks volumes on how well they understand their clients’ needs in terms of candidate fit.  If the turnover ratio is high (more than 2%), then treat this as a red flag! The agency has not taken the time to understand the fit between both parties.  Another great indicator of how well an agency does with its candidates is how often they re-work with candidates (in particular contractors).  Most good staffing agencies will want to work with resources they have placed in the past and these long standing agency/candidate relationships exemplify satisfaction from both parties.

These questions are just the starting point to working with an agency.  In the end, it comes down to your comfort level when dealing with the staffing agency’s recruiters and how they treat you.

9 Ways to Prepare for Freelancing in 2016

This article by Kate Rodriguez was originally posted on Social-Hire.com January 1, 2016

9 Ways to Prepare for Freelancing in 2016You’ve seen it, right? The impressive prediction that by 2020, over 40 percent of American workers will be freelancers (AKA “contingent workers”)? That figure hovered at just 10 percent in 2014. The fast-growing trend of self-employment has two sides and two sources. On the one side, professionals — particularly millennials and Gen Y’ers — want more control over their work lives, including the ability to set their own schedules, income potential and tasks. On the other side, employers want the flexibility to adjust their workforce levels according to need, and they want to employ the most talented people for less money. When experienced professionals freelance, it’s a win for both parties.

If you have been thinking about becoming a free agent, either as a full-time endeavor or a part-time side gig, you’ll find success faster if you know what to expect. In addition to making the obvious decision about what services you’re going to offer as a freelancer, you’ll want to prepare in these nine important areas:

  1. Be Ready to Market Yourself

Unless you can line up and keep a steady flow of clients via your connections alone, you’ll need to spend a considerable amount of time marketing your freelance services. Many self-employed persons spend up to a third of their work time on marketing, and not just at the beginning. It’s a necessary part of running a business, even if that business is just you. You must learn to like promoting yourself!

As a starting point, set up a website showcasing your expertise, what you offer and to whom, client references and, depending on your field, a portfolio. Create business cards and company brochures, as appropriate, for your line of work and target client audience. And don’t forget the awesome power of networking as a marketing tool. Whether it’s formal networking (e.g, in a professional association or a LinkedIn group) or the informal variety (e.g. sharing updates of your freelance activities with family, friends and neighbors), you should build in time for this important strategy.

  1. Update Your Cover Letter and Resume

Even if you intend to leave the 9-to-5, fixed employment world altogether, you’ll likely still need to go through the traditional process to apply for freelance gigs. Most companies will request a cover letter and resume, and will want to do an interview or two. Remember that in many cases, organizations are looking for a contingent employee with whom they can establish a long-term relationship. They’ll want to make sure you are the right fit, both in terms of your skills and your reliability. Prepare to follow the usual rules of professionalism when applying and interviewing with potential customers.

  1. Get Up To Speed on Taxes and Legal Matters

Know what a Form 1099-Misc is? You’ll need to if you want to be a freelancer.  Though it’s not terribly complicated, you’ll have to learn the ins-and-outs of paying taxes as a self-employed business owner. You must also understand the legal requirements of setting up a business, including licensing. Lastly, you should fully understand contract documents, like non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and client contracts, which protect you and the customer from misunderstandings and legal woes.

  1. Be Creative about Finding Your First Client

Many freelancers need to secure their first client to prove to themselves – and future clients — that they’re capable of succeeding in this new career. Yet the first client is often the hardest one to score. Be prepared to work at this, but also be creative. Maybe the company you currently work for could be your first client, if you make them an attractive offer, i.e., your expertise working on a specific project at an overall lower cost to them. Offer to give a speech or write an article that demonstrates your expertise – and don’t forget to mention you’re for hire. Approach some prospective clients and offer a free evaluation, or mail postcards to them containing your sales pitch. Your first customer does not have to be a dream client that offers the most interesting work at top rates. The goal is to get started with one project. You’ll learn from it and, ideally, obtain a reference, which will help you secure the next client and beyond. With time and experience, you can trade up to bigger clients and better pay.

  1. Look Locally, But Don’t Forget You Are Available Everywhere

It will probably be easier to find clients locally for your freelance work since you’ll be relying on your network of personal and professional contacts. Contingent on what type of services you offer, however, you could potentially find clients anywhere. A marketing consultant or a web designer, for instance, could just as easily be working for a business in Australia as for one in their hometown. As the global freelancing talent pool grows and becomes more attractive to businesses of all shapes and sizes, these same companies are becoming more comfortable hiring remote workers and communicating with them virtually. So, focus your marketing efforts broadly – you never know where the next client might be sitting.

  1. Get Familiar with Freelancer Platforms in Your Niche

Once you determine the services you’d offer as a freelancer, you should familiarize yourself with any online platforms that bring together free agents and clients in your industry area. Toptal, for example, focuses on software developers, StudioD on content writers, and Guru on all manner of consultants. A note of caution: some platforms (especially those with bidding models) effectively enable a race to the bottom, where clients try to bid out work for below-decent rates. Nevertheless, platforms can be a good way to land your startup clients and to provide you with a look at what type of projects are out there as well as client expectations.

  1. Understand Pricing and Your Worth

Setting rates as a freelancer can be tricky. When you’re new at the game and don’t yet have much to show, you’ll want to avoid setting your rates too high. At the same time, you don’t want to fall into the trap of offering lower-than-average rates to capture clients. The simplest way to set your rates is to base them on the average hourly pay you receive now in your job as a fixed employee, assuming you are planning to freelance in the same field. Another, albeit rough, method to do this is by dividing your desired weekly freelance income by the number of hours you plan to work each week. For realistic ideas of what others charge clients as startup freelancers, find a discussion thread – or start one yourself – on Reddit, Quora, or an industry-specific LinkedIn group.

  1. Connect with Other Freelancers in Your Niche

Along with discovering what other freelancers in your industry are charging their customers, you’ll speed up your learning curve significantly if you connect with self-employed people doing what you plan to do. Spend some time identifying online communities or offline groups where freelancers gather to share leads, productivity tips, articles, and “how I got started” stories, and be prepared to contribute regularly. Use Meetup.com, for instance, to discover groups of like-minded freelancers in your area. You can even start your own Meetup group if you don’t find one that fits.

  1. Focus on Client Relationships, Not Just on Projects

To avoid the “feast or famine” problem of freelancing, you’ll want to accumulate a handful of clients for whom you do regular work. This ensures a reliable monthly income and allows you, over time, to specialize deeply in an industry or functional area. The more of a niche expert you become, the more valuable and sought-after your services will be. Prepare to approach each project with the goal of building a relationship with the client that extends beyond the work at hand. Take the time up front to understand the client’s needs fully and deliver the best product you can. Follow up to make sure the deliverables have met their expectations, and thank them for working with you. Once you’ve established a rapport in this way, you can make suggestions for future projects that could enhance the client’s business. This is not just about your earning more money. It’s about becoming a business’s trusted advisor to your mutual benefit.

Although there’s plenty of buzz about the benefits of freelancing, it will not work for everyone at every stage in their personal and professional life. Look carefully at the costs and benefits of going solo before you leap. As a freelancer, you’re becoming a branded business and should treat it as such: plan carefully, consider every risk factor, prepare for ups and downs — and more likely than not, you’ll end up a winner.

Contractor Quick Poll: Looking for New Contracts

IT Contract opportunities are everywhere and each professional has their own preferences for finding the best ones.  What are your top sources?  Don’t forget to leave your thoughts about your favourite sources in the comments below. Are there any in the list you hadn’t considered?

4 Job Search Tips for Busy Candidates

Independent contractors are busy people.  You’re often juggling multiple projects, managing your business, balancing the rest of your life, and, of course, working to ensure you always have more work when the current contract is complete.  The last task can be especially challenging, given how much of your time those first three tend to use.

This video from Recruiter.com goes through 4 great tips for any candidate to search for jobs when they’re already busy.  Point number three discusses job alerts – did you know you can sign up for notifications through Eagle’s job board?