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?
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?
There’s a lot of the same, boring job search advice out there, which is why we’d like to share this video from Plus2Joe. This video brings a lighthearted view to the job seeker and while we wouldn’t really recommend any of these tactics, it’s sure to make you smile 🙂 .
How many conversations have you had today? How many TV shows have you watched or podcasts have you heard? Now, how much of what you heard do you remember? How much did you actually listen?
I know I have a problem listening a lot of the time. I “listen” to podcasts on my way to and from work but can’t even remember what they were about the following day. I forget to listen to my husband when he speaks. I lose track of what people are saying when I interview them. We all do these things, though some of us are worse than others. I don’t think I’m actually that bad, but I’m not the best. I could be better. We all could.
Here’s the thing about listening: it is crucial to your career success. We know that “people skills” are for employers by far the most desired attributes in potential hires, and that listening is one of the most important people skills. We also know that “active listening” was listed as a critical skill for 9 out of 10 of the most in-demand jobs in a recent report. You must have listening skills.
If I were talking, you’d have tuned out already wouldn’t you?
We are losing our ability to listen, according to sound consultant Julian Treasure, who says we spend roughly 60% of our communication time listening but that we retain just 25% of what we hear. He says in a Ted talk that this is happening for several reasons, among them the noise levels to which we’re constantly subjected, the way information is expected to be presented in sound-bytes, and the rise of recording technology (I, for example, often find myself multi-tasking while interviewing people, and forgetting to pay attention to what they’re saying because I can just listen to the recording later).
“The premium on accurate and careful listening has simply disappeared,” he says.
In that talk Treasure also shares 5 exercises and tools you can use to improve your own conscious listening. These are:
“Just three minutes a day of silence is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate so that you can hear the quiet again. If you can’t get silence go for quiet. That’s absolutely fine.”
- Something Treasure calls “The mixer”
If you are in a noisy environment where sound is coming from all directions, listen for how many distinct channels of sounds you can hear. I do this for fun by listening for specific instruments in musical recordings. Symphonies are good.
- Something Treasure calls “savouring”
This means “enjoying mundane sounds.” For an example, he shows how he turns the sound of his clothes dryer into a waltz.
- Listening positions
This is “the idea that you can move your listening position to what’s appropriate to what you’re listening to.” I had some trouble grasping this one but he means that there are many different “positions” from which we listen: active, passive, expansive, reductive, judgmental. Treasure suggests playing with these “positions.” More on that here and in the Ted talk posted below.
It’s apparently the Sanskrit word for “juice” or “essence,” and an acronym for Receive (take in what you’re hearing),Appreciate (make listening noises like mmm hmmm), Summarize (recap with “so…”), Ask (ask questions).
Treasure says he believes that “every human being needs to listen consciously in order to live fully.” That’s a beautiful thought. And it will help you get a job, which is also nice.
Last week we discussed 6 reasons it’s a good idea to keep searching for opportunities over the holidays. Let’s dive deeper into some simple strategies you can use or activities you can do right now that will give you an advantage in the New Year and throughout 2015.
- Holiday Events
How many parties and dinners have you been to so far and how many more will you attend? How many do you actually want to attend? All of these are networking events, so take advantage by meeting new people and re-connecting with old friends. You don’t need to sell yourself or hand out copies of your resume, but it’s amazing where a simple discussion can lead.
- Send thank you notes/holiday cards
Speaking of building relationships, have you sent your holiday cards yet? If you think it’s too late, how about thank you notes to people you worked with this year? This is a simple task you can do while watching TV or traveling and can have great rewards.
- Take the time away to do research
You don’t need to be applying to jobs to get ahead, instead simply focus on planning. Research your industry, potential clients, and potential agencies. Find out where the opportunities will be and where you want to be. Then develop your plan. Will you work on some relationships? Register for some events? Set-up email notifications on Google and job boards?
- Take the time away to inventory your skills and re-work your resume
The previous point focuses on your external analysis, but don’t forget about the internal one. Take a step back to review your skills. Should you do any extra training this year? Then, re-work your resume. Maybe even create multiple resumes that focus on different roles.
- Be flexible when scheduling meetings
If you manage to get an interview or meeting with a potential client, be able to work around their schedule. Everybody is a busy right now and will be playing “catch-up” for a couple weeks after the holidays. The more flexible you are, the more likely you’ll be able to get a meeting, and clients will appreciate you accommodating to their schedule.
If you set a goal to find new contracts during your break but haven’t started yet, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time. The tips above are simple and shouldn’t take too much time away from your vacation. Do you have any other quick tips to find new contracts over the holidays? Share your ideas below!
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Stop Searching for IT Contract Opportunities Over the Holidays
We’ll all use this holiday season to relax, enjoy time with family, and even be a little lazy. Given how busy we are the rest of the year, taking a break is necessary and there’s a good chance that what won’t be on your mind is searching for new contract opportunities. If you are able to squeeze it in between meals and movies, though, you just might set yourself up for a rewarding 2015.
There are several reasons a job search over the holidays can increase your odds of winning a contract. Here are a few:
- Organizations are still hiring. Even though many of us will take a break, business will absolutely continue to operate. Companies are always planning their next moves, projects are always moving forward, and people are always needed (usually sooner rather than later). If you keep an eye on your favourite job boards, you’ll notice that, although there won’t be many, there will be new opportunities appearing.
- Less competition. And while those new opportunities are appearing, fewer people will be seeing them. Remember, most people use the holidays to “turn off”. When you “turn on” for a few minutes each day, you may be the only person applying to a job.
- Budgets reset. While not true for all organizations, many companies reset their budgets on January 1st. They suddenly have money to spend and will want to get projects going the second 2015 starts. They’ll use the holiday period to find contractors to work on those 2015 projects.
- Recruiters are easier to reach. As we said in #1, it may be slower but business doesn’t stop during the holiday season. Many recruiters are still at their desk and may have some extra time. What a great opportunity to call them, build relationships, and discuss upcoming roles.
- People change jobs in the New Year. 2015 will come with a slew of resolutions and some of them will be to make a career change. Be proactive by getting your name in front of recruiters and hiring managers over the holidays, and you’ll be the first person they call in January.
- Show enthusiasm and initiative. If anything, taking the time to apply for jobs, writing cover letters and checking in with your network shows that you’re serious about your business. Many clients love that personality trait and will recognize you for it.
We’re not recommending you cancel your vacation, ignore your family and work for the next few weeks straight. But could you monitor some websites and make a few calls? It just might pay off!
Change is inevitable throughout the business world, but in the last decade, it seems like the pace of change has been increasing every day. If you agree with this statement and believe that SO MUCH has changed in just a few short years, then you need to be very wary of OLD ASSUMPTIONS!
We all tend to have them, they come from previous experiences, they are bred into us as children from our parents’ experiences and over a lifetime we tend to adopt them as fact.
If you look at the job market today it would be easy to apply the same beliefs you had years ago, or even just a few years ago before the recession. Yet the job market in particular has changed enormously in a short space of time.
Canada’s economy is one of the best in the world but we still have almost 7% unemployment, AND we have jobs going unfilled every day!
If you are looking for work you might need to reset your expectations. Here 4 common assumptions some job seekers still have that are holding them back from a future opportunity:
- “I need to secure full-time, permanent work.” Most of our readers are independent contractors so already know that this is false. Temporary and contract work is growing. Even if it is not your preferred answer, it gives you (a) a pay cheque; (b) an “in” to an employer; (c) good experience; and (d) it is always better to look for work when employed! There are many benefits to contracting and the Talent Development Centre is dedicated to helping professionals succeed in it. If you’re looking for work and have been ruling out those contract opportunities, it may be time to start considering them.
- “I can find work in my city.” This isn’t completely false; you can find work, but is it the work you want? The job that matches your career goals may not be available in your geography, so maybe you should consider moving to where the work is. Traditionally, Canadians have been slower to move for work, unlike the US, but being employed is a big part of anyone’s life so you should give it real consideration. A great part about being an independent contractor is that taking work in another city doesn’t necessarily mean a big move. It may only be for a few months until a contract comes up closer to home and, depending on the client, you may be able to build travel costs into your bill rate.
- “I have always been a <fill in the blank>.” The truth is, some skills get outdated, especially in IT. Sure, you could become a subject matter expert in a niche area, but that will make contracts hard to find and could involve a lot of travel. If you want to continue in that line of work, you’ll need to get some extra training to refresh your skills, or maybe you need to consider something different that could take advantage of your current skills. For example, you could consider becoming a recruiter!
- “I know how to find opportunities.” If your colleague told you the only place they look for contracts today is in the weekly careers section of the newspaper, you’d probably look at them like they had two heads. Perhaps the fastest driver of change today is technology and that’s creating countless new places where companies are promoting their opportunities. If you’ve been sticking with the same one or two sources for the past five years, you’re not much further ahead of the person who only looks in the newspaper.
Getting past some of these assumptions could require a big decision and don’t make any of them without really doing your research. Remember, though, the people who figure out this new world first will be the winners! So ask yourself, are you changing with the times or are you still stuck in some old ways. Do you have a plan to embrace new ideas and try new strategies? Share your ideas with our readers below.