Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: networking

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to networking.

The Secrets to Building a Successful IT Contracting Business

The Secret to Building a Successful IT Contracting BusinessIT Contractors have a cyclical challenge of finding new gigs and competing to win business. While the tasks never get easier, they can certainly seem simpler when you have the routine down to an art. When you already know what to do, where to go, and how to separate yourself from the others, it allows you to get faster wins, better serve your clients and, ultimately, charge higher rates!

To start, you need to know where to find IT contract opportunities. Indeed, your favourite recruiters and go-to job boards are sure to have some for you, but there are often additional gigs out there waiting to be found, you’re just not hearing about them. Simple Programmer published an article a few months back explaining how you can find freelance jobs that are not advertised by including these four simple concepts:

  • Talk to People: Hang out with the kind of people you want to work with at meetups, industry events, conferences, etc. Look for people in a similar role and company you’d like to work at and who are using the technologies you want to use. From there, avoid selling yourself but talk to them and build conversations.
  • Put Yourself Out There: Make sure people know what you are up to and what you are interested in. This means sharing relevant content on social media or a blog, and simply talking to like-minded professionals about what you do. The more you put yourself out there and start conversations, the more luck you have!
  • Build a Reputation: The author of the article puts it best — “Once you have the chance to work with a client and help them achieve the results they want (or better), this will lead them to tell other people about you. The other people will want those results too, and they’ll come to you when their business needs you.
  • Skip the Competition: When you hang out with your target customers and position yourself as a solution, you’ll no longer be one of 100 people who bid on a gig. You’ll be the professional they already know and trust!

The final two points are crucial to building your IT contracting business finding tech gigs with less effort, but also the most challenging to accomplish. Building that solid reputation will get you more business and allow you to bill at a premium, but you will not do it tomorrow. The good news is, Dice has some suggestions to get you there:

  • Use SOWs to Measure and Track Your Performance: If your client doesn’t already have one, work with them to create a statement of work with specific deliverables, timelines and schedules. Regularly review it and demonstrate how you’re meeting or exceeding expectations.
  • Connect Your Role to the Bigger Picture: Understand the strategic value of a project and work to make suggestions that add value. Reducing costs, decreasing errors and producing more code are all examples of how you can go above and beyond.
  • Document Your Achievements and Attributes: Keeping a regular journal of your accomplishments, conducting end-of-assignment interviews, and getting testimonials is a solid way to get your next contract. These referrals and reviews can be included in your resume, personal website or social networks and will do wonders in your job search.

Building an independent contracting business is hard enough, and getting to a point where you minimize the amount of time you spend searching for jobs is even harder. However, when you put in the work and continue to maintain those efforts, you’ll understand why so many senior IT professionals would never look back from their contracting lifestyle.

Avoiding Networking Events? These Are Some Benefits You Could Be Missing Out On

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Networking is the interaction of people exchanging information and developing contacts, especially to further one’s career. It’s the art of creating and strengthening mutually beneficial relationships over time and is often said to be critical for professional growth and business development.

Most often networking events are free. It’s full of like-minded people that you can work with or learn from in some way, including peers, industry associations, business groups, and even personal contacts. Networking events can range from trade shows or conferences to social gatherings. A Google search will most likely reveal an abundance of networking events in your area for you to connect with business people. There are also plenty of opportunities to network online, like LinkedIn, which are particularly useful for business networking.

By attending a networking event you are opening the doors to a room full of opportunities, not just a room full of people. It’s a chance for you to meet business owners and influential people all together in one environment, many of which you may not otherwise meet.

Some of the rewarding benefits of attending a networking event include:

  1. Branding and Marketing Yourself– It’s important to be visible and get noticed at these events. Networking will help you become a familiar face in the community and a top of the mind person regarding your area of expertise. Use these events to demonstrate that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about your craft.
  2. Building Business – By expanding your network and meeting new contacts you acquire new customers and suppliers and explain and grow your business. Fellow businesses know your name and what you’re about. One of the greatest benefits of networking is that it can generate leads and referrals.
  3. Gaining Industry Knowledge –Networking events allow you to exchange the latest industry information and any developments. It also opens the doors to discussing best business practices, guidance from experienced peers, and advice on how to avoid challenges and pitfalls.
  4. Connecting with Industry Experts –These events provide you with an opportunity to meet with some of the biggest influencers in the industry and create connections with these monumental leaders.
  5. Personal and Professional Development –By attending networking events you have the opportunity to be coached indirectly by others and learn new skills to enhance your own professional development. By listening to others, sharing ideas in discussions, or even asking for feedback and advice, it allows you to expand your knowledge and helps you to see things from a different perspective.
  6. Uncovering Opportunities –Attending a networking event could mean meeting your new business partner, dream employer, life-altering mentor, or even a like-minded person who you can bounce ideas off of. It can be the key moment that leads to many opportunities that you otherwise may not have been presented.
  7. Socializing/Mingling –Remember, networking should be fun! It isn’t all work and no play. Let your hair down, relax, and just shoot the breeze with like-minded individuals. It’s a place for you to be social in your industry and community. And who knows, you might just create some positive outcomes for your business.

Keep in mind that you’re marketing your business and yourself and best of all you’re creating connections. These connections become your own personal network. In today’s day and age, no matter what tools or technology you use, your network is priceless. These are the people that will help make your career a success.

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you participate in the Developer Community?

Development trends and best practices are always evolving. There will always be new coding languages, advancements in technologies, and user behaviour trends that drive a need to change. Essentially, there will always be new problems and need for innovation.

Developer communities help overcome many of these challenges by opening up networking and providing the ability to share and work on solutions together. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to know how developers participate in communities, if at all.

15 Networking Tips for the Introverted

Networking and meeting people face-to-face is one of the most beneficial and effective job search strategies there are. Regardless of how advanced technology becomes with fancy ways to get your name in front of employers and recruiters, nothing will ever compare to the personal conversation.

Unfortunately, as great as it is, networking can be an uncomfortable, awkward experience for any professional. For introverts, it can be even more agonizing. That’s where this infographic from GetVoIP stands out. It provides 15 networking tips for anyone, but particularly introverts, to help build relationships and advance your career.

Contracting in a Competitive Market

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The contracting space is getting more and more competitive.  As organizations demand more from their contractors and more candidates enter the workspace, one needs to know how to stand out from the rest.

Contracting in a Competitive Market

Media and Social Media are Your friend

 

To stand out in a competitive market, you need to self-promote.  Social media and repositories like GitHub are the perfect place to display your work with like-minded individuals.  Promoting your work on social media or places like GitHub allow you to speak and display your work wherever you are, whether that be a meeting with a recruiter or in an interview with a client.  You’ll seem more prepared, invested and motivated in the project that you are applying for because you believe in your skills/abilities and you want to showcase them.

Invest in relationships and network

Referrals are becoming more and more beneficial to contract workers.  Positive recommendations from others in your field go a long way in getting calls from recruiters and getting you further along in the process.  The more people you know in your field (i.e.: Program Managers, fellow developers at other organizations etc.) the easier it is to get a foot in the door.  Take time to foster relationships from your past contracts and make sure to attend networking events. Know what projects organizations are working on before you attend these sessions so that you can speak to individuals about them and show off your knowledge and interest.  Never burn bridges and work harder in the last week of your contract then you did in the first!  If there is no extension, make sure to leave a last impression.

Certifications and Continuing Education

Certifications are mentioned on almost every job description that a recruiter sees.  Most of the time, these certifications are in the nice to have section.  Nowadays, anything in the nice to have section is code for “these will make you more competitive”!  Contracting can be hard work and breaks after 6 month or 12 month contracts can seem like the perfect time to take a vacation.  During breaks between contracts, you need to be aware of how to effectively fill that time.  Breaks for R&R are totally necessary but as a contractor in an ever changing market you need to have time to build new skills and show that you were productive during larger gaps between contracts.  Taking courses or getting certifications during breaks shows that you continue to self-improve and want to become more competitive for that next role.

Money Isn’t Everything

It is easy to say YES or NO to a role solely based on pay rate.  Recruiters understand that you have bills to pay and deserve a fair rate for your skills and abilities.  In a competitive market like today, you need to weigh your options.  If a role is paying you less than the last, ask youself the following:

  • Will this be a role where I can broaden my skills and expand my network?
  • Is this a role with a new organization/company that I have not yet had the chance to work in that will open doors in the future?
  • Will this role keep me in the tech space and engage me?

The key is not to short-change yourself but also understanding that the benefits to contracting is not always financial but to improve your own professional development.

How do you remain competitive in today’s contracting market?

Become a Master Networker and Improve Your Job Search

Independent contractors should always be seeking their next gig, and maybe even the one after that. The more opportunities you have in the pipe, the more secure your business will be. Perhaps the best way to continuously have technology contracts flowing your way is to grow your network as much as possible.

Networking, though, isn’t something that comes easily for most people. In fact, it can be downright awkward until you have enough practice and experience with it. If you’re serious about improving your job search and want to become a master networker, look no further than this infographic from Business Insider.

Become a Master Networker and Improve Your Job Search (Infographic)

What Recruiters Love and Hate About Contractors

The Most Loved (and hated) Contractor Traits, According to Recruiters

The Most Loved (and most hated) Contractor Traits, According to RecruitersAt the start of the year, we surveyed Eagle’s recruiters to find out how their favourite, top-of-mind candidates earn that special spot, and shared the results with you, as well as some data on the importance of having that status and how you can get into the bad books as well. Today, we want to share some quotes directly from Eagle’s recruiters about both their favourite contractors and those that make them cringe.

Here’s what recruiters said were the traits of their favourite candidates:

  • Treats me as respectfully as they would a potential client, as I endeavor to do the same.
  • Is focused on the type of role they’re interested in finding – has worked in that sector before and is confident about sharing the results of previous projects/engagements they’ve successfully delivered.
  • Strong skill set specialized in one or two areas.
  • Professional, positive attitude, articulate, and honest.
  • Keeps in touch without being pushy.
  • Receptive when called by recruiter.
  • Like with anything, if the candidate puts the investment and makes the effort in maintaining the relationship and is honest with me, I do remember them.
  • Warm, personable, friendly, engaging.
  • Great communication skills, polite, knowledgeable.
  • Easy to get along with, cooperative, and has done a great job on a client site.
  • They are responsive and they work collaboratively with us to be successful.

And, the candidates who make them cringe have this in common…

  • An over-confident attitude can sometimes also come across as being arrogant – which would make me think twice before calling the candidate on a potential project.
  • When you review a candidate’s new resume and then one of their old resumes and notice that dates and experiences have changed dramatically.
  • Slow response in getting back to you.
  • No focus to what they’re best at/what they want to do. (If you don’t know what you want, I can’t find it for you).
  • Unable to speak in-depth about past projects/skills/results/experience. If you can’t explain it to me, you cannot explain it to a potential employer.
  • Monopolizing an interview.
  • When a candidate thinks he/she is a fit for everything and anything on the job board (“I can learn on the job”, “give me a few weeks to ramp up”, “can we throw my name over to see what they say?”)
  • Unrealistic negotiations or rate negotiation after receiving the offer.
  • Apathetic, no eye contact, and shabby dresser.
  • Strong odor.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favourite and most hated traits of recruiters? How can they become your go-to person or how can their emails automatically be filtered to junk? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comments below.

Keep Up-to-Date and Improve Your Job Search

3 Tools That Will Make You the Most Informed Contractor in Your Network

Having the right knowledge and information is a massive competitive advantage in the IT contracting market. The more up-to-date you are on client news, industry trends, and opportunities, the easier it is to find work and keep a steady flow of contracts. Unfortunately, there is no magical place you can go to that has all of that customized and readily available for you each morning… or is there? No, there isn’t.  At least not without a bit of work up-front.

What do you want to know?

The quest for being well informed begins with knowing what it is you want to be informed about. Take some time to plan out every source from which you want frequent updates. Consider your top clients or companies with whom you want to work, your top staffing agencies, some other job boards that have brought you success, and news websites or blogs that provide information on the latest trends in your trade. Now you have a list, albeit long, it’s a list. Your next step is to find a tool that will aggregate and organize all of the information for you.

LinkedIn

LinkedInThe simplest tool is probably LinkedIn because most contractors are already there. Go through your target client list, company-by-company, search out their page, and follow them. Now, updates from that company will appear on your newsfeed whenever you log in. As long as you’re in the habit of checking regularly (LinkedIn’s mobile app makes it very easy), you should be fairly up-to-date on your favourite companies.

Unfortunately with LinkedIn, “fairly up-to-date” is the best you can hope for. If you manage to find all of the LinkedIn pages for your favourite companies, you’ll also find that some don’t post updates. For those who are active, it’s almost guaranteed that they’re not posting all news and opportunities – they don’t want to spam their newsfeeds.

Speaking of newsfeeds, just because you follow somebody, it doesn’t mean their updates will appear in your feed. LinkedIn can’t show you everything, so it automatically filters posts based on what it thinks is more relevant to you.

Twitter

Twitter is the other social network where you’ll have good results with company updates. As with LinkedIn, there’s no guarantee that everybody has a Twitter account and, if they do, there is no guarantee that they’re active. The biggest differentiator between Twitter and LinkedIn is the posting etiquette. Where most pages on the professional social network only post a maximum of two to three times a day, Twitter profiles are more open, sometimes posting over twenty times per day. And Twitter feeds include all posts.

Many companies have a Twitter account dedicated to posting everything they publish — every article, every job opportunity, and all company news. Twitter is fantastic if you want instantaneous news, but it’s overwhelming, which is why lists are mandatory if you want to be organized. Twitter Lists allow you add certain profiles into a group, for example “IT Contract Opportunities.” Then, when you’re interested in learning more about that specific topic, you can view the news only in that list. We recommend using a tool such as HootSuite to manage and view your lists even more efficiently.

RSS Feeds

LinkedIn and Twitter are fantastic, but they are flawed in that they require a company to continually maintain their posts. Organizations often start with good intentions of posting everything, but those posts can start to fade. That’s what makes RSS Feeds the superior method of following a company.

RSS Feeds automatically publish frequently updated information from specific web pages, such as blog entries, job boards, press releases and news headlines. RSS Feeds are a great “set it and forget it” tool, meaning once an RSS feed has been created, as long as no other back-end code changes affect it, the feed is continuously updating. (For example, you can view the RSS Feeds for the Talent Development Centre, Eagle Jobs, and Eagle’s CEO Blog)

RSS IconIt takes a little bit more work upfront, but you can take advantage of RSS Feeds by subscribing to a feed reader (ex. Digg, Feedly, or any other app that you may find). Then, visit each company’s website to search for their feed (it’s often found by clicking on an image like the one to the right) or search out the company directly from your feed reader.  Like Twitter, you can then group all of your feeds, and all of the most up-to-date information is available to you each time you open the reader. If you’re still loyal to Twitter accounts but like the idea of RSS Feeds, this site will help you turn any Twitter feed into an RSS feed.

So what are you waiting for? It may take a time commitment to set yourself up properly, and you need to set time aside to keep up with all of your new information, but it’s well worth it. You’ll know about jobs as soon as their published, client news as soon as it breaks, and hot trends before they make it to the water cooler!

LinkedIn – The Ultimate Cheat Sheet (Infographic)

Last week we shared the Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Coding. It was long, detailed, in-depth and generated some positive feedback, but not everybody needs to find the best code. Here’s another extensive cheat sheet infographic that is for everybody. It was created by leisureJobs and covers everything there is to know about LinkedIn.

Whether you want to build the perfect profile, create optimized images, gain more recommendations, learn the hidden features of LinkedIn, add SEO capabilities, enhance security, or just get started, this infographic will benefit you. A word of caution before you look at it: this may distract you for a while.
Leisurejobs.com

Leisurejobs.com

Why Network with People Who AREN’T In Your Field?

Networking is important for all independent contractors and, as such, we provide a plethora of networking tips on the Talent Development Centre.  Just this past Tuesday, we shared a guest post from Freshbooks containing detailed networking advice for introverts.

Many of our past tips suggest finding groups related to your expertise and forming a circle with like-minded people. This is terrific advice but you should keep in mind that you will also benefit by networking with those who are not in your field. Have a look at this video from CareerHMO for five reasons it’s a good idea and some tips for doing so.