Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: networking

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

Quick Poll Results: How tight do you keep your LinkedIn connections?

Keeping an active LinkedIn profile and connecting with the right people in your industry is one of the best ways to find IT contracts. Not only is LinkedIn one of the most-used tools by IT recruiters, but it’s also the best way to build out your network and get referrals for future gigs. If you’re not leveraging LinkedIn, you’re missing out.

Once you have a profile, the next question to ask yourself is what kind of network you want to build. Every IT professional has their own strategy. Some like to keep things very exclusive, and only allow people into their circle if they know them personally and think highly of them. On the other extreme, some professionals are happy to connect with anyone who has a pulse.

There’s no right or wrong way to do LinkedIn, but we were curious to learn how our readers approach it, so we made it into this Summer’s contractor quick poll. It turns out, IT contractors like to keep their networks somewhat closed. Approximately 80% of respondents said that they only connect with people who they know and like, or with people who have mutual connections or interests.

Quick Poll Results: How tight do you keep your LinkedIn connections?

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you screen your LinkedIn requests?

A powerful LinkedIn network can go a long way in helping you build out your professional connections, build your industry reputation and secure future contracts. As such, it’s great practice to connect with past and present colleagues, clients, recruiters and anybody else where you can add mutual value to each other’s professional lives.

At the same time, we all receive connection requests from individuals who appear to be completely random. Maybe you appeared in one of their searches, or maybe you have worked with them but you just don’t recognize them. Either way, this invitation to connect suddenly appears, with no personalized message whatsoever, and you’re left scratching your head. What do you do? Do you connect with them or do you ignore them? That’s what we’re looking to learn in this month’s contractor quick poll.

Networking During a Pandemic

Networking During a Pandemic

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Director of Delivery, Strategy and Development at Eagle

A couple years ago, I shared a post here about the benefits of networking events and why it’s a good idea to attend them. Today, with physical distancing measures due to the pandemic, face-to-face networking events are non-existent, but nurturing relationships remains prevelant. Everything we do now in our networks has become more important than ever, including sending emails, making calls, texting, sending a social message, etc. How we make people feel during this is going to remain longer during these unstable times.

Remember, face to face networking may be on pause but our relationship building isn’t. The contacts you make have to be more personal so think of communications you can send out that YOU would be happy to receive. There are a number of simple gestures that give a personal touch and will do more to build and strengthen your relationships, rather than sending out impersonalized mass communications. For example:

  • Wishing someone a happy birthday
  • Reposting their LinkedIn share
  • Sending them a text just to say hello and to check in
  • Sending an article that may be of interest to them
  • Sharing helpful market information

There are also a number of virtual conferences happening that you can still take advantage of as they offer the opportunity to “virtually” network. For example, email speakers after the event to ask questions or offer feedback. Or, if there is a particular area you are interested in, ask them if they’d be willing to brainstorm or have a brief discussion with you about it. It may be different and uncomfortable for you, but do your best to bring value to the virtual conference in any creative way you can.

The main goal here is to take the risk and put yourself out there. Today, creating and maintaining virtual relationships is the key to your business success and building a strong network.

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.