Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: online presence

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to building your online presence.

Contractor Quick Poll Results: Do you have a personal website?

IT contractors need to use every tool at their disposal to get their skills and experience in front of recruiters, all while differentiating themselves from other talented IT contractors. The standard resume, job applications, networking events and LinkedIn connections are extremely important, as is having the right tools to complement them.

As noted, every independent contractor submits resumes to recruiters and hiring managers, and many also leave behind business cards. These all contain contact information, usually a link to a polished LinkedIn profile, and some distinguish themselves with a link to their own personal website.

Personal websites give you the opportunity to summarize your skills, display a personal side, and improve your overall branding. In last month’s contractor quick poll, we set-out to understand how many technology professionals are taking advantage of how easy is to create one. It turns out, only about 20% actually have a website while more than half of the respondents say they don’t have a need for a personal website. Where do you stand on the topic?

Contractor Quick Poll Results: Do you have a personal website?

Contractor Quick Poll: Do You Have a Personal Website

Paper resumes are all but useless in today’s digital job search economy, with virtually all employers and recruitment agencies demanding an electronic copy of your resume. These files are the only way their Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) can quickly scan through resumes and shortlist the best IT professionals for the job.

But while computers are doing much of the upfront prescreening, recruiters still want to get to know the top applicants more personally to ensure they’re not hiring a psychopath, and you can be certain that they are researching you in every way possible. Building your online presence is the only way you can control what recruiters learn about you and one of the best ways to do so is to build a personal website that communicates your brand.

Personal websites that include a digital resume go a long way in differentiating you from other IT contractors, yet so few people decide to build one. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to learn if you have a personal website and, if not, do you plan to?

How IT Contractors Can Track and Improve Social media Success

An independent contractor's online presence is a valuable way to improve your professional image, gain attention from recruiters and clients, and ultimately get more work. Strengthening this snapshot of yourself, especially on social media, is an opportunity to demonstrate that you are up-to-speed with the latest, relevant trends in your field, something particularly important to organizations who require competitive IT teams. It is also what will take a recruiter from "This person could be qualified, I'll try calling them" to "I need to meet this professional so I can present them to my clients". Knowing that you need to improve your online image and social media presence is one thing, but doing it can be an entirely different challenge. As with any strategy in business, you need to start with a plan and, once it's carried out, measure the results to ensure it's working. What exactly should you track to ensure you're taking the right steps on your social networks? Tracking Your Social Followers The first and obvious number people like to follow when evaluating their social success is the number of people who follow them -- friends on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn or followers on Twitter. It is an easy item to watch and see trends if you're successful, but in reality, does not give a proper snapshot of your success. Take a look at your list of followers. How many of them are going to help you get a job? Are they even in your industry… or your country? Having a lot of followers makes us feel good about ourselves, but it doesn't necessarily mean your network is valuable. Tracking your social followers is often referred to as tracking a "vanity metric". Tracking Your Engagement on Social Media The real metric you want to track is engagement. This includes clicks, likes, shares and comments on the posts you share. It is how you know if your network is finding value in what you post, or if you're just sharing a bunch of spammy articles that become clutter in a news feed. These could be considered misleading vanity metrics if the engagement is from irrelevant people; but at the same time, even a share from somebody who is separate from your profession may get shared again and seen by your future client. Overall, engagement is what you want to strive for. Engagement is also more than just the clicks, likes, shares and comments. More valuable are the conversations that may result from your social presence. When evaluating your success, ask yourself if anybody struck up a conversation based on something you shared. Or did a connection contact you out of the blue for some sort of advice? Another tool to understand engagement is a combination of a personal website and Google Analytics. When sharing a detailed opinion, why not make it a blog post and link to a website that also has your resume? You can then use Google Analytics to understand how many people are visiting your page and where they're coming from. Improving your Social Media Engagement If you start tracking your engagement and realize it is not very positive, nor is it showing signs of improvement, there are a few simple tasks you can try: •	Engage as well. Like every conversation in life, social media is a two-way street. Remember to respond to comments and engage with other people's posts. •	Track what was successful. Review the posts that saw the most engagement and identify trends in topics or the time of day it was shared. Continue to build from that momentum with similar posts. •	Encourage people to follow you. Add a link to your social profiles everywhere, including signature blocks, business cards and resumes. Just remember to leave off the networks where you don't always portray a professional image or you share political posts (ex. Facebook and Pinterest). Over the last decade, businesses, governments, and charities have proven over and over that a successful social media presence results in major success. Many independent IT contractors have also jumped on board and no longer need to search for work, the work finds them. When you will begin?An independent contractor’s online presence is a valuable way to improve your professional image, gain attention from recruiters and clients, and ultimately get more work. Strengthening this snapshot of yourself, especially on social media, is an opportunity to demonstrate that you are up-to-speed with the latest, relevant trends in your field, something particularly important to organizations who require competitive IT teams. It is also what will take a recruiter from “This person could be qualified, I’ll try calling them” to “I need to meet this professional so I can present them to my clients”.

Knowing that you need to improve your online image and social media presence is one thing, but doing it can be an entirely different challenge. As with any strategy in business, you need to start with a plan and, once it’s carried out, measure the results to ensure it’s working. What exactly should you track to ensure you’re taking the right steps on your social networks?

Tracking Your Social Followers

The first and obvious number people like to follow when evaluating their social success is the number of people who follow them — friends on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn or followers on Twitter. It is an easy item to watch and see trends if you’re successful, but in reality, does not give a proper snapshot of your success. Take a look at your list of followers. How many of them are going to help you get a job? Are they even in your industry… or your country? Having a lot of followers makes us feel good about ourselves, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your network is valuable. Tracking your social followers is often referred to as tracking a “vanity metric”.

Tracking Your Engagement on Social Media

The real metric you want to track is engagement. This includes clicks, likes, shares and comments on the posts you share. It is how you know if your network is finding value in what you post, or if you’re just sharing a bunch of spammy articles that become clutter in a news feed. These could be considered misleading vanity metrics if the engagement is from irrelevant people; but at the same time, even a share from somebody who is separate from your profession may get shared again and seen by your future client. Overall, engagement is what you want to strive for.

Engagement is also more than just the clicks, likes, shares and comments. More valuable are the conversations that may result from your social presence. When evaluating your success, ask yourself if anybody struck up a conversation based on something you shared. Or did a connection contact you out of the blue for some sort of advice?

Another tool to understand engagement is a combination of a personal website and Google Analytics. When sharing a detailed opinion, why not make it a blog post and link to a website that also has your resume? You can then use Google Analytics to understand how many people are visiting your page and where they’re coming from.

Improving your Social Media Engagement

If you start tracking your engagement and realize it is not very positive, nor is it showing signs of improvement, there are a few simple tasks you can try:

  • Engage as well. Like every conversation in life, social media is a two-way street. Remember to respond to comments and engage with other people’s posts.
  • Track what was successful. Review the posts that saw the most engagement and identify trends in topics or the time of day it was shared. Continue to build from that momentum with similar posts.
  • Encourage people to follow you. Add a link to your social profiles everywhere, including signature blocks, business cards and resumes. Just remember to leave off the networks where you don’t always portray a professional image or you share political posts (ex. Facebook and Pinterest).

Over the last decade, businesses, governments, and charities have proven over and over that a successful social media presence results in major success. Many independent IT contractors have also jumped on board and no longer need to search for work, the work finds them. When you will begin?

Conduct an In-Depth Job Search

Conduct an In-Depth Job SearchSometimes you have no problems finding your next IT project — the market is strong, past clients are following-up, recruiters are calling and contracts are getting extended. Other times, it can be a stressful struggle and seems like nobody out there, not even in other regions, is seeking a technology contractor with your valuable skillset.  If recruiters are calling you, they’re offering jobs that don’t really match what you do or for a rate that you’re hesitant to accept. The only option is to roll up your sleeves and search for jobs on your own.

There are many strategies and techniques to search for jobs. You can build your online presence to get access to more jobs, improve your networking skills to get an inside scoop, and of course, the traditional online job search. That online job search should not be underestimated. If you perform a search with enough depth, it’s amazing what kind of opportunities you may uncover that other IT contractors don’t know exist. Here’s a route you could take when conducting an in-depth, online job search.

  1. Start at Google
    Like most great searches, it’s perfectly alright to start your job search at the world’s most popular search engine. Many job seekers already do this, but what they frequently miss out on are all of the results. Instead, they click the first link they see that looks like it has potential, and never return. When you see a link that interests you, right-click on it to select the “Open in a New Tab” option. Do this as you go through many pages of your job search until results are no longer relevant to you.
  2. Follow-Through on Everything
    Now that you have a bunch of tabs open, view the job that you opened up, but don’t stop there. For each one, whether it’s a company’s unique career site or a larger job board, search all possible job opportunities. If there’s nothing for you but it could have potential, create a profile and sign up for job alerts if they’re available. (you may want to check out this post about managing your job search footprint)
  3. Repeat
    This is the step skipped most often. Once you’ve been through steps 1 and 2 in detail, start over at Google, but with different search criteria. Every query will bring you some duplicate results, but you’ll also see some unique pages. Try changing around keywords, think of other job titles employers may use, or add in more details such as specific skills, cities or industries.

Ensuring your job search process is in-depth may be time consuming, but doing it is the only way to make sure you’re finding the most possible opportunities when you need them. Starting at Google is a solid start and this will not change. Google recently launched “Google for Jobs” in the US, which uses Google’s search intelligence to find jobs with titles you didn’t even know existed, but fit your needs. It will allow you to conduct a detailed job search, but with less effort. Keep posted to the Talent Development Centre when Google for Jobs is available in Canada for a full review.

How Did a Recruiter Find Me When I Never Applied to Their Job?

How Did a Recruiter Find Me When I Never Applied to Their Job?

We hear this question occasionally from IT contractors — “How did you get my email or phone number when I’ve never created a profile with your staffing agency?” Some technology professionals may let a recruiter know they’re happy in their current full-time job and others may jump at the opportunity for an upcoming project, but all who ask the question are curious as to the methods a recruiter has taken when seeking new, fresh technology talent.

First, let us put your mind at ease, while recruiters are resourceful, they’re not spying on you, buying lists, or doing anything else considered unethical to get your contact information. They use various tools and techniques when filling a client’s job opening and if you happen to be a good fit for the position, your name is sure to appear at some point during their research.

Here are some things you may be doing that are helping recruiters find you:

You have a detailed LinkedIn Profile

It should not come as a surprise to you that technology recruiters seek out top talent on LinkedIn. If you have an up-to-date, detailed profile, including project descriptions and recommendations, your chances of receiving connection requests from recruiters are raised. When your email address and/or phone number are made public in the contacts section, anybody can access them to connect with you that way. You can request not to be contacted by email, either directly on your profile or with a polite response to the first message you receive from somebody. The ethical recruiters will always respect your wishes.

You uploaded your resume somewhere online

Major job boards sell access to their database to recruiters, both in staffing agencies and private companies. When you apply to any job or create a profile with them, you’ve also opened yourself up to receiving phone calls and emails about new opportunities. Again, depending on your current situation, this can either be a benefit to your job search or a bit annoying. You usually have the option to disallow your resume to be shared, but remember to return and change those settings when your job search continues.

You participated in an online forum

Many knowledgeable technology professionals, especially developers, participate in online forums on websites like Stack Overflow, GitHub and Quora. IT contractors active in these places are often the type of quality people recruiters want working on their projects so, naturally, they keep an eye on these websites. Even if your profile does not include your contact information, when a recruiter sees that you are skilled, they will seek you out on LinkedIn or a job board so they can learn more about your professional interests.

You did good work somewhere else

The old fashioned, non-internet word-of-mouth! It’s difficult for a great IT contractor to stay under the radar. When you do exceptional work for a client, your manager or other technology professionals on your team will be quick to recommend you when asked by a recruiter. It’s a fact that the best contractors rarely search for work at all — the opportunities come to them!

You did create a profile, you just don’t remember

As the old saying goes: “Never say never.” Sure you never applied to a recruiter’s job… in the past few years, but what about 5 years ago? Or 10 years ago? Staffing agencies keep their database of candidates and their resumes for a long time and recruiters may review people who they haven’t heard from in some time. They’ll understand that your resume needs updating; however, they’ll also anticipate where you may be in your career today and take the opportunity to check-in and see how things are going.

Keep in mind that a recruiter only contacts you if they believe you could be a good fit for one of their clients and that the position is a good fit for you too. They don’t want to waste your time, and also have no interest wasting their own time with an uninterested candidate. If you’re not seeking new opportunities, politely let them know and you can both move on. Otherwise, take a few minutes to learn about their recruitment agency and its clients — it may be the next best thing for your career!

The Biggest Business Website Fails and How to Fix Them

This post by Susan Johnston Taylor was originally published on the Freshbooks Blog on July 19, 2016

The Biggest Business Website Fails and How to Fix ThemNowadays customers expect small businesses—everything from solo practitioners to mom and pop contracting companies—to have an online presence. With free and inexpensive tools available online, you don’t need to be a website wizard to set one up.

Despite the relative ease of setting up a website, there are several potential pitfalls that could turn away customers rather than draw them in—by “draw them in,” we mean drive business conversions from your mere online presence. Here’s a look at several business website faux pas, along with tips on how to fix them.

It’s Jargon-Heavy

Some businesses use very technical language or industry jargon to describe themselves and what they do. Avoid this temptation and keep the language as simple and digestible as possible. Instead of saying “We leverage industry-leading, best-in-class pest-mitigation techniques,” choose simpler language like “We’ll rid your home of ants, cockroaches and other pests.” The latter also focuses on the benefits the customer will enjoy: a pest-free home!

It has the Wrong Focus

Your website shouldn’t just trumpet your accomplishments and certifications; it should demonstrate how you can help your potential customers. Rather than focusing on your extensive list of credentials, focus on the people-aspect of your business.

What are their pain points? What unique benefits can you offer that will make their lives easier or better? How can you speak their language and show that you understand their needs?

It’s Missing a Call-to-Action

Don’t make site visitors guess what they should do next; give them clear instructions with an obvious call to action button or hyperlinked text. For instance, encourage them to download your free ebook, book a free consultation or contact you for more information. Without these prompts, your potential customers won’t be prompted to move forward with your services, and you won’t get the business conversions you’re looking for.

It’s Not Mobile-Friendly

The number of global mobile users now surpasses the number of desktop users, according to comScore. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on potential business. If you have animation, large images that contain text or a site navigation that isn’t responsive on mobile phones and tablets, that can frustrate potential customers. Particularly in today’s mobile-driven world, you should have a mobile-first approach when building your website.

It has a Confusing User-Experience

Your site’s navigation should make it easy for users to find what they need, whether it’s a list of services, business hours, staff bios or contact pages—all within a few intuitive clicks. If it’s too hard to contact you, they’ll be apt to look elsewhere and you can lose their business.

Consider including a contact page as part of your site’s primary navigation and posting your phone number in a prominent place on every single page (the footer of the web page is typically where your traffic will look to for site navigation). If you provide useful and accessible information, it can also reduce the number of phone calls asking for basics like business hours or whether you provide a certain service.

It has Looping Background Music

Websites that start playing music automatically (and non-stop) as soon as you load the page can annoy your customers. They may be browsing your site at work or another place where loud, unexpected music is disruptive. In addition, added features—like music—can lead to slower loading times throughout your website. So instead of using music to set the mood, visually capture your audience instead. Choose images, fonts and colors to illustrate your desired brand and vibe.

It has Poor Image Quality

Blurry or pixelated images scream amateur hour. Smartphone cameras have come a long way, but if you still can’t get high enough resolution images, consider investing the money in professional photography or at least locating some royalty-free stock images for your site. And if you decide to take your own photography, images taken on a smartphone are typically suitable enough for website quality.

It has a Hard-to-Read Typeface

You want your site’s text to be readable on desktop or mobile so visitors can easily gather the information they need. Dark text on a light background is generally easiest to read, while light text on a dark background can prove trickier. Colors can display differently on varying devices depending on their screen settings, so aim for contrast. Different shades of the same color (for instance, a light pink background with darker pink text) may not read as well. If your traffic is distracted by your font style and color from the get-go, they may not even give your services a chance.

It’s Visually Cluttered

Big blocks of text and lots of images can overwhelm website visitors and detract them from your content. Use subheadings and bullet points as appropriate to make your text more readable and easy-to-follow. Also, include white space to give your text and images room to breathe. White space around your call-to-actions can also help them stand out. Here are instructions on finding your site’s text/HTML ratio.

It has an Outdated Template

Make sure you update your website on a regular basis. If customers come to your site in April and you still have a banner ad for a holiday sale, it doesn’t leave the best first impression. Make a more positive impression by regularly updating your website and removing any time-sensitive promotions as appropriate.

Also, keep an eye out for broken links. If you link to a vendor who goes out of business or you change the navigation on your own site, ensure you remove old links so that visitors won’t be redirected to a 404 page.

By keeping your target customers’ needs in mind and providing a good online user experience, your website will make a strong impression for your business and will allow customers to look up your information anytime, anywhere.

About the Author: Freelance journalist Susan Johnston Taylor covers entrepreneurship, small business and lifestyle for publications including The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and FastCompany.com. Follow her on Twitter@UrbanMuseWriter.

Managing Your Job Search Footprint

Managing Your Job Search FootprintIf you’re like many job seekers, you don’t stick to just one source when hunting for new contract opportunities. Instead, you start with a few of your favourites, contact some people in your network directly, and follow a few links to different sites. In the end, you’ve done a great job at submitting your name across the industry. What about all of those profiles you just created? Are you remembering to return to each one of them and make sure they’re still relevant? Here are a few simple tips to consider when managing your job search footprint.

Keep a Diary

The first step is to track every website and source you’re using to apply. It can be a notebook, a Word document, or a more sophisticated spreadsheet to track notes on the company, the roles to which you applied, the date you applied, and any other notes around the position. You can then use your diary to schedule when to follow-up with certain people. For future planning, you’ll know which sites to start at when searching for a new contract. You may even choose to update your notes based on results of each source so you can determine which are most valuable in your job search.

Bookmarks

Take advantage of your web browser’s bookmarks and keep them well organized. This way, even when your diary isn’t available, you can still easily visit your favourite sites whenever you have a moment. Google Chrome makes this especially simple because it saves your bookmarks with your Google profile. Regardless of which computer or mobile device you’re using, as long as you’re logged into Google, you can access your favourite places.

Password Managers

Believe it or not, “123456” and “password” are still used far too often.  Don’t be fooled thinking that a hacker can’t do much harm inside your job board profile. They may be able to get a small piece of information that will help them answer security questions or crack a password on your other sites. Instead of easy-to-remember passwords, consider creating something more complex.

There are dozens of great password manager apps available and many will allow you to securely sync data between your cell phone and desktop. You can use them to secure not just job search profiles, but your entire life. It may cost a few bucks, but the investment is very well it. To start, have a look at MSecure, LastPass or SplashID.

Update It or Close It

Our final piece of advice for managing your job search footprint is to literally manage it! Too often at Eagle, we see profiles that get created and then forgotten. The result is a stale resume with out-of-date skills. A large majority of the places that accept your application are going to keep your resume on file to review it for future opportunities. Make a habit of regularly revisiting all of the sites where you have a profile and ensure it’s up-to-date. If you decide the site wasn’t for you, close your profile. This provides security benefits, as well as ensures you don’t get phone calls from people you aren’t interested in hearing from.

In the end, managing your job search footprint all comes down to being organized. There are unlimited tools available across the Internet to help you organize yourself and effectively manage your job search footprint, so the question is, which ones will you take advantage of? Do you have any favourites you’d like to share? Leave them below!

Build Your Reputation by Commenting Online

This post by Mark Swartz was originally featured on Monster’s Career Advice blog

Build Your Reputation by Commenting OnlineYou have knowledge to share and want to build your professional reputation. Except writing lengthy online posts isn’t your strong suit. So creating a blog probably isn’t right for you.

How then to share your insights and opinions in short bursts? Easy. By commenting on other people’s posts. It’s a dependable way to get your name out there.

Commenting could become an integral part of your career social media strategy. Find the right outlets and watch as your profile rises.

Reasons To Share Your Knowledge And Opinions Online

You may already have a social media routine for building your personal brand. Or you might just be getting started. Either way you should consider being a commenter.

By making brief, perceptive remarks, then attaching your name to all your posts, a variety of readers will come to associate you with interesting content. Your entries may be locatable by search engines. Plus along the way you’ll meet new online networking contacts.

Comments Should Be Concise

As a commenter, you’ll be responding to other people’s posts by adding your own take. Each entry you create could expand on the poster’s content or give your opinion on the subject.

Comments are usually short. Anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph is the norm. If you go longer than that on a regular basis, edit down (or maybe start a blog of your own).

Categories of Outlets For Commenting

There are two primary categories of outlets for posting comments. One is on blogs by other people, groups or organizations related to your field of specialty. The other is on similarly related discussion forums and message boards.

Blogs are periodical. Entries are published either every day, every couple of days, or less frequently. Normally they might attract several replies if any. The more popular blogs can get dozens of responses to new posts.

Discussion forums and message boards work another way. They allow people to create “discussion threads” based on particular topics. Sometimes no one contributes to a new thread. Or over 100 replies and a dozen sub-threads could get posted.

Where To Find Commenting Outlets

For blogs and forums/boards in your profession or industry, start with your industry or trade association. They usually provide space for commenting. However you often need to be a paid-up member of the organization to participate.

Don’t fret if you aren’t. Professional forums can be found on the big social media sites. Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, host “Groups” oriented to all kinds of professionals. Google and Yahoo host varied Groups as well. Joining is free. A group may be open to the public, or require joining first.

In addition there are search engines that track blogs and online discussions. Among the more popular ones are boardreader.com and omgili.com. Use them to locate outlets that have pertinent topics.

Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Commenting

Always keep in mind that what you write reflects on your personal brand. Also ask yourself this: do you hinder of help your company’s brand? Employers may see your comments and judge you accordingly.

Don’t rush in and post before you’ve surveyed the landscape. What style are other commenters adopting? How many words are they using when they reply?

Your Insights And Opinions Matter

You needn’t be a noted thought leader to comment. What readers look for is stimulating feedback. As long as you refrain from unnecessary controversy, and are adept at using Spellcheck, you can begin.

Commenting can help you get known as a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Why should this matter to you? Because when it comes to online job networking, employers consistently seek out SME’s!

Creating a Custom LinkedIn Profile Link

A custom LinkedIn URL makes your online profile easier to share with others, looks better on your resume, and overall helps you come across as more professional. Anybody can set one up and it’s completely free. If you haven’t done so yet and you’d like to get started (we highly recommend you do), just follow the quick steps in this video from Outsmart Your Technology. It only takes a few minutes.

Getting Hired in a Digital World (Infographic)

If you still search for jobs with the same mentality you did in the 90s, or even early 2000s, you may seriously be hurting your chances of finding a contract and building out your network. It’s safe to assume that most people have moved their job search online (especially if you’re reading this), but it’s important to fully embrace the new digital world that recruiters have already been taking advantage of for years.

Not sure what that means? Take a look at the infographic below from the Brighton School of Business and Management. It shows how recruiters are using the internet to recruit, how you can clean up your online profile, as well as some other great job seeking tips for anyone looking to increase their use of the Internet in their job search.

Getting Hired in a Digital World (Infographic)