Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: professional development

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to professional development.

The Latest Resume Tips and Trends for IT Contractors

Your resume is your IT contracting business’s number one marketing tool. When optimized, that is the document that will make a recruiter want to meet you as soon as possible or a client eager to hire you before sitting down for an interview. Given its importance, we like to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends and tips from resume writing professionals around the world. Here is a summary of some of the latest advice we’ve come across:

Highlight Skills Above all Else

It seems obvious that your resume should include your skills, but a recent article from Dice emphasizes how important a skills-based resume is. Referencing studies from HackerRank and Montage, the article highlights some key takeaways when writing your resume:

  • Recruiters and hiring managers prioritize experience, specifically how long an IT contractor has been working in a discipline.
  • Education such as degrees is at the bottom of the priority list of those evaluating tech resumes. They’re more interested in your deep history of personal objects and direct understanding of languages and frameworks.
  • More and more companies are hiring based specifically on skills, as seen in the rise of skills assessments and predictive analytics to determine who’s best suited for a position.
  • A list of side projects and proof you know your stuff will make your resume more attractive.

Links in Your Resume are Great, But Do Them Right

The Muse published a fantastic answer about links in resumes and it’s too good not so share. When Alyse Kalish asked career coach and job search expert Clatyon Wert if it was alright, Wert’s response was “It’s acceptable to use links in your resume, cover letter, or any form of the job application—assuming you’re submitting it online. I’m of the belief that 90% of applications are now online, and you should be adding links to your portfolio, your LinkedIn page, and possibly more depending on your industry and the type of work that you’ve done. It’s best to put as much out there as possible when applying to jobs, because attention is everything in the job search.

Wert also provided some extra tips for adding links correctly:

  • Link your proudest and best work, as well as projects related to which you’re applying
  • Use hyperlinks on keywords rather than an entire URL strand
  • If you must use an entire link (ex. Print documents), shorten it using tools like bit.ly
  • If you have a large list of potential links, create a separate portfolio or website
  • Place links in the header or beside your contact info
  • Test all links to ensure they work

Take Extra Care in Proof-Reading

Proof-reading your resume to avoid embarrassing mistakes is not a new trend, but this article from Grammarly has some unique tips for proof-reading (and they can be applied to more than just resumes!):

  • Take a break between the time you finish writing and start proof-reading
  • Print it out or change the font to view it differently
  • Read your work aloud to spot misspellings and repeated words
  • Use your finger to move along and force yourself to slow down
  • Keep a list of mistakes you make often
  • Pay special attention to titles, headings and lists which are often overlooked
  • Double check prepositions you aren’t sure about

Naturally, Grammarly also recommends trying their product to help edit.

How’s your resume been working for you lately? Have you tried any innovative techniques that are landing your more interviews with IT recruiters and hiring managers? If so, we want to hear about them! Please share your experience and tips in the comments below.

Google Docs CAN Be Helpful… If You Know What You’re Doing

Unless you live under a rock, have an extreme aversion to everything Google or despise cloud technology, you’re already aware of Google Docs. It’s the word processor component of the Google office suite that allows you to create, edit and store documents in the cloud. It doesn’t have the advanced and intelligent technology of MS Word to take its place but it can be a lifesaver in a variety of situations.

If you’re shaking your head right now and in complete denial that Google Docs has a place in your world, then it’s possible you just don’t understand it enough. From basic documents to styles to research, Docs has extensive capabilities and this infographic from WhoIsHostingThis will tell you all about them…

Google Docs Masterclass: The Infographic - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com

Soft Skills Research That May Surprise You

The greatest IT professionals — both contractors and full-time employees — are extremely skilled in their technical areas. Where the average professional is lost and confused with technology beyond MS Office, IT workers have an uncanny ability to create complex programs, fix the most confusing bugs, and organize data to provide intelligence that a business owner never thought was possible. Having these skills are the pillars to landing a lucrative tech gig, but as we’ve discussed many times in the Talent Development Centre, improving your soft skills will make you competitive in your search for IT jobs.

There are an unlimited number of soft skills out there that you can improve and deciding where to put your focus can be a daunting task. A recent contractor quick poll found that IT professionals want their co-workers to have good communication skills, emotional intelligence and time management. We also shared an infographic last year that gave more specific insight into what soft skills are most important for a Project Manager. For what should be a simple topic, when we dig into soft skills, it can easily get complicated.

Earlier this year, business consulting company West Monroe Partners conducted a study to answer questions about a soft skills gap in IT and what soft skills companies look for in technology candidates. You can download the complete report here, but if you’d prefer a good summary, InformationWeek summarized the top 10 findings:

  1. 98% of HR recruiters look for soft skills when hiring tech workers
  2. 81% of organizations ask business leaders to evaluate IT job candidates’ soft skills
  3. Most business leaders say IT pros’ soft skills are equal to or better than those of other departments
  4. Half of organizations use personality tests to assess soft skills
  5. Recruiters say IT job candidates are good at verbal communication
  6. HR recruiters say leadership is the least important skill for IT pros
  7. Organizations in NYC want flexibility and conflict resolution skills
  8. Older people want teamwork and flexibility; younger people want leadership and conflict resolution skills
  9. Male and female hiring managers look for the same soft skills
  10. Different industries have different soft skills requirements

What can we take from all of this? The good news is that if you’re part of the majority, your soft skills are exactly where they need to be! If you want to focus on something, flexibility and conflict resolution look to be the top priorities in IT hiring managers, where leadership is the least. It’s also worth keeping in mind that these priorities vary by industry.

Professional Development Ideas for Independent Contractors

Of the many benefits that come with working for yourself as an IT contractor, having to worry about your own professional development is not one of them. Employees regularly get to rely on their employer to coordinate the training plans and classes that help them advance their career. Independent contractors are not so lucky.

Planning training and development is yet another IT contractor responsibility, above and beyond completing projects and serving clients. There are so many options and it can be hard just knowing where to start. Here are a few common areas for professional development and some suggestions on where to start.

Types of Professional Development

The term “Professional Development” is very broad and comes in all shapes and sizes. If you know you have to advance yourself somehow, then consider your current progress in any of these areas and prioritize what to do next:

  • Skills (New and Existing): When most of us think about training, we think about the core skills we use in our job. For example, a Developer may look into enhancing their knowledge in their preferred programming language or learning a new one. Start by understanding your industry and the trends of common skills your clients will be demanding, then decide what skills you need to build.
  • Certifications: If there’s any way to stand out to a client (and sometimes just qualify for a contract position) it’s to earn a relevant certification in your field. Though it may require you to sit through some courses on information you already know, certifications are important for IT contractors and will make you more competitive.
  • Soft Skills: Unless you’re swimming in certifications and have the best skills of anyone else in the market, you must have top-notch soft skills to compete. This includes time management, organization, email etiquette, meeting etiquette, emotional intelligence or conflict resolution, and a recent contractor quick poll revealed that most of your co-workers want you to have outstanding communication skills.
  • Industry Knowledge: As noted above, knowing what’s happening in your industry and the most in-demand requirements is crucial. In addition to knowing what skills to improve, you’ll also be able to plan for trends like upcoming opportunities with specific clients and job shortages in certain regions.

How Can IT Contractors Find Training Opportunities?

  • Enroll in a Class: The most obvious way to learn something new is to register for a class or workshop. This can be through your industry association, an online course or a local school. Completing a course provides you with something tangible for your resume; however, it’s also time consuming and can cost money.
  • Read: Read everything. Newspapers articles, magazines and books published by industry-leaders in your field are guaranteed to provide you with additional knowledge that will help you move forward. Also, don’t discount the social media posts by people you follow — there’s always something new to learn if you just look for it.
  • Network: Networking events — both online and offline — give you the opportunity to pick the brains of other professionals in your field. You’ll learn about best practices, trends and about more unique learning opportunities.
  • Ask Questions: Go a step beyond just networking and ask everyone questions. Your clients, recruiters, team members… everyone you come across can teach you something. A simple question such as “Why do you do it this way” or “What do you think of this” can open up a discussion and ultimately expand your mind to improve your work.

In conclusion, training and development is more than just enhancing your core skills and it does not have to be an expensive nor time consuming endeavor. While enrolling in classes will offer you the most tangible benefits, when you keep an open-mind and embrace all opportunities to learn, you will improve as a professional and ultimately enjoy more success.

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.

Steps to the Best Code Review and Giving the Imminent Feedback

Giving feedback is a regular task for all IT contractors, regardless of your core area of expertise. Whether its to a colleague, a client or a direct report, feedback comes in a variety of forms and usually starts with an evaluation. For example, you may give a colleague feedback on their presentation after seeing it, give a fellow contractor feedback on their resume after reading it, and or give a developer feedback on their code after a careful review.

Unlike sitting through a presentation or glancing over a resume, reviewing code and giving feedback requires extensive focus, knowledge and attention to detail. That’s why the best code reviewers are able to land jobs working on the most exciting projects.

In a recent article published by The Muse, Full Stack Engineer Neely Kartha comments on some of her struggles when she first began reviewing code, specifically the stress that can come from the expectations. Obviously a great problem-solver with initiative, Kartha explains how she interviewed other professionals to collect tips on how to best review code. Here are the 5 most important ones she discovered:

  1. Think about the overall impact
  2. Consider security
  3. Focus on bugs
  4. Be a team player
  5. Use the process for learning and knowledge sharing

While the first three points require strong technical skills and experience to truly excel, the final two — being a team player and embracing the opportunity to grow — are soft skills that can often be more challenging. Kartha points out at the end of her article that the steps in providing feedback are a great opportunity to exercise your people skills. She suggests giving people the benefit of the doubt while trying to dispel defensiveness. Obviously this is no easy task, but surely something that top code reviewers have mastered.

Do you review code? If so, do you have any additional tips for a successful review that ensures a quality product and maintains good relationships with the author? We’d love your tips, please share them in the comments below.

Epic: The Best Way for IT Contractors to be Competitive in the Health Industry

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

Should you become Epic certified? Given the increased demand in Canada and limited number of Canadian IT contractors with the certification — absolutely!

We are seeing a growing number of Epic implementations pop-up across healthcare facilities and academic medical centers with an increased demand for Epic consultants, especially ones that are Epic certified. But what exactly is Epic and why has it quickly become one of the largest providers of health information technology?

Epic Systems has a reputation as a technological leader allowing hospitals and health systems to access, organize, store, and share electronic medical records. The support functions of Epic’s applications are related to patient care, including registration and scheduling, clinical systems for doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, and other care providers, systems for lab technologists, pharmacists, and radiologists, and billing systems for insurers.

TechTarget says Epic Systems’ products and services integrate across a variety of settings and functions. Here are some of the company’s prominent products and services:

  • EpicCare, the core EHR product, is tailored for physicians and organizations and focuses on clinical care, decision support and streamlined processes.
  • MyChartprovides patient engagement features, including family health information.
  • Healthy Planetuses data interoperability to boost population health management efforts.
  • Revenue cycle managementsoftware helps handle patient claims and billing.
  • Tapestryaddresses managed care activities.
  • Mobile interfaces – including Haiku for smartphones, Canto for tablets and Limerick for the Apple Watch – aid patient care via mobile devices.

Epic states that 190 million people across the world use its technology. Meanwhile, Forbes has estimated that at least 40% of the U.S. population has medical data stored on an Epic electronic health record (EHR), and Epic’s clients include some of the biggest names in healthcare.

KLAS Research concluded in 2017 that Epic had the largest EHR market share in acute care hospitals at 25.8%. Epic’s top competitor, Cerner Corp., took 24.6% of the market, revealing the close tug of war between the two companies for customers.

There has been a lot of interest lately in the IT consulting industry around becoming an Epic consultant. The demand for these consultants is at an all-time high and Epic Systems’ success has proven that the demand will only increase.

One thing that all Epic consultants should consider is becoming Epic certified.

Epic certifications are highly valued by many organizations and can be the key to a successful career in the healthcare IT field. Epic Certified consultants are currently in high demand.

It is very difficult to become Epic certified, but extremely valuable once you receive it. A certification is awarded when Epic Systems has deemed you proficient within a given module.  If you are not directly employed by Epic then you will need sponsorship from a hospital going through an Epic implementation. Epic does not allow individuals to apply for ad hoc certification. The only other method of receiving Epic certification is to be hired directly by Epic Systems.

There are numerous different modules in which one can become certified, such as:

  • ASAP – Emergency Room
  • Beacon – Medical Oncology
  • Cadence – Scheduling and Tracking Patient Appointments
  • EpicCare Ambulatory/Inpatient: Clinical Documentation, Order Entry, E-Prescribing
  • Kaleidoscope – Ophthalmology
  • Cupid – Cardiology
  • OpTime/Anesthesia – Scheduling and Documentation for Surgical Procedures
  • Stork – Obstetrics
  • Prelude/ADT – Patient Registration System
  • Radiant – Radiology
  • Willow (Inpatient and/or Outpatient) – Pharmacy

Epic requires those who are working on an implementation to be certified. If sponsorship through the system you currently work for is not an option, you can try to get hired by an outside health system to become Epic certified. After completion of the training and a hands on mock implementation process you must pass a proficiency test in order to receive the certification. Note that the only location in which one can receive Epic certification is at Epic Systems headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.

One thing to keep in mind when looking to get certified is that the process takes varying amounts of time, depending on which module you are receiving certification for. As a result, certification timelines can be somewhat unpredictable.

We are now seeing implementation in Canada and a strong demand for Epic consultants in Ontario. In July 2017, Epic rolled out its first end-to-end implementation in Canada at Mackenzie Health, an Ontario-based health care provider that serves over 500,000 patients. Other Canadian facilities use parts of Epic’s family of software. For example, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario uses Epic for its patient portal. However, Mackenzie represents the first time a Canadian health care provider has installed the full gamut of Epic tools, covering everything from lab work to cardiology to scheduling.

If you’ve been looking for the “next big thing” to learn in order to remain competitive, Epic is it. It may take some extra work, but it will lead you to be one of the first and few to earn this certification in Canada, immediately making you more marketable to recruiters nation-wide.

People Love Python — Are You Investing in It?

There are many programming languages to learn, and which one you’ll tackle next may depend on your industry, clients or preferred type of work. It’s also a wise choice to learn the languages that are in high demand and most likely to bring more opportunity. Therefore, if you haven’t already, it’s a wise choice to learn Python!

Python has been around for nearly 30 years and, according to a recent Dice report, is showing no signs of slowing in popularity. They reviewed job postings on Indeed to find the most popular languages in 2017 as well as predictions for 2018. While Java, Python and JavaScript topped the list, Python was the only one of the top 3 expected to grow in popularity this year. In fact, Dice predicts Python will see a 12% increase in demand, while the only other language they say will grow is PHP by an expected 7%.

If Dice’s claims don’t convince you that learning Python would be a great investment in your skills, Glassdoor also released an article towards the end of last year encouraging the same thing. In addition to the growing demand, they provide three arguments to learning or improving your Python abilities:

  1. It’s useful to a wide range of employers
  2. Employers like it because its trendy
  3. It appeals to programmers, which appeals to employers

As already noted, even if it’s growing and trendy, Python may not make sense to you depending on where your contracting business is taking you. However, we can guarantee that a new skill or training of some sort will be relevant to you this year. How will you be investing in yourself and your professional development in 2018?

Be More Competitive with Certifications

Most IT contractors understand the importance of certifications in their profession. Having certifications and keeping them up-to-date ensures that recruiters and clients trust you and your abilities, and immediately puts your qualifications ahead of others without certifications.

A recent IT World Canada article explored the importance of certifications, specifically when it comes to cyber security. They offer three strong arguments for obtaining a certification and we would agree they move beyond just cyber security and are relevant for any certification:

  • The certification gets you to the shortlist
  • A certification is a quick way to fill gaps in an employee’s skill set
  • Certifications can indicate strengths and passion

There are plenty of certifications available and to receive each one would be nearly impossible, given time and cost factors. Instead, IT professionals should choose based on which ones fit their career path as well as which hold the most clout in the industry. According to Glass Door, there are 14 certifications that impress recruiters most – 11 that are role-specific and 3 software certifications. They may not all fit for Information Technology, but they’re still worth being aware of:

Top Role-Specific Certifications

  1. PHR & SPHR (Human Resources)
  2. SHRM (Human Resources)
  3. PMP (Project Management)
  4. Challenger Sales (Sales)
  5. Spin Selling (Sales)
  6. Sandler Training (Sales)
  7. A+ (Help Desk/Desktop Analyst)
  8. Network+ (Help Desk/Desktop Analyst)
  9. CCNA (Network)
  10. CCNP (Network)
  11. CCIE (Network)

Top Software Certifications

  1. Salesforce
  2. Hubspot’s Inbound Certification
  3. Google Certifications (Publisher, Analytics, AdWords, etc.)

Change Management – How to set yourself apart as an OCM Consultant

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Change Management – How to set yourself apart as an OCM ConsultantWhen Eagle first launched the Executive and Management Consultant division back in 2011, Change Management quickly became an area of specialty. Clients often complained that there was a general lack of understanding about the skill, and when they asked technical staffing agencies for qualified resources they would often confuse it with technical change management and end up with a handful of ITIL resumes.

There is no question that Change Management is an essential part of project success, whether for system implementations, business transformations or organizational change efforts. Data available on Prosci’s website sites that “Initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.” This highly specialized skill requires that consultants can operate at both a strategic and tactical level, working closely with senior executive level stakeholders to drive transformation efforts, while understanding how the nuances of business change will impact employees at all levels of an organization and ensuring that they are not only adequately trained but ‘bought into’ the efforts.

With many people becoming interested in the field and Prosci and other certifications readily available, there has been a notable increase in consultants coming into the market over the past 2-3 years. So how do experienced Change practitioners set themselves apart in this ever-competitive market?

The ACMP is the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Last year, they introduced the CCMP designation – which is a globally recognized credential that ‘defines best practices in Change Management’. Unlike other certifications that require no previous experience or training, the CCMP has stringent eligibility criteria (similar to the PMP certification process). This has given the CCMP certification much more credibility in the market. Gaining the CCMP is one of the ways that experienced Change practitioners can differentiate themselves in the market. Are there other ways that you have set yourself apart? We’d love to hear from you!