Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: recruiters

The Talent Development Centre includes advice for independent contractors in IT from one of Canada’s top staffing and recruitment agencies. See all posts about recruiters.

AI is Changing the Way Clients and Staffing Agencies Recruit (and you need to pay attention)

AI is Changing the Way Clients and Staffing Agencies Recruit (and you need to pay attention)Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming our world every day and regularly changing the way we live our lives. Whether you’re listening to music, ordering fast food, or interacting with an online customer service agent, AI lets you work faster, be more efficient and get what you need.

There are many implications of AI to an IT contractor. First, as implied above, AI is bringing new opportunities to companies across all industries, and that results in more IT projects across the board. More specifically, you should take time to understand how AI is affecting the ways clients and staffing agencies hire, so you can better adjust the way you search for jobs.

Clients are Re-Evaluating their Job Opportunities

There is an ongoing debate of whether or not robots will steal all of our jobs, leaving more people unemployed. According to this recent article from Entrepreneur, though, companies are not using AI to replace skilled professionals but are using it to fill talent gaps. This is especially true in the IT industry.

The article references research by Korn Ferry that predicts a talent shortage of 1.1 million in the US technology, media and telecom industries by 2020, and a 4.3 million shortage by 2030. To fill that gap, AI will be used for some coding tasks, as it can identify an objective, autonomously develop a framework, generate code and find the ideal mixture of APIs and SDKs.

Of course, companies know that artificial intelligence cannot replace the critical thinking and human element that a real person brings to the table. So, instead, they’re using new tactics, combining multiple job roles into one and recruiting skilled talent that work with the AI. Hiring managers are analyzing specific job postings and determining which tasks from a job can be handed off to a computer, thus allowing one person to do more value-added work. In theory, your work should become more interesting with fewer monotonous, “housekeeping” tasks.

Recruiters are Looking at Your Resume Differently (if at all)

This Fast Company article is written around the fact that staffing agencies, clients and employers are mostly using some form of artificial intelligence within their recruiting processes, and that changes how you should write your resume. Sometimes tools are used to screen your resume against a specific job after you apply, and other times it helps a recruiter search a database of thousands of people for the right matching candidates. In all cases, it means a human is not going to evaluate your resume unless you first make it past that AI gate keeper. The article offers three suggestions for your resume:

  1. Focus on Your Skills: This is the most important tip. The article stresses not to bother with fluff in your resume like metaphors and weird titles like “Coding Ninja”. It even goes so far as to suggest that soft skills are not relevant to get past an AI. What really matters is to include specific skills you use in a project, and known titles to match those skills. It is also wise to include common seniority terms, such as “Lead” or “Senior” before your title.
  2. Skip the Personal Statement: The personal statement is similar to the soft skills — computers don’t care. Of course, if your resume does get into the hands of a human, a brief elevator pitch to sell yourself might benefit you.
  3. Customize Your Resume, But Not Too Much: The article says not to waste too much time customizing every resume to every specific job. Instead, as long as you weave the proper skills throughout the resume, the AI should be smart enough to recognize you are a fit for a job.

How else has AI affected the way you search for jobs? Leave your experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear more and share our advice to overcome obstacles you may be facing.

Take Control of a Disorganized Job Interview

Take Control of a Disorganized Job InterviewIf you’ve been an IT contractor for some time then you’ve met with plenty of recruiters from a variety of staffing agencies. Though no fault of your own, you’ve also had interviews go terribly wrong. Perhaps the recruiter is too junior, extremely busy, or just bad at their job, but when you find an interview going off the rails because they were unprepared, it’s up to you to save the meeting.

Certainly, a scattered recruiter who can’t conduct an interview is a red flag, but they may also be the key to a contract with your ideal client. Making the job interview work will make you stand out, be appreciated by the recruiter and give you more control over the outcome.

Have Empathy for the Unprepared Recruiter

This is understandably extremely frustrating for you. You gave up your time, maybe even paid time, to come into their office and meet but this recruiter didn’t even have the courtesy to be prepared. Still, this is a gatekeeper to contract opportunities so refrain from burning bridges just yet. Empathize with the recruiter and understand their situation. Maybe they’re new to the role, extremely busy, having a personal crisis, or got thrown into this interview at the last minute. None are really excusable but putting yourself in their shoes will dictate your future reactions.

Take Control of the Interview (subtly)

You took the time to arrive for the interview and still want a shot at the IT contract, so you might as well make this work. Even if you’ve determined you’re talking to an incompetent human being, let them feel like they’re still in control of the interview. Doing otherwise would not only crush their ego, but can give them a negative impression of you.

It may be their first time conducting an interview, but it definitely is not your first time being in one, so use your experience to guide the conversation. When you feel an awkward silence in the room, ask leading questions:

  • Can I tell you about my background and how I can help the client?
  • Would it be ok if I lead you through my resume to highlight why I’m a good fit?
  • Can you tell me a bit about the client and their project?

Answer Their Questions, Even the Odd Ones

Another reason your recruiter may appear unprepared is because they do not have the technical knowledge to fully understand the job. As a result, you’ll get off-the-wall questions that make no sense. Politely answer them and then steer the response back to something more relevant. This feeds them with real facts they can use to sell you to their client and the recruiter will appreciate you helping them learn more about the technology.

Know When to End It

As alluded to at the start of this post, sometimes a disorganized recruiter is a red flag. Look around the recruitment agency’s office and reflect on your entire experience leading up to this interview. Was this mess a one-time mistake or have you found your way onto a sinking ship of an organization? If this is not going to work, end the interview and move on with your day.

As rare as they are, unprepared interviews do happen, which is why it’s important for you to be prepared! Could you imagine walking into a meeting where neither party had a clue about the opportunity or what to do? If you find yourself in the situation, remember to be polite and empathetic, and just have a meaningful conversation. A self-aware recruiter will remember your conduct, know they can count on you and, as an added bonus, will know they owe you a favour!

Closing the Communication Loop with Your Recruiter

Communication breakdowns are one of the most common causes of missed opportunities, hurt relationships, failed projects and pretty much anything that can go wrong in business. As an independent contractor, you are right to expect the best service from your recruiters, including excellent communication, but even the best recruiters will drop the ball sometimes. If you truly want the relationship to work out, then it is up to you to help set expectations and close the loop in communications.

This quick video we created provides examples of how your follow-ups to everyday conversations can go a long way in getting the information you need from your recruiter and ensuring you’re both on the same page. Check out the quick tips and think about these examples next time you meet with a recruitment professional.

Quick Poll Results: What do you look for in a recruiter?

Last week, we shared a post rounding up advice to how to attract recruiters, get past their initial 5-second scan, and ultimately make them want to meet you. In the same way, recruiters are always wanting to understand what is most important to job seekers so they can also improve and be more sought-out.

Last month’s Contractor Quick Poll set-out to learn just that. We provided some common traits contractors look for in a recruiter and asked you to tell us the most important one. Here are the results…

What is the most important trait you look for in a recruiter?

Here’s What Recruiters Do and Do Not Want to Hear from You

Here's What Recruiters Do and Do Not Want to Hear from YouThe key to selling anything, including yourself, is having a clear understanding of the client. In the case of an IT contractor’s job search, that means knowing your recruiters. Hiring professionals spend every day of their careers evaluating candidates — great ones, mediocre ones and terrible ones. Naturally, it does not take them long to know what they do and do not like.

For example, this article from Inc. reveals buzzwords often found on LinkedIn that recruiters despise reading. It states that you should avoid words that are vague, boastful, or too quirky because they detract from your actual accomplishments. The article also notes that these terms should not appear in a resume or pop-up in job interviews:

  • Growth Hacker and other cute or too creative job titles. State your job title as it is — Developer, Project Manager, etc. Other examples of annoying job titles include futurist, thought leader, champion and influencer.
  • Words you wouldn’t use in a job interview or face to face. For example, nobody would call themselves authentic or a visionary while in-person and expect to maintain credibility.
  • Strategic and innovative. The author’s opinion is that these are over-used words used by lazy people. Elaborate if you’re going to include them.
  • Any word you don’t own. These are classic buzzwords we love to use but don’t know what they mean. For example: synergize/synergy, tribe, game changer, silo, snapshot, bandwidth, traction, cutting edge, granular, omnichannel, paradigm shift, ideation, deliverable, digital transformation and touch base.

So how do you attract recruiters? This article from U.S. News has four helpful ideas and techniques you can use when setting up your job search that will make recruiters a little more eager to give you a call:

  • Play passive. The article suggests keeping your resume off of every job board and not applying to every This way, recruiters don’t perceive that you’re interviewing at 100 other places.
  • Convey your pain. “Pain” may not be the right word, especially for an IT contractor, but instead “interest” or “motivation”. Ensure to the recruiter that you are invested in the opportunity and will not jump ship.
  • Be flexible. The article states that respecting the recruiter’s process and timelines shows goodwill and a desire to work with them, but we will add to that. When working with many clients in the IT contract world, deadlines are real and failure to comply means you cannot be submitted. Flexibility is not about pleasing the recruiter, but complying with the job requirements.
  • Recommend good candidates. If for any reason you are not up for being submitted to the job, help a recruiter by recommending somebody who is interested. When successful, you’ll be helping the recruiter and your friend. Good karma is sure to come your way!

Recruiters evaluate thousands of candidates and, unfortunately, it is not possible to do in-depth research on every applicant they receive. Instead, they rely on their instincts and experience based on what they see in the first few seconds. Being armed with the right knowledge will help you pass that 5-second test so you can completely sell your skills when they dive into your resume.

Contractor Quick Poll: What’s the Most Important Trait You Look for in a Recruiter?

Working with the right IT recruiter(s) is imperative to getting the best IT jobs but also to ensuring you get the best overall contracting experience. The right recruiter affects everything from searching for a technology gig to your time working on the project.

There are a variety of signs to look for in an ethical recruiter and many questions independent contractors should ask their recruiters. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we want to know the number one, most important trait you look for in a recruiter when deciding who to work with.

Working Through the Contract Extension Process

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

Your contract term is coming to an end, but there’s still work left to be done… or maybe there’s another project for which you’d be a strong fit… or, perhaps, the company at which you are working is cash strapped and may not be in a position to consider an extension to your contract. All these scenarios and others may be playing out for you. There are so many possible outcomes, not to mention all of the “opportunities” at other companies that begin to pop up.

What’s a contractor to do?

As an independent incorporated contractor, you are running a business. You want to do what’s best for your business, so your options must be considered based on a number of different (and sometimes competing) aspects – financial concerns, your company’s image, branding, reputation, and the interest of staff members (you). Also, you must balance all this with what’s in the best interest of your business partners and clients. After all, repeat business relies on leaving your customers satisfied. A bad reputation will propagate as people familiar with a tough situation move between companies.

Tricky scenarios pop up frequently around extension time. The following are some ideas that may make the road less bumpy:

  • Communication and transparency are key. Be open, honest and professional when speaking with your onsite supervisor and your agency partner (if there is one involved). Share your hopes, fears and interests clearly and try to remove the emotion that you might be feeling to get the best results/response. (To help with the emotion part, see the point below) Also, it is important to let all sides know if you are applying to new roles and, if it is really what you want, communicate your sincere interest in staying/receiving an extension. Everyone involved wants to avoid a situation where an extension is offered and refused due to a surprise job offer from elsewhere.
  • Start communicating early. For longer term contracts, begin a conversation with your recruiter and supervisor as much as 6, or even up to 8, weeks in advance of your contract ending. Challenges are much easier to manage if all parties have time to properly manage. If it is clear that there will be no extension, your recruiter might even be able to find you your next role and help to manage the transition from the current one.
  • If you have competing offers, my advice is to give priority to the project or client on which you are currently working. All things being considered, they are likely counting on you to see things through to the end. No amount of “knowledge transfer” will make up for losing a key member of their team. Leaving to take another role elsewhere risks your reputation and that can have long term impact to future job prospects.
  • If there will be an extension and there is a legitimate case for a rate increase, I highly recommend that you speak first with your Recruiter. There are several reasons for this. First, the Recruiter may know of opportunities or challenges concerning rate increases of which you aren’t aware. Second, companies often have a formalized process for rate increase requests and expect them to be followed. Again, your recruiter will know how to do this. Third, your recruiter will be able to help you build your case. They know what arguments might carry more weight with the customer. And, fourth, your Recruiter can have an unemotional and very candid business conversation with the customer avoiding any hurt feelings that might negatively impact your ability to work with the client going forward.
  • Be flexible. As described earlier, a business decision will have competing issues to consider. There may need to be give and take required to get the best overall result.
  • Whichever decision you make, be sure to manage your relationships with professionalism and tact; and give your best effort to mitigate any negative repercussions as much as possible. It will be noted by those observing such things and will help keep your reputation whole.

Whatever decision you make, be sure to manage your relationships with professionalism and tact; and give your best effort to mitigate any negative repercussions as much as possible.  It will be noted by those observing such things and will help keep your reputation whole.  And, remember the importance of having a positive reference on your most recent contract – the saying in the industry goes: “You are only as good as your last project reference.”  This is a good statement to keep in mind as you are exiting a project.

Land More Jobs by Building a Relationship with Your Recruiter

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

“Communication–the human connection–is the key to personal and career success.” - Paul J. MeyerWhen you’re an IT contractor, working with recruiters is inevitable in your career, so maintaining a strong candidate/recruiter relationship should be top priority. Having an honest, open and trusting relationship with your recruiter is beneficial as you make major decisions throughout your career.  Just as every strong relationship has give-and-take, so is the one between the job seekers and the recruiters. Recruiters provide expertise, industry knowledge, industry contacts and job leads. They can also provide tips and guidance to improve your chances and direct you to the best job opportunities for you. So what’s the role of the IT contractor as the job seeker?

First, you need to help recruiters find you so you can do your part to build relationships with them. It is a known fact that more senior recruiters have an easily accessible pool of highly qualified candidates. These are people in their network that they often refer to first when they are recruiting for a job opportunity. If you’re not in that pool then you’re making your job search a lot more difficult. The internet and social media are swimming with candidates who are constantly applying to positions and you need make sure you are standing in front of the competition. So, start by building your social media presence including LinkedIn, Twitter and any local boards. Recruiters often use job boards and social media to find their candidates so make it easy for them to find you. If you get unsolicited calls or emails from recruiters, take them and respond. If the job opportunity is not what you’re looking for, then the best advice is help them with their search by recommending people you know who are a fit. Recruiters remember candidates who are helpful, so it’s the perfect way to start building a relationship.

Another way to ensure you are building a strong relationship with your recruiters is to have conversations with recruiters in real-time. Meet your recruiters face-to-face whenever possible. Provide them with regular updates on your status and any exciting projects you are working on. Also, put in an effort to understand their business, how recruiting works, their recruiting cycle timelines and how you fit into that scenario. It is also important to gain expectations in the beginning. Having this general understanding can help you figure out which relationships to prioritize. You would want to prioritize recruiters who specialize in what you do.

Developing a relationship with recruiters benefits your future job search. Even if you aren’t immediately looking for a new job or if a particular job opportunity isn’t quite right for you, it’s worth it to find out more and use that time to develop that relationship. Recruiters are often the link to many potential employers. They know what’s happening internally at these companies and before most, know where the next vacancy will be. So always welcome opportunities to speak to recruiters.  Keep an open mind and you might be pleasantly surprised.

“Communication–the human connection–is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

Recruiters Love (and Need) Your Feedback

Recruiters Love (and Need) Your FeedbackAs with any top-performing professional, great recruiters strive to improve so they can better help IT professionals find the right job with the right client. Also like all professionals, recruiters can only get better if they know how to improve. They take the same approach you would to deliver better service to your clients (reviewing past successes and failures, professional development, etc.) but they too can only fix the shortcomings that have been identified to them.

Perhaps you consider giving feedback to a recruiter uncomfortable or even unnecessary, but there are several benefits to you that will make you thankful you did. First and foremost, as we already alluded to, feedback is the only way your recruiter can truly improve. Both positive and negative, when recruiters know what they’re doing right and in which areas they lack, the best ones will build off their strengths and work on their weaknesses. The result will be more positive experience next time you work with them.

If you don’t believe it’s your responsibility to help a recruiter with their professional development, then consider that it is your shared responsibility to ensure proper communication. Especially when you’re dissatisfied with what’s happening, talking about anybody behind their back will not solve the issue. Instead, by expressing concerns and sharing your feedback, you create an opportunity for dialogue. Often in these cases, miscommunications and misunderstandings of expectations are identified and processes can start to be fixed. Finally, sharing feedback with a recruiter helps relationships. A humble recruiter always appreciates feedback and when you demonstrate a genuine effort to help them improve, they will remember it next time a job comes across their desk that fits your skillset.

How Can You Give Feedback to a Recruiter?

Excelling at giving feedback is a challenging task for anybody and recruitment agencies understand that. Most will provide multiple options for you to give feedback, but here are just a couple common ones:

  • Contact the Recruiter Directly. The obvious one is to call, email or arrange a face-to-face meeting. Tell your recruiter exactly how they’re doing or how they did, what they should keep doing and where they need to improve. This is the best solution if you want dialogue but also the most awkward and may not suit everyone’s personality.
  • Surveys. When you receive a survey from a recruitment agency, complete it. Not only do you get to respond at your convenience, but it is the easiest way to give them what they want to know AND rant about anything else you feel is relevant. More importantly, survey responses are almost always guaranteed to be seen by your recruiter’s manager. If you feel your direct feedback wasn’t received properly, this will deliver the message.

Giving feedback — both positive and negative — is a natural part of a successful career. It’s a good habit to provide feedback to your teammates, partners, clients, and of course recruiters. In addition to giving it, it’s even more important to be able to accept feedback. For many, that’s an entirely different challenge.

How Recruiters Know (or just think) You’re Lying

Experienced recruiters have talked to thousands of professionals throughout their careers. They get to meet great people and see hundreds of successful careers flourish, and they also see plenty of stunts by job seekers who will go to any extent to land a job. So naturally, recruiters who have been working with IT contractors for years are certain to catch the sneaky liars quite quickly. Unfortunately, it also means that they’re more skeptical of everyone. Even if you’re an ethical, honest professional, if you unintentionally raise a recruiter’s red flag, they may think you’re lying and proceed with caution, making your job search that much more difficult.

To avoid being falsely categorized as a sketchy candidate, it’s helpful to understand the basic signs recruiters use to identify unethical independent contractors. You’ll notice that it is easy to accidentally make these common mistakes and it could be the reason some recruiters are hesitant to follow-up on your recent job application.

Inconsistencies Between Your Resume and LinkedIn

Every recruiter is going to do at least some preliminary research before calling you in for an interview. This will, no doubt, include a look at your LinkedIn profile. In conjunction with reviewing your skills, projects and connections, they’re going to put your resume beside it to see if everything matches up. For many people, LinkedIn is a profile that you set-up quickly with little thought and then ignore for a while. Now consider how much effort goes into your resume, where you may provide more details, different titles, and additional experiences. While neither your online profile nor your resume is wrong, the differences cause a recruiter to ask some questions.

Inconsistencies Between Different Resumes

If you’ve submitted multiple resumes to a staffing agency over the years, you can be sure that your recruiter is reviewing your version from a few years ago as well. It’s impossible to change the past, so when they see that your education differs, time in a specific role got longer, or titles somehow changed, your credibility will start to dwindle. Especially in a tough job market, stretching the truth on your resume can be tempting. And while these little white lies do not make you unqualified or a bad person, they will hurt your chances hearing back from a recruiter.

Your Resume Looks Fake

Believe it or not recruiters receive a ton of fake, spammy resumes from people who want to get through the hiring process and make as much money as possible before they get figured out. The resumes are usually fabricated by the same people and need to be conspicuous enough to fool professionals, so they look extremely generic/templated and share many of the same traits. For example, fake resumes usually only include a simple Gmail address without any phone number or street address. The experience is also with large organizations scattered across North America, making it harder to verify. If you’ve engaged with a resume writing agency to help prepare your work or if your resume’s content naturally contains these symptoms, we recommend adding a personal touch with some explanations to avoid going directly into the burn pile.

There are Gaps in Your Resume

Perhaps you were travelling, took parental leave, required time for your health, or any other number of legitimate reasons to have a gap in your resume. To the skeptical recruiter, no matter how much they want to give you the benefit of the doubt, they wonder what you’re hiding. Did you work on a terrible project that was a disaster? Were you fired and don’t want the recruiter to know? As much as your personal reasons are none of a recruiter’s business, unless you help clarify the gaps in your resume, they’re going to make assumptions which may or may not be in your favour.

Your Story Changes

Ensure you carefully review your resume and everything you say you did, when you did it and how you did it. When a recruiter is interviewing (interrogating?) you in person, they may ask questions to catch some lies. Any inconsistencies in the story on your resume and the story you tell them will catch their attention. Even if the interviewer doesn’t see an inconsistency between your resume and your interview, it could be revealed when they call your reference. Especially when nervous, it’s easy to accidentally tell a story or explain a situation with details that aren’t accurate, which is why it’s always important to take a minute and think before answering any question.

There is nothing worse for a recruiter than an IT contractor who’s lied about their experience. Every recruiter has a dreadful story or two about that contractor who made it to onto a client’s site without half the qualifications they claimed. It does not take long for the client to recognize, the contractor is quickly fired, and the recruiter is left to pick up the pieces. It’s no wonder all recruiters are a little bit apprehensive when they see any discrepancies during the recruitment and hiring process.