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.

9 Questions Independent Contractors Should Ask All Recruiters

Sam Rahbar By Sam Rahbar,
National Training Manager at Eagle

9 Questions Independent Contractors Should Ask All RecruitersAs an IT contractor/consultant, your relationships with IT recruiters can have a major impact on your job search journey. Especially since contractors are being distanced from the hiring managers and clients due to the introduction of MSPs (Managed Services Provider) & VMSs (Vendor Management Systems).

The days of working directly for an enterprise client and billing them directly are almost vanished. Your best and safest option is to go through an approved vendor.  As you might have already experienced, agencies (approved vendor or not) come in all shapes and sizes and unfortunately, not all operate under the same ethical guidelines. It is your responsibility to make sure that your best interest is a priority with your recruiter and agency of choice.

Just like recruiters ask questions to vet you, you need to do the same the first time you deal with each agency to make sure that they are ethical and trustworthy. Below is a list a list of questions that will help you find out more about an agency before working with them.

Where did you find my profile?

If you haven’t heard of that recruiter/agency before and/or if you don’t have your resume posted online, you’ll want find out how your contact info is surfaced.

This question could help with positioning your experience better; by knowing what they have seen/read so far. It also helps you find out which platform (Monster/LinkedIn/GitHub/..) gives you the most visibility.

What’s your specialty? (industry/vertical within IT or contract vs fulltime)

Tech space for be confusing and frustrating, especially for a non-technical person. When it comes to your career, you want to make sure that you are trusting recruiters who understand the domain (at least from a high level). A non-technical recruiter won’t be able to explain the client environment and what technologies are must-have vs nice-to-have and why.

Is this call regarding a job opportunity or just a status update?

This will help you market yourself more efficiently, whether it is for a specific role or for a general status update. Based on the nature of the call, do you want to take it now or later?

What is your history with this client/hiring manager? How long have you been working with them?

You want to be working with recruiters/agencies who know the clients and have a successful history, because they know the in’s and out’s of the client environment and hiring process. This can maximize your chances of getting the job by minimizing the surprises at the interview stage.

Are you the only one working on this role?

You want to know the competition. If the recruiter/agency you are working with has an “exclusive” order, this means:

  1. a) They have a really good relationship with the client
  2. b) They can tell you exactly what the competition landscape looks like.

What is the hiring process? Are there interview times booked?

Does the recruiter/agency know what to expect? Or are they just phishing for a resume to open doors with? If the timelines are set and clear, do they work for you?

How long has the job been open?

Sometimes the client is not sure what they are looking for and they use the interview process as a way to make up their mind. Or they have an internal candidate and they just want to make sure they are making the right choice. A job that has been open for more than 2 months is a red flag!

What is the full package? How flexible is the client?

Clients often look to save money by advertising the role with a lower rate than they’re willing to pay. If you genuinely feel your market rate is above the rate mentioned, it would not hurt to ask how flexible the client is willing to be.

What is next?

Always make sure that you are clear about the agency’s processes and next steps as it pertains to you. Are they sending your resume? When should you expect an answer? Can you talk to other recruiters in the same firm? What if you wanted to apply to a different job at the same client that they are sending your resume to?

Your conversations with recruiters should not be one way, it should be a dialogue in which you qualify their client list and their job opportunities and they qualify your skills and “fit” factor.

So, next time to talk to a recruiter for the first time, make sure to take an extra 2 minutes and ask questions so you can get to know them right at the get-go and avoid any time wasting down the line.

Creating a Memorable “Recruiter Experience”

Creating a Memorable "Recruiter Experience"Marketers talk frequently about “customer experience” — the concept that a good relationship with clients goes beyond service during the sale, and extends from the minute the customer has contact with the organization to the second they decide they’ll never need those services again (maybe even after). Companies who strive for an exceptional customer experience recognize that every touch point with that customer must be positive and memorable. Done right, this can give companies a competitive advantage over their less-customer-experience-focused competitors.

When it comes to hiring, great recruiters also buy into this idea to ensure the entire “candidate experience” is positive for all who apply. They consistently reach out with opportunities, answer questions and help at every stage of the hiring process. Similar to the customer experience, the better the candidate experience, the better the relationship will be between the recruiter and candidate.

A strong relationship with recruiters is a valuable asset for any independent contractor who is always looking for the next gig. Given the benefits of customer and candidate experience, could independent contractors apply the same principles to create a positive “recruiter experience”? At first glance, the idea seems backwards — after all, recruiters should be the ones bending over backwards for IT contractors — but at the same time, what a unique way to stand out from your competition (other skilled job applicants)!

How can you go above and beyond to create a positive recruiter experience? Think of everything you would expect from a company when getting a positive customer experience. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Keep communication open. Return phone calls and emails, update them on your status, and be honest in what you’re seeking.
  • Always be polite. When a recruiter calls you at an inconvenient time, misunderstands your experience or doesn’t solve your problem the first time, your immediate instinct could be to get angry. Try to take the high road in these circumstances.
  • Work hard to resolve problems quickly, accepting responsibility when necessary. Situations beyond anybody’s control happen during a job search and a contract. Bad things also happen that were within somebody’s control — maybe the recruiter’s, maybe yours. Regardless, work with the recruiter to fix things and accept your share of the blame if that’s the case.
  • Be proactive to help them get what they need sooner. Recruiting is a fast-paced business. If you get your resume or return phone calls before any other candidate, a recruiter will remember you in a positive light.
  • Make it easier for them to do their job. There’s no need to go into their office and recruit for them, but simply being accessible, providing enough details to questions, or giving referrals will show that you care about the recruiter experience.
  • Give something free every once in a while. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you offer to work for free. However, you can turn the tables and buy your recruiter a coffee next time you’re together.

A valuable relationship is built when both parties recognize that it is a two-way street, with recruiters arguably having to contribute more to the experience than contractors. That said, all IT contractors have been in the unfortunate situation when the best work is on the other side of a terrible recruiter who doesn’t understand the definition of service, let alone experience. In these cases, it’s up to you to provide the experience, become memorable, and increase your chances of winning this job, as well as many future ones to come. In summary, the recruiter experience and candidate experience go hand-in-hand, and we all need to do our part.

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!

Should You Hold a Grudge Over Your Recruiter?

Should You Hold a Grudge Over Your Recruiter?Do you have to forgive a recruiter who’s done you wrong or made you angry during your job search? The simple answer is no, you don’t have to forgive anyone. There are plenty of staffing agencies in the market and you can easily find a new partner.

As with every other aspect of life, you never have to forgive somebody, but should you? That’s a more complex question, so naturally, has a more complex answer. Almost every personal development expert will tell you that holding grudges does little to improve your life, wastes a lot of energy, and can cause you to miss out on positive things in your future. While we don’t expect forgiving a recruiter will bring you eternal happiness, it may prevent you from missing out on future IT contracts. Before writing your recruiter and recruitment agency off the books forever, step back and ask yourself a few questions:

Why am I angry?

This is the first and most important question. After the dust settles, reflect on what made you so angry and decide if it is as grave a situation as it was when you were furious. Were your recruiter’s wrong-doings based on a mistake or lack of knowledge, or was it an ethical situation that speaks to who they are as a person?

Is it all the recruiter’s fault?

A tough question to ask yourself, but was there anything you could have done better to improve the outcome of this mishap? Often communication on both parts, or lack thereof, is the root a preventable misunderstanding.

Am I being empathetic enough?

Try to understand the recruiter’s point of view. They get pressure from many different directions and have to make difficult decisions.  Have you properly communicated the situation to your recruiter to give them a chance to make it right?

Does this issue reflect on an individual or the staffing company?

Staffing agencies are more than just the one or two recruiters you speak to. The best ones have solid processes that ensure you’re paid on time and protected tax-wise, as well as long-standing relationships with clients who have the best technology contract opportunities. It would be a shame to walk away from all of this because of a poor recruiter. If you truly can’t work it out with the recruiter, escalate to a manager so you can continue your relationship with the recruitment agency.

Forgive and forget?

We often hear the expression “Forgive and forget.” This may be true in playground rules, but does not apply in business. When somebody does you wrong, forgiving them is your choice, but there is no obligation to forget. While we do recommend moving on and continuing with business, it’s always safe to keep past situations in mind. Use what you learned to understand how you can work better together and proceed with caution where necessary.

Why You Should Complete a Skills Matrix and the Secret to Filling One Out

Melissa Bryanton By Melissa Bryanton,
Proposal Manager at Eagle

Have you ever been contacted by a Recruiter who had a great IT contract opportunity where you’re perfectly qualified, but when they send you the details, it includes a massive skills matrix to complete? Suddenly, the job application that you thought would only require a quick resume update and email is turning into a daunting, time-consuming project. You think: Is this job even worth it? Why is the Recruiter wasting my time?

Why You Should Complete a Skills Matrix and the Secret to Filling One OutThe last thing the Recruiter wants to do is waste your time. However, they do need your help highlighting your relevant experience and qualifications that make you a great fit for the job. You would be wise to question any Recruiter who claims they can take your resume as-is, update it and complete the matrix for you. While this seems like a great time-saver, you are the only person who can legitimately explain how your experience matches the client’s job requirements. The risks in allowing an agency to take your resume and run with it is: 1) the resume becomes full of fabricated experience that may or may not make sense – not all recruiters may understand the complexity of your skills or 2) you and the Recruiter spend a lot more time going back and forth on the details in the 11th hour. The outcome of either scenario is going to be negative. Collaborating with the Recruiter on tailoring your resume and completing the matrix is the best option to increase your chances of winning the contract.

What is a Grid/Matrix?

A matrix, also sometimes referred to as a grid, is client-mandated, and usually required when the staffing agency must submit a proposal to their client in response to an RFP, rather than simply submitting a few resumes to the client. The matrix is a document with a table that the client developed, which often includes mandatory and point-rated requirements in one column, and a space in the other column for the candidate to explain their relevant experience and qualifications. The purpose of the matrix is to demonstrate how the candidate meets all the client’s requirements.

What Makes a Successful Matrix?

The key to submitting a winning matrix to a client is detail. Usually, if a candidate is requested through an RFP process, it means 1) there will be many other applicants, and 2) the client must back-up their selection by clearly demonstrating they chose the candidate who meets all the job requirements. As such, if you want a shot at winning a contract that requires a proposal submission, you must be prepared to show as much evidence of your experience as possible.

What Should You Do If Your IT Contract Requires a Matrix?

If your Recruiter tells you your submission will require you to complete a matrix or grid, try not to run for the hills. Keep in mind that many other candidates will also pass up on the opportunity, so you’re already more competitive by proceeding. Here are a few tips to make the process easier and more efficient for yourself:

  • Don’t Panic! Matrices can look challenging with way too much of a time commitment. They can also be confusing. If you open a matrix and immediately feel the pit in your stomach, then contact your Recruiter. The good ones will walk you through the process, explain the requirements, and help you confirm your chances at winning the contract.
  • Start Right Away. As mentioned, matrices are usually associated with RFPs, which have hard deadlines. When a Recruiter tells you they need your information by a certain day, there is little to no flexibility. Therefore, start working on matching your experience to the requirements as quickly as possible.
  • Build Out Your Resume. Matrices actually provide a major competitive advantage in a job search because the client reveals exactly what they are looking for. Go through the matrix, item by item, and highlight all the relevant experience in your resume. If more detail is needed, tailor your experience in your resume and explain how you meet each requirement. Don’t be concerned if your resume becomes extremely long – the “2 to 5-page resume” advice doesn’t apply to RFP responses as the client is looking for as much detail as possible.
  • Quickly Cross-Reference to Your Resume. Number each contract or project in your resume for cross-referencing purposes. Without writing any content in the matrix, go through each item and refer to the project or contract in your resume where you have the relevant experience. Also include the length of time of each project or contract, to quickly see how well you qualify for this role, or if you’re coming up short against any of the requirements.

The Overall Secret to Completing a Skills Matrix

The best advice for completing a matrix is to focus on your resume. We often see candidates get fixated on that matrix and wanting to write specific explanations, but if those details are not backed-up in your resume, they will mean nothing. Instead, spend your time expanding on your experience in your resume. Even if you think a task is implied or too basic, if it will help prove you meet a requirement in the matrix, write about it in your resume. As long as you meet their deadlines, a good staffing agency will confirm you meet the requirements, polish your resume and develop the matrix to meet the client’s very stringent RFP response criteria. Matrices can be complex and seemingly impossible, but with the right staffing agency they shouldn’t be time-consuming or overwhelming.

Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way Recruiters Find You a Contract

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way Recruiters Find You a ContractArtificial Intelligence, AI, is here and changing our world every day; however, most of what we hear has been quite ominous at best. Perhaps Stephen Hawking’s statement that AI will be “either the best or worst thing” for humanity is a pretty foreboding statement depending on if you are a glass half full or half empty person.

The reality is that we know AI is present today in our everyday lives and is beyond the realm of science fiction. We see it in the ads presented to us in our social media, our use of Siri, Cortana, smart cars, predictive purchasing, fraud protection and apps like Netfix, Spotify and the like. But where are we in the world of Recruiting and Artificial Intelligence?

There are a number of exciting platforms that will undoubtedly change fundamentally business processes, and I believe very positively and the world of recruiting is one of them. Recruiters have used Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s) to source, track and manage candidates for many years. Today, there are a number of AI applications that incredibly enhance and leverage those ATS systems to the next level.

How is Artificial Intelligence Enhancing Recruiting?

The likely biggest challenge for most recruiters is effectively and efficiently screening multiple applicants to find the best candidates. Recruiters can spend upwards of 50% of their time “stuck” in this application and screening phase. Automated screening with AI can reduce this time significantly by eliminating a majority of candidates who may be unqualified while making recruiters significantly more efficient. With analytics and AI, these systems will only become more intelligent, ultimately leading to better candidates and certainly shorter times-to-fill, and allowing recruiters to let their clients know when their requirement will be expected to fill. The biggest win for recruiters and contractors alike will be that with this added efficiency tool, recruiters can focus more time on really connecting with and engaging candidates for true full fit, as well as through the entire hiring and on boarding cycles. Most would say these are the real high value aspects of recruiting that lead to stronger candidate and client relationships — essentially the human elements of the profession.

AI in recruiting also provides the capability to offer deeper, more enriched candidate data that encompasses more data by scraping public social media profiles or any online professional work data or profiles. All of this contributes to better fit engagements, which of course for contractors means more successful placements, better references and ultimately more opportunities.

Additionally, we have seen together with advancement of AI in recruiting the addition of recruiter chatbots that engage with candidates in real time interaction to further pre-qualify and, in fact, digitize early stage interviews, further freeing up recruiter time to create more time to build relationships with contractors. This capability as it pertains to the future of AI in recruiting is often referred to as Augmented Intelligence, which underscores the importance and necessity of the human element in recruiting so that, far from replacing the human component, it rather enhances it.

Technology Recruiters’ “Unwritten Rules”

Technology Recruiters' "Unwritten Rules"We understand. IT contractors would prefer not to have to work with recruiters at all. In a perfect world, clients would contact you directly and you’d arrange your own contracts saving everybody the fuss of using a middle man.

Clients prefer to work with recruitment agencies because it saves them money, risk, and hassle. Independent contractors also have plenty to gain from building a relationship with recruiters, including the reduced risk, as well as exclusive access to unlisted project opportunities and resume and interview advice. The key to building that solid relationship is understanding how to work best with recruiters.

In the past year, the Talent Development Centre shared many inside tips about working with recruiters. The Secret to Being Called First by a Recruiter explained how to stay “top-of-mind”. How to Get on a Recruiter’s Bad Side told you how to do the opposite. Cameron McCallum, Regional Vice-President at Eagle, also wrote about some specific communication tips with recruiters, and another post summarized Eagle’s recruiters’ favourite and least favourite traits of IT contractors.

In addition to the articles referenced above, if you’re looking for similar advice but perhaps with a less biased view, check out this article from the Dice  Insights Blog written by Leslie Stevens-Huffman. She discusses five ground rules for working with tech recruiters, and refers to them as “recruiting’s unwritten rules of engagement.”

  1. Don’t Waste Their Time
  2. Honesty About Your Hands-On Experience
  3. Let Them Do Their Jobs
  4. Show Respect for Their Abilities
  5. User Your Power in a Positive Way

Would you agree with Stevens-Huffman or argue that some of these rules shouldn’t always apply. Are there any rules you’d add for a successful relationship with a recruiter? Vice-versa, are there any rules of engagement you believe all recruiters should always follow? Leave your opinion in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you!

Quick Poll Results: Contact from Recruiters

The Talent Development Centre is filled with inside information from recruiters that give job seekers insight into the best ways to work with recruiters. We’ve shared tips about how they like to see a resume, their pet peeves, and the best ways to contact a recruiter.

Last month’s contractor quick poll turned the tables and we learned more about how IT contractors prefer to work with recruiters. Specifically, we asked how they like to be contacted when it comes to hearing about job opportunities. The results are in and displayed below. Take a look. We encourage you to leave any additional feedback about the poll in the comments below.

How do you prefer to get job opportunities from recruiters?

Quick Poll Results: How do you like to hear about job opportunities from your recruiter?

 

10 Reasons to Take a Face-to-Face Interview with a Recruiter

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

10 Reasons to Take a Face-to-Face Interview with a RecruiterA recruiter asks you to come in for an interview but you have so much on the go. What do you do? Should you blow them off? After all, you’ve already sent over a resume and had talked to them over the phone about what kind of work you want. What more could a face-to-face interview possibly do for you?

Face-to-face interviews with recruiters are more than you may think! Here are 10 reasons to take that interview and increase your chance of getting the next job you’ve been wanting.

  1. Your Recruiter Will Remember You in the Future. Science shows that we remember faces far easier than we remember emails.  🙂
  2. Face-to-Face is Second-to-None. There is simply no technological replacement for face-to-face interaction… including Skype/video interviews!
  3. Get Across What Your Resume Can’t. Communication is over 90% non-verbal.
  4. Your Recruiter Will Better Understand You. Inevitably an unknown skill or strength of yours is going to come out in a face-to-face meeting.
  5. It Will Help Your Recruiter Sell You. Recruiters are not only interviewing you, but also working to provide the strongest presentation of your skills and attributes to the end client. You have a mutual objective.
  6. Its great practice! In today’s business market, IT skills are not enough.  We should use every opportunity available to hone communication and networking skills.
  7. It’s Efficient. Relationships are built more quickly, strongly and efficiently in face-to-face meetings. Recent surveys have shown that it takes five Skype/video meetings to equal one face-to-face meeting.  It’s a safe leap to surmise that the number of emails required to do the same would be incredibly high, and very likely still not reach anywhere near the same level of rapport.
  8. Build Trust. Face-to-face meetings foster a greater sense of trust and commitment to honesty. People are able to “dehumanize” written email communication.  Most people are committed to doing right by others, face-to-face meetings foster relationships which allow for the humanization of the communication, therefore resulting in more people doing the “right thing”.
  9. You will learn something valuable. It is almost impossible for two professionals to communicate without learning something. Recruiter and contractor meetings/interviews offer a great opportunity for each to learn about the others profession and craft.  We are working together in the end!
  10. Meeting with people is FUN! Approach these sessions positively and with enthusiasm and hopefully it will be remembered as a very positive experience.

Contractor Quick Poll: Hearing from recruiters?

How do you prefer to get job opportunities from recruiters?

A couple years ago, we asked Eagle’s recruiters about their preferred method to be contacted by IT contractors and passed it on to help our readers understand the most successful ways to build a relationship with a recruiter. Not surprisingly, we learned that everybody has different preferences for being contacted, based on their time management and organization processes.

This month, we’re curious to learn more about technology independent contractors and how they prefer to be contacted by recruiters at staffing agencies regarding new opportunities. What’s your preference in most cases? Do you like to hear a voice so you can ask questions immediately? Would you rather an email with the details or a text with a brief overview? Do you like to be contacted on LinkedIn? Or would you prefer to do your own searching and reach out to the recruiter when you find something that interests you?