Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: relationships

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to relationship building.

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.

Are You Making Offensive Comments Unknowingly?

This post by Mark Swartz was originally published to the Monster Career Advice blog.

Are You Making Offensive Comments Unknowingly?You don’t think of yourself as insensitive. Co-workers generally laugh or smile at your jokes. It’s rare that someone complains you’ve hurt their feelings by something you’ve said.

Then a colleague files a complaint against you for making an offensive remark. How can this be? You ask yourself. I don’t remember being inappropriate.

The rules of office etiquette are changing. Yesterday’s tolerated comments may be unsuitable today. Do you know how to avoid being an offender?

Diversity Can Create Uncertainty

If everyone at work was similar to you it would be simple not to offend. There might be unspoken rules about off-limit subjects and acceptable ways to communicate.

In diverse workplaces cultural norms vary. It can be harder to tell who you might upset by saying the wrong thing. You may sincerely believe that you aren’t coming across as abrasive. After all, your friends, family and work buddies never complain.

Definition of Offensive Comments

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, offensive remarks are in the ear of the receiver. Each person will weigh what you’ve said against their own sense of what’s tolerable.

If they consider your remark offensive they’ll see it as one or more of the following:

  • Personally repugnant, in violation of their moral or decency standards. For instance if you make a sexually suggestive joke.
  • Personally insulting, like when you belittle their work performance or intelligence.
  • Bigoted, as in judging others based only on their skin colour, religion or political beliefs.

Offensive statements cause people to cringe. Those who are affronted feel attacked or otherwise upset. That’s why you need to be aware of the impact your words are having.

Bigotry

A remark can be distressing if it stereotypes people. Bigotry is a broad category that covers some heavy duty typecasting. Statements that reduce a person to a set of prejudged traits belong here. They diminish the importance of respecting others as individuals.

Racism and sexism are in this category. So are sweeping comments based on age bracket, disability or sexual orientation. Same for marital and family status or country of origin.

Good thing there are ways to minimize your tendency to pigeonhole people.

Put Downs and Insults, Even In Jest

It’s unlikely you blatantly insult your boss and colleagues. More probably any put downs are made with a measure of humour. It can be fun to point out someone’s shortcomings – or to exaggerate their behaviour – in a non-hurtful way.

Except there’s a possibility of your intent being misinterpreted. Some people don’t find those sorts of comments comical. There’s also a risk that no matter how harmless the remark, the person on the receiving end is insecure or overly sensitive. They could react negatively.

Be careful about making people feel vulnerable. That’s especially true when publicly shaming others to motivate them.

Raising Sensitive Issues

Are there topics best avoided where you work? You might offend accidentally by bringing them up, even if you do so innocently.

Recalling embarrassing incidents that everyone wants to forget falls under this banner. Revealing somebody’s personal information without their permission does as well.

Watch That You Don’t Violate Policy

The workplace is not a 100% free-speech zone. Your employer may have policies that govern what’s off-limits. Read the employee manual for guidance. Study the sections on mutual respect and acceptable communication practices.

These policies could extend to what you say online. Express your controversial opinions to trusted followers. Offensive social media remarks that are publicly visible might get you called in for chat.

Online and off, it isn’t that you have to walk on eggshells in fear of offending someone. What you need to ensure is that you’re delicate in what you say or write, and never blurt out something that could be taken as harassment or bullying.

How to Handle Office Pet Peeves and Annoying Coworkers

This post by Joe Issid first appeared on the Monster Career Advice Blog

How to Handle Office Pet Peeves and Annoying CoworkersIf you’ve ever worked in an office, it is inevitable that you have held on to some unhealthy feelings towards one (or more) of your colleagues. Whether it is your impolite boss or a hygienically-challenged cubicle mate, ill-feelings can develop pretty quickly and can linger for longer than necessary. Personally, I have had my fair share of annoying co-workers over the years (my personal favourite was the co-worker who built a temporary wall to divide our cubicle because he suspected that I was stealing his work). I am also reasonable enough to admit that I must also be guilty of being that guy to other people with whom I have shared an office over the years. No matter the case, no one is immune to these feelings of frustration and we are all equally eager to rid ourselves of these regular annoyances. Here are some suggestions that may help:

Don’t suffer in silence

One of the worst things you can do in a professional setting is to hold on to grievances. If there are some elements in your work life that are not living up to your expectations, it behooves you to discuss then with the relevant people involved. I’ve seen far too many people suffer in silence, which only serves to further their feelings of frustration and alienation. So, if you share a cubicle with someone who insists on cutting their toe nails at your desk every week or floss right in front of you, it is probably best for you to address this before you get to the point of destructive confrontation. So, how do you do this?

Effective feedback

Whenever we consider providing feedback in a work context, it is usually perceived negatively as it is often associated with some form of consequence. As such, it is somewhat understandable why so many people refrain from providing unsolicited feedback. However, providing effective and constructive feedback is the single best option that you have to resolve any work issue you may encounter. According to Chantal Westgate, Adjunct Professor of Organizational Behaviour at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, “[for] feedback to be perceived differently, one has to convey that it is the only way we can improve.” So, if you have a colleague whose behavior is distracting and/or bothersome, providing constructive feedback is an excellent way to address an ongoing issue.

When to speak up?

While I would certainly advocate an open dialogue in all offices, there are certainly some situations that may be best left untouched. For example, a former boss did not like the fact that one of my team members came to work wearing a very short skirt and asked me to address it with her. After deliberating for a while, I chose not to raise this with the team as I did not feel that it had any real merit. Firstly, the company did not have a formal dress code, so my staff member was not violating any defined protocol. Additionally, her attire was not impacting her work nor was it impeding anyone else in the office from performing their work. As business was not being impacted, I felt that raising the issue may have had a negative impact on the workplace despite the fact that the boss’ sensibilities were being tweaked.

It’s not getting better

As with most work-related disputes, I would suggest you try and resolve them among yourselves. In some instances, however, you may need to escalate the matter if the issue has grown into something more substantial. Personally, there have been some situations where I simply could not reconcile the differences between a co-worker and myself. In such a case, you need to be honest with yourself and determine whether these differences are deal breakers. In some cases, these annoyances are minor and can be ignored when looking at the bigger picture. For example, are you really willing to go to war over a co-worker who noisily chews gum during meetings? On the other hand, is the issue significant enough that it is impacting productivity and happiness at work? If so, you may need to look into speaking with your boss or someone from human resources before the issue gets out of control.

Am I the problem?

To paraphrase a bawdy expression that my grandfather used to say: if everyone around you is annoying, maybe you are the problem. If you find that your default mood at the office is aggravation or hostility, you may want to consider the possibility that you may be the source of much of this negativity.

Over the course of my career, I have been very well-served by looking inward whenever I encountered difficult situations. Let’s face it: we’re not all perfect!

How to Improve Relationships During Your Job Search

Getting Better at This Will Improve Your Relationships with Clients and Recruitment Agencies

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Getting Better at This Will Improve Your Relationships with Clients and Recruitment AgenciesPeople crave feedback.  Most of us would prefer positive feedback but we know that the negative feedback is important too.  It may not be what you want to hear, but what you needed to hear.  For example, properly taken, feedback can give an IT professional the opportunity to make adjustments before a project gets too far off the tracks.  For this to work the best, one should solicit feedback early and often.

For independent contractors, feedback can be much more than just gathering ideas for improvement.  At its best, it is also about relationship building and requires you to be great at both receiving and giving.  When you are engaged in a discussion regarding feedback with your client or recruitment agency, you are saying that you care about the deliverable, that you care about the project, and that your good reputation and your relationship with the other entity is important as well.  It is hard to over-communicate in this respect.

As a staffing agency, Eagle cherishes our independent contractor partners that reach out to let us know how things are going — what’s going well and what could be better.  It keeps us in the loop and minimizes surprises.  We encourage our client contacts to do the same.   When we hear dissonance between the two sources, then we know we have an issue that needs to be worked out.  There’s often opportunity to “fix” an issue before it becomes a real problem.

Employment agencies do their best to connect at least once per month with the contractors that they have on assignment. If your recruiter reaches out to you to follow up, take that opportunity to really share how your assignment is shaping up.  It could be the best 20 minute investment of time that you make that day.

Quick Poll Results: Recruiter Relationships

How Many Staffing Agencies Do You Keep a Good Relationship With at All Times?

The results are in! Last month’s contractor quick poll asked independent contractors about their relationships with staffing agencies. As we discuss multiple times in the Talent Development Centre, you should always work with a few different companies who you trust, so we wanted to know specifically, how many you keep a relationship with at any given time.

As you see in the chart below, most independent contractors have 5 or less favourite recruitment agencies. So, where do you fall compared to the average contractor? Should you start calling a few more IT recruiters? Can you afford to sever ties with a couple of your least favourite ones?

Quick Poll Results: How many staffing agencies do you keep a relationship with?

Contractor Quick Poll: Recruiter Relationships

How Many Recruitment Agencies Do You Keep a Relationship With?

Don’t worry, we won’t get jealous. Independent contractors need to build relationships with multiple staffing agencies in order to ensure they always have great work coming down the pipe. After all, depending on just one would be way too risky. Vice-versa, most regions have dozens of recruitment agencies and networking with all of them could prove to be very challenging. So how many do you like to regularly keep in contact with?

What Recruiters Love and Hate About Contractors

The Most Loved (and hated) Contractor Traits, According to Recruiters

The Most Loved (and most hated) Contractor Traits, According to RecruitersAt the start of the year, we surveyed Eagle’s recruiters to find out how their favourite, top-of-mind candidates earn that special spot, and shared the results with you, as well as some data on the importance of having that status and how you can get into the bad books as well. Today, we want to share some quotes directly from Eagle’s recruiters about both their favourite contractors and those that make them cringe.

Here’s what recruiters said were the traits of their favourite candidates:

  • Treats me as respectfully as they would a potential client, as I endeavor to do the same.
  • Is focused on the type of role they’re interested in finding – has worked in that sector before and is confident about sharing the results of previous projects/engagements they’ve successfully delivered.
  • Strong skill set specialized in one or two areas.
  • Professional, positive attitude, articulate, and honest.
  • Keeps in touch without being pushy.
  • Receptive when called by recruiter.
  • Like with anything, if the candidate puts the investment and makes the effort in maintaining the relationship and is honest with me, I do remember them.
  • Warm, personable, friendly, engaging.
  • Great communication skills, polite, knowledgeable.
  • Easy to get along with, cooperative, and has done a great job on a client site.
  • They are responsive and they work collaboratively with us to be successful.

And, the candidates who make them cringe have this in common…

  • An over-confident attitude can sometimes also come across as being arrogant – which would make me think twice before calling the candidate on a potential project.
  • When you review a candidate’s new resume and then one of their old resumes and notice that dates and experiences have changed dramatically.
  • Slow response in getting back to you.
  • No focus to what they’re best at/what they want to do. (If you don’t know what you want, I can’t find it for you).
  • Unable to speak in-depth about past projects/skills/results/experience. If you can’t explain it to me, you cannot explain it to a potential employer.
  • Monopolizing an interview.
  • When a candidate thinks he/she is a fit for everything and anything on the job board (“I can learn on the job”, “give me a few weeks to ramp up”, “can we throw my name over to see what they say?”)
  • Unrealistic negotiations or rate negotiation after receiving the offer.
  • Apathetic, no eye contact, and shabby dresser.
  • Strong odor.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favourite and most hated traits of recruiters? How can they become your go-to person or how can their emails automatically be filtered to junk? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comments below.

How to Get on a Recruiter’s Bad Side

How to Get on a Recruiter's Bad SideOver the past month, we’ve shared some posts about why you should want to become one of your recruiter’s top-of-mind candidates and some tips to earn you that status, as per responses from Eagle’s recruiters in a recent survey. As hinted to in those posts, if it’s possible to become a favourite candidate, it’s also possible to become a not-so-favourite candidate.

In the same survey that asked recruiters how to become one of their favourite contractors, we also asked them the easiest way to be disliked. The results didn’t present any surprises or one particular outstanding characteristic, but there were four characteristics that stood out among the rest:

  • Bad behaviour at a client’s site;
  • Bad work ethic;
  • Rude during the recruiting process; and,
  • Lying about your skills.

In the previous post, we discovered that the best way to be remembered is to be personable, so it’s only logical that the first three traits are all related to the opposite of that. We also noted that great performance while on contract could make you top-of-mind, so again, it’s understandable that bad behaviour and bad work ethic leads a recruiter to have a negative impression of you.

The final one — lying about skills — is worth further discussion. The temptation to fluff up your skills in your resume or on LinkedIn can be strong, especially if you’ve been out of work for some time, but the consequences can be detrimental. The client will recognize quickly that you’re not qualified, at which point it will be surprising if you last more than a few weeks. The impact is more than just losing a contract, though. The client will lose faith in you and it will harm the relationship the recruiter has with the client. In return, the recruiter will not trust you, will think of you as a last resort for any future calls, and will probably speak of their experience with you within their recruiting network.

The good news in all of this is that redemption is possible! In our survey, we also asked recruiters if once in their bad books, a contractor has a chance of moving up to top of mind. More than a third of Eagle’s recruiters said yes, you do, and more than half responded maybe, depending on the situation. If it was a one-time first impression, your odds are better and most recruiters will be open to learning more about you in future interviews and experiences. That said, ethical issues such as lying or bad behaviour with a client decreases your chances significantly.

Being remembered by a recruiter as somebody they dislike hurts your chances of winning a contract even more than not being remembered at all. If you don’t see value in putting in effort to become a top-of-mind candidate, we recommend, at a minimum, making sure you don’t become a bottom candidate.

Convince Your Recruiter to Call You First

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

7 Ways to Get On Your Recruiter’s Speed Dial! (plus 1 Bonus Tip!!)

7 Ways to Get On Your Recruiter's Speed Dial! (plus 1 Bonus Tip!! )Not to be one to bash the Canadian health system, but I believe every one of us has experienced the long wait times to see a specialist.  In some cases it could be 6 months or more to get an appointment.  Most doctors’ offices have a “waiting list”, where they’ll call someone on the list when a cancellation happens.  So, when there is a cancellation and the Doctor’s admin needs to call someone to come in to fill the gap, is he going to call the person who told him that it can only be M/W/F and never over lunch or before 9am?  …or is he going to call the person who tells him, “Call me on my cell phone anytime of the day, and I’ll drop whatever I’m doing and be there in 20 minutes”?  Chatting with some of the doctors, I can tell you that in most cases – all things being equal – it is first come, first served.  However, the Admins are busy, they don’t want to spend 20 minutes on the phone searching for a replacement.  Things are not equal… if they believe you will pick up and make arrangements to come in without any hassle, they are going to call you first.

Working with a Recruiter isn’t so different, except that there are more things important to them that can give you an edge over your contractor competitors.  Recruiters are most often working under heavy time pressures to deliver the best candidates, as quickly as possible.  If they know that you are reachable, available, motivated and qualified, they will want to speak with you asap.

The following are 7 ways to convince your Recruiters to call you first!

  1. Be Clear – Your resume must be clean, concise and up-to-date.  Contact information must be easy to access and correct.  If it isn’t, they will go looking for you on LinkedIn or other social media sources, but only after they’ve connected with the rest of the professionals that they know they can reach.
  2. Be Responsive – As mentioned above, Recruiters are on the clock to find/qualify/deliver candidates quickly.  Make sure you keep your cell phone close and fully charged up; and answer the call rather than leaving it to go to vmail.  Many Recruiters are now texting regularly as well… be sure to turn audible notifications ‘on’.
  3. Be Flexible – This comes in a variety of flavours.  Arrange to meet with Recruiters (or Clients) at a place and time that is convenient for them and on their  schedule. Business moves fast… showing that you are highly engaged in the opportunity is the price for admission and not doing so will get you overlooked.  Also, very important to your Recruiter is that you are open, willing and able to make requested updates to your resume.  Your recruiter knows the client very well and, often, the resume needs to pass screening to move to the interview stage.  If your Recruiter knows that you will make the investment in time and effort needed to get your resume “just right”, they are going to want to work with you.  Timely resume updates are also extremely important.
  4. Be Certain and Committed – As Yoda famously said, “Do or do not… there is no try”.  Either you are interested in the role being discussed or you are not.  “Maybe” is a sure way to get yourself at the bottom of a call list.  A quick “no” is a perfectly valid decision and any Recruiter worth their salt will not hold this against you, but being uncertain is viewed as a potential waste of time.  If you do wish to pursue the opportunity, it is important for you to understand and clearly communicate your rate expectations.  Stay away from rate ranges.  It is our experience that when it comes to rate ranges, the contractor is thinking the top of the range while the client is thinking the bottom.  This results in a painful negotiation process at the end.  Certainty around rates simplifies the process… and Recruiters like simple.
  5. Be Specialized – This point can be counter-intuitive.  If you can perform multiple jobs/functions, why not create a broad-based resume that showcases it all?  Well, it has been proven time and time again that “generalists” rarely get selected by clients for interviews.  Agencies’ clients are most often looking for people who have “been there, done that and are ready to do it again”.  These are rarely generalist positions.  If you have a generalist resume and you are competing against other contractors that are specialists in the desired skill/experience, you will not be requested to interview.  If you do have experience across several solutions/skill sets, your best bet is to pick either your best or most recent skill and focus on that; or, you may create separate, custom resumes for each of your areas of specialization.  Just remember that for industries such as IT, experience over a year old is ancient history and will also fail to excite your Recruiter.
  6. Be Loyal – It should go without saying that Recruiters expect contractors to stick with them throughout the hiring process; yet it is surprising how often contractors attempt to be submitted through multiple agencies for the same role… or try to end-run their Recruiter by going to the client directly.  Neither of these tactics are particularly successful and they won’t just put you down at the bottom of future lists… it will get you delisted completely which will significantly impact your future market success.
  7. Be Value-Centric – The most successful outcome for a contract placement opportunity is one that is a win for the candidate, the client and the agency.  Win-win-win.  When discussing a role with your Recruiter, always speak to the value that you will deliver to the client and to your staffing agency.  This will come across loud and clear to your Recruiter and it will also help him/her build a sales message around your skills and capabilities.  By hearing that you value what your agency is doing for you, it encourages your Recruiter to work harder for you.

Now, you will notice that all these points suggest a past relationship – leveraging the “currency” that you’ve built up in your “relationship account” with your Recruiter.  So, just how do you get onto the top of your Recruiter’s “top-candidates” call list when you don’t have a previous relationship with him/her?  That is the subject of the Bonus Tip below!

Bonus Tip –  TALK about these things when you introduce yourself to a Recruiter.  Be clear about recognizing the importance of these points and describe how you’re committed to these.  So rarely do contractors speak about any of these key aspects of the Contractor-Recruiter relationship that, by doing so, you will clearly differentiate yourselves from your competition.   This may not seem like much, but I assure you this is “Gold” to your Recruiter.  They will remember you and reach out when a suitable opportunity presents itself!

Have you any tips for building great relationships with a staffing agency Recruiter?  I encourage you to share these with other readers by commenting on this blog post.  Good luck on your relationship building!

How to Become a Top-of-Mind IT Contracting Candidate

How to Become a Top-of-Mind IT Contracting CandidateA few weeks ago, we kicked off a series of posts about “top-of-mind” candidates and how you can become the preferred IT contractor for a recruiter, ensuring you’re one of the first people they call as soon as an opportunity arises.  In that post, we discussed the importance of being in this group and how first impressions play a big role in getting there. In this post, we’ll go into the specifics of how to become a top-of-mind candidate.

It could easily be expected that having many in-demand skills is all that’s needed to become a top contractor. After all, if you can do the work better than anyone else, why shouldn’t you be the first phone call? This is a factor for Eagle recruiters along with your references from past contracts, your ability to be personable, your communication skills, and your rate expectations. It may surprise you, though, that only 12% of recruiters said that your in-demand skills are the top trait that makes you memorable.

Being personable will be your biggest advantage with a recruiter and if they had to choose one trait that makes you most memorable, it would be how well you interact with others. Recruiters consider every communication with you, from phone calls to interviews to networking events, and use that experience to conclude if you’ll work well on a client’s team.  When a recruiter has a great conversation with you, learns a lot, and feels comfortable around you, they’re more likely to remember you when a suitable role presents itself. Vice-versa, when you come off as rude, stand-offish, or unwilling to open up about your experience, they’ll remember that too!

The second most memorable trait for Eagle’s recruiters is how well you have worked with them on past contracts. This is obviously more of a long-term element considering you first need to win and complete a contract, but it’s a crucial point nonetheless. When a recruiter enjoys working with you and a client raves about your fantastic work, you pretty much guarantee yourself a spot as a top-of-mind candidate. It can even be argued that being personable, the most memorable trait, goes hand-in-hand and is a pre-requisite to earning positive feedback about your work.

The final conclusion we drew about how to become top-of-mind is that LinkedIn cannot be just an option anymore. Not only did 80% of recruiters say that having a LinkedIn profile increases your chances of becoming top-of-mind, but almost ¾ of them say that most or all of their top-of-mind candidates are active on LinkedIn. That means that if you want to be competitive, you should create your profile and be an active member of the community. In a Quick Poll of our readers from last November, we learned that almost all contractors have a professional picture and keep their profile up-to-date, but few take the time to share articles, participate in group discussion, or make recommendations. That presents some great opportunity for you to make yourself a more attractive option to recruiters! For some extra tips on improving your LinkedIn activity, have a look at any of these past posts.

With every list of what to do well, there has to be a list of what not to do. Keep posted to the Talent Development Centre in the coming weeks and we’ll share some faux-pas, as well as some tips that will help you redeem yourself. If you have any more questions or comments about how to become top-of-mind, we’d love to hear them. Please leave them below.