Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: reputation

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

When a Recruiter Calls and the Job Isn’t for You, Always Give a Referral

When a Recruiter Calls and the Job Isn't for You, Always Give a Referral

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

Very often, if you receive a call from a recruiter about a job opportunity and you let them know it’s not for you, their immediate follow-up question will be to ask if you know anybody who might be a good fit. Do you put much thought into your response, or is your immediate reaction to turn them down and hang-up?

Referring talented people in your network is only be a good thing. Afterall, networking and word-of-mouth reputation is one of the primary ways the industry builds itself and perhaps the best tool you have to build a solid pipeline of job opportunities. There have been many times in my career where a referral from myself turned into a business opportunity for others just based on good networking and positive references. Here are three of the benefits you can get just by passing on a talented person’s contact information:

It Demonstrates and Builds Your Knowledge

Being able to guide a recruiter towards talented individuals displays to them that you not only know your own job, but you truly understand differing positions and roles in the IT space. As an added bonus, you gain more knowledge about what is being sought out in your industry. These discussions with recruiters let you ask questions and dig deeper into types of clients and projects. Maybe after a couple calls along these lines, you’ll pick up on a skill that is becoming ever hotter on the market. Calls like this lead to more positives in your knowledge of which clients are hiring and what skills and positions they are hiring for.

It Builds Your Network with Recruiters

It’s how our industry thrives! When you provide a reference, you’ll be helping somebody in your professional network AND making a strong connection with a recruiter. When that recruiter calls your talented referral and sees that they’re the real deal, they will pick up that you know what you are talking about and trust will continue to build. Now they will quickly come back to you when a role that better fits your skill set comes across their desk. They will also mention to their colleagues that you’re a smart person on the market, so your name gets out there even more. As an IT contractor, networking is invaluable.

It Expands Your Professional Reputation

When you’re regularly helping your talented colleagues land new gigs, you build up your professional network with confident, intelligent and hard workers in your industry. In the future, if you want to lead projects on a management or architectural/developer side, it will be good to know of people that can do a wide range of skills in all roles of your industry. Having them in your network as an acquaintance or colleague is great, but if you’ve also helped them land a job in the past because you referred them to a recruiter, it bolsters your reputation as an individual who respects competent work.

When a recruiter calls, if you’re able to give something to them while they are trying to give something to you, your relationship will skyrocket and you’ll reap the rewards. More importantly, when you make it a habit, your own knowledge, network and reputation improve exponentially, and as a result, more doors will open.

Backing Out of a Contract Without Ruining Your Reputation

Backing Out of a Contract Without Ruining Your Reputation

Arek Godlewski By Arek Godlewski,
Recruitment Specialist at Eagle

September 2020 marks 20 years of me being a technical recruiter.  There are a lot of stories and situations that will stay with me forever — most very positive, some befuddling, and then, in the minority, negative. Believe it or not, the scenario of consultants backing out of a contract they have accepted falls into all three.

As a recruiter I dread the call that starts with “Arek, we need to talk…”; however, it’s something that happens. It’s part of this business we call contracting. An important factor is how you approach the reneging. By nature, breaking a contract will almost definitely harm your professional relationship to some degree, not only with the recruiter/agency you work with, but also the client. So, if you are going to do it, at least do it right.

The most important point that I would like to make is that as a contractor, your reputation is your main selling point, so make your decision carefully and think about what will happen in 1 or 2 or 10 years from now. Sure a few dollars more will benefit you in the short term, however; will breaking a potentially long-lasting professional relationship worth it?

If there are no other options and you will need to break your agreement with the client, my top advice is to tell the truth and talk about it. More specifically:

  1. Be honest — Getting caught in a lie will only hurt your reputation further.
  2. Make it a phone call or in-person conversation — This will help you set the tone and explain your reasoning.
  3. Demonstrate that you’ve tried everything possible not to have to break the contract.

Full disclosure: I will always, always ask if there is anything that I can do, or facilitate with the client, to change your mind. Having said that, the person walking away from the contract will always have me championing their decision. I totally get that certain situations and life in general can get in the way. Even if I disagree wholeheartedly with the reason (#1 is getting an offer that pays few dollars more — but that’s an article in itself), I will make sure that I will have your back with my management and the client.

Naturally, there are a couple definite don’ts that I would like to highlight. These are in poor form, leave a lasting impression of the worst kind and, unfortunately, are way too common:

  1. Don’t ghost us. Don’t send an email after hours and then not pick up the phone (there’s no need to be afraid of the person on the other side).
  2. Don’t use a false family emergency as a reason. I am loathe in including this example, but it’s the most used line to back out of the contract. In my experience, albeit anecdotal, those individuals update their LinkedIn with a new job the next week (yeah, we check).

In closing, stuff happens and sometimes one has to make difficult decision, but before you do, think about how it will affect you in the long run and always be honest, it’s the best way to live.

Always Finish Strong

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

“Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic!” – Robin Sharma

Business People at Finish LineHow many times have you seen people who fail to finish strong either because they know they are almost done with a project, job, or even a work-out, typically because they become fatigued, bored or otherwise disinclined to continue to put the required effort needed to stand out.

Starting new projects or initiatives is always a time of excitement and for some contractors, that adrenaline rush of experiencing new challenges and meeting and influencing new people or environments is exactly what keeps them going in the contracting world.

But one of the most common problems I’ve witnessed and one that absolutely changes the client’s perception of the contractor’s overall performance is what happens in the final stages of the project when most of the work is complete and things are wrapping up. Feedback up until that point was extremely positive, everything along the way was good news (or no news). And just when extending the contract or finding the individual a new contract seems to be a no brainer, the wheels fall off.

It’s at this critical time, just as a contract is about to be completed, that a contractor can cement their reputation as being an absolute pro or conversely, and unfortunately, a dud! Here are a number of things to avoid if you would prefer to be the former, and not the latter:

1. Do More Than is Required

“What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.”

And do more than is required right up until the last day and hour of the project that you were contracted to deliver. If you keep that mindset as an independent contractor, you will build a reputation in the marketplace as a professional who consistently brings value to the project right up until its conclusion.

2. Don’t Let the Hunt for Your New Gig Get in the Way

“There are only two options regarding commitment. You are either in or you’re out. There is no such thing as life in between”

It’s true that as a contractor, you are responsible for “self-marketing” to ensure that you have your next contract in hand while wrapping up the contract you are currently on. But too often, contractors start fixating on their next contract. And so the work on their current project suffers. Attendance becomes spotty and deliverables suffer. Sacrificing the hard work and solid reputation you’ve earned at the very last stages of your contract is not wise. Not only will you risk angering a client who might still be considering you for other projects or an extension, but that disappointment could lead to an even earlier termination, making the issue of your next contract even more serious.

3. Don’t Rob Peter to Pay Paul

In other words, don’t let the fear of a “gap” in projects prompt you to accept a new contract prior to the end of your current one. This is typically mishandled for a number of reasons.

The contractor is embarrassed or afraid to quit so they invent a reason why they have to leave the contract early. The lie is usually uncovered at some point and there goes your hard-earned reputation.

They begin the search months before the contract is scheduled to end under the assumption that it is never too early to start looking. Well in fact, it is. Now you have an excited recruiter and client who believe that you are ready to start a new contract on their timeline. Either way, you’re guaranteed to make someone unhappy whether you accept the new contract and quit the old early, or stay with the current and turn down the new contract.

In the rare event that both parties accept the overlap, you end up promising both parties that you can deliver and then fail miserably at one, the other, or both.

4. Work with your Recruiters(s)

Plan a schedule of communication with your current recruiter so that you can help each other plan any transition. Share information and project knowledge to determine if there is an extension coming your way or if there are new opportunities on the horizon that correspond with your contract end. If you attend an interview prior to your contract finishing, let the interviewers know when you are expected to finish your current contract. Set the expectation with them that you will complete your current contract, that it is a part of your service delivery approach. If anything, it should impress upon them that you are a professional with integrity. And if things don’t line up perfectly, you can always offer to do project prep work while finishing up your current gig. This can always be done at home, on the bus or during weekends.

Starting new projects is always fun but it can be a challenge to finish strong. Commit to staying connected to your end goal which should be providing service and value right up to the last day of the project you are on. Don’t let yourself get waylaid by impatience or worrying about your next job. Trust that your training, experience and reputation will play a big part in the successful transition to a new contract. And work with professional recruiters to augment your search.

Build Your Reputation by Commenting Online

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

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

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

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

Reasons To Share Your Knowledge And Opinions Online

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

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

Comments Should Be Concise

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

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

Categories of Outlets For Commenting

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

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

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

Where To Find Commenting Outlets

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

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

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

Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Commenting

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

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

Your Insights And Opinions Matter

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

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

How Online Content Can Help (or Hurt) Your Job Search (Infographic)

Have you fully joined the 21st century and embraced all of the opportunities our digital world has to offer?  Most likely you’re great in some areas and not-so-great in others, which is understandable considering no human being, can possibly be an expert in everything that’s available to us today. If you’re a job seeker, one area you need to prioritize is improving your knowledge of online content.

The infographic below from .Me shows some eye-opening facts about how recruiters and HR are using the Internet for recruiting.  It also provides some dos and don’ts for keeping your online reputation intact, and leveraging online tools to boost your job search efforts. What can you improve?

How Online Content Can Help (or Hurt) Your Job Search

Poor Judgement + Social Media = Heavy Consequences

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

Poor Judgement + Social Media = Heavy ConsequencesThank goodness that social media barely existed when I was coming up through the ranks.  Even so, there were some close calls.  Chalk it up to the hubris of youth, but I did some real bone head things 20-something years ago, and I know that I wasn’t alone in this.  But, back then, there were no phone camera’s handy or tweets available to catch/share our ill-conceived attempts at humor.

One such incident had me writing an academy award type acceptance speech for a sales contest that I had won.  My company had just installed a mainframe version of email and I sent it out to my entire office. Except that it wasn’t to my entire office, I inadvertently sent it out to my entire company… over 2,000 employees across 6 countries and 4 continents.  Whups.

I didn’t get fired for this although I was in a great deal of hot water when my boss received a call from the President of the company (his manager’s manager’s manager’s manager).  I like to think that I helped my company pioneer an “Acceptable Use Policy” for our new email system.  😉

So, fast forward to today.  Not only are cameras included on every phone, but people are extremely in-tune with political correctness.  Everyone loves a sensational story and some people make it a point to take others down whenever possible.  In this environment, we all must be hyper vigilant about what we say and do.  There are currently no shortage of stories about people being punished and/or losing their jobs due to bad decisions or stupid, stupid behavior.  A most recent example is Deborah Drever, the newly elected MLA from Calgary who is facing repercussions from her online postings.  But the list is long – Jian Ghomeshi, Rob Ford and Shawn Simoes all have been vilified (and perhaps rightly so) in social media.  Two of the three lost their jobs as a response (and, again, perhaps rightly so).

My point is that there are significant consequences when poor judgement is demonstrated. People can and do lose their jobs over this, especially when social media is involved.  A very good article has been written by MacLeans on this topic. It shows that there is little to no boundaries between our personal and professional lives anymore. David O’Brien also recently posted about how this topic is very relevant to independent contractors.

Now, more than ever, it is important to understand that at any given time the whole world might be watching. And your employer will be watching as well.  What may be captured can have both immediate consequences as well as those that will dog you for the rest of your life.  We all need to maintain a higher degree of professionalism in this, our personal and business lives are now inextricably mixed.

IT Contractors and the “Court of Social Media”

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle

After last week’s highly visible, and viscerally reprehensible, incident of a Hydro One employee’s  obscene harassment of a female television reporter  was caught on tape in all it’s shameful glory and ultimately led to him losing his job, it’s a good time to pause and consider the ramifications for contractors when working with clients. The incident and the results are now notorious and, while one would think common sense and decency would prevail, we need to take some time to understand what has changed and what is at stake.

Court of Social MediaThe swiftness with which the individual was identified through social media was only matched by the speed with which his employer, Hydro One, dismissed him. While there were whimpers of “does the punishment fit the crime,” there was near unanimity on the side of the employer.  If there was any controversy, it was left for the employment lawyers, many of whom indicated that today, with the advent of social media, there are blurry lines between an individual’s personal time off and company or work time. The court of social media often plays a big role in swiftly identifying individuals and, in many cases, leading the charge in retribution.

It now goes without saying that it does not take long to identify one’s employer or, in the case of independent contractors, their business. LinkedIn and often other social media sites like Facebook can offer that information in seconds. It would follow, then, that there is no apparent reasonable expectation that you in some way do not always represent your employer or your business or your agency. Contractors especially need to protect their reputations as in independent contracting it is very much your currency.

Many organizations today have Employee Codes of Conduct but additionally, now contractors, consultants and suppliers also sign these commitments. While the specifics often reference business relationships, there is both an explicit expectation of good behavior (crime, anti-corruption, privacy, etc.) and there is also an implicit expectation one will represent their client in a positive and ethical acceptable societal standard. While the specific incident referenced above took place in full view of TV cameras, we must all be aware that the things we say and do on internet sites also affect our business, as the digital age has created space for some of the ugliest of human behavior, anonymous and otherwise.

Along with their own business and their clients, independent contractors are also representing their agencies, who put a great deal of work and time into ensuring their standards ,relationships and indeed their core values are upheld with their client, as ethical and quality suppliers are paramount.

In summary, independent contractors must protect their own personal and business reputations that they have worked long and hard to establish. After all, it can only take minutes of bad judgement and behavior to destroy.