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How to Stand Out as an IT Consultant in Toronto

Sam Rahbar By Sam Rahbar,
National Training Manager at Eagle

How to Stand Out as an IT Consultant in TorontoThe world of IT consulting is a very competitive one. New certifications, tools, technologies and versions pop up weekly. As an independent consultant, you have one eye on the next enticing gig and the other on the next technology/version that you need to upgrade to. Most projects are running on aggressive deadlines, leaving you with minimal time to focus on your personal/professional development.

It is even more competitive in a city like Toronto (one of world’s Best Places to Live) where, in addition to the existing talent pool, there is a constant flow of talent that is migrating from elsewhere, integrating into the workforce.

It is not hard to pick Toronto as a destination to live. From an industry standpoint it is diverse — banks and financial institutions, telecommunication, health care, consulting firms, software development shops and startups — Toronto has it all!

Add “somewhat” affordable (at least when compared to Vancouver, Seattle and San Fran) cost of living and makes Toronto a dream destination for IT consultants.

University grads are another source of talent that populate the market — UofT, Waterloo, and UBC are perfect examples of winning Computer Science programs that pump out graduates who are ready to join the workforce. Consulting firms love campus recruiting and for good reasons. Talent is not only skilled but driven, ambitious and cost effective. Colleges are not far behind. Humber, Seneca and George Brown College have all been contributing to the tech talent scene in the city for years with shorter, focused programs.

It is populated and it is competitive, so how can you stand out as a job seeker in Toronto? What do clients and hiring managers want to know? Where do you start? Here is a quick guide on how to separate yourself from the other IT contractors looking for work in Toronto. There are two major platforms to highlight your expertise in your field

Enhance Your Public Profile to Stand Out in Your Job Search

There are opportunities everywhere to enhance your public profile, including LinkedIn, your Resume, GitHub, and Stack Overflow.

  • Details, details, details:Your resume needs to be less than 2 pages” does not apply to IT consulting resumes. In the IT recruitment industry, the entire game revolves around keywords and Boolean searches, so hiding details is only a disservice to yourself! If you have working experience with a tool/technology, make sure it is on your resume. Make sure you are findable.
  • How you saved time and/or $$: AKA “music to hiring managers’ ears“. Under each project, add a bullet that gets into more detail on how you brought more than just your skills to the role — how you went above and beyond by recommending solutions that saved the client time and money. (If that is the case of course!)
  • Fluff: Get rid of fluff! Each job you apply to is different so tailor your resume to what the client is looking for. Everyone is an “Excellent Team Player”, right?! Recruiters spend an average of only 8-10 seconds reviewing resumes before making a decision. Make sure your resume speaks to the role you apply to.

How IT Consultants Can Stand Out in Meetings

Every interview you go into is an opportunity to stand out above your competition.

  • Build connections/network: Before selling your skills, your first goal should be to “connect” with the interviewers. Hiring Managers/HR give preference to people who they like to work with, or someone they get along with.
  • Listen carefully: Make sure you understand what is asked. This is the most common mistake interviewees make in interview. Either too excited or nervous you might hear a word or two that trigger you to make assumptions. Instead, let the questions finish, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and proceed to answering.
  • Structure your answers: Always approach your answers like a story. Paint a background and provide context. Explaining When/Where/Why and the outcome.
  • How you saved time and/or $$: I cannot stress how important this is. It is your chance to shine and your time to stand above the rest of the pack.
  • Smile: Leave all your troubles, stress and worries for another time. Interviewing should be a positive experience.

From Standard to Stand-Out

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Turning “Good” Interview Responses into “Great” Ones

From Standard to Stand-Out -- Turning "Good" Interview Responses into "Great" OnesAs a professional recruiter, I am often struck by how many job seekers answer common interview questions in the exact same way.  Technically, there is nothing wrong with giving an “OK” answer that 4 out of every 5 people will give.  It’s safe.  But for the job you WANT, your response to every question should help you Stand-Out and offer the hiring manager a taste of your ‘unique value proposition’.

Here’s an example of a common question that you can turn from a Standard response into one that Stands-Out!

The Situation: You are asked by the Hiring Manger to describe your experience with a tool / skill you do not have.  How do you tackle this?

The Standard Response: “It’s not hard… I can learn it.”

Consider this:

  • “I can learn it” is a nice sentiment, but you’re asking the hiring manager to essentially ‘take your word for it’ with no facts, figures, or scenarios to provide them context. “Trust me” isn’t a strong value proposition.  Give the hiring manager a map of how you’ve handled a similar challenge in the past and come out on top!
  • The skill is clearly a pain-point, or the hiring manager wouldn’t be asking about it. Sometime, somewhere, this manager had a bad experience with someone lacking this skill.  A Stand-Out response will acknowledge the skill as an important one, and offer a ‘sell-message’ outlining your past success learning new skills.

How does this help you stand out from other candidates who can also ‘learn it’, or worse, those that “have” it!  Here is a better way!

The Stand-Out Response: “I can see why that is important to you.  I haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with that exact version; however, as an Analyst at XYZ Company, I was faced with learning a similar tool with very little ramp-up time.  I reviewed training on my own time, collaborated with co-workers, and attended industry events to come up-to-speed and producing with the tool within 4 weeks.  Before leaving that company, I even had the opportunity to train new users on it.  Would that approach work in your environment, Ms. Hiring Manager?”

Here’s the framework:

  • Acknowledge the need is an important one
  • Provide a specific time and place where you learned/used a very similar skillset
  • Outline how you used your own initiative to learn it
  • Outline the success you had in learning it
  • Get the hiring manager’s acknowledgement that your approach would work in their environment.

That’s a response that a Hiring Manager can take to their boss or HR to argue in favor of hiring YOU over someone who has the skill.

Do you have an interview question that you’d like a recruiter’s perspective on?  Add a comment – we would love to take your response from “standard” to “stand-out”!