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Tag Archives: tips

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to tips.

Breaking Down Complex Ideas So Anyone Can Understand Them


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As you get more senior in your IT contracting profession, you naturally become more specialized and knowledgeable in your field. While you learn more and more, you begin to realize how much others don’t understand terminology and situations. Because of your extensive experience, it all comes naturally to you, but in reality, it’s remains complex for the Average Joe. This gets especially frustrating when trying to explain to a client why they should take a certain route in a project or, vice-versa, why they should not implement the solution they want to.

We’ve provided some advice in this area before on the Talent Development Centre, including How to Deal with Recruiters Who Have No Clue What They’re Talking About and how to handle Those Non-Technical People Who Work on a Tech Project. Recently, The Muse also shared some ideas for breaking down complex ideas so anyone can understand them. Here’s what they suggest:

  1. Get to Know Your Audience: Find out their background, what motivates them, and how they prefer to communicate. This way you can use their common knowledge to decide how to best explain your idea.
  2. Choose the “One Thing” They Should Understand: If people have to tackle too much new information at once, they’ll get confused or forget it. Instead, focus on the critical details that they must understand and remember.
  3. Give Context and Use Examples: Put everything into context by painting a verbal picture and showing exactly how the situation relates to the audience’s life. This makes the problem more tangible and the solution more appealing.
  4. Watch Your Language: Use simple, every day language, rather than long terms that may seem impressive. If you must use acronyms, jargon or highly-niche phrases, take the time to explain what they mean and how they relate.

How do you explain complex situations and terminology to your teams or recruiters? Please share your tips and tricks for other IT professionals in the comments below.

What IT Contractors Can Learn (or not learn) from George Costanza


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Busting Some Myths Seinfeld Taught Us About Job Searching

One of the hottest sitcoms of all time was Seinfeld, the 9-season TV show about “nothing” created by comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. It showcased the misadventures of four extremely selfish and quirky individuals living in New York City who, although sometimes faced consequences, got away with some devious schemes (at least until the final episode when they were sentenced to jail under a Good Samaritan law).

Perhaps the most dishonest character on the show was George Costanza, who was known for his many failed careers and plans to get away with doing as little as possible. While he often succeeded, he also often failed. Have you ever watched Seinfeld and considered implementing some of George’s outrageous plans? Just in case, we decided to review some of Costanza’s greatest career failures to create a list of (what should be obvious) job search and career tips:

Making Up References Does Not Work

In Season 3, Episode 17 (The Boyfriend Part 1) George lies to the unemployment office, telling them that he has a job interview lined up as a latex salesmen with Vandelay Industries. To cover the lie, he gives them Jerry’s phone number and asks him to start answering the phone “Vandelay Industries”. In the end, Kramer ruins everything when he answers the phone and knows nothing about the scheme.

There is rarely a scenario where lying to a recruiter about references, or anything for that matter, will turn out well. Even if your friends are all up-to-speed and willing to help you, there are technologies and other industry techniques that are sure to hold you back. The lesson here is to always be honest.

Sign a Contract and Know the Details of a Job

In Season 5, Episode 8 (The Barber) George ends a job interview unsure if he actually got the job and, if he did, what he would be doing. He decides to show up while the hiring manager is on vacation and spends a week “working” on the Penske File. A series of events follows, including some successes on George’s part, but in the end, he’s back to being unemployed.

This is an extreme example and independent contractors know to always have a contract with your client or agency. But are you always reading it thoroughly, along with the job description or statement of work, to understand the terms of agreement and what’s expected of you?

What You Say and Do without Thinking Could Burn Bridges (or lead to worse)

In Season 2, Episode 7 (The Revenge), George quits his job during a confrontation, clearly a decision made on emotion. He decided to return to work on Monday, pretending nothing happened, but the damage had already been done. He gets made fun of by his boss, seeks revenge for it and ends up fired anyway.

It’s not uncommon for us to see IT professionals burn bridges by speaking rudely to recruiters or clients, or even quitting out of anger, without thinking it through completely. The result not only ends the current contract but can have negative consequences on future work.

Bargaining is Good, but Don’t Get Greedy

Throughout Season 4, Jerry and George work together on their “show about nothing” and pitch it to NBC. With the many ups and downs throughout the process, one of George’s biggest regrets might be his negotiation. He decided to get tough and turn down an initial offer of $13,000 for a pilot, but ended up settling for $8,000.

Bargaining and contract negotiation is a natural part of the job search process when working with recruitment agencies or even directly with a client. Both parties want to leave with an agreement that is beneficial to everyone. There’s an important lesson to be learned from George about expecting too much or being too pushy. It could lead to a lost opportunity all together and having to settle for something less later down the road.

Bonus: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone (it actually worked!)

Season 5, Episode 21 (The Opposite) is an example of one of George’s obscure plans that actually proved beneficial. George decides to live the opposite of how he regularly would. From ordering at a restaurant to dating, he takes a complete reverse approach to everything in life. The result: George lands himself a new job!

You may not want to go as extreme as Costanza does in changing your life, but there is something to be said for stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new ideas. When something isn’t working for you, a change is often the best solution.

The Truth About Annoying Coworkers


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Regardless of the client, industry, project or location, if you have to work with people, you’re guaranteed to have some annoying coworkers. We scoured the world for tips on how to ensure these people never cross your path again, but all we learned is that annoying people are inevitable.

Given we can’t avoid annoying coworkers, the only next rational step is to accept they’ll be around and possibly try to understand them. This fun infographic from Olivet Nazarene University provides some insight into annoying co-workers in various industries, including what makes them annoying, how people have dealt with them, and where they’re most likely to be found. If you can’t change an annoying person, at least you can find solace in the fact that you’re not alone.

Hidden Mac Features for macOS Experts


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Macs provide an incredible experience that can be substantially different than a PC. Professionals around the world use them for various reasons and many consumers also prefer the Mac for personal use. Regardless of the exact use, one thing is for sure – Mac Users love their computer!

If you have a Mac, you already know many of the features that differentiate macOS from your Windows environment, but do you know all of the tricks and customization options? Before you answer, check out this video from Snazzy Labs with hidden Mac tricks that they claim even longtime power users of OS X don’t know.

Here’s How to Speed Up Windows 10


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Is your Windows 10 operating system running slow? Are you wanting to fix this issue without having to spend money on expensive software and hardware? Put your mind at ease because you do not need to download any software or purchase any new hardware, you can improve your slow system for free.

TechGumbo wants to help your computer get back up to speed with these 12 quick ways to easily speed up your Windows 10 operating system. Some of these tips may be really beneficial to you if you are running a lower-end to mid-range system and increase boot time and performance. Learn how to scan your system, how to get rid of programs you no longer need, adjust your special effects, and much more. Help your Windows 10 desktop or laptop PC catch up today!

Cool Tips & Tricks for Browsing the Internet


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Do you know how to navigate around the internet? Obviously you do. But do you know all of the tricks for doing so efficiently? There are probably millions of little things that can make your life easier and there’s no way we can list them all here (mostly because we don’t know them all). What we can do is share this video from TechGumbo.

The video is packed with 10 cool tricks for browsing the Internet and you’re guaranteed to learn something. From tabbed browsing functions to YouTube tips to keyboard shortcuts. If you already know all of these, then we challenge you to share one more item with us in the comments below.

5 Ways Independent Contractors Can Keep on Top of Expenses


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Staying organized isn’t everybody’s forte. While some contractors will naturally go through life, somehow managing to keep everything perfectly arranged, others are more laid back and let some little items slide. Either is fine, depending on the situation, but when it comes to accounting, those extremely organized (sometimes annoying) people are going to have less stress.

There are different elements to accounting and all require some planning and processes. Expenses, for example, specifically need regular attention in order to ensure you’re keeping within your budget, but also to ease your life when it comes to closing your books and doing your taxes. Here are 5 tips that independent contractors, in technology or any other discipline, can use when managing their freelance business:

  1. Have a routine. Set a date to catch-up on all of your expenses and make sure you’re on track each week. This will stop you from falling behind.
  2. Know your predictable expenses. Understand what regularly happens and what you want to save. This will help with budgeting.
  3. Keep a separate bank account and/or credit card to easily separate personal and business expenses.
  4. Find a way to track expenses that works for you. Try any of these:
    • The old shoebox trick: Throw all of your receipts into it and you deal with them weekly or monthly
    • A spiral notebook: One step above the shoebox, here you tape the receipt to a page and add notes about what it was
    • Your cell phone: The more high tech version of the shoebox or notebook is to take a picture of every receipt, immediately after receiving it. There are apps you can download that will help you organize all of them too.
    • MS Excel: If you’re a spreadsheet geek, record everything in Excel. You can really get crazy staying organized and categorizing items with this.
    • Accounting software: This requires an investment, but the right accounting software makes a huge difference in staying organized.
  1. Get help. Specifically from an accountant, but also chat with other contractors in your field for ideas on how they’re organizing themselves.

Can you add any tips, based on your experience, that keep you organized in your technology consulting business? Please share them in the comments below!

8 Things You Are Doing Wrong on Your Android Smartphone


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You must be thinking, “What could you possibly do wrong on an Android smartphone?” – Android has been around for quite some time now, but did you know that there still might be some things you are doing wrong with your Android Smartphone? Beebom shows us 8 things that we might be doing wrong with our Androids including killing our apps manually, installing our apps from unknown sources, and not shutting down our devices.

If you are an Android type of person, this is a definite must watch. By following these simple tips, you can improve the overall speed and performance of your Android device. Never make a mistake using Android again!

Top 5 Cool Free Software You Need (Video)


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The Internet is filled with hidden features. Just spend a few minutes searching out Google’s Easter Eggs and you will fill your day doing absolutely useless things, like turning the screen around with barrel rolls or searching for Chuck Norris and the meaning of life.
There are also practical items to find on the Internet, like free software that will raise your productivity and secure your computer when downloading. In this video from ThioJoe, you can learn about 5 different programs (plus one bonus) that just may change how you work today. Have a look. If you have any other favourites not included in the video but you’d like to share with our readers, please feel free to include them in the comments below.