Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: tips

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

Baby Boomers v.s. Millennials: How to Communicate and Overcome the Generation Gap

Breigh Radford By Breigh Radford,
Director, Human Resources at Eagle

How many times have you heard that the key to a good relationship is communication? Probably forever! But how well do you communicate with the different generations. Recently, I was told by a Baby Boomer (ages 54-72) that Millennials (ages 22-37) only know how to communicate through text. Shortly after, I was told by a Millennial that Baby Boomers are demanding and unappreciative. That got me thinking – they both have so much in common, but they don’t listen and tend to interpret the message into their own words.

Now, I belong to Generation X (ages 38-53) and lately I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in the middle of these two large demographic groups. It is exhausting being their mediator, so here are some tips you may want to consider:

Tips for Baby Boomers

  • Appreciate and take advantage of the energy and curiosity of a Millennial. They can likely do a task quicker via an app or a Google search. Try and get sucked into their energy and world, it could be fun!
  • Engage them! Millennials are more than an employee or an annoying team member, they want to feel that there is meaning in their life and job and be heard (so listen!). Instead of “Yes, but…” try “Yes, and…” – it is a sure way to show you are open to their ideas.

Tips for Millennials

  • Take advantage of the wisdom and experience the Baby Boomers have. They were young once and may give you a different perspective to consider.
  • Consider communicating to the Baby Boomer in their preferred method, not yours. Improve your influence factor by learning how to present to a different demographic in a way they understand. Use the original Facetime perhaps? Do your homework and when making a ‘pitch’ be professional, present all sides of the argument, and talk facts, not feelings.

Tips for All

  • Respect goes both ways. Be sure to ask questions, learn and never assume.
  • Clarify and confirm what you have discussed. For example:
    • “Just to clarify, you want me to begin the research project today and get back to you with an estimated completion date by tomorrow at the end of day?” OR
    • “Regarding our last meeting and discussion, I have thought further about working from home and I understand the policy as it relates to my role. I want to confirm that you are aware that I won’t be working in the office two days a week. I’ll start this program next Tuesday.”

Good communication always starts with a conversation, whether it be in person, phone, email or text. Either demographic can start the dialogue, but let’s start it and leave the Gen Xers out of it for a while.

The Latest Resume Tips and Trends for IT Contractors

Your resume is your IT contracting business’s number one marketing tool. When optimized, that is the document that will make a recruiter want to meet you as soon as possible or a client eager to hire you before sitting down for an interview. Given its importance, we like to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends and tips from resume writing professionals around the world. Here is a summary of some of the latest advice we’ve come across:

Highlight Skills Above all Else

It seems obvious that your resume should include your skills, but a recent article from Dice emphasizes how important a skills-based resume is. Referencing studies from HackerRank and Montage, the article highlights some key takeaways when writing your resume:

  • Recruiters and hiring managers prioritize experience, specifically how long an IT contractor has been working in a discipline.
  • Education such as degrees is at the bottom of the priority list of those evaluating tech resumes. They’re more interested in your deep history of personal objects and direct understanding of languages and frameworks.
  • More and more companies are hiring based specifically on skills, as seen in the rise of skills assessments and predictive analytics to determine who’s best suited for a position.
  • A list of side projects and proof you know your stuff will make your resume more attractive.

Links in Your Resume are Great, But Do Them Right

The Muse published a fantastic answer about links in resumes and it’s too good not so share. When Alyse Kalish asked career coach and job search expert Clatyon Wert if it was alright, Wert’s response was “It’s acceptable to use links in your resume, cover letter, or any form of the job application—assuming you’re submitting it online. I’m of the belief that 90% of applications are now online, and you should be adding links to your portfolio, your LinkedIn page, and possibly more depending on your industry and the type of work that you’ve done. It’s best to put as much out there as possible when applying to jobs, because attention is everything in the job search.

Wert also provided some extra tips for adding links correctly:

  • Link your proudest and best work, as well as projects related to which you’re applying
  • Use hyperlinks on keywords rather than an entire URL strand
  • If you must use an entire link (ex. Print documents), shorten it using tools like bit.ly
  • If you have a large list of potential links, create a separate portfolio or website
  • Place links in the header or beside your contact info
  • Test all links to ensure they work

Take Extra Care in Proof-Reading

Proof-reading your resume to avoid embarrassing mistakes is not a new trend, but this article from Grammarly has some unique tips for proof-reading (and they can be applied to more than just resumes!):

  • Take a break between the time you finish writing and start proof-reading
  • Print it out or change the font to view it differently
  • Read your work aloud to spot misspellings and repeated words
  • Use your finger to move along and force yourself to slow down
  • Keep a list of mistakes you make often
  • Pay special attention to titles, headings and lists which are often overlooked
  • Double check prepositions you aren’t sure about

Naturally, Grammarly also recommends trying their product to help edit.

How’s your resume been working for you lately? Have you tried any innovative techniques that are landing your more interviews with IT recruiters and hiring managers? If so, we want to hear about them! Please share your experience and tips in the comments below.

Google Docs CAN Be Helpful… If You Know What You’re Doing

Unless you live under a rock, have an extreme aversion to everything Google or despise cloud technology, you’re already aware of Google Docs. It’s the word processor component of the Google office suite that allows you to create, edit and store documents in the cloud. It doesn’t have the advanced and intelligent technology of MS Word to take its place but it can be a lifesaver in a variety of situations.

If you’re shaking your head right now and in complete denial that Google Docs has a place in your world, then it’s possible you just don’t understand it enough. From basic documents to styles to research, Docs has extensive capabilities and this infographic from WhoIsHostingThis will tell you all about them…

Google Docs Masterclass: The Infographic - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com

Strategies to Start Having More Productive Meetings Today

It’s time to take unproductive meetings where your team is constantly wishing for it to end and leave them in the dust! As a leader, ensuring meetings end with specific action items will keep your team members productive and create collaborations that result in beneficial new ideas.

And while you may be thinking that it is easier said than done, Wrike has it all laid out for you with 9 proven strategies to make your meetings highly actionable.

9 Proven Strategies to Make Your Meetings Highly Actionable (Infographic)

Steps to the Best Code Review and Giving the Imminent Feedback

Giving feedback is a regular task for all IT contractors, regardless of your core area of expertise. Whether its to a colleague, a client or a direct report, feedback comes in a variety of forms and usually starts with an evaluation. For example, you may give a colleague feedback on their presentation after seeing it, give a fellow contractor feedback on their resume after reading it, and or give a developer feedback on their code after a careful review.

Unlike sitting through a presentation or glancing over a resume, reviewing code and giving feedback requires extensive focus, knowledge and attention to detail. That’s why the best code reviewers are able to land jobs working on the most exciting projects.

In a recent article published by The Muse, Full Stack Engineer Neely Kartha comments on some of her struggles when she first began reviewing code, specifically the stress that can come from the expectations. Obviously a great problem-solver with initiative, Kartha explains how she interviewed other professionals to collect tips on how to best review code. Here are the 5 most important ones she discovered:

  1. Think about the overall impact
  2. Consider security
  3. Focus on bugs
  4. Be a team player
  5. Use the process for learning and knowledge sharing

While the first three points require strong technical skills and experience to truly excel, the final two — being a team player and embracing the opportunity to grow — are soft skills that can often be more challenging. Kartha points out at the end of her article that the steps in providing feedback are a great opportunity to exercise your people skills. She suggests giving people the benefit of the doubt while trying to dispel defensiveness. Obviously this is no easy task, but surely something that top code reviewers have mastered.

Do you review code? If so, do you have any additional tips for a successful review that ensures a quality product and maintains good relationships with the author? We’d love your tips, please share them in the comments below.

7 Tips to a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is an essential part of a happy and healthy lifestyle. No matter what industry you’re in, not getting a good night’s can affect your performance in anything from a job interview to a typical work day. And that can have long-term consequences.

There are a lot of approaches you can take to make sure you’re well-rested and the Mormon Channel summarizes the top seven. Take a look below!

Google Calendar Tricks You May Not Know About

Stop using Google Calendar just to keep track of appointments or meetings and take advantage of some great features that can make your life easier and more productive.

Sharing or publishing a calendar can make planning a meeting around another team member’s schedule easier or simply lets your client’s employees know what you’ll be completing for the day. As an independent contractor searching for IT jobs, you can keep track of what staffing agencies you’re in contact with and for what position by scheduling reminders with the email included in the description.

Steve Dotto further explains the five “hidden gems” of Google Calendar in this video from Dottotech.

Breaking Down Complex Ideas So Anyone Can Understand Them

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

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

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.