Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: work ethic

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to work ethic.

Don’t Lie on Your LinkedIn Profile

As a professional, lying on your resume has the potential to cause a lot of problems. It can ruin your relationship with a staffing agency, destroy credibility with a client, and give you a bad name in the industry.

Here is the thing — your LinkedIn profile is your online resume! You are declaring to the world that THIS is who I am, this is my experience and these are my accomplishments.

LyingWhat are the implications of lying on your LinkedIn profile?

  1. Everyone sees your LinkedIn profile. The only people who see your resume are the people you send it to so lying on LinkedIn is infinitely more likely to be found out!
  2. To be caught in a lie is a huge scar on your personal brand.  With your resume, the impact is limited to the recruiter and the staffing agency where you sent it.  If you are unlucky it may become public.  To be caught online by all the people who know you lied magnifies the problem many fold, hence it WILL go public.
  3. As with a resume, once you have been caught in a lie publicly, then your credibility in your industry is zero. That’s pretty tough on you if you make your living based on your credibility.

How can you avoid these situations?

  1. Don’t lie.
  2. Sometimes contracts go badly due to any number of reasons that may not even be your fault. Do not cover them up on your profile by stretching the dates.  Contractors are not expected to have back to back contracts.  It’s one of the perks of being a contractor.
  3. You can get away with a little “pumping up” of your role but you can’t invent a new title or add responsibilities that were not part of your role.
  4. Diligent staffing agencies do check credentials.  Don’t give yourself academic credentials, certifications or extra training that you have not earned.
  5. Less is better. If you don’t want stuff on your profile, don’t put it there.  Better to have a work history going back two years and omitting any negative experiences than to lie about them.

Do you know someone who has suffered the consequences of an online lie?  Share your stories in the comments below.

Self Discipline for Working At Home

Depending on your project, working from home may be an option and, depending on your client’s requirements, you may have some flexibility with your time.  It’s still important, though, to maintain self-discipline and ensure you get everything done, without giving in to those distractions.  Here’s a fun video by Matt Abraxas that gives some tips about how to stay focused when you work from home.

Are You Ready to Switch into Independent Contracting?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Take a leapWe make a lot of important decisions during our lives and wisely, we spend a lot of time discussing the ramifications of those decisions with loved ones, partners, and professionals.  Making the leap from full time employment to working as an independent contractor is no less an important decision and can profoundly impact your career.

Going the independent contractor route is not “just another way to get paid”, it is a change in lifestyle.  In fact, becoming independent has tax, income and career ramifications which can’t be taken lightly.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • It can be unpredictable. Contracting can mean giving up a directed, logical career path and moving into a meandering set of assignments.  Think of giving up a career ladder and replacing it with a career lattice and be prepared for detours and occasional stalls.  Contractors often tell me that they never would have guessed that they would end up in the area of expertise that they find themselves now… and that is what has made things so much fun!
  • You’re suddenly a business owner.Are you ready to take on the responsibilities of CEO, CFO and chief bottle washer for your own company?  Running your own small business means accounting, financial planning, business strategy, legal and tax issues are now your responsibility.   Talk to the professionals and make sure you do it right.  Trying to do it on the cheap will only cost you down the road.  Get referrals from other experienced contractors and ask lots of questions.
  • Personal branding matters even more. Going independent means using the practices and work ethic you exhibit on assignment as a self-marketing tool.  Elite contractors finish their contracts and are willing to lend the client a hand and add value beyond what they may have been contracted to do.  They don’t nickel and dime the client for every minute spent at the client site but understand the give and take of the contracting lifestyle and accept that “paying it forward” will mean excellent client referrals or repeated engagements with a client who loves your work and attitude.
  • You may feel alone (but you’re not). Working as an independent can sometimes feel like you are on an island.  The client may not (and in fact, shouldn’t ) treat you like an employee and feedback will not always be forthcoming.  So, work and communicate with your agency on a regular basis to ensure that everyone is on the same page.  If you are struggling, have questions, or need advice, talk to your recruiter.  Remember, they probably have had lots of experience working with the client and they can give you a fair bit of insight

Above all, run your business with principle and a sense of pride and professionalism.  You know the businesses you love to work with and you know the ones that drive you crazy and make you wish you had never given them your hard earned dollars.  Do the right thing, even when things at the client site aren’t optimal.  How you conduct yourself in difficult, challenging circumstances goes a long way to defining the success of your business.

Are you ready for independent contracting?  If you are an experienced contractor, what have been some of your major challenges?  Please share your experiences below to help others who are taking the leap.

Self-Discipline is Your Competitive Advantage

We live in a society where we get quite comfortable in our surroundings, and there is little that we deny ourselves. If we feel like something to eat, we eat, whether we are truly hungry or not. If we want to buy ourselves some treats, clothes, jewelry, electronics or whatever, whether we need it or not, whether it is a special occasion or not, we go ahead and buy it.

There really isn’t anything wrong with that, we just need to be aware of the consequences because there are consequences to EVERYTHING! If we over indulge in food we may put on weight, if we buy too much “stuff” we might get ourselves into debt, etc.

Applying some self-discipline to these situations might make us act a little differently, but again, that is personal choice.

Nothing worth doing is ever easyIt is very easy to let our personal habits take over and that can hurt your productivity, your chances for a contract extension, and even your professional reputation!  Think about this: if you bill for an 8 hour day, and you “waste” 1 one of those hours each day over the course of a 30 day project, you have just charged for 30 hours where you weren’t actually working! Your client will notice and start adding up how much they think you’ve “ripped them off”.

Sure, one hour seems a little extreme, but it’s easy to do without even noticing.  Here are some examples:

  • If you smoke, it’s easy to waste 20 minutes each time you smoke a cigarette. Think about the time it takes to get ready for a smoke, gather your companions, wait for the elevator, go outside, chat, wait for your friends to finish, walk back and get back to work. If you smoke just 3 cigarettes in a day you have easily wasted an hour.
  • If you read the paper at your desk, maybe when you get to the office or at “break”, you might be wasting a half hour of productive time each day.
  • If you surf the Internet for some personal stuff, read online articles and stay on top of news you can easily waste an hour a day.
  • If you are texting your friends while doing your job, you will easily waste time.
  • If you get up and go for coffee/water every hour or so, stop and chit chat for a couple of minutes, maybe stop at the washroom, then that could be 10 minutes every hour, or more than an hour every day!

These kind of behaviours can become the “norm” especially when you look at the behaviour from some of the full-time staff around you, but contractors don’t have the same benefits as full-time staff (for example many unionized environment have mandated breaks). Clients have different expectations for contractors and expect to pay only for hours worked.  Productivity is a big reason organizations hire independent contractors.  Think of it in terms of when you hire a lawyer, rates are high and you expect your lawyer to bill you for every minute they work – nothing more.

Discipline is an old fashioned word that could help you to be a better contractor. DON’T give up your competitive advantage.  CHOOSE to be productive! Look at the top producers in your network and emulate them. Choose to stop doing the things that hurt your productivity. Choose to be very focused with your time, DO only the things that will bring value. WORK at being successful. That means giving up bad habits and investing in new ones!

All of that takes SELF-DISCIPLINE. Have you got what it takes?  Everyone can strive to be better and enjoy the “wins” along the way. The personal satisfaction you get from self-improvement, from recognition and from the resulting opportunities are the rewards for this kind of approach.

Take an honest look at how you are spending your time.  Is there room for improvement?  Any change, however small, will have a positive impact.  So start working on improving your competitive advantage!

Maximizing Your Time on the Road

Today’s technology-filled world allows us to work in a global economy and connect with people around the world without leaving the comfort of our own office.  That said, there are still situations where business travel is a necessary evil and, as an independent contractor, you want to ensure you’re always taking an entrepreneurial approach to travel.

Here are some tips we’ve compiled from speaking with other independent contractors and business owners:

  1. Quote: The truth is that you always know the right thing to do.  The hard part is doing it!Apply a common sense approach to business travel.  Whether it’s a requirement of a client or your next contract is in another city, travel is often necessary for the independent contractor, but you need to ask yourself “Is it really necessary?”  Each and every trip needs to be evaluated on its need and on maximizing the return on that investment.  Even when your client is reimbursing all travel expenses, it is good business to show you are thinking of their costs, plus there is always your cost of an invaluable asset – time.
  2. Travel takes you away from your regular routine, and therefore, you want to maximize your use of time while still staying on top of your regular commitments.  Here are some of the ways to do that:
    • Maximize your workday in the time zone you’re visiting.  If, for example, you travel from Toronto to Calgary, get as early a flight as possible, allowing you to land and begin your workday as early as possible in the Calgary business day.
    • If we follow the same example, when you leave to go back to Toronto, try to catch as late a flight as possible to ensure you have as much working time as possible with your Calgary client.  It means long days, early trips to the airport and late arrivals home, but your trip is as full of available time as possible.
    • Before leaving home, and before leaving the office to return home, load up on some “readable” To Dos for on the plane.  Try saving up work for a few days and plan to complete it on the plane.
    • Have a plan before you leave!
  1. Be cognizant of the costs of travel and try to minimize them where possible.  As mentioned earlier, even if the client is covering your travel expenses, it shows good faith as a contractor to consider their costs.  Here are some of the ways to do that:
    • Never travel business class for work.
    • Try to book ahead and take advantage of special deals on airfares.  Also shop around between airlines, taking the cheapest flight rather than sticking with one airline to build your points/status.
    • Shop for hotels and take the best deals, never staying in the big name, big price places.  Use memberships (CAA) to get good rates, or use Hotwire and other services to help get a good rate.
    • Don’t eat at fancy restaurants as a general rule, but entertain clients in appropriate manner whenever possible!
  1. Travelling to another location should be all about maximizing your return on investment (both time and money).
    • Try to keep your regular activities to a minimum.
    • Spend time with the management and staff at the client’s site.
    • Take time to network with potential clients, partners or colleagues who live in the city you’re visiting.
    • Take advantage of training opportunities and local networking events where possible (Note:  This definitely requires advanced planning!)

Obviously there are times when things do not fall into place, but as a general rule, you can maximize the effectiveness of your visits and minimize the costs of your visit by using the above guidelines. As a side benefit, you’ll acquire some funny stories to tell about the airport experiences and some of the seedier hotels/motels you may find yourself in.

Do you have any additional tips to maximize your business travel?  What about funny stories from your own traveling experiences?  We’d love to hear them, so please leave a comment.

6 Signs Your Day is Driving You

Everybody is busy these days… maybe even crazy busy!

The question is – are you being busy doing the right things or do you let your day drive you?

Some signs that you might be driven by your day include:Business person multi-tasking

  1. You let emails and phone calls interrupt your flow.
  2. You don’t have a To Do list, or you don’t use it effectively keeping it current and prioritizing tasks.
  3. You don’t focus your time on high return activities.
  4. You just “do your job”… without thinking about it.
  5. You constantly checking the news or getting updates on the news.  (Applies to sports scores etc.)
  6. You chat/text with your friends while doing your work tasks.

If you really want to be successful then avoid the pitfalls and make your working hours count!  What do you do to stay focused and on task?  Share your tips in the comments section.

How to Make Your Own Luck

There is always an element of luck in life. Here are some common misconceptions:

  • People are lucky because they are in the right place at the right time.
  • People are lucky because they are born in a first world country, and/or into an affluent family.
  • People are lucky because they are gifted with a special talent.

That’s not really luck though and the world is filled with examples of people who had luck and did nothing with it.  So how lucky does this really make them?
Luck isn’t something you are born with, rather it is something that you can acquire.  Lucky people think differently and take action in ways that unlucky people don’t. Here are four tangible things ANYONE can do to make themselves luckier right away.

Adopt a positive attitude to be more successful.

1. Adopt a positive attitude. Admittedly this is easier for some than for others, but it is something that anyone (who wants to) can work toward.

  • Hang out with positive people and remember that you choose who you spend time with.
  • Build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down.  Don’t listen to the inner voice that says “I can’t”. Focus only on the voice that says “I can. I am. I will!” Set goals for yourself and then crush them.
  • Accept that there are things you can’t change and focus on the things you can change.

2. Maintain a strong work ethic.

  • Work harder than your peers and put in a few extra hours every week if you can. It’s an excellent investment in you because those efforts are for you and the fact your client benefits is good for everyone!
  • When you are at a client site – work!  Don’t slack off, don’t spend your time checking the news, chatting with or texting friends. It might seem like no one notices, but they do.
  • Look after your health so that you can keep up with a tough schedule.  Stay fit, eat healthy, and indulge in occasional treats but not as a way of life. Reward yourself, but not with food.

3. Invest in yourself and embrace the concept of continuous learning.

  • We often hear people say that they “… just don’t have time to learn” but you do – you really do and as a contractor it is imperative to success! There are thousands of audiobooks and everyone has a smart phone with some kind of music playing platform on it.  It has never been easier to download a course and start learning in the car, on the bus, and even while you’re making dinner.
  • Take advantage of every learning opportunity that comes your way.  Sign up for newsletters from training companies in your field. Many companies offer free courses and webinars in addition to their other training services.
  • Invest in training and tools that will help you learn and be more productive. The benefits you will gain will pay you back ten-fold.
  • Get a mentor, ask the experts, stretch your limits. There is always someone you can learn something new from and most people are honored to share what they know given the opportunity.  Offer reduced rates to clients when you are learning a new technology.

4. Give more than you get and find a way to keep on giving.

  • It is the people who are generous, with their time and their money, who get the most out of life.
  • You never know how a gift will come back so keep giving without expecting anything in return.

How will you change your luck?  What will you do differently today?  Let us know by leaving comment!