Apple was one of the first companies on the market for smartphones, so it’s no coincidence that they are still coming out with great updates. The iOS 13 update is going to give iPhone users what they want out of their phones – speed and reliability. Apple has even opted to give users easy access to dark mode. In this video from Marques Brownlee, you’ll get to know what to expect from the new update and if you’re not an iPhone user, you’ll find out what you’re missing!
A stunning testimonial can grab a recruiter or new client’s attention and get you considered for an interview before they begin to look at your qualifications. The right reference will seal the deal on a new contract and might even help negotiate a better offer. Above all, a well through-out approach to securing and displaying these assets is invaluable to your IT contracting business.
Testimonials and references are a marketing tool used by all businesses, from international corporations with thousands of employees and selling hundreds of products to independent contractors going from gig to gig. Regardless of the business size, it’s a struggle to get detailed references and not everyone uses them to their highest potential.
Having a list of great references is a mandatory requirement for any job seeker. It’s often advised to have a number of recent ones up your sleeve, guaranteeing you have a back-up if one is suddenly unavailable, a new client or recruiter requests something else, or you learn that a reference you thought liked you is actually giving some unpleasant feedback.
And what about testimonials? A great description from a client explaining your invaluable contributions to a project or from a recruiter vouching for your work ethic and dependability can go a long way if you use it correctly. For example, adding more chunks of text to your resume is bound to be ignored by a busy recruiter or hiring manager; however, glowing reviews fit perfectly on a LinkedIn profile or personal website and immediately add credibility to your story.
Given the benefits, what strategies can an independent contractor or technology professional use to source the best testimonials and references?
- Develop a formal process. Work out the exact plan and approach of how and when you’ll ask for references for every single project you work on. It will get easier every time and you’ll end up with consistent information saved in one file, plus a variety to choose from to match on relevant project applications.
- Keep notes. Make a note every time you receive a compliment or great feedback during a project. Remind your client of that when asking for their support. You’ll also have specific examples for your client to reference.
- Do the legwork. It is certain that whoever you are asking is busy, so make their life as easy as possible. Prepare all of the details, contact information and a draft testimonial of what you think they would say. The only work left for them will be minor edits and a signature.
- Understand what they can say. Recruiters and staffing agencies can rarely give a reference about your work because they were not there and their feedback is only second-hand. They may, however, confirm you worked on that project for a period of time, as well as speak to your ethics and work habits. Asking “Can you give me a reference” may not be successful, but phrasing it as “Would you be willing to speak to my work ethic and ease of working together” can have a positive impact on your relationship with future recruiters.
- Use LinkedIn testimonials. Ask for testimonials on LinkedIn. Once you have them, display them proudly on the social network and ask the person for permission to use their words elsewhere in the future.
- Timing is key. Asking for a reference or testimonial is generally not a good idea while simultaneously seeking payment or when you know the project went terribly wrong. Wait until you’ve added value and they’re already giving you positive feedback before you ask “Would it be alright if I shared your words on my marketing material?”
- Endorse them. Your clients and recruiters are also running a business so testimonials are just as important for them as they are for you. Before or after you receive a reference, look them up on review sites like Google, Glassdoor, Indeed, Yelp or LinkedIn to tell other independent contractors how happy you were working with them.
For every reference or testimonial you receive, always remember to show appreciation. It doesn’t have to be complicated and showing gratitude for a favour is necessary to build relationships. Like so many situations, a hand-written thank you card goes such a long way, it’s incredible.
How do you solicit client and recruiter feedback?
|By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle
I was recently at a networking event and overheard IT contractors discussing how their staffing agency was having them basically rewrite their resume for an RFP response and they couldn’t understand why they were having them do all of the work. There was mutual agreement around the group that they’ve all experienced this and that they weren’t happy about it. I thought that was a great time to introduce myself and apologize for interrupting, but I couldn’t help but overhear their topic.
I asked them if their agency educated them on why they require the information they were asking for. All of them explained that they were simply sent a set of instructions and were told that they had to “send everything back” before the deadline. I took some time to discuss the reasons to them and after a lot of back and forth questions and answers, they understood the importance.
Remember, you, as the consultant, are the person doing the job every day. Between yourself and your recruiter, you are the only one who knows what you did, how you did it, in what context, with whom, what tools were used, etc. The last thing we want to do as an agency is guess or assume your experience. This is why your recruiter comes back to you to ask you to update your resume with the details. Yes, they can help you put your thoughts together but they need you for the details.
After discussing why it’s important to have a “federal government” formatted resume with the group consultants, I sent them this Talent Development Centre post I wrote a year and a half ago. It is a great starting point when any consultant is getting ready to respond to a Federal Government RFP.
The following guest post was provided by NPC
IT and professional contractors are the definitive mobile professional. Moving between jobs that can be anywhere from a few days to a few years, mobility, adaptability and professionalism are essential to their success. They’ve been mastering the “gig economy” long before it was topical. Many contractors make exceptional money, better sometimes than their permanent-staff counterparts. The difference between the winners and losers may not be the luck of the draw on the positions they land, but how they organize and present themselves. Running an efficient and secure one-person office is critical to being able to focus on the work opportunity, and to maximize revenue generating hours.
But as solo entrepreneurs, how a contractor spends their time doing just that is important. Like it is for any professional, time is money. It’s reasonably certain that someone who owns a car dealership no longer changes their own oil. Smart producers look carefully at their operational responsibilities and how they spend their time. They watch for opportunities to offload a task to someone that can do it faster-better-cheaper. Even though it may be a task they know how to do themselves, once the value of their skills overtakes the value of the task, they offload it.
As-a-Service models are related to and fast becoming as ubiquitous as Cloud Computing. They are great opportunities for professionals of all types to offload some of the time-consuming and low value work that is not only a bit of pain to keep up with, but takes away from either their revenue producing work, or, more importantly, precious personal and family time.
An example of this is NPC DataGuard’s secure managed computer offering. For a single monthly fee NPC will provide a professional with a top-of-line laptop, desktop or hybrid tablet, that is already sourced, configured, and secured with industry leading backup and security tools. Giving the responsibility to someone else to provide a computer that is built, managed and monitored, always in warranty, with single-point-of-contact 24/7 support, can be a big time saver for the Contractor.
For those jobs that require the contractor to “BYOD”, being secure and protecting their business interests, and that of their clients, is essential. The level of security that can be achieved in these types of specialized models is exceptional. Fully encrypted and biometric access devices will impress those clients that require you to work on a secure device. As well, as an example, NPC DataGuard’s Pro product comes with $5M in privacy breach remediation insurance if an NPC ever failed to protect critical personal information you may work on for your client.
The impact on a contractor from a lost, stolen or compromised device while in a contract can be devastating. What is your plan today for such an event? What’s your personal Business Continuity Plan? A secure managed computer includes a full back-up completed each day into a secure data centre. A lost, stolen or damaged device can be replaced with data restored, saving you countless hours doing it yourself and getting you back to work.
“As-a-Service” models offer products and services to ensure the contractor does not waste time on tasks that pay him or her less than what they can make, as well as levels of technology performance that even an IT professional might find hard to achieve on their own.
Spending a lot of time buying, configuring and securing your own computer can now be a thing of the past. Key to driving top revenue is showing up professionally with military-grade security on a slick new computer and being able to focus on the opportunity at hand.
This guest post was submitted by our friends at NPC. Visit this page to learn more and to get a special offer for all of our readers.
Happy Canada Day to all Canadians, near and far, on paper and in spirit! Today is a day to celebrate what makes our country so great, including the innovations that contribute to Canada’s success on the global stage.
A couple years ago, in celebration of Canada’s 150th, BellMTS put together this infographic displaying the technologies and inventions by Canadians that made a lasting impact. We’ve always known Canadians are awesome, but you may be surprised at just how many technologies Canadians have contributed to.
So, when you are looking at the fireworks tonight in awe and amazement, think about all 150 years of Canadian innovation.
Are you travelling this weekend? Will you be listening to music or watching videos to kill some time during the commute? You should probably check your headphones before taking off. Over time, grime and earwax can get stuck in your headphones, causing muffled sound and damaging your device that might have cost you a lot of money
Before you take your headphones into the bath or scrub them under the garden hose, we recommend watching this quick video from CTV News. It explains the proper way to clean your headphones so that they stay in good condition and ultimately last longer.
You already (hopefully) know that the email address you created in high school or when first discovering Hotmail is not appropriate for your professional resume. Fortunately, most IT contractors we work with are not using firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. They have switched to a more professional format like firstname.lastname@example.org.
But, did you know you might still be hurting your job search with a free email, school email, or the email address supplied by your ISP? A smaller proportion of applicants are differentiating themselves and their emails by investing in a custom domain like johnsmith.com and using it to create an email address like email@example.com. Here are just some of the benefits you can get from it:
- It looks more professional than a free domain or one supplied to you by an Internet Service Provider or school
- Emails coming from a custom domain appear more credible and are less likely to end up in a spam folder
- If you host a website at that domain, a recruiter will easily find it for more information about you
- You gain more control in choosing a service provider because you don’t get tied down to an ISP (ex. Sympatico.ca).
- It is an extra expense to claim in your business
- It makes it easier to separate the emails from your personal and business life
- Investing in a custom domain shows you’re serious about your business
How Can You Create an Email Address with a Custom Domain Today?
- Find the Domain
Purchasing a domain can costs around $15-$30/year on average. If you already have one to host a website, great! You can use that and proceed to the next step. Otherwise, perform a detailed search to learn what’s available. You can do so through any website that registers domains, and we recommend sticking with one that you can also use as a host. Popular ones like GoDaddy or iPage are often a go-to, but a quick Google search will display a number of options.
When choosing a domain, it’s recommended to stick with something simple like firstnamelastname.com; however, if you have a common name, there is a strong chance it is no longer available. Instead, try searching for the same name at a different top-level domain, such as .ca, .net, .me or .info. You might also use your company name or add a description to your domain, like firstnamelastnamePMP.com or lastnameprogramming.com. It is not recommended to add numbers or hyphens to your custom domain.
- Decide on an Email Host
The majority of the time, the registrar of your domain will also offer hosting for both websites and emails. Some will even offer free email hosting for a period of time. Otherwise, you can shop around to find an email hosting service that works for you. Considerations when deciding on the right host should include security, dependability, convenience, support and cost (remember to read the fine print, often times prices shoot up drastically after the first year or two).
Regardless of the host, you’ll almost always be able to access your email through their webmail services, as well as use the credentials provided to set-up your email on your phone, a more common tool like Outlook, or connect it with your favourite webmail application like Gmail.
- Create a Mailbox
Now that you have a domain and an email service, the next step is to decide on a mailbox. Common formats are firstname.lastname@example.org, FirstnameLastname@yourdomain.com, or Firstinitial.LastInitial@yourdomain.com. We recommend avoiding names like, “info”, “contact”, or “jobs”. These are more likely to be caught in spam filters and should be reserved for aliases and forwarding.
Aliases do not have their own mailbox, but instead forward to other mailboxes. Create that “info” address by making an alias like email@example.com that forwards back to your main email address. It is easy to remember and provides a generic email address to put on a website. Or, an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org may automatically go to a folder in your inbox and to your bookkeeper.
While aliases can be helpful, we caution their use because it gets confusing for both recruiters and yourself. A recruiter who saves your alias may miss your response when it comes from your primary inbox. Aliases are also a sure way to end up with 2 or 3 profiles in one job board or staffing agency’s database. Not only will a recruiter consider this sketchy, but it leaves you wondering why you got emailed three times from the same recruiter for the same job opportunity!
- Choose an Email Client
There are a number of options for choosing an email client, the program from where you will read and write emails. Most hosts provide a webmail service that you can use; however, they tend to be clunky and inconvenient to access. Instead, you can use credentials provided to set-up your email on your phone, a more common tool like Outlook, and/or connect it with your favourite webmail application like Gmail.
The fact is, if you’re skilled in your technology and a reputable IT contractor, no recruiter is going to turn you down based on your email address, even if it’s ridiculous. They will, however, judge your professionalism, even if subconsciously. When you’re in tight competition for a gig or negotiating your rate, that subtle detail will make a difference.
As much as a nice walk, bike, or drive across town is free and convenient, sometimes we need to pay to get to our destination. When it comes down to it, established cities are fortunate to have a number of options. Some are faster, some are cheaper, and some are more comfortable. When you weigh all of the pros and cons, what is the winner?
In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked readers their preferred way to get around town when it had to be a payment option. As always, we compiled the results and the most popular method is obvious — 60% of respondents use public transit, rather than Uber, Lyft, or Taxis.
Paper pushing, desk jockey office workers who sit all day are in danger! That’s according to this infographic by Alere Wellbeing (now Optum).
As the infographic states, “Sitting disease is a concept created by the scientific community to address the problems associated with sitting all day and living a sedentary lifestyle.” Although not recognized by all medical organizations, it explains how workers who sit for most of their job have higher risks of certain diseases and shorter lifespans. Fortunately, the infographic also offers ideas for employers and IT contractors to beat Sitting Disease and live a better life, all while continuing to do a supreme job at work.