Networking tips for contract workers

As an IT Contractor, I'm often asked for networking tips to keep people connected in between assignments. Fortunately, networking as a contractor is no different from networking as a non-contractor. It's just networking, period.

Keep in mind that the end goal is to meet people, make connections and expand your circle of influence. People network everyday in many ways and most of the time it is very informal. I'm including a few simple strategies that have followed my career over time, kept me employed and growing my career in a way that benefits me.

  • Hello, my name is - networking usually begins with a hello! I understand not everyone has an extroverted personality, but a simple greeting and firm handshake are valuable assets. Speak clearly, introduce yourself and learn to engage in conversation. These are the beginning steps to being able to market yourself and your career.
  • Choose your venue - there are formal networking events like agency mixers, recruiting events and even job fairs. But there are also less formal settings that you can control. Try to go for the simple meet and greet at a coffee shop or favorite lunch spot. It will make conversations more personal and intentional. Besides, food makes everything easier.
  • Social Networks really work - sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and the like, are great tools to communicate and meet recruiters and potential employers. Don't be afraid to establish a strong social media presence to build, expand and showcase your brand.
  • Follow-Up is key - finally after you've been introduced and had your conversations, remember to follow-up. Send a note every quarter letting potential recruiters know what your employment status is, or just to keep in touch.

Remember, networking is about connections and relationships and that is not just a one time affair. It will take time, effort and attention. These connections in many cases are lasting and can have positive effects on your career, so make every interaction count.

If you're interested in growing your career, contact us about your next steps.

Three Tips for Being a Consultant or Contractor

 

Going out on your own can be rewarding. You can work when you want and choose the jobs that make you happy. There is no more listening to a boss telling you what to do. However, now it is your responsibility to line up enough jobs to pay your bills. You are the only one who is going to make your business successful.

So, here are some tips for being a consultant or independent contractor.

  • Treat it like a business. In order to be successful, you need to realize that you are in business for yourself. You need to put the time in to find jobs and complete them to the best of your ability. If you don’t consider it a business, you won’t spend enough time working to make it worthwhile.
  • Don’t forget about the paperwork. Though you want to focus on making money, you need to keep up with your paperwork to ensure that your business is successful. Someone (you) needs to make sure that you are billing your customers and getting paid. You also need to keep track of your expenses. Doing this regularly will make it less stressful at tax time.
  • Market, market, market. In order to be successful, you need to be constantly marketing your business, even when you are too busy to do it. Any people only focus on marketing when they are slow, which leads to busy times. Then, they don’t continue to look for new customers, which leads to slow times. In order to stay busy all of the time, you need to be constantly marketing your business.

In order to be a successful consultant or independent contractor, you need to treat it like a business. You need to be constantly looking for new work and give your customers what they want every time. However, you can’t forget about the paperwork – even if you just hire someone to help you with it!

Contact us for more tips for being a consultant or independent contractor.

3 IT Cover Letter Tips

In a sea of cover letters, how do you make yours stand out? Check-out the three cover letter tips described below.

Creative Format

Consider having a little clean fun with your cover letter format. Express your creative side without getting messy or kooky, but use your IT skills to make your cover letter stand-out from the rest. From strategically placed graphs to old-school programming fonts, consider making your cover letter uniquely themed to your personality and skill set. Give your words a face in that faceless sea of cover letters!

Beyond Job Tasks

Most people reading an IT cover letter understand that those applying have the skill-set to perform the job, so the decision-making process turns on other factors that make candidates stand-out. Experience is great, but it's likely that other IT professionals have similar work experience. Focus on 1) any job task or you improved at other jobs, and 2) the changes you implemented at other jobs, such as altering processes for increased efficiency, and 3) the results of these improvements and implementations: think results backed by numbers/data.

Unique Perspective

Increasingly, managers are seeking employees that are innovative. You've probably heard over and over to give a blurb in your cover letter about how awesome the company is and how you fit into their culture, etc., but everyone else probably knows this as well. Again, make your cover letter stand-out by referencing something unique that you researched or found-out about the company that others may not know: show how you're already an insider.

For more information, contact us today.

Yours in writing,

The BlogMutt Team

3 Networking Tips That Will Help You Get Ahead

It's who you know that gets you a job, and what you know that let's you keep it. We've all heard some version of this old proverb. Those of us who've dived into the job market know that it's often truer than we wish it was. Whether it's a family friend who hires you for an internship, or an old college classmate who tells you about an opening in his office, the people in our network are instrumental for helping us get ahead.

If you want to increase your network, here are three things you should start doing immediately.

 

Tip #1: Offer to Help (It Makes People Like You)

One of the best ways to go from a face in the crowd to someone's new best friend is to offer some form of help, free of charge. If you run a blog, for example, then reaching out to people in the industry you cover and offering coverage is a good way to get noticed. If you're an artist, then offering to help a local convention design their banners or mascot can make you the go-to person the next time that organization has work. Endear yourself to other people, show them you are willing to work, and that will benefit you in the long run.

 

Tip #2: Send Thank You Notes

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents made you write thank you noted to your relatives who sent you birthday presents? That skill comes in handy when expanding your network.

Always send a card thanking someone for an opportunity, or as a follow-up. It makes you stick out in their mind, and sometimes that's all it takes for you to get the callback when the next round of interviews happens, or a new position opens up.

 

Tip #3: Remember, Online is Real Life

There's a strange belief that what happens on the Internet isn't real, and it doesn't affect your offline life. This idea is slowly dying out, though, because so much of what we do online is our lives. We meet people, we keep in contact, and many people work through the Internet.

As such, the contacts you make online matter. Whether it's in your social media groups, on forums, or elsewhere, any community you can become a part of increases your network. Also, though, the things you say and do online reflect who you are. It isn't hard to find information about someone, so remember that what you say today might be on a hiring manager's desk tomorrow.

How MSPs and Recruiters Can Get Along Better

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What makes the relationship between hiring managers and recruiters tense? For starters, both parties must distinguish their roles up front.

Hiring Manager Role

Hiring Managers have a lot on their plates. They need to be active writing job descriptions for HR and up-to-date on the job search. Only they know exactly the kind of candidate suitable for the position and they need to ensure their needs are concise. Hiring Managers then follow-up with HR after the job posting is created to review the candidates submitted for the position. Based on the quality of candidates, the Hiring Manager may need to reevaluate the job description or even call staff suppliers to clarify the expectations to recruiters.

Recruiter Role

Recruiters need to be experts in the fields they recruit for. They need field expertise and excellent knowledge of the aspects involved for the role they help fill. With the technical experience they have, they will have a better understanding of the requirements and expectations of the position. Recruiters screen candidates, asking questions that a Hiring Manager would not - getting technical and uncovering any fishy information. Their job is to find and recognize the best fit candidate for the role before the candidate is offered to the Hiring Manager.

For the relationship to be the best it can be, both parties should:

1. Build trust - know each other's goals and motivations

2. Set clear expectations for the relationship together - follow-up with emails after meetings about these expectations with the terms and conditions for the relationship

3. Create clear guidelines for the opportunity profile together - leave the vague verbiage behind and get on the same page

4. Communicate - don't put off scheduled calls or meetings and be open and honest in discussions

5. Interview candidates collaboratively - work as a team to screen and select the best candidate

6. Close the deal together - the Hiring Manager should make use of the recruiter to negotiate the offer to the candidate

7. Celebrate - after the hiring process is finished, secure the bond with some kind of celebration and review

Relationships between a hiring manager and recruiters can be tenuous for different reasons. We hope to fix that. Let us know if you have some tips to share about how to help these kinds of relationships.

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Three Simple Confidence Boosters You Need to Own

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Does the word, "confidence" describe you? If you don't feel like it does, this post is for you.

If you DO feel like it does, this post is still for you. Here's why: confidence is very harmful if it's overdone. Overdone confidence runs the risk of coming across as arrogance.

The trick is, you will never know if you have confidence without examining yourself, and you will never attain true confidence without adequate self-knowledge, so the keys to confidence lie in a strong self-knowledge.

Let's dive in!

1. Measure your capabilities holistically and objectively

This can sometimes be painful. Measuring your capabilities through hard results, a case study, or outside input will keep you honest, and that is the first step to confidence.

We must be aware of what our capabilities are and what they are not. This enables us to avoid false confidence in something we aren't the best at and be full of true confidence in areas we know we excel in.

2. Identify weak spots in your capabilities that are crucial for what you do, and then improve them.

Don't miss the importance of this: if you have a weak spot that isn't crucial for what you do, don't worry about it! If you want to improve your overall confidence, seek to improve areas that are crucial for what you do. If you stink at public speaking but never need to speak in front of a group, don't sweat it! Become proficient in Microsoft Access, instead.

After you have identified your weak spots (and strong ones) in Step 1, improving your weak spots will enable greater confidence in those areas as they improve.

3. Utilize the "Fake it 'till you make it" mentality when appropriate

So let's say you've identified your weak spots, tried to improve them, but you're still feeling shaky. You need to make that sales pitch but you are very nervous and fear the worst.

This is where the false confidence can actually help you. Act like you know what you are doing, keep striving for improvement, and eventually you will know what you are doing. Best of all, you will often convince your audience that you are confident and grounded all along.

Know yourself, improve your weaknesses, and fake it 'till you make it.

Keep it simple and be confident!

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6 Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job

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Why didn't you get the job?

Your interview was flawless, and you answered all the questions quickly and thoughtfully. You felt like you meshed well with the hiring manager and employees. However, the job was given to someone else. What went wrong? Here are six reasons why you might not have gotten the job.

1. Too Prompt/Not Prompt Enough

The time that you arrived for the interview is the first impression that the hiring manager will judge you on. Being late for an interview will have obvious negative effects on your chances of employment. What you may not realize is that being too early can have a negative impact on your chances as well. While the hiring manager may have left you sitting in the lobby, they may have felt rushed to finish what they were doing in order to tend to you

2. Dressing to impress

There is a saying, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have." Impressions are important when interviewing. The way you present yourself as a potential employee can be a tiebreaker between you and another candidate.

3. Resume/Cover Letter Lacking

Your resume helps the hiring manager to decide whether you qualify for the job. Misspellings and grammar issues may make your resume or cover letter seem to have been carelessly put together. A long resume may also have gone unread due to outdated and unimportant information. Take a look at an earlier post, Four Tips For Writing An Effective Cover Letter, to get tips on writing a desirable cover letter.

4. You Did Not Ask Any Questions

While being interviewed for a job, it is also expected that you interview the hiring manager. Asking questions allows you to stand out above the other candidates. Failing to do so may make your interview forgettable.

5. They Hired Within the Company

Individuals seeking employment not only compete against other candidates, but they must also compete against employees already working within the organization. This is known as the “internal hire," typically, it is easier for the organization to hire current employees. These employees are low-risk since their work experiences are known, and the hiring manager has an exact impression of their capabilities, personality, and work ethic.

6. References Did Not Support You

References are often the last step in the hiring process, and sometimes make-or-break your employment opportunity. Your references may not have known how to close the sale for you if they did not know the background of the company or the position you were hoping to acquire. Finally, you may have listed old references, or you may not have remained in contact with your references. If they no longer know your current capabilities, they may not represent you well as an employee.

Being denied a position gives you the opportunity to strengthen your interviewing skills. Keep in mind some of the key factors that hiring managers look for. Arrive 5-10 minutes early for your interview, this is a respectful time and does not rush or keep the hiring manager waiting. Look through your resume, and look for unimportant or outdated information that could be replaced or deleted. Your resume is one of your initial impressions, and first impressions are very important. Dress to impress the hiring manager and remember to ask questions. There are many reasons that you may not get the job, many of these may be beyond your control such as an internal hire, but it is important to increase your opportunities with those that you can.

For career opportunities with great companies, visit our Career Portal for more hot job skills.

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Life Pro Tip: Don’t Overvalue the Benefits Package

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During a job search, most candidates focus on several key things: the salary, the workplace environment, and the benefits package. Typically, job seekers have a certain threshold in mind of each of those categories. They might, for example, want to make a certain amount of money per year and find themselves interested in a specific benefits package. If the benefits package is tempting enough, many job seekers are willing to sacrifice other desires in order to gain it. There are, however, several things that should be taken into consideration before they take that leap.

The Cost of the Benefits

Great insurance is wonderful, but not if the company is offering a smaller salary as compensation. In many cases, the amount the company pays in insurance isn't equal to the cut the job seeker takes to their preferred salary. Each job seeker should, therefore, consider the cost of the benefits before accepting the job--and determine whether or not they're worth accepting a lower salary in order to have them. Plenty of vacation, sick leave, healthy snacks and a great employee engagement program are all excellent, but they may not make up for other pitfalls such as cost of living and making a living wage.

Long-Term Goals

Many job seekers get lost in getting a job--any job--as quickly as possible. When they have their choice of jobs or are willing to wait for the right one, however, they're typically focused on what this job can do for them. They want to dive in and get started in their latest position as soon as possible. Long-term planning, however, is critical to accepting each new job along the way. Job seekers should ask themselves where they plan to be in five, ten, and twenty years. Ultimately, they should accept the job that will help position them for their next advancement.

A great benefits package is prime incentive for choosing a new place to work. Unfortunately, it can also be a snare designed to bring in potential candidates without allowing them to look too far into potential pitfalls associated with the job. If you're on the hunt for a great job or looking for more information about what you really need in a benefits package, visit our Career Portal today.

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Top In-Demand Skills and Roles in Technology

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Information technology is one of the fastest growing industries in the developed world. As the Internet becomes ever more imperative to good business, IT professionals become all the more necessary. Here are some of the most in-demand skills and roles in technology today.

Product, software, and web developers: These professionals keep websites and programs running smoothly. They could keep an eye out for bugs, write code for a program, improve coding and design infrastructure.

Cyber security: This particular job is highly sought after, as an increasing number of companies are paperless, keeping their filing systems on computers. In this field, cyber security technicians maintain the security and protection of both the software and hardware of their networks.

Mobile engineers: These engineers specialize in mobile devices. In our growing world, cell phones, tablets, and laptops are quickly becoming the go-to devices for Internet usage, and this job is particularly equipped to maintain applications and interfaces properly.

Cloud integration specialist: While many companies and businesses are interested in converting their systems to digital input rather than paper, there are concerns about the proper method and security. A specialist in this field assists businesses with safe conversion performed correctly.

Data scientist: Many companies attain high amounts of data from usage rates, polls, etc. A scientist is the one who structures it, analyzes the results, and provides solutions based upon those results to employers.
As our global interest in technology grows, so does the demand for technical, specialists and professionals in the area. Search our Career Portal for more opportunities around technology.

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Resume 101 Questions: How short is too short? How insignificant is my job experience?

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While you don't want to lie or exaggerate your experience, you don't want to shortchange your experience, either. Remember that a resume is a reflection of your experience. This can include volunteer, student organizations, even short-term projects that you might have worked on. Your goal in listing your experience is not to win brownie points for listing the most jobs. Your goal is to highlight the most relevant experience for the position along with a few details.

Remember also that you can highlight your experience in a lot of ways. If you have a lot of jobs or positions in a certain industry, you may want to list them all to demonstrate that. If you only have a few jobs or positions (or doing a career change), use the extra space to detail even more about the position or jobs that you had. Did you get involved in any school projects, organizations, or events? What consistent or special thing were you known for at the job(s) you worked at?

Shifting your perspective on your job experience will also help in the interviewing process. If you only focus on what you don't have, you won't have anything to say, when it's time for the interview. You don't want to do that! Even if you only had one job, there are plenty of skills that you developed Most of that experience can be added to your resume, cover letter, and other job materials to help craft your job story.

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