Staffing 360: Exploring the World of Staffing From All Angles

Keep Your Opinions Out of Your Resume

Posted by ATR International on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

o-pin-ion [uh-pin-yuh n]  nounopinion.png

  1. A belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.

  2. A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

  3. A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

Everyone has opinions. That’s a fact. And it’s not necessarily a problem, except when opinion creeps in where it shouldn’t be. One of those places is in your resume.  What do we mean?

Think about the definitions above.

“Insufficient to produce complete certainty,” a “personal view,” and “not necessarily based on fact.”

Now read this sentence typical of what one might be tempted to put in a resume.

I have the ability to work comfortably under pressure and maintain a high energy level in an industry that emphasizes speed, flexibility, organizational skills, decisiveness and effective interpersonal communication.

Can you see where this statement is simply an opinion? It is a statement that is not supported by factual evidence. Are we saying that you are not able to work well under pressure? Or that you don’t know how to meet expectations for speed and flexibility and don’t have good organizational or communication skills? Absolutely not.

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Opinions are not untruths necessarily. You probably do have all these great qualities and experience. But as it’s written now, you’re not proving it to the person who is reading your resume. You’re just telling them it is so. Without more factual information that person can’t make a good decision; one that is based on evidence not just claims.

How do you write a non-opinionated resume?

Let’s say you want to stress that you “work comfortably under pressure.”  Give them some facts. “Oversaw the rollout of a new sales platform to 2,000 sales personnel on an accelerated timeframe of 12 weeks. Met all deadlines.” Or if you want to demonstrate your “effective interpersonal communication skills” do so with facts. Are there ratings or survey results from colleagues or clients? Can you tell them about a particular situation where these skills were in action, like perhaps coaching a direct report through a negative review and achieving improvement?

If you want to show you have “good organizational skills” try something like “managed a development team of ten ensuring that all project milestones were met and the project came in under budget.” This gives them proof that you have these kinds of skills because a good recruiter or hiring manager knows what a project of this scope entails and what those results mean. The recruiter comes to the conclusion that if you can manage a team of ten and if you can meet project deadlines and budgets, indeed you do have good organizational skills.

This is using the PAR method of resume writing – Problem. Action. Result – in a slightly different way. It is most frequently used in writing the Experience section of a resume. It helps to ensure that you are presenting your work history in a way that shows the reader that you know what you are doing by giving them examples of things you have actually done. In other words, giving them substantiated information instead of statements that are little more than opinions. In other sections of the resume you may not be as focused on conveying all three parts but what is the same is the goal of giving the reader factual meaningful information instead of opinionated fluff.

The thing to keep in mind, no matter what part of your resume you are writing, is that you want to give the reader solid information that tells them something that will help them fairly evaluate your suitability and not just vague language with nothing to back it up. Review your resume and make sure you look for this type of opinionated writing and correct it. You may need to wholesale rewrite or delete some statements but you might just need to insert a few key facts or examples into what you’ve already got to fix it.

Don’t let an opinionated resume cost you opportunities. As Detective Sargent Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, “just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.”

Tags: job search, resume

Do References Still Matter During Your Job Search?

Posted by ATR International on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 @ 07:00 AM


references.jpgSome people suggest that these days references are practically useless. It’s difficult to get information out of former employers, most companies are reluctant to go on the record, and personal references are just people that you hand pick to say nice things about you. They’re canned and controlled and virtually meaningless as a way to evaluate you as a potential employee.  

Well, we’re here to tell you, that’s not our experience. Far from it. Our clients generally insist on reference checks and our recruiters would rely on them regardless. ATR recruiters Sam Saultz and Josh Seliner told us that “for many clients, references are absolutely important,” and “clients definitely care.  It’s something we take very seriously.”

That doesn’t mean that people who point out the difficulties with references are wrong, it just means that you need to understand how references are used, how recruiters and others evaluate them and decide how much of it is reliable, and what to do to get yours right and make them useful to potential employers. References still matter and thinking otherwise or getting it wrong can make a big difference.

Let’s start by getting one thing out of the way – the bad reference. We tend to focus much more on our negatives and often judge ourselves more harshly than others do, and so we worry. Or maybe we have a legitimate reason to worry, not all jobs are good experiences. Still, our advice, don’t dwell on it.

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 A really negative reference is unlikely to happen. Many employers are reluctant to do much more than confirm dates of employment and titles out of an abundance of legal caution. A general phone call to the company will get little more than that information. Our previous post, Can a past employer give me a bad reference?, covers this in more detail, but more than likely, even if you had some sort of epic fail it probably won’t be spoken of in this type of check.

However, pay careful attention to what was just said. “They will confirm dates of employment and titles.”

So make sure yours are correct. Don't lie. Same with degrees, certificates, awards or honors. Don't make it up, don’t stretch the truth. This kind of factual information is what companies and schools can, and will confirm. Don’t lie about anything, it’s just not worth it.  

Now, let's focus on the positives.  

First, our recruiters told us that the simple fact that you have someone who is willing to take the time and speak on your behalf tells them something about you. What message does it send if you can’t provide any references? Not a good one. And it’s more than just references you personally supply, these days your LinkedIn profile should include references and endorsements. Having nothing raises a red flag.

Second, it doesn’t surprise or disturb them that a reference says good things about you, they expect them to. People aren’t necessarily looking for a reference to disqualify you, it isn’t a “gotcha” moment. Given where references generally happen in the process, they provide additional information and, really, confirmation that the candidate we think is talented and a good fit, really will be.  

The key is being able to tell the difference between a reference that has no substance behind it or comes from someone who really isn’t in a position to evaluate your work effectively, and the reference that comes from someone who is. Whether it’s a good or bad reference is secondary to whether it’s a reliable reference.  

What makes a reference reliable? First, who they are and their connection to you, is really important. Sam told us that “when a candidate is only able to provide friends or colleagues as a reference it definitely concerns me and I tend to read into it.” While everyone can shed light on your skills and experience, Sam and Josh agreed that they also need to speak with a supervisor or your boss to get the full picture.

In fact, Sam told us that “some of the most truthful and insightful references come from someone a level above the candidate’s boss, a director or maybe the head of the department or senior leader of the team. They usually have a big picture perspective and give honest feedback of how candidates fit into the company.”

Second, how in-depth their knowledge of your work is also matters. Josh explained “references are important to learning about a candidate’s previous experience – their strengths and weaknesses,” but it works best if they really know you and your abilities. How long did you work together and how closely? What did you work on? Were they your direct supervisor or head of your department? It’s great to have a senior person as a reference, as Sam pointed out, but not if they are too far removed from you and your work.

Two other things we heard from our recruiters. When a former boss or supervisor has moved on to another company, they are often now free from any constraints placed on them by company policies or legal concerns, which can make them more reliable and relevant. Something to keep in mind. Also, when you are being considered for another position internally, an internal reference is essential.  

For an IT contractor, that can be critical. We work with many large, global companies who have numerous opportunities for IT contractors across multiple projects and divisions. A good internal reference from your current supervisor nearly always ensures continued work; a bad one, and it’s nearly impossible to place you. This won’t always be the case but it’s something to be aware of. Certain references are going to trump others.

Given this, it’s clear that it’s important to choose your references carefully and “credentialize” them. Make sure you include their title, what your relationship was and any additional relevant information to help a recruiter or hiring manager evaluate their suitability and reliability as a reference for you.   

Make sure that your references can speak to your relevant experience. You should have a list of people that you can choose from and select based on the position you are going for. If it's a project manager position give a reference who has worked with you in that role, not someone who knew you when you ran the call center. Providing multiple references is an opportunity to have them speak with people who talk about all your talents, and from different viewpoints, and references from senior management can be helpful if they know you well.

It’s also extremely important to notify your references that they will be called and explain the position and the company to them. They will give better information that is more relevant and helpful to the prospective employer if they understand the situation much less are surprised by a phone call they didn’t know was coming. It’s not cheating, it’s being prepared. A reference who can give specific examples of your skills and why you would be a good fit is more helpful than one who just says vague nice things.  

It’s a little like how you are advised to answer questions during the interview. GIve details and examples; don’t just say it, prove it. Your reference saying “they did a good job” isn’t as powerful as “they managed a team of 10 and completed the project successfully without any major problems” or “I was always impressed with her ability to think on her feet and find solutions to any glitches that came up.” They should probably be prepared for a question about your weaknesses, just like you are. A reference that can give this kind of information is really going to help you.

Finally, don't inadvertently give yourself a bad reference online. In addition to ensuring that your references are up to par on LinkedIn, don’t forget about your social media accounts.  Some employers are turning to all sources of information to get a better picture of you.  Make sure that your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media are sanitized and G rated or privatized while you are job searching.  

Far from being irrelevant, done right, references tell prospective employers a lot about you. Our clients and recruiters absolutely use them to confirm that a candidate they see as a good fit, really will be. To make your references really work for you, choose them carefully, tailor them to the job you are applying for, and make sure they know you well and can reliably speak about your skills and experience. Good luck!

Tags: job search, references

Happy Earth Day!

Posted by ATR International on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 @ 04:06 PM

Happy Earth Day! ATR International is proud to be recognized as a "Green Business Certified" company. Environmental protection is of the utmost importance! ATR supports Earth Day and encourage sustainable workplace practices throughout the year!

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Are You An In Demand IT Professional? You Want To Work With ATR International

Posted by ATR International on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

hear-from-you.pngAre you a C++, Java, or .NET Developer? Then we want to talk to you! Do you have seven or more years of experience? We really want to meet you!

Are you a project manager with banking experience? Are you a senior IT professional who has worked on system integration projects? Do you live in the Charlotte, NC, or Minneapolis, MN area? We need more people like you!

Are you a Business Analyst? Have you worked in the healthcare or medical device field? We want to talk to you too!

It’s probably not news to you that you are in demand; we’re pretty sure you already receive calls and emails from recruiters that tell you this. The laws of supply and demand are always at work and in IT right now, the demand is high, and the supply limited. So, news flash, we really want to meet you.

The question is, why should you want to meet us?

Being in demand can also be overwhelming. A flood of emails and phone calls can be daunting; wading through lots of opportunities to find the good ones a formidable task. Working with a reputable staffing firm and good recruiters can make a big difference.

For example:

  1. Working with us will save you time.  If you are currently working, you simply may not have time. As an IT professional you hear about great opportunities and people paying top dollar, and you can’t help but wonder “What’s really out there? Is there something right for me?” You should check out the job boards, but that’s time consuming.

    Let us do the work for you. We’re not interested in sending you on fruitless interviews for jobs for which you are not suited. It’s not how we keep our clients happy and it certainly isn’t how we treat our contractors. We know what our clients are looking for and we understand your skills and what your experience really means. We’ll match you appropriately based on you, weeding through the jobs that look good but aren’t really a fit for you.

  2. You’ll get access to more interesting jobs at leading companies.  We work with many of the top companies in the healthcare, medical device, aerospace, and financial services industries, just to name a few. We can connect you with interesting work at great companies. Whether you want to continue to build your resume as a contractor or are hoping to gain an entrée to a full time position, we work with some of the largest and most prestigious companies. You’ll be doing interesting work that will enhance your skills and experience.

  3. You can feel confident working with an established business that you can trust. There are literally thousands of staffing firms and hundreds of IT specialists. While most firms are honest, decent people running legitimate businesses, there are always a few bad apples. We’ve been in business for over 25 years, and long term success like that doesn’t happen when you cut corners, treat clients and contractors badly, or worse, do anything illegal.

    When you work with ATR you have a trusted business partner, who understands the IT industry deeply and can help you find meaningful work at good pay, while staying true to our mission and values.

So if you’re looking for your next contract assignment or are thinking about trying contracting for the first time, we can help. If you’re wondering what opportunities are out there for a talented IT professional like you, we can answer that question. If you want help getting access to jobs at leading companies, work with us. You can look through our job openings yourself, or even better, just submit your resume and we’ll be in touch when we find a good match for your skills.

Click here to send us your resume. Our IT Recruiters will get to work finding your next job.

We work hard to use technology smartly to streamline our process and make things easier for our contractors and clients but we never lose sight of the fact that at the heart of it all, on both sides of the equation, are people. Your resume is always reviewed by a real person at ATR. We want to get to know you – what your career aspirations are, what you can do, and where you’d like to do it. We have clients who are anxious to fill their openings and need your help. Let us connect you with them.

We’ll end where we began – we want to meet you and we hope you want to meet us too!

Tags: IT staffing and recruiting, IT jobs, IT worker shortage

All of Your Employees Need to Understand the Value of Being an MBE

Posted by Angelique Solorio on Wed, Apr 06, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

mbe_cert.pngAs a Minority Business Owner, you know firsthand what it has taken to found and grow your company. In the beginning, you are not only the owner but likely it’s head salesperson, chief marketing officer, HR department, and more; the list goes on. You know the hard work that it takes to be in a position to be a supplier to large corporations. You understand that being a diverse business brings certain benefits and advantages to your clients and you know how to demonstrate them.  If you have taken full advantage of MBE certification, you are also aware of all that the NMSDC has to offer in order to help you grow your business.  

As you grow and add staff, you lose some of those titles, someone else takes over those responsibilities, which is a good thing, but it also presents a challenge.  While you may be well versed in explaining the benefits of working with an MBE supplier to others, is everyone at your firm? You may understand the ins and outs of corporate procurement and supplier diversity programs, but now that you’re not the only salesperson, do your sales people know?

If you continue as the primary spokesperson in the diversity business community, are others at your firm aware of your efforts and how they can support or leverage them? You also never know when or who might have an opportunity from your company to speak with a potential client. Networking opportunities can be unpredictable. And there is no guarantee that those someone might speak with know these things either.

It would seem then like a good idea that everyone in your company, at the very least your sales people and account managers, understands what it means to be an MBE, the benefits of diversity and a diverse supplier base, and how to differentiate your company in this way when it’s appropriate. Make sure they know how to work with procurement and program managers at large corporations – share your knowledge.

I’m not suggesting anyone is intentionally hoarding knowledge or power, just that it is easy to get busy and forget how important this can be. I certainly know how valuable it can be from working with our CEO Jerry Brenholz and benefitting immensely from his counsel and willingness to share. And I recently started a project that began with me being reminded of the importance of sharing information; it’s the impetus for this post

My role has generally been outward facing, working to promote ATR, to increase our connection to others in the MBE community, and to support other MBEs and the organizations that help us. But I’ve also turned my efforts inward. In recent years, I’ve increased my efforts to work with our sales people and account managers in suggesting networking and training events, usually through the NMSDC and its regional chapters, that I think can offer them good opportunities to connect with corporate buyers.

But it occurred to me that I could do more. I’m only one person and can only do so much, but by sharing my knowledge, I can leverage it. I realized that not everyone had a full understanding of what it means to be an MBE or how to explain those benefits and promote ATR to potential customers. After consulting with colleagues, I decided to develop a training program for new employees (or anyone else that would like to attend!).

This is still a work in progress. As I’ve held the first few sessions, I’m refining what we cover and the presentation and materials that I use. But the response has been very, very positive and because of that, I wanted to share it with you. 

In our training we covered these main points:

  1. Our MBE status and what being certified means – make sure that everyone understands the basics about being an MBE and what that means in terms of attracting clients and finding opportunities. In my experience so far, people often had a vague or incomplete picture of what an MBE is and how being certified works.

  2. The benefits of working with diverse suppliers – likewise, people generally know that diversity is beneficial but often don’t fully understand how or why and don’t know how to explain those benefits to others.

  3. The NMSDC and the benefits that are available along with certification – in addition to training and research opportunities, there are numerous opportunities to meet and network with companies seeking MBEs. If your sales people participate and take advantage of these things it can really make a difference.

  4. Tips for meeting and building relationships with diversity program and procurement managers – ensure that your sales people know the difference between the procurement and supplier diversity manager; their goals and responsibilities overlap but are also very different. Building good relationships with both leads to more opportunities.

  5. The ins and outs of working with corporate programs – make sure everyone understands the basics of how to work with corporate programs: the need to register as an MBE, basic process and procedures, their RFP process, etc.

I’ve found people are really happy to have this information and that most just didn’t realize all of the ways they can use our MBE status as a supplement to other efforts to differentiate and distinguish our company with potential clients. Whether it was a simple tip like branding our company as an MBE on their LinkedIn page or providing the facts on the benefits of diversity, they appreciated the information. Good sales people want every advantage they can get!

Part of the training included the ways in which I can partner with them and help them take full advantage. In addition to their own initiative in tracking events, I promised to look at upcoming networking opportunities and let them know when something appropriate was going on in their area. I also meet a lot of program managers and other corporate contacts in my work, which means that I’m a good networking source and can facilitate introductions and alert them to opportunities they might not otherwise know about.

You’ll of course want to tailor your training to the specifics of your company. Depending on your role, the size and tenure of your company, and how you use and market your MBE status, your efforts may be different than mine. If you are a newer, smaller MBE, it may simply mean, as the owner, sharing your efforts and knowledge with your team. A larger, more well established MBE may have resources and the need for something more formal like my role and my newly founded training.

The key takeaway is that you should be using your MBE status to help grow your company, and while your senior leadership probably are, everyone else should know how to do so too. A little training can go a long way and make a big difference. Good luck getting the most out of being an MBE!

Angelique Solorio
Corporate Outreach Manager, Supplier Diversity

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Tags: AngeliqueSolorio, SupplierDiversity, MBE

2016 Top Paying IT Certifications

Posted by ATR International on Thu, Mar 31, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

Certified.pngLast year several of our most popular columns looked at IT certifications, so we’re happy to again bring our readers this year’s 15 Top-Paying IT Certifications developed by Global Knowledge, a leading learning services and professional development solutions provider. For their 2016 IT Skills and Salary Survey they surveyed IT professionals nationwide, so variations will exist based on where you work, your years of experience and the type of company you work for. To make this list, a certification had to have at least 100 survey responses to ensure that the data was statistically accurate and the affiliated certification exam had to be available at the time of the survey.

What this means is that making or not making the list may be a reflection of meeting only one of the two criteria, i.e., you need both the numbers and the salary to be in the top 15. Some certifications pay the same or more as many on this list, but they don’t make the cut due to their more exclusive nature. There are others that are more popular, A+, CCNA Routing and Switching, Network+, and Security+ are held by many more professionals than #14 ITIL V3 Foundation for example, but since they pay in the $70-80,000 range, simply didn’t make the top 15.

Click here to send us your resume. Our IT Recruiters will begin your job search today.

This underscores though, that there are some great certifications that are widely held, pay pretty well, and are ideal foundations on which to build specialization as your career progresses. The list gives some insight into what types of certifications are valued, where demand exists, and where hiring is robust.

Here’s the list:

  1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate $125,871
  2. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) $122,954
  3. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) $122,291
  4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) $121,923
  5. Project Management Professional (PMP®) $116,094
  6. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) $113,320
  7. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Routing and Switching $112,858
  8. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Data Center $107,045
  9. Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) $105,008
  10. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) $103,297
  11. Six Sigma Green Belt $102,594
  12. Citrix Certified Professional - Virtualization (CCP-V) $102,138
  13. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Security $101,414
  14. ITIL® v3 Foundation $99,869
  15. VMware Certified Professional 5 - Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) $99,334

Some notable trends:

  • The rise in salaries – last year 6 of the 15 jobs had a median pay of $100,000 or more. This year 13 of the 15 do. 11 certifications recur from last year, all with increased salaries. This is in keeping with IT salary trends in general.  The basic laws of supply and demand are at work in driving compensation up. Companies need to pay more to attract and retain IT professionals.
  • The continued presence of security related certifications – 6 of the 15 are in this area (2, 3, 4, 6, 10, and 13), continuing the trend from last year when 5 were. Security shows no sign of abating as a top concern for companies.
  • The top certification, Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect – it’s new to the list this year. It’s one of five AWS certifications, all of which have average salaries of $100,000+ but the others didn’t have the minimum number of responses. With more companies moving to the cloud and AWS growing, there will likely be additional AWS certifications on the list next year.

Why should you care?

Well, there’s no shame in admitting that being paid is a primary reason for working, and making more money is generally a good thing! So if you’re an ambitious IT professional, whether you are an FTE or a contractor, it behooves you to review all the information you can about what skills, certifications, or jobs are in demand and pay the best. It may not be the deciding factor, and some of these things will just not appeal to you no matter how much they pay, but it’s more data that you can use to plan future training and make smart career moves.

Does this information measure up with your experience? What certifications are you surprised aren’t on the list? If you hire IT professionals, what do you look for? Or don’t you? Or share your story of what a particular certification did for you and your career, positive or negative.

We’d love to hear from you!

 

Tags: job search, certifications

The Undeniable Benefits of a Diverse Workplace

Posted by Angelique Solorio on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

diversity.jpgMany of us know the importance and benefits of diversity and the benefits of having a diverse supplier base. In addition to being good for the overall business community to support MBE’s and other entrepreneurial endeavors, there are real advantages to working with companies owned and operated by individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience.

Diversity brings different viewpoints and different life experiences to the work that your company is trying to accomplish – whether that’s making a product, providing a service, or solving a problem. But the idea that Supplier Diversity is accomplished by simply hiring a company with an MBE designation misses the bigger picture. I believe that a company should not just be certified as an MBE but actively practice the principles of diversity within the company, including hiring a workforce that is diverse and recognizing the benefits of working with diverse suppliers themselves.

The benefits increase exponentially when you truly commit to diversity and have goals and commitments to achieving that wherever possible and it isn’t enough for just the owner or CEO to be a qualified minority. Your workforce should represent the human race. At ATR, our goal is to ensure that our employees are a diverse group and reflect the clients we work with and the contractors we hire.

Diversity isn’t just about race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, although those are great places to start. It includes different ages, backgrounds, life experiences, interests, learning styles, different strengths, different passions, and different talents – all working toward a common goal. Differences are what bring new ideas, new thinking, creativity, a new way of looking at something, to the table, and all of that will, in turn, help lead to success.

As a certified MBE, we fit a certain definition of what diversity means, and it’s one that fits the criteria often included in many Fortune 500 diversity initiatives and goals.  But we’re much more than that.  We have a diverse workforce that goes beyond the “woman-” or “minority-” owned designation. We have employees of different ages, different ethnic backgrounds, men and women, people from different parts of the U.S., and the world. 50% of our employees are Hispanic, Latino, Asian, and we have a native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander on staff. We have people who were originally born in China, El Salvador, Fiji, India, the Philippines, Poland, Saipan, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Click here to learn more about joining the ATR team.

And that’s just our internal employees.  When it comes to our contractors, we are equally committed to diversity. We want to bring the benefits of diversity to our clients. The very nature of contract employees means that it is an opportunity to bring in new talent to support your existing team, and the chance to bring new ideas and experiences with them as well.

ATR is filled with people who represent diversity in all its definitions and permutations. And this is what makes us a strong and successful company. It allows us to build better relationships with our clients and our contractors. It helps us find the people our clients need no matter what the requirements. It gives us the chance to see options and suggest solutions that our clients may not have thought about or bring on a talented individual they may have overlooked.

So if you are a procurement or diversity program manager who is looking for diverse companies to do business with, take a look not only at ownership or their certification. What does their workforce look like? Do they embrace diversity as a business strategy that brings advantages including but not limited to the bottom line? And if you are an MBE, think about whether you’re truly leveraging the advantages of diversity and ensuring that your company is more than just diverse on paper.

Angelique Solorio
Corporate Outreach Manager, Supplier Diversity

 

Tags: AngeliqueSolorio, SupplierDiversity, diversity, benefits, workplace

The Best Resume Advice All in One Place

Posted by ATR International on Wed, Mar 09, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

advice-1.jpgYour resume is the first thing that gets you noticed by potential employers. A good one gets you to the next step, an interview. A bad one, and you’re fast tracked to the no pile. We can help you avoid this fate. We know resumes – the good, the bad and the ugly – and we’ve shared our expertise in a number of ways, including through this blog.

Click here to send us your resume.

Click here to quickly access posts on everything resume related or click on the individual posts through the links below. Whether you’re creating a resume for the first time, significantly revamping it after a long break, or ensuring that yours reflects the latest thinking and advice, we think you’ll find this information useful. And conveniently located in one place!

  1.      9 absolute DON'Ts for your resume
  2.       3 things job seekers can learn from Leonardo da Vinci’s resume
  3.       How to optimize your resume for an Automatic Tracking System (ATS)
  4.       This is the font to use for your resume
  5.       Get rid of that objective section in your resume ASAP
  6.       It’s critical to have a great summary section
  7.       How to write the perfect work history section
  8.       The rest of the resume – 15 tips on contact info, education, technical skills, and more
  9.       No one cares about your cover letter, most of the time

 

Tags: resume, advice

Thinking About Being an IT Contractor? Here's What You Need to Know (Part ll)

Posted by ATR International on Tue, Mar 01, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

wondering-woman.jpgIn Part I of this post, we focused on the things about working as a contractor that people like. Here, we’ll talk about how to decide if it’s right for you.

Important Differences
While there are some great advantages to contract assignments, there are some important differences to think about too:

  1.       Finite assignments
  2.       No paid holidays or sick time
  3.       Must provide your own benefits

There is no guarantee with any job - full time/permanent positions can be eliminated and end as well, but there aren’t the same kinds of benefits such as unemployment insurance or severance when a contract position ends. You need to be proactive in securing your next assignment and prepared for potential breaks in service, if they occur. Paid holidays and sick time are generally not included, although that is not always the case, changing more and more, and employment trends and laws are always progressing. Finally, common benefits like subsidized health insurance, 401(k) matching, and others are not generally provided. For some, the feeling of security and the benefits that come with a more permanent position is important and the relative uncertainty of contracting doesn’t work for their personality or personal circumstances.

So how do you decide?
Well, you need to think about these things as they apply to you, specifically.

For example, in our experience, things like paid vacation and sick time work themselves out for most people and end up not being a big factor but health insurance is different. It’s arguably the biggest one to think about.

Depending on your needs, there is affordable healthcare available, especially if you are young, single, and childless. Or can you obtain health insurance through your spouse or partner? For people like this, the fact that these things aren’t automatically included might not be much of a drawback. On the other hand, if you’ve got a family of five that you are the primary or sole provider for, you may find the cost, convenience, and support of company provided health insurance, retirement benefits, and other programs to be a big draw.

The point is that companies consider benefits a part of the total compensation package and adjust salaries and raises accordingly. If you are currently in an FTE position and aren’t really taking advantage of the benefits offered, then you are likely being underpaid. For someone else, the value of extras that come with most FTE positions may outweigh the higher rate of contract work. You need to determine if you can earn more money as a contractor and still have access to similar benefits.

Other Considerations
There are some intangibles to consider too. If you are someone who likes to have a strong social component to their work environment, contracting may not be a good choice for you. It depends on the assignment but in general, your short tenure and contract standing means that you are not as strongly connected to the company.

To be sure people will be friendly and the best companies make you feel a part of the team, you may make some good friends even, but generally it’s not the same kind of connection, especially for shorter term assignments. But, there are benefits to this as well - you can avoid most of the extraneous meetings that take up time and you won’t have to deal with office politics as much. That’s a benefit to consider!

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When a Recruiter Calls
Take the call! Answer the email! There is no harm in exploring.

How long has it been since you’ve really seen what else is out there? If the specific opportunity they are calling with isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, talking to the recruiter can still be beneficial. Tell them what you are looking for or what type of work or role or rate per hour would entice you to think about making a change. Tell them about your perfect job (remember that dream company?) and then let them do the work of finding it for you. Go on an interview if you are offered that opportunity. What have you got to lose?  

At the end of it all, you may find yourself staying put, but doing so secure in the knowledge that this is truly the right place for you at this point in your career. Or maybe you’ll end up in a great new job making more money and happier than before. You may find that the life of a contractor suits you, short or long term.

It doesn’t matter so much what choice you make, just that it is an informed choice based on facts and smart thinking instead of knee jerk reactions based on incomplete information about what being a contractor really entails. Let us know what other questions you have about working as an IT contractor or send us your resume.  We’re here to help you!


Our thanks to technical recruiters Sam Saultz and Josh Seliner for their help with this post.

Tags: contract staffing, contract employees, IT contractor

Thinking About Being an IT Contractor? Here's What You Need to Know (Part l)

Posted by ATR International on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

thinking_man.jpgIf you’re in the IT industry you’ve probably wondered at one time or another about working as a contractor. IT companies utilized contingent workforce strategies earlier and continue to do so at higher levels than many other organizations and industries, so the opportunities have been around for a while. Furthermore, the freelance or gig economy trend is frequently in the news and brings more attention to contract or project based work.

As an IT professional you are likely bombarded with phone calls and emails from recruiters about permanent and contingent opportunities. IT is mission critical to almost every business these days and the laws of supply and demand have kept unemployment low and demand for technology professionals high.

This has perhaps pushed the question of a career move to the forefront and you may be considering contract work seriously for the first time. How do you know if you would like it? If it’s a good choice for you? What are the pros and cons? What do you need to know or do before you make this kind of change?

The first thing to remember when you are thinking about any career move is that your choices are rarely if ever going to be between good or bad; few things in life are that easy. Instead your decision will require you to look at the positives and negatives, risks and rewards of each and decide what works best for you.

The decision about working as an IT contractor has as much to do about you – where you are in life and what you want – as it does about the job. One person’s great opportunity is not necessarily a good idea for another.

Let’s start with the benefits of contract work.  In talking to our recruiters, we confirmed that there are several things that are appealing:

  1.       More money
  2.       Flexibility
  3.       Broader exposure to new technologies and experiences
  4.       Opportunity to get in at a top/Fortune 500 company

More Money
You almost always command a higher hourly wage as a contractor than as a salaried employee. This is because there is a monetary value on the benefits that you receive as an FTE that a company does not provide for a contractor. This is one reason why companies use contract employees – they help them get the job done working within their budget.

Additionally, you are paid for each hour that you work, unlike a salaried position, which most FTE IT positions are. When you compare your potential hourly wage with what you are making in a current salaried role, make sure you are comparing apples to apples.  As a salaried employee, you are paid the same whether you work 40, 50, or 60 hours a week. As a contractor, you would be paid for all the hours you work. Be sure you use an accurate count of your hours, and include any OT.  On the other side, you should figure out what it will cost you to replace your benefits to your satisfaction and include that number in your calculations.

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Flexibility
The flexibility of contract work is also a big draw. You often choose when you want to work, how many hours per week, and have the flexibility to take time between assignments if you like. To be sure, most of us want to work full time and most IT contractors, especially those with in demand skills, do not lack for assignments and transition smoothly from one to the next. But if you would like to take the summer off to spend with your kids or backpack through Europe, you can arrange your schedule much more easily as a contractor.

Broader exposure to new technologies and experiences
Many IT contractors enjoy this model because it exposes them to new and different things. A project manager will be involved with multiple types of projects in various industries and at different companies. A developer may gain expertise in multiple languages or programs. Often these projects are working on or with cutting edge technology, things others haven’t seen yet or are not widely used.

IT contractors aren’t bored because they can work in many different and challenging environments. This also results in a broader technology skill set and experience, as well as a wider network of business relationships than usually develops when you remain somewhere for years. Some people also find they are happier and have more job satisfaction.

Opportunity to get your foot in the door
If you have always wanted to work somewhere but haven’t found a way in, contract work can open doors for you. It’s a chance to show off your skills and prove on the job that you are a great employee – talented and a good cultural fit. Many companies absolutely view contract assignments as “try before you buy” opportunities. In fact, the initial length of some contracts is short, only 3 or 6 months, because companies don’t want to commit to something longer until they are sure the person is truly a good fit. Once they see for sure that you are the right fit, contracts are extended. And it’s a tryout on both sides. Sometimes that dream company turns out to be, if not a nightmare, then at least not what you expected.

These are the big 4 - the main advantages that most contractors find working in this employment model. Does it sound interesting?  Click here to read part II where we cover how to decide if contracting is right for you.


Our thanks to Technical Recruiters Sam Saultz and Josh Seliner for their help with this post.

 

Tags: IT jobs, contract staffing, IT Consulting, contract employees, IT contractor