Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Archive for April, 2009

Stick to what you know…

Posted by sweens on April 24, 2009

This is a thought I have had lately with regards to a recruiter tackling a position that is not within their area of continual focus.  What I mean by this is simply that the more you recruit a specific position (DBA, HR Generalist, Project Manager, etc) the more you learn about that specific position.  If you are continually looking for Project Managers, when you see a good Project Manager resume it just jumps out at you and you have the ability to read between the lines.

 

You have likely spoken to numerous candidates with the experience that is of focus to you – so when you see similar information on another resume, you can understand what was meant by a certain task or detail. 

 

This came to me as a thought as I took a quick glance for an Engineer with SCADA experience.  As I searched for Engineers, I noticed that their resumes were written in a format that was uncommon for me.  At each place of employment, most candidates listed projects they had worked on but without any timelines.  Example – some people had worked at the same company for 3 years but worked on 7 projects.

 

Being someone that does not recruit engineers and knows nothing about engineering, I have next to no idea how much time any given project would take.  As such, I found myself in a tough spot when I had to evaluate their experience. 

 

As such, I would suggest that it is best for a firm and their recruiters to specialize in something particular (IT roles, HR roles, Sale Roles, etc).  Continually working on similar positions allows you to understand several important factors:

 

         Market rate for the desired skill set

         What the market demand is for that skill set

         The amount of available resources within the market

         Technologies or skills required for the position

         Allows you to build a base of candidates

         Gives you a jump start on your positions, rather then starting from scratch

 

Focusing the business strategy and your recruitment scope is an important step in maintaining and growing a successful placement business.

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Updates needed….

Posted by sweens on April 22, 2009

My personal opinion is that every day should include a trip to your local coffee shop.  Some like Tim Hortons while others visit Second Cup.  Perhaps office brewed coffee is your choice.  Mine, is Starbucks – I know I know, I have said it before.  It gives you and your co-workers a chance to step back for 10 minutes; clear your mind; and enjoy a hot cup of coffee, tea or some form of drink that I can not say.

 

But lately, my trips to Starbucks have not been as enjoyable as usual.  This stems for the lack of variety that exists on their cups in their ever-so-popular tales of ‘The Way I See It”.  I have blogged before about my intrigue in this coffee cup promotion but since I last blogged about it; I have not seen one new story on the back of my cup.  Only the same two – repeated over and over again.

 

As such, I hope someone from Starbucks reads this and makes sure that the Ottawa based Starbucks shops receive new cups with new stories on the back of them.  I heard McDonalds is giving away free coffee this week – maybe I will go check that out.

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Specializing in SAP

Posted by sweens on April 21, 2009

As I currently look to staff a specialized SAP position, I can see the dollar value of the contract increase with the more specialized SAP module required. Not only is working in the SAP market big dollars, but working on a rare SAP module like Plant Maintenance (PM) or Master Data Management (MDM) commands even higher dollars.

As discussed before, this is likely driven by the fact that specific SAP training costs big bucks. But training is not the only component needed to become one of these specialty SAP consultants. On the job experience is also required so get as much of it as you can.

 It must be one of the only IT jobs where you can easily make over $100,000 with 5 years of experience.

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Market update: still not good…

Posted by sweens on April 20, 2009

I have certainly been slacking on the blogging over the last two weeks but I have given myself a good kick in the butt and am back on the blogging train (I hope).  That being said, I am not overly sure what to blog about today – not that I am sure on any day.  Not much has changed over the last two weeks in the recruiting industry that I can see.

 

I feel like the market has reached a lull point in any direction.  I have not heard of any major layoffs as of late.  The number of resumes I am seeing has decreased.  Perhaps the panic stage has passed us by?  Or perhaps candidates simply no longer want to work with me?

 

But let us not fool ourselves.  It is still an extremely tough market.  There are more people completing for fewer jobs then before so the market is extremely tight.  Candidates need to find a way to push themselves to the front of the line and be seen.  All industries seem to be tough (including the recruiting industry).

 

Lately I have seen the following positions on a ‘frequent’ basis:

 

         Programmer / Analyst

         Project Manager

         SAP

         PeopleSoft

 

I have seen a drop in the following:

 

         Quality Assurance / Verification

         Business Analyst

         Database work

 

Obviously, the bulk of the positions I have been seeing pertain to Government contracts as they continue to spend like it is their job, but the private sector has completely slowed down.  I wonder if “it is always darkest just before the dawn” applies in this situation.

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Stop searching for jobs….

Posted by sweens on April 15, 2009

Are you getting tired of constantly looking for jobs?  Why not make someone else do the work for you then?  I was recently turned on a new job hunter service called Peter’s New Jobs (PNJ).  PNJ is a service that can cost you as little as $3.33 a month and will notify you by email of all new jobs posted on the internet that may be of interest to you.

 

pnjlogo Rather then searching the job boards yourself, PNJ searches over 8,000 job boards between Ottawa and Toronto and delivers new jobs to you on a daily basis (Monday to Friday).  PNJ offers a time saving venture in the job hunt market and gives its clients access to numerous jobs that will not be found on traditional job boards.

 

It will be interesting to see how this product takes off over the next while…

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Best Overall Value: Price VS Score

Posted by sweens on April 9, 2009

For candidates who do not know how Government contracting works, here is a very brief crash course.  The main premise will be that they are looking for the best value for their dollar (their dollar being yours and mine tax dollars). 

 

Your typical requirement with a Government contract will come with a skills grid containing both mandatory and rated requirements.  You must meet all the mandatory requirements in order to be deemed compliant to have the technical authority score you on the rated requirements.

 

Once you get to the rated requirements, there is usually a minimum score.  This is typically sixty of seventy percent.  From there, if you pass the minimum score you are deemed compliant and then it becomes a mathematical calculation as to your score compared to your price where the best price per point wins. 

 

PRICE \ SCORE = PRICE PER POINT

 

As such, candidates should be aware that the lower their per diem is the better price per point score they will achieve.  The onus is not only on the candidate to lower their per diem, as firms who are looking for a large mark up on the candidates per diem may also price themselves out of the competition.

 

Another fun fact to think about in the contracting game…

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Mandatory Requirements: No room for flexibility

Posted by sweens on April 6, 2009

Well once again I am working on a Project Management role and have had to turn down top quality candidates because they lacked a mandatory requirement.  Typically, Project Managers are not considered for contracts because they lack a PMP certification.  It really should be a PMP certification or equivalent experience (whatever that may be).

 

Unfortunately mandatory requirements on Government contracts are not negotiable and if you do not meet them will not be considered.  It is frustrating when you come across a quality candidate that does not have a particular product but has a comparable one, or a Project Manager who does not have a PMP designation but has been a Project Manager for 25+ years. Clearly they can do the job! 

 

Certifications are the biggest blunder for candidates being turned away on opportunities.  A certification – while useful – really means ‘get it, and then I will look at your CV’. 

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Summertime: Not so hot for contracting

Posted by sweens on April 3, 2009

If you speak to enough people who contract into the Federal Government, they will tell you that coming off a contract in the middle of the summer is not the most ideal situation. ‘Government’ has a tendency to shut down or seriously slow down during the summer months as employees cash in lengthy weeks of vacation.

As such, contracting into the Federal Government presents less opportunity during the summer months then at other points in the year. Candidates should be aware that Government contracting typically has spending cycles:

  • After the fiscal year once new budgets are released
  • After the Summer
  • Before fiscal year end

Coming off contract during these times will likely give you the best opportunity of finding another contract quickly.

Candidates who are looking into contracts now should pay attention to the duration of the contracts, as 3-4 month contracts being issued now will leave you coming off contract in the lull time of the summer months. Just something else to think about in the always fun game of Government contracting!

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Rejected: Moving on after the interview

Posted by sweens on April 2, 2009

I was reading a blog yesterday that talked about how recruiting a position is a lot like setting a friend up on a blind date.  Trying to match two people and hoping there is a connection there – similar to bringing a candidate to an interview and hoping they make a connection with the hiring manager.  And while this blog was geared towards retention, I think this analogy applies to many scenarios in the staffing industry.

 

Let us focus on a very difficult issue for many people along the windy road of landing a new position.  You make it all the way to an interview but do not get selected for the job. 

 

Why?  What went wrong?  I thought it went really well.

 

 Those are all pretty common responses for candidates who leave an interview thinking that they have a good chance of closing on the position and are interested in what the position can offer them.  But a lot of the time, you do not end up getting the position and where do you go from there?

 

Many candidates are often looking for that aspect of closure following a lost opportunity.  It helps them move on or better prepare themselves for the next interview.  Similarly to breaking up with someone you have dated.  Was it me?  Was it them?  Do I need to change something?  I think the simply reality that people need to realize is that not everyone matches with everyone.  I have had candidates that are excellent candidates and many organizations would jump at the chance to hire them but they blow the interview.

 

This is not to say that the candidate can not interview, but sometimes you just do not match the person on the other end.  It is no ones fault, just the way things work out.  That being said, telling that to a candidate likely is not a viable option.  They want something concrete, something tangible that will explain the hiring decision.  And unfortunately, you do not always get that answer.

 

It is not common practice for employers to offer a post interview debrief as to why you did not get the job.  Recruiters can do a better job of getting this information for you since they work with the hiring managers but often times the information is not shared with all parties involved.  There are internal politics, budget cuts, family emergencies, etc; that can all get in the way of someone getting an offer – but that is unlikely to be shared with candidates.

 

While a recruiter should always do their best to debrief their candidates following an interview, candidates need to accept that at times, information will simply not be made available to them (including the recruiter) and accepting that they did not get the job is the only answer they are going to get.

 

I know it is not the most desirable situation for anyone to be in, but it is just the way interviewing works. 

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Closure during a relocation – just like after a break up

Posted by sweens on April 1, 2009

I have brought it up before under a different light, but in today’s business of permanent placements, employers will be seeking more information on why a candidate is prepared to move positions as they want to make sure they are making the right move when pulling the trigger and hiring a permanent employee.

Before, we looked at someone who is making the move from contracting into a permanent role. What motivations does this person have for making such a move? Can an employer look past such a move when comparing one candidate to another? What about relocation? Is relocating someone for a permanent position a viable staffing solution in today’s economy?

I have met candidates who have relocated for new positions that have ultimately not worked out the way they had hoped for and found themselves in an unfavourable working situation shortly after the move. When I started at Procom one of my first closes was a contractor who was Canadian but working in Texas and decided to gamble on a contract back in Ottawa. Granted it did not work out and the contract fell through some 8 days or so into the contract.

If this situation happened with someone who signed on as an employee, the company would have to offer them severance and likely through some dollars at the candidate to help cover the cost of relocation. While moves of this nature are often required, candidates need to be prepared to explain a career move that may seem a bit extreme in the eyes of the employer.

It is not uncommon for candidates to travel for opportunities and then decide they eventually would like to return to their roots. This simply needs to be conveyed to the recruiter or the employer. New grads travelling for their first break is a great move. People returning to a city where they have family is also a great move.

Moves such as these give any employer a bit of closure when they bring in a candidate that has had to relocate. Closure being something any employer will be looking for these days.

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