Friday, November 11, 2016

T-Rex Cover Letter

Just completed another contract. Another job to apply for. Now cover letters and resumes go out. Do they work?

I don’t user cover letters applying for contract positions. I leave the cover letters to those who apply to full time positions.

I send my updated resume to agencies within my personal network. No cover letter. But, after talking to Dr. Cathy Goodwin ( ), she introduced me to t-cover letters.

T-cover (T Rex I like to call them), I use to collect my thoughts and in preparation to phone and in-person interviews. What goes into t-rex? I go to my notebook and draw a full page T.
I put into the left column all the clients job requirements. The right column I match my qualifications to each.

Excuse the handwriting:

Clear Word document example:

My Qualifications
Clear, Concise business requirements using flexible approach.

Collaborate with stakeholders and technical resources creating user stories.

Create Workflow Diagrams.

I’ve wrote and presented an SDS from a previous project.

Debit Card Mobilization project where I collaborated with Business and Architect’s to write epic AGILE Stories.

Work on project at ABC Bank where collaborated with 3rd Party Vendor to write and present ARP workflow using PowerPoint.

Prior to interview, phone or in-person, I develop a story explaining I’m qualified for this position.

After a particular interview, the agency called and told me the client said, “Dan articulates well.” Great feedback.

T-cover is a great tool to add to your Independent Computer Consultant tool box.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Computer Consulting Trending….

Computer Consulting Trending….

An ICC view…

The big news here in Rhode Island is CVS is doing major layoffs most in the Rhode Island Corporate office where I live.

I feel bad for the people who spent good part if their career at CVS and now are left to find another job within CVS or someplace else. Some may leave the state.

What is one to do?

I’ve been part of several layoffs and it always hurts. One questions what one did wrong? Why me?

It’s never personal but in today’s age, most companies rather go with the consultant vs. an employee where they don’t have to pay benefits. It always about money.

5 tips to keep one self marketable with a job or no job.

1. Figure out the trends in your field.

The best way I see what’s trending is go out to the career section of large companies and see the jobs their hiring for. Since this blog is about Independent Computer Consultants (ICC), I type into a search “Business Systems Analyst”. Then I read through the requirements of the jobs and match it to my qualifications on my resume.

2. Network

With social media more specifically LinkedIn, create an account or update your profile.

3. Consulting

If you had a full time job, consider contracting. I enjoy the flexibility of contracting and gain on the job experience at each project.

4. Update your resume

Update your resume with your qualifications (see number 1).

5. Take a class

Investing in yourself to learn a new computer language or another skill you need. I personally have taken classes at An example: I saw AGILE was trending and took AGILE and technical Writing classes and moved from COBOL programmer to Business Systems Analyst.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Professional development cannot be stressed enough

Professional development cannot be stressed enough. Learning the current hot technology and IT trends just doesn’t end at college. It continues throughout your career and life.

 In the article, “10 professional development tips for programmers” states ten points for programmers to act on to stay current and advance their careers. I suggest if you’re a Systems Analyst, Business Analyst or Business Systems Analyst, this is good advice. If your starting out in your career, in the middle or tail end, three points stand out from the CIO article and the most important in my opinion.  

 Networking and Branding

Communication and people skills

Leaning new hot language/ or technology

Networking and branding starts in your first job and last your entire career. It does beat applying at job boards where your resume falls into abyss of other resumes somewhere on someone's hard drive.
I’ve been in IT over thirty three years and have a large network in IT. Currently I completed a contract and looking for my next opportunity and reaching out to my network letting them know I’m available. Social media has helped. LinkedIn is good. Facebook as well. Create a blog to show examples of your work all come into play and post at linkedin, twitter and facebook. 

Communication and people skills are important today for IT people. A few years ago programmers worked alone and pretty much heads down programming. Today that has changed. In both waterfall and agile projects, developers have been part of the process from the beginning thru implementation. Toastmasters is a great and affordable club where you write and present speeches. I’ve earned my CTM and CL (Competent Leader) designations and today feel comfortable writing and presenting my documents to senior level management, project mangers, and qa teams.  

Leaning new hot language/ or technology: I’ve lumped learning Agile, JavaScript, CSS, HTML5 into one point. Staying current in developers language and IT processes i.e. agile for programmers and analyst keeps you what's hot game. Cheap online classes sites: udemy, cousera and udacity offer great options to take classes.
Learning never stops. Have a continuous curiosity to how things work and processes in IT. Following the 10 steps in the CIO article will keep your marketable.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting into World Series of contracting

WOW! Royals win and get into World Series after 29 years (article here).  How does that relate to an independent computer consultant aka contractor?

Have the right team in place so a contractor may deliver his/her service to the client.

Working with a team is key. My team are recruiters who recruit for a position, account mangers to present a contractor and service to the client, payroll where the contractor is paid, health insurance for the contractor. If there is a flaw in the process nobody wins. Everyone is hurt--the contractor, the recruiting firm and the client who needs the service.

When a team goes to the baseball world series, the process to getting there is all working together. When the Royals navigated straight into the world series with winning eight games are the only team to do it in baseball's postseason. They did it with speed, great pitching and defense. All three plus fan's cheering in support.

Third Baseman Mike Moustakas said, "I knew these fans were amazing, but I didn’t know how loud and how amazing they really were. They came out every day to play, just like we did. They deserve this just as much as we do. They’ve been waiting a lot longer than most of us have. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to bring this American League championship to Kansas City.”

If you are or considering to be an independent computer consultant, put in place the best team for yourself and you'll see success.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Increasing Hourly Rate

1. Wait/complete current project to end.
2. Get new project while current one is going on.
3. Quit current project
4. start new project.

Simple. I did this and the increase rate was 25 percent. I even asked for more. Didn’t get it. Bummer.

You’re probably asking; why not ask for a raise on my current contract? I did that. I ask three months out from my one year anniversary. Within the three months I kept on top of the decision makers. I made sure nothing feel through the cracks. Pretty much hitting them with a baseball bat. Then the shocker came in -- 2 percent. HUH? Total hourly increase way under a dollar. I felt injured. I started to put another plan to increase more. Then the financial market tanked and they cut technology contractor’s 10 percent. Now I am insulted. In the past twelve months my hourly rate was cut 8 percent. So jumping contract’s does make sense. Be smart about it. Don’t just do it for the money. Do it for your career and do it right. Make sure the project you are working on is completed successfully. When you do that, moving out to another project feels good. And the money will be there for you.

Monday, August 6, 2007

IT's Star Turn

To thrive in the 21st century service economy, startups and old-line companies alike must shift their IT geeks to the front lines of innovation

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Six tips to position you as the recognized expert in your IT niche and get the respect, recognition and money you deserve


Just recently I negotiated a rate for a new project 30 percent higher compare to the last project I just finished. It calculates to be thousands of dollars more pr year. If I Pushed harder, I could have gotten more money. I felt the rate I negotiated was based on my skills, experience and problem solving techniques and I was very satisfied. How I really nailed the contract was a whitepaper about XML and Mainframe programmers I published and sent it to the prospect.

I positioned myself as minu-guru of IT. To position yourself as an expert will get you respect, recognition and more money. Your phone will ring with opportunities and when you interview for a contract, a very good chance on getting it with the rate you quote.

Part of me is networking. I enjoy being out and meeting new and old acquaintances. Just the other day on the train ride home from the client, a friend from a previous project sat down next to me. We rode the train for an hour talking about the past and future. I emailed her the very next day asking that if she needed a mainframe Cobol guy this summer. She immediately emailed me back saying GREAT and will keep me in mind. Today, Sunday, I am emailing my copy of my published whitepaper to her.

A goal I do have is to make a lot of money doing what I enjoy and love to do. I'm sure all who are in the IT field do. But according to statistics, ninety percent will only be average and make average money. Some will make below average money and then there is the ten percent that will be making most of the money. They are the guru's and minu-guru's.

My intention is for you to be educated on getting in the top ten percent of your target market. It is hard, consistence and persistent work. Do not take anything for granted. You must be willing to work hard, be consistent and never give up. Be kind, respectful, recognize to those who help you and your clients, then you will get to the top ten percent. Once there, it's a dog fight to the top one percent. If that is your goal.

When you hear about experts today, you hear names like Dr. Phil McGraw on relationships, Dr. Robert Atkins dieting, and Donald Trump commercial real estate, just to name a few. For them to stay at the top of their game, they need to be willing to be famous. And they are. Books and TV shows and arguing with other celebrities to keep their name and face out in front of their fields. These people are not the smartest in their field or the most educated. They do promote themselves well with all or some of the six tips in this article.

These types of experts are guru's and have a broad niche. It's difficult to get into and stay there. I recommend target market focus and then specializing within that market. This type of expert is called a minu-guru. That is, you have a target market then become very specialize within that market.

Mini-guru is one who can decimate information about their topic in a clear and concise manner and offer it to their specialized target market. Keep focus and do not go wide on your market. Do have more that one specialty. Example is Dan Poynter. He is a guru on self-publishing and parachuting and other fields. Focus on a couple of different markets and try not spreading yourself too thin. The reason one does this is just in case one or two fields take a hit due to market conditions you will not be left out to dry with nothing.

Work alone at first planning each or some of the tips. Take one tip at time. Scratch out on paper your goals and plans. Once you got your ideas on paper bring it to your spouse, friends, and/ or business associates to brainstorm a plan on executing it. Then take action on all in any shape you want Remember, you will not do this in one day. But do take action.

Be focus and enjoy the ride. If being number one is not in your cards think Avis Car Rental, being number two is good because we try harder.

So let's take a look...


Having a PR campaign will get your face and/or name out to your target niche.

A good PR campaign for independent computer consultants is to get your name out in front of clients and prospects so they will contact you for your service or product.

The fastest and cheapest way to successful PR is to do it yourself. I am a big fan on getting help when needed. Outsourcing it to a PR firm can get expensive especially as an independent computer consultant. YoueyHe might enjoy it. It’s fun to see you name and face in lights. Think movie star.

Two items I do that are fast and cheap are press releases and letter-to-the-editor. Both are free and are great advertisement to get your name to the media who distribute to their magazine.

Press releases and letters-to-the-editor are done to your target market trade magazines. Don’t rule out any publicity that you can take advantage of. Recently, received an award about my business and the local community where I live. I immediately did a press release and sent it the local newspapers who will publish it. Then talking to a friend in town who said he saw the press release and congratulated me on the award. Local news is good for some things.

There are 7 ways to write a letter-to-the editor.

1) You are reading a trade magazine on the train commute to
the client site.
2) You notice an article that gets you upset because it right, wrong, incorrect with facts or needs additional information.
3) Take out notebook to jot down your ideas on what's wrong. State fact's.
4) When you get to your desk or home that night, open a word document and write the letter. Make sure you are fired up when writing. You want passion on this. State facts as why you disagree or agree with the author of the article.
5) Look up where to email, fax or mail letter to editor of trade magazine.
6) Proof read it. Keep with amount of words that letters ask to be written.
7) Fire it off.

If it's a good letter-to-the-editor, you will either receive a call or email to verify all the information and then get the magazine and watch for it. Boom, you are published and your name it out in the target market.

One idea to getting the most of the letter-to-the-editor is to fire off a press release saying you just got published and offer free copies of the published letter to all who ask. Again, make sure it’s to the target market.

Have a consistent PR campaign. Doing one press release every few years will not get you anything. Be an opportunity seeker by observing everything around as it relates to you target market. If you see news or have an idea, jump on it.

A good press release course is at


Teaching is a great way to get one's thoughts together and great personal rewards. Teach at local college and create programs for adult education companies are two I have done with success. Another one is teaching seminar teleclasses. One online teleclass seminar is at . To be a seminar leader at, you have to take a teachers class. It’s about six 1 hour weeks and the benefit is you can connect worldwide with people teaching seminars.

I have done all and have enjoyed it. One tip I do offer I learned while an assistant scout master for a local boy scout troop. When we taught merit badges for the boys, the scout master said, “keep one step ahead knowing your material.” Great advice.

Be a specialist and not a know it all. Years ago when Howard Cosell was alive, he hosted a radio show to discuss anything and everything. The show had a short life span. He must have been the guru of everything. So he thought.

So be prepared, practice and enjoy.


I know what you are thinking – I am computer person and I don't speak well. Well, get over it. You are reading this and you are ready to be famous, so let's have a positive attitude and now let's get out there and speak.

The reason why people fail at speaking is that they fail to prepare enough. Do you know what a good speech is? How may points go into a speech? Join Toastmasters to help you perfect speaking. Even if you think you are good, you can be better and toastmasters can help you with that. Go to to find a club near you.

Once you learn what goes into a speech, nobody will get you to shut up. And that is good. Practice speaking at lunch with your friends, business meetings and at the water cooler.

Record yourself speaking. I am recording myself reading this article to see if it sounds good. Whew, the first draft of this article was garbage. So get going and speak.

By the way, a good speech is someone who knows their audience and there are three points to a speech – opening, body and closing.


Writing is a great way to collect your thoughts and get them on paper. Having it publish is fairly simple.

Writing for the independent computer consultant is broken down into whitepapers, case studies, ezines, articles, books, and tip sheets and publishing all six ways.

Let look at each:

1) Whitepapers - whitepapers are technical paper on a company’s particular product. Companies write whitepapers to get their product notice to their target market. It shows how to solve a particular problem. Engineers and computer people are asked to write them for their company’s products. This helps with the sales process. Whitepapers are a great selling vehicle for sales people. They are pretty simple to do and another step
to positioning yourself to being an guru.

A great website is

2) Case studies - usually a one page study on how your company solved a particular problem. I have used it for companies to increase their sales with financing options (leasing). A great sales tool and should be published on your website.

3) Ezine - self-publishing an ezine is a simple process of writing up several articles, tips, what's going on with your company and emailing out to a list. I keep my list in excel spreadsheet. When it's get to big to manage, I will upgrade to a service.

I usually send it out monthly. Every time I sent out my ezine titled Dan's leasing letters I get a response and opportunity to make money. Have a sign-up form on your website.

4) Articles - writing and publishing articles is as simple as writing it and putting it on your website. Then you are considered published. Trade Associations have magazines that need content as well as trade publications. Getting a copy of writer’s market book will assist you in finding out your target market trade press.

A great website to publish you articles is

5) Books - I have not done a book in many years, and it's a great recognition builder. If you published a book, either self-publish or through a publisher, you will be recognized as an expert faster.

6) Tip Sheets - these are very easy to create. Like this article 10 ways to… or 7 pillars to ... all to solve a particular problem. What is nice about tip sheets you open up a word document, figure out a particular problem then make a list to solve it. Put it on your website, send out a press release or print it off and hand them out at networking events. Very easy and again, you are published.

A great website to publish tip sheets is .


Have a value, attractive website. Here are five why's you website may not be attracting prospects and do the opposite:

1. It’s boring - it's about you and your company. Nothing about your client/prospect.
2. Confusing - too crowded with words and graphics.
3. Name - hard name to remember or get to.
4. Antique information - fix by updating site frequently. Keep content fresh.
5. Value - you do not provide content for your client/prospect.

Overall, have a website that has value for you client and prospects to keep coming back. Include on your website -- ezine signup, articles, and contact information.


This is my favorite section. I enjoy creating from my ideas how to improve a business problem. Creating creative solutions for your clients and your business will help get you in the top ten percent.

Just this morning I was sitting down to map out a plan on a 15 minute presentation to a prospect. But first I need to prepare for the presentation which is having coffee before a networking event. I prepared researching her and the company she works for. I lay out how my company can solve her problems. I compare and contrast me and my competition and their company and their competition and how their competition is killing them with a service similar to mind. Whew, that’s a lot. This case it’s installing a vendor leasing program.

This is just a real example of being fun creative. One type of creativity is mix and matching existing services with different products. How your service or product
can be sold like another service in a completely different field?

Another example on a larger scale compared to me is Richard Branson Virgin Atlantic Airlines. My wife and I just flew them to London and they are incredible. Highly recommended by a world traveled friend, when the plane lands Virgin Atlantic has a limo waiting for the first class passengers. WOW! That's service. Branson's success is inventing new ideas by combining, mixing, matching existing ideas to create the best business. Remember this, there is no perfect business. All businesses can improve.

To learn more about creativity, start ready books, listening to tapes and CD's on creativity. Then get started by practicing creativity daily. Have a notebook handy to jot down all your ideas.

Some great creative stuff to get - -Earl Nightingale, Michael Michako's book Thinkertoys. So get started right this moment.


Dan Singleton enjoys computer contracting. Currently he’s trying to land with Fidelity Investments again. Wish him luck at :