Talent Development Centre

All posts by Brendhan Malone

The Future is Yours!!


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Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Why independent contractors in IT should always be on top of the latest tech trends

The Future is Yours!!When I first started in recruitment immediately following Y2K, the market was very slow. Seasoned professional contractors were having tremendous difficulty landing contracts. Unless of course you were a technical or functional consultant in the ERP world and your experience was in the right module, it was tough.

What is the point of my statement?

There are trends in the industry that are worth following. After the most recent economic crash in 2008, financial institutions were looking for any way possible to reduce risk. Consultants and contractors with risk system experience were in tremendous demand in a down market.

Which quickly brings us to today. Is it luck if your area of expertise becomes in high-demand? Sometimes I’m sure good fortune plays a role. I would argue, however, that being on the cutting edge of market trends can take some of the luck out of it. Asking yourself a few key questions in regards to where you see demand for your skills and area of expertise going forward should be a weekly exercise.

The key point to mention is that the current in-demand skills are often times no more difficult to obtain or develop an expertise in than those that are diminishing in demand.

Artificial Intelligence is a perfect example of the importance of identifying current and future demand for your skills. AI is not going anywhere and companies will be relying on it more and more every day. Can your skills be augmented to provide value to this emerging area?

Automation is coming and coming fast, particularity in administrative processes. How do your skills apply here and if they don’t, how can you obtain relevant skills to automation?

People are browsing, shopping, and purchasing on their mobile devices at staggering levels. Only a few years ago it was primarily a device for browsing. Those who had the foresight so obtain mobile development skills have reaped the rewards of this demand.

This may seem like obvious considerations but the difference between having in-demand skills and not can drastically affect your standard of living.

A contractor should be on the hunt to educate and further their own skills and knowledge. Make sure you are always evolving in your professional life and you won’t be left behind but will stay at the forefront of technology changes.

You Can’t Win a Fight (or succeed at anything) without a Winning Team


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Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

You Can't Win a Fight (or succeed at anything) without a Winning TeamThe video below introduces you to this year’s Fight Team in the annual Fight to End Cancer, taking place this year on May 27th in Toronto.  These are brave men and women who have stepped out of their homes and offices and into the boxing ring.  They are doing so to raise money for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the Fight to End Cancer.

I was fortunate enough to step in the ring myself a couple of years ago and I know the commitment required.  Eagle has been a proud sponsor and supporter of this event since its inception.  This event aligns perfectly with our core values of integrity, excellence and TEAM.

When a fighter prepares to step in the ring, they join a large team of coaches and sparring partners.  Everyone is working together, with different responsibilities but towards the same goal.    A fighter cannot do this on their own, no single person is a match for a good team.

Business and sports offer natural parallels, none more so than the concept of team.  As an independent contractor, one of the main parts of your job is to get up to speed with a new team.  Understanding what the team’s goals and overall objectives are can help you align yours the same way.  Just as a fight team prepares the fighter for the ring, an IT team prepares a product or service for launch day.  Independent contractors are often the newest members of a team that may have been together for a long time.  Ensuring you are quickly aligned with the team’s goals and overall objectives will result in quicker cohesion and earlier positive results.

I wrote in an earlier post that it is no longer possible for an independent contractor to live in a bubble.  You must be aligned and aware of the business objectives of any IT project.  Teams need to work together towards the same goal.  It may seem obvious… but every team member has to know what those goals are.

I wish all the fighters and their teams the best of luck as the big day approaches.  To all the independent contractors joining new teams, I hope you can align your efforts and objectives as quickly and effectively as possible with a common goal.

10 Reasons to Take a Face-to-Face Interview with a Recruiter


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Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

10 Reasons to Take a Face-to-Face Interview with a RecruiterA recruiter asks you to come in for an interview but you have so much on the go. What do you do? Should you blow them off? After all, you’ve already sent over a resume and had talked to them over the phone about what kind of work you want. What more could a face-to-face interview possibly do for you?

Face-to-face interviews with recruiters are more than you may think! Here are 10 reasons to take that interview and increase your chance of getting the next job you’ve been wanting.

  1. Your Recruiter Will Remember You in the Future. Science shows that we remember faces far easier than we remember emails.  🙂
  2. Face-to-Face is Second-to-None. There is simply no technological replacement for face-to-face interaction… including Skype/video interviews!
  3. Get Across What Your Resume Can’t. Communication is over 90% non-verbal.
  4. Your Recruiter Will Better Understand You. Inevitably an unknown skill or strength of yours is going to come out in a face-to-face meeting.
  5. It Will Help Your Recruiter Sell You. Recruiters are not only interviewing you, but also working to provide the strongest presentation of your skills and attributes to the end client. You have a mutual objective.
  6. Its great practice! In today’s business market, IT skills are not enough.  We should use every opportunity available to hone communication and networking skills.
  7. It’s Efficient. Relationships are built more quickly, strongly and efficiently in face-to-face meetings. Recent surveys have shown that it takes five Skype/video meetings to equal one face-to-face meeting.  It’s a safe leap to surmise that the number of emails required to do the same would be incredibly high, and very likely still not reach anywhere near the same level of rapport.
  8. Build Trust. Face-to-face meetings foster a greater sense of trust and commitment to honesty. People are able to “dehumanize” written email communication.  Most people are committed to doing right by others, face-to-face meetings foster relationships which allow for the humanization of the communication, therefore resulting in more people doing the “right thing”.
  9. You will learn something valuable. It is almost impossible for two professionals to communicate without learning something. Recruiter and contractor meetings/interviews offer a great opportunity for each to learn about the others profession and craft.  We are working together in the end!
  10. Meeting with people is FUN! Approach these sessions positively and with enthusiasm and hopefully it will be remembered as a very positive experience.

How Canadian Developers Can Remain Competitive


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Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

How Canadian Developers Can Remain CompetitiveLooking for new development skills to remain competitive in your field?  Perhaps Rapid Application Development and Front-End Design are in your future.

An interesting question in mapping out your career and determining what skills are most important for you involves both an evaluation, through research and data analysis, of the current market as well as what is coming next.  None of us have a crystal ball, but there are certain trends and information out there that can give us a better understanding of what is coming.

As the majority of consumers shift to their mobile devices to browse and purchase, so will employers’ demands in the skills they seek. Mobile development is one of the fastest growing environments in IT.  Skills such as Android app development, HTML5, iOS, CSS, JavaScript, and Angular are in such an incredible demand that there is simply not enough people to do the work that is already funded.

Over the last decade we have seen an incredible amount of development work move overseas.  Heavy development lifts are being completed in countries where labour costs are a fraction of what it would cost to do it here. Employers in Canada are no longer looking for consultants to sit behind a desk and code, that work has predominantly left the country.

As the Agile Methodology grows in popularity and consumers move to the mobile space, having the technical skills combined with an understanding of marketing and brand objectives of the end client will make you in high demand. What employers want now are collaborative, creative developers with an acute understanding of marketing and sales objectives who can work in a team environment.

Do you have the skills required to stay competitive and relevant in Canada’s fast-paced development space? If not, it may be time to take an inventory of your skills — hard and soft — and refresh or upgrade those that are lacking.

Deciphering 3 Common Recruiter Calls and Emails


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By Brendhan Malone (Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle) and Graeme Bakker (Recruitment Team Lead at Eagle)

Deciphering 3 Common Recruiter Calls and EmailsRecruiters know that contractors get tons of calls and emails throughout the day.  Recruiters also know that time is valuable and we want to make the process of finding your next contract as stress free and smooth as possible.

Once you’ve decided on your staffing agency with the best candidate experience, it’s important to know exactly what your recruiter is looking for when you receive these common phone calls or emails:

Scheduling a Phone Interview:

When a recruiter calls or sends an email about scheduling a phone interview they just want to make sure these three things are a go:

  • You’re available to do the phone interview at the time the client has provided.
  • You will be in a location with no distractions or phone issues.
  • Let the recruiter know if you want to touch base to discuss anything prior to the phone interview. Reply with a couple times that you are available to prep and the recruiter will appreciate being able to work around your schedule.

Interview Feedback:

When a recruiter calls or emails you for interview feedback, this is why they’re doing it:

  • They want to know if it was positive for you and if you’re still interested in continuing with the process. If you are positive about the interview and more excited about the opportunity, your recruiter wants to relay that information to the client.
  • If you have negative feedback or any questions/concerns about the interview, your recruiter wants to know about it. This way they can answer any questions you might have or smooth over any concerns you have going forward with the process.
  • Eliminate any surprises. The recruiter wants to confirm the possibility of any other offer or opportunities on the table.  Are you more in favour of this role that you interviewed for than another?  Would you accept this opportunity should they come back to us with an offer?  The recruiter wants to make sure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

Resume Review:

You’ve received a call and/or email from a recruiter about a role.  You’re interested in the role and are qualified for it.  You just sent the recruiter your updated resume, so why does the recruiter need to chat with me?

In this competitive MSP driven job market, what is in your head NEEDS to be on the resume.  The person first seeing your resume and determining if it should go on is very rarely the technical manager responsible for hiring.  Recruiters know we can leave nothing to chance in this environment.

  • Recruiters know that if you are a front-end developer, you have experience with HTML and CSS. We might not be that technical but we know that!  If you have 10 years of development experience and 8 years of HTML and CSS experience it needs to be in the resume!
  • We know it can be frustrating to answer basic questions about your skills and then add it to your resume, but recruiters are doing it for your benefit. They know that if they don’t correctly put where you have had this experience send your resume won’t get past the gatekeepers and over to the hiring manager.
  • If you get back to the recruiter with a couple minutes to chat and answer those questions you will have the benefit of knowing you are hitting all the marks described in the job description. As an added bonus, your staffing agency will l have an updated resume on file that is correctly updated.

Understanding what’s inside a recruiter’s head may not always seem simple, but it’s easier then you may think. In the end, we all share the same goal of getting you placed into the right contract. This insight into these three common conversations recruiters have with you will let you stop trying to read between the lines and focus on your business.

IT is No Longer Just About Technology


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Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

IT is No Longer Just About TechnologyAs explained in this recent article from Dice, the marketplace for IT contractors and technology employees is changing at a pace similar to that of technology itself. With many of the “heavy lifting” IT jobs having been outsourced either on or off shore, the IT employees or contractors that remain in high demand are those with both technical and business capabilities.

What does this mean?  In order to add the value companies are looking for, prospective employees and independent contractors need to be able to both understand and communicate the business objectives of any IT activity.

The Agile framework is being implemented in more and more large organizations and communication is a pillar of Agile delivery, as all disciplines work together and collaborate throughout the development process.  Agile delivery cannot be successful without all stakeholders clearly understanding the business objectives and able to communicate as such.

Furthermore, the concept of performing a single function on “an island” within an organization has either been outsourced, as mentioned, or become entirely a thing of the past.

How do you as a contractor address these changes?  Firstly, take the time to understand the big picture: What is the overall project objective, not just your piece?  Understand the company you are working for, their history, their results, their major projects and initiatives.

Most consultants today work with one or more staffing agencies.  Hold your recruiter accountable for as much information as possible on each particular job opportunity.  This information will allow you to demonstrate your business capabilities and understanding as well as your valuable technical skills.

Keep up-to-date on the overall technology landscape. If you are in Telecommunications, know what the big 3 Telco’s’ major initiatives are.  If you have focused on the financial sector, know what major initiatives are coming from the big banks.

It is no longer possible to maximize your earnings and potential with technical skills alone.  All aspects of IT and business have become too interdependent.  Businesses rely more and more on technology every day as we know.  With this increased reliance comes a greater need for technology resources to understand business objectives and vice versa.

Ironically, the single most effective way to increase your business knowledge and communication skills… is a good old face to face conversation.

A Contractor’s Cheatsheet on Incorporation


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Answers to the Most Common of Common Questions about Incorporating in Canada

By Brendhan Malone (Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle) and Graeme Bakker (Recruitment Team Lead at Eagle)

Answers to the Most Common of Common Questions about Incorporating in CanadaWe are often asked by IT professionals who are looking to enter the independent contractor world about what is involved in incorporation and what are the benefits.  Due to the nature of a business-to-business relationship, we always recommend the federal and provincial government as your best source for information.  We also strongly recommend seeking the counsel of an accountant prior to and immediately following incorporating.

One place we often recommend technology professionals start is the website for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Along with countless resources, the Frequently Asked Questions about incorporating will clarify almost any question about becoming an independent contractor. Below is a summary of some of these responses — what we believe are the most “Frequently Asked of the Frequently Asked Questions”.

What are the benefits of incorporating at the federal level?

  • You can do business throughout Canada.
  • It’s a feather in your cap! Incorporations are a sign of distinction, you will receive global recognition as a Canadian company.
  • High quality service: Fully bilingual staff to answer your questions via phone and online service where you can send documents and pay fees.

What are the advantages of incorporating online?

  • It’s convenient! If you have internet access you can file from anywhere.  The online filling centre on the Government of Canada website is open 24/7/365.
  • You don’t have to pay for shipping or wait around for the mailman, you will receive immediate notice of your filing.
  • It’s cheaper! The fee to file for federal business incorporation online is only $200 instead of the regular $250

What kind of businesses can incorporate under the CBCA (Canada Business Corporations Act) and who can form a corporation?

  • Almost any type of business may incorporate under the CBCA. There are no restrictions on the size of the company or which province you choose to set up shop in first. You need to be 18 years of age or older with no past history of bankruptcy.

Is a lawyer needed to incorporate?

  • You don’t need a lawyer to incorporate, but they may be a valuable resource throughout the process. If your proposed corporate structure is simple then the Government of Canada incorporation kit will have your answers and examples to follow.

If the answers to your questions about incorporation aren’t listed above, feel free to visit the original page for more details. Or, please leave your questions in the comments below and we’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction.

Applying for IT Contracts in a Fast-Paced World


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Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Fast-Moving Independent ContractorIn today’s economy, as technology continues to improve efficiencies and speed up every company’s day-to-day business, the speed at which these organizations procure IT contract resources has never been faster.  This makes it critical for staffing agencies and independent contractors to adjust in order to survive the new pace of hiring. Here are 3 secrets for contractors that will help you get in front of more clients:

Understand the Deadlines

Most large organizations have deadlines for submittal in all of their programs.  This timeframe is usually 24-48 hours.  While we may want to debate how effective or ultimately valuable these deadlines are, they are here and likely here to stay.  What does this mean? When you are looking for your next assignment, it is imperative that you are available either by email or phone.  Often times the job closes early as the client has had enough submissions, and only the first qualified submissions through the door are considered — those that followed are not.  This means that the contractors who are responsive and ready are the ONLY ones considered for the job.

Build Relationships

When you have an existing relationship and strategy with a recruiter, these deadlines are much easier to meet. Make sure that the recruiters you work with know who you are.  The relationship and background work that has already been done is invaluable in decreasing the time it takes to submit you to a client. When working with recruiters that know you, make sure you know them as well.  By this I mean their clients and the roles they usually get.

Never Stop Updating Your Resume

Have your resume up-to-date at all times. As new skills or experience are gained, take the time to update your resume. If you are qualified for and apply to different positions, (example a Project Manager or a Business Analyst role) make sure you are ready to submit to both in a moment’s notice. It is also very important to highlight your skills and experience as it relates to the position.  The “must haves” in any job description must be highlighted regardless of time constraints. Finally save your resume to the cloud so you can access it an ANY time.

What have your experiences taught you about dealing with contracts that close quickly? Can you provide any advice? Do you have any other thoughts on the topic? Please share your opinions and questions below.

The Importance of Certifications for IT Professionals


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Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

The Importance of Certifications for IT ProfessionalsI recently came across an article from Global Knowledge listing the 15 Top-Paying Certifications for 2016. It brings some very good discussion points to light.  Should we certify? What are the most marketable certifications?  What certifications look to have future relevance?  The article is especially useful as it ties a monetary figure to each certification.  Although many other variables exist in that figure, it gives us a good idea of the relevance and demand of the skill set and certification.

To certify or not to certify… that is the question

The answer in most cases is yes, yes, and yes.  This is true for both full-time IT professionals as well as independent contractors.

For independents contractors, the goal is for your consulting business is to be seen in the marketplace as a trusted partner.  Certifications go a long way in establishing credibility in your business offering. We hear the term “building your brand” often in today’s business environment.  Part of any strategy of building your brand is building trust in your capabilities through experience, references, and… certifications. Being current and up-to-date in your certifications shows that you, as an independent contractor, are aware of the current and relevant technologies, and that you are invested in being as up-to-date as possible in the ever changing marketplace.

For full-time resources, it is absolutely critical that prospective or current employers know that YOU are invested in your career and advancement of your skills. A mistake employees often make is that they are waiting or expecting their employer to initiate skill development, training and certification discussion.  While some employers do a better job than others with professional development, the onus is on YOU to initiate these discussions and formulate a strategy for development.

So which certification is right for you?

The answer to that question lies in your area of expertise, but the list in the article referenced above can surely help you see your best options. One certification that I did not see on the list, and perhaps it is because its popularity has been more recent, is that of a Certified Scrum Master.  Thousands of companies are moving to an Agile or Agile-based methodology and this certification becomes more valuable by the day.  For more information on the Scrum certification, have a look at Scrum Alliance and the Agile Advice blog.

Do you have any certifications or are you working towards one right now? Do you have any recommendations for a new IT contractor looking to improve their competitiveness? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

How an Independent Contractor’s Resume Can Stand Out


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Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

10 Tricks to Make an Independent Contractor's Resume Stand OutI have spent over 15 years evaluating resumes, interviewing candidates, selling the skills of the candidate to the end client and finally soliciting feedback from the end client.

Through this experience, I have come across a few commonalities.  Clients want to see the successes and results of you and your independent business.  They want more than a description of the tasks you completed from 9-5.  What were the results of those tasks?  What did you build?  What value did your work bring to the client?  Too often we focus on the description of our activities rather than the benefits to the client that were the results of said activities.

For example, a project manager’s resume should show successful projects on time and on budget.  They should show how the organization benefited from the successful delivery of the project.  Was there money saved through efficient delivery etc.   To simply describe the activities of a project manager is simply not enough, clients already have that information.

Another example is a web developer resume.  The resume must have more than the programming languages that were used.  What was built?  Where can a prospective client see your work?  What benefit and value did the application bring to the client?  It is also beneficial for the client to see that you and your business understand the big picture and how the technology and applications you worked on add business value.

Put yourself in the shoes of the end client.  What are their objectives with this engagement? What is it exactly they are looking for?  What skills and experience must be engaged to be successful?  Once you have determined this you can properly highlight your accomplishments and abilities to match.

Based on these experiences and more, here are 10 tricks you can implement to your resume today that are sure to help you stand out:

  1. Highlight accomplishments, NOT tasks. Use quantitative data to support your accomplishments.
  2. Be clear and concise, and have a very well formatted and readable resume.
  3. Spelling and grammar is NOT overrated. It says everything about your attention to detail and pride in your work.
  4. Get to the point: accentuate your skills and accomplishments in a clear and efficient manner.
  5. Format your resume to highlight your skills that are relevant to the job you are applying to.
  6. If you have described skills or experience in an email or a cover letter, it HAS to be supported in your resume.
  7. In the world of Boolean search, ensure the proper words to action a recruiter are in your resume and supported by your experience.
  8. Always highlight any awards and recognition that you and your business have received (ex. Eagle Elite), this is not insignificant.
  9. Avoid personal interests or hobbies at all costs!! A business does not have hobbiesJ
  10. A business needs to be up to date and relevant. Ensure your resume does not include irrelevant technologies and engagements.