Talent Development Centre

All posts by Eagle Talent

How Weak Are Your Passwords?

“Passwords are like apples in a fictional garden” – that’s the opening phrase in this video from Seeker. In it, they explain the basics of how passwords work, different security strategies, and above all, how hackers understand all of this to break into your account.

We create passwords for everything — social networks, job boards, online stores, government websites, the list is endless. As such, you should regularly review your security processes to ensure you’re not being hacked. One simple slip can lead somebody to your banking and identification information, which could in turn complicate your life beyond belief. So, we strongly encourage you to review this video. If you’re an IT security expert, we’d love your suggestions as well! Please share any additional tips in the comments below.

All Independent Contractors Should Have Business Cards

There are numerous ways independent contractors can improve their personal branding. In the Talent Development Centre, we’ve advocated ideas such as social media profiles, networking, personal websites and simply maintaining a strong work ethic. One other suggestion we’ve made is to create business cards to be left behind after meeting somebody.

We could use this post to inundate you with the many arguments for creating your own business cards, as well as list tips for creating the best business cards, but today is Friday and nobody wants to read another list. Instead, here’s a quick video that sums up everything you need to know.

If you don’t have business cards yet, what are you waiting for?

Quick Poll Results: Preferred Contract Length

How long do IT contractors prefer their contracts to be? If you’ve been losing sleep over this, wondering if you’re on the same page as everyone else, then worry no more. Last month’s contractor quick poll asked that exact question and, as usual, we’re sharing the results.

Have a look at the chart below. If you have no preference, or prefer super short contracts, you just might be in luck as it should be easier to compete for work with those timeframes.

Contractor Quick Poll Results: What's your preferred contract length?

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you customize your resume?

A very commonly heard technique when applying to jobs is to customize your resume so it’s tailored to match the specific job description. We hear it a lot, but how many independent contractors actually take the time to do it?

It’s completely understandable why you wouldn’t. IT contractors apply to numerous jobs with many agencies all the time, and continuously customizing would be a massive time commitment. As well, many job boards including Monster, Indeed and even Eagle allow you to upload your resume once and apply to multiple jobs without having to upload another. This allows you to quickly apply to new technology opportunities on the go, but if you’re on the go, you’re not able to customize a resume. (Tip: You can upload multiple files to your Eagle profile and track past jobs to which you have applied. Return any time to upload a new resume, changing the file name to match the Job ID of each specific job).

This bring us to our Contractor Quick Poll for this month — how many IT contractors customize their resume? Even more, we’d love to learn in the comments if you think it is, in fact, a helpful strategy.

Independent Contractors Must Understand Accounting

Have you finished your taxes yet or are you waiting until the last-minute before starting? Accounting and taxes are one of the biggest headaches independent contractors report having to manage in their business. That’s why many hire out their bookkeeping. Still, other contractors prefer to manage accounting year-round and only go to an accountant occasionally when professional advice or revision is necessary.

Whether you do your own accounting or hire it out, every independent contractor still needs to understand the basics of the trade in order to properly analyze their business’s success and plan strategically for the following year. Without this knowledge, you’re likely to find yourself unpleasantly surprised due to decisions you made without the proper knowledge.

As usual, we strongly encourage you to consult with a professional accountant. However, if you’d like an overview of accounting basics, then this infographic from Bplans is a great start.

Accounting Cheat Sheet Infographic
Courtesy of: Bplans

10 Cool Command Prompt Tricks You Should Know

How much do you use Command Prompt in Windows 10? If you’re an in-depth Windows user, you’ve most likely used CMD many times throughout your career, but you may not using it as efficiently as you could be.

This video from Beebom provides ten cool command tips for topics such as shortcuts, encryption, customization, Wi-Fi hot spots, and even a way to watch Star Wars! At least something in here will be new for you. If not, and you have even more tips, please share them in the comments below.

IT Industry News for March 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 6th, 2017

IT Industry News - March 2017This is my 30,000 foot look at tech events for March 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of March in previous years …

Hootsuite logoIn March 2012, there was some activity with a couple of (then) young companies receiving significant capital — Appirio ($60 million) and Hootsuite ($20 million). Cisco made a couple of acquisitions, paying a whopping $5 billion for video software and content company NDS Group in addition to a smaller network management buy, ClearAccess. NEC paid $450 million for the information management business of Convergys and Avaya paid $230 million for an Israeli videoconferencing and telepresence company Radvision. Other companies on the acquisition trail were DELL, EMC, SafeNet, Avnet and The Utility Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseCompany. Four years ago, March 2013 saw some of the “usual suspects” making acquisitions, but there were no billion dollar deals announced. Oracle continued its move into the telco space with the purchase of Tekelec; Google bought the small Toronto University-based company DNNresearch in the machine learning vertical; Microsoft sold Atlas Advertiser Suite to Facebook; and Yahoo bought Summly. In March 2014, Facebook made a somewhat surprising $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR. Intel also expanded its horizons with the $150 million acquisition of smart watch maker, Basis Science. SAP added to its purchasing software suite with the acquisition of Fieldglass and TELUS made a couple of buys, Enode, a management consulting company out of Quebec HP logoand Med Access, an addition in British Columbia, to their healthcare division. March 2015 saw some significant M&A activity with HP paying $3 billion for Aruba Networks; Lexmark paying $1 billion for customer management software company Kofax; eCommerce company Rakuten paid $410 million for ebook marketplace Overdrive; Cheetah Mobile paid $58 million for mobile ad networkMobPartner; TeraGo Networks paid $33 million for cloud provider RackForce; IBM bought natural language and image processing company AlchemyAPI; and in the cable TV world Charter Communications paid $10.4 billion for Bright House Networks. Last year, in March 2016, we saw the $3 billion sale of Dell IBM logoServices to NTT, a direct result of Dell’s restructuring following the recent purchase of EMC. IBM was out bolstering its services business with a couple of acquisitions; the first was Optevia, a UK-based integrator focused on Microsoft Dynamics; and the second was Bluewolf Group, a global Salesforce consulting partner. Montreal-based Yellow Pages picked up Toronto-based Juice Mobile, primarily for its mobile marketing capability. Another Toronto company, Influitive, raised some cash ($8.2 million) and bought a couple of mobile app companies, Ironark Software and Triggerfox; and Netsuite bought IOity solutions, a cloud-based manufacturing software company.

Which brings us back to the present …

Intel logoIn March 2017, the major acquisition in the headlines is Intel’s purchase of Israeli computer vision company, Mobileye, for a hefty $15.3 billion. HPE bought storage solution provider, Nimble, for $1 billion. DeskConnect, the startup that developed the Workflow app, has been acquired by Apple who will offer the app for free. Amazon Web Services, a public cloud infrastructure provider, acquired Thinkbox Software, a company that provides software for managing media rendering workloads. Mozilla acquired Pocket, a startup that developed an app for saving articles and other content.  It is interesting to note, based on my sources that over the last few months, there has been a noticeable decline in Mergers & Acquisitions in the technology space.  Recent articles suggest this might change in the coming months.

canadian flagIn other tech news, Statistics Canada released a report highlighting Canadian participation in the sharing economy, i.e. peer-to-peer services, and its role in the Canadian economy.

Another story that took headlines last month was that US corporate information, including work email addresses and phone numbers, was leaked from a 52-gigabyte database owned by Dun & Bradstreet.

That is it for my monthly look at what was happening in the technology space over the last month, compared to the same month in previous years.  I’ll be back in about a month’s time, until then … walk fast and smile!

Stack Overflow Says This About Developers in the Workplace

We recently shared some results of the 2017 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, specifically as they pertained to technologies used around the world. The survey was completed by over 51,000 developers and covered off a myriad of topics from technology trends to work habits to values and opinions. For example, the majority of professionals use both Agile and Scrum methodologies and less than 20% of developers work remotely more than half of the time (only 10% of Canadian respondents work remotely full-time).

Job Satisfaction Among IT Professionals

If you’re not satisfied with your current career path and think it’s normal for professionals in the technology field, think again. Most of the respondents rated their career satisfaction 8/10, with a high percentage rating it a 9 or 10. Interestingly enough, that satisfaction had a slight jump for IT professionals who had four or more years of experience.

Keeping in mind that a large proportion of respondents were full-time employees as opposed to independent contractors, there were some evident priorities that developers look for in a job in order to be happy. Compensation and benefits packages, as well as the technologies they get to use were second and third most important, respectively, but topping the list of preferred perks is professional development. It’s safe to conclude, then, that most developers and technology professionals understand the importance of keeping their skills up-to-date. If you’re not, it won’t be long until you fall behind and become less competitive.

Developers’ Values in the Workplace

Understanding what developers value and what they expect from their peers is a helpful way to fit in with a new team while on contract or manage a client’s employees should you end up in that position. Stack Overflow took a thought-provoking approach achieve this by asking developers how they would recruit and manage, if they had the opportunity. First, respondents agreed that the top priorities for hiring a developer should be communication, a track record of getting things done and knowledge of algorithms and data structures. Note how the ability to perform the specific role isn’t even in the top 3! Once on the job, they prioritized customer satisfaction, completing projects on time and budget, and peer ratings as the top performance metrics for people in their field.

As Cameron McCallum, Eagle’ Regional Vice President pointed out on in a recent post, diversity in the IT industry not only exists on a large scale, but it’s extremely valuable for companies. In his article, Cam points out that the industry still has a ways to go but Stack Overflow shows that we’re making good progress. In fact, almost 90% of respondents agreed that diversity is important in the workplace. It’s interesting to note that of all survey participants, women were more likely to value diversity than men.

The Really Important Findings

Stack Overflow works hard to understand important trends among developers and, thankfully, they captured answers to the questions that make us lose sleep, like if developers prefer tabs or spaces and their true thoughts on noisy key boards. Perhaps the most urgent is the proper way to say the word “GIF” and those results are displayed in the graphic below.Stack Overflow Says This About Developers in the Workplace

This is just a very quick summary of the many, many details you can find in the complete survey results. If you find this interesting (and you have time to kill) take a scroll through the results and see how you match up against the developers who took the 2017 Stack Overflow Developers Survey.

The Design Trends You Need to Know in 2017

Working as a contractor requires a certain degree of self-marketing, especially in a fast-moving and modern field like IT. Even if your expertise lies more in the nuts and bolts of information technology, awareness of and engagement with the more surface-level and generally accessible aspects of the digital world will broaden your employment prospects. Sure, your expert-level knowledge of data systems management might be why you’re the contractor for the job, but maintaining a level of fluency with the current trends in web design, marketing, and content will help you reach and impress more people.

The following infographic from Coastal Creative takes us through this year’s established and developing trends in digital design. These are the aesthetic trends you’ve likely been seeing all over the web for the past few months, what function they serve, and why they’re having their moment in 2017.

Any other digital design trends you’ve noticed lately? Any new developments you can’t get enough of, or trends you’re ready to see die out? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Design Trends 2017 Infographic

Maybe Your Client’s Terrible Decision Wasn’t That Bad

Bad decisions happen all of the time in the business world. Sometimes independent contractors show up at a client site and learn their job is to fix a project due to bad decisions. Other times you may sit through meetings, watching a client make bad decisions despite your advice. And, of course, there are the times when we make bad decisions ourselves.

Next time you’re digging yourself out of a hole due to an unwise choice, or are furious at a client for taking a terrible route, sit back and watch this video from Alltime10s. You’ll appreciate that the situation could be much, much worse given these are the 10 worst business decisions of all time!