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All posts by Frances McCart

The Devil is in the Details and Why It Should Matter to Contractors

The Devil is in the Details and Why It Should Matter to Contractors

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

For most of Eagle’s clients, extensive background checks are part of the onboarding process. Gone are the days when a client would accept reference checks and a simple criminal check.  Due to increased privacy and security issues, along with global security standards such as ISO 27001, clients require extensive background checks that include verification of past employment (often for the past 5-7 years — this includes every contract a contractor may have held), education verification, and criminal checks. In addition, many organizations, specifically financial institutions, also require a credit check.

Some of these checks extend beyond Canada and include extensive international checks that take several weeks to complete.  Due to the rigorous process involved with completing these checks, it is critical that contractors complete the intake forms properly and ensure that ALL data is accurate, properly aligning with past contracts and information found in your resume.

Varying details may seem minor, but we’ve seen these inconsistencies create huge headaches for independent contractors. First, it can extend the process, and ultimately the project start date, as companies keep coming back for additional information. We especially run into trouble when the in-depth security process follows up with past clients and insitutions. Some common issues have included:

  • Project dates listed on the resume and the background check form not aligning with what the actual dates verfieid by the end client;
  • Job titles on the resume and/or background check forms not aligning with what the client has listed; and,
  • Education degrees and completion dates being different than what the contractor lists on their resume and background check form.

If the data comes back incomplete or false, the agency and the end client are allerted to the information discrepancies.  Sometimes, and this is more often that case these days, contracts are then cancelled. Clients whose projects require the utmost integrity feel they simply can’t take the risk. If a person is willing to lie about their job title or education, where else might they cross the line.

Contractors are often rushed when completing this part of the onboarding process or they might brush off the importance.  As we’ve learned, though, it is critical that contractors cross-reference the data in their contracts (you do keep them, right) and the information is found on their resumes and background check forms.  A simple, honest error can make you appear unethical and lead to losing a valuable contract. Worse, your entire career could be affected by potentially being flagged for future contracts with the agency and the end client, all due to a preventable mistake that led you to providing false information.

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details so take the time to own your data and ensure its accuracy.

Client Agreements and IT Contractors: Understanding your ability to re-use information you gained while working with a client

Client Agreements and IT Contractors: Understanding your ability to re-use information you gained while working with a client

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Competition in the business world is fierce and some industries are more intense than others, innovating at an extremely fast pace. The slightest delay in a new product release or minor variation in product features could be the difference between being first to market and that can have a drastic impact to the bottom line. To ensure that clients protect their position in the marketplace, clients go to great lengths to protect their IP, including tools utilized to develop new products. Being an IT contractor, often working on new projects that impact a client’s market offering, you have the opportunity to work on leading edge projects with leading edge tools. Clients realize the risk they have in bringing on contractors and thus have strict contracts regarding the access and use of IP and tools.

Most client contracts go beyond the basic details of pay rate, job description and invoicing details. Client contracts typically have many clauses built in to ensure they are protected from external resources sharing and reusing information gained while on contract with them. Typical protection clauses include confidentiality agreements, non-competes, intellectual property rights, ownership of information, data security and data privacy clauses. These clauses are often followed with client schedules going into further detail on each of these clauses.

If you have been a contractor for many years, you are not a stranger to these clauses and understand their implications. With the influx of IT resources into the Canadian marketplace and the rise of the “gig economy” there are many new players on the scene. Often, these resources do not take the time to fully understand the clauses they are agreeing to and the impact on future use of data/products they gained during the time with the client.

When signing a new client agreement, it is important that contractors take the time to read the contract, and where needed, seek external legal guidance on the clauses and implications to your business. 99% of the time, contractors understand and adhere to these clauses but there are always a few contractors who take liberties with the knowledge they have gained or developed while working with a client. Breaching these clauses has serious legal and financial ramifications and can impact future contracts.

For example, very innocently, you may believe you have the right to take home data or files after a project is completed because you feel you own it, after all, you created it. Perhaps it’s so you can bring its value to future projects or maybe you’d just like to use it within your portfolio and score future gigs. But when you agree to work with a client and sign-off on their contract, you do not own any of this. Certainly, you own the knowledge capital that you brought to the project but what you do with it is owned by the client. They’re paying you for that knowledge and your work, so everything you work with while at the client site is owned by the client.

What can you do about this? You could ask to modify the contract and edit the clauses so they suit your needs, but this will rarely become reality. Clients’ lawyers carefully worded those clauses to protect them as best as possible and they are not up for debate. Their privacy and confidentiality are of higher value to them than any individual could possibly bring.

Instead, it’s best to accept that they exist and ensure you don’t do anything that might raise some red flags with the client. For example:

  • Don’t access external sites when working that are not on the client’s approved list.
  • Don’t send documents to your personal email, even if it’s harmless and you have full intentions to delete them.
  • Don’t print client reference material and bring it home, again, even if you plan to destroy it once you’ve completed your work.
  • Don’t take copies of software.
  • Don’t keep any devices given to you once you depart a project.
  • Ensure that all material and anything “owned” by the client is returned at the end of the project.

You can also take a few measures ahead of time to protect yourself and your own work:

  • Understand clauses fully and have them reviewed by your lawyer. They often extend beyond the end date of the contract so know what restrictions that might have on you before signing.
  • If you know that you will be using your own methodology or technology that you are bringing to the client, get your ownership of it in writing up-front. A heads-up though, this will involve lawyers and will have extra costs for you.
  • If you want to take home samples, not to share with competitors but to use in your portfolio, discuss it with the client and agree what is alright to be used and what you can say about it. Ensure this is all in writing.
  • If you are given any technology at the end of a project, for any reason, get a written release.

Clients usually have audit rights written into their contracts, meaning they can (and will) check in on you at any time to ensure you’re following their procedures and protecting their information. As already mentioned, neglecting their terms could result in the loss of your contract, legal proceedings and a damaged reputation. I always strongly recommend your lawyer reviews your contracts before you sign anything (if the terms are new to you) and if you believe you might bump into any situation where you’ll want to take home your work, make you completely understand those specific clauses inside and out.

10 Steps to Take Before Becoming an Independent Contractor

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

The shift into the “gig economy” in Canada is growing at a very quick rate, especially in the tech sector. More and more people are choosing to become independent contractors and for many good reasons.

  • You decide what you do
  • You decide who you will work for
  • You decide where you should work
  • Opportunity to gain exposure to new work environments with every new contract
  • Exposure to new technologies
  • Exposure to new ways of thinking
  • Freedom to take more time off
  • Opportunity to make a higher income
  • “Potentially” getting away from office politics

With so many people interested in getting on the bandwagon, I am often asked the question “Where do I start?”

The first piece of advice I give to “would be” contractors is to speak to contractors they already know.  Ask them what they like about being an independent contractor and to dig down into what worries them about being independent (ie: not finding a role, too much time off between positions, etc.).

10 Steps to Take Before Becoming an Independent Contractor

Here are 10 additional steps you can take before entering the world of independent contracting:

  1. Risk assessment
    • How long can you afford to be off for between landing gigs?
    • How flexible are you on your rate in order to land a new role and still be financially comfortable?
    • Are you comfortable with uncertainty?
  2. Update your resume – keep in mind you may have to have several different versions depending on the position you are going for.
  3. Set up your company.  While it’s recommended to work through this with an accountant, setting up a corporation is not too difficult.  There are many online guides to point you in the right direction, including a number of resources here on the Talent Development Centre. You’ll also need to get an HST/GST number and set up a corporate bank account.
  4. Consider getting corporate CGL and E&O insurance. You are a corporation and a professional. Not only will this insurance protect you liability-wise, but it can also contribute to proving your independence and help protect you when being audited by CRA.
  5. Set up a website that can act as a resume, complete with testimonials and samples of your work.
  6. Get business cards to market your business and help with networking.
  7. Update your LinkedIn profile and ensure it is tagged, notifying recruiters and would-be employers that you’re seeking new opportunities.
  8. Let your network know you are becoming a contractor and looking for new contract opportunities. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool, including as an IT contractor.
  9. Align yourself with agencies and get to know them well. Keep them updated as to your status once you land a new role or are becoming available. Ensure you send them an updated resume after each project is completed.
  10. Start networking!! Take every opportunity to get out and meet people. You never know how you will land your next role.

This might seem like a lot to do but it is not. Many contractors have told me that they were reluctant to get into contracting as it seemed daunting to go through the above steps.  However, once they became a contractor and landed their first role, they comment that they should have done this sooner!!

Some of the Best IT Jobs are in Canada’s Financial Sector

 

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Interested in a Technology Career in the Banking Industry? Get an Exclusive Invitation to a Networking & Hiring Event in Toronto

Some of the Best IT Jobs are in Canada's Financial Sector

Forget everything that you thought you knew about working in a big bank’s Technology Group. The financial world has changed and FinTech is driving the way they do business!

The traditional banking model is undergoing massive change. Banking clients expect more from their banks than ever before so getting the right technology in place is more critical now than ever. Being ahead of the game in technologies including AI, mobile apps, data analytics and cloud computing is a huge differentiator for banks and is essential in gaining an edge over their competitors.

In the past, banks followed and implemented the latest technologies as they were released. Now, Canadian banks are actively involved in building the latest technologies. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and waiting, they’re putting themselves at the forefront of change by getting involved with technology labs like CommunitechMaRS Discover DistrictOneEleven and DMZ.  Several banks have also launched digital factories and innovation labs of their own to help cultivate ideas that address clients’ needs, as well as streamline processing all with a focus on technology.

Eagle works with all of Canada’s top banks and in the past year, we have seen a massive influx of both contract and permanent opportunities with their technology groups.  The focus has changed from merely acquiring the latest technology to leading technology innovations. Banks offer ambitious techies the opportunity to lead the way with new developments in AI and blockchain, and be part of creating new software.

For instance, many banks are employing an increasing number of data scientist and data engineers.  The engineers and developers work in an active DevOps environment where code can be deployed in months… and sometimes even weeks.  The technology world, in large part due to FinTech, has changed and the Banks are evolving with it. Teams are agile and work in cross functional groups. The technology environment within today’s banks resembles the environments traditionally associated with Silicon Valley companies such as Google.

There are great career opportunities at all of Canada’s major banks.  Many offer hard core technology resources the chance to be part of a culture shift and take their career to the next level, while being supported by institutions with long histories and sound financial backing.

Eagle is currently working with a major banking client to build an exclusive guest list for an upcoming IT networking and hiring event. As well as the opportunity to meet with the organization’s top hiring executives, attendees will enjoy the opportunity to hear from an industry-leading Big Data guest speaker and will gain preferred access to current full-time job openings in the data space. For the opportunity to attend this event, complete this quick online form.

Exciting times are ahead within the technology groups in all of Canada’s major banks.  When you consider your next job move, take a fresh a look at this exciting industry.  You may find your own little part of Silicon Valley on Bay Street.

Related Articles

Career Advancement as a Contractor — Is it Possible?

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Career Advancement as a Contractor -- Is it Possible?Contractors often ask me how they can “move up” or pick up new skills while being on contract.  Independent contractors do not always have the same opportunities as an employee for career progression or new skills training while on the job. They are most often hired for their current skill set and subject matter expertise so getting new skills on a contract is often limited.

This article from FastCompany lists ways a permanent employee can get new opportunities for career progression and new skill development without changing “titles” or jobs.  Here are some of the tips that are also applicable to contractors.

#1 – Always be on the lookout for opportunities to widen your skill level on your current contract.  If an opportunity to help out in another area arises and there is no current talent to take on the role, ask for the role.  Clients often will give current project team members an opportunity for a new role over bringing in new talent (if the position does not require deep expertise in a technology area).  Be your own advocate!

#2 – If you would like to pick up new skills or move into a new role but don’t know what this entails, talk to people who are currently doing what you aspire to do.  Be curious!  People love to speak about what they currently do.  These resources are an excellent source of what it takes to get into a role or pick up new technologies and how to do it.  Network, network, network!  I have seen many times that simply showing an interest in a new area leads to being chosen for new roles… even for contractors.  Attitude is key!!  As the article states, don’t underestimate the power of “Lets get a coffee.

#3 – Take an inventory of your current skills profile and compare those skills to what your ideal role needs.  Where there are gaps, ask for the opportunity to shadow someone on parts of their job.  When an opportunity arises, volunteer to help out.  As noted in the article, it’s helpful to start taking on some aspects of a role before doing the whole role.  This is an easy way to try out a new job function and build your skill set before taking on a new role without any insight.

#4 – Develop a vision of what you want to do and share it with others.  This includes current team members as well as colleagues and mentors from past projects.

#5- Pay it forward.  If you are on a project and see an opportunity to help out fellow team members by transferring skills… do it!  Leadership by example is a key for team members to pick up new skills, whether they are hard or soft skills.  By giving someone else the opportunity to grow, others will see this and in turn invest in your growth.

The key messages from the article is to be the master of your own identity and career path.  Don’t be shy to ask to learn and take every opportunity to put yourself in front of learning moments.

Preparing for a Successful Client Interview

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Preparing for a Successful Client InterviewGot an interview coming up with a client?  It should be a piece of cake, especially if you are a professional contractor.  Most contractors go on 5-6 interviews a year, so it should be a breeze and just a little prep should be needed, right?  Think again!!!   Preparing for a contract interview should be taken with as much care as preparing for a full-time interview.  Although the client will often ask similar questions, the contract interview tends to happen at a much quicker pace and as such, it is important for a contractor to relay their skills and value proposition to the prospective client in the first interview (often…the only interview).  A complaint I am hearing from clients recently is that contractors are showing up to interviews unprepared and sometimes even uninterested.

If a contractor is working with an agency to secure their next contract, the agency should be able to provide you with details about the role, why it is open and who the interviewers are.

Preparing for an interview for a contract role goes beyond knowing about the project and the client.  It is being able to clearly demonstrate your value proposition to the client and why you would be the best person for the role.  In order to do this, candidates must really know what they have put down on their resume and what value past experience will have to the potential client and the project.

Clients tend to focus on the following when interviewing contract candidates:

  • Provide examples of where your past project experience is similar to the upcoming project – What value can you bring to the project? Any lessons learned?
  • Describe the project in detail. A common complaint from clients is that contractors often skim project details. This gives the client the impression that the contractor does not know the work they had done and also gives the impression that some the details found on the resume were fabricated (i.e. you did not actually do the work and added in key words into your resume in order to be selected for an interview). Project details that clients are most interested in are:  role in the project, size of the project team, stakeholders who were involved, technologies used, value of the project, what stage you entered the project and was the project implemented on time/budget.
  • What type of style do you have in relaying the information. It is critical that when recapping projects to a client that you know all the details and can relay them with ease (and not struggling to remember).  Not being able to recall past projects is a potential sign that the project was not important or again, the project was embellished on the resume.
  • Be professional when speaking about past projects. We have all worked on a project that has not gone well.  When speaking about the project, focus on your role and the skills you brought to the project.  Clients will select a candidate who is more positive about past experience, rather than dwelling on the negative sides of a project.
  • Ask questions about the current project. Go prepared with a copy of the role description and show interest in the role.  Clients have sometimes chosen a less qualified candidate as they showed more interest in the project than someone who came across as less “excited” – ie. “been there, done that”.

Just like past employment/projects follow a candidate, especially in a small market, so do bad interviews.  Clients will pass along information to other potential hiring managers within their organization about contractors who have come in for an interview along with their biases.  It is really important to keep in mind that when interviewing with any organization, especially large ones that hire many contractors such as the Banks and Telcos, to always be prepared and to leave a positive experience with the interviews.

What to Do When You Have Multiple Job Offers

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

What was once rare is now common within the IT community — the dilemma of what to do when you have multiple job offers coming in.

What To Do When You Have Multiple Job Offers

Being in demand is great!  As the saying goes, “when it rains, it pours”.  Candidates often ask me what they should do when they are in the midst of interviewing for several positions with multiple firms and what they should do if they receive offers at the same time.  My number one rule: honesty is the best policy.  Keep everyone informed about where you are in your job search process.  If you have several interviews on the go, and you have just met with another new potential company, let them know where you are in process with other firms (ie. just had a second interview, an offer is coming, etc…)  Being professional is very important, especially in a community as small at the IT sector.  Some people think it is none of anyone’s business where you are in your search but being upfront and honest is never a bad thing.  The agencies and companies that you are working with will 100% appreciate the candor and will often see you as a better candidate than others due to your honesty and approach.

Here are some steps that will make decisions process a little easier…

1- Verbal offers – are they as good as a written offer?

Short answer is NO.  Until you have all the details, a verbal offer is not binding.  It does not happen often, but I have seen clients renege on a verbal offer as they lose funding during the approval process.  If you do receive a verbal offer first, express enthusiasm and that you are looking forward to seeing all the details before committing.

2- Written offers – what is really being offered?

Once you have your written offers, take the time to thoroughly go over all the details.  If you are missing information, don’t hesitate to ask for the extra details.  Offer letters often refer to policies that all employees must adhere to but they are often missing from the offer package.  Ask to see these policies as they may impact your decision.  Offers should contain more than just the start date and the compensation package.  Packages should include role description, job title, who you report to, total compensation package including bonus payouts, share options (if applicable), vacation entitlement, benefits package, expense policy, technology policies (i.e. cell phone plan, laptops, etc..).  Important policies to review are intellectual property and non-compete agreement, especially if you are working with new technologies and start-ups.

3 – Take the time to make the right decision.

The interview process is typically a long process, usually due to the client’s hiring hurdles that all candidates must go through.  It is a lot of hurry up and wait and then the offer comes.  Typically, once a verbal offer has been extended (and clients often ask for a verbal confirmation over the phone accepting the offer), they do not give candidates enough time to thoroughly review the details.  It is important to set an expectation with the client that you do need time to review and when you will have a firm answer back them.

If you need extra time, let the hiring managers know.  Be upfront with them they reason why.  Let them know you have a competing offer and want to ensure you are considering all factors in your decision  process.  Clients 100% prefer to know if a candidate has a competing offer rather than be surprised down the road when you start… and then soon after quit.

4 – Develop a pros and cons list for each offer.

Having multiple offers at once is exciting and flattering and sometimes overwhelming.  The best way to review offers is to create a decision matrix listing what each offer has and assigning value to each point.  Factors outside of compensation that have impact on the decision may be benefits, stress level, reporting structure, projects under way, advancement opportunity, work life balance, commuting time, flexibility, etc.  It is often the “soft” factors that sway your decision to take one over the other.

5 – Be professional.

Far too often, candidates that are in demand become arrogant when they receive multiple requests for interviews and then receive multiple offers.  Candidates sometimes exhibit negative behaviour such as dishonesty and game playing.  I agree that people must look out for themselves but there is a fine line between this point and being self-centered.  Candidates should take into consideration the repercussions their actions will have on the potential employer they “game” and their career.  Even though they may not end up with that firm, a client will remember how a candidate treated them and stories of unprofessional behaviour tend to get passed around, especially in a small community such as IT.  Like candidates, hiring managers move from company to company, and they have a long memory, especially of those people who were high handed and unprofessional in a hiring process.  Please be professional and keep all parties informed of where you are in the decision process.  Honesty goes along way.  So does professionalism.

6 – Once an offer has been accepted

Once an offer has been accepted, remove yourself from consideration.  Notify the other would-be employers of your final decision immediately .  Be professional.  Don’t be that candidate who takes the first offer they receive, knowing they have other offers coming, only to start one day and quit the next week.  Send a round of sincere thank yous to all involved, from the agency, to the HR team to the hiring manager.

Depending on your industry and skillset, as your skills continue to increase and the looming skills gap in the IT sector grows, multiple job offers may be more frequent for you in the future. While this is exciting and also tends to lead to higher pay rates, it’s equally important to think of the long-term effects of your actions. Remember to continue to act ethically and be aware of the many stakeholders involved in your hiring process. The more respectful you are to them now, the more respectful they will be to you down the road.

Why a Poor Offboarding Program Hurts Future IT Projects

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Why a Poor Offboarding Program Hurts Future IT ProjectsIn my last blog post, I spoke about the importance of companies on-boarding contractors properly and what contractors can do to ensure they are part of the process.  Along with a great on-boarding program, companies must invest time in off-boarding contractors.  As mentioned before, independent contractors, like employees, can have a significant impact on a company’s culture and brand.  They can either be a great advocate for the company or be a negative voice out in the marketplace.  With social media sites such as Glassdoor growing in popularity as a reference point on whether to join a company, it is vital that companies take the chance to fully understand what the contractors work experience was like during their contract.

As a staffing agency, we have the opportunity to work with many clients and contractors.  After recruiters speak with contractors about a new job opening, the contractor often checks their LinkedIn network to see if anyone they know has worked with the client, and even more precise, with the hiring manager.  They might also check Glassdoor to see how happy people are with the company.  We have had the unfortunate experience of having more than one contractor turn down a potentially great role due to a poor review.  Yes, a lot of times the poor feedback is warranted due to difficult projects.  But, a number of independent contractors have mentioned that they felt even though their contract was coming to a natural end, they were poorly exited.  Often times, contractors sight that the hiring managers were not even around on their last day and they did not know who to pass their technology/pass cards or project notes to!  It left many of the contractors feeling they had done bad job even though they met all the deliverables.

Here are some pointers for both client and contractors on how best to off-board a resource/project and maintain a great brand image:

  1. The independent contractor and client should work closely to capture all of the work that has been done during the contract and document important items for future reference.
  2. Communicate to the team that the contract has come to an end and a team member will be leaving.  The contractor should pass along contact details if the client needs to reach you for clarification questions.
  3. If the contractor has stakeholder relationships beyond the key team, ensure that the whole team knows of the upcoming departure.  Often, business clients are left out of the communication chain.
  4. Conduct an exit interview with the contractor to ensure feedback is received.  This exit interview should be done by the hiring manager or by a resource manager/HR.  Key questions to ask the contractor (or for the contractor to share) is did you like the work you were involved with and would you come back to work with the manager or the company.

A successful off-boarding program will add value to the company’s brand as well as help control any potential negative feelings being left unsaid and put out into the marketplace. Maintaining a great brand will help clients attract new contractors and more importantly entice past contractors to return.

Is Your Contractor Onboarding Process Hurting Your Projects’ Success?

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Is Your Contractor Onboarding Process Hurting Your Projects' Success?One of the biggest complaints I hear from contractors starting a new contract with a client is the poor onboarding process.  Far too often, a contractor’s first day of work, and even sometimes their entire first work week, is spent chasing down access to technology, security passes, and access to critical documents that enable them to understand the project and their role.

Onboarding processes in many organizations are geared towards full-time hires and many of those components are transferable to contract hires.  Like a full-time hire, contract hires want to feel that the organization they are working with are happy to have them on board, are organized with their internal processes to make the transition into the organization quick and smooth, and most importantly, welcomed into the work and team environment.

Onboarding goes beyond just passing along security cards, access to technology and showing a person where they sit.  Key components of a contractor onboarding program should include:

  • An overview of company culture;
  • A review of corporate policies (security, HR policies, etc…);
  • A personal introduction to members of the team;
  • The project’s goals and the current state of the project;
  • A review of the contractor’s role on the team – setting expectations of deliverables; and,
  • Who they can go to ask questions/support.

Starting any new role, whether you are a full-time employee or a contractor, can be daunting.  The easiest way to set a new person up for success is to spend the time doing a proper, thorough onboarding.

This article from HRPS shows that people make a decision to stay with a company rather quickly and often, the onboarding process is the basis for part of their decision.

  • 4 percent of employees quit after a bad first day (Bersin by Deloitte)
  • 22 percent of turnover occurs in the first 45 days (The Wynhurst Group)
  • 90 percent of employees decide to stay at a company within the first six months (Aberdeen Group)
  • 31 percent of people have quit a job within the first six months, with half of those coming in the first 3 months. (BambooHR)

Technology talent is becoming harder to find every day.  It is critical that clients spend the time up front with hires to ensure they are properly onboarded and see how they fit into the team and the organization.  The cost of replacing talent is huge – whether contract or full time.  Resources that depart an organization months or even weeks after starting have a devastating negative impact on the team – financially and emotionally.

It is important that companies take the time to develop a solid on-boarding process for employees as well as contractors.  Of course, coupled with a great on-boarding process, is a thorough off-boarding process, which I will expand on in a future post.

NAFTA Revisions and Technology Workers in the US

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

How could trade policy impact Canada’s technology sector?  (A silver lining perhaps?)

NAFTA Revisions and Technology Workers in the USSince Trump’s announcement he will be changing the NAFTA terms, I have had many technology professionals ask my 2 cents about getting or keeping their TN work permit status under NAFTA.  It is too early to tell what changes will be made to NAFTA and the issuance of work permits under various professional categories but one thing is for sure, technology resources are concerned.

The US has had the benefit of NAFTA to hire many of Canada’s top technology talent, especially in Silicon Valley. Many corporations such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google heavily use the TN1 and L1 work permit categories to hire Canadian talent.  Under NAFTA, this was once a fairly straight forward process for technology professionals possessing the right qualifications, but it may become more onerous, highly restrictive and less attractive.

This is bad news for the US technology sector.  In a time of great growth and change, the last thing the sector needs is a government imposing restrictions on hiring technology professionals that are desperately needed.  The tech sector relies heavily on a global talent marketplace to staff projects.  Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor forecast that the US will create some 1.4 million IT jobs by 2020, but US schools will barely be able to fill a third of them.  Technology recruiters turn to Canada as the first place to recruit potential resources due to our common language, culture and schooling.  The recruiters also rely heavily on countries where having a degree in math/computer science is highly valued and youth are heavily encouraged to get into technology.

Is there a silver lining with potential changes to NAFTA and US immigration laws for Canada?  Yes, with uncertainty comes confusion and interest levels working in a country where your worker status is unknown and could change at a moment’s notice, people will rethink the US as a go to for technology jobs.  Canada definitely has the need to take on tens of thousands of new technology professionals.   In a recent Huffington post article, it was noted “Out of 527,000 students who graduated in Canada in 2015, only 6 per cent — 29,000 — graduated from an IT field, the report found. Canada would have to graduate around 43,000 IT students per year to keep up with job growth.”  So, let the hiring begin!!

Over the past decade and a half, Canada’s technology sector has been heavily impacted by the brain drain to the south.  According to a recent CBC post, between 30,000 – 40,000 professionals are working in the US under NAFTA’s TN work permit status.  A large percentage of these professionals are technology professionals.   This number does not also include those who are in the US under other work permit categories. So, needless to say, a lot of top Canadian technology talent is working in the US.

Canada’s technology industry has matured significantly over the past 5 years and many US Tier 1 technology firms have expanded their Canadian footprint.  Canadians working in the US now have more opportunities to find similar work to those located in Silicon Valley.  Canada’s technology sector would more than welcome these resources back to Canada as well as those on the global technology marketplace who no longer see the US a viable place to have a technology career.

Canadian technology CEOs and recruiters should take this opportunity to entice Canadian workers back to Canada.  Time to seize the moment!

Sources & Additional Reading