Talent Development Centre

All posts by Kelly Benson

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, Alberta (June 2019)

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, AlbertaCautious optimism has been the name of the game in Calgary this past year. However, recent developments have many dropping the word “optimism” from that phrase. Our city is still plagued with uncertainty related to low oil prices, no ability to get our resources to new markets and heightened government regulations. This has led economists to take a good hard look at our province and the reports are concerning:

However, in the spring, Albertans elected a new government who won (in part) due to an obsession with job creation. This new government has brought confidence to some (and panic to others!). Corporate Calgary appears to be feeling positive about this change and is watching closely to see if these new initiatives will help. Only time will tell!

BUT… IT has a Better Story to Tell

While the general unemployment rate in Calgary is hovering around 7%, the good news is that Calgary’s ICT unemployment rate is 4.1%, which most economists would agree is “supply constrained”.

Every day, we are seeing our clients exploring different ways to use technology and, as a result, demand for IT professionals is increasing. Leveraging technology has become the “new” way of doing business and businesses are embracing it. However, at low unemployment levels, it is simply more difficult to attract and retain staff, which can make it difficult for businesses to leverage these new technologies to achieve growth.

Year-over-Year Growth

Here at Eagle, we have seen a consistent improvement in our business over the past year. Comparing year-over-year data, our volume of job orders is up 40% and we have also seen a 20% reduction in applicants to our job postings. The need for resources is steadily increasing and the number of candidates looking for work has decreased.

Where is the Demand?

In a city that has too few jobs, there are absolutely some positions that are hurting for talent. We continue to see demand (and low supply) in the following areas:

  • Development: full stack developers, front-end developers, BI developers
  • IT Business Analysts with technical depth
  • Project Managers
  • Solution Architects
  • SAP Consultants

Project-based activity has been picking up across most industries that we support. The majority of the project and programs are falling into one of these categories:

  • Digital Transformation
  • BI/Big Data
  • Application Modernization
  • ERP

Demand in these areas is expected to continue as our clients continue to initiate multi-year initiatives. Given that we are already somewhat constrained by the availability of qualified resources, we expect demand to outpace supply in these areas in the very near future.

“New Year, New Job” — 5 Steps to Get Started in 2019

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

"New Year, New Job" -- 5 Steps to Get Started in 2019 January.  A fresh start for the New Year.  The month where we set goals, commit to self-improvement and kick bad habits.

The New Year also often brings thoughts of new jobs and new career challenges – why wouldn’t we apply that same mentality to our careers?  Much like getting results from hitting the gym and eating more greens, a successful career also requires focus, commitment and hard work.  If New Year, New Job resonates with you, here is a quick guide to setting yourself up for a successful job search:

Step 1:  Get Your Resume Job Search Ready

Priority number one is to update your resume.  There are a lot great tips available online and many offer different opinions (our favourite tips can be found here).  Your resume is often your first chance to make a first impression, so be sure to check it for accuracy.  The devil really is in the details.

It is also a good idea to take stock of where you are today and put some thought in to where you want to get to.  From there, set some annual career goals.

Step 2:  Get Social, Network & Apply!

These days, having a current, online presence is just as important as having a great resume.  Make sure you have a professional online persona and that you are connected to everyone you know.  Think of your online profile as a personal brochure, but DO NOT hide behind it.  Step away from screens and get out in front of people.  Meet everyone you can – your contacts, industry events, meet-ups, contacts of contacts and reputable recruiters.

While you are networking, find the right jobs to apply for.  We believe in quality over quantity.  Your time is much better spent on a few great applications that are a good fit for your experience rather than blasting your resume to every posting you see.

Step 3:  Get Job Interview Ready

The job interview is your time to shine, but it can be stressful if you aren’t prepared.  Do your homework and read these tips and tricks to help you calm your nerves and bring your “A” game to the interview.

Step 4:  Master the Marketplace:  Learn & Grow

One of the realities of being a successful IT professional is that you always need to stay on top of trends.  Change is constant in this industry and – as technology advances – so must your knowledge and skills.

The most successful people we know are always broadening their knowledge and one of the most effective ways to open up new career opportunities is to develop new skills.

Step 5:  Stay on Track

We all know that the easiest thing to do with a New Year resolution is to simply forget about it or to give up when things start to get tough.  Don’t take the easy way out!  Stick with the job search process and you will have something new before you know it.

Working Remotely — An Opportunity and a Challenge!

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

What Working Remotely Means to Eagle:

It has been over 5 years since Eagle formalized a distributed work strategy — WORKshift.  It is now a fully integrated part of our company’s DNA and is part of the reason that Eagle has been recognized as one of Canada’s “Great Places To Work” for the past 4 years.  Our staff appreciate the flexibility it provides and allows our team to contribute wherever and whenever they can be most productive.  Our WORKshift program incorporates a number of different scenarios including: Time Shifting (working outside of non-core hours, either earlier or later in the day), Work from Home, Mobile Working (accessing the full suite of corporate tools when out on calls), and Distributed Teams (we build functional teams between office and across Canada for projects).  WORKshift means happy, productive staff members and the ability to accomplish things more quickly than we could without this ability.  It has been very good for our business.

What It Means to You, the Contractor:

There has been a lot of information about Remote Work online, in the news, and around boardroom tables.  Technology has progressed to the point where standard, mainstream applications allow companies and people to work in a distributed sense without the need for customization or special processes and protocols.  It’s available to the masses and is becoming more mainstream in business.  As a contractor, you can benefit by being able to work for organizations in other cities or manage between multiple contracts as you no longer need to be physically present to contribute.  Travel time can be greatly reduced, meaning more billable hours available.  It also may allow you to collaborate with other independent contractors to form virtual teams to provide deeper value for your clients.

Challenges That Working Remotely Raise:

Of course anything this valuable comes with its share of challenges.  Security, for example, is a big issue.  Some companies allow for VPN access but many are extremely sensitive to allowing non-employees access to corporate resources.

Being able to compete for work regardless of location is a two-edged sword.  Certainly that can open new opportunities to capable contractors.  However, it also means that competition for jobs/roles can come from practically anywhere if the job to be completed is truly irrespective of the work location.  In the future, certain roles may be bid on by a global labour market.  Already we see off-shoring in the mainstream, but individual contracts have the potential of being next.

Team management and oversight is another hurdle to successful remote work arrangements.  There are new skill sets required to be an effective leader (or worker) in a distributed work environment.  Some people are better suited to working remotely than others; and managers/project managers also can be taxed by the requirements of managing a virtual team.  Managing to deliverables vs. direct observation is a big cultural change for many companies.  Anyone familiar with the concept of presenteeism understands the fallacy of assuming people are working just because they happen to physically be at work.  The world is quickly moving towards deliverable-based evaluation, which is something already very familiar to the contractor community.

The following chart from Work EvOHlution shows key attributes of leaders for distributed work strategies:

chart from Work EvOHlution shows key attributes of leaders for distributed work strategies
Source: Work EvOHlution

In academia and consulting firms, more and more research is being completed to prepare companies and people for the realities and complexities of distributed work.  In Eagle’s experience, we partnered with CED (Calgary Economic Development) who was pioneering the business application of WORKshift, and also with “The Leadership Store”, a research-focused company affiliated with the University of Calgary that specialized in distributed work systems.  They are now operating under the name Work EvOHlution and provide a number of assessments, readiness strategies and coaching options to companies, teams, trainers and individual workers who wish to maximize the effectiveness of remote-work business practices.  Both organizations – CED and EvOHlution – were invaluable to Eagle as we set up our own WORKshift strategy.

Setting Yourself Apart:

Regardless of your own personal work-location preferences, the world is moving towards this work-from-anywhere/anytime paradigm.  Consideration should be given as to your own preparedness for this shift.  Most everyone should be able to work as part of a remote work force, but only those who are most prepared and have the necessary skills, communication and work habits will be able to flourish.  It just may be a way to differentiate yourself from others who are muddling through these newer changes to the work environment.

BONUS: Tips for Working on a Distributed Team (From Work EvOHlution):

  • Not everyone is suited to working remotely on a full-time basis, but most people can do a mix of office and remote work.
  • Kick-off new teams face-to-face.
  • Learn communication preferences of each team member.
  • Don’t over-rely on any one communication method (e.g., e-mail).
  • Avoid communicating constructive feedback or frustration through e-mail/instant messaging.
  • Set response time deadlines verbally and in writing and stick to them.
  • Match the communication medium to the purpose.
  • Create goals and measures that are accessible and achievable.
  • Set up mechanisms for feedback.
  • Celebrate and reward successes. Find creative ways to celebrate from a distance.
  • Develop a distributed team charter.
  • Use technology (video conferencing, teleconference, chat, email) and train your team on the software being used; when introducing a new software have a pilot period where everyone is expected to give it their best shot and report back on pros and cons.

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, Alberta

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Job SearchingAs we head into the last 6 weeks of 2018, it is a good opportunity to reflect back on how far we have come these past 11 months.  We entered 2018 with cautious optimism and – as expected – we have seen a slow and steady improvement in tech/IT hiring this year.

What is most encouraging is that the hiring activity spans many different industries and – with more diversification – comes more confidence that we can weather the setbacks that are inevitable on the road to full economic recovery.

That said, we still have a long way to go before we can remove the word “cautious” from our vocabulary when talking about Calgary’s labour market.  High unemployment rates, falling capital investments, high office vacancy rates and heavily discounted Canadian crude continue to challenge our city and the pace of recovery is not nearly as quick as we would like it to be.

While the unemployment rate remains high, technology is a great place to be with ICT careers expected to outpace all job growth in Canada by a rate of 4:1 (ICTC, Labour Market Outlook, 2017-2021, April 2017).  In particular, the trend toward automation and digitization in many sectors is creating interesting contract and career opportunities. Combine that with the limited IT spend over the past few years due to the recession and the resultant pent-up demand for IT project work.

So what does the current market offer IT professionals in Calgary?

Project activity centres around these four main buckets:

  • Big Data/BI/Analytics
  • Cloud Migration
  • Digital Transformation
  • SaaS Solution Implementation
  • Cyber Security

The most in-demand roles/job titles include:

  • QA Automation
  • Java Development
  • Cyber Security
  • Project Management
  • Agile Business Analysis

The overall supply of resources with these skills has shifted and we have moved into a candidate market.  There are less available consultants and – those who are looking – often have a choice when it comes to selecting their next assignment.

In these areas, it is of utmost importance for our clients to work closely with their recruitment partners to deliver the right message to attract the best candidates.  Additionally, we encourage our clients to speed up the hiring process and be flexible with “must have” technical skills when hiring.

Given the improving labour market, we are expecting to see a bit more labour movement in the first quarter of 2019 as both independent consultants and long-term employees pursue new opportunities more aggressively to gain new project experiences.

The landscape for technology workers in Calgary is improving and we expect it to continue into 2019.  Be sure to keep an eye on the Eagle job board and keep your recruiter informed as you start to think about pursuing new opportunities.

Job Hunting – The Devil is in the Details

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Job Hunting - The Devil is in the DetailsThey say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression and there is so much truth to that in the hiring process.  While there are a lot of different ways that a job seeker can differentiate themselves from the pack when applying for roles, one surprising differentiator is an attention to detail.

In the past 20 years, I have seen some great resumes, some terrible resumes and a lot that fall somewhere in between.  I once had a client compare receiving a resume to going on a first date and it was a comparison that I have never forgotten… one would never go on a first date without a little extra effort, so it stands to reason that we should do the same to impress a potential client or employer.

Here are a few quick tips to craft a great first impression through the application process:

  1. Avoid Senseless Mistakes– review your resume for typos, grammatical errors and inconsistent tense. When hiring managers receive a high number of applicants, often the first round of candidates to be eliminated are those that don’t make a great first impression because of grammar or spelling errors.
  2. Follow the Application Instructions– instructions in a posting are the first step in the evaluation process and small “traps” are often included to catch people who might “skim”.  If you are asked for a cover letter, produce one.  It will be used to evaluate both your written communication skills AND your ability to follow instructions.
  3. Customize Your Resume– focus on the role that you are interested in and match the relevant details in your resume to the job posting, but don’t duplicate the job posting.  The author of the job posting wants to see your experience and professionalism – they do not want to see their work plagiarized.
  4. Fact Check– make sure everything on your resume is accurate.  If you share any links (portfolio, websites, LinkedIn, etc), make sure they work as expected. Also, keep in mind that background, employment and education verifications are very common – in addition to traditional references.
  5. Google Yourself– you should expect that you will be searched at some point in the hiring process and often it is earlier than you think.  Do you need to clean up your social profile or adjust privacy settings?

Once your resume lands you the interview, here are some tips on how to knock the interview out of the park.