Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: General

All general Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technoloy contractors.

20 Simple (and mostly free) Ways to Brighten Someone’s Day

20 Simple (and mostly free) Ways to Brighten Someone's DayWe’ve all had terrible days. We’ve also experienced the slightest gesture from somebody else that turned everything around. How many people do you interact with during your workday? Clients, their employees, other IT contractors, recruiters, the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be great if you were that person who turned around somebody else’s terrible day?

Many IT contractors are fortunate to interact with a variety of people, giving you more opportunities to brighten a day, and it doesn’t have to be grand like buying them lunch or delivering a speech filled with compliments. Many quick actions may seem small but, to the person on the receiving end, they are exactly what they needed to push them back to the bright side.

Consider trying any of these, at least once per day:

  1. Smile
  2. Help a busy colleague
  3. Compliment a teammate on their work
  4. Hold the door for somebody
  5. Bake (or bring donuts) for your client’s office
  6. Wish a nice day to a stranger in the elevator
  7. Lend your umbrella (or keep a spare one on-hand for people who forget)
  8. Ask someone about their children/pet/family
  9. Follow-up on a story they told a few days ago
  10. Fill the kettle in the office kitchen
  11. Introduce yourself to the contractor who’s new to the office
  12. Talk to the staffing agency’s receptionist when you arrive for an interview
  13. Send a hand-written thank you note
  14. Reach out to an old colleague just because
  15. Address someone by their name (studies have proven that a person’s own name is the sweetest sound they’ll here)
  16. Show your appreciation for the little things people do
  17. Invite someone you don’t know well to join you for lunch or drinks
  18. Actually listen when others speak
  19. Let someone get in line ahead of you
  20. Be nice and use your manners (it’s amazing how much these are missed in a busy world)

Doing little things to brighten somebody’s day will not only make them happier, but you’ll feel better about yourself as well. And the added bonus, they will remember you in a positive light, and that could come in very handy during your next job search.

History’s Most Notable Computers Since the First Personal Computer

Since the first ever personal computer was released back in 1971, manufacturers have continued to release different versions with ranging capabilities. They’ve come in unique shapes and sizes and had some incredible price tags.Thomas Schanz [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

As an interesting exercise, 24/7 Wallstreet recently took a look at each year’s most notable computer release since 1971. These computers held an important place in computing history, either because they were the best-selling model or had a significant technological development. You can visit the full article for a detailed trip down memory lane, complete with pictures and descriptions. For the summarized version, here’s the entire list:


  • Notable computer: Kenbak I
  • Price tag: $750
  • Inflation adjusted price: $4,659


  • Notable computer: HP 3000
  • Price tag: $95,000
  • Inflation adjusted price: $571,791


  • Notable computer: Wang 2200
  • Price tag: $3,500
  • Inflation adjusted price: $19,832


  • Notable computer: Scelbi-8H
  • Price tag: $440
  • Inflation adjusted price: $2,245


  • Notable computer: IBM 5100 Portable Computer
  • Price tag: $8,975
  • Inflation adjusted price: $41,970


  • Notable computer: Apple I
  • Price tag: $667
  • Inflation adjusted price: $2,949


  • Notable computer: Apple II
  • Price tag: $1,298
  • Inflation adjusted price: $5,389


  • Notable computer: IBM 5110
  • Price tag: $9,875
  • Inflation adjusted price: $38,105


  • Notable computer: Heathkit H-89
  • Price tag: $1,595
  • Inflation adjusted price: $5,527


  • Notable computer: Commodore VIC-20
  • Price tag: $299
  • Inflation adjusted price: $913


  • Notable computer: IBM Personal Computer 5150
  • Price tag: $1,565
  • Inflation adjusted price: $4,332


  • Notable computer: Commodore 64
  • Price tag: $595
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,551


  • Notable computer: Apple Lisa
  • Price tag: $9,995
  • Inflation adjusted price: $25,247


  • Notable computer: Apple Macintosh
  • Price tag: $2,495
  • Inflation adjusted price: $6,042


  • Notable computer: Commodore Amiga 1000
  • Price tag: $1,295
  • Inflation adjusted price: $3,028


  • Notable computer: Compaq Portable II
  • Price tag: $3,499
  • Inflation adjusted price: $8,032


  • Notable computer: Commodore Amiga 500
  • Price tag: $700
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,550


  • Notable computer: NeXT Cube
  • Price tag: $6,500
  • Inflation adjusted price: $13,824


  • Notable computer: Macintosh Portable M5120
  • Price tag: $7,300
  • Inflation adjusted price: $14,811


  • Notable computer: Poqet PC
  • Price tag: $1,995
  • Inflation adjusted price: $3,840


  • Notable computer: Apple Macintosh PowerBook
  • Price tag: $2,299
  • Inflation adjusted price: $4,247


  • Notable computer: IBM ThinkPad
  • Price tag: $2,375
  • Inflation adjusted price: $4,259


  • Notable computer: Apple Newton MessagePad
  • Price tag: $700
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,219


  • Notable computer: Gateway Solo 2000
  • Price tag: $3,499
  • Inflation adjusted price: $5,776


  • Notable computer: Gateway Solo 2100
  • Price tag: $4,149
  • Inflation adjusted price: $6,653


  • Notable computer: Dell Dimension XPS H266
  • Price tag: $3,979
  • Inflation adjusted price: $6,237


  • Notable computer: iMac
  • Price tag: $1,299
  • Inflation adjusted price: $2,005


  • Notable computer: Compaq ProSignia Desktop 330
  • Price tag: $2,699
  • Inflation adjusted price: $4,076


  • Notable computer: Gateway Performance 1500
  • Price tag: $3,089
  • Inflation adjusted price: $4,513


  • Notable computer: Apple Titanium PowerBook G4
  • Price tag: $3,499
  • Inflation adjusted price: $5,049


  • Notable computer: Toshiba Satellite 1955
  • Price tag: $2,499
  • Inflation adjusted price: $3,495


  • Notable computer: Apple Power Mac G5
  • Price tag: $1,999
  • Inflation adjusted price: $2,733


  • Notable computer: Sony VAIO PCV-V200G
  • Price tag: $1,699
  • Inflation adjusted price: $2,263


  • Notable computer: Lenovo ThinkPad X41
  • Price tag: $2,249
  • Inflation adjusted price: $2,897


  • Notable computer: Dell XPS M1710
  • Price tag: $2,845
  • Inflation adjusted price: $3,550


  • Notable computer: iPhone 1
  • Price tag: $599
  • Inflation adjusted price: $727


  • Notable computer: MacBook Air
  • Price tag: $1,599
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,868


  • Notable computer: HP 2140 Mini-Note
  • Price tag: $499
  • Inflation adjusted price: $585


  • Notable computer: iPad
  • Price tag: $499
  • Inflation adjusted price: $576


  • Notable computer: Acer Chromebook
  • Price tag: $349
  • Inflation adjusted price: $390


  • Notable computer: Apple iPad (third generation)
  • Price tag: $499
  • Inflation adjusted price: $547



  • Notable computer: Toshiba Satellite C55D
  • Price tag: $330
  • Inflation adjusted price: $356


  • Notable computer: Lenovo ThinkPad X240
  • Price tag: $1,555
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,653


  • Notable computer: MacBook
  • Price tag: $1,299
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,379


  • Notable computer: Lenovo Yoga 900S
  • Price tag: $1,099
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,152


  • Notable computer: Google Pixelbook
  • Price tag: $999
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,041


  • Notable computer: Huawei MateBook X Pro
  • Price tag: $1,200
  • Inflation adjusted price: $1,221

It’s 2019. Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

There’s little such thing as privacy in this world. If you use the Internet and access any major technology platform, your data is almost definitely being captured in some form or another. How often do you think about what kind of information is out there and who has access to it?

Unless you’re extremely diligent, you can guarantee that at least one of the major players — Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Amazon or Microsoft — has some data on you. And this infographic from Security Baron tells you what they might have.

Even though the infographic isn’t even a year old yet, it already contains some outdated information (Google+ doesn’t exist anymore). Still, it remains an eye-opener and accurate on most fronts.

The Data Big Tech Companies Have On You - SecurityBaron.com - Infographic
By SecurityBaron.com

Hiring Trend Stats… What the “Other Side” is Thinking

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

Eagle collects, compiles and analyzes labour market statistics on an ongoing basis. Keeping our finger on the pulse of market movements and trends is a full-time job. In these Talent Development Centre posts, we often share general data points on market demand and indicators that we feel would be directly pertinent to our contractor partners… after all, building value through education is the driving purpose of this blog site! I thought I’d take a bit of a detour on this post, sharing some ideas/statistics that we’ve collected that would typically be of value to the companies that hire contractors for their operations and projects. Sometimes there’s value to be found in reviewing what your customers are thinking about or are concerned with.

With that said, here are 5 research findings that reflect your customers’ intentions/beliefs/experiences:

1. The Challenges in Finding Tech Talent

The CompTIA IT Industry Outlook for 2019 showed that 50% of Canadian companies (and 53% of US companies) are finding it either more difficult or significantly more difficult to hire the Tech- People they need.

  • They are hiring to support company expansion (58%), for new skills (52%), and as replacements for departures (43%)
  • Top hiring challenges include: Finding workers with the skill/experience in emerging areas, Finding workers with the needed soft-skills, intense competition for tech talent, rising salary/rate expectations, and having a limited pool of available workers in their “local” region.

2. Discouraged from Using More Contract Workers

Per an Okta Digital Enterprise Report, the Top 5 reasons that discourage a company from using more contract workers include:

  • Security Concerns — over 40% of companies report having significant concerns that contractors increase the threat profile for their companies.
  • Efficiency Concerns — they are not set up to manage contractors effectively and doubt whether they can make proper use of contingent labour
  • Regulatory Concerns — both south of the border and here, in Canada, increasing government legislation/involvement are raising risk factors for businesses. It is increasingly challenging to stay on top of legal requirements and stay on-side of CRA expectations
  • Collaboration Concerns — related to efficiency concerns, about a third of companies surveyed aren’t convinced that they know how to manage contingent workers to the degree needed to ensure a successful engagement
  • Budget Concerns — IT departments are continually under pressure to “do more with less”. Over 30% sited this constraint as a limitation to using more contract workers despite having a robust project list

3. Sought-After Soft Skills

A survey completed by CareerBuilder in March of this year identifies the 3 most sought-after soft skills that they look for when completing their hiring – Team-Oriented Mindset, Attention to Detail, and Customer Service Orientation. Companies are taking on highly-complex undertakings such as “Digital Transformation”, Cloud, and ERP projects and these impact entire organizations, crossing boundaries between IT and other business units. As hard skills in brand-new areas are still relatively thin, soft skills have never been more important. In a LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report companies claim that, when looking at bad hires, they are 4X more likely to be a result of people lacking soft skills vs hard skills.

4. Remote Work Allowed by Industry

LinkedIn’s recent survey shows that Software and IT, Finance, and Corporate Services are most likely to allow/encourage remote working environments. Healthcare and Manufacturing were least likely. The companies surveyed believe that work flexibility (remote work) provide the following benefits (top 5):

  • Improves work-life balance
  • Encourages retention
  • Attracts candidates
  • Increases productivity
  • Expands the available talent pool.

5. Digital Transformation Projects Abound

Constellation Research completed a survey late last year to gauge companies’ readiness to implement their digital transformation plans. They found that an astounding 94% of respondents need to hire additional human capital to implement Digital Transformation solutions.

Chart by Constellation Research: Does your organizationhave the workforce talent it needs to implement successful digital transformation solutions

Themes in these 5 questions include such things as companies’ sensitivity to security/risk, applicants’ needs to demonstrate strong soft skills when applying, companies’ various internal and external challenges finding (and landing) the talent that they need, and the pervasiveness of digital transformation (however DT might be defined by companies surveyed). Perhaps these data points will provide you with some insights as to other non-skills-related experience that you may want to include in your discussions during interviews. The data points shared were common for the vast number of respondents and they are likely to be on the minds of your next interviewer as well!

The Dos and Don’ts to Approaching a Stinky Colleague

The Dos and Don'ts to Approaching a Stinky ColleagueWe’ve all been there. On the bus, in a checkout line, or in a meeting and the person right next to you is letting off an awful stench that makes you want to gag. This terrible situation is compounded when you’re indoors and can’t escape, and it’s worse when you must suffer from it every day because the culprit is your co-worker.

There are multiple reasons a person is smelly and dealing with it is never easy. Poor hygiene jumps to the top of one’s mind as the most common cause, or at least the most perceived-to-be-common, cause. Often, there’s a natural odor or health issue creating your discomfort and the person puts in more effort than you realize to control it. Another case of strong odours that can be a concern in the office are the unnatural, self-inflicted scents from perfume or cologne.

Regardless of why somebody’s stench is unbearable, you need to deal with it professionally if you want it to go away, and the key phrase here is “deal with it”. If you read some stories across social media or talk to friends who’ve dealt with smelly co-workers, you’ve heard of passive hint dropping. For example, some people recommend subtle gestures like practicing good hygiene in front of them, decorating your workspace with pleasant plants and fragrances, or dropping a mysterious “hmmm…. Do you smell something weird?” More harshly, others joke about leaving deodorant on the person’s desk or sending them a random note. All of these suggestions are the easiest cop-outs but are guaranteed not to work. If your colleague does pick up on the hints, your approach is going to offend them, and the work environment just got even worse.

What are the best ways to deal with your stinky co-worker?

Here are some dos and don’ts when you find yourself in this extremely uncomfortable and awkward position:

  1. Don’t be Passive: As the previous paragraph pointed out, no good can come of this.
  2. Do be direct and polite: You’re already about to deliver a tough blow, don’t make it worse with a harsh or awkward delivery.
  3. Don’t Embarrass Them: This conversation is best to be had one-on-one and in a way that they don’t feel the whole world is against them.
  4. Do be sensitive: If this is a regular struggle, then they thought they resolved the problem. Your news is going to hurt even more.
  5. Don’t shift the blame: You’re not fooling anybody when you start with “Other people are saying…” You’re just fueling a more self-conscious feeling.
  6. Do choose your words properly: Language matters! “Strange odour” is a better choice than “stinky” or “terrible smell”.
  7. Don’t Gossip: If there’s a problem, deal with it. Talking to everyone else and snickering behind somebody’s back is childish.
  8. Do talk to a manager or HR: Given the sensitivity, it’s smartest to talk to the manager or your client’s HR department.
  9. Do reassure them that you don’t hate the them: Finally, your colleague may feel alone, especially if the approach went worse than expected. People want to feel accepted even at work, so it’s important to let them know you still respect them.

Dealing with sensitive conversations like this can be even more challenging for the independent contractor who isn’t an employee or always regarded as a true member of the team. How have you handled these scenarios in the past?

Is There a Hidden Spy App on Your Cell Phone?

The world can be a scary place with bumps and bangs around every corner. However, we often look past the silent threats which can sometimes be the most dangerous. With phones getting increasingly more complex and “smarter” with every release, hackers have become harder to catch, let alone notice.

Do you want to make sure your phone is safe? The first step is to detect a problem as quickly as possible. Check out this infographic from FamilyOrbit for more information and forward it to your friends and family who have cell phones and protect them from the unseen dangers that could be just a double tap away.

How to Detect Hidden Spy App on Android or iOS – Infographic - An Infographic from Family Orbit Blog
Embedded from Family Orbit Blog

How to Clean Your Dirty Headphones

Are you travelling this weekend? Will you be listening to music or watching videos to kill some time during the commute? You should probably check your headphones before taking off. Over time, grime and earwax can get stuck in your headphones, causing muffled sound and damaging your device that might have cost you a lot of money

Before you take your headphones into the bath or scrub them under the garden hose, we recommend watching this quick video from CTV News. It explains the proper way to clean your headphones so that they stay in good condition and ultimately last longer.

Why are Apple Products So Expensive?

Apple is one of the world’s most valuable companies, and rightfully so. Their reputation for leading the way through innovation, top-notch service and quality products has earned them a spot as a premium technology supplier. Furthermore, it’s gained the company a loyal following of users who love Apple so much, they’re willing to pay what some refer to as the “Apple Tax”.

As much as we can’t argue Apple’s success, we also can’t ignore the fact their products are priced significantly higher than many of their competitors in the industry. Why is this the case? Is it simple marketing taking advantage of people’s desire to be cool or are there more justified reasons? Is the current strategy sustainable? For those answers and more, check out this video from CNBC International that explores Apple’s history, its products and its pricing strategy.

15 Shortcuts that Will Change the Way You Work

Operating systems regularly blow our minds with their bugs and inefficiencies. Windows and yes, OS X too, have subtle annoyances built into them that make advanced users shake their head. Wouldn’t it be nice if for once you could have your mind-blown in a good way? This Brightside video is sure to do just that.

All operating systems have hotkeys and shortcuts built into them and we rarely use them all to their fullest potential. This video shows us examples of how you can be more efficient while working on either your PC or your Mac. Check it out. You will learn something.

Quick Poll Results: What do you look for in a recruiter?

Last week, we shared a post rounding up advice to how to attract recruiters, get past their initial 5-second scan, and ultimately make them want to meet you. In the same way, recruiters are always wanting to understand what is most important to job seekers so they can also improve and be more sought-out.

Last month’s Contractor Quick Poll set-out to learn just that. We provided some common traits contractors look for in a recruiter and asked you to tell us the most important one. Here are the results…

What is the most important trait you look for in a recruiter?