Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Independent Contracting

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to independent contracting.

Quick Poll Results: Taking Steps to Prove Independence

Being able to distinguish yourself as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee has been an ongoing issue in our industry for years. Sometimes certain headlines and trends bring it to the front-line of concerns and that’s exactly what happened when the Ontario Government’s Bill 148 became law in late 2017.

As the topic regained popularity and concerns once again grew relevant, we decided to ask our readers to review what they’re doing to protect themselves and make it part of our February quick poll and the results are positive. Although there is no single step that every independent contractor takes, it’s clear that many professionals are already doing some great things!

Quick Poll Results: How do you show that you're an independent contractor?

Contractor Quick Poll: Are you really an independent contractor?

For nearly 10 years now, the CRA has been paying close attention to independent contractors’ employment statuses and performing audits to determine if they should be deemed Personal Services Businesses (PSBs). Independent contractors across Canada quickly learned the importance of taking steps to protect their independent business status, or else suffer the tax consequences. Recently, the Ontario Government passed Bill 148 that, among many things, will also put a spotlight on independent contractors’ business habits.

This makes today a good time to assess how well you’re doing at ensuring that your independent contracting business is in fact considered a business. This month’s contractor quick poll helps with just that as it includes some basic actions you can take to separate yourself from your clients’ employees. As usual, we strongly recommend you seek legal advice to ensure you’re taking all the proper steps.

2017 in Review: Independent Contracting

2017 in Review: Independent ContractingAt the core of the Talent Development Centre is our desire to help independent contractors gain more opportunities and be more successful in their business. That is this blog’s mission. So, when summarizing a year, it’s only natural to review some of the most popular posts on the topic.

First, there’s the business of independent contracting…

Another part of being a contractor is working with staffing agencies. In many cases, it’s inevitable. Here are a few tips to help the relationship go smoothly…

There’s One Simple Way to Thrive as an Independent Contractor

There's One Simple Way to Thrive as an Independent ContractorWe repeatedly say throughout the Talent Development Center that “Independent contracting isn’t for everybody” and “There are things you should know before taking the leap.”  While it’s not intended, this can make new IT professionals nervous to making that leap, as it makes the change seem daunting and overwhelming.

The truth is, becoming an independent contractor does require extra work but it does not have to be scary. There is one very simple way to ensure you are successful: Don’t do it alone. Of course, that encompasses many small items like engaging a lawyer and accountant, working closely with recruiters, and attending learning from experienced contractors who have already been through the hurdles.

We recently came across this article that Melissa Thompson, an accomplished entrepreneur, wrote for Inc. about freelancing. In it, she provides advice based on her experience to help contractors get hired. She lists four specific tips:

  1. Freelancers need to take initiative
  2. Networking is still important
  3. Build an outstanding profile
  4. Be prepared for variable income

You can read the article here for all of the details on the advice. Or, if you’re already an experienced and successful freelancer, could you add anything else? If so, please share it in the comments below.

Do You Have these Traits of a Great Freelancer? Take the Quiz!

Do You Have these Traits of a Great Freelancer? Take the Quiz!There are certain jobs that are more active in the gig economy. Obviously technology contractors form a big part of it, and so do writers, graphic designers and carpenters. It is a massive trend beneficial for many; however, freelancing and independent contracting is not for everyone. In many ways, it requires a person with strengths in various areas.

According to this article from moneyguru, there are 10 traits every great freelancer has:

  1. Time Management
  2. Sociability
  3. Skin like a rhinoceros
  4. Little need for sleep
  5. A headful of ideas
  6. Adaptability
  7. Marketing savvy
  8. Patience
  9. Time alone
  10. Multitasking

Based on past articles published to the Talent Development Centre, it is clear that we agree with each of these traits, and we believe some are more important than others depending on the industry, role and client.

In addition to explaining the traits further, moneyguru’s article also provides a fun quiz you can take to see if you possess the right mix of what it takes to be a freelancer. You can take the quiz here. We don’t recommend taking the results to seriously, but it’s a nice starting point to understand your personal situation.

Bookkeeping 101 for Independent Contractors

Perhaps the biggest challenge of taking the leap from being a full-time IT employee to an independent technology contractor is learning the ins and outs of running your business. While your prime responsibility continues to be delivering on your IT projects, you can’t ignore your accounting and tax obligations.

If you’re considering a change, don’t be intimidated by the administrative work that comes along with the countless benefits of working for yourself. Instead, take a breath and watch this video from Dice to get some helpful bookkeeping tips for those starting out in the contracting world.

Canada’s Proposed Tax Changes: Are you “up” on what’s coming?

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Much has been said about the “Gig Economy” over the past couple of years. In today’s frenetic and “instant gratification” society, there are clear data suggesting that short-term contract work is growing in popularity for both workers and businesses who purchase their services. However, recently Canada’s Federal Government has been actively moving towards reforms in the tax laws meant to close “loop-holes” in the system to ensure everyone “pays their fair share”. The problem is that governments have a terrible track record — when it comes to making policy changes, there are often negative, unintended consequences.

The changes proposed will have an impact on independent contractors. There are three areas that the government wants to address:

  • Limiting the potential for income splitting between family members (also referred as “income sprinkling”)
  • Reducing the potential to earn “passive income” on monies that you decide to leave in your businesses vs. paying out to yourself in the form of salary or dividends
  • Stopping the conversion of income to capital gains

Are there people/small businesses that may take advantage in these areas? Most likely. However, the saying “tossing the baby out with the bath water” comes to mind. There are no shortages of commentary online about the potential impact of these changes. I’ve included links to many separate articles to legitimate news sites at the bottom of this blog in the event you would like to read more about this. But suffice it to say, there are likely to be significant consequences to you directly. Reasonable advice is offered in Armando Iannuzzi’s article on KRP’s blog entitled The good, the bad and the ugly of Ottawa’s proposed corporate tax changes where he answers the question: What should business owners do to prepare for these proposed tax changes? He suggests that there is no benefit to paying for legal or accounting work at this time as nothing is written in stone just yet. But you should keep “…these developments on your radar” says Iannuzzi, and ensure you have open lines of communication with accountants you trust.

Eagle isn’t a legal firm or accounting company, so we don’t provide specific advice to our contractors. We are watching this situation as it develops and are actively participating in industry organizations such as ACSESS and, as part of these groups, we are lobbying the government on the contracting community’s behalf. We are a bit surprised at how little the IT contractor community is saying about the proposed changes. Certainly, we are hearing from the medical profession, farmers and small business in general.

Are you following this as it develops? Do you have thoughts you’d like to share with our readership? I encourage you to leave your comments below!

Links to news websites that discuss the proposed changes:

Creating a Memorable “Recruiter Experience”

Creating a Memorable "Recruiter Experience"Marketers talk frequently about “customer experience” — the concept that a good relationship with clients goes beyond service during the sale, and extends from the minute the customer has contact with the organization to the second they decide they’ll never need those services again (maybe even after). Companies who strive for an exceptional customer experience recognize that every touch point with that customer must be positive and memorable. Done right, this can give companies a competitive advantage over their less-customer-experience-focused competitors.

When it comes to hiring, great recruiters also buy into this idea to ensure the entire “candidate experience” is positive for all who apply. They consistently reach out with opportunities, answer questions and help at every stage of the hiring process. Similar to the customer experience, the better the candidate experience, the better the relationship will be between the recruiter and candidate.

A strong relationship with recruiters is a valuable asset for any independent contractor who is always looking for the next gig. Given the benefits of customer and candidate experience, could independent contractors apply the same principles to create a positive “recruiter experience”? At first glance, the idea seems backwards — after all, recruiters should be the ones bending over backwards for IT contractors — but at the same time, what a unique way to stand out from your competition (other skilled job applicants)!

How can you go above and beyond to create a positive recruiter experience? Think of everything you would expect from a company when getting a positive customer experience. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Keep communication open. Return phone calls and emails, update them on your status, and be honest in what you’re seeking.
  • Always be polite. When a recruiter calls you at an inconvenient time, misunderstands your experience or doesn’t solve your problem the first time, your immediate instinct could be to get angry. Try to take the high road in these circumstances.
  • Work hard to resolve problems quickly, accepting responsibility when necessary. Situations beyond anybody’s control happen during a job search and a contract. Bad things also happen that were within somebody’s control — maybe the recruiter’s, maybe yours. Regardless, work with the recruiter to fix things and accept your share of the blame if that’s the case.
  • Be proactive to help them get what they need sooner. Recruiting is a fast-paced business. If you get your resume or return phone calls before any other candidate, a recruiter will remember you in a positive light.
  • Make it easier for them to do their job. There’s no need to go into their office and recruit for them, but simply being accessible, providing enough details to questions, or giving referrals will show that you care about the recruiter experience.
  • Give something free every once in a while. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you offer to work for free. However, you can turn the tables and buy your recruiter a coffee next time you’re together.

A valuable relationship is built when both parties recognize that it is a two-way street, with recruiters arguably having to contribute more to the experience than contractors. That said, all IT contractors have been in the unfortunate situation when the best work is on the other side of a terrible recruiter who doesn’t understand the definition of service, let alone experience. In these cases, it’s up to you to provide the experience, become memorable, and increase your chances of winning this job, as well as many future ones to come. In summary, the recruiter experience and candidate experience go hand-in-hand, and we all need to do our part.

10 Important Things to Remember Before Becoming a Travelling Freelancer

Eagle typically recruits independent contractors who work on technology projects at a client site, or at least in the same city as their home. Occasionally IT professionals will take a gig in another city and do some travel, and while this trend has picked up in the current economy, it’s still less frequent for us. As such, most of the posts in the Talent Development Centre are directed to IT contractors who work in their hometown.

There is another side of contracting and freelancing that we don’t touc10 Important Things to Remember Before Becoming a Travelling Freelancerh on much, but may pique the interest of technology professionals, depending on where they are in life. We brag about the freedoms that come with working for yourself, including the ability to take time off and travel, but what about the ability to travel while working? This is a common practice and, if you’ve been meaning to see the world, may be something for you to try for a year or two. Before quitting your job or deciding not to renew your current contract, consider some of these tips for working while travelling the world:

  1. Have a plan! This is common sense, but please do not pick up and leave with no plan. Know where you’re going to start, and more importantly, have a client or two lined up at your first stop.
  2. Know your worth. Understand how much you can charge in the city you’re working. Remember, markets are different so what you make in one place may not equate.
  3. Have an office. Doing contract work on a sidewalk or a coffee shop is going to get old. Do some research to share an office or workspace while you’re stationed in a city.
  4. You may not always want cash. Prepare to barter. Perhaps you can work for a place to stay, a workspace, or even food.
  5. Stay disciplined. Exploring new places and meeting new people makes it easy to get distracted from your work. Remember that your clients are the reason you’re affording to travel, so you must keep them satisfied and serve them first.
  6. Organization is key. With such little consistency in your life, you need some form of organization and routine if you want to ensure you’ll get things done.
  7. Pack light. Not just clothes, but you can’t be a technology diva either. It’s difficult to lug around a desktop computer and even some laptops may be excessive. Also keep in mind that everything you pack can be lost. Consider cloud storage and renting equipment with your office space.
  8. Research the legal side. How long are you allowed to stay in a specific country? What are the accounting implications of working abroad? Discuss your plans with an immigration lawyer and have a thorough understanding of what you can and can’t do in every location you visit.
  9. Find the right project and location is irrelevant. It goes without saying, but technology contractors especially rarely need to be in the same office as their client. If you plan right, you may be able to work on a single project from multiple cities.
  10. Don’t forget to take in the experience. We’re stressing the importance of working hard and serving your clients, but you’re also experiencing something few people will ever do. Remember to take a few days and enjoy savour the experience in every place you visit.

Countless people dream of travelling the world in their lifetime and never do it. If you share that dream, possess the skills, and are in a position in life to do it, then get out there and enjoy the experience. Before you do though, know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and how you’ll deal with all of the challenges. Have fun!

How the Government of Ontario is Proposing to Procure IT Resources

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

How the Government of Ontario is Proposing to Procure IT ResourcesIn what was considered a stunning development to Industry, the Ontario Government announced its intent to make drastic changes to the way it procures IT Resources going forward once it’s current (and long standing) Vendor of Record (VOR) method expires early this Fall.

The Vendor of Record is an inclusive list of approved suppliers who provide the Ontario Government resources under the Task Based I&IT Consulting Services VOR. Last Spring, the Government asked the Vendor Community for input in how best to structure its next generation of IT Consulting Services VOR. The questions in the survey and the feedback compiled by large Industry Associations like the NACCB in no way resemble the drastic proposed changes sent out in late May in an RFB. In fact, it is effectively counter to public sector procurement objectives and the spirit on which that procurement is normally based — part of which is to support and encourage thriving Canadian small and medium size businesses.

The new VOR, by virtue of its massive qualifying mandatory criteria, will see  likely over 300 of the current 317 vendors not qualify, as the intended vendor list will only be 10 going forward. The qualification criteria would suggest the 10 vendors can only be very large, likely multinational/foreign companies, of which many do not compete or provide for in a Task-Based resourcing environment. As such it’s expected few Canadian-based companies could qualify.

It remains a mystery to what constituency this serves in Ontario and is a perplexing direction from the Ontario Government for many reasons, here are just a few :

  • The new VOR will eliminate over 300 vendors, many of whom are thriving Canadian businesses. It may effectively kill them along with the well-paying jobs they provide in an economy where Canadian SMEs, as the government itself says, are “the backbone of the economy “.
  • These same businesses are effective components of the thriving Knowledge Economy and instrumental in the very critical Innovation Economy of tomorrow. This VOR will eliminate the innovation these small and medium sized IT companies provide.
  • Perhaps most perplexing is the idea that the Government hopes to reduce costs through a drastically pared down vendor list. As noted, the resulting winning bidders are very likely to be large, multinational technology companies who will be asked to operate in a Task-Based environment while having much higher overhead and costs. They do not operate on the lower margins of smaller, nimble companies in an open and competitive bidding process, so it is difficult to see how costs will be reduced

Given there has been a groundswell of opposition in Ontario to this initiative for these and many other reasons, we can only hope the feedback sought in this process is being heard and considered.