Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Search

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to job searching.

Outside-the-Box Job Interview Tips

Getting called in for a job interview is a good sign. It means your qualifications on paper are strong enough that a recruiter or client believes you’re worth meeting in-person. You’ve already beaten out dozens, possibly hundreds, of other applicants and now your job is to prove to your interviewer that you’re also better than the other applicants they’re meeting.

Strong answers and good technical knowledge about the project are going to help you succeed in the job interview, but let’s face it, any good IT job candidate will do the same. You need some unique strategies to set yourself apart, and this infographic we found from Forbes might be your ticket. They recommend ideas that few job seekers follow-through on:

  1. Go Beyond the Homepage
  2. Use Google Alerts
  3. Aim for 10:30am Tuesday
  4. Craft your Story Statement
  5. Wear a Fashion Statement

All of the details are below and, while doing all of them still won’t guarantee your job interview success, they will definitely help you stand out in the crowd.

Good luck!

Outside-the-Box Job Interview Tips

Your Client’s Workplace is Toxic — Time to Get Out!

Your Client’s Workplace is Toxic -- Time to Get Out!

Professionals often go into the gig economy to work for themselves because they don’t want to answer to a boss or manage employees. IT contractors know that, although their company and decisions are their own, they still need to answer to a client and, more dreadfully, work with their employees and put-up with their office shenanigans.

Most client workplaces are great. The weird employees, freeloading team members and awkward individuals will always exist, but for the most part, the environments are bearable and you’re capable of delivering on your requirements. Then, there are those other client sites. The toxic workplaces where nobody is happy, you can’t get anything done and, and it starts to take a toll on your mental health.

How can you tell if you’ve joined an IT project team that’s part of a toxic work environment? There are a number of common signs, many of which are summed up well in this Inc. article. Generally, you’ll notice that a toxic office has low energy and motivation among all the employees. They might seem happy and agreeable, but when you pull back the curtains, you notice that people are gossiping about each other, working in silos and cliques rather than teams, and having unofficial sidebar meetings.

Once you’ve been at the client site for a little longer, additional signs start to pop-up. The lazy people are still getting away with murder, others are getting promoted based on no merit whatsoever, and the few people who were an asset to your project slowly start to leave.

Now the bells are going off and you realize that there is no way you can be successful in an environment like this. Regardless of your experience as an IT contractor, there’s only so much you can do to make technology projects succeed. If the organizational support is not there, you’re sure to crash and burn, and your reputation will take a hit. So, what do you do?

Don’t Give-Up Too Easily

If the contract doesn’t have much time left on it, keep your head down and focus on your deliverables without getting sucked into the drama. Working from home when possible and avoiding the toxic individuals will help.

Cover Your Bases

You also need to think of self-preservation. An environment like this means employees are going to throw you under the bus whenever possible, so you need to be prepared. Document all your work and conversations. When somebody tries to point the blame your way because they didn’t complete a task or messed-up a deliverable, your notes and emails might be your only saviour.

Keep Your Recruiter in the Loop

Staffing agencies bring value to IT contractors in several ways, one of which being that they help you navigate these situations. Let your recruiter know that something’s sour in the environment as soon as you notice it so they can help you find solutions. Most importantly, be upfront if you think leaving might be the only option, providing plenty of notice. This popular post by Morley Surcon includes tips on how to leave a contract early, if it’s absolutely necessary.

A toxic work environment is a brutal place to have to spend 40 hours a week, but unfortunately, they exist across all regions, in all industries. If you find that yourself in one when you start your placement, act fast by either developing your plan to adjust and succeed, or preparing an exit plan that keeps your integrity intact.

The Growing Skills Gap, The Pace of Change… and the Critical Importance of Chosen Assignments

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

The Growing Skills Gap, The Pace of Change… and the Critical Importance of Chosen Assignments

There are several factors that work together to create a “skills gap” within the labour market in Canada (and worldwide for that matter). Local gaps can occur in any market based on competing projects using similar technology that eat up available resources; or, perhaps, a company wants to try something new-to-the-region and existing tech-professionals just don’t exist in that location. These gaps happen all the time and are, typically, short-lived as labour is quite mobile. However, our industry is noting a growing technological skills gap in general. This is across multiple regions and, in fact, around the globe. The aging workforce (baby boomers retiring or about to retire) – coupled with – too few young people to replace them – coupled with – not enough students taking the STEM education needed to fill new roles -coupled with – an explosion in tech-related jobs… all work together as a “perfect storm” to create a growing and pervasive technology skills gap.

But there is still another reason, one that I wish to highlight, and it is one that effects many contractors and consultants: The pace of change in technology. Technological change has never been faster. There are a multitude of new technologies that didn’t exist even a few years ago. And there are more areas of specialization/differentiation within the tech industry than ever before as both the breadth and the complexity of technology increases. It has gotten to the point that people either can’t keep up or don’t wish to keep up anymore. After all, there is just so much change that people are willing to tolerate. And when someone learns and masters a new skill, they want to reap the return on their investment of time and money vs. immediately throwing more time and money into learning something else. Most people who choose to make technology the foundation for their profession understand that life-long learning is a must. But as mentioned above there is always a limit… whether it be physical, mental or financial, exhaustion will always catch up.

For the consulting industry, this is both a blessing and a curse. “Where there is confusion there is profit… for the wise [person]”… new and unfamiliar tech keeps both demand and rates high. But it is also very easy to become out-of-touch or even obsolete. In Calgary, when the O&G industry turned around a few years back, many IT contractors found themselves out of work or they took lesser level roles to keep working through the economic downturn. When the market began to come back a year-and-a-half to two-years later, there was a surprise that we did not expect. While many people’s professional development went on hold for this time, technological advancement didn’t wane. We discovered that a skills gap had developed… and the skills/experience that employers were wanting, few local people had. It was a scramble for the local market to re-tool, re-educate and come up to speed on these newer technologies.

The lesson (or one of the lessons) in all this, for IT consultants/contractors, is in understanding the importance of the work that you choose. By carefully choosing your next project, one that leverages leading edge application of technology – in an area where you wish to grow and develop – you are able to keep your skills current. Through great projects, you continue to build your resume remaining relevant and highly employable. Given the reality of a growing global skills gap, contractor rates will be strong… as such, I believe that the kind of project, the nature of the work and the technology stack to be leveraged will become even more strategically important to contactors when evaluating and choosing new assignments.

Choosing a Service to Help You Write Your Best Resume

Choosing a Service to Help You Write Your Best Resume

For many people, writing sucks. And, no matter how much you love talking about yourself, writing about yourself in a resume can be a dreadful task. Many entrepreneurial career coaches and writers have capitalized on this over the years by selling their services to write your resume for you. Through these angels, IT contractors have the ability get past that barrier preventing them from applying to an exciting contract position.

Sounds like a dream come true, right? Maybe. While there is no doubt that there are some talented, quality resume-writers out there who will land you a job interview, there are also some brutal, harmful services. Here’s what to look for in a great resume-writer:

  • They charge a decent amount of money. An extremely high price could be a sign you’re being scammed, but if somebody is claiming to write you something for $50, then it’s going to suck. This is your top job searching tool and you need to invest in it.
  • They have a solid process. Look for a professional who has a specific process to write your resume that includes an interview to truly understand your experience. That process should also promote that they will never make-up experience and will talk to you before adding new content.
  • They Know YOUR Industry. IT, especially, is a unique field with specific skills and the person writing your resume has to understand them. They should also understand your specific industry. Contractors working for the Federal Government have a completely different style resume than those working in the banking industry.
  • They personalize your resume. Not necessarily branded with “your colours” but you want a writer with samples demonstrating they do not work from only one template. At Eagle, our recruiters often come across resumes that look the exact same, except for some information within projects. These resumes are often flagged as potential fraud.
  • They focus on careers and resumes. There are extremely talented writers, but are they specifically resume writers? Try to stick with people who are resume-oriented and dedicated to finding you a job, rather than writing anything under the sun.
  • They have credentials. Of course there are certifications for resume-writing, there’s a certification for everything. Learn more about the Certified Professional Resume Writer credential here and decide if this is an important criteria in your search for a writer.

Many job seekers and contractors have different points-of-view regarding professional resume writers. Even if you find the best in the business, you’re still paying a lot of money for something you really could have done on your own. You can find plenty of free templates online and nobody can write about you better than you can… you just need to make the time. In addition, you need to frequently update your resume so you can target specific jobs, so regardless, you’ll have to do some writing anyway.

Some of our contractors recently told us that they’ve had success with services like JobScan. JobScan offers two different products. First, they will scan your resume alongside the description of the job to which you’re applying and provide feedback. The results tell you how well your resume will do in an ATS, which keywords are lacking, what clichés and fluff you need to eliminate, as well as provide tips on which skills you might want to add. JobScan can also look at your LinkedIn profile to give you suggestions on how you can make that more attractive to recruiters. The complete service does have a subscription fee and given its popularity you may want to do a full review to decide if it’s for you.

Do you have any tools or tricks to find the balance between a quality resume and time? If so, we’d love to hear them! Please share your advice in the comments below.

The Growing Problem of Fraudulent Credentials (and the impact on honest consultants!)

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

The Growing Problem of Fraudulent Credentials (and the impact on honest consultants!)

Let me start by saying that the vast majority of contractors and applicants are 100% honest and represent themselves, their work and educational achievements fairly and correctly. That said, there is a growing issue in the labour market of people misrepresenting themselves in order to qualify for open postings. This may have been the case for years and it flew under the radar; however, with new vetting techniques and technology it is getting caught more and more often. Also, as more companies are being burned by fraudulent activity, they are both demanding and completing deeper vetting of candidates.

Misrepresentation takes multiple forms, from small embellishments and mis-matched dates covering small gaps in work experience, to much more nefarious activities. Some of the more brazen attempts to mislead potential employers include:

  • Presenting completely falsified resumes: This can be done as an individual doctoring their own resume, or there are “resume banks” available to people who pay to use them. This can include education or work experience falsification, but sometimes the entire resume is completely fabricated.
  • References are often faked: Friends, family or even themselves as the person who answers the phone number of the given reference.
  • Stand-ins for phone interviews (or even Skype interviews!!): Whereby someone with the actual knowledge completes the technical job interview on the fraudster’s behalf. The unwitting company hires and doesn’t realize that there was a change until they show up on the first day of work. If the company is complex enough, the people conducting the interview may not even be the same people who meet the new hire on the first day. Pretty brazen of them to try this!

It is unclear what people are trying to accomplish by faking their way into a job in these ways. It will catch up with them. They aren’t truly qualified to complete the work and they will be terminated, if not for the fraud then for incompetence. However, there are desperate people and if they can fake their way to earning even a few weeks’ pay before being found out then they move on to their next “victim”. It is too time-consuming and costly to press charges… and they get away with it.

What is the industry doing about this? Well, many companies are completing their own vetting even if they use a recruitment agency to source and qualify candidates. IT is a small industry and if someone says that they worked for XYZ Corp., then there is likely someone at the company that knows someone at the other company who can verify whether the candidate actually did what they said they did. Staffing agencies have been doing this for some time now and it is standard practice in the fight against fraudsters. Another check is simply a comparison against old resumes. Most agencies collect resumes from people over the course of many years – older experience in new resumes must match that found in their older resumes, and also in their LinkedIn profiles. References may not be called at the number given by the applicant, but rather they may be contacted via social media or called at their place of work using the company’s main number, making it much more difficult to arrange to have a “fake-someone” complete the interview. Additionally, there is now new technology (AI) being employed to rate the likelihood that an applicant is falsifying their resumes and there are new 3rd Party vetting services that specialize in deeper dives/forensic reviews and vetting. Most recruitment agencies employ one or more of these companies to ensure experience and education listed are accurate. There are also registries being set up that use blockchain technology to verify the accuracy of the data people share. Applicants will have full control over who receives and sees their private information, and the companies this is shared with will be guaranteed of its accuracy.

What is important for consultants to take away from all this is that the industry is now “awake” to resume/applicant fraud and is taking significant steps to uncover issues prior to hiring. 99%+ of people are honest and don’t need to be concerned; however, even honest people can make mistakes. I encourage anyone reading this to go through their resume with a fine-toothed comb to ensure all is completely accurate. It is so easy to mess something up with changes from one version of the resume to another. You absolutely should adapt your resume to best match the role to which you are applying, but adapting isn’t embellishing.  Even though the content might look different, it should still be in sync with what was presented in older resumes. The chance that even small inconsistencies are caught are very much more likely than it ever was before and these little, seemingly insignificant issues, could cost you a job for which you are applying. In this way, attention to detail is more critical than ever.

Is That Job Too Good to Be True?

Is That Job Too Good to Be True?

 

Scammers’ intelligence is growing exponentially and nobody is safe from their activities. While it’s common to hear about less tech-savvy people losing out, there are also plenty of examples of even the most cautious organizations being caught off-guard. In 2019 alone, multiple Canadian municipalities got stung. The City of Ottawa lost $128K, the City of Burlington was out $503K and Saskatoon lost $1 million!

Scams can have devasting effects, from losing lifesavings to having your entire identity stolen, and they come in multiple forms. As a job seeker, it’s especially important to remain vigilant when applying for jobs, as thieves can steal your personal information and destroy your world before you can blink. There are a number of these types of scams floating around the internet and, while fewer target IT contract job opportunities specifically, it’s still wise to recognize these warning signs:

  • A job posting or email looks extremely unprofessional, with too many errors or using a free email address (ex. Gmail or Yahoo).
  • You get contacted about a job to which you don’t remember ever applying, or even uploading your resume to where the recruiter claims they found it.
  • The recruiter asks for your personal information way too early in the job application process
  • You’re required to pay money up-front just to be considered.
  • The hiring manager offers you the job almost immediately, after just a few emails and a glance at your resume.
  • The job opportunity is too good to be true.

Many of these postings may still be legitimate. Recruiters have creative ways to find resumes of talented people, so it is not uncommon for them to contact you about a job, right out of the blue. It just means they’re impressed by your experience and want to learn more. In other cases, a job opportunity might appear to be unprofessional because the poster is inexperienced or in a rush (a sign that you can bring them value!)

When a job posting has too many red flags or your gut just isn’t feeling right about it, do not apply. But, if you are interested and believe it could be something great, here are some extra steps you can take:

  • Review the LinkedIn profile of the person or company who posted the job to see their experience and connections.
  • Check the URL of the job posting and confirm it is actually with the company the say they are. Look for weird spellings like “Gogle” instead of “Google” or somebody creating false subdomain like “eagleonline.supergreatjobs.co. Just because their logo is visible, it doesn’t make the website real.
  • Go directly to the organization’s website that you know is legitimate by typing in the URL directly or through a Google Search. Review that website to see if the job in question is actually posted and look for a physical address to cross-reference on a map.
  • Pick up the phone or show up at their office to speak to the recruiter directly. It’s too easy to be duped through email or instant messaging.

Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre provides more information about common job scams, as well as all other types of fraudulent activities. For more information or to report a scam, that is a great place to start. Happy job hunting… be careful out there!

The Blurred Lines in Online Job Postings

The Blurred Lines in Online Job Postings

Our job application advice regularly states that you should not apply to jobs for which you aren’t the least bit qualified. Clients provide job descriptions with mandatory requirements and qualifications to perform the task for good reason — the successful IT contractor needs to do the work successfully and those requirements weed out the unqualified candidates. While job seekers should respect points that exclude them based on skill, there is no place for discriminatory exclusions within a job posting.

Generally, in Canada, it is illegal for any employer to post a job posting that discriminates against applicants. More specifically, in Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) says “Job ads and postings should not contain statements, qualifications or references that relate either directly or indirectly to race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, record of offences, age, marital status, family status or disability.” Although it’s rare today to see job postings with statements like “must be a strong man” or “good-looking women only”, subtle nuances can exist and it’s up to the employer or staffing agency to ensure they are following the law.

More controversial in the past year has not been the what of a job posting, but more the where. The same OHRC website also provides information about how employers should post jobs to avoid discrimination, suggesting they avoid simple word-of-mouth-referrals and personal networks, as well as advertising only in mainstream media. Each of these forms could exclude qualified candidates.

More interesting, though, is a CBC investigation published in April 2019 related to discrimination using Facebook ads. When a company posts a job to Facebook, it is visible and available to the entire user base; however, the lines blur when looking at paid ads for those job postings. A benefit to Facebook advertising is being able to drill down on the demographics of a target audience. CBC learned that employers — including at all levels of government — have targeted prospective employees based on age or gender. The text of the ads is non-discriminatory, but the targeting came into question. Facebook already announced that it would be disallowing this kind of job targeting in the United States. As of June 2019, the Canadian and Ontario human rights commissions had taken steps to see the same happen in Canada.

The action you decide to take when you come across a discriminating job posting depends your morals and ethics. Some might decide to do nothing or apply regardless, some might contact the posting organization letting them know (they may have been reckless or ignorant and will appreciate the feedback), and others will follow-up on their right to report it.

Before going a step further and engaging a lawyer, though, consider this. Molyneau Law wrote an informative post after the original CBC article that describes the Facebook ad situation, the implications, as well as some examples of past legal cases where discrimination in the hiring process was evident. While unethical job posters should be called out, the post warns that a full legal battle is rarely worth it. “Unfortunately for job applicants, it can be hard to prove discriminatory recruitment or hiring practices. You rarely know who else has applied or been interviewed for a position. And hiring is a pretty subjective practice at most employers. Even when job applicants are successful in proving discrimination, they often don’t see huge damage awards.”

This subject opens an interesting discussion for Canadian IT contractors and all job seekers. Where do you think the line should be drawn in discrimination of job postings? Is it alright if a company chooses to promote its public ad towards a specific demographic, as per the Facebook example? Do you come across discrimination in job postings and how do you deal with them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

What’s on the Minds of Canada’s CIOs?

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

What's on the Minds of Canada's CIOs?

 

While many CIOs are great communicators and share clear and motivating visions for the future, some can be tougher to pin down and it is sometimes hard to see what makes them tick. Even if the CIO at the company where you work is one of the former, it is hard to tell if he or she is part of the majority. Well, all this is to say that ITWorld Canada released the 2019 Canadian CIO Census and I thought I’d share some of the findings as they apply to IT Labour with you. This is particularly good information as it is Canadian-only data, and most of what you find online is US-content-heavy. So, without further ado, here is what the IT leaders in Canada have on their minds!

Hiring Plans for the Coming Year

Almost half (48%) of those surveyed are expecting to keep IT headcount at current levels, either by choice or due to a hiring freeze; while over a third (37%) are looking to increase the size of their teams. This makes for robust demand for talent in Canada. Only 4% suggest that they will decrease the size of their departments.

Day-To-Day Concerns

While 16 different “concerns” were cited, the top 5 things that keep most CIOs up at night are: Data Security/Privacy Issues, Uptime/Reliabilty Concerns, Compliance Requirements, Business Innovation Demands, and tied for 5th place was Making Data Actionable and Staffing.

CIO’s concerns for finding the right resources for their teams and projects has grown by over 55% over the past 3 years. This is a result of unemployment rates of IT workers in Canada hovering around the 2% mark, on average. Most economists consider “full employment” to be around 4% unemployment… as a consequence, most regions in Canada are in a supply-constrained state. With things even tighter in the US, they are exporting their labour shortages to Canada, enticing Canadian workers to travel down to work on their projects or they are employing “remote work”. The results are the same, save a global downturn of some kind, IT labour supply is going to become tighter and tighter… and our CIOs know this.

ITCT, StatsCanada Chart - ICT Employment

In-Demand and Out-Of-Demand Areas in IT

CIOs report having the hardest time hiring for the following areas: AI, Data Analytics, IoT, Mobile Development, and Cloud Services. Specific roles that are of particular interest include Enterprise Application Developers, Big Data/Analytics Specialists, Business Analysts, and Project Managers. All this was consistent with the CIO Census finding from last year, with interest in Application Developers growing slightly.

Given the focus that much of Canada’s IT sector has been giving to Cloud and As-A-Service technologies, it isn’t too surprising that the IT roles where they report “negative demand” is a tie between Data Centre Management and Application Maintenance and Support.

Although there aren’t many IT roles that CIOs claim might be reduced, there are some roles that may see some “turbulence” with some CIOs claiming to need to hire, while others are looking to shed workers. These include Help Desk, IT Support, Network Security, and IT Generalists… some of the people working in these roles may experience opportunities ending at certain companies, but demand from other companies will more than offsets the reductions that are expected, with the number of CIOs “hiring” outstripping those “downsizing” 3:1.

If you are interested in reading the entire CIO Census report, you may do so here.

 

The Digital Workplace – How It’s Changing the IT Job Market

Guest Post by Gil Artmoore

The Digital Workplace - How It's Changing the IT Job Market

It’s no secret to anyone who has lived through the last several decades that technology has radically changed just about every aspect of our lives.   Try to imagine living without smartphones, Facebook, and Google in today’s world. It’s revolutionized our professional lives as well.

Digitization has also had a significant effect on the IT (Information Technology) job market. IT workers have had to continually adjust to an ever-shifting set of demands that also offer tremendous new opportunities to those who want them.  Far from the classic figure of the coal miner put on the street when the world evolved past a need for their services, IT is an industry that almost always replaces older functions with opportunities for growth.

Let’s look at some of the ways the digitization of the workplace has changed the way we work, how it has affected the job market for IT professionals, and what kinds of opportunities it will bring to IT professionals in the future.

How Automation Changed The IT Job Market

The early part of this century saw a dramatic shift from jobs that required no expertise with digital systems to ones where people couldn’t get by without those skills.  Everything moved toward jobs that require knowledge with digital systems, and as you might expect, this became a huge boon for IT professionals who manage the systems everyone needed to start using.

The next revolution came years later, when a drive for increased efficiency demanded systems that required less manual touchpoints.  This wasn’t always an easy transition for IT professionals, and while it did create a skills gap for some years, the workforce has largely adapted and is ready to move with the digital workplace into the 21st century.

The New Opportunities Automation Has Created

Automation and the digital workplace have had a substantial effect on the IT job market, and while that initially looked like a net negative that would eliminate jobs, it instead transformed and relocated them.  One of the most visible ways this manifested itself was in the rise of cloud computing.

Cloud computing is an arrangement where, instead of owning, operating, and maintaining servers and other infrastructure equipment internally, companies now have the ability to pay outside vendors like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to host those services on their servers.

This did initially lead to the elimination of many IT jobs for system administrators who were there to maintain and administer in-house servers and network equipment, but the flip side is that the cloud vendors needed to hire people to maintain those systems once they were in charge of them.   Literally their entire business revolved around running servers for their customers, and they needed someone to manage the physical hardware.  As a result, system administrators went from being support staff at law firms, financial services companies, or wherever they worked, to driving revenue at a company whose entire business was being one big IT department.

Another major net positive the change in the IT job market brought to IT professionals was that remote work became not only feasible, but commonplace.  Given that cloud computing commonly operates on distributed systems (meaning the same data and functions are duplicated across and run from systems often separated by hundreds or thousands of miles), there’s no single data center to manage like most companies had in years gone by.  Without needing to be physically present to manage the systems, many administrators have gotten a greater work/life balance in this new arrangement.

Finally, IT work has become more collaborative and made employees who may not be in close proximity to each other a lot more equal than they used to be.  Many companies have traditionally had IT employees at corporate HQ, and local IT teams at other offices who often felt like they were on the outside looking in when it came to having their voices heard or being considered for opportunities.  The nature of cloud computing mitigates that dynamic to a great degree, and provides a more level playing field for IT staff no matter where they’re located.

Conclusion

The advent of the digital workplace has not only not led to the prosperity of the IT labor force, but has even eliminated many of the difficulties and frustrations associated with IT work in years gone by.  Many companies have begun enjoying the benefits of using modern technology to build internal structure, and IT professionals will continue to enjoy the benefits of a more focused IT career for many years to come.

About the Author

Gil Artmoore has spent the past decade working in various roles in IT departments for many businesses both small and large. Recently, Gil started writing out the things he has learned, experienced, and witnessed in the small business and tech world during his career. He is eager to share his insights with the rest of the world.

Digging into the Trends and In-Demand Skills of the Canadian IT Job Market

Omar Khan By Omar Khan,
Account Executive at Eagle

Digging into the Trends and In-Demand Skills of the Canadian IT Job Market

 

Having worked in Western Canada’s IT staffing industry for several years, I’ve had the opportunity to see trends come and go, and I find it especially interesting to look deeper into what’s driving them. In our industry, perhaps the two most common trends we regularly monitor are overall hiring trends and demands for specific skills. Here are a few of my observations about what’s happening in the market today.

Overall Hiring Trends

Companies across Canada continue to talk about skills shortages and this will continue to be a topic of focus in the future. Managers in the IT sector are finding that additional duties are being put on their plates and thus the need for additional staff is growing. This lack of IT personnel not only affects the IT department but has an impact in other parts of the organization.

To address staffing issues, a trend that we have seen is that more and more organizations are hiring junior staff. They invest and hope to retain them by paying them well and/or train them on additional skills.

Another trend on the rise to address the shortages is allowing more remote work from different parts of the country, therefore gaining access to a larger talent pool.

Organizations are increasingly turning to staffing firms to help with their contingency workforce. Due to hiring freezes, contract work is on the rise and organizations are bringing in a contingent workforce, as contingent workers do not count towards organizational headcount.

Overall, we expect that organizations will continue to use staffing firms in large volumes, to access greater candidate pools to find top talent and to manage their contingent workforce.

More Specific In-Demand Skills

To understand where the location of job opportunities and what skills clients are hunting for most, it’s best to start at the top and understand what’s driving demand. Knowing what organizations are prioritizing and valuing gives insight into what kind of contractors they want to hire. Here are 8 specific trends I’ve noticed, and the in-demand skills as a result:

  1. Trends related to digital transformation continue and individuals with Transition and Change Management experience are growing in demand. In terms of accreditation for these types of roles, we are seeing requirements that include PROSCI for Change Managers and PMP for various other IT roles. The PMP certification is an indication there is more of an emphasis on soft skills for IT professionals to encourage productive collaboration.
  2. Hybrid-like roles are emerging as certain IT Professionals are wearing multiple hats i.e. Business Financial Analyst, Project Managers with Change Management backgrounds. On the notion of multiple hats, Managers are being asking for certification in AGILE, PMP and Scrum.
  3. The Cloud continues to be a popular subject and, with that, roles specializing in cloud migration, cloud system engineers, cloud architecture and cloud developers are also growing in popularity. Through these respective clouds, we are seeing more demand for experience in Virtual Machines.
  4. Healthcare continues to see transformation and in the needs of IT personnel. Cyber Security around healthcare is becoming more and more important. For example, many provinces are continuing to put strong emphasis on confidentiality of Electronic Medical Records and the patient privacy that surrounds them. This increases the need for security professionals across the country, especially in healthcare industry.
  5. Making sense of the overload of information and data in today’s business landscape is on the rise. Professionals with backgrounds in analyzing big data are in high demand. Roles such as BI Analysts and Data Scientist are roles our organization has filled and we continue to see demand.
  6. There is also consistent demand regarding network administrations, help desk and desktop support. Particularly around network administration, we are seeing requirements in certification such as CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) and other Cisco Certifications in security.
  7. Speaking of certifications, these can add up to 10 % in people’s salaries and add specialized knowledge. Certification in ITIL, MCSA (Microsoft certified solutions Associate), SAS and BI all are proving to be valuable.
  8. In many cases, tech is mixing with other areas of organizations. For example, we’re seeing more and more IT roles with more of marketing background in SEO, PPC, and Email Marketing .

Of course, that is just a few things we’re seeing right now. The future will see more opportunities in different areas. Although already popular, we’re bracing for an influx in demand for Blockchain, Machine Learning and AI.