Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Trends

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

How Weak Are Your Passwords?

“Passwords are like apples in a fictional garden” – that’s the opening phrase in this video from Seeker. In it, they explain the basics of how passwords work, different security strategies, and above all, how hackers understand all of this to break into your account.

We create passwords for everything — social networks, job boards, online stores, government websites, the list is endless. As such, you should regularly review your security processes to ensure you’re not being hacked. One simple slip can lead somebody to your banking and identification information, which could in turn complicate your life beyond belief. So, we strongly encourage you to review this video. If you’re an IT security expert, we’d love your suggestions as well! Please share any additional tips in the comments below.

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada – First Quarter 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 20th, 2017

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.7%, an improvement over the 6.9% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 276,000 jobs.

The stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth ending the first quarter of 2017 at around 15,600 points.  This was up slightly from a reading of 15,300 at the end of last quarter.

Oil canThe oil patch has settled a little, but that isn’t a great news story.  With the price of a barrel hovering around the $50 a barrel range there is a still a conservative approach to adding jobs.  There has been some exodus of foreign money from the oil patch, allowing Canadian companies to increase their property holdings.  While in some ways that is good, it is an indicator that the big players are investing their money in more business friendly jurisdictions.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar seems to be settled around the 75c US level for now, which is where it was last quarter.  While there are some small benefits of a weak Canadian dollar, including positive impact on tourism, overall it is a negative for the Canadian economy and thus for job creation.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  Areas of growth for the banks have been any area that improves productivity and profitability, including robotics.  In addition risk mitigation in an era of economic uncertainty has created specific demands.

The telecommunications companies are other big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they too, are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs in significant numbers, averaging more than 250,000 jobs a month.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.  What has not happened, and is different from previous economic times, is that Canada’s economy has not improved along with US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

Construction worker

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the first quarter was 110, which was significantly up from last quarter when it was 96.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that the indication is a positive one.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we experienced a 25% increase in demand from our clients in the first quarter of 2017 versus the previous quarter, and the demand was about the same as the first quarter of 2016.  We also experienced a 20% increase in people looking for work over the previous quarter and a 16% increase over the same quarter last year.  This would suggest an uptick in activity that is a positive for the economy, if we can keep it going.

 More Specifically:

cn towerThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We have seen a small increase in demand in the first quarter and anticipate things will pick up as the year progresses.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016 but with an election coming and legislative interference harming the housing sector, the BC economy has started to slow down.  Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government although it too is hit by a decline in oil revenues and is struggling with deficit reduction, so no job boom here. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 but that remains to be seen as the province is not attracting foreign investment (because of Federal and Provincial government policies) and unemployment remains high.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  There has been an increase in Federal government hiring in 2017 with our civil service now employing an extra 23,000 in just the last year (wonder why our taxes are so high?).  Quebec is enjoying low unemployment and continuing to fund new tech growth in the province (wonder where those transfer payments are spent?).  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand in the trades, a growth in demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

 Summary:

 There are some positive indicators that would suggest light at the end of the tunnel, but it is early to tell whether that will lead to economic growth.  At a very low growth in GDP, and increasing government debt loads and no clear fiscal policies to help I do not anticipate significant job growth in Canada for a while.

There are however bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers) and new technologies.  The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada), trade agreements (possibly negative for Canada) and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

In today’s Canada job seekers need to understand the growing sectors, the in demand jobs and be willing to go where the work is.  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you customize your resume?

A very commonly heard technique when applying to jobs is to customize your resume so it’s tailored to match the specific job description. We hear it a lot, but how many independent contractors actually take the time to do it?

It’s completely understandable why you wouldn’t. IT contractors apply to numerous jobs with many agencies all the time, and continuously customizing would be a massive time commitment. As well, many job boards including Monster, Indeed and even Eagle allow you to upload your resume once and apply to multiple jobs without having to upload another. This allows you to quickly apply to new technology opportunities on the go, but if you’re on the go, you’re not able to customize a resume. (Tip: You can upload multiple files to your Eagle profile and track past jobs to which you have applied. Return any time to upload a new resume, changing the file name to match the Job ID of each specific job).

This bring us to our Contractor Quick Poll for this month — how many IT contractors customize their resume? Even more, we’d love to learn in the comments if you think it is, in fact, a helpful strategy.

IT Industry News for March 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 6th, 2017

IT Industry News - March 2017This is my 30,000 foot look at tech events for March 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of March in previous years …

Hootsuite logoIn March 2012, there was some activity with a couple of (then) young companies receiving significant capital — Appirio ($60 million) and Hootsuite ($20 million). Cisco made a couple of acquisitions, paying a whopping $5 billion for video software and content company NDS Group in addition to a smaller network management buy, ClearAccess. NEC paid $450 million for the information management business of Convergys and Avaya paid $230 million for an Israeli videoconferencing and telepresence company Radvision. Other companies on the acquisition trail were DELL, EMC, SafeNet, Avnet and The Utility Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseCompany. Four years ago, March 2013 saw some of the “usual suspects” making acquisitions, but there were no billion dollar deals announced. Oracle continued its move into the telco space with the purchase of Tekelec; Google bought the small Toronto University-based company DNNresearch in the machine learning vertical; Microsoft sold Atlas Advertiser Suite to Facebook; and Yahoo bought Summly. In March 2014, Facebook made a somewhat surprising $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR. Intel also expanded its horizons with the $150 million acquisition of smart watch maker, Basis Science. SAP added to its purchasing software suite with the acquisition of Fieldglass and TELUS made a couple of buys, Enode, a management consulting company out of Quebec HP logoand Med Access, an addition in British Columbia, to their healthcare division. March 2015 saw some significant M&A activity with HP paying $3 billion for Aruba Networks; Lexmark paying $1 billion for customer management software company Kofax; eCommerce company Rakuten paid $410 million for ebook marketplace Overdrive; Cheetah Mobile paid $58 million for mobile ad networkMobPartner; TeraGo Networks paid $33 million for cloud provider RackForce; IBM bought natural language and image processing company AlchemyAPI; and in the cable TV world Charter Communications paid $10.4 billion for Bright House Networks. Last year, in March 2016, we saw the $3 billion sale of Dell IBM logoServices to NTT, a direct result of Dell’s restructuring following the recent purchase of EMC. IBM was out bolstering its services business with a couple of acquisitions; the first was Optevia, a UK-based integrator focused on Microsoft Dynamics; and the second was Bluewolf Group, a global Salesforce consulting partner. Montreal-based Yellow Pages picked up Toronto-based Juice Mobile, primarily for its mobile marketing capability. Another Toronto company, Influitive, raised some cash ($8.2 million) and bought a couple of mobile app companies, Ironark Software and Triggerfox; and Netsuite bought IOity solutions, a cloud-based manufacturing software company.

Which brings us back to the present …

Intel logoIn March 2017, the major acquisition in the headlines is Intel’s purchase of Israeli computer vision company, Mobileye, for a hefty $15.3 billion. HPE bought storage solution provider, Nimble, for $1 billion. DeskConnect, the startup that developed the Workflow app, has been acquired by Apple who will offer the app for free. Amazon Web Services, a public cloud infrastructure provider, acquired Thinkbox Software, a company that provides software for managing media rendering workloads. Mozilla acquired Pocket, a startup that developed an app for saving articles and other content.  It is interesting to note, based on my sources that over the last few months, there has been a noticeable decline in Mergers & Acquisitions in the technology space.  Recent articles suggest this might change in the coming months.

canadian flagIn other tech news, Statistics Canada released a report highlighting Canadian participation in the sharing economy, i.e. peer-to-peer services, and its role in the Canadian economy.

Another story that took headlines last month was that US corporate information, including work email addresses and phone numbers, was leaked from a 52-gigabyte database owned by Dun & Bradstreet.

That is it for my monthly look at what was happening in the technology space over the last month, compared to the same month in previous years.  I’ll be back in about a month’s time, until then … walk fast and smile!

Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way Recruiters Find You a Contract

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

Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way Recruiters Find You a ContractArtificial Intelligence, AI, is here and changing our world every day; however, most of what we hear has been quite ominous at best. Perhaps Stephen Hawking’s statement that AI will be “either the best or worst thing” for humanity is a pretty foreboding statement depending on if you are a glass half full or half empty person.

The reality is that we know AI is present today in our everyday lives and is beyond the realm of science fiction. We see it in the ads presented to us in our social media, our use of Siri, Cortana, smart cars, predictive purchasing, fraud protection and apps like Netfix, Spotify and the like. But where are we in the world of Recruiting and Artificial Intelligence?

There are a number of exciting platforms that will undoubtedly change fundamentally business processes, and I believe very positively and the world of recruiting is one of them. Recruiters have used Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s) to source, track and manage candidates for many years. Today, there are a number of AI applications that incredibly enhance and leverage those ATS systems to the next level.

How is Artificial Intelligence Enhancing Recruiting?

The likely biggest challenge for most recruiters is effectively and efficiently screening multiple applicants to find the best candidates. Recruiters can spend upwards of 50% of their time “stuck” in this application and screening phase. Automated screening with AI can reduce this time significantly by eliminating a majority of candidates who may be unqualified while making recruiters significantly more efficient. With analytics and AI, these systems will only become more intelligent, ultimately leading to better candidates and certainly shorter times-to-fill, and allowing recruiters to let their clients know when their requirement will be expected to fill. The biggest win for recruiters and contractors alike will be that with this added efficiency tool, recruiters can focus more time on really connecting with and engaging candidates for true full fit, as well as through the entire hiring and on boarding cycles. Most would say these are the real high value aspects of recruiting that lead to stronger candidate and client relationships — essentially the human elements of the profession.

AI in recruiting also provides the capability to offer deeper, more enriched candidate data that encompasses more data by scraping public social media profiles or any online professional work data or profiles. All of this contributes to better fit engagements, which of course for contractors means more successful placements, better references and ultimately more opportunities.

Additionally, we have seen together with advancement of AI in recruiting the addition of recruiter chatbots that engage with candidates in real time interaction to further pre-qualify and, in fact, digitize early stage interviews, further freeing up recruiter time to create more time to build relationships with contractors. This capability as it pertains to the future of AI in recruiting is often referred to as Augmented Intelligence, which underscores the importance and necessity of the human element in recruiting so that, far from replacing the human component, it rather enhances it.

Stack Overflow Says This About Developers in the Workplace

We recently shared some results of the 2017 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, specifically as they pertained to technologies used around the world. The survey was completed by over 51,000 developers and covered off a myriad of topics from technology trends to work habits to values and opinions. For example, the majority of professionals use both Agile and Scrum methodologies and less than 20% of developers work remotely more than half of the time (only 10% of Canadian respondents work remotely full-time).

Job Satisfaction Among IT Professionals

If you’re not satisfied with your current career path and think it’s normal for professionals in the technology field, think again. Most of the respondents rated their career satisfaction 8/10, with a high percentage rating it a 9 or 10. Interestingly enough, that satisfaction had a slight jump for IT professionals who had four or more years of experience.

Keeping in mind that a large proportion of respondents were full-time employees as opposed to independent contractors, there were some evident priorities that developers look for in a job in order to be happy. Compensation and benefits packages, as well as the technologies they get to use were second and third most important, respectively, but topping the list of preferred perks is professional development. It’s safe to conclude, then, that most developers and technology professionals understand the importance of keeping their skills up-to-date. If you’re not, it won’t be long until you fall behind and become less competitive.

Developers’ Values in the Workplace

Understanding what developers value and what they expect from their peers is a helpful way to fit in with a new team while on contract or manage a client’s employees should you end up in that position. Stack Overflow took a thought-provoking approach achieve this by asking developers how they would recruit and manage, if they had the opportunity. First, respondents agreed that the top priorities for hiring a developer should be communication, a track record of getting things done and knowledge of algorithms and data structures. Note how the ability to perform the specific role isn’t even in the top 3! Once on the job, they prioritized customer satisfaction, completing projects on time and budget, and peer ratings as the top performance metrics for people in their field.

As Cameron McCallum, Eagle’ Regional Vice President pointed out on in a recent post, diversity in the IT industry not only exists on a large scale, but it’s extremely valuable for companies. In his article, Cam points out that the industry still has a ways to go but Stack Overflow shows that we’re making good progress. In fact, almost 90% of respondents agreed that diversity is important in the workplace. It’s interesting to note that of all survey participants, women were more likely to value diversity than men.

The Really Important Findings

Stack Overflow works hard to understand important trends among developers and, thankfully, they captured answers to the questions that make us lose sleep, like if developers prefer tabs or spaces and their true thoughts on noisy key boards. Perhaps the most urgent is the proper way to say the word “GIF” and those results are displayed in the graphic below.Stack Overflow Says This About Developers in the Workplace

This is just a very quick summary of the many, many details you can find in the complete survey results. If you find this interesting (and you have time to kill) take a scroll through the results and see how you match up against the developers who took the 2017 Stack Overflow Developers Survey.

The Design Trends You Need to Know in 2017

Working as a contractor requires a certain degree of self-marketing, especially in a fast-moving and modern field like IT. Even if your expertise lies more in the nuts and bolts of information technology, awareness of and engagement with the more surface-level and generally accessible aspects of the digital world will broaden your employment prospects. Sure, your expert-level knowledge of data systems management might be why you’re the contractor for the job, but maintaining a level of fluency with the current trends in web design, marketing, and content will help you reach and impress more people.

The following infographic from Coastal Creative takes us through this year’s established and developing trends in digital design. These are the aesthetic trends you’ve likely been seeing all over the web for the past few months, what function they serve, and why they’re having their moment in 2017.

Any other digital design trends you’ve noticed lately? Any new developments you can’t get enough of, or trends you’re ready to see die out? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Design Trends 2017 Infographic

Maybe Your Client’s Terrible Decision Wasn’t That Bad

Bad decisions happen all of the time in the business world. Sometimes independent contractors show up at a client site and learn their job is to fix a project due to bad decisions. Other times you may sit through meetings, watching a client make bad decisions despite your advice. And, of course, there are the times when we make bad decisions ourselves.

Next time you’re digging yourself out of a hole due to an unwise choice, or are furious at a client for taking a terrible route, sit back and watch this video from Alltime10s. You’ll appreciate that the situation could be much, much worse given these are the 10 worst business decisions of all time!

Another Year, Another Stack Overflow Developer Survey

Results of the 2017 Stack Overflow Developer Survey were released in March and, once again, it’s packed with valuable insight (and a few useless fun facts) for anybody in the IT industry, from developers to managers to recruiters.

This year’s survey was completed by over 51,000 developers from around the world, with nearly 14,000 of them residing in North America.  Of all respondents, 72.6% classified themselves as web developers, while desktop applications developers, mobile developers, database administrators, systems administrators, and DevOps specialists also topped the list.

The results produce some interesting revelations about developers around the world, including the make-up as well as their values. For example, while the survey was predominately completed by men (88.6% of respondents), Stack Overflow still concluded that women are most likely to take on roles such as Data Scientist, Mobile & Web Developer, Quality Assurance or Graphic Designer. In addition, not all developers consider formal education to be important. In fact, a third of them said it’s not very important or not at all important. Of all respondents, the majority agreed that the best way to learn is by taking online courses or buying books and working through the exercises.

Another Year, Another Stack Overflow Developer SurveyIn addition to developer behaviours and opinions (which we’ll summarize more in a future post) the survey also identifies helpful trends around developer technologies. For example, the chart to the right displays the top 10 most used programming languages in 2017.  You can also find charts for the top libraries (Node.js, Angular.js and .NET Core top that list) as well as the top databases (MySQL, SQL Server, SQLite). For each of those, Stack Overflow asked developers for their most loved, dreaded, and wanted technologies. Those results were usually consistent with the most used, but also generated some notable observations. Python, which overtook PHP in the Most Used list after 5 years, also shot to the top of the Most Loved.

Finally, with all of these technologies, IT contractors and full-time professionals alike always want to know which will get them the most money. Below is a list of the ones making over $100K in the US. Interestingly enough, Objective-C, CoffeeScript and Perl were also the 6th, 3rd, and 8th most dreaded technologies, respectively.

  • Go
  • Scala
  • Objective-C
  • CoffeeScript
  • Perl
  • C++
  • C
  • R
  • Swift
  • TypeScript

If you can’t get enough of statistics and survey results, you can check out the complete report here. We also shared 2016’s most loved, dreaded and wanted tech last year, in case you’d like to have a look at how things have changed.

Did you complete the 2017 Stack Overflow Survey? Are any of the results consistent with your opinions? Let us know in the comments below!

Is the Information Technology Industry as “Open” as We Think?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Is the Information Technology Industry as "Open" as We Think?

I work in as culturally diverse an industry as can be imagined. The candidates and clients that Eagle works with on a daily basis have origins that span the globe. Eagle itself is a company made up of a conglomerate of languages and cultures. We celebrate our diversity and inclusion almost daily with email bulletins which tell us what days of significance and celebration are occurring. And our work on this front has made us a better company. We are one of Canada’s Best Managed, Best Workplaces and just recently we were named One of Canada’s Best Workplaces for Women. I’ve personally experienced how being a part of this kind of a workplace can create challenges, but I can also attest to the strength of an organization that takes this approach.

At the same time, when I see the current state of politics in the US, I am saddened by the examples xenophobia being expressed by a vociferous minority of Americans. The reality is that this expression of distrust and bigotry is nothing new, instead just choosing a time and place to reemerge in a consistent and persistent manner. Travel bans, patriotic chants, racist actions are not new although headlines from all media sources seem intent on making us feel like they are. And I don’t believe that as Canadians, we are somehow immune to these emotions and, in fact, we share historical and modern similarities with our American neighbors when it comes to discrimination and bigotry.

These actions aren’t limited to national politics, but frequently affect us in our daily lives, including the workplace. As noted above, in the IT industry we have the privilege of working with a diverse group of people, but it’s not to say racism doesn’t exist.  This CIO article written last week by Sharon Florentine asks the question of whether the IT industry is really as open as we think it is and it contains a sobering message. We need to be aware of and take action against systemic discrimination. While outward appearances infer that all is well, there is ample evidence to suggest otherwise.

Referenced Article
Racism in tech runs deep
Sharon Florentine, Senior Writer, CIO
March 9, 2017