Talent Development Centre

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The Talent Development Centre includes advice for independent contractors in IT from one of Canada’s top staffing and recruitment agencies. See all posts about career advice.

5 Reasons Staying in Shape Benefits Your Career (and how to get better at it)

5 Reasons Staying in Shape Benefits Your Career (and how to get better at it)There is no doubt that regular exercise and staying in shape has significant health benefits. People who are fit generally live a more active, longer and happy life. Of course, people who are not in as good of shape also tend to be happy, and may not see a reason to make it a priority. If that sounds like you, would you make it a higher priority if you knew being healthier can make you more money? According to this post from Salary.com as well as this article from Time, those who are in better shape have a higher salary.

We get that money isn’t the end-all-be-all definition of success, but if you want to do better in your career for any reason, exercise plays a crucial role. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. You’ll Sleep Better. Better sleep is known to have so many benefits, including being more productive and more focused. If anything, it makes you less irritable and more able to deal with that useless team member, jerk client or annoying recruiter. Exercise is a proven way to get better sleep, as backed up in this article from the Huffington Post.
  2. You’re More Productive. Partially due to that better sleep, but also the fact that exercise brings you more energy and alertness, people who are in better shape are more productive. That means completing projects faster and better, taking on more projects, impressing more clients, and building a well-known positive reputation in the industry.
  3. Your Brain Gets Sharper. Not only do muscles get stronger when you exercise, but so does your brain. As this article from the Huffington Post explains, exercise leads to increased blood flow and oxygen which has significant benefits to the brain. It’s known to boost brain cell function and create new brain cells which help improve memory and learning.
  4. You Take Fewer Sick Days. Naturally, when your health is better, you’re not going to be off sick as often. Independent contractors don’t have the benefit of paid sick days — when you’re not working you’re not making money. Exercising has proven time and again to keep people healthier, both physically and mentally.
  5. Your Networking is Better. Some would argue that even networking events are more successful. Staying in shape gives more energy to deal with some of the boring events, and also gives you more confidence to approach people and start a conversation. As well, people can unfortunately be shallow and often make better connections and feel more comfortable with those who are more physically in shape.

How a Busy IT Contractor Can Stay in Shape

That all sounds great but how can you possibly exercise when you’re juggling contracts, updating resumes, managing accounting and spending time with your family and friends? The simple answer is to make time (watch less TV, wake up earlier, etc.) but that also may not be realistic. Consider other simple options that don’t require a time change such as changing your diet, taking the stairs or biking to work.  If you’re having trouble getting motivated, talk to others to create a group of people who work out together and encourage each other.

Are you in as good of shape as you’d like to be? If so, how do you make sure you do you make it a priority? Do you think it has helped your career? Please share your advice in the comments below!

The Best IT Career Advice from 111 Industry Gurus

Neil AndersonFlackbox Logo runs the popular Flackbox blog, a resource providing advice for IT professionals to build their cloud and data centre career. He was recently a guest on the Packet Pushers Datanauts podcast where he had the opportunity to talk about Career Advancement. As Neil mentions on his blog, searching for a job in IT has changed dramatically over the years, so this is an important topic to him. Wanting to provide the best advice possible during his podcast appearance, Neil decided to expand beyond his own knowledge and sought IT career advice from 111 of the top experts in the industry.

Neil spoke with a wide range of professionals, including industry experts such as leaders, authors and bloggers, as well as CTOs, CIOs from the world’s top universities, HR directors and recruiters, and his loyal Flackbox readers. After the podcast, he generously summed up the advice from all 111 experts in one extremely valuable blog post.

Two of the people who provided IT career advice and were featured in the blog post are Eagle’s very own Kevin Dee (Chairman of the Board & Co-Founder) and Morley Surcon (VP Western Canada). Here’s the advice they provide:

IT Career Advice from Kevin Dee

  1. If you are choosing a tech career then you already made a great choice.  The future will belong to the knowledge worker, and tech will only play a bigger and bigger part in our lives.
  1. I am often asked about the problem of getting hired without experience… “How do I get experience if no-one will give me a job to get experience?”

Getting that first job is huge… then taking full advantage of it is critical.  Once you have a couple of years’ experience you are probably well established on a tech career.  So… do all the right things to get the job, and don’t underestimate what it will take to excel at it.

  1. Be prepared to start at the bottom, be humble and have the right expectations … look to the future!
  2. Companies want a great attitude even more than they want skills … bring a great attitude and some entry level skill and you improve your chances.
  3. Get experience wherever you can… volunteer with charities/not for profit organisations, get Summer jobs, take an extra course in “in demand” skills.
  4. Big companies hire a lot of tech people… banks, oil & gas, retail, telephone companies, big consulting companies (Accenture, Deloitte) etc.  If you can find ways “in” to those companies it is a great way to start a career.  (Summer jobs there, people you know, people your family knows, people you cultivate etc.)

IT Career Advice from Morley Surcon

“Old Chinese (I think) proverb…  Q: When is the best time to plant a tree?  A: 10 years ago.  Q1: When is the second best time?  A2: Today.

The IT industry is going to be going through an “experience crunch” as baby boomers retire over the next decade… the people with the knowledge capital will be leaving and there won’t be others with enough experience to step in behind them.  This is going to cause some strife for organizations… especially the ones that haven’t migrated to newer technologies.

There are industries out there that are still heavily reliant on mainframes and systems built on old code (like Cobol)… and there aren’t new people training on this old technology.  For example, there are many in the banking industry suggesting that their mainframe infrastructure is going to have to carry them for another 10 to 20 more years… they are looking at alternative staffing strategies in the attempt to acquire and train new employees to help bridge that gap.

There may be a “contrarian opportunity” for younger IT professionals to build skills in some older technologies… even if they combine this with some newer capabilities so as not to put all their eggs in a dying basket.

… or if they want to stay “mainstream” then choose to study technology relating to mobile, web based technologies and/or security as they are “hot” and likely will be for a time… or focus in on embedded programming or any of the building blocks of IoT as that appears to be the direction of things if you can believe the rhetoric.”

All of this just scratches the surface!

Check out Neil’s complete blog post for all of the best IT career advice from 111 Industry Gurus