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

What Independent Contractors Need to Know About Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)

Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

What Independent Contractors Need to Know About Canada's Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation (better known as CASL and often pronounced “castle”) officially came into force on July 1st, 2014 and is enforced by the CRTC, Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Its primary objective is to protect Canadians from unwanted, harmful electronic messages and computer programs or software. What you may not know is, thanks to this legislation, you may be missing out on job opportunities!

What Exactly is CASL?

In its simplest form, CASL requires that anybody sending a Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) must first obtain consent from their recipients. All CEMs sent must then also include their complete contact information and a functioning opt-out mechanism, where opt-out requests must be honoured within 10 days. These CEMs extend beyond email, and include text messages as well as other electronic communication mediums, like a LinkedIn or Facebook message.

Why Now?

As already mentioned, CASL was introduced in July 2014, but it included a transition period that ended on July 1st 2017. During that transition period, companies could continue emailing contacts with whom they had a relationship before 2014 without requiring further consent. In addition, although the government agencies were enforcing the new law, many believe they were still ‘testing the waters’ and now that the grace period has ended, enforcements will become more rigorous.

These two factors (as well as a now-suspended Private Right of Action that would have allowed individuals to sue spamming companies) are why you may have received a high volume of emails from companies this past Spring, asking you to consent to receiving further emails from them. Most organizations have always taken CASL seriously, but with the grace period ending, they wanted to ensure they were doing their due diligence to guarantee compliance.

How Does CASL Affect Independent Contractors?

Although the basic concept of CASL is clear, there are some “grey areas” of the law that is open to interpretation. Perhaps the most subjective piece as it pertains to job searching is when it comes to receiving job opportunities. Depending how you read it, job opportunities sent by recruiters may be considered CEMs and this naturally makes many staffing agencies cautious.

You may have already learned that some recruitment agencies are lenient in their interpretation, whereas other recruiters will push you aside if they do not have your consent to email you. Sure, they’re allowed to call you (but do you really want your phone ringing off the hook from recruiters, especially when you are working on a client site?), but without your consent, you may not receive any jobs opportunities or related material by email or text message.

The simplest way to ensure you’re getting information about jobs when you’re on the market is to provide express consent to all of the agencies with whom you want to work. By applying to a job, posting your email address to a job board or social network, or contacting a recruiter directly, you are giving implied consent; however, this expires over time. If there is an option somewhere to receive electronic communications, or if a recruiter asks for your permission to continue sending you emails, remember to say yes. You can always opt-out when you’re no longer looking for work.

What If You Want to Opt-Out of Recruiter Emails?

Perhaps you’re no longer looking for work, or maybe there’s an agency who you’ve decided is no longer the right fit for you. All companies are required under CASL to provide an opt-out mechanism in all of their CEMs. Keep in mind, though, just as express consent does not expire until you opt-out, opting-out does not expire until you opt back in. If you opt-out today and are looking for jobs again in 5 years, be sure you update your preferences.

If 10 days after you opt-out you’re still receiving what you believe are CEMs, your next step should be to call your recruiter directly to ask to be removed, and escalate as necessary. You may have not realized that opting-out of one thing (for example a newsletter) did not automatically opt you out of their job opportunities as well. Also, if a company’s opt-out mechanism is malfunctioning for any reason, they will appreciate your tip, given the fines for a CASL infraction can get up to $10 million. If after enough attempts, you still feel you’re being harassed with electronic communications, then you can report it at the Government of Canada’s SPAM Reporting Centre.

A plethora of content and documentation has been created about CASL over the last three years by various organizations, and they all have some different interpretations. If you’re unsure about anything, or would like more information you can visit the official CASL information website at fighspam.gc.ca.

Tips on Achieving Inbox Zero

This post by Karin Eldor was originally published on the Monster Career Advice Blog.

Tips on Achieving Inbox ZeroWhen was the last time you reached the elusive “0” in your inbox? No emails left to read or reply to. A fully clean slate. Or wait a minute: have you ever reached that goal? And should you even care? Besides, once you clear your inbox, it can take a few minutes for it to fill up again!

One thing we can all agree upon: our perception of productivity has become defined by how many emails we have replied to vs. how many are left in our inbox. But if the reason you have a lot of emails left is because you were busy actively creating strategies and having a thoughtful workday, then does the size of your inbox even matter?

Truth be told, there’s a feeling of accomplishment tied to clearing your inbox at the end of the day. And of course, there are tools to help achieve that.

Enter the “Inbox Zero” phenomenon.

The Buzz Behind Inbox Zero

The term and philosophy of Inbox Zero was originally coined by Merlin Mann, the founder and writer of 43 Folders, a blog about “finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.” Contrary to popular belief, the “Zero” doesn’t refer to obsessively keeping your inbox empty at all times. Instead, it refers to “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.”

Email is harming our ability to do smart work — although it keeps us very busy. It’s hindering our productivity and it places the control of how you spend your workday in someone else’s hands as you’re in a constant reactive state. Some people even get anxious while opening their email, anticipating the unread messages lying there.

Psychologist and author of The Best Place To Work, Ron Friedman says: “The reason it can feel overwhelming to find lots of emails in your work inbox is that each message represents another demand on your time and another decision you have to make. Even deciphering a generic announcement about the office coffee maker requires effort, which leaves less energy for work that matters.”

True that.

How to Achieve Inbox Zero

Schedule email times & be militant about it

Keep your email program closed for most of the day, except during the designated times you set aside for it. A popular system applied by businesspeople is checking and responding three times per day. And if it helps, tell people so in your signature or in a scheduled auto-response, if you can (this is a famous tip from productivity guru Tim Ferriss, author of: The 4-Hour Workweek). This is a great way to manage others’ expectations and an efficient way to ensure you are giving your current tasks or meetings your full attention.

Touch It Once!

Don’t get into the habit of opening your email between meetings, reading some messages and then letting them sit idle in your inbox. Read and reply if you can, or if an email does require more thought or strategic action, file it away in a properly labeled folder.

This can be better explained in the following system:

Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, or Do

According to Merlin Mann, follow the principle of Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, or Do, when processing mail.

Here’s how it goes:

  • If it isn’t important, delete it right away;
  • If it isn’t an item you need to handle yourself, delegate it.
  • If it’s a task you can complete in two minutes or less, do it (send a reply, file the message, make a phone call, etc.).
  • If you need to handle it, but reading the message and completing the task will take you longer than two minutes, defer it.

Create Clearly Labeled Subfolders

Use folders and labels to stay organized and help you prioritize when deferring. Here’s an easy system to use:

  • Needs action or reply
  • Awaiting reply
  • To read
  • Important info (includes all those emails that have important info to reference but don’t require a follow-up task from you)

Get unlisted

Unsubscribe from marketing emails that don’t bring you joy or add value.

Use plugins

If you’re using Gmail, then plug-ins like Streak or Boomerang can help you manage your inbox and schedule emails (they have free versions for basic needs!). Streak helps you set up templated replies that you can use for contacts in specific groups and sets certain emails to resurface at a later date as reminders, so you don’t need to worry about them. Boomerang helps you schedule emails, so if you’re replying to a batch of emails, you can schedule certain replies to go at different times (i.e. in the morning of the next day vs. at 5pm that same day, when you’re actually writing the reply).

Don’t answer every email

This can be hugely liberating. If something is simply not a priority at the moment, archive it and move on. Don’t waste your brainpower. However, use your gut; you know who and what is priority, so assess accordingly!

Become An Email Master

In your quest to clean up your inbox and avoid the constant “Sorry for the delayed reply!” message, use the tips that make most sense to you. Hopefully they will help clear the clutter and help you take control of all incoming email, rather than letting those messages take control of you!

Email Etiquette – 20 Tips!

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
CEO at Eagle

This article originally appeared on the Eagle Blog on February 11th, 2015

Email is both (i) a fantastic tool and (ii) the bane of our lives… all at the same time!  It brings to mind an old saying, “can’t live with it, can’t live without it!”

George Bernard Shaw QuoteWhile the main cause appears to be volume, there are things that we can do to help ourselves.  Certainly within our own companies we can develop a set of guidelines that will help.

“Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.” Pythagoras

I thought I would start the discussion with some of my thoughts on the subject of email etiquette.

  1. An email should in most cases be about one subject.  If you have three different subjects to discuss then send three different emails.
  2. Emails should use good grammar. Do not use texting  shortcuts.
  3. The subject line is important, it should provide some indication about the content.
  4. The message should be clear… if in doubt try it out on a trusted person first.
  5. As a manager if I am sending an internal email to someone who reports to another manager then I should copy that manager.
  6. Sometimes a subject is too complex, or involves too many people, to be just an email.  In those circumstances a meeting would be a better choice, a conference call would be a good option.  The results could then be documented in an email for everyone to ensure they are on the same page.
  7. If you are writing an email and feeling emotional then most likely you should just pick up the phone or wait until you are calm again.
  8. An email provides a good history of an issue or topic, so it should be clear enough that it serves that purpose when you look back at it several months later.
  9. Always use spell checker.
  10. If you are replying to an email as one of a number of recipients then you need to think about whether a Reply All is necessary … hint, we all get lots of emails already!
  11. If you are sending an email to a group and want responses to go to everyone then indicate that in your message.
  12. There is little value in a reply that says “me too” … or words to that effect. Unless you are asked to confirm your agreement to something you would do better to not reply.
  13. If you find yourself agonising over an email then it is probably the wrong tool.
  14. If action is required then a timeline should be added  i.e. Please respond by noon on Thursday Dec 25th.
  15. Include a courteous greeting and closing. It’s a small thing but it helps make the email not seem demanding or terse.
  16. Use of capital letters means you are shouting, so please don’t, unless you really want to.
  17. If you are sending an attachment be sensitive to the recipient. It is often better to cut and paste the content of a small attachment so it can be read in the email (especially good for mobile).
  18. Use a standard font that is easily read.
  19. Use formatting to highlight important words, or points.
  20. Do not let email become your only form of communication if you expect to build and maintain relationships!

“Communication works for those who work at it.” John Powell

What rules/guidelines would you like to add?

How to Improve Your Email Productivity

An independent contractor’s inbox has email coming from all directions — from the various clients and teams talking about projects, to multiple recruiters sending information about different job opportunities, all the way to family and friends trying to confirm weekend plans.  With all of that traffic, how can you possibly get anything done?  This infographic from Cirrus Insight has some great insight to help you stay on top of everybody and get your work done.

Infographic: Email Productivity

Why a Phone Call Is Better Than an Email (Usually)

Last week we shared an infographic about the importance of face-to-face communication.  This video from Entrepreneur is a great follow-up and explains why email isn’t always the way to go.  This holds true in many cases.  Next time you give your client a project update, troubleshoot a problem with your team, or discuss an opportunity with a recruiter, ask yourself “Would this be better in person, rather than email?”