Talent Development Centre

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All Talent Development Centre posts written by a member of the executive team at Eagle, Canada’s premier staffing agency.

Regional Job Market Update for Edmonton


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Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Much has been made of the continuing recession in Alberta and the fact that we may finally have hit rock bottom means things can only get better from this point on. An interesting statistic takes a look at the sales of new vs. used cars and found that the sales of new vehicles fell 18% during the period between 2014 and 2016, while the sale of used vehicles rose 10%. This same trend was noted during the recession of 2008 to 2009. During that recession new vehicle sales fell 27%, a huge decline and an indicator that things were bad.

So what’s happening now? According to recent stats, as Alberta’s economy gradually gains traction, new vehicle sales are rising once again. They rose 11% in 2017 and signs point to that trend continuing.

Much like the trend in new car sales, the market for Information Technology professionals declined during the recession. The Edmonton market was not as heavily impacted as the Calgary market during this time however, there was a definite decrease as companies and organizations took a cold, hard look at their spending. Edmonton is supported by its large Public Sector and while much of the private sector was hunkering down and keeping the lights on, government at the municipal and provincial level didn’t have that luxury, as taxpayers were clamored for increased and improved services. Additionally, the newly elected government in 2015 brought in a large number of policy initiatives and changes and the result was the reorganization and/or implementation of new systems and processes, which created a consistent level of activity. Things felt a bit slower, but there still seemed to be a demand. If you were an experienced architect, project manager, business analyst or .Net developer, there was little shortage of requirements and opportunities.

What we’re seeing today is different. Those roles continue to be in demand, but we’re seeing (and hearing of) major projects either in the planning stage or already on the docket and ready to go. Clients in traditional sectors seem to have greater confidence and are moving projects from planning to implementation. And new companies and partnerships are springing up in response to new opportunities and legislation, such as the legalization of Cannabis. This is driving innovation and opportunities in technology, especially around data, security, mobile apps and the cloud.

So what roles are clients looking for? As mentioned earlier, project managers, business analysts, and developers continue to be in demand. But we’re definitely seeing the introduction of roles pointing towards the changes taking place in the market.

You may begin to find your skills are in high demand, if you possess the following expertise:

  • Data Scientists
  • Cloud Specialists, specifically “integration” architects
  • ITSM/Workflow Consultants (Service Now)
  • Front End Developers (JavaScript and associated tools)
  • QA Specialists

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary


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

Calgary Job Market Outlook: The New NormalCautious optimism.  That is how the job market in Calgary might be best described.  Eagle has witnessed more new hiring over this past quarter than we’d seen of any previous quarter in the past couple of years.  Still at far lower levels than prior to the Oil & Gas meltdown, it represents a marked shift as a broader range of companies have participated in the hiring.

Economists from the National Conference Board and ATB are predicting that a lot of the growth will be seen coming from new, smaller and start-up companies.  There certainly appears to be more activity in these areas.  As the City has made significant efforts to diversify its corporate company-base, new-to-Calgary and start-up companies are building on their infrastructure.  They tend to have fewer requirements than the traditional O&G corporations, but there are more of them.  Certainly, a trend to watch over the coming months and years.

Supply of resources available also appears to be returning to normal levels.  In March, Eagle’s Calgary office had significantly fewer people apply to online job postings compared to the same period in 2017.  Rates have remained stable for quite some time now after having been knocked back due to the local recession.

Top IT Job Titles from this past month include:

  1. Developer
  2. Business Analyst
  3. Systems Analyst
  4. Support
  5. Quality Assurance

There hasn’t been too much variability in these top requests over the past months.  However, new requests for people with skills in Cloud and Cyber Security have been growing.

One disturbing trend that we have noticed is that there have been fewer contract extensions offered vs. times past.  Despite the uptick in new roles coming out, there is trend across the industry seeing a drop in extension rates.  The reason for this is not exactly clear but could be a sign that companies are shifting the way they use contingent labour.  Certainly, there are more companies that have implemented maximum tenure rules and that may be having an impact as well.  But it is something that we plan to follow closely.

What does the future hold?  It is still difficult to say with any level of surety.  I do expect that new, smaller companies will continue to drive innovation and will be a source of new opportunities here in Calgary.  Should some of this pipeline mess be resolved in favor of new capacity, there would likely be a “bounce” in the O&G market, with Oilsands companies, particularly, having some relief.  Regardless, it will take some time for local investment by the O&G industry to come back.  A lot of investment dollars have been committed to projects (and acquisitions) elsewhere, often south of the border.  Clear and decisive government intentions/policy will likely be needed before true confidence returns to this industry.

Has IT contingent labour hiring turned the corner for good? The last 3 months would indicate an improved and sustained hiring environment.  But only time will tell if this will be a long-term trend.  I expect that until the end of June, at least, there should be stable demand for IT resources.  Then the summer months will hit, and all bets are off.  Some summers can be very busy, while others are quiet.  When we came out of the 2008 – 2009 general recession, the summer was super-busy as people worked hard to make up for lost time.  However, that particular slow-down (although sharp and deep) was short in duration.  Things bounced back quickly.  This time around, we have been dealing with a depressed market for 2+ years, our economic muscles have atrophied, and companies have made structural/fundamental changes to their IT organizations.  This makes it difficult to predict whether our local economy continue to drive the need for jobs over the summer months.  As time goes on, be sure to watch the Eagle job boards, confer with your recruiter contacts, and keep active in your professional networks to gauge for yourself what is to come.

Best wishes for good business in the upcoming months!

Some of the Best IT Jobs are in Canada’s Financial Sector


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Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Interested in a Technology Career in the Banking Industry? Get an Exclusive Invitation to an IT Networking & Hiring Event in Toronto

Some of the Best IT Jobs are in Canada's Financial SectorForget everything that you thought you knew about working in a big bank’s Technology Group. The financial world has changed and FinTech is driving the way they do business!

The traditional banking model is undergoing massive change. Banking clients expect more from their banks than ever before so getting the right technology in place is more critical now than ever. Being ahead of the game in technologies including AI, mobile apps, data analytics and cloud computing is a huge differentiator for banks and is essential in gaining an edge over their competitors.

In the past, banks followed and implemented the latest technologies as they were released. Now, Canadian banks are actively involved in building the latest technologies. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and waiting, they’re putting themselves at the forefront of change by getting involved with technology labs like Communitech, MaRS Discover District, OneEleven and DMZ.  Several banks have also launched digital factories and innovation labs of their own to help cultivate ideas that address clients’ needs, as well as streamline processing all with a focus on technology.

Eagle works with all of Canada’s top banks and in the past year, we have seen a massive influx of both contract and permanent opportunities with their technology groups.  The focus has changed from merely acquiring the latest technology to leading technology innovations. Banks offer ambitious techies the opportunity to lead the way with new developments in AI and blockchain, and be part of creating new software.

For instance, many banks are employing an increasing number of software engineers.  The engineers and developers work in an active DevOps environment where code can be deployed in months… and sometimes even weeks.  The technology world, in large part due to FinTech, has changed and the Banks are evolving with it. Teams are agile and work in cross functional groups. The technology environment within today’s banks resembles the environments traditionally associated with Silicon Valley companies such as Google.

There are great career opportunities at all of Canada’s major banks.  Many offer hard core technology resources the chance to be part of a culture shift and take their career to the next level, while being supported by institutions with long histories and sound financial backing.

Eagle is currently working with a major banking client to build an exclusive guest list for an upcoming IT networking and hiring event. As well as the opportunity to meet with the organization’s top hiring executives, attendees will enjoy the opportunity to hear from industry-leading guest speakers and gain preferred access to current full-time job openings in technologies such as quantitative analytics and financial services applications. For the opportunity to attend this event, complete this quick online form.

Exciting times are ahead within the technology groups in all of Canada’s major banks.  When you consider your next job move, take a fresh a look at this exciting industry.  You may find your own little part of Silicon Valley on Bay Street.

Related Articles

Always Finish Strong


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Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

“Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic!” – Robin Sharma

Business People at Finish LineHow many times have you seen people who fail to finish strong either because they know they are almost done with a project, job, or even a work-out, typically because they become fatigued, bored or otherwise disinclined to continue to put the required effort needed to stand out.

Starting new projects or initiatives is always a time of excitement and for some contractors, that adrenaline rush of experiencing new challenges and meeting and influencing new people or environments is exactly what keeps them going in the contracting world.

But one of the most common problems I’ve witnessed and one that absolutely changes the client’s perception of the contractor’s overall performance is what happens in the final stages of the project when most of the work is complete and things are wrapping up. Feedback up until that point was extremely positive, everything along the way was good news (or no news). And just when extending the contract or finding the individual a new contract seems to be a no brainer, the wheels fall off.

It’s at this critical time, just as a contract is about to be completed, that a contractor can cement their reputation as being an absolute pro or conversely, and unfortunately, a dud! Here are a number of things to avoid if you would prefer to be the former, and not the latter:

1. Do More Than is Required

“What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.”

And do more than is required right up until the last day and hour of the project that you were contracted to deliver. If you keep that mindset as an independent contractor, you will build a reputation in the marketplace as a professional who consistently brings value to the project right up until its conclusion.

2. Don’t Let the Hunt for Your New Gig Get in the Way

“There are only two options regarding commitment. You are either in or you’re out. There is no such thing as life in between”

It’s true that as a contractor, you are responsible for “self-marketing” to ensure that you have your next contract in hand while wrapping up the contract you are currently on. But too often, contractors start fixating on their next contract. And so the work on their current project suffers. Attendance becomes spotty and deliverables suffer. Sacrificing the hard work and solid reputation you’ve earned at the very last stages of your contract is not wise. Not only will you risk angering a client who might still be considering you for other projects or an extension, but that disappointment could lead to an even earlier termination, making the issue of your next contract even more serious.

3. Don’t Rob Peter to Pay Paul

In other words, don’t let the fear of a “gap” in projects prompt you to accept a new contract prior to the end of your current one. This is typically mishandled for a number of reasons.

The contractor is embarrassed or afraid to quit so they invent a reason why they have to leave the contract early. The lie is usually uncovered at some point and there goes your hard-earned reputation.

They begin the search months before the contract is scheduled to end under the assumption that it is never too early to start looking. Well in fact, it is. Now you have an excited recruiter and client who believe that you are ready to start a new contract on their timeline. Either way, you’re guaranteed to make someone unhappy whether you accept the new contract and quit the old early, or stay with the current and turn down the new contract.

In the rare event that both parties accept the overlap, you end up promising both parties that you can deliver and then fail miserably at one, the other, or both.

4. Work with your Recruiters(s)

Plan a schedule of communication with your current recruiter so that you can help each other plan any transition. Share information and project knowledge to determine if there is an extension coming your way or if there are new opportunities on the horizon that correspond with your contract end. If you attend an interview prior to your contract finishing, let the interviewers know when you are expected to finish your current contract. Set the expectation with them that you will complete your current contract, that it is a part of your service delivery approach. If anything, it should impress upon them that you are a professional with integrity. And if things don’t line up perfectly, you can always offer to do project prep work while finishing up your current gig. This can always be done at home, on the bus or during weekends.

Starting new projects is always fun but it can be a challenge to finish strong. Commit to staying connected to your end goal which should be providing service and value right up to the last day of the project you are on. Don’t let yourself get waylaid by impatience or worrying about your next job. Trust that your training, experience and reputation will play a big part in the successful transition to a new contract. And work with professional recruiters to augment your search.

Canada’s Small Business Tax Changes from the New Federal Budget


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

Canada's Small Business Tax Changes from the New Federal BudgetI thought I would write this blog entry as a follow up to another that I’d written a number of weeks ago entitled, “Canada’s Proposed Tax Changes for Small Business” where I encouraged the contracting community to take notice, get educated and have their voices heard.  With the presentation of the new Federal Budget, these are no longer “proposed changes” but are, in fact, the new reality of the corporate tax system and its policies.

What was presented was a good news/bad news story for the small business owner. Finance Minister Bill Morneau was forced to consider the backlash from the policy changes that he and his government proposed several months ago, resulting in a somewhat softened stance when it came to Small Business Tax policy.  The final policy, presented along with the rest of the Federal Budget, took some of the sharp edges off their plans for reform, but it will still have its impact felt by the small business owner.

The following are some of the take-aways from the new budget as it pertains to Small Business Taxes and their implementation:

  • Income splitting has now been addressed and curtailed
  • New passive income taxation rules won’t have much of an effect on newer businesses or very small businesses starting out; but will impact older, better established and/or highly successful businesses whose passive earnings are already built up and substantial. Any company earning $50,000 or less in passive income will qualify for the Small Business Tax Rate but, once more passive earnings are reported, the tax rate will gradually increase until the point where passive income equals $150,000 (or more) and at that point passive income will be taxed at the General Corporate Tax Rate levels.
  • A concern that is getting a lot of attention is the widening gap between Canada and the USA’s corporate and personal tax environments. With the new tax reforms south of the border, there is a more significant tax advantage in doing business as a US-based entity; and this provides their companies with economic advantages over Canadian businesses. Investment becomes more difficult to attract which impacts Canadian companies’ ability to innovate and build. Moreover, there is a growing fear that mobile professionals such as doctors, scientists and technology professionals may choose to relocate state-side to take advantage of higher wages (paid in US$) and lower taxes.

There’s quite obviously a lot more to it than the above three points.  You can read more about it by following the links below:

If you have ideas, comments or opinions about the new Federal Budget that you would like to share with our readership, please leave a comment below!

What Makes a Client Hire Quickly… or Take Forever to Decide? (And Why Independent Contractors Should Care)


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

What Makes a Client Hire Quickly or Take Forever to Decide? (And Why Independent Contractors Should Care)Many factors impact just how quickly a company will progress through the hiring process.  Having a sound understanding of the speed of hiring can help a contractor immensely.  For example, if you are on contract and your assignment will be wrapping up, knowing how long the hiring process will take ensures you begin earnestly looking for your next “gig” at the correct time – not so soon that a new offer comes in before you’ve fully completed your assignment; and not so late as to have an uncomfortable gap in your work and income.

Having multiple offers in hand is a great scenario for a contractor but having multiple interviews on the go and one mediocre offer in hand is a little more difficult to manage.  Do you turn down the offer in the hope that one of the better interviews results in some business?  After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Having a solid understanding of the timelines involved may help you to determine whether you can wait to provide your acceptance of the present offer or whether you need to jump at what you’ve got for certain.

The following is a list of factors that lengthen or shorten the hiring cycle and why:

  • Reason for hire: Is the company initiating a brand-new project?  If so, there could be delays in the process.  Or are they replacing a key person within an ongoing project?  This could indicate a need for someone very quickly.
  • Interview Process: How many interviews will be required as part of the client’s hiring process.  It isn’t uncommon for some companies to have one interview and make an offer.  However, some clients like to have multiple interviews before settling on their candidate of choice.
  • Market conditions: When supply of contractors is robust vs. the demand for work, we often see companies taking more time to make a hiring decision.  The opposite is also true… tight labour markets mean that qualified contractors need to be snapped up more quickly or risk losing them to another company.
  • Complexity of the job description: Some customers ask for a “shopping list” of qualifications and experience that is so long that no-one exists with everything that they want. These clients need to scale back their “must-haves” and will begin interviewing the candidates that have portions of what they desire.  These customers are often slow to make a hire, hoping that some unicorn-candidate will magically become available.
  • Number of candidates being considered: If a company interviews 2 or 3 potential candidates, they tend to make quicker decision than companies who interview 7 or 8 or more.
  • Motivation of the hiring manager (or lack thereof): Deadlines, looming vacations, competing priorities all factor into the level of urgency hiring managers will have.
  • Level of bureaucracy: Some companies have an extensive internal hiring process that require levels of approvals and sign-offs that can drag offers out for weeks.
  • Dynamism of the environment: Many corporations have a very fluid environment, where programs and projects are continually in flux.  Timing of hiring is often impacted when this occurs as they attempt to coordinate the entry of the new contractor(s).  Depending on the situation, this could speed up the hiring process or slow it down.
  • Timing of other, similar projects in the local market: Projects may be delayed or fast-tracked based on other projects of a similar nature either starting up or winding down elsewhere in town.  For example, if there are a number of simultaneous SAP projects already in-flight in the local market, a company wishing to start one of their own may delay their hiring to coincide with one of these other projects winding down.  The opposite can also be true… back when everyone had a Windows 7 implementation in their plans, the companies who moved fastest to hire/build their teams were able to acquire the cream of the crop… they were motivated to move quickly.

These are just some of the things that can impact the speed at which an offer is made.  Be sure to ask your recruiter about these the next time they speak with you about a new opportunity and you will understand the issues at play – the better the information that you collect, the better your decision making will be.

2018 is Looking Great for Jobs in Canada… What Does That Mean for Employers?


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

As we head into the New Year, the economic news across the country, especially as it relates to employment and jobs in Canada, would strongly suggest we are at or close to peak full employment in Canada. While some regions are more active than others, we are seeing in many cities and provinces the lowest unemployment recorded in over 40 years! Canada created over 422,000 jobs last year, the best year since 2002, and many are full time. Quebec is at a record low 4.9%, plus Ontario and the West are also performing.

2018 is Looking Great for Jobs in Canada... What Does That Mean for Employers?Further economic indicators point to and back up this booming jobs market as wages have begun to creep up, a sure sign of a tight labour market. The Bank of Canada increased its rate a quarter point early this month, the 3rd increase since last July. The US economy looks to be also firing on all cylinders with recent massive tax changes which will only serve to increase the Canadian export economy provided a certain “very stable genius” doesn’t cancel NAFTA.

Here at Eagle, we are undoubtedly experiencing the effects of such a market in seeing a shortage of available candidates, candidates receiving multiple offers and down time between assignments being very short or non-existent. The ACSESS Staffing Index, a measure of billing hours in Canada among temporary labour, bears this out as it hits some of its highest levels in years. We also know that the “Technology” unemployment rate in Canada is likely less than half the nominal rate, likely in or around 2%.

Recent conversations with both the Federal Government and Ontario government suggest a looming crisis in attracting the next generation of technology professionals so desperately needed as their workforce ages out.

So what can clients, companies and governments do to thrive in a very tight job market? Here are a few suggestions meant to help navigate successfully to get the right people at the right time.

  • Review your hiring processes to be sure they are tight and efficient. Accelerate your hiring process where you can. Candidates with multiple offers — the “A” candidates — will not be available through an extended interview or hiring process in this market.
  • Hiring Managers need to review expectations. Many skills will not see multiple candidates to assess and therefore be sure you prioritize your “must have criteria” as the days of a candidate having 10 out of 10 requirements may no longer be realistic.
  • Work with your agency partners. Ensure a good and accelerated feedback loop exists, be proactive with your staffing partners on upcoming needs, be nimble on offers, and review competitive rates and salaries with your agency partners and others in the market to be sure your expectations align.
  • Make sure you understand your value proposition as a company to attract “A”candidates and articulate it to your partners so that we can help you. Know your organization’s “sizzle and its steak “. Understand your market, your comp structures and skills availabilities in your market and engage your staffing partners to fill in the gaps
  • It’s not the time to “overplay” your hiring hand. The market has changed and being slow to the market will not reward you. Be flexible. You will need valued partners because all but a very, very few elite companies will need help since the days of advertising an opening and sitting back to see what comes are gone

There will always be other ongoing events to stay abreast of, for example Toronto recently making the “shortlist” for the new Amazon HQ, (a move Apple no doubt is now likely to repeat). Although chances are slim they ultimately win, imagine if they did. It would present a huge game changer and competition for not only all of Toronto’s employers but many in Canada as well!

Organizations can still get the “A” candidates if they take to heart some of these and other suggestions and adapt to the marketplace. If not, it’s going to be costly with C and D level candidates.

Contractors/Small Business Owners: Your Agency is an Extension of your Marketing Department


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

Contractors/Small Business Owners: Your Agency is an Extension of your Marketing DepartmentAs an independent contractor, you are a small business owner. And just as every business needs to sell its products and services so, too, must you from time to time. Long term, multi-year contracts aside, contractors’ businesses are very often defined by frequent client engagements. When you are busy delivering your service it can be a challenge to find the time to market your company, after all there are only so many hours in a day. Likewise, sales isn’t typically your primary business and many contractors and consultants struggle with this part of their business (or, at least, it isn’t their favorite part of running the business).

What’s an independent contractor to do? There are some basic things that every small business can do to ensure they are getting their brand out to the market. These include:

  • Maintain a nice clean, easy-to-navigate website that lets prospective clients know what you do best and have accomplished
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile is accurate and up-to-date… and “connect” with as many people as possible… and participate in work-related, online forums and chat groups
  • Invest in business cards and stationery, an important part of your branding strategy
  • Network, network, network… Just as a restaurant’s success has a lot to do with its location, your business success is a result of people in your industry knowing about you and the work that your company does better than anyone else. Getting out where industry peers and potential clients meet and engaging with these people is vitally important
  • Work your “champions”. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you will have made some deep and lasting professional relationships. These people will want to see you succeed and knowing that you are interested in pursuing new opportunities, they will do their best to help you identify new prospects by making introductions.

…And, as the title of this blog suggests, leverage your staffing agency partners to the fullest! Your agency doesn’t technically work for you as it is their customer base that hires them to conduct searches on their behalf; but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from your affiliation with them. Especially when it comes to marketing your business. Eagle, for example, holds multiple networking events each year, we send out industry and market updates regularly, and our Recruiters are great sources of information and ideas. Staffing companies make their business by finding the best possible talent for their clients and, if you happen to be a good fit for one of their open roles, they will do the selling for you!

Staffing companies do not charge you (the contractor) to work for them. Instead their clients negotiate hourly fees that they will pay over and above the rates that you charge. Most end-clients are content to pay a premium to off-load the search, vetting, qualification, onboarding, hiring, and payment functions to staffing specialists as it is much more efficient and cost effective than doing so themselves. And they find the best talent available in the market this way. Therefore, you are able to charge your regular rates and get the benefit of agencies selling your services for you. Be sure to visit their job boards regularly and by responding to their Recruiters when they call, you will be better aware and engaged in new opportunities.

Other things you can do to help your agency partners to make a better impact on your sales efforts is to be consistent in your messaging. Branding is very important for any business… what is it about your business that sets it apart? If your website,and resume and “elevator pitch”/sales messages are all on-point and consistent it makes it much easier for Recruiters to understand your value proposition and to sell your company to their clients. Recruiters will often prefer a consultant who does one thing very well (and can demonstrate this through past work experience) to people who are good at a lot of different things. It is easier to sell and easier for the end-client to see where the “fit” is in their own teams; so tailor your branding and messaging to the job you want and communicate this to your agency.

Another little thing that makes a big difference is to invest some time into building relationships with key Recruiters that you trust. With very little effort you can build your Recruiter contact into a business champion of yours. Ensuring that you are reachable and making yourself available to meet or talk goes a long way towards building a Recruiter’s preference for working with you.

A lot has been written in Eagle’s Talent Development Centre blog site over the years about building strong and successful relationships with agency Recruiters. Any and all of these hold great tips that will turn an agency into a salesforce that works for you! Here are some links to these past articles:

Breaking the “Working and Not Selling” and the “Selling and Not Working” cycle takes some focused attention… but by spending some time getting your business’s Marketing program in place, you can avoid some of the time-gaps between engagements and develop your career in the direction for which you’ve planned!

Calgary IT Job Market Update at the end of November 2017


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By Morley Surcon (Vice President Western Canada at Eagle) and Brianne Risley (Delivery Manager at Eagle)

The following is a short summary of the IT Labour and Job Market in Calgary – supply, demand, and dynamics.

There are 3 “Trends” That Eagle has Noticed Over the Past Months:

Calgary IT Job Market UpdateCalgary has Developed an IT Skillset Gap: Information Technology changes and evolves very, very quickly. This means that what is “leading edge” today, may be “old news” in a matter of months. Over the past 18 months, Calgary companies have had a focus on sustainment. As a result, contractors have not had the opportunity to work on the technologies that are pushing the industry forward and a noticeable gap has developed between the skills available in the local Calgary IT community and the types of technology that are now starting to be requested by some organizations. Eagle is finding that in areas such as Dashboarding, SaaS, Front-end Development and Cloud development, it is difficult to find local people with the experience/knowledge in newly-in-demand technology. For example, we are now seeing demand for people with CSS/Javascript vs. the C# .NET that used to be so prevalent in the Calgary market. The same is true in the SAP space, where our customers are now looking for people with Fiori or HANA experience. We are seeing that companies are reaching out to out-of-town resources to fill these ‘niche’ skills and, in some cases, are paying elevated rates to do so. Companies may also be bringing in outsourcing companies and/or specialty partners to implement new-technology focused projects, going the way of out-sourcing or out-tasking to supply niche resources rather than running the projects in-house themselves.

Move Toward Greater Simplification:  Companies have been working towards consolidation and standardization over the past months. This encompasses both the technology that they use as well as the business partners with which they choose to work. Organizations in Calgary have shed roles over the past year(s) and must, therefore, focus on their core business/industry. It is increasingly difficult to find “the cycles” to complete projects that they do not have the in-house skills to complete. We are seeing much less custom development work in favor of their chosen ERP’s solution and/or implementing off-the-shelf software packages with little customization. And, instead of building up their own teams, more organizations have been opting to outsource or out-task project work to 3rd parties. Additionally, many of the companies in Calgary have undergone a vendor rationalization, reducing the number of suppliers/outsourcers that they deal with on a daily basis. This represents a clear shift in the quantity and types of roles for which staffing agencies are being hired and a greater degree of simplification for the companies themselves.

M&A Project Work: In Calgary, the majority of any new project work across many sectors is attributable to mergers and acquisitions. The necessity of integrating IT departments, reporting capabilities and business processes standardization work has created a short-term ‘bump’ in contract work. Many of the projects are due to be completed early in the New Year (or before). Once finished, these companies will be shedding staff once again to remove redundancies due to overlap in roles between the two companies and freeing up the staff that were solely employed for the integration project work itself.

The Following Market “Conditions” Have Also Been Noted:

Rates: Rates for non-specialized roles have remained flat for the past 6+ months. The exception is for ERP as demand has increased, albeit often for specialized skillsets as described above. Company “rate roll-backs” have halted as the employee and contractor rationalizations have been completed.

Skills with High and Growing Demand:  Eagle has noticed increased interest for contractors with the following skillsets:

  • Front-End Developers
  • Java Developers/Software Engineers/DevOps
  • Cyber Security Consultants
  • Project Managers (Agile, ERP, some Infrastructure)
  • ERP (Fiori/UI5) enhancement/upgrade work
  • IT Reporting – Cloud tools for data visualization – Tableau, Spotfire, Hana and related data warehousing/BI work. Predictive analytics and driving business value from data stores.

Skills with Neutral Demand:

  • Network/Storage Administrators
  • SaaS implementations (Sales Force, Service Now, Workday) + Traditional ERP (SAP/PS/Oracle)

Skills for Which We Have Seen a Decline in Demand:

  • .NET Developers (this is the first time in 10+ years that demand for Java/Front-end skills have outstripped .NET in Calgary)
  • Server Analysts/Administrators (Outsourcing companies are handling much of this demand by leveraging overseas options)

Existing open roles for Calgary can be viewed on here Eagle’s Job Board.

**Disclaimer: The market summary above reflects Eagle’s own experience. Please understand that this does not include interaction with 100% of the market. Eagle’s clientele tend toward the larger enterprise companies, therefore experience in Calgary’s SMB market may be substantially different.

If your experience or observations have been different, I encourage you to leave a comment so all may learn from your perspective as well!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links to news websites that discuss the proposed changes: