By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle
My responsibility at Eagle is Western Canada focused. That said, I reside and work out of Calgary which is vying with Toronto to be Eagle’s largest branch. Sure, we have great people, strong process and excellent service delivery, but, let’s face it, without the unequalled strength of the Alberta economy, we would only be a fraction of our size.
So, what am I saying here?
The whole country is well aware that the price per barrel of oil recently dipped below the $50 mark and the medium term prognosis isn’t encouraging. Our clients are making the necessary adjustments to this new business reality and the economy (along with our local business) is slowing as a result. It is times like these that can make one feel like Chicken Little, thinking that the sky is falling; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure there will be some period of time where things will be tighter and more uncomfortable, but this gives the economy a chance to take a breath and consider new processes and/or technological innovation. It is an opportunity for Alberta companies to make a planned renewal, to remake ourselves stronger and better competitors.
In the short term, we expect to see (and are, in fact, already seeing) more contractors and consultants “between gigs” — this will undoubtedly have a negative impact on rates in the local market. Long term contracts, permanent opportunities and contract extensions are now much more appealing. My advice to Alberta-based professionals working in times such as these is to put things into perspective by recognizing that this is part of the Alberta Cycle and realize that the tough times will end. Consider this time as an opportunity to invest in yourself and your personal business by upgrading your knowledge through continued training/education. This way, you too, will emerge stronger and better able to compete.
This TED Talk on global labour challenges should provide encouragement that your skills as a professional will be very valuable, whether you live in Alberta or elsewhere in Canada or abroad. People with the highest level of skills will be in the heaviest demand and for those of us living in Alberta, it would be good to remember this as we prepare for the next “up” cycle.
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Stop Searching for IT Contract Opportunities Over the Holidays
We’ll all use this holiday season to relax, enjoy time with family, and even be a little lazy. Given how busy we are the rest of the year, taking a break is necessary and there’s a good chance that what won’t be on your mind is searching for new contract opportunities. If you are able to squeeze it in between meals and movies, though, you just might set yourself up for a rewarding 2015.
There are several reasons a job search over the holidays can increase your odds of winning a contract. Here are a few:
Organizations are still hiring. Even though many of us will take a break, business will absolutely continue to operate. Companies are always planning their next moves, projects are always moving forward, and people are always needed (usually sooner rather than later). If you keep an eye on your favourite job boards, you’ll notice that, although there won’t be many, there will be new opportunities appearing.
Less competition. And while those new opportunities are appearing, fewer people will be seeing them. Remember, most people use the holidays to “turn off”. When you “turn on” for a few minutes each day, you may be the only person applying to a job.
Budgets reset. While not true for all organizations, many companies reset their budgets on January 1st. They suddenly have money to spend and will want to get projects going the second 2015 starts. They’ll use the holiday period to find contractors to work on those 2015 projects.
Recruiters are easier to reach. As we said in #1, it may be slower but business doesn’t stop during the holiday season. Many recruiters are still at their desk and may have some extra time. What a great opportunity to call them, build relationships, and discuss upcoming roles.
People change jobs in the New Year. 2015 will come with a slew of resolutions and some of them will be to make a career change. Be proactive by getting your name in front of recruiters and hiring managers over the holidays, and you’ll be the first person they call in January.
Show enthusiasm and initiative. If anything, taking the time to apply for jobs, writing cover letters and checking in with your network shows that you’re serious about your business. Many clients love that personality trait and will recognize you for it.
We’re not recommending you cancel your vacation, ignore your family and work for the next few weeks straight. But could you monitor some websites and make a few calls? It just might pay off!
We often say there is no better time to be an independent contractor in Canada, and we genuinely believe that. If you’re considering contract work but are unsure if there’s enough opportunity, consider this: ALL great companies use some form of temporary or contract help at various times.
Here are just ten reasons why they do that!
For project work. Assigning full time staff to a project (a) is sometimes difficult; (b) can cause problems in the role you take them from; and (c) can create issues at the end of the project if there is no new role available. Hence using a contracted solution works well.
Work with an uncertain future. It might be an initiative with promise, a pilot of a new line of business or any “high risk” venture. Companies don’t want to risk having their employees left with no job if the initiative gets canned!
Filling in for staff who are away. Maternity leave, sick leave, leaves of absence are just some examples.
Filling in the role while the company looks for the permanent person. Sometimes that “stand in” person becomes the permanent person, and sometimes companies just need an “interim manager” while they find the perfect candidate for the full time role!
Someone with a very specific skill set. The knowledge isn’t in the organization, but they don’t need that expert forever!
Requiring a “non-partisan” opinion. Companies may seek advice from an expert who has no political ties inside the company.
There’s nobody who has every skill. A company may have money for one headcount, but that headcount needs to have different skills at different times: three months of logistics skills around the holiday season, three months of financial skills around year end closing, and other skills the rest of the year. That’s three different three month contracts!
Knowledge transfer. There may be a requirement to get employees up to speed on a new system, technology, process etc. In this case, companies often bring in the expert to work with them through a transition period.
Cost containment. Contractors are often a more cost effective solution than a full time employee. When you factor in the cost of hiring, career & HR management , training, loaded benefits, pension costs and the potential of severance costs, a contractor is often a great answer.
Opportunity cost. For many companies the cost of not advancing a project or other agenda is far greater than the cost associated with bringing in contract help. If it needs to get done and they don’t have the resources on staff, they bring in contract help!
These are only 10 of the many reasons companies need contractors and, therefore, only 10 of the many reasons there are plenty of opportunities for contractors in today’s economy. Whether or not it’s for you depends on many variables, but don’t rule it out. If you have questions, reach out to a recruiter at your favourite staffing company or leave your questions in the comments below. We’re always happy to help!
By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle
While travelling on vacation in Italy this past summer, I had the good fortune to meet a recently retired Italian gentleman who had a long and successful career in the Health/Pharmaceutical industry as a scientist. He was a so- called “Pensionato“; however, this gentleman, a relatively young 60 years old in today’s work world, he was a very reluctant Pensionato.
The circumstances of his retirement were largely the confluence of corporate takeovers and “layoffs”. It was effectively out of his hands and, together with some of the really challenging problems of the Italian economy, he had gained many concerns for the situation. One large concern was that he felt he had a wealth of knowledge and experience along with a lot more ‘runway ‘ left in his career. He focused in on one aspect of his value as a worker, specifically the tremendous knowledge capital he had acquired, and why at the very least his company, and in fact others, would not value his ‘knowledge transfer ‘ capability.
We talked extensively about him starting, albeit somewhat later in his career, to become a contractor. Together with offering his “as needed skills” and his knowledge capital acquired, he could market his ability to transfer that to new generations as his big differentiator. Unfortunately, rigid and old economy-constraining and confusing rules in Italy meant he would largely jeopardize his small pension by doing this, but it’s a shame that a vital and valuable resource would effectively sit on the sidelines with so much to offer
It made me think of the idea, in fact conundrum, of corporate knowledge transfer in companies today. We are now seeing companies talk about it a great deal as key but studies show it is largely aspirational as opposed to reality. Demographics alone in North America and Europe will strongly suggest an unprecedented loss of experience and knowledge in the years ahead, especially in many governments where generous pensions see older workers retiring the moment they are eligible.
Contractors are used by governments and corporations as part of a key tactical and strategic workforce model to provide the skills they need on an as and when needed or project-based model. Forward thinking organizations are also using them in part to potentially begin to acquire the knowledge and skills that they don’t have internally.
Independent contractors as part of their value proposition to client organizations should see this as key component of what they have to offer in each and every assignment. My friend “Arturo” would love nothing better than to be able to provide any organization such a service. Are you taking advantage of this opportunity and marketing yourself as an expert who can transfer knowledge to new generations? It’s definitely a differentiator for your business and something to consider!
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