Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: skills

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to IT and business skills.

4 Ways to Learn New Technical Skills

There are a number of reasons you should always be learning new skills. First, the IT contracting world is overwhelmingly competitive, especially in fast-paced markets like Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. There are hundreds of other people applying to the same jobs as you are, and you need to stand out. Even if you’re competitive in your current position, if you never learn new skills, you’ll never be able to move into more senior roles and earn more money.

We don’t need to work too hard to sell this concept to IT professionals. Most of our readers are already well aware of the importance of professional development. They’re also swamped for time and resources, making it difficult to begin learning that new skill. So how can you fit it in? This quick video from Dice has some answers!

Awkward is the New Awesome

If you ever get called “awkward” don’t take it as an insult. That’s according to this video from Business Insider. Psychologist Ty Tashiro, author of “Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially awkward and Why That’s Awesome,” explains the reasoning behind people’s awkwardness and why it actually speaks volumes to their abilities.

It turns out, those of you “nerding out” and dressing up in elaborate costumes at Comic Con may be considered awkward, but it also means you’re focused and very knowledgeable at what you do!

Have You Learned Kotlin Yet?

Are you staying up-to-date on the latest skills? Technology changes are always happening and to remain competitive as an IT professional, especially a programmer, you need to stay on top or you risk falling behind.

Kotlin was recently announced as an official language for Android and this infographic from Programiz proves that it’s growing at outstanding rates with plenty of opportunities for programmers. According to their website, Kotlin is concise, easy-to-use, tool-friendly and, above all, safe. Have you become well-versed in it yet?

Kotlin Infographic

Are You Really “Detail-Oriented”?

Are You Really "Detail-Oriented"?There are a number of buzzwords and phrases that show up on resumes and LinkedIn profiles across all industries, whether you’re an IT contractor, a fast food worker or anywhere in between. Perhaps one of the most over used is “detail-oriented”.

Most people do pay attention to detail to some degree, but if everyone does, then is it really a differentiator worth putting in your profile summary? If you truly want to stand out as a detail-oriented person, then you need to demonstrate it in everything you do. Here are a few places you can show that you’re detail-oriented before you even start your project with a client.

The Application

Applying for a job through a job board, recruitment agency or directly through a client is usually a simple process but you’d be surprised at how many candidates miss a field or add the wrong information because they failed to read instructions properly. When a recruiter notices this, they immediately laugh at your “detail-oriented” claim in the first line of your resume.

Your Resume

Speaking of your resume, that may be the easiest way to show you pay no more attention to detail than the average person. Spelling and grammar are obvious must-haves, but consistency is another crucial element. Are you using the same fonts throughout? Do you keep the same format for each of your headers, bullets and body text? Does the tense remain the same as you describe your experience? The unfortunate part of a resume that achieves these points is that people rarely notice, but you stick out like a sore thumb when you don’t consider it.

Social Media

Often when creating social media profiles, we quickly fill out the information to get started and promise ourselves we’ll go back later to enhance it. When this next step gets forgotten, it leaves a blank, non-detailed profile for the world to see. Another area to review, especially LinkedIn, is how often you update it. It’s no secret that recruiters compare resumes and LinkedIn profiles to verify honesty, so they will notice if it’s outdated.

Completing Forms and Contracts

Similar to the job application process, but usually more complex, when contractors are asked to complete forms — contracts, security clearances, client policies — we sometimes see them miss important sections or insert the wrong information. More often than not, it’s because the form wasn’t clear on what it was asking. In these cases, it’s best to ask for clarification than make assumptions. Asking for help and admitting to trouble understanding the form may require some humility, but showing that you’ve read it demonstrates your attention to detail, and it’s better than submitting the wrong information.

The Interview

When detail-oriented people attend a job interview, they’re well prepared at a minimum. This means arriving on time, knowing who they’re meeting with and having a copy of their resume and portfolio available. Those who stand out demonstrate their attention to detail throughout the interview. They take extensive notes and ask good questions, building on what the interviewer has told them and proving they’ve been absorbing every word that’s been said.

The First Day

Finally, your first day on the client site plays an important role on showing that you didn’t just add another cliché to your resume. After all, first impressions will form how a client rates you through the entire project. As with the interview, being organized is a minimum requirement. Truly detailed people will have already done their homework on the project and organization so they’re ready to start immediately. Like the interview, ask questions based on what you learn and dig deep into the layers of the project as you familiarize yourself with it.

The term “detail-oriented” makes regular appearances on resumes, but it’s also in many job descriptions, proving clients do believe it to be important. With everybody claiming to have this trait, your challenge is to prove that you are above average and that needs to begin immediately.

The Future is Yours!!

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Why independent contractors in IT should always be on top of the latest tech trends

The Future is Yours!!When I first started in recruitment immediately following Y2K, the market was very slow. Seasoned professional contractors were having tremendous difficulty landing contracts. Unless of course you were a technical or functional consultant in the ERP world and your experience was in the right module, it was tough.

What is the point of my statement?

There are trends in the industry that are worth following. After the most recent economic crash in 2008, financial institutions were looking for any way possible to reduce risk. Consultants and contractors with risk system experience were in tremendous demand in a down market.

Which quickly brings us to today. Is it luck if your area of expertise becomes in high-demand? Sometimes I’m sure good fortune plays a role. I would argue, however, that being on the cutting edge of market trends can take some of the luck out of it. Asking yourself a few key questions in regards to where you see demand for your skills and area of expertise going forward should be a weekly exercise.

The key point to mention is that the current in-demand skills are often times no more difficult to obtain or develop an expertise in than those that are diminishing in demand.

Artificial Intelligence is a perfect example of the importance of identifying current and future demand for your skills. AI is not going anywhere and companies will be relying on it more and more every day. Can your skills be augmented to provide value to this emerging area?

Automation is coming and coming fast, particularity in administrative processes. How do your skills apply here and if they don’t, how can you obtain relevant skills to automation?

People are browsing, shopping, and purchasing on their mobile devices at staggering levels. Only a few years ago it was primarily a device for browsing. Those who had the foresight so obtain mobile development skills have reaped the rewards of this demand.

This may seem like obvious considerations but the difference between having in-demand skills and not can drastically affect your standard of living.

A contractor should be on the hunt to educate and further their own skills and knowledge. Make sure you are always evolving in your professional life and you won’t be left behind but will stay at the forefront of technology changes.

Top-Paying Skills for 7 In-Demand Tech Roles

Top-Paying Skills for 7 In-Demand Tech RolesA couple weeks ago we shared some interesting salary data based on the findings of Dice’s annual Tech Salary Survey. While this is great knowledge, it may not be helpful to those deciding where to invest in training to get the best return. Fortunately, the survey went on to answer that question by providing the top-paying skills for the most in-demand tech roles. Here’s a quick summary of the findings:

Top Paying Big Data Skills

  1. MapReduce ($125,009)
  2. HBase ($123,934)
  3. Cassandra ($123,459)
  4. Apache Kafka ($122,728)
  5. Elasticsearch ($120,002)
  6. PIG ($119,118)
  7. Solr ($119,032)
  8. Hadoop ($118,625)
  9. Hive ($118,589)
  10. RabbitMQ ($116,909)

Top Paying Cloud Skills

  1. HANA ($128,958)
  2. Cloud Foundry ($124,038)
  3. PaaS ($120,403)
  4. Amazon RedShift ($119,197)
  5. Cloudera ($118,896)
  6. Docker ($118,873)
  7. Amazon Route 53 ($118,828)
  8. IaaS ($117,422)

Top Paying DevOps Skills

  1. Ansible ($121,382)
  2. Korn Shell ($118,273)
  3. Jenkins ($113,354)
  4. Puppet ($112,883)
  5. Chef ($112,523)
  6. Vagrant ($111,422)

Top Paying Project Management Skills

  1. CMMI ($119,466)
  2. PMBOK ($118,233)
  3. Kanban ($112,932)
  4. ISO 270000 ($112,556)
  5. Lean ($111,970)
  6. Scrum ($109, 876)
  7. Agile ($108,459)

Top Paying Mobile Skills

  1. Objective-C ($116,667)
  2. Swift ($110,877)

Top Paying Design UI/UX Skills

  1. OmniGraffle ($123,782)
  2. Balsamiq ($110,744)

Top Paying Front-End Dev Skills

  1. JSON ($107,258)
  2. Angular ($105,496)

Keep in mind, the findings above are based in the United States. While we expect these are still high-paying skills in Canada, rates and salaries will differ depending on your industry and region.

The Top Jobs, Tech Skills and Programming Languages

A Summary of the Most Popular Lists Featuring 2017’s Hottest Jobs

The Top Jobs, Tech Skills and Programming Languages of 2017Along with ambitious resolutions destined to fail, every New Year promises Top 10 lists published by every blog and media outlet, summarizing the top trends of the previous year and predicting new ones to come (we’re guilty of this ourselves… and have no shame about it either).

One such topic you may have seen is the hottest jobs, tech skills and programming languages. In case you haven’t been able to keep up, we compiled the lists from the industry leaders. Many are based in the United States; however, in our experience, in many industries (especially IT), employment and tech trends carry over to Canada as well.

As you scroll through the lists, you’ll notice one recurring factor — information technology is as hot in 2017 as its been for the past many years. Even in the generic employment lists, IT is in significant demand across all industries.

Fastest-Growing Skills, Q4 2016 (Upwork)

Upwork, arguably the world’s largest freelancing website, releases a quarterly list of the fastest growing tech skills. These were the fastest growing skills at the end of Q4 2016:

  1. Natural language processing
  2. Swift
  3. Tableau
  4. Amazon Marketplace Web Services (MWS)
  5. Stripe
  6. Instagram marketing
  7. MySQL programming
  8. Unbounce
  9. Social media management
  10. AngularJS

Toughest Jobs to Fill (CareerCast)

CareerCast published this list of the most in-demand positions that recruiters and hiring managers have the hardest time filling:

  1. Data scientist
  2. Financial advisor
  3. General and operations manager
  4. Home health aide
  5. Information security analyst
  6. Medical services manager
  7. Physical therapist
  8. Registered nurse
  9. Software engineer
  10. Truck driver

Technical Skills with The Biggest Increases In Demand (Forbes)

Early in 2017, Forbes revealed this list, ranking the top technical skills based on how often they appeared in job descriptions.

  1. Big Data
  2. js
  3. Tableau
  4. NoSQL
  5. Apache Hadoop
  6. HTML5
  7. Python
  8. Oracle
  9. JSON
  10. Salesforce CRM

10 Programming Languages Every Developer Should Learn (Social Hire)

Here’s SocialHire’s list of what they believe are the “crème de la crème of programming languages”:

  1. Java
  2. JavaScript
  3. C#
  4. Python
  5. Swift
  6. Rust
  7. Dart
  8. PHP
  9. Scala
  10. HTML5

Best Jobs in America (Glassdoor)

Glassdoor regularly ranks jobs based on number of job openings, salary and overall job satisfaction rating. These are their results for the United States in 2017:

  1. Data Scientist
  2. DevOps Engineer
  3. Data Engineer
  4. Tax Manager
  5. Analytics Manager
  6. HR Manager
  7. Database Administrator
  8. Strategy Manager
  9. UX Designer
  10. Solutions Architect

Most Promising Jobs of 2017 (LinkedIn)

As the world’s leading professional social network, LinkedIn may be the resource most connected to job seekers and employers alike. This is what they predict will be the most promising jobs this year:

  1. Hospitalist
  2. Pharmacist
  3. Sales Engineer
  4. Site Reliability Engineer
  5. Product Manager
  6. Financial Analyst
  7. Technical Program Manager
  8. Program Manager
  9. Data Engineer
  10. Scrum Master

Best Jobs in America (CNN/PayScale)

CNN and PayScale also created a list of the top careers, that they say have the biggest growth, best pay and most satisfying work. Here are the first 10 from their list of 100 careers:

  1. Mobile Applications Developer
  2. Risk Management Director
  3. Landman
  4. Product Analyst
  5. Information Assurance Analyst
  6. Quality Assurance Coordinator (RN)
  7. Clinical Applications Specialist
  8. Hospital Administrator
  9. Database Analyst
  10. Finance & Administration Director

Balancing Hard and Soft Skills in Project Management

In its simplest form, a Project Manager’s job is to ensure a project is completed successfully. In more complex terms, it includes managing countless aspects from people to budgets to timelines.

You don’t always need the title of Project Manager to be responsible for the completion of a project. Independent contractors are often brought into lead a specific task due to their niche skillset, and naturally end up taking on these responsibilities.

As the infographic below from Brandeis University shows, projects fail for any number of reasons. And, if you read further down, it implies that the root of these failures is lack of specific skills, both hard and soft. The infographic goes on to explain that most people excel at only one type of skill and need to work to develop the other.

Thankfully, this helpful infographic goes further to provide tips and tricks on how you can improve your hard and soft project management skills. If you’re in the profession, or a subject matter expert who gets pulled into leading projects, have a look and see how you can improve on your skills.

How Canadian Developers Can Remain Competitive

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

How Canadian Developers Can Remain CompetitiveLooking for new development skills to remain competitive in your field?  Perhaps Rapid Application Development and Front-End Design are in your future.

An interesting question in mapping out your career and determining what skills are most important for you involves both an evaluation, through research and data analysis, of the current market as well as what is coming next.  None of us have a crystal ball, but there are certain trends and information out there that can give us a better understanding of what is coming.

As the majority of consumers shift to their mobile devices to browse and purchase, so will employers’ demands in the skills they seek. Mobile development is one of the fastest growing environments in IT.  Skills such as Android app development, HTML5, iOS, CSS, JavaScript, and Angular are in such an incredible demand that there is simply not enough people to do the work that is already funded.

Over the last decade we have seen an incredible amount of development work move overseas.  Heavy development lifts are being completed in countries where labour costs are a fraction of what it would cost to do it here. Employers in Canada are no longer looking for consultants to sit behind a desk and code, that work has predominantly left the country.

As the Agile Methodology grows in popularity and consumers move to the mobile space, having the technical skills combined with an understanding of marketing and brand objectives of the end client will make you in high demand. What employers want now are collaborative, creative developers with an acute understanding of marketing and sales objectives who can work in a team environment.

Do you have the skills required to stay competitive and relevant in Canada’s fast-paced development space? If not, it may be time to take an inventory of your skills — hard and soft — and refresh or upgrade those that are lacking.

NAFTA Revisions and Technology Workers in the US

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

How could trade policy impact Canada’s technology sector?  (A silver lining perhaps?)

NAFTA Revisions and Technology Workers in the USSince Trump’s announcement he will be changing the NAFTA terms, I have had many technology professionals ask my 2 cents about getting or keeping their TN work permit status under NAFTA.  It is too early to tell what changes will be made to NAFTA and the issuance of work permits under various professional categories but one thing is for sure, technology resources are concerned.

The US has had the benefit of NAFTA to hire many of Canada’s top technology talent, especially in Silicon Valley. Many corporations such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google heavily use the TN1 and L1 work permit categories to hire Canadian talent.  Under NAFTA, this was once a fairly straight forward process for technology professionals possessing the right qualifications, but it may become more onerous, highly restrictive and less attractive.

This is bad news for the US technology sector.  In a time of great growth and change, the last thing the sector needs is a government imposing restrictions on hiring technology professionals that are desperately needed.  The tech sector relies heavily on a global talent marketplace to staff projects.  Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor forecast that the US will create some 1.4 million IT jobs by 2020, but US schools will barely be able to fill a third of them.  Technology recruiters turn to Canada as the first place to recruit potential resources due to our common language, culture and schooling.  The recruiters also rely heavily on countries where having a degree in math/computer science is highly valued and youth are heavily encouraged to get into technology.

Is there a silver lining with potential changes to NAFTA and US immigration laws for Canada?  Yes, with uncertainty comes confusion and interest levels working in a country where your worker status is unknown and could change at a moment’s notice, people will rethink the US as a go to for technology jobs.  Canada definitely has the need to take on tens of thousands of new technology professionals.   In a recent Huffington post article, it was noted “Out of 527,000 students who graduated in Canada in 2015, only 6 per cent — 29,000 — graduated from an IT field, the report found. Canada would have to graduate around 43,000 IT students per year to keep up with job growth.”  So, let the hiring begin!!

Over the past decade and a half, Canada’s technology sector has been heavily impacted by the brain drain to the south.  According to a recent CBC post, between 30,000 – 40,000 professionals are working in the US under NAFTA’s TN work permit status.  A large percentage of these professionals are technology professionals.   This number does not also include those who are in the US under other work permit categories. So, needless to say, a lot of top Canadian technology talent is working in the US.

Canada’s technology industry has matured significantly over the past 5 years and many US Tier 1 technology firms have expanded their Canadian footprint.  Canadians working in the US now have more opportunities to find similar work to those located in Silicon Valley.  Canada’s technology sector would more than welcome these resources back to Canada as well as those on the global technology marketplace who no longer see the US a viable place to have a technology career.

Canadian technology CEOs and recruiters should take this opportunity to entice Canadian workers back to Canada.  Time to seize the moment!

Sources & Additional Reading