Talent Development Centre

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

Regional Job Market Update for Montreal

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Senior Vice President, Business Development at Eagle

Panoramic Photo Montreal city fron Mount RoyalThe COVID-19 Pandemic and associated deep recession in Canada has made market,  job and employment reports a bleak exercise indeed. As GDP has shrunk substantially in Canada and in fact globally , employers shocked with an unanticipated event reacted initially by stopping hiring then, implementing layoffs, and finally followed by a” how do we survive” — more specifically “Are we prepared to compete in a fully digital marketplace?”

Quebec, and more specifically Montreal, was hit very hard and early by the pandemic. The unemployment rate in Quebec went from a near full employment rate of 4.2% in February to 14.2 % in May. We know from previous data that the technology unemployment rate is about half the general  broader unemployment rate.  The question is where did the Montreal tech job market go? Well, we know that at the same time the pandemic was raging through employment markets and economies, there was an incredible Big Tech rally that completely defies what was happening on the street. This added hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth to companies like Apple, Amazon , Microsoft and Ottawa’s own Shopify, which recently passed RBC as Canada’s largest capitalized company  worth $164B !

Montreal is one of 3 big Tech hubs in Canada, along with Toronto and Vancouver. We certainly saw this market resilience in Montreal as it was one of  Eagle’s busiest branches relatively speaking throughout the Pandemic. The city, while also hit hard early with the Pandemic, also led Canada in restoring some sense of the new “abnormal ” as it moved first to open the economy in Canada. With diverse sectors along with Tech, for example Telco, players in Montreal moved quickly and continued to hire what now was more generally available resources in an strategic effort to amp up their digitized commerce and service offerings.

We have seen now many organizations in Montreal and elsewhere take the event as a time to evaluate their digital strength and no doubt in time refocus on projects to ensure they are able to survive and thrive in an ecommerce world. In demand roles in Montreal include PMs, Full Stack and Application Developers , QA resources along with Security and Cyber resources.

Contractor Quick Poll: How many languages can you speak fluently?

Canada is a diverse country with people coming from many cultural backgrounds. This brings communities and organizations opportunities to grow with different points-of-views and an array of unique approaches to problem-solving. At Eagle, we’re proud and fortunate to have worked with individuals from around the world with varied cultural backgrounds.

Being fluent in multiple languages can raise your profile as an IT contractor. Naturally, it opens up opportunities to better communicate with more recruiters, clients, their teams and their customers. According to this TED video we shared a couple years ago, it even contributes to how you approach problems!

In this month’s contractor quick poll, we want to get a snapshot of our readers and how many languages the average person speaks. Answer the poll below and if you’d like, add which languages you speak into the comments underneath.

Practical Ways for IT Contractors to Use Free Time

Practical Ways for IT Contractors to Use Free Time

The COVID-19 outbreak is locking the world down inside their homes and many of us are already going stir-crazy. Evening extra-curricular activities have been cancelled, live sports are taking a hiatus, and we’re discouraged from going out unless it’s absolutely necessary. Even telecommuting, as convenient as it is, gives you an hour or two more at home… inside the house… bored.

As we noted in last week’s post, it becomes easy to create an unhealthy routine of rolling out of bed, doing your work, then watching Netflix, all while eating junk food throughout the day. That behaviour is acceptable over the Christmas holidays, but is not ideal. Instead, use your extra time to better yourself and plan some of these tasks into your daily routines:

Professional Development

How many times in the past couple years have you missed out on a gig or higher rate because you were lacking some specific training or certification. Did you tell yourself you’re going to get on it but life is too busy? Now is the time! There are plenty of ways you can expand your skills and learn right from your home. We recently updated this post that contains over 50 different online resources for building skills and earning certifications. Included in that list is ICTC’s newly launched ICTC Ditital Pulse Channel. It will include live virtual events via video conference and available on their Vimeo page.

Perhaps you just need to use some existing skills and develop tangible experience. In that case, try creating  a few made-up projects, similar to this video of Python projects that look good on a resume. Or, you can offer to help a friend or past client with a project at no charge, with the understanding that you are learning a new skill.

Update Your Resume

We see thousands of resumes. Few of them are perfect. Can yours use some polishing? Here’s a checklist of things worth reviewing:

  1. Experience: Review it and ensure you list all technologies and skills you used, in each project description. If you know you will be responding to public sector bids in the future, check out this past post about building a resume for a government matrix. Remember, when you’re in a crunch to get a resume to a recruiter, it will be easier to cut information out of a detailed resume than to write new information to put into it.
  2. Wording: You have the meat, now make sure you’re selling yourself! Check out this post that helps you write the perfect profile summary. It will hook a recruiter into wanting to read more of your resume, then you can sell them on your experience. This infographic contains powerful action verbs to incorporate into project descriptions.
  3. Formatting: It’s amazing how many great resumes are destroyed because the formatting is awful. The biggest letdown is when a candidate gets too fancy and designs a beautiful resume that staffing agencies’ Applicant Tracking Systems can’t read. Then all that work becomes pointless. Even when it gets through the system, some IT contractors still fail to catch a recruiter’s attention. A few years ago, we asked recruiters what IT contractors can do better when formatting their resume, here’s their responses. Does your resume have any of these mishaps? If you’re spicing up your resume, also check out the video series we did a few years ago that gives tips for formatting your resume in MS Word.
  4. Match it to LinkedIn: It is no secret that all recruiters leverage LinkedIn to build their network. You need to have an updated profile to be found by the industry’s top recruiters. You also need to confirm it matches your resume which is one of the top things recruiters look for in a great LinkedIn profile. Use your downtime to update your LinkedIn profile, complete with a great profile photo.

Organize Your Business

Keeping your business running smoothly requires extra time to organize, and frankly, few IT contractors have time for that… until now! Here are a few past posts that will help:

Take Care of Yourself

If all else fails and you don’t want to think about work, use your time to take care of yourself.

  • Add Exercise into Your Daily Routine. It can be as simple as a few push-ups and crunches throughout the day, taking a walk around the block during your lunch break, or finding online workouts to follow along with. Many gyms are offering free live sessions to help cope with quarantines, you just need to search for them.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Especially during uncertain times where stress and anxiety are high, this is a good opportunity learn more about mindfulness. Explore and practice meditation in a quiet area to help focus your attention on the present moment and accept it without judgement. Some forms of yoga can have similar results, and also accomplish that exercise goal!
  • Enjoy Time with Others. Enjoy board games and activities with kids and spouses. Then, when fights inevitably break-out, call old friends and relatives who you’ve lost touch with.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging time for the world and it’s a test for all of us. How we react and move forward will determine who will come out on top when this is all over. These are just a few ways you can take advantage of your downtime to better yourself. What else are you doing to keep busy while stuck at home?

The Connections Between Gaming and IT Contracting

Since the original Atari hit living rooms more than 40 years ago, gaming has been a way-of-life for millions of people around the world. While at one-point video games were known as time-wasters for youth and burn-outs, modern games have transformed far beyond the 8-world adventure that was Super Mario Bros. Today, people of all ages from all backgrounds game and there are proven benefits for young people as they develop and adults as they build careers.

The Critical Skills Youth Can Build from Video Games

The Connections Between Gaming and IT ContractingA recent Globe & Mail article highlights a study by a University of British Columbia economist, Nicole Fortin, that found a correlation between video games and higher math scores among teenagers. Fortin saw that video games are not only a strong predictor of future careers in finance, computer science or STEM (areas forecast to dominate the job market), but they also benefit students with attention deficit issues. In a separate Psychology Today article, Peter Gray, ph.D, agreed there are career and personal benefits to young people playing video games — cognitively, creatively, motivationally, emotionally and socially.

The rising popularity in video games has also given way for the eSports trend. In the same way that schools and recreational groups have competitive sports teams, many implemented eSports teams for kids to compete in video games, and it’s a huge thing! According to Teched Up Teacher, nearly 500 colleges in the United States support eSports at the club level and, even in Montreal, a high school launched a specialized eSports program streamed specifically for aspiring pro-gamers.

Students benefit from eSports for all the same reasons they gain a brighter future participating in sports and other extracurricular activities. The game skills themselves are just a small piece, as they also build team, social, emotional, and time management skills. Even those not playing the game participate by managing social media, casting games, and overseeing the team’s Twitch account.

How Video Games Can Help Your IT Career Today

The benefits of gaming extend beyond building skills of our future leaders. In fact, plenty of research and experiences point to IT professionals’ careers advancing as a result of this hobby. Dev.to published an article this past January with compelling arguments for a number of skills that can be improved through gaming. The nature of the most popular games requires one to communicate with people around the world, work together, and solve problems as a team, all while under pressure. This results in improved soft skills like communication, leadership, alertness, decision-making, stress management, and strategy.

So, bragging about your gaming hobby might just be something that progressive recruiters will find attractive. A study at Missouri University of Science and Technology looked specifically at World of Warcraft gamers and discovered they share improved traits of extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Furthermore, gamers are more likely to have computer-mediated communication skills and technology-readiness skills. Essentially, the study found that the more achievements you have unlocked in a game, the more technology savvy you are in real life.

There continues to be different views on whether or not gaming truly does improve the skills of an IT professional or if being a gamer is a sign of a skilled worker. Just read through this extensive Quora discussion, which is filled with mixed opinions. Some IT hiring managers say they specifically look for gaming in an applicant’s profile, where other very skilled developers believe it to be a complete waste of time.

Are you a gamer? If so, do you believe it helps in your career and builds the skills needed to serve your clients? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments below.

Develop a Learning Plan as an IT Contractor

Develop a Learning Plan as an IT ContractorConsumers around the world have come to accept that as soon as they go out and pay big bucks to have the latest and greatest technology of any sort, it will quickly be outdated. That’s because technology evolves and grows at a rate faster than we’ve ever seen. Companies are always researching and developing their products to remain competitive, and that means they need IT professionals working for them who are also always growing.

If you’re an independent contractor and decide at some point in your career that it’s alright to stop learning, you will quickly find yourself in serious trouble when trying to find new work. To stay on top, you must develop a training plan for yourself and to do that, you have to know the up-and-coming skills clients are seeking. For example, Dice claims the top 5 programming languages expected to dominate the future are Kotlin, Swift, Rust, MATLAB and Python.

Of course, depending on your situation, knowing the hottest programming languages may not be useful to you. Simple Programmer also compiled a list of upcoming skills to learn, and they broke it down based on specialty. With some broader areas, this list is especially helpful to the IT professional looking to expand into new areas:

  • Web Development
    • js
    • Functional Programming
    • Browser Extensions
  • Software Development
    • Blockchain
    • Internet of Things
    • Cybersecurity
  • Mobile Apps
    • Augmented Reality
    • Mobile Payments

Even when armed with the knowledge of what to learn, the next step in building your learning plan is knowing how you will acquire that information. Learning new skills, especially tech skills, does not come easily to everyone, and we all learn differently. Dice suggests some of these methods to pick up new skills:

  • Shadow a Mentor
  • Break Down Skills into Microbehaviours
  • Train for Programs You’re Passionate About
  • Be Flexible with Your Training Methods
  • Attend Conferences and User Groups
  • Apply New Skills Quickly

The 5-Hour Rule states that you must spend at least 5 hours per week learning new skills if you want to stay relevant and succeed, and inspirations such as Barack Obama, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates all subscribe to it. How much time do you devote to building your IT skills and knowledge? Is it time to get your plan on to paper?

Top Tech According to Stack Overflow

Once again, Stack Overflow has put together one of the most comprehensive surveys of developer trends in their annual Developer Survey. There are a plethora of results and insights in there, from demographics of developers around the world, information on how developers think and, of course, leading technologies being used today.

On top of general popularity of various languages and platforms, the Stack Overflow survey is unique in that it looks at the most loved (technologies being used where the developer expressed interest in continuing to do so), dreaded (technologies being used where the developer has no interest in continuing) and wanted (technologies developers aren’t using but expressed an interest in using it) technologies, as well as the top paying ones.

Top Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages

It’s no surprise that once again JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language, nor should anyone be shocked that Python continues to rise and this year became more popular than C#. Interestingly enough, those are also the top to languages developers most want to work with and also make the top 10 list of languages developers want to continue using.

Top Platforms

There also isn’t much surprise in the most popular platforms used among developers, with Linux and Windows Desktop or Server being the ones where most developers have done work in the past year. The difference is that more than three quarters of the people currently using Linux want to continue doing so, where as Windows didn’t even make the top 10 most loved platforms. It’s also worth noting that although WordPress makes the list as one of the most popular platforms, it’s also one of the most dreaded.

Best Paid Jobs

Perhaps you don’t care about what people use and enjoy using, you want to know what’s going to bring in the most cash. For starters, especially if you’re joining the workforce and planning your career path, here’s a look at the top paid developer types around the world and what they make in USD:

Top Paying Job Titles According to Stack Overflow

More specifically, these are the technologies making money…

Top Paying Skills According to Stack Overflow

Fun Facts from HackerRank’s 2018 Developer Skills Report

Last week’s post summarizing the Dice 2018 Tech Salary Report had a few interesting charts around rates and wages of IT professionals in the United States. The information was compiled at the end of 2017 through a survey sent to thousands of technology workers. It turns out Dice wasn’t the only ones out surveying their readers. HackerRank recently surveyed nearly 40,000 developers to get a pulse on their skills and what makes them tick. Here’s a quick summary of the some of the more interesting results…

Most Developers Started Coding Before They Finished High School

As Hackerrank points out in their report, 25% of developers started coding before they knew how to drive. If you look at the chart below, it’s easy to see that the majority were coding before they finished high school. Interestingly enough, the report states that 47% of developers who are currently between the ages of 45 and 54 started coding before they were 16 but only 20% of the younger generation (currently age 18-24) started coding under 16.

Fun Facts from HackerRank's 2018 Developer Skills Report

Another finding in the report related to age ranks the UK and Australia as the countries who have the highest share of developers who started coding between 5 and 10. Canada sits in 5th place — 7.2% of our country’s developers started coding at that young age. The overall findings help back-up the argument that schools need to continue introducing coding skills and techniques at a young age to help build our future.

Clients Care More About Your Problem-Solving Abilities Than Your Coding Skills

When asked about core competencies developers’ hiring managers look for, an average of 94.9% including problem solving… only 56.6% said programming language proficiency which ranked 2nd. Something to keep in mind next time you update your resume.

Fun Facts from HackerRank's 2018 Developer Skills Report

The Most Popular Languages Are…

What would a survey summary be if we didn’t include the most popular languages among the respondents? To nobody’s surprise, JavaScript, Java, Python, C++ and C topped the list of languages employers seek out.

Fun Facts from HackerRank's 2018 Developer Skills Report

Naturally, developers are always trying to enhance their skills and learn the languages most likely to get them a solid job. As HackerRank points out, developers are following the lead of the Silicon Valley tech giants, with languages like Go, Python, Scala, Kotlin and Ruby being identified as the most in-demand skills to learn.

Fun Facts from HackerRank's 2018 Developer Skills Report

IT Challenges and Priorities of North American Companies

IT Challenges and Priorities of North American CompaniesHow up-to-date are you on the struggles and strategies of your industry? Understanding what companies are facing can help you plan which skills you will enhance over coming months, as well as help you develop a better sales pitch for your contracting business. There are plenty of sources and studies available to help you understand potential clients’ agendas, and new research is being published regularly. Here are a couple recent ones…

A CDW Canada survey of Canadian organizations learned that their top security concerns are intrusion prevention (39%) and Ransomware protection (35%). Even with these concerns, most are still exploring or implementing cloud deployments; in fact, half of them are planning hybrid solutions in 2017. While most organizations are adopting cloud strategies in one way or another, only 16% would consider themselves a “cloud-first” organization.

The survey revealed some additional IT-related priorities for Canadian organizations. For example, when asked about emerging technologies that will have the most impact on their business, the top responses were analytics and big data, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT). In addition, 10% plan to replace legacy tools and applications with new technologies and 31% plan to upgrade or update their current tools and applications in their unified communications strategies.

South of the border, mid-market US-based companies are having a challenging time attracting and retaining IT talent — that’s according to a recent CFO Research survey. The findings detail how 49% of finance executives state that their challenges to keep tech professionals in the company have an adverse effect on them. Once they do secure IT employees, the struggles with those people continue with technical competency, strategic planning and vision, industry knowledge, project management, and customer service skills.

Naturally, the US companies surveyed are dealing with their issue by turning to external services. Rather than training or continuing their search, CFO Research learned that most are bridging the gap by moving to cloud services and eliminating a need to source, manage and maintain computer hardware, as well as turning to managed IT services. Regardless of their concerns about costs, the provider’s ability to understand the company, service quality or security breaches, the overall feeling among the executives surveyed is that this solution has been successful.

Have you come across any recent studies about your industry that help you prioritize your training? If so, please share the links below so other readers can benefit.

Change Management – How to set yourself apart as an OCM Consultant

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Change Management – How to set yourself apart as an OCM ConsultantWhen Eagle first launched the Executive and Management Consultant division back in 2011, Change Management quickly became an area of specialty. Clients often complained that there was a general lack of understanding about the skill, and when they asked technical staffing agencies for qualified resources they would often confuse it with technical change management and end up with a handful of ITIL resumes.

There is no question that Change Management is an essential part of project success, whether for system implementations, business transformations or organizational change efforts. Data available on Prosci’s website sites that “Initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.” This highly specialized skill requires that consultants can operate at both a strategic and tactical level, working closely with senior executive level stakeholders to drive transformation efforts, while understanding how the nuances of business change will impact employees at all levels of an organization and ensuring that they are not only adequately trained but ‘bought into’ the efforts.

With many people becoming interested in the field and Prosci and other certifications readily available, there has been a notable increase in consultants coming into the market over the past 2-3 years. So how do experienced Change practitioners set themselves apart in this ever-competitive market?

The ACMP is the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Last year, they introduced the CCMP designation – which is a globally recognized credential that ‘defines best practices in Change Management’. Unlike other certifications that require no previous experience or training, the CCMP has stringent eligibility criteria (similar to the PMP certification process). This has given the CCMP certification much more credibility in the market. Gaining the CCMP is one of the ways that experienced Change practitioners can differentiate themselves in the market. Are there other ways that you have set yourself apart? We’d love to hear from you!

Making Artificial Intelligence a Priority

Making Artificial Intelligence a PriorityIt’s no secret that AI is the next big thing and has been dominating technology headlines throughout 2017. Microsoft, although a little late to the party, recently released their annual report for the company’s 2017 fiscal year, which made it clear that AI is now their top priority. According to this article from CNBC, AI had 6 references in the report, compared to last year’s which had 0. On top of that, their corporate vision statement removed references to “mobile first” and added a line about AI, as well, the company has been out buying AI startups like Maluuba and Swiftkey.

Given Microsoft, one of the world’s tech giants, is clearly prioritizing AI in their future strategy, what are you doing to ensure you don’t fall behind as an IT professional? If you’re interested in moving into the Artificial Intelligence space, here are some AI skills a recent ZDNet article says you’ll need:

  • Machine learning
  • Programs such as R, Python, Lisp, Prolog, Scala, as well as some classics like C, C++ and
  • Mathematical knowledge such as probability, statistics, linear algebra, mathematical optimization
  • Understanding of specific platforms and toolsets (ex. TensorFlow)
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Decision making
  • Business development

This article from The Institute (the IEEE news source) also weighs in with what a technology professional needs in their arsenal in order to get into AI. It suggests that while people do come into the field from data-heavy science fields such as physics and biology, a background in software engineering is critical a must-have. A sense of curiosity and drive for problem solving is also mandatory to land a job with the top companies.

Is AI something that interests you? If so, how have you made it a priority to develop your skills and ensure you’re positioned at the front of the line for a long career in Artificial Intelligence?