Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: training

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

How to Learn When It Doesn’t Seem Feasible

How to Learn When It Doesn't Seem FeasibleForget the ABC (Always-Be-Closing) approach Alec Baldwin made famous in the in the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross. As Kevin Dee’s recent post indicated, independent contractors — and all professionals — need to Always-Be-Learning if they want to stay competitive within their industry.

A recent Contractor Quick Poll revealed that our readers want to increase their training and development this year, but the reality is few people have the time and/or money to go back to school and take courses to learn a new skill or improve a current one. The alternative is to get creative and figure out how you can learn and expand your knowledge during your everyday life. There are unlimited ways to achieve this and it often only takes a bit of creativity and innovation, or a simple Google Search.

Learn While at Work

This article from The Muse outlines unique learning opportunities for full-time employees and there are some helpful take-aways for independent contractors as well; for example, earning a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) Certificate and Joining a Professional Network. The referenced article suggests these are ways to learn at work, but we recommend holding off on taking an online course or attending a networking event until a time when you’re not billing the client. That said, you can use work time as a chance to network with fellow IT contractors to learn about professional networks and courses that they find helpful.

Learn While Winding Down

According to this Entrepreneur slideshow, the average person spends 17 minutes on YouTube every day, making it the #3 biggest time waster stealing your productivity. Fortunately, Dice found a way to make YouTube productive with these 6 channels for developers that help you build your skills and learn various languages and platforms. If you’re interested, check out:

We also recommend Eagle’s YouTube channel which features quick, helpful videos for independent contractors.

How do you learn? Everybody has their own way of keeping on top of the latest trends. We’ve shared some unique training ideas for contractors on the Talent Development Centre and if you have new ones, we want to hear about them! Please share your secrets with our readers in the comments section below.

Business Owner? Invest in YOU!

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on March 23rd, 2017

learning quote from Brian HerbertEagle has been working with independent contractors for more than twenty years.  One of the challenges that any business owner faces is in personal development and it is particularly tough for the owner of a one person business.  If “the business” is taking time out for training, then it is not making money  and a second issue is that the business also has to pay for training.

When I started Eagle I had a similar dilemma, how do I continue to learn about running a business and still do my day job.

“Develop a passion for learning.  If you do, you will never cease to grow.”  Anthony J D’Angelo

Here are some ideas:

Read! It seems obvious … but so few people do it! I love the Executive Book Summaries because they are an 8 page (20 minute read) synopsis of some of the greatest business books. A very affordable annual fee lets me download pdf files that I print and read when I have a few minutes between meetings or when I’m traveling! I also subscribe to Harvard Business Review which produces short, very informative and relevant documents that keep me thinking, give me ideas and help me to stay relevant.

Network! I started a small group of fellow CEOs that gathered on a monthly basis to share stories and collectively grow. There are many existing groups that provide the same experience.  Over the years I have belonged to numerous such groups .. including the group of CEOs who ride motorcycles!  If you are an independent contractor why not start your own networking group?

Online Training.   In recent years there has been an explosion of available, and free or very affordable, training online.  Sites such as Coursera and others like it have great training in a plethora of subjects.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  John F Kennedy

My advice to any business owner, particularly the independent operator …invest a little in yourself and you differentiate from almost everyone else!

Contractor Quick Poll Results: Training Plans

Every technology professional has a unique training and development plan. Each contractor has different skills sets in varying demands and requiring specific qualifications. Furthermore, depending on the stage you’re at in your career, you may have completely different goals than the person sitting next to you.

In January’s contractor quick poll, we were curious about how much time our readers plan to invest in furthering their education and abilities this year. Here are the results — two-thirds of respondents say they’re planning to up their training and development in 2017. Are you surprised? Do you think there may be some crushed New Years’ resolutions?

Compared to 2016, how much training and development are you planning for 2017?

Quick Poll Results: Compared to 2016, how much training and development are you planning for 2017?

Contractor Quick Poll: 2017 Training & Development Plans

How Much Training & Development Are You Planning in 2017?

There are many ways an independent contractor can improve their skills. From working on certifications to staying up-to-date on the latest trends to networking; every little bit counts. Recruiters at staffing agencies keep a close eye on this section of an IT professional’s resume as they want to know they’re presenting clients with the top skills available.

The reality is, though, finding time for these activities isn’t the easiest thing for an IT contractor to do. Especially when you’re already juggling projects, managing business tasks, and keeping up with finding your next contract, this can be a major challenge and may not always be top priority.

In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re asking how much training and development you plan to do in 2017. Perhaps it was a higher priority last year than it will be this year, or you’ve set a goal to improve in a specific area. We won’t judge, we’re just curious…

Programmers: This Video Could Get You a Job Next Year

There are so many programming languages out there that it’s impossible to keep up with everything. Some tech professionals don’t let this bother them, and focus at getting awesome at a select few. Other people like to keep up with the latest trends and be able to brag to recruiters and clients that they can code using the newest technologies.

If the latter sounds like you, then we have a resource for you! This 16+minute video from Chris Hawkes is packed with great information and goes over the top 10 programming languages that you should learn in 2017. Watch it and see which languages you can pick-up over the next couple months, then watch as you become the go-to independent contractor for some of the coolest projects in the coming year.

How Postgraduate Study Can Improve Your IT Career

Guest Post by Claire Payne at the London School of Business and Finance

How Postgraduate Study Can Improve Your IT CareerThough many may believe that getting to the top of IT mostly requires technical knowledge, the field is not that different from the others: you still need managerial experience to succeed.

A postgraduate MBA can help you do just that, offering an ideal opportunity to develop your skills and ultimately improve your long-term career prospects.

You can pursue a range of different postgraduate programmes in Canada, helping you to acquire new useful skills as well as refining your existing abilities. This is invaluable when it comes to your professional advancement, and it will give you a helping hand onto the next rung of the career ladder.

You may also find your salary increases, as most sectors hold MBA qualifications in high regard.

  1. Communication

Being a strong communicator is vital if you’re looking to reach the top – even in the tech industry, which has a reputation for being anti-social as everyone focuses on their own project. To progress in your career, you must be able to communicate effectively with clients and with your staff.

Developing your workplace communication can also improve your knowledge of conflict resolution – something that is extremely important for managers. Managing your clients’ expectations and pushing back on unrealistic project deadlines is a vital skill for management.

Postgraduate study can help you to build on these skills, as the courses often involve group projects and practical work for businesses.

  1. Practical skills

Many postgraduate courses can help to develop your practical and technical skills, as there are many specialised subjects that you can choose from. With technology advancing rapidly, there are always new skills to learn –a postgraduate degree will help you keep on top of the latest techniques and tools.

Another important skill you will learn or improve in most postgraduate degrees is negotiation. The ability to reach compromises and get the best out of deals is vital, especially for those working freelance or as consultants.

  1. Managerial skills

Postgraduate programmes, particularly MBAs, can help you with the skills you need to apply for senior roles.Among other things, MBA’s can help you to develop:

  • A better overall knowledge of your field, so you’ll know what works and what doesn’t
  • Strategies to help increase everyone’s productivity – not just for your project
  • An understanding of how technology and business intersect, such as how new innovations can help with marketing tech products
  • Better approaches to product development
  1. Entrepreneurialism

How Postgraduate Study Can Improve Your IT CareerIf you want to create a start-up company instead of working for someone else, a postgraduate degree can be invaluable to you.

For one, you will immediately be managing a lot of people and projects. This means you will have to develop an understanding of how your company will work at an individual level for your employees, and in the wider context of where you want to take it.

It’s not enough to know how to successfully complete individual projects – you will now have to oversee multiple tasks that are all happening simultaneously. Often, the owner of a tech start-up is the person who came up with the innovative idea. They may be a genius on the technical side, but they will still need guidance when it comes to leadership.

This is where a degree like an MBA will come in useful, teaching you how to guide your business in the direction you want to take it and help others to help you.

  1. Networking

Networking can be incredibly useful when it comes to taking the next step in your career. Postgraduate education gives you with valuable networking opportunities, as the connections you make while studying could very well be the people who help you secure employment for an exciting new project.

Your new connections might not always be your fellow students – most universities and colleges that offer postgraduate degrees also arrange events where you can meet successful business people and entrepreneurs. If you make the right impression, you can find business partners, consultancy opportunities, or freelance work with ease.

How to Become an Android Developer

Mobile technology is one of the fastest growing trends across all industries making mobile development a fantastic skill to have in your skillset.  In this video, Hooman Mardokhi explains how anybody, from beginner to advanced programmers, can become Android Developers.  There is a lot to learn, with many steps, but if you’re interested, this video is a great starting point.  For any mobile developers currently reading this, do you agree with Hooman?  Is there anything you would add?  Share your thoughts below.

3 Attributes for a Job: Experience, Skills, Attitude

There are basically three things you bring to a team and project when you start a new Woman searching for a job onlinecontract: skills, experience and attitude. By improving each of them, you can secure great references from clients and impress during interviews which will significantly increase your chances of scoring your next contract .

You can’t do much about your experience, but you can do a couple of things to enhance it…

  1. add to your experience through charitable/volunteer work;
  2. put your experience in its best light highlighting how it can benefit an employer.

In order to get a job you need to stand out from the other candidates. Remember it doesn’t matter how many people are looking for a job, you only need one!  You can differentiate based on skills and most definitely on attitude!


What can you do to add to your skills?

(i)      Take some courses;
(ii)    Get an unpaid job (intern) that gives you new skills;
(iii)   Do some self-learning online.

If your skills are too generic, can you consider going back to school and starting a new career?


This is THE number one way to differentiate from everyone else but to truly take advantage of it you need to really buy in to your new attitude.  It is not enough to say the words, you need to live and breathe it.

  • Recognise that your job is an important part of your world so be truly grateful that you have it no matter what the job is!
  • Do everything you can to be a great contractor.  Even if it’s not your ideal contract, do it better than anyone else would and with a smile on your face. You can find a better contract after this one’s over.
  • Refrain from telling a client “that’s not my job.”  Add value by helping out on other projects and mentoring other contractors or employees when possible.
  • Dress for success take pride in yourself.  Take your cues from those around you but always try to dress at the upper range of your peers. If you’re in a casual environment where jeans and a t-shirt are acceptable, always wear presentable and clean jeans, a collared t-shirt, and nothing inappropriate.
  • Go the extra mile. Putting in a little extra time when it’s needed can make a huge impression.
  • Adopt a positive attitude. You have a job, your health, live in a great country etc.  Don’t get dragged down by negativity.
  • The world is full of people that expect the world to cater to them they expected their parents to give them “stuff”, they expect their government to provide them with “stuff”, they expect their client to pay them while they give as little as possible back!   You can beat them to the jobs every time, IF you can demonstrate a positive ATTITUDE.

How do you differentiate yourself to clients and recruiters?  Do you do anything extra that you believe has led to success?  Share your tips and help other contractors across Canada find opportunities too!

Invest in Yourself!

When creating your resume, networking and, for some contractors, responding to RFPs, you should always consider your Return on Time Invested (ROTI).  In a nutshell, it means that you should spend your time building relationships that are going to generate your revenue — short, medium and long term.  You should invest your time to commensurate Piggy Bankwith the returns expected.

We can use the same theory to consider the term Return on Self-Investment.  This is basically a way to look at investing in your own success. If you adopt a mentality that investment in your success is very beneficial to you, then you can differentiate yourself from other contractors.

In fact you can measure your ROSI (a) in your own advancement over time; (b) your increased productivity; (c) your performance against your colleagues; or (d) your self-satisfaction.

Here are some thoughts for you:

  1. Lifelong Learning.  The Talent Development Centre has a few articles and the majority of independent contractors agree that this is important.  The progressive contractor, looking to increase their ROSI will:
    1. Take full advantage of every learning opportunity and networking event;
    2. Always look for learning opportunities even if they have a cost (in dollars or in time invested);
    3. Develop good habits for learning, including reading relevant articles, periodicals and books;
    4. Will seek mentorship and feedback.
  2. Personal Branding.  Again, we’ve written a lot about this, so the progressive contractor will:
    1. Invest in appropriate dress for work (looking a little better than their peers) ;
    2. Will seek to establish themselves as a thought leader in their field (get involved in associations, write thoughtful comments on blog entries, contribute articles, provide thoughtful feedback to management).
    3. Will network outside of work with industry colleagues, interesting organisations, charities, etc.
  3. Productivity.  The progressive contractor will:
    1. Adopt and continually work at GREAT time management techniques & tools;
    2. Set goals to measure themselves;
    3. Monitor their ROSI to ensure they are investing in the right areas.

An interesting observation about the points above is that few have to do with financial investment and many are about time investments.  That means many of these can be easily achieved with some simple planning and time management.  So what’s stopping you? Be responsible for your own success!

Rain or Sunshine after the Cloud?

Gilbert Boileau By Gilbert Boileau,
Vice-Président, Québec at Eagle

Last July, I wrote a post on the need for contractors to keep their skills updated based on clients’ willingness to adopt cloud-based solutions.  Some have asked me if, since things were changing at such a fast pace, if they should be worried.  I decided to write this to go more in-depth to the July post.

The first important thing to understand is that the drive for cloud solutions (applications,Cloud Solutions infrastructure, data, etc…) is mostly “human” driven versus technology driven.  Yes, it allows selection of best-of-breed solutions (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS) and creates greater computing and application elasticity, but it comes first from the need for more agility, greater business flexibility and cost containment.  Those are the big drivers.  And those drivers are way more important than if it was only a technological fad, because they answer fundamental business issues. 

What we are seeing is a normal evolution, not a revolution. In that respect, IT contractors will have to adapt to the changes by elevating their skills but most importantly, their way of practising their trade pertaining to that service/technological transition.

On the infrastructure side, system administrators will not lose their potential contract tomorrow morning. But they will certainly need to understand how cloud solutions enable clients to change the way they “interact” with technology.  As an example, some of the basic system admin tasks (configuration, sizing, etc…) will clearly not be needed.  As with other functions, they will be part of the provided cloud service. System administrator will need to understand the use of cloud configuration tools, Open Source or proprietary, and also security issues related to the use of the new cloud platforms. Additionally, they will probably spend more time taking care of service agreements and less time maintaining the service, which entails enhancing their soft skills. As for network administrators, their job will probably evolve to become cloud administrator.

On the security side, the move of core business processes and data to cloud solutions will push security specialist to stay on top of new security models and technologies.

On the application side, given the flexibility provided by solutions in the cloud, there will be even more pressure on the actual trend for rapid delivery on business requirements. 

In general, moving to the cloud is more than a virtualization mind shift. New paths will be presenting themselves and options will be there. Whether you deepen your technical skill sets to design those new services or become the liaison between business and IT, you should look forward to the change. Much of what you have today will be transferable.

Rain or sunshine?  It is for you to decide how proactive you want to be in this “service” model transition.