Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: training

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

Re-Learning Old Lessons

There are many reasons to invest in continuous learning, but perhaps one of the most forgotten is the need to re-learn lessons. Independent contractors can especially benefit from re-learning.  Here are just a few justifications:back to school

  1. Typically, when we take a course or learn a new skill we retain only a portion of what we are taught.  Very often we are trying to cram as much information into as short a period of time as possible the result being that we only take in a small portion of what we are taught.
  2. Independent contractors take courses for many reasons, such as acquiring a designation, upgrading certifications, or learning new technologies, but quite often contracts don’t require all of the new skills learned. When it is time to apply them, you may have forgotten much of the course content.
  3. As we get more experienced, it’s easy to pick up bad habits and forget some best-practices in your field.  When we re-visit old material, it refreshes us on how things should work.
  4. As your contracting career advances, the demand for some skills will likely become more important.  For instance you might take some courses on presentation skills early in your career, but are more likely to use them later.
  5. Over time, course content changes based upon the latest thinking, new technology or just different philosophies so what you learned, and practiced, all these years just might be out of date!

Here are some ideas to think about

  1. Don’t discount a training opportunity just because you might have covered that topic previously.  Be open to the possibilities!
  2. Dig out some old course material and revisit it.
  3. Develop a training plan for yourself that is very pragmatic.  Training is expensive, but there are many ways to learn!  It may bring you significant value to take some of the short personal development courses offered, particularly if they complement training you took in the past.  Learn from others and talk to contractors who take courses you might have taken years ago.  Borrow books and read voraciously!

Lifelong learning keeps you sharp, improves your skills and is absolutely critical if you want to remain relevant in today’s fast changing marketplace.  This is just another way you’ll stand out among the many other independent contractors in your field.

How often do you refresh your skills or re-learn/review old lessons?  Could you do better at it?  Start a discussion with other contractors in the comments below!

How to Improve Your Worth as a Contractor

No matter what your role is, your skill level, how much experience you have, you can always get better.

The question is DO YOU WANT TO GET BETTER?

Many contractors are pretty content to drift, moving from one contract to another.  They will do what they need to do but don’t do anything more.  Some percentage of contractors just don’t care. They will find any and every excuse to do the bare minimum and bill for the maximum.

Standing out in the crowdThe good news is that the people who do want to get better can easily differentiate themselves and rise above the pack.

Five reasons that you might want to do this:

  1. It makes you feel good about yourself.
  2. You have to work anyway so why not be the best you can be?
  3. Contractors with a reputation of working hard generally get more interesting, higher paying contracts with better clients.
  4. In the event of cut-backs, clients will try to hold onto their more valuable contractors.
  5. When the market is tight, contractors with better references tend to get hired first.

Five things you can do tomorrow to improve your value:

  1. Emulate the best performers in your field.  Find what makes them successful and copy it.
  2. Do a self-assessment of your skills with third party input from your peers, your clients and even past clients.   Identify one thing to work on and develop a plan.
  3. Take an interest in your industry.  Join industry associations and networking groups to get to know your peers and help each other develop skills.
  4. Adopt a “can do” attitude.  When approached with a problem, find a way to come up with a solution.  At the same time, be honest about what you “can do” and don’t over promise.
  5. Develop GREAT time management skills. Start small and work at it constantly.  How can you be more efficient?

How do you stand out to clients and recruiters among all of the other contractors in your field?  Do you have any other tips?  Share them here!

Are You Really Ready for Cloud Computing?

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

As more and more clients are looking at cloud-based solutions, the profile of IT workers will inevitably change over the next 5 to 10 years.  As some of the previous systems and supporting infrastructure will be updated and moved to the cloud, the profile of the required IT staff to grow organizations will change along the way.  While we cannot say for sure what will change, it will affect without a doubt the specialists needed in all existing IT organizations, small and large.

The shift to cloud-based solutions will create growing demand for specialists focused on Cloud Computingthe business side of things.  We will see more opportunities for consultants on the business front versus pure application development or support.  Business Analysts and Project Managers will be needed to understand business needs, choose the appropriate cloud-based solution and manage projects that require even more integration. On that note, data integration will definitely be a big part of every project involving cloud-based vendors.

On the infrastructure side, changes are also coming along.  As clients are looking at cloud-based solutions, opportunities for “Solution” Experts with a broader skillset and an understanding of more pieces of the puzzle will be needed.  For example, Storage Specialists with strong knowledge of the complete data lifecycle will be better equipped to provide their clients with fully integrated storage solutions.

As with every previous technological change and innovation, cloud-based solutions will create opportunities for those who have the required expertise.  Look at least 5 years ahead and make sure your skills are gradually updated to meet those new challenges coming our way.

Guest Post: Develop Your Willpower Muscle

Uri Galimidi By Uri Galimidi,
Founder of Will to Change Inc.

Can you imagine your life without any willpower at all? Would it be hollow, meaningless? And what about your needs, your wants, your ambitions? What would become of them?

We drive our lives with the power of our will. But what is willpower? Are we born with a set amount of it? Does it level off by the time we reach adulthood, or can we acquire more of it later in life?

Preeminent psychologist Dr. Roy Baumeister of Florida State University tells us that there are two key factors that influence our success in life: Willpower and Intellect. Unfortunately, intellect (IQ) can only be changed marginally throughout life. But we can develop our willpower. Studies have shown that children who have shown greater willpower in their earlier years, turned out to have better family lives, and were more successful in their adult life professionally, economically, and socially.

Our willpower has two main attributes:

  1. It is a depletable resource; and
  2. It can be developed, even later in life.

Willpower – a depletable resource.

The centre of our willpower is located in the Prefrontal Cortex of our brain. This region is also called the Executive Function of our brain and is responsible for: long term goal planning; motivation; reward anticipation; emotional integration; impulse control; and several other functions. Collectively, these functions greatly influence our willpower.

One of the main limitations of our Prefrontal Cortex is that it requires a significant amount of energy to operate efficiently. Consequently, its processing capacity is diminished when the level of its primary source of energy (glucose) in our blood declines. This happens especially before lunch and dinner.

An interesting study illustrates the effect of mental processing depletion on parole judges in Israel.  Researchers found that the rate of paroles awarded by the judges first thing in the morning, after they had a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast, was around 70%. It dropped to nearly zero just before lunch, when the level of energy in the brains of the judges was depleted. And guess what, immediately after lunch the rate at which paroles were awarded increased again to 65%.Developing your brain and your willpower

Developing your willpower muscle.

Scientific studies also reveal that we can develop the area of the brain responsible for our willpower. One way to achieve this is by performing simple exercises such as using your non-dominant hand to perform tasks such as operating your computer mouse, brushing your teeth, and even washing the dishes (if you can tolerate a broken plate or two). After performing these tasks repeatedly for at least 8 weeks you’ll notice that that the new routine, which initially required a lot of mental effort, has evolved into an automatic habit, which doesn’t require direction from your conscious awareness. Once you’ve reached this level of proficiency, it’s time to tackle a new routine.

Stay tuned for next week’s post on things you can do to maintain the wellness of your willpower.

About the AuthorUri founded The Will To Change Inc.(www.thewilltochange.com )in 2008, with the objective of helping his clients develop and harness their willpower, intellect, and talent to reach personal and professional growth opportunities they could not imagine possible. Uri helps his clients achieve clarity of purpose and develop a sound change strategy. He also supports them throughout their change journey and holds them accountable to pursue their goals.Before launching his career as an executive and corporate coach, Uri was an executive management consultant for over 25 years. In this role Uri climbed the corporate ladder to become a partner with the international consulting firm Accenture in South Africa, a vice president with Oracle Corporation in the USA, and a senior vice president with PwC Consulting in Canada.Uri is a frequent writer and speaker in the areas of Willpower, Personal and Professional Change, Leadership, Business Transformation, and Project Management.

Interested in writing a Guest Blog Post?  Send us a message at:  service@eagleonline.com

Contractor Best Practices

Establishing a strong business presence is an important step to ensuring both you and your Independent Contractor business is protected.  It helps to think of your business in terms of two different contexts: the business structure and your behaviour as the business owner.  Below are some tips to help you establish your business presence:

Structural Tips

  1. Business woman bookeepingHire a professional accountant to ensure you’ve properly set up your incorporation
    • Keep detailed records
    • File proper tax returns
  1. Set-up a separate business banking account.
  2. Maintain appropriate expenses
    • Determine in advance what is billable to your client and what will be considered a business expense
    • Keep mileage logs, as well as any home office bills
    • Determine legitimate business expenses, such as your website, marketing costs, etc.
  1. Risk of loss is a key differentiator
    • Is there risk of loss in your contract with your staffing agency?
    • Maintain your own business E&O insurance (talk to Eagle about how to acquire this insurance for $21.00 per month)
  1. Leverage opportunities for more profit through more hours
  2. Discourage your agency, or client, from mandating your hours of operation at a client site
  3. Avoid numbered companies and name your corporation.

Behavioural Tips

  1. Act like a business, not an employee
  2. Avoid the 9 to 5 workday – vary your hours at a client site.
  3. Avoid politics and people issues at a client site
    • Don’t partake in the water-cooler chatter
    • If something, or someone, is in the way of completing your mandate, focus on the issue, not the person
  1. Don’t expect to attend your client’s social gatherings or events such as the annual holiday party. If you do participate, pay to attend  and use the opportunity to network
  2. Take on additional contracts with multiple clients, even if only part-time
  3. Invest in regularly upgrading your skills through training activities paid by your incorporated business.
  4. Bring your own tools to a client site – laptop, office supplies, etc.
  5. Maintain a company internet profile.
    • Website
    • LinkedIn company page
    • Facebook company page
    • Corporate Twitter account
  6. Advertise
    • Maintain your own business cards
    • Maintain a listing in various directories (i.e. Yellow Pages)
    • Consider sponsorship advertising opportunities

Lastly, if you do get audited, let your staffing agency Recruiter know about it. While there are no guarantees, the industry association might be interested in getting involved.

If you have other tips or advice, please share them in the comments below.

How to Make Your Own Luck

There is always an element of luck in life. Here are some common misconceptions:

  • People are lucky because they are in the right place at the right time.
  • People are lucky because they are born in a first world country, and/or into an affluent family.
  • People are lucky because they are gifted with a special talent.

That’s not really luck though and the world is filled with examples of people who had luck and did nothing with it.  So how lucky does this really make them?
Luck isn’t something you are born with, rather it is something that you can acquire.  Lucky people think differently and take action in ways that unlucky people don’t. Here are four tangible things ANYONE can do to make themselves luckier right away.

Adopt a positive attitude to be more successful.

1. Adopt a positive attitude. Admittedly this is easier for some than for others, but it is something that anyone (who wants to) can work toward.

  • Hang out with positive people and remember that you choose who you spend time with.
  • Build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down.  Don’t listen to the inner voice that says “I can’t”. Focus only on the voice that says “I can. I am. I will!” Set goals for yourself and then crush them.
  • Accept that there are things you can’t change and focus on the things you can change.

2. Maintain a strong work ethic.

  • Work harder than your peers and put in a few extra hours every week if you can. It’s an excellent investment in you because those efforts are for you and the fact your client benefits is good for everyone!
  • When you are at a client site – work!  Don’t slack off, don’t spend your time checking the news, chatting with or texting friends. It might seem like no one notices, but they do.
  • Look after your health so that you can keep up with a tough schedule.  Stay fit, eat healthy, and indulge in occasional treats but not as a way of life. Reward yourself, but not with food.

3. Invest in yourself and embrace the concept of continuous learning.

  • We often hear people say that they “… just don’t have time to learn” but you do – you really do and as a contractor it is imperative to success! There are thousands of audiobooks and everyone has a smart phone with some kind of music playing platform on it.  It has never been easier to download a course and start learning in the car, on the bus, and even while you’re making dinner.
  • Take advantage of every learning opportunity that comes your way.  Sign up for newsletters from training companies in your field. Many companies offer free courses and webinars in addition to their other training services.
  • Invest in training and tools that will help you learn and be more productive. The benefits you will gain will pay you back ten-fold.
  • Get a mentor, ask the experts, stretch your limits. There is always someone you can learn something new from and most people are honored to share what they know given the opportunity.  Offer reduced rates to clients when you are learning a new technology.

4. Give more than you get and find a way to keep on giving.

  • It is the people who are generous, with their time and their money, who get the most out of life.
  • You never know how a gift will come back so keep giving without expecting anything in return.

How will you change your luck?  What will you do differently today?  Let us know by leaving comment!