Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: trends

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

Contractor Quick Poll: Early Bird or Night Owl?

Perhaps one of the top benefits of being an independent contractor is that you get you set your own hours. Certainly, your client will request you are available and on site for some meetings but overall, IT projects can be worked on during any time of day.

While the old “early bird gets the worm” adage holds true in many circumstances, studies have proven that all individuals are different when it comes to productivity. While many people are most productive when they wake up early and get a head start on the day, it still isn’t feasible for a large portion of the population. That segment prefers their sleep in the morning and are much more productive later into the evening.

In this month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we’re asking IT contractors which sleep schedule makes them most productive. Assuming you get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep (ha!), are you an early bird who likes to get up with the sun and go to sleep sooner, or do you consider yourself to be more of a night owl who does phenomenal work well into the night and then sleeps in the next day?

The Internet Will Be Unhackable by 2034

At least that’s what Futurism predicts in this timeline of the future of technology. They say that “a satellite network using entangled photons for quantum key distribution (QKD) will create a full secure, unhackable internet.” That’s among many other exciting/scary/far-fetched predictions, including underwater cities by 2055!

Whether or not you believe this infographic, it’s fun to look at and many of the predictions are believable. Do you think we’ll be mining active submarine volcanoes in 10 years or buying holographic pets in 2041?

The Benefits of Working Remotely for IT Contractors and their Clients

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Are you looking for a way to improve your work/life balance? Or are you looking for ways to increase your productivity and lower the number of unpaid sick days you have to take? Then maybe the introduction of remote work should be considered. Each day, more and more independent contractors are joining the “working from home” bandwagon.

The reality is that commuters face delays on a regular basis. Whether it’s because buses are late, trains are delayed or cancelled or there is congestion on the roads, it causes our commute times to double or even triple in length. This is one of the strongest reasons why more IT professionals are implementing flexible working schedules and working from home on client projects.

We all know commuting can often be time consuming, stressful and expensive. The modern business model includes more flexibility for their workers. Companies are providing their employees with an incentive to work from home a certain number of days each week, which allows the workers to avoid long commutes and is saving them the transportation costs. So why not do the same for yourself?

In this technological age, even educators are paving the way to learn from home. Students often have the option to listen to seminars remotely or take quizzes online from the comfort of their home. And even though they are doing a large majority of the work from home, they are still successfully graduating, proving that people can be successful from wherever they work.

Many of your clients and their employees are already on board with this way of thinking. An article from WomensPost.ca shows that a 2017 FlexJobs study of 5,500 people found that a work-life balance was critical to the productivity and success of a company. Out of all the survey respondents, 62 percent said they have left or considered leaving a job because of the lack of work flexibility. An even higher response of 66 percent said they were more productive working from a home office as there were less interruptions from coworkers, fewer distractions, less commuter stress, and they were removed from any office politics.

So will you be more productive when working remotely? You’ll be able to work (and therefore bill) extra hours in the time you’re not commuting. The better work-life balance also means you are less likely to get ill in the first place because stress levels are typically lower. And since you are not commuting, you’ll find more time for your activities, such as going to the gym or spending more quality time with your family. According to an article from the Telegraph, a study by Canada Life found that home workers took fewer sick days compared to those based in the office. The study found that employees working in an office took on average 3.1 sick days last year, whilst homeworkers only took 1.8 sick days and employees who have a cold or are mildly sick can still get work done at home, while office workers are more inclined to take the entire day off to avoid leaving the comfort of their home.

There are, of course, some challenges in working from home:

  1. First of all, the job itself must have the necessary tools to allow for remote work.
  2. Secondly, you must be independent and self-directed in order to be productive while working without guidance.
  3. Thirdly, trust is a big factor for this. If there is no trust between you and your client, then they will begin questioning your timesheets and you will lose out on future references.

Personally, I think a mix of both models is best. One in which you work from home on a certain day or days, but otherwise spend time at the client site to connect with the employees and managers for face-to-face meetings and collaboration. Even one or two days out of the work week spent working remotely does wonders for your mental health, morale, and productivity.

The world of work is dramatically changing. In a competitive world, flexible working schedules are creating healthier and happier workers and increasing productivity. The evidence so far suggests that working remotely benefits clients just as much as it benefits their independent contractors.

The Latest Resume Tips and Trends for IT Contractors

Your resume is your IT contracting business’s number one marketing tool. When optimized, that is the document that will make a recruiter want to meet you as soon as possible or a client eager to hire you before sitting down for an interview. Given its importance, we like to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends and tips from resume writing professionals around the world. Here is a summary of some of the latest advice we’ve come across:

Highlight Skills Above all Else

It seems obvious that your resume should include your skills, but a recent article from Dice emphasizes how important a skills-based resume is. Referencing studies from HackerRank and Montage, the article highlights some key takeaways when writing your resume:

  • Recruiters and hiring managers prioritize experience, specifically how long an IT contractor has been working in a discipline.
  • Education such as degrees is at the bottom of the priority list of those evaluating tech resumes. They’re more interested in your deep history of personal objects and direct understanding of languages and frameworks.
  • More and more companies are hiring based specifically on skills, as seen in the rise of skills assessments and predictive analytics to determine who’s best suited for a position.
  • A list of side projects and proof you know your stuff will make your resume more attractive.

Links in Your Resume are Great, But Do Them Right

The Muse published a fantastic answer about links in resumes and it’s too good not so share. When Alyse Kalish asked career coach and job search expert Clatyon Wert if it was alright, Wert’s response was “It’s acceptable to use links in your resume, cover letter, or any form of the job application—assuming you’re submitting it online. I’m of the belief that 90% of applications are now online, and you should be adding links to your portfolio, your LinkedIn page, and possibly more depending on your industry and the type of work that you’ve done. It’s best to put as much out there as possible when applying to jobs, because attention is everything in the job search.

Wert also provided some extra tips for adding links correctly:

  • Link your proudest and best work, as well as projects related to which you’re applying
  • Use hyperlinks on keywords rather than an entire URL strand
  • If you must use an entire link (ex. Print documents), shorten it using tools like bit.ly
  • If you have a large list of potential links, create a separate portfolio or website
  • Place links in the header or beside your contact info
  • Test all links to ensure they work

Take Extra Care in Proof-Reading

Proof-reading your resume to avoid embarrassing mistakes is not a new trend, but this article from Grammarly has some unique tips for proof-reading (and they can be applied to more than just resumes!):

  • Take a break between the time you finish writing and start proof-reading
  • Print it out or change the font to view it differently
  • Read your work aloud to spot misspellings and repeated words
  • Use your finger to move along and force yourself to slow down
  • Keep a list of mistakes you make often
  • Pay special attention to titles, headings and lists which are often overlooked
  • Double check prepositions you aren’t sure about

Naturally, Grammarly also recommends trying their product to help edit.

How’s your resume been working for you lately? Have you tried any innovative techniques that are landing your more interviews with IT recruiters and hiring managers? If so, we want to hear about them! Please share your experience and tips in the comments below.

Technology Will be the Star of the 2020 Summer Olympics

In exactly two years from tomorrow, the 2020 Olympics will kick-off in Tokyo. The world will have their eyes on the Summer Games rooting for their home countries’ athletes and excited to find out who will break the next record. Naturally, most sports lovers will be watching the events in anticipation of the record-setting runners, swimmers and jumpers. Another demographic, however, will be checking out the record-setting technologies.

The Olympics are not new to using cutting-edge technology in their processes and breaking records with their innovations. Did you know that the 1912 Stockholm Summer Games were the first to use electronic stopwatches on a mass scale? Or that the Berlin Summer Games in 1936 was the first sporting event broadcast on live television? According to this infographic from Futurism, Tokyo introduced the world’s first high-speed train in 1964 and intend to continue their innovative tradition in 2020. If you want a reason to be excited for the Olympics (other than the games) check out these predictions. These games are going to be unreal!

Cartoon Cats: The Hottest Collectable Since Baseball Cards

You read that title right. Cartoon cats — or CryptoKitties — are one of the latest and hottest technology trends to come from the blockchain and already, people have spent over $23 million collecting them. Like baseball cards, people can purchase and collect their own CryptoKitty; however, they can also use the genetic make-up of their kitty (embedded in code) to breed and create new, unique carton cats.

The technology behind CryptoKitties is incredible. If you follow Blockchain technology or like to be up on the latest collectables, we recommend you check out this video from Vox which explains the fad in detail. Whether it leaves you excited, perplexed or curious for more, we guarantee you’ll be talking about this one with your friends this weekend.

Contractor Quick Poll: Who Does Your Accounting?

With all the benefits that come from being an independent contractor, a major downside for many is having to deal with accounting. There are probably some of you out there who enjoy that stuff (to each their own), but from our discussions with IT contractors, managing the books is one of the more dreaded tasks that come with owning your own business.

Although an annoying job to have to do, accounting is a must for anybody trying to avoid bankruptcy and keep the CRA out of their hair. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to know how you make sure it gets done. Do you handle the majority of your accounting or do you outsource it to someone else?

Soft Skills Research That May Surprise You

The greatest IT professionals — both contractors and full-time employees — are extremely skilled in their technical areas. Where the average professional is lost and confused with technology beyond MS Office, IT workers have an uncanny ability to create complex programs, fix the most confusing bugs, and organize data to provide intelligence that a business owner never thought was possible. Having these skills are the pillars to landing a lucrative tech gig, but as we’ve discussed many times in the Talent Development Centre, improving your soft skills will make you competitive in your search for IT jobs.

There are an unlimited number of soft skills out there that you can improve and deciding where to put your focus can be a daunting task. A recent contractor quick poll found that IT professionals want their co-workers to have good communication skills, emotional intelligence and time management. We also shared an infographic last year that gave more specific insight into what soft skills are most important for a Project Manager. For what should be a simple topic, when we dig into soft skills, it can easily get complicated.

Earlier this year, business consulting company West Monroe Partners conducted a study to answer questions about a soft skills gap in IT and what soft skills companies look for in technology candidates. You can download the complete report here, but if you’d prefer a good summary, InformationWeek summarized the top 10 findings:

  1. 98% of HR recruiters look for soft skills when hiring tech workers
  2. 81% of organizations ask business leaders to evaluate IT job candidates’ soft skills
  3. Most business leaders say IT pros’ soft skills are equal to or better than those of other departments
  4. Half of organizations use personality tests to assess soft skills
  5. Recruiters say IT job candidates are good at verbal communication
  6. HR recruiters say leadership is the least important skill for IT pros
  7. Organizations in NYC want flexibility and conflict resolution skills
  8. Older people want teamwork and flexibility; younger people want leadership and conflict resolution skills
  9. Male and female hiring managers look for the same soft skills
  10. Different industries have different soft skills requirements

What can we take from all of this? The good news is that if you’re part of the majority, your soft skills are exactly where they need to be! If you want to focus on something, flexibility and conflict resolution look to be the top priorities in IT hiring managers, where leadership is the least. It’s also worth keeping in mind that these priorities vary by industry.

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you participate in the Developer Community?

Development trends and best practices are always evolving. There will always be new coding languages, advancements in technologies, and user behaviour trends that drive a need to change. Essentially, there will always be new problems and need for innovation.

Developer communities help overcome many of these challenges by opening up networking and providing the ability to share and work on solutions together. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to know how developers participate in communities, if at all.

The Emerging War for Tech Talent

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

We weren’t surprised to see the recent unemployment numbers in tech coming out of the US, since it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Canada is experiencing the same war for talent.

At Eagle’s permanent placement division, we have had an increased number of requests for developers. While the usual niche skills are in very high demand (Data Science, Machine Learning, Security), clients seem to be struggling to secure solid tech talent in more common areas. There seem to be more opportunities out there, particularly for experienced Java Developers, than there is talent.

Many developers choose to work as independent contractors. The appeal is obvious with the flexibility of projects/work. High rates are also a primary factor for choosing to work on a contract basis rather than full-time. But with some clients wanting to build out high performing engineering teams and keep this talent in house, they are having to come up with new and interesting ways to attract them.

Clients are now having to offer very competitive and comprehensive compensation packages. This is not unlike the trend we have seen in the US with unlimited vacation days, flexible working hours, remote work, and much higher base salaries. What may surprise some is that one of the key factors to attracting great candidates is offering them the opportunity to work with leading edge technology. A recent Forbes article states that “40% of employees had already left a job because they didn’t have access to the latest digital tools.”

We have experienced some scenarios in the past few weeks where employers have lost candidates because they failed to move through the process quickly enough and gained additional clients because internal recruitment efforts just can’t keep up with the demand. Solid developers are highly sought after and if they are considering a career move, they will typically be considering multiple offers in a very short period of time. Clients who expect candidates to go through multiple interviews and hope they will still be available 2-3 weeks after being presented, inevitably results in staffing agencies being on the losing end of this war for talent.

Working with an agency is becoming more essential as the market heats up. At Eagle we work closely with clients to:

  • Ensure that they have a carefully (and accurately) crafted an Employee Value Proposition
  • Give them unparalleled access to the ‘passive job seeker’ market
  • Provide detailed market data so that they can stay ahead of market trends and ensure their compensation is competitive
  • Keep in close contact with candidates throughout the entire process so that everyone is aware of competing offers before the candidate is off the market

With this new war for talent, it’s time for hiring organizations to start asking themselves if they’re ready to compete and what they’re going to do to attract and keep the best talent. On the flip side of the coin, with so many options available, it’s a good time for IT professionals to evaluate their own careers, develop a plan and decide where they want to be!