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

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada – First Quarter 2017

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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 20th, 2017

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.7%, an improvement over the 6.9% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 276,000 jobs.

The stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth ending the first quarter of 2017 at around 15,600 points.  This was up slightly from a reading of 15,300 at the end of last quarter.

Oil canThe oil patch has settled a little, but that isn’t a great news story.  With the price of a barrel hovering around the $50 a barrel range there is a still a conservative approach to adding jobs.  There has been some exodus of foreign money from the oil patch, allowing Canadian companies to increase their property holdings.  While in some ways that is good, it is an indicator that the big players are investing their money in more business friendly jurisdictions.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar seems to be settled around the 75c US level for now, which is where it was last quarter.  While there are some small benefits of a weak Canadian dollar, including positive impact on tourism, overall it is a negative for the Canadian economy and thus for job creation.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  Areas of growth for the banks have been any area that improves productivity and profitability, including robotics.  In addition risk mitigation in an era of economic uncertainty has created specific demands.

The telecommunications companies are other big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they too, are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs in significant numbers, averaging more than 250,000 jobs a month.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.  What has not happened, and is different from previous economic times, is that Canada’s economy has not improved along with US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

Construction worker

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the first quarter was 110, which was significantly up from last quarter when it was 96.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that the indication is a positive one.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we experienced a 25% increase in demand from our clients in the first quarter of 2017 versus the previous quarter, and the demand was about the same as the first quarter of 2016.  We also experienced a 20% increase in people looking for work over the previous quarter and a 16% increase over the same quarter last year.  This would suggest an uptick in activity that is a positive for the economy, if we can keep it going.

 More Specifically:

cn towerThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We have seen a small increase in demand in the first quarter and anticipate things will pick up as the year progresses.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016 but with an election coming and legislative interference harming the housing sector, the BC economy has started to slow down.  Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government although it too is hit by a decline in oil revenues and is struggling with deficit reduction, so no job boom here. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 but that remains to be seen as the province is not attracting foreign investment (because of Federal and Provincial government policies) and unemployment remains high.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  There has been an increase in Federal government hiring in 2017 with our civil service now employing an extra 23,000 in just the last year (wonder why our taxes are so high?).  Quebec is enjoying low unemployment and continuing to fund new tech growth in the province (wonder where those transfer payments are spent?).  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand in the trades, a growth in demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.


 There are some positive indicators that would suggest light at the end of the tunnel, but it is early to tell whether that will lead to economic growth.  At a very low growth in GDP, and increasing government debt loads and no clear fiscal policies to help I do not anticipate significant job growth in Canada for a while.

There are however bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers) and new technologies.  The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada), trade agreements (possibly negative for Canada) and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

In today’s Canada job seekers need to understand the growing sectors, the in demand jobs and be willing to go where the work is.  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

What the World Could Look Like in 2050 (Infographic)

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This infographic may be a couple years old, but we’re still many more than a couple years away from learning how accurate it was. If you’ve been wondering if and when we’ll finally be able to download dreams, build hotels on the moon or have electronic tattoos, then look no further.

Nowandnext put together this visual aid to tell us the likelihood of seeing these and other seemingly far-off technologies in the year 2050. Are there any that you’re particularly interested in seeing?


The Outstanding Opportunities for a Senior Executive

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

The Outstanding Opportunities for a Senior ExecutiveIs there life after being employed fulltime at the Executive Level? The short answer is YES!

Over the past 5 years, the Canadian marketplace has seen an increase in the demand for Interim Executives, as well as for industry experts to provide subject matter expertise in the role of a Management Consultant.

More and more, as senior executives take packages from Fortune 500 Canadian Firms, for whatever reason, they quickly learn that there is an interest and strong demand for their skills.  Organizations across Canada and around the world want to draw upon their deep industry expertise on an as needed basis, without the high costs associated with having these professionals on a full-time basis.  The resulting agreement is attractive to both parties – the Executive gets to pick and choose their own clients and projects, and when they want to take one on (many take months off between roles) and clients gain the flexibility of hiring an exceptional, results-focused consultant, but only when they need them.

If you’re considering the management consulting route, but unsure if you’ll be able to find work, consider this: Hot interim and management skills in demand right now are for industry experts who possess deep knowledge of running large enterprise-wide programs at the Program Director and Portfolio Director level.  Another hot skill in demand is for industry subject matter expertise from industries such as banking.

In particular from banking are those execs who possess deep knowledge of the payment industry.  Fintech companies are entering the payment marketplace very quickly, and while these firms have the deep technology skills and entrepreneurial flare, many are lacking expertise around governance and compliance rules.  Already at Eagle, we have seen Fintech firms seek out these experts to ensure their offering is in compliance with government regulations.

The Fintech industry is just one example. In fact, there are a plethora of opportunities in all industries for senior-executives to take on a new career and have flexibility, while bringing value to multiple organizations.  If this is something that interests you, but you’re unsure where to start, leave your questions in the comments section below. Or, if you made this switch and have any advice to offer, we’d love to hear about that too!

Life After Company XYZ

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Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

The IT Market changes dramatically each and every year, whether it is due to technological advancements, consumer demand, demographics, the economy, or any other reason.  While often positive, these changes can also have negative effects, causing companies to have to look at downsizing or restructuring.  In these cases, senior employees may be laid off, given an early retirement offer or even choose to take their natural retirement if the time lines up.  Regardless of how it plays out, it often comes as quite a shock to these individuals who have been with a given Company for very long time and suddenly find themselves having to think about their next move for the first time in over a decade.

Senior IT Professional Looking to Become an Independent ContractorIt’s completely natural for an individual in this position to wonder about “what they still have to offer.” The good news is there IS life after Company XYZ!!! Retirement or a new full-time job is not always feasible so instead, the next logical step could be independent contracting.  Not only is this group in a unique position to offer a tremendous amount of value to potential clients, but contracting can be very rewarding.

Here are just a few reasons why independent contracting may be the perfect solution for you if you’re a senior IT professional who is suddenly out of the workforce:

  • As already noted, the IT industry is changing, and as a result, companies are losing a tremendous amount of ‘Intellectual Capital’. You can take advantage of your skill set and offer your expertise on a contract basis.
  • After being with a given company for more than 10 years (which is rare in today’s Market), you can now have more freedom and choose what opportunity looks right for you.
  • It’s a great opportunity to start easing your way into retirement, working a little less and enjoying life a little more.
  • You’ll get to reap the financial rewards that come with it.

Eagle’s Executive and Management Consulting division works specifically with senior IT experts and has a network of clients who are looking for your knowledge. There is a definite demand for this market and, as more senior professionals start to retire, this demand is only going to grow.  If you find yourself in the position I described above, contact us today to discuss your options — you may be surprised at what you can do!

How to Benefit from Automated Resume Screeners

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Technology is advancing rapidly with enhancements that help companies increase productivity and efficiency.  Automated Resume Screening tools are one of the largest Resume screening computerrecruiting technology breakthroughs over the last decade. While a recent Eagle poll made it clear that not all companies are screening resumes with artificial intelligence, it’s absolutely a trend that’s not going away; therefore, it’s important to understand its implications.

If you’re submitting your resume, always assume it will be screened by a computer.  That is not going to change, so your best strategy is to adapt.  Here are a few tips:

  • Customize your resume for each job.  That doesn’t mean just planting keywords from the job description into your resume, but providing details about how your experience relates directly to the job.   Resume screeners are intelligent enough to recognize not only keywords, but also the detail surrounding them.  For example, instead of searching for a specific technology or skill multiple times, your resume may be screened based on which technologies you used together or how many years of experience you have with a specific skill.
  • Think beyond the current application.  Most companies won’t dispose of your resume if you’re not a fit for the current position. Instead, your resume may go into a database which is searched for opportunities that may never be advertised.  You are more likely to show up at the top of a search by including more details and keywords.  In fact, you could use the principals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when writing your resume.
  • Worry less about length.  The old rule-of-thumb was to keep resumes short.  In today’s electronic world, page length is immaterial.  If you’re certain your application is being filtered through an automated screening process, add in more details and worry less about length.
  • Keep it simple! Even a long resume must be simple to make it easy for computers to read.  Avoid tables or funny formatting and try to keep your resume in a simple file format, like MS Word.  Computers often have trouble reading PDF files.
  • Depend on more than your resume.  Don’t let your dream job pass you by because your application was lost in technology.  Take the time to follow-up with recruiters — they may take the time to personally review your resume out of curiosity.  Even better, be proactive and start building your network today!  Attend networking events and build relationships with recruiters at your favourite staffing agencies.

Automated resume screeners and applicant tracking systems are everywhere.  You don’t need to change much to adapt and when you do, you’ll immediately shoot ahead of your competition. What are you waiting for?

How to Prepare for a Video Interview

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Have you ever been asked to do an online face-to-face job interview? Check out this infographic produced by PGI – if you haven’t come across them yet, it may just be a matter of time.  According to the infographic, 60% of managers are using video to interview candidates and 66% of candidates actually prefer it that way.

Comments from a recent Eagle poll sent to managers across Canada suggested that companies are starting to see the convenience and cost-savings in video interviews. The poll also revealed, however, that nobody actually believes video interviews will ever replace in-person interviews.

While video interviews definitely haven’t replaced in-person interviews at Eagle, we have Video Interviewbeen leveraging them for a few years now to screen candidates.  Here are a few reason why:

  • It eliminates unnecessary travel.  Our job board brings in applicants from across the country.  Rather than asking out-of-town candidates to travel to a specific office, they can easily have a face-to-face conversation with recruiters from their own home-office or from an Eagle office more local to them.
  • It’s still personal. The alternative to a video interview when a candidate is out-of-town is a phone interview.  These are great for a quick screen that creates a shortlist of candidates, but nothing lets a recruiter get to know a candidate like a face-to-face conversation.
  • It’s flexible.  Even for local candidates, an in-person interview during regular business hours isn’t always possible. What if a candidate is working a full-time job and can’t get away for the interview?  What if the recruiter has a busy schedule with no time for an in-depth, quality conversation? Video interviews allow the recruiter and candidate to find a time and location that suits them.

If video interviews are still new to you, here are some tips to get you started:

  • Test it first.  If you’re using a new camera or technology that’s new to you, play around with it first.  Try a call with some colleagues and make sure the sound and camera quality is optimized.
  • Treat it like a regular face-to-face interview.  Come prepared, take notes, and dress professionally.
  • Be conscious of your surroundings. Set-up in a quiet, professional-looking space. For example, if you’re at home, turn off the television and separate yourself from kids or pets.
  • Look at the camera.  This takes practice.  Eye contact is important in any interview and the only way to make eye contact with the person you’re talking to is to look into the camera.  Very often we want to look at the person on the screen, but, as you may know, this can look awkward.  Here’s a trick: put a picture of somebody beside the camera and try to look that person in the eyes.
  • Get started Today!  Don’t wait for a Recruiter to ask you for a video interview before you start preparing.  All you need is a web cam and a Skype account, so set yourself up today and be able to interview immediately.

Do you think video interviews will replace the in-person interview?  We’d love to get your opinion, leave a comment!

4 Assumptions That Are Hurting Your Job Search

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Change is inevitable throughout the business world, but in the last decade, it seems like the pace of change has been increasing every day. If you agree with this statement and believe that SO MUCH has changed in just a few short years, then you need to be very wary of OLD ASSUMPTIONS!

We all tend to have them, they come from previous experiences, they are bred into us as children from our parents’ experiences and over a lifetime we tend to adopt them as fact.

If you look at the job market today it would be easy to apply the same beliefs you had years ago, or even just a few years ago before the recession.  Yet the job market in particular has changed enormously in a short space of time.

Canada’s economy is one of the best in the world but we still have almost 7% unemployment, AND we have jobs going unfilled every day!

If you are looking for work you might need to reset your expectations.  Here 4 common assumptions some job seekers still have that are holding them back from a future opportunity:

  1. “I need to secure full-time, permanent work.” Most of our readers are independent contractors so already know that this is false.  Temporary and contract work is growing. Even if it is not your preferred answer, it gives you (a) a pay cheque; (b) an “in” to an employer; (c) good experience; and (d) it is always better to look for work when employed! There are many benefits to contracting and the Talent Development Centre is dedicated to helping professionals succeed in it.  If you’re looking for work and have been ruling out those contract opportunities, it may be time to start considering them.
  2. “I can find work in my city.”  This isn’t completely false; you can find work, but is it Woman searching for a job onlinethe work you want? The job that matches your career goals may not be available in your geography, so maybe you should consider moving to where the work is.  Traditionally, Canadians have been slower to move for work, unlike the US, but being employed is a big part of anyone’s life so you should give it real consideration.  A great part about being an independent contractor is that taking work in another city doesn’t necessarily mean a big move. It may only be for a few months until a contract comes up closer to home and, depending on the client, you may be able to build travel costs into your bill rate.
  3. “I have always been a <fill in the blank>.” The truth is, some skills get outdated, especially in IT. Sure, you could become a subject matter expert in a niche area, but that will make contracts hard to find and could involve a lot of travel.  If you want to continue in that line of work, you’ll need to get some extra training to refresh your skills, or maybe you need to consider something different that could take advantage of your current skills.  For example, you could consider becoming a recruiter!
  4. “I know how to find opportunities.” If your colleague told you the only place they look for contracts today is in the weekly careers section of the newspaper, you’d probably look at them like they had two heads. Perhaps the fastest driver of change today is technology and that’s creating countless new places where companies are promoting their opportunities.  If you’ve been sticking with the same one or two sources for the past five years, you’re not much further ahead of the person who only looks in the newspaper.

Getting past some of these assumptions could require a big decision and don’t make any of them without really doing your research.  Remember, though, the people who figure out this new world first will be the winners! So ask yourself, are you changing with the times or are you still stuck in some old ways.  Do you have a plan to embrace new ideas and try new strategies?  Share your ideas with our readers below.

What Code Should You Learn?

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Yesterday’s post focused on the importance of improving your skills to be more competitive.  This could be anything from soft skills to technical skills and could even include a coding language.  Even if you’re not in a position that typically uses them, many experts say that basic coding skills can make anybody competitive in the job market.  If you’re already well-versed in a language or two, learning more can only help build you ability to score new contracts.  The question is, then, which code should you learn?

This infographic from WhoIsHostingThis? lays it all out well. Take a look below and gain an understanding of each of today’s most popular languages.  Which one are you going to learn?

What Code Should You Learn? - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com

Here’s Why You Should Always Be Improving Your Skills

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If you are not improving your skills in a world that is changing at an ever increasing pace then, effectively you are going backwards.   So, what are you doing about it?

Some people will point to their past contracts and suggest that their years of working in that role make them very experienced. Others would argue, though, that a Developer, for example, with 10 years of experience brings very little extra value than one with 2 years of experience.  Their on-the-job skills improve dramatically in the early years, but the rate of improvement drops off dramatically after a while.

So ask yourself some questions:

  • What are you doing to improve your skills?
  • What could you do to be better?
  • Are you still competitive compared to your colleagues who work in similar roles?
  • What if your contract ended tomorrow?Target Professional Skills
  • What could you do to get a better contract?
  • Do you have any niche skills that set you apart?
  • Are you willing to invest time/money to improve your situation?

When you really think about these things, it takes you a little out of your comfort zone; however, as a contractor, there is no way you can afford to be complacent. So get out of your comfort zone and invest in yourself.

  • Take some courses.
  • Take on special projects.
  • Read plenty. About your industry, about the economy, about what is happening in the world, about other industries that might interest you, about different jobs and roles that might interest you.
  • Get involved outside of work in non-profit organizations, sports clubs, charities etc.
  • Keep building and maintaining relationships with recruiters.

Broadening your horizons, demonstrating interest and showing initiative will (1) increase your worth and service offerings, (2) it will make your work day that much more interesting, (3) it will reduce the chance that “you” will be left behind and without a contract and (4) it positions you well for your next contract.

Are you improving your skills?  How do you do it?  Do you have any tips for balancing continuous improvement with your contract commitments?  We’d love your thoughts!

The Opportunity in Knowledge Transfer

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David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle

While travelling on vacation in Italy this past summer, I had the good fortune to meet a recently retired Italian gentleman who had a long and successful career in the Health/Pharmaceutical industry as a scientist. He was a so- called “Pensionato“; however, this gentleman, a relatively young 60 years old in today’s work world, he was a very reluctant Pensionato.

The circumstances of his retirement were largely the confluence of corporate takeovers and “layoffs”. It was effectively out of his hands and, together with some of the really challenging problems of the Italian economy, he had gained many concerns for the situation. One large concern was that he felt he had a wealth of knowledge and experience along with a lot more ‘runway ‘ left in his career. He focused in on one aspect of his value as a worker, specifically the tremendous knowledge capital he had acquired, and why at the very least his company, and in fact others, would not value his ‘knowledge transfer ‘ capability.

We talked extensively about him starting, albeit somewhat later in his caKnowledge Transferreer, to become a contractor. Together with offering his “as needed skills” and his knowledge capital acquired, he could market his ability to transfer that to new generations as his big differentiator. Unfortunately, rigid and old economy-constraining and confusing rules in Italy meant he would largely jeopardize his small pension by doing this, but it’s a shame that a vital and valuable resource would effectively sit on the sidelines with so much to offer

It made me think of the idea, in fact conundrum, of corporate knowledge transfer in companies today. We are now seeing companies talk about it a great deal as key but studies show it is largely aspirational as opposed to reality. Demographics alone in North America and Europe will strongly suggest an unprecedented loss of experience and knowledge in the years ahead, especially in many governments where generous pensions see older workers retiring the moment they are eligible.

Contractors are used by governments and corporations as part of a key tactical and strategic workforce model to provide the skills they need on an as and when needed or project-based model. Forward thinking organizations are also using them in part to potentially begin to acquire the knowledge and skills that they don’t have internally.

Independent contractors as part of their value proposition to client organizations should see this as key component of what they have to offer in each and every assignment. My friend “Arturo” would love nothing better than to be able to provide any organization such a service.  Are you taking advantage of this opportunity and marketing yourself as an expert who can transfer knowledge to new generations?  It’s definitely a differentiator for your business and something to consider!