Are You Awesome or Annoying? (Video)

If given the choice, we hope that you would prefer to be awesome rather than annoying, especially in the eyes of recruiters and clients when they’re interviewing you for a gig. Of course, we all think we’re awesome, but are you really that great… or are you kind of annoying?

Don’t stay up all night worrying about what recruiters think of you. Instead, have a look at this video we created with input from our recruiters and confirm if they think you’re awesome or annoying. If you fall in the annoying category, perhaps it’s time to change some habits.

So Now You’re a Manager

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

So Now You're a ManagerFor many of us, after toiling in the trenches for years, aspiring to move up and into Management is a natural progression; in fact, we all probably know of the coworker who would say “what took you guys so long to promote me?” That, however, is a topic for another day.

Technology contractors generally benefit from being independent, but they are more often than not working as part of a bigger team. At some point or another, you may find yourself at the head of that team and managing a group of contractors or your client’s full-time employees. While such responsibilities tend to come with higher rates and valuable experience for a resume, it isn’t always sunshine and roses.

No matter the field, most professionals are thrilled with their first opportunity to manage people, but may be painfully unaware how their new job will change so drastically. When one goes from doing whatever it is you have become so adept at — programming, sales, accounting — to assuring others or a team of your peers accomplish what you may have seemingly mastered, well… now the “fun” begins.

Many organizations make the assumption and sometimes serious mistake that the star developer is the next Team Lead or Project Manager, but often that path is not natural. The business world needs look no further than the sports community. In sports, it is widely accepted that the star or legendary athletes very often do not make good coaches. Wayne Gretzky holds every NHL record there is and many that will likely never be broken, but suffered a post-playing career to a very unimpressive sub 500 record while coaching.

There are likely many reasons why the “star athletes”, who often have an extraordinary skill set at doing what they do alone (ex. sales, healthcare, programming), are abject failures in driving others to excel and accomplish the way they did. We can reasonably ask why those who are so accomplished inherently fail in the ability to coach, motivate, develop and truly lead others on a Team. Is it that different from managing oneself? The short answer is yes.

Star performers have an intense focus and ability to perform and accomplish at the highest level. They control their single most important resource — themselves. A Manager or Coach, on the other hand, must prioritize, multi task, coordinate and motivate a multitude of others, often like a Symphony Conductor and his orchestra with the hope the end result is sweet music. First time Managers will often struggle with this lack of “control” and will mistakenly try to do the job themselves, reverting back to their “me” instincts or micro-manage their way to success. Their new job, though, is a “we” job that requires an entirely different skill set to manage a team of people. An ability to delegate and empower others is not natural to the recently promoted “star”.

While we know the micro-manage scenario is a morale killer that often diminishes productivity on teams, it is a leap for many new managers to understand how important communication is to a Team. They may know what to do inherently but are poor at communicating that skill or ability. New managers or Team Leads will need time to acquire these skills and in the interim will likely need a ton of resiliency and perhaps a thicker skin as they take on the added responsibilities of other people’s actions.

Making the Most of That One Big Chance to Make a Lasting First Impression

This guest post was provided by the good folks at Effortless English

Making the Most of That One Big Chance to Make a Lasting First ImpressionThere is a good chance that you have had at least one job interview, and probably more than that, where you review your performance and feel frustrated that you could have given some better answers to the questions put to you.

Trying to anticipate the sort of questions you are going to be asked will help you to prepare for the process and stop you from freezing in the headlights when you get thrown a curve ball question.

Rise above the crowd

Of course, it is not just about rehearsing some carefully crafted stock answers to certain questions, as your interviewer will probably have come across these responses many times before. To get the job or even be considered for the job, you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd and make it easy for your interviewer to remember you and mark you down as a potential candidate for filling the role.

As this resource demonstrates, the mindset that you need to adopt is that you are not applying for a job as such, but selling yourself in the style of sales presentation. Your pitch might well amount to the same thing as submitting your application for a position, but the mindset and approach are different.

If you are trying to perfect your English and want to come across as grammatically correct as possible, the fundamental point being put across by the Effortless English service in the link above, is that to present yourself in the best possible light, it is not a case of sitting down and laboriously going through a set of rigid grammar rules, it is much more a case of learning to think English grammar.

There is a difference between the two learning methods, and that can definitely come across in a much more personable way when you are sat across the table from an interviewer, and trying to sell yourself as the best candidate they have seen.

Good listening skills are essential

The art of listening is also often grossly underestimated when it comes to coming across as a strong candidate.

Some consider listening to be one of the most important communication skills that you can possess, and it could be argued that one of the most powerful ways to make a meaningful connection with another person, is to listen.

This is an attribute that can serve you well in an interview process. Yes, you are expected to do a lot of speaking and provide convincing answers when being interviewed for a job, but just as important is knowing when to stop and listen to what is being said to you and what is specifically being asked.

Listening doesn’t just mean interpreting the words being spoken. It also means non-verbal as well as verbal communication skills.

Your ability to listen successfully hinges greatly on the extent to which you are able to accurately perceive and understand the verbal and nonverbal messages being portrayed to you in the interview process.

Many companies put a lot of emphasis on good communication skills, and if you are able to demonstrate this ability in abundance during your interview, by the way you speak, listen and present yourself, you will be increasing the odds of getting the call to say the job is yours.

Does Coffee Really Make You More Productive at Work? (Infographic)

How often have you been up all night because you lost track of time binge watching Netflix, gaming, or working on a tech project? It happens to the best of us. And after just a few short hours of sleep, our solution in the morning and throughout the day is to pound the coffee or energy drinks into our bodies, with the hope that productivity will be as superior as it is any other day. Even on an average day, with a good night’s sleep, many IT contractors still start the morning with a cup of joe or break up the day with a coffee break, often saying they can’t function without it.

What are the realities of all of this? Is coffee really that miracle drink? According to this infographic from TollFreeForwarding.com, not quite. Check it out and learn the real facts about coffee, so you can still enjoy your favourite hot drink and maximize your productivity.

Does Coffee Really Make You More Productive at Work?

IT Industry News for December 2016

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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on January 6th, 2017

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for December 2016. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Decembers …

Five years ago, in December 2011 Ottawa’s March Networks was snapped up by Infinova Canada for $90 million, and Toronto based Rypple was acquired by Salesforce.com!  The BIG deal was SAP’s $3.4 billion purchase of SuccessFactors, who had also announced they were buying Jobs2Web for $110 milion.  It was IBM that was the most active acquirer of the month, paying $440 million for DemandTec, also picking up Emptoris in the procurement world and Irish company Curam Software in the government sector. Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseFour years ago, in December 2012 there was a fair amount of M&A activity with Oracle making two acquisitions, marketing automation company Eloqua ($871 million) and Dataraker which provides analytics for utilities companies.  The big deal of the month saw Sprint pay $2.2 Billion to take full control of cellular competitor Clearwire.   Montreal based Cogeco paid $635 million for Peer 1 Networks and NCR paid $635 million for retail software and services company Retalix.  In the BYOD space Citrix bought mobile device management company Zenprise for $355 million.  Finally, Redknee added 1200 employees and 130 new clients through the purchase of Nokia Siemens Business Support Network. December 2013 was a slow month, however Oracle pulled off a $1.5 billion buy of marketing software company Responsys; Akamai paid $370 million for cloud-based IBM logosecurity solutions provider Prolexic; JDS Uniphase paid $200 million for enterprise performance management company Network Instruments; IBM bought a “big data” file compression company Aspera and Hitachi expended its solutions capability with the purchase of Calgary based Ideaca.  In other company news Target, although not an IT company, had a major security breach involving details of 40 million debit and credit cards.  December 2014 was not such a slow news month, with the political and technical ramifications of “the Sony hack” causing uproar, some very positive economic indicators out of the US and some big names making acquisitions, albeit not huge deals.  Microsoft made two Microsoft logoacquisitions, the $200 million purchase of mobile email app startup Acompli and mobile development company HockeyApp (which has nothing to do with hockey).  SAP bought travel and expense management company Concur; Intel bought a Montreal based identity management company PasswordBox; Oracle bought digital marketing company Datalogix; Teradata bought data archiving company Rainstor; and MongoDB bought high-scale storage engine company WiredTiger. December 2015 was not a busy M&A month but there was some interesting activity.  The big deal saw Canadian telco Shaw make a big play into the cellular space with its proposed acquisition of Wind for $1.6 billion.  Meanwhile Rogers was also out shopping and growing its Maritimes presence through the acquisition of Internetworking Atlantic Inc.  Other deals in December were not large but did feature some of the big players.  Oracle bought Stackhouse a cloud company with a specialization in “containers”; IBM boosted its video in the cloud capabilities with the purchase of Clearleap; and Microsoft picked up a mobile communications company, Talko.  Other deals saw Ingram Micro buy the Odin Service Automation business from Parallels and in the storage world Carbonite bought Evault from Seagate.

Which brings us back to the present …

December 2016 saw Adecco sell its majority stake in Beeline VMS to GTRC, a private equity firm, for $100 million in cash plus a $30 million note; CRN solution provider SS&C purchased asset service firm Conifer for $88.5 million; solution provider QRX Technology Group acquired IT equipment provider Kerr Norton at the beginning of the month; networking solution provider, Juniper Networks acquired cloud operations management provider AppFormix; Uber bought start-up Geometric Intelligence Inc.; and Shopify acquired Tiny Hearts, a Toronto-based mobile product development studio.

In other news, Yahoo disclosed that one billion accounts were hacked in 2013 making it Yahoo logothe largest data breach recorded in history. To safeguard against hacking attempts on your devices, Check Point Software advises users to make sure they download the latest versions of software as they have discovered new malware that targets devices running outdated software. Cyber attacks and security breaches are also a major concern for IT and business professionals where, according to Symantec, 30% of business surveyed have experienced a hack over the last two years.   GoPro also announced layoffs of up to 15% of its workforce and Amazon delivered its first package by drone!

That’s my look at the tech news for December 2016.  Until next month, walk fast and smile!

Supply Arrangements: What are they and why should they matter to IT contractors?

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Supply Arrangements: What are they and why should they matter to IT contractors?Within the staffing industry there are a dozen or more business models employed by various employment agencies.  There are the smaller staffing agencies who focus their marketing efforts on smaller companies, on very specialized niches, with a handful of very strong relationships they might have, or a combination of these.  There are the huge international recruitment agencies that tend to focus on companies with international operations and may be generalists in the sense that they support multiple lines, from casual labour to general staffing positions to professional positions to technical positions, in an attempt to serve companies that want a single vendor to handle all of their contingent workforce needs.  Between these two extremes, there are the Regional and National staffing agencies that often service or specialize in only one or two different types of hiring needs, but often limit these to provide the level of expertise/focus that means so much to their clients.  Then there are mixtures and blends of the above.

The one thing that most recruitment agencies have in common is that they work to put formalized Supply Arrangements in place with the clients that they service.  A supply arrangement is simply an agreement that defines the relationship between the agency and the company that they serve/support.  Typical to most supply arrangements are the following:

  • Term of Agreement (date range within which the agreement will be valid)
  • Definitions (define the terms used in the agreement)
  • Commercial Terms (concerning insurance, rates, timesheets and invoicing)
  • Performance (defines the service the agency will be providing)
  • Termination (terms under which the agreement might be concluded)
  • Confidential Information (how to manage and keep safe important company data)
  • Indemnity and Limitation of Liability (keeping each party “safe” and legally separate from each other)
  • Signatures/Sign-Offs/Dates/Etc.

If these look familiar, they should!  They are the very same components that incorporated contractors find in any sub-agreement that they would sign with a staffing agency. After all, we jointly enter into a company-to-company relationship, so the terms should include the same content.  In fact, a good number of the terms that a contractor finds in their sub-agreement with their staffing agency are actually “flow-down” terms from the agency’s own supply arrangements with the end client.  That is often the reason why agencies cannot be very flexible with the terms — they have committed contractually to work with their clients in certain ways and must, legally, have their sub-contractors comply to the same terms.

Despite a lot of similarities in the terms between supply arrangements, it is extremely rare that any two supply agreements would be exactly the same.  Employment agencies are required to be chameleons, adapting perfectly to the business requirements of each of their clients.  The best agencies have detailed processes to ensure their compliance across many different agreements. For example, Eagle has tools and processes dedicated to this and is part of our ISO 9001:2008 quality framework.  That big stack of paperwork that we present to contractors at the beginning of each assignment is part of that process.  In this way, we ensure that both Eagle and our sub-contractors stay “on-side” of our supply agreement Terms & Conditions.

So, why should this matter to independent contractors?  Well, that’s a question with many answers. Here are just a few of the reasons why contractors should want to work with agencies that A) create good supply arrangements with their clients and B) have strong mechanisms in place to ensure adherence to the terms (both on their side and by their sub-contractor partners):

  • Legitimacy – Having an official supply agreement in place signifies a deep level of commitment between staffing agencies and their clients. It suggests that the company is committed to using the agency and that there will be a certain level of exclusivity.  If a technology contractor is working with a recruiter that has a supply arrangement in place, you can be confident that the recruitment agency has the right to represent you and that there will be some standardization in place to manage the hiring process.
  • Access to the Best Companies/Jobs – The best staffing agencies have the best relationships. Often there is a barrier to entry for agencies who do not have supply arrangements in place with companies.  By partnering with staffing agencies with many supply arrangements, it means that you will have access to suitable roles that come available at these companies.
  • Confidence in Staffing Agency Rates – Supply arrangements often define what levels of profit are associated with the services provided (also defined), so recruiters are working off a prescribed methodology for setting their rates. Companies agree to pay staffing agencies “X” for their services should they identify, qualify and place top resources into their open roles. For contract work, that means that independent contractors set their rates “Y” and the client is charged “X+Y” (or “X x Y” if “X” is a %).
  • Risk Mitigation – Working for a recruitment agency with a supply arrangement in place ensures that the “rules of engagement” have been set out. Working with recruitment agency who has strong compliance mechanisms in place means that the recruiter will set you up for success and ensure that you are protected against potential missteps.  Be aware of the 2 to 3 page Sub-Agreement contract!  Eagle’s sub-agreements are typically 8 pages at a minimum, but depending on the flow-down terms and requirements, it could add up to 20+ pages for your review.  Ultimately, this all protects you from risk.

Eagle has numerous supply arrangements in place with many of Canada’s largest companies across multiple industry sectors and across all levels of government.  We are national leaders in Oil & Gas, Energy, Telecommunication, Education, Health Care as well as having 3 of Canada’s 5 big banks as our clients.  Our Supply Arrangements with our clients are often 80+ pages long and our sub-agreements to our sub-contractor partners are often 10+ pages long. Although more work to put in place, this is a good thing.  Through this process we ensure our contractors’ success and, in doing so, our own as well.

Next time you’re interviewing recruiters to decide on your preferred staffing agency, remember to ask how many supply arrangements they have. A response to that simple question will speak volumes in terms of their legitimacy, access to opportunities, rates and risk mitigation.

This CRA Mobile App Will Help with Your 2017 Taxes

This CRA Mobile App Will Help with Your 2017 Taxes2017 is in full swing! Most people are back from holidays (if they were fortunate to take them), projects are moving again, recruiters are calling, and tax season is approaching. As you start to look at your 2016 books and consider working on your taxes, you may be realizing that you could have done a better job at staying organized in that area (and hopefully you are setting a goal to keep up-to-date in 2017). Vice-versa, you could be super stress-free right now because you were well prepared at this time last year.

Regardless of your situation, a new year means a fresh start to get organized. We can’t help you with your 2016 taxes, but we can give you a boost for this year. The CRA created a mobile app that lets independent contractors create custom reminders and alerts for key CRA due dates related to instalment payments, returns, and remittances. Download the iOS, Android, or BlackBerry version, or check out all of CRA’s mobile apps here.

Learn What Gartner Has to Say About Digital Ecosystems (Infographic)

A few months ago, Gartner published their 2017 CIO Agenda, titled “Seize the Digital Ecosystem.” It argues that digital ecosystems, environments where an independent group of actors share standardized digital platforms, are being used by more and more enterprises in order to reap growth benefits. From there, the report speaks with CIOs of top digital companies to learn how to succeed in that area.

The complete report can be downloaded from Gartner’s website with a membership. If you don’t have a membership, then start by reviewing this infographic from the Smarter with Gartner blog. It provides a great overview and is a tool that you can pass to clients as a value-add, to help them understand where the digital world is heading.

2016 in Review: Videos for Procrastinating

The TDC is packed with helpful business information, tools, and advice, but we’re not always about business. Sometimes, especially Fridays, we like to share some fun videos that add a bit of distraction to your day (and yes, we’re aware that it’s counter-productive to the time management rules we often push). To finish off the “2016 in Review” series, we thought it would be fun to share some of the top videos from last year that have absolutely nothing to do with business and everything to do with procrastinating.

If you’re any sort of a geek, you’ll appreciate these:

If you want a laugh, check out these ones (you still need to be a bit of a geek for some of them):

And if you love a good brain teaser, have a look at these:

Please don’t waste your entire day on these, but a small break never hurts and in fact, can increase your productivity! We hope you enjoyed this “2016 in Review” series.  We’ll be back Monday with plenty of fresh content for everyone. Have fantastic Friday and a great weekend!