A Look Inside the Incredible Googolplex

A few months ago, we shared a video about the impressive physical security at a Google Data Centre. Google will spare no expense to protect it data and it will probably come as no surprise that they also spend big when it comes to workspace for their team.

Google boasts one of the world’s most expensive headquarters. It’s estimated that the entire site (known as the Googolplex) cost the company about $1 billion to build, and that doesn’t include the cost of employee perks, like $72 million per year in meals. What else does the company include on its campus? You’ve probably been hearing stories and reading articles for years, but this recent video from Tech Vision that will have you in awe all over again.

Coping with the “Winter Blues”

Coping with the Winter Blues

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Director of Delivery, Strategy and Development at Eagle

The days get shorter, the nights longer and the weather is considerably colder. Canadian winters are long. It’s not surprising that many Canadians experience the Winter Blues. It’s particularly difficult when routines have been disrupted and social contact reduced, winter may seem even less enjoyable than usual.

According to EverydayHealth.com, less sunlight can affect the circadian rhythm, the body’s biological clock that governs certain brain wave activity and hormone production. I am not a huge winter fan, so I have to work extra hard on my mental health during the colder months.

A research study in the January 2020 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders found that higher levels of depressive symptoms were reported in winter months compared to summer months. Youth are especially at risk of seasonal effects on mood, with young people reporting more depressive symptoms in the winter months such as lack of interest in regular activities, trouble concentrating, feeling slow or fidgety, as well as sleep and appetite difficulties.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) suggests the following six tips to help beat the winter blues:

  1. Spend time in nature. Bundle up and get outside. Compared to an urban setting, walking in nature has been shown to reduce anger, improve positive affect, and lower blood pressure.
  2. Maximize exposure to sunlight. Arrange indoor environments to receive maximum sunlight. Keep curtains open during the day and move furniture to sit near a window.
  3. Exercise. Physical activity relieves stress, builds energy and increases mental well-being. Make a habit of taking a daily walk. The activity and increased exposure to natural light can raise spirits.
  4. Keep a healthy diet. Seasonal variations in mood can make you crave sugary foods and simple carbohydrates, such as pasta and white bread. Opt for complex carbohydrates as a better choice. Foods such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice, and bananas can boost your feel-good serotonin levels without the subsequent sugar crash.
  5. Practice daily relaxation techniques. Try deep breathing, yoga or meditation to help manage stress, reduce negative emotions such as anger and fear, and boost feelings of joy and well-being.
  6. Reach out for help. The winter blues differs from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which affects about two percent of the population and is a serious form of depression. If you are unsure of whether you are experiencing SAD or the winter blues, ask your doctor.

I’ve also found that taking Vitamin D has especially helped my mood and energy during the winter months. Since we get our vitamin D from the sun, it’s a good idea to take a supplement, especially since low vitamin D is correlated with depression. According to Everyday Health, certain foods are good sources of vitamin D, including cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, milk, yogurt, sardines, eggs, and cereals fortified with vitamin D.

Remember, if your mood seems to be sinking into darkness and gloom along with the freezing cold temperatures, you are not alone. If you’re experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder/Winter Blues and nothing seems to help, check in with your doctor or a mental-health professional.

Science-Backed Bedtime Rituals for Insanely Productive Days

If you’ve been finding yourself tired all the time or you consistently hit a wall at work, you might benefit from changing your bedtime habits. In this infographic from SleePare, they outline 15 bedtime rituals that can help you to not only get better sleep but to be more productive and happy during your waking hours. For example, did you know that setting boundaries between your work and home life will help you to boost both your productivity at work and will improve your overall happiness? 

Bedtime Rituals for Better Sleep

5 Requests Recruiters Might Have that Seem Odd or Intrusive, But Actually Make Sense

5 Requests Recruiters Might Have that Seem Odd or Intrusive, But Actually Make Sense

If you’ve been an IT contractor for long enough, then you’ve almost certainly connected with one or two recruiters who are… special. They don’t have a clue about your role, their role, or anything that’s going on. Other times, you work with a recruiter who is on the right track and then suddenly, they ask for something completely off-the-wall.  Where do these people come from?

Yes, some recruiters are a lost cause and hopefully they’re far and few between in your job search. But usually, when a recruiter requests something from you that is obscure or a little too intrusive, there’s a valid reason. Here are explanations for some requests that make IT contractors scratch their heads, but are actually an important part of the recruiting process:

They Ask for Your ID

You’re obviously of legal age and this gig does not require you to drive anywhere, so why is this recruiter asking for a copy of your drivers’ license? Sure, if you get the job and a security check is required, you’ll pass along that information, but you’re only just meeting for the first time!

Candidate fraud is a real and serious issue in the IT contracting space. Candidates will purchase a prefabricated resume filled with impressive projects, but when they start working, it’s clear they have absolutely no experience. Recruiters will often start by verifying your ID to ensure you are who you say you are and live where you say you live. When you arrive for an interview, they will also make sure they’re talking to the same person who appears on that ID.

They Ask Extremely Basic Technical Questions

You’ve almost definitely arrived in an interview only to be asked the most junior-level questions possible, making you scratch your head and wonder if the recruiter even knows how to turn on a computer. How can they possibly evaluate your abilities if they can’t pronounce the terminology?

Depending on the agency, some recruiters work on a variety of roles across different disciplines and industries. It would be impossible to understand all of them and, at this stage of the process, they really don’t need to. The recruiter is ensuring that you can discuss your resume and expand on projects (again, checking for candidate fraud), plus they are gaining an understanding of other softer skills. If you proceed to the next stage, then the client will have a technical person from their team dig deeper into those skills.

Recruiters asking basic technical questions can also be a very positive sign about their professionalism and who they are as a person. They genuinely want to learn more from you and understand the intricacies about your role. If you answer this recruiter’s basic questions today, you’ll have an entirely different conversation with them when you’re looking for your next contract.

They Ask for a Word Version of Your Resume

It’s common that IT contractors submit their resume in PDF format for security purposes. You thought carefully about how you want to represent yourself on paper and you don’ want anybody editing it to misrepresent you. Still, a recruiter comes back and asks you for a Word document. They must have ulterior motives!

Yes, very often the recruiter is asking for a Word document because they need to edit your resume, but not in that concerning way. Some clients will have strict requirements about the format in which they want your resume and what can be included on it. For example, to ensure a fair evaluation, they ask that some identifying information is omitted including names and contact information. If you really want to keep your resume in a PDF format, ask the recruiter if you can make those specific edits yourself and resubmit the PDF version of your resume.

In other cases, clients want to receive resumes in Word format so they can be evaluated and stored properly within their own internal tools. The client likely has experienced too many issues with their systems not reading PDF documents properly, so to minimize issues, they request a consistent format.

They Ask What Other Jobs You’ve Applied To

How is that any of the recruiter’s business?

The recruiter might just be starting friendly conversation to learn more about you and what kind of interests you have. More importantly, though, the recruiter is eliminating any risk of a double-submission.

Clients who work with multiple staffing agencies often include a strict policy about duplicate submissions. If two agencies submit the same candidate for a role, rather than fight out who gets rights to the original submission, the evaluator will eliminate both. So, it may seem that a recruiter is prying into your personal business by asking in-depth questions about applications with other agencies, but they’re actually ensuring your application with them isn’t immediately thrown out by the client (in addition to your application with another agency).

They Ask You Not to Talk to Clients

We occasionally get feedback from IT contractors who feel staffing agencies are a needless ‘middleman’ and that business could get done faster if the contractor could just connect with the client directly. Yes, that might be true if your position was the only IT contract the client has open, but Eagle’s clients tend to have more going on. It’s more efficient for them to only have conversations with a few select staffing agencies, rather than have direct communications and negotiate with hundreds of IT contract applicants at any one time. In fact, by contacting the client directly, you might be frustrating them and jeopardizing your chances of getting hired.

If you’re a seasoned veteran of the technology contracting space, these questions are probably just the tip of the iceberg for weird things recruiters have asked of you. We’d love to hear what else has made you scratch your head. Leave it in the comments and we’ll let you know if there’s a logical reason or a red flag.

Is it Possible to Land a Programming Job Without a Degree?

In short, yes, it is possible to build a programming career without any sort of formal education, but it’s far from an easy feat!

Jessica Chan’s Coder Coder YouTube page is filled with short clips plus longer training videos dedicated to helping you learn to code without having to go to school, but her video below proves not just anyone can make it on this path.

Chan’s personal story about her journey to becoming a senior programmer with no Computer Science degree is inspiring, and does not hide the challenges that were involved. She was required to do a lot of extra work and learning on her own time, plus she needed an abundance of drive, determination and humility. She also battled through imposture syndrome and was fortunate to be hired by a strong leader who was willing to give her a chance.

If you’re considering a career change into programming but hoping to avoid formal education, here’s a look at what you can expect.

When a Recruiter Calls and the Job Isn’t for You, Always Give a Referral

When a Recruiter Calls and the Job Isn't for You, Always Give a Referral

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

Very often, if you receive a call from a recruiter about a job opportunity and you let them know it’s not for you, their immediate follow-up question will be to ask if you know anybody who might be a good fit. Do you put much thought into your response, or is your immediate reaction to turn them down and hang-up?

Referring talented people in your network is only be a good thing. Afterall, networking and word-of-mouth reputation is one of the primary ways the industry builds itself and perhaps the best tool you have to build a solid pipeline of job opportunities. There have been many times in my career where a referral from myself turned into a business opportunity for others just based on good networking and positive references. Here are three of the benefits you can get just by passing on a talented person’s contact information:

It Demonstrates and Builds Your Knowledge

Being able to guide a recruiter towards talented individuals displays to them that you not only know your own job, but you truly understand differing positions and roles in the IT space. As an added bonus, you gain more knowledge about what is being sought out in your industry. These discussions with recruiters let you ask questions and dig deeper into types of clients and projects. Maybe after a couple calls along these lines, you’ll pick up on a skill that is becoming ever hotter on the market. Calls like this lead to more positives in your knowledge of which clients are hiring and what skills and positions they are hiring for.

It Builds Your Network with Recruiters

It’s how our industry thrives! When you provide a reference, you’ll be helping somebody in your professional network AND making a strong connection with a recruiter. When that recruiter calls your talented referral and sees that they’re the real deal, they will pick up that you know what you are talking about and trust will continue to build. Now they will quickly come back to you when a role that better fits your skill set comes across their desk. They will also mention to their colleagues that you’re a smart person on the market, so your name gets out there even more. As an IT contractor, networking is invaluable.

It Expands Your Professional Reputation

When you’re regularly helping your talented colleagues land new gigs, you build up your professional network with confident, intelligent and hard workers in your industry. In the future, if you want to lead projects on a management or architectural/developer side, it will be good to know of people that can do a wide range of skills in all roles of your industry. Having them in your network as an acquaintance or colleague is great, but if you’ve also helped them land a job in the past because you referred them to a recruiter, it bolsters your reputation as an individual who respects competent work.

When a recruiter calls, if you’re able to give something to them while they are trying to give something to you, your relationship will skyrocket and you’ll reap the rewards. More importantly, when you make it a habit, your own knowledge, network and reputation improve exponentially, and as a result, more doors will open.

Regional Job Market Update for Edmonton, Alberta (February 2021)

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
VP & General Manager, Prairie Region at Eagle

By all accounts, Edmonton has had some challenges over the past few years, but I am happy to report that our team has seen a noticeable, positive shift since early fall. Back in September, I reported cautious optimism in the Edmonton market, as we were starting to see some signs of recovery. In spite of being under restrictive public health measures since mid-December, we continue to see an increase in demand for IT professionals for both contract and permanent roles.

Since September, Eagle’s job order volume and hiring in Edmonton have returned to pre-pandemic levels. Our clients have settled into remote work and are starting to see past “the grind” of the pandemic. While we are anticipating (and planning for) a recovery that has some bumps along the way, we are increasingly optimistic that the worst is behind us.

Current Labour Market Trends

Remote Work: With the world’s largest (and unplanned!) experiment in remote work well under way, one of the most common misconceptions about the workforce has been shattered… we CAN trust employees to do their jobs even if we can’t see them! Businesses were forced to rapidly transform as companies embraced remote work practices to adhere to public health measures. For the most part, organizations throughout our country have been pleasantly surprised at how successful remote work has been through the pandemic. Whether remote work continues post-pandemic remains to be seen, but we do believe there will be some form of hybrid work arrangements longer term. In the near term, this has resulted in access to a larger pool of talent as long as resources are willing to work in the time zone of the client for contract roles.

Wider use of contingent workers: As we expect uncertainty to continue through 2021, clients are increasingly leaning to contingent workers for project-based work to allow them to scale up or down should the need arise. While that may feel uncertain for people considering a contract role, rest assured that our clients make well thought out decisions prior to onboarding any contingent worker and funding is secured before contracts are written up. When hiring employees, most clients like to see a road map of 2+ years of work and growth before making an employment offer. With contract roles, that vision only needs to go the end of an approved project or milestone.

Pent-Up Demand: With the rapid shift to adapt technology, processes, structure and teams in a physically dispersed workforce, many of the projects that were deemed high priority on January 1st, 2020 became much less important a few short months later. Nearly a year into the pandemic, many companies have revisited that priority list and a number of new initiatives are kicking off.

Rates have equalized across Canada: Pre-COVID, there were geographical pockets in Canada where rates were high due to IT worker scarcity. Now that all of Canada has been opened as a potential candidate pool for remote work, rates in markets like Calgary, which were traditionally 10+% higher than other regions, have dropped to be in line with Toronto and Vancouver markets which were typically lower. A key point to mention is IT consultant rates have not eroded drastically with the advent of remote work. As an example, we do not have requirements for Senior Program Managers at $50/Hour. There remains a healthy up-take of resources in the market and base-line rates have remained quite stable.

Unemployment Rates: The unfortunate reality of the pandemic layered on top of an Alberta recession is that high unemployment rates will likely persist for some time. The good news is that IT unemployment tends to run several percentage points lower than the normal posted rate. In May, Edmonton had the highest unemployment rate in the country at 13.6%, while the unemployment rate in the IT subset of the labour force in the same time period in Edmonton was 7.6%. Things have been slowly improving, but all indicators point to the unemployment rate remaining high for the foreseeable future.

Skills Mismatch: While the unemployment rate is high, the market is tightening up in a few key areas. We are predicting labour market shortages in Edmonton for the following categories in the first and second quarter:

  • Project Management
  • Business Analysis
  • Full-Stack Development
  • Data Analytics / Business Intelligence
  • DevOps
  • ServiceNow
  • Organizational Change Consulting
  • Solution Architecture

With the initial surprise and disruption of the pandemic behind us and some light at the end of the tunnel, we are optimistic for the year ahead. Our clients continue to focus on implementing and leveraging technologies that lower costs, improve efficiency and retain talent as some form of remote work is expected to persist for much of 2021. We are also seeing some organizations shift from a focus on systems and supports required to sustain operations (reactive) to tools and capabilities that allow their organizations to be more innovative and productive in this new world (proactive).

While we like to think that the worst is behind us, we know nothing is perfect. If we have learned nothing else over the past 11 months, it is that we need to be prepared to deal with the challenge and change as it comes. Every prediction and forecast that anyone makes these days comes with crossed fingers, a prayer and an asterisk. They are all based on vaccine availability, effective vaccines, herd immunity and the end of the pandemic. We are also putting a lot of faith in compliance with public health restrictions until we get there, which gets harder as the pandemic drags on. Needless to say, we need a lot of things to go right!

What does this mean for the Edmonton IT sector? The good news is that things are trending in the right direction. While the economic impact of the pandemic was significant, the IT sector is expected to be one of the sectors to recover relatively quickly. Our clients continue to seek talent for key projects and they continue to ask Eagle to provide them with that talent to move those initiatives forward.

A Consultant’s Guide to Sourcing Remote Work

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

Chances are in the past year, you or someone you know has faced the prospect of a job search in a mostly 100% remote work world. What can you expect from companies when they ask for remote workers? In this article, we will cover some of the major job trends we have seen in remote work hiring, and techniques to find and secure remote jobs.

At Eagle, we have the privilege of supporting hundreds of clients across Canada who have largely transitioned to hiring remote workers for IT project teams. Here are the top trends we have compiled about their hiring activity.

Rates have equalized across Canada. Pre-COVID, there were geographical pockets in Canada where rates were high due to IT worker scarcity. Now that all of Canada has been opened as a potential candidate pool for remote work, rates in markets like Saskatchewan and Alberta, which were traditionally 10 – 20% higher than other regions, have dropped to be in line with Ontario and BC markets which were typically lower. A key point to mention is IT consultant rates have not eroded drastically with the advent of remote work – for instance we do not have requirements for Senior Program Managers at $50/Hour. There remains a healthy up-take of resources in the market, and base-line rates have remained quite stable.

Certifications are a must. There is a convergence of factors at play behind the importance of certifications. Now that candidates are not being interviewed face-to-face, and recruiters can draw from candidates across Canada, employers see certified candidates as a key differentiator for Candidate quality. For the time being, hiring has moved away from “certification is nice-to-have, or equivalent experience…” If a certification will help, it is often required. Popular certifications include: Cloud (AWS, GCP, Azure), SaaS (Salesforce, ServiceNow, etc), PROSCI, and PMP.

Devices are provided. Our biggest remote hiring clients have wings of their SCM team devoted to compiling and shipping you work-from-home equipment. You will still need a devoted, permanent workspace, but the configured technology makes your transition to the environment easier. Remote training and onboarding is still largely in progress with most firms, so do expect a few bumps in your schedule or days filled with cumbersome conference calls when coming up-to-speed at a new company.

Increased Security checks. Similar to the certifications, increased security checks like credit, criminal, Federal Government, and background checks are more frequently asked for sooner in the hiring process. Be prepared to have some clients ask you to pay for several security checks before you receive your formal employment offer. Have your references ready early – this is another common way to vet your candidacy and skill strength outside of a face-to-face meeting.

Sourcing Remote Work Jobs – where can you find the best remote work jobs?

On job boards, do not search by location. Job boards like Linkedin, Monster, and Indeed have contract postings tied to cities, however if you leave the city blank and simply type “Remote” as a keyword, you will be rewarded with a long list of 100% remote jobs in your chosen field. Eagle’s website has been optimized to pull up remote roles in exactly this way.

If On-Site is required, it is explicitly mentioned in the Job description. If nothing is mentioned, assume Remote Work is OK. Well over 70% of our openings right now are 100% remote, so if it is fair to say that if you do not see any information on remote work in a posting, it is likely remote. Do apply. It is more common that we will specify “On-site required” in a posting because physical presence at a worksite is now outside of the norm. When in doubt, please do call or email your recruiter. We can clarify.

The Transition Back: We will not be remote forever. Some of our biggest clients have projected a return-to-work date of anywhere between July to September 2021. Be mindful of this when searching for work. In the interview, make sure you are open to returning to the office when it is deemed necessary. That may not be on your radar right away, but it is important to show the openness in the interview. Remember you are competing against candidates across Canada for the best remote positions – your willingness to do on-site work at a far-future time may be what clinches you the role you want now.

Finding and clinching remote work can be a challenging task, but with a bit of planning around rate and search techniques it is very achievable. I hope these tips help in your next job search.

Announcing: Eagle Tech Talks… a Podcast!

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Ea

Eagle Tech TalksBack in the Spring, when COVID first made itself felt, things really slowed down for the staffing industry. Eagle was fortunate, being specialized in IT, as most projects were not cancelled, only new work was put on hold. That said, our clients were inwardly focused trying to figure out how to move everyone so they could work from home, how to run their business and projects when everyone was remote, etc. As things were slower for me, I picked up a project that had been “gathering dust” for some time — building new technology training for the team. I settled on creating a series of interviews with IT practitioners, thought-leaders, and SMEs to discuss technology, roles, and/or strategies with the people who are actually “living it”.

I began conducting interview-style sessions and recording with Eagle’s team as the audience. These were so well received we thought that we would convert them into a podcast open to anyone who would like to learn more about these topics.

We are just now doing an official Launch of the Podcast and I’d like to invite any readers of Eagle’s TDC to check it out and listen to an episode or two should they be interested! I’m the furthest thing away from being a professional interviewer; however, the people that I speak with are the real deal! They are real people, sharing real stories and insights, about their real-world professions. We don’t get down “into the weeds” too much and keep the conversations fairly high-level, meaning it’s great to get a sense of what makes that technology/IT role/strategy “tick”!

Perhaps you know some young people who are considering IT as a career. I encourage you to share the podcast with them so that they can learn of the wide breadth of roles available under the umbrella that is Information Technology.

I hope you take the time to check it out. Some of my guests may well be colleagues that you know from the industry! You can find all of the podcast episodes wherever you listen to podcasts (a few links are below). And, if you are a thought-leader yourself and are interested in being considered for a guest SME on the podcast… reach out to me directly! I’d love to discuss it further with you.

Subscribe to Eagle Tech Talks:

7 Graphic Design Trends that Will Dominate 2021

Graphic design continues to be a competitive industry and being on top of the latest trends is critical just to be considered for a gig. Every organization differs in how far they’re willing to stray from safe design and try a new (sometimes obscure) look, but nobody wants to pay for a fresh feel that appears to have been created two years ago.

Have you considered what might be different in 2021? According to this infographic from Venngage, we can expect that there won’t be a whole lot. They believe that because of how 2020 played out, designers haven’t had a chance to take design risks. Plus, people in general are looking for a sense of calm, understanding and positivity. Therefore, they are predicting these seven specific trends to dominate:

  1. Muted colour palettes
  2. Simple data visualization
  3. Geometric shapes
  4. Flat icons and illustrations
  5. Classic serif fonts
  6. Social media slide decks
  7. Text heavy videos

Check out all of the details in the infographic below. Do you agree? Is there anything you’d add or remove?

7 Graphic Design Trends that Will Dominate 2021