Quick Poll Results: Are IT Professionals Concerned with Digital Security?

With the growing concern about privacy and security in today’s technology, we decided to turn to our network of technology experts to find out how serious they perceive the threat to actually be. Last month’s contractor quick poll asked how concerned you are with all of these breaches and hacks, and if you believe we all need to start being more vigilant online.

After a month of being published, we’ve had a number of responses and they’re still coming in. At this point, here’s what people are saying. Where do you fall on the spectrum?

How concerned are you about digital privacy and security?

Stop Saying these 2 Words and Drastically Improve Your Communication

Great communication skills are essential for getting ahead as an independent contractor. While just one word, “communication” encases so much! At the highest level, it’s being a good speaker or writer, but you also need to understand your audience (their generation or knowledge on a subject) and yourself (tone and approach go a long way). Right down to the specific words you use and, more importantly, don’t use.

Have you ever been in a conversation or listened to a speech and was baffled by how many times the speaker said “Um” or “Like”? Now, have you ever paid attention to how much you’ve been guilty of the same? These two words come out of nearly everyone’s mouth, and it’s not limited to any education level or seniority. You rarely notice if they’re not said, but when they are, they stick out like a sore thumb and affect a listener’s perception of you.

Put an end to (or minimize) both of those words in your spoken vocabulary by looking through the two infographics below. We found the first one on 9gag.com and it provides 11 killer tips to stop saying “um”.  More recently, we found the following infographic from Quid Corner that gives advice of no longer using the word “like” in the wrong places.

Stop Saying Umm Forever

Stop Saying Like All the Time

If (When?) Facebook Falls, What Will Replace It?

Facebook celebrated its 15-year anniversary earlier this year. On top of the company’s obvious success and growth, it has also received its share of bad press. Especially in recent years, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have been on the defence in security and privacy debates with some of the highest courts in the world. This leaves the world curious to find out what the future of Facebook will hold and, if it fades away, what will replace the social media phenomenon?

This video from The Economist takes a stab at answering those questions. It suggests that platforms like Mastaton (which is open source and community run) or Blockstack (a platform based on Blockchain) are both contenders for beating out the behemoth that is Facebook.

Contractor Quick Poll: What’s the Most Important Trait You Look for in a Recruiter?

Working with the right IT recruiter(s) is imperative to getting the best IT jobs but also to ensuring you get the best overall contracting experience. The right recruiter affects everything from searching for a technology gig to your time working on the project.

There are a variety of signs to look for in an ethical recruiter and many questions independent contractors should ask their recruiters. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we want to know the number one, most important trait you look for in a recruiter when deciding who to work with.

Job Market Update Across Canada

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

Here’s a look at Canada’s job outlook, specifically for IT, as we finish up the first quarter of 2019.

Canadian Job MarketThere are a number of indicators that I have used over the years to give an idea of how things are going, one such indicator is the markets.  For this purpose I focus on the TSX.  The markets have been fairly volatile for some time now, but The TSX was sitting at 16,000 at time of writing.  This is not that different from this time a year ago, although we have seen some wide swings during that time.  The relative stability of the economy here is always a good factor when looking for employment.

Obviously the unemployment rate is a decent indicator and at 5.8%, the job situation is fairly positive.  This indicator would also suggest unemployment in the skilled, in demand professions is probably 50% of that number … which at less than 3% is effectively full employment.  Canada has created 370,000 jobs (270,000 full time) in the last twelve months, which is not at the pace of the US, but is still a healthy growth, particularly since 270,000 of those were full time jobs.  In a tale of two provinces Ontario has seen the strongest growth in employment in the last few months, whereas Alberta has struggled and has an unemployment rate of 7.3% primarily due to a hurting oil patch.

Some stats worth noting when looking at the job situation in Canada; the biggest 4 provinces represent close to 90% of employment in Canada, with Ontario the largest (close to 40%); Quebec (approx. 23%); BC (13.5%) and Alberta (12.5%).  BC has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada (4.5%), with Newfoundland & Labrador the highest (11.8%); Quebec and Manitoba enjoy good unemployment rates (5.3%); Ontario has a respectable 5.7% rate.  So, when considering where to look for jobs a province that employs a lot of people and has a relatively low unemployment rate is a good place to look … BC, Quebec and Ontario all fit that bill.

One of the big factors affecting the Alberta market is the price of oil.   The price of a barrel in Canada is probably $10 a barrel less than on the world market, given our only customer is the United States.  Until there is a clear change that will likely remain a factor in Alberta’s economy.  The current price in Canada of less than $60 a barrel, coupled with the barriers presented by the Federal Government and other governments means that investment in the Canadian oil industry is significantly reduced which would suggest it will be some time before we see a boom in employment in that sector.  Having said that there are still opportunities in Alberta, just not the booming demand we saw in the past.

Google LogoThe continued growth in the US market has led to skills shortages, and significant cost increases for companies with large workforces.  This has created an opportunity in Canada, where large US companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google etc. are adding to their Canadian presence to tap into the talent up here.  We have seen big announcements in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto in recent months and I expect this trend to continue.

If there is one market to highlight it is the Toronto area, which is Canada’s largest market, the fourth largest city in North America and home to more head offices than any other city in Canada.  The financial sector is largely headquartered here and is a huge employer, as is the telecommunications industry.  The GTA represents 60% of Eagle’s business and probably 60% of tech jobs in Canada.

Tech job activity is relatively strong in most markets across Canada.  Even Calgary, which has not returned to pre-oil crisis levels of activity is seeing some demand.  This makes sense if you recognize that even at a 7.3% unemployment rate that probably represents a less than 4% unemployment among professionals and in-demand skills.

Eagle’s focus is technology professionals and the most in demand areas/skills recently have included: Cloud, Healthcare, Government, Telecom, Banking, CRM, BI and AI; Project Managers, Business Analysts, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Architects, Sys Admins, Full Stack developers, Database Admins & Dev Ops engineers.

In summary, people with tech skills should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm for the foreseeable future.  A willingness to relocate to the bigger centers will only increase their marketability.

There is continued concern about an economic slowdown, which will of course affect hiring.  In the short to medium term I don’t expect a big change in the job market.  Perhaps as the election approaches in the fall we will see some impact.

Our advice to clients is to ensure there are clear, clean hiring practices that move quickly through the hiring process.  It is a candidate market again and that means the best talent is snapped up quickly, often with multiple offers.

IT Industry News for February 2019

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on March 9, 2019

Tech News Header This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for February 2019

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 years’ Februarys … Five years ago, in February 2014, Facebook made a big move with the $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp.  Oracle paid a reputed $400 million for data management platform company Bluekai; LinkedIn paid $120 million for online job search company Bright; and Klout was bought for about $100 million Facebook logoby Lithium Technologies.  Google made a couple of acquisitions: online fraud company Spider.io and secure logon company Slicklogin.  IBM bought database as a service company Cloudant; and Monster bought a couple of companies — social profile company Talentbin and job aggregation and distribution technology company Gozaic. Finally, Microsoft announced Steve Balmer’s retirement and appointed a new CEO, Satya Nadella.

February 2015 saw the $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot and the $1.6 Billion Microsoft logopurchase of Orbitz by Expedia.  There was a big buy in the communications and IT space with Harris paying $4.75 billion for Excelis to establish a 23,000 person company.  There was a big data center play with UK-based Telecity Group paying $2.2 billion for Interxion Holdings.  Microsoft made a couple of acquisitions, paying $200 million for pen-tech maker N-Trig and $100 million for mobile calendar company Sunrise.  Samsung bought a mobile payment company (competing with Apple pay), LoopPay.  Also out buying was Twitter which picked up Niche, a network of social media creators.  There were a number of interesting deals in Asia, including Sapdeal buying luxury fashion estore Exclusively; Foodpanda made six acquisitions of online meal delivery services to establish itself as a powerhouse in that space.  Australian job board OneShift bought Adage, which is a job board serving people over 45.

In February 2016, the biggest deal saw HNA Group of China pay $6 billion for Ingram Micro.  Two other billion dollar deals included Cisco paying $1.4 billion for IoT company Jasper Technologies and a consortium of Chinese internet firms making a $1.2 billion bid for Opera. Microsoft was busy with a couple of acquisitions — Xamarin a cross platform mobile application development company, and Swiftkey which produces predictive keyboard technology.  Another busy company was Alibaba Group which was investing in a bunch of companies, including a $100 million investment in Groupon, and smaller investments in microblogging site Weibo; software company Momo; augmented reality startup Magic Leap; Chinese retail chain Suning; and Singapore telco SingPost.  Other companies of note out buying included IBM who bought digital agency Aperto and Blackberry acquired cybersecurity company Encription.

February 2017 saw very little M&A action.  Nokia paid $371 million for Finnish telecom The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itsoftware company Comptel and Apple picked up an AI startup company RealFace.    Another company in the news, but for the wrong reasons was Samsung, which was in the middle of a significant bribery scandal.

Last year, February 2018 was a very active month in M&A.  There was more consolidation in the telco space with US based GTT paying $2.3 billion for London headquartered Interroute, thus expanding its global footprint.  Security companies were a theme in this month’s acquisitions and you will spot several in the following list.  Cybersecurity firm Phishme was bought with $400 million of private equity money; Splunk paid $350 million for Phantom Cyber Corp; and Proofpoint paid $225 million for Wombat Security Technologies.  Other deals saw LogMeIn pay $342 million for Jive Communications; Carbonite pay $146 million for Mozy; and Red Hat paid $250 million for Core OS.  Some of the household names that were also out making deals included Oracle, Google, Opentext, Avaya and Citrix.

Which brings us back to the present …

February 2019 was a relatively busy month in M&A but there were no blockbuster, billion dollar deals.  The biggest deal I saw was Carbonite’s $618 million acquisition of internet security company Webroot.  Palo Alto Networks seems to be on a buying spree, closing two deals this month, $560 million for analytics company Demisto and $170 million for cloud security startup, RedLock.  The money guys were out shopping too, with Thoma Bravo paying $270 million+ for MSP platform company Connectwise and Trive Capital paid $330 million for Windstream’s Earthlink telephone service provider assets.  Spotify announced its podcast intentions with a couple of acquisitions, Gimlet Media and Anchor, and Witricity strengthened its hand in the wireless charging space with the acquisition of Qualcomm’s Halo business unit. Microsoft logoThere were some big names out shopping too, including Microsoft who picked up Datasense in the education space; Amazon picked up eero in the home automation world; DXC picked up EG A/S a services company in Europe; and Semantec bought cybersecurity startup Luminate Security. Amazon logo

Other companies in the news include Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin embroiled in a scandal that is rocking the government; Cognizant paid a $25 million fine for corruption; Monster announced some layoffs; and after a lengthy process Amazon rescinded its choice of New York as a location for a huge investment & additional “headquarters”.

Around the world the jobs situation is generally positive, if not “as positive” as in previous months.  The Brexit situation is having  negative effect in the UK, India posted poor employment numbers that could impact an upcoming election and the US suffered through a government shutdown that impacted their numbers.

Facebook logoA couple of interesting tidbits, that probably come under the title “doesn’t time fly” … it has been 5 years since Facebook bought Whatsapp AND Steve Balmer retired as CEO of Microsoft making way for current CEO Satya Nadella. That is it for my monthly look at what was happening in the technology space over the last month, compared to the same month in previous years.

I’ll be back in about a month’s time, until then … walk fast and smile!

These 12 Scents Will Make You a Better IT Contractor

Are you an aroma therapy enthusiast, or just curious about it in general? Do you want to improve your problem solving skills, performance, attention and energy? Then this infographic from FrangranceX is exactly what you need to get through the work day.

You’ll need to be aware of scent-free office policies, but did you know that rosemary, vetiver or coffee can improve your problem solving or lemon, jasmine and citrus helps improve your overall performance? There’s more and all of the information can be seen below.

Do you have any preferred scents that help you? Will you try any of these? Let us know in the comments below.

These 12 Scents Will Make You a Better IT Contractor

Expenses and Tax Deductions for Canadian Businesses

April 30th is coming faster than you think so if you’re not already thinking about taxes, it’s time to start. While we always recommend working with a professional to do your books, it’s also wise to have a good understanding yourself.

Knowing which expenses you can claim and how to do it is valuable year-round, and makes tax season less stressful on you and your accountant. This video posted by Answer W Bradley (a Retirement Planner from Ottawa) provides a general list of deductible business expenses for Canadian small businesses. You can also see the complete list and explanations here.

How to Take the Perfect LinkedIn Photo by Yourself, Without Paying a Penny

How to Take the Perfect LinkedIn Photo by Yourself, Without Paying a PennyHopefully this doesn’t come as a shock to you, but Recruiters use LinkedIn… a lot. They look for new candidates, research applicants before calling them, and generally use it as one of their primary recruiting tools. It’s safe to say that if your LinkedIn profile is not up-to-date, you’re kissing opportunities good-bye.

This Fast Company article further outlines the importance of an updated profile and when you need to make sure your profile is updated which pretty much translates to “always”.  For example:

  • When you’ve landed a role but haven’t started
  • When you’re just starting a new role
  • When you’re several months/years in
  • When you get promoted
  • When you’re ready to move on (but don’t want people to know)
  • When you’re obviously job searching

There are plenty of sections in your profile to prioritize and keep updated, but your profile photo is the only element that creates a visual first impression and can make or break you. Getting that perfect picture doesn’t have to be as daunting and expensive as you may think, but it does take a bit of time if you want to get it right. This LinkedIn post by Michele LaCagina might be the most detailed and helpful advice on taking pictures by yourself that we’ve ever come across. It’s quite lengthy but extremely worth the read (and entertaining). Here’s a summary of the steps:

  1. The Set-Up: Prop your phone or camera up so it’s the right height and will perfectly capture your headshot, including shoulders and upper torso. Set the timer for about 3 seconds and run multiple tests to make sure it’s working as expected.
  2. Make Yourself Look Great: The author gives advice both for putting on make-up and selecting the right wardrobe. If you decide to wear make-up, she recommends making it heavy, and everybody should wear a blazer while avoiding any jewelry or accessories.
  3. Getting the Best Shot: When you’re looking your best, it’s time to take 50-100 shots (if you don’t feel silly, you’re doing it wrong). For something that sounds easy, LaCagnina proves that there are a lot of details on how you pose and what to do, but she stresses plenty of times that smiling is the most important.
  4. Selecting and Testing: What are you going to do with all of those pictures of yourself? If you’re a narcissist, print them all and hang them up around your house. For everyone else, you need to narrow it down to your favourite few, then let strangers judge away. The article links to Photofeeler, a helpful app where people you’ve never met look at your pictures and rate them on competence, likeability and influence. It sounds terrifying, but certainly is the best way to get a subjective opinion.
  5. Photo Editing: The final stage is optional, but can make a huge difference. Even without Photoshop, there are free online tools that will help you perfectly crop your photo and adjust the lighting as suggested in the article.

Can your LinkedIn profile picture, or any other professional headshot for the matter, use an upgrade? If so, why not get started today and let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear about your experience creating the perfect picture.

Motivation and Opportunity: Entrepreneurship, Career Change in Canada’s Female Workforce

Guest post by Gloria Martinez of womenled.org

Motivation and Opportunity: Entrepreneurship, Career Change in Canada’s Female WorkforceA recent study of Canadian workers by the recruitment agency Hays Canada has revealed that half of the working professional population are unhappy in their current jobs. And unhappiness among female workers appears to be at an all-time high — 54 percent of Canadian women fantasize about quitting their jobs with many claiming they want more money, while others put the blame on a bad culture fit.

For many Canadian women, happiness at work didn’t happen until they made a career change. Many chose to follow a private passion rather than fight their way along a difficult and frustrating career path to advancement in companies that showed little interest in cultivating and promoting in-house talent. The fact that Canadian women are starting businesses at a higher rate than women in any other G20 country is a positive and encouraging indication that many are seeking personal happiness through entrepreneurship.

Opportunity and pay

Many have gone out on their own having grown tired of too few opportunities to take advantage of their education and experience. Canada’s gender pay gap is one of the largest among industrialized countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Pay inequity has led many Canadian women to seek better options in other fields, including finance, construction and civil engineering, and take advantage of hot new job markets, such as computer and information systems, medicine and human resources.

A new career

One of the most positive life changes you can make is deciding to turn a passion into a career and start enjoying the prospect of going to work every day. Former Toronto advertising exec Jane Canapini decided to start a travel blog after a memorable hiking trip to Greece and Italy. Andrea Raco left the insurance business to become a personal success coach. If that sounds appealing, decide on what happiness and success mean to you. It could lead to anything from starting a dog-walking service to designing commercial websites or writing online marketing content for a broad range of clients.

Emphasize personal strengths

Becoming an entrepreneur can mean embracing radical change, like working from home or working a second job while getting a new business idea off the ground. Phoebe Fung of Calgary gave up a career in the oil and gas industry to pursue her passion for wine to open Calgary’s first wine bar. Despite struggling to find financing, within a decade Fung’s Vin Room had opened three locations in the Western Canadian city. The appeal of doing what she loves was strong enough that Fung was willing to forego a salary in the first two years according to the details of the financing deal she was able to secure.

Refreshing your resume

For anyone wanting to sell their strengths and experience to a prospective employer or seek funding for a new venture, an updated, well-written and attention-grabbing cover letter and resume are essential. Remember that a good resume should strike a balance between brevity/concision and compelling information, while a solid cover letter will be written toward the industry to which you’re applying.

If your resume needs a good overhaul, check out online resume templates for appealing designs/layouts and color combinations. A potential employer in a different industry will want to see evidence of initiative, creative thinking and resourcefulness; in other words, evidence that you would make a good addition despite having come from a different field.

Today, women in Canada are heading financial technology companies, philanthropic organizations, fashion companies and boutique bakeries, while organizations like Women in Communications and Technology seek to encourage greater female participation in the digital industry. An increasingly tech-savvy and agile workforce is helping create new – and, in some cases, unforeseen – opportunities.