Programmers: This Video Could Get You a Job Next Year

There are so many programming languages out there that it’s impossible to keep up with everything. Some tech professionals don’t let this bother them, and focus at getting awesome at a select few. Other people like to keep up with the latest trends and be able to brag to recruiters and clients that they can code using the newest technologies.

If the latter sounds like you, then we have a resource for you! This 16+minute video from Chris Hawkes is packed with great information and goes over the top 10 programming languages that you should learn in 2017. Watch it and see which languages you can pick-up over the next couple months, then watch as you become the go-to independent contractor for some of the coolest projects in the coming year.

Quarterly Job Market Update for Q3 2016

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

This post was originally published on the Eagle Blog

General Observations:

The third quarter of 2016 continued the “new normal” for Canada’s economy, which was not a positive thing!  Until oil prices get up into the $70+ range, consistently, we are unlikely to see a recovery in the very important oil sector.  Interest rates remain low but need to edge up in anticipation of the next recession, but the mere suggestion of interest rate increases causes a weakening in the markets.  The US economy continues to improve, but we are not seeing the expected “pull through” that we have seen in the past.  The Canadian dollar hovers around the 75c US mark which makes it more expensive for imports and Canada imports more than it exports.

The unemployment rate at the end of the third quarter was 7% which was a 0.2% worse than the 6.8% of Q2, but slightly better than the Q1 rate of 7.1%.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 139,000 jobs which was 21,000 more than the 12 months up to last quarter.  In a sign of our changing times, the majority of these were part time jobs.

The stock market continues to be volatile, and is one of the sources of concern for the Bank of Canada.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth, currently at around 15,000 points as opposed to 14,100 points at the end of the 2nd quarter.

As already mentioned, the oil patch continues to take a pounding and we don’t anticipate much positive change before 2018.  With oil starting to settle at around $50 a barrel we are not likely to see the start of any major projects.  The reality is that many companies in the oil patch are considering even more cost saving initiatives including layoffs.  Many companies are looking at divesting Canadian assets and investing in other geographies with less opposition and more government support.  Many workers who migrated to the oil patch during the boom have left, which will make things even tougher when a recovery happens because it will be difficult to entice them back.

The Canadian dollar in comparison to the US dollar is a long way from the days when we flirted with, and passed parity.  At time of writing the dollar is hovering between 75c US and 76c US, which is just a couple of cents weaker than the end of Q2.  The good news is that this helps the oil patch because they sell in US dollars and most costs are in Canadian dollars.  It is also helpful to our manufacturing sector, but that sector has been severely depleted over the years and Canada is a net importer meaning that overall a weak Canadian dollar is not good for Canada.

The banking sector, while a big user of talent and one of the largest employers in Canada, is also very careful.  The banks continue to be very careful with their hiring and are being careful to control their staffing levels.  Toronto and Montreal continue to demand talent, just perhaps a little more restrained than in other times.

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.  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, but at a reduced rate of about 150,000 per 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 our neighbours, which is one of the indicators of a “new normal”.

The construction industry seems to be forever busy, to which anyone trying to get work done will attest.  Despite the slowdown in the big jobs like the oil sands, there appears to be a constant demand caused by infrastructure upgrades in many of our cities and we have the promise of more such work funded by our growing national debt (was that my out loud voice?).

The Liberal government has been in place for about a year and are continuing to both spend and raise taxes.  One example is their forced carbon tax, which is really just a money grab (does anyone really think this money won’t go into regular government coffers?) and is going to cost Canada jobs and hurt Canada’s economy at a time when it can ill afford it.  There are some expected government projects and infrastructure spending initiatives that should benefit the private sector.  In addition, spending in some ministries will be reduced as others benefit from the new agenda.  Some opportunities will be seen in sectors such as health, environment and education.

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 latest score for the Index was 108 in September, which was up 2 basis points from the end of Q2.

Here at Eagle the big impact on our business continues to be the oil patch, but other clients are taking advantage of a tough economy to look at their cost base.  This has led to layoffs and slower hiring patterns.  Year-over-year the number of people applying for jobs has increased by about 11.75%.  Demand from our clients was down more than 8% year-over-year.  This suggests to us that the people affected by the layoffs are now active in their job searches.  We also believe that demand is very patchy, with no sectors booming in demand for professionals.

More Specifically:

Toronto is one of the largest cities in North America with a population exceeding 6 million and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is home to the most head offices (almost 700) and most head office staff (around 75,000) in Canada.  Consequently it is also the hottest job market in Canada and generates about 60% of Eagle’s business.  While it remains a busy market we have seen some impact from downsizing in large companies that has increased the availability of senior people in the market.  Having said all that, if I were looking for work this is where I would like to be.  The sectors that are always looking for people include the financial, insurance, government and telecommunications sectors in addition to the retail sector and the construction industry.  There is also a fair amount of demand in the engineering and manufacturing space.

Western Canada and more specifically Calgary as the “oil capital” of Canada, has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices.  There have been multiple rounds of layoffs, and more are projected, with the possibility that it may be 2018 before we see a recovery.  When the big oil companies are hurting there is a trickle-down effect to all of the services companies that serve them and the local economy is affected in retail and housing specifically.  The NDP government has done nothing to help boost confidence in Alberta for investors.  It should not be forgotten that both Saskatchewan and British Columbia have an oil sector too, and while they have been equally hit, those provinces seem to be doing better because their economies are less dependent on one sector and certainly Saskatchewan is a better managed province.  We have seen reasonable, but not strong, demand for talent in Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg and Edmonton but remain cautious about the longer term impact of the loss of oil revenues.  This could affect everyone as provincial tax coffers suffer and the ancillary businesses are hit.

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. There is a better mood in Ottawa and within the Federal Government (other than the morale issues caused by a non-functioning pay system) but that has not translated into a bunch of work, as we know the contracting process is long and arduous.   There is an expectation that the Liberal government will get some projects back on the books, and there is optimism that a new agenda will lead to more business in the National Capital Region specifically.  Montreal is relatively unchanged, not booming but a steady demand for resources, particularly in the financial and telecommunications sectors.  The Maritime Provinces have traditionally had higher rates of unemployment and this continues to be the case.

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.


Canada’s economy continues to languish, and since the last recession we have been caught in a continual low interest rate, stimulus focused cycle that has never quite taken off.  The more recent “oil recession” has hit Canada hard, given that we are a resource rich country and there is no near end in sight.  Statistics show there are jobs being added in Canada, but the numbers are not impressive particularly when you see how the US is doing and most of those jobs are part time.

Federal and provincial governments are talking about stimulus spending and infrastructure projects, so there is an expectation this will create some boost to the economy, although I have not seen it.  If interest rates remain low, as expected, and the dollar remains fairly low, then we might also see some further growth in Canada’s relatively small manufacturing base.

Given that investment portfolios have recovered from the 2008 recession, we are seeing a rise in the Boomer retiree population which will create demand for highly skilled resources.  With Canada’s overall unemployment rate at 7%, we can deduce that the unemployment rate for trades and skilled workers to be much lower, perhaps even approaching skill shortage levels.  Even in these uncertain times, we see shortages in many niche skill areas.

There are definitely still opportunities created because of those retiring Boomers and the need for companies to remain competitive.  We see opportunity in the construction industry, the financial sector, the telecommunications sector and the insurance sector.  We see the markets with the greatest demand as being Toronto, Vancouver and perhaps Montreal.  Ottawa is showing promise and could pick up if new projects are initiated by the federal government.  Government spending will also provide a temporary boost to employment as the stimulus money becomes available.

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

What’s Really Going to Happen to the Price of Oil?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

The Edmonton Branch of Eagle held a Contractor Appreciation event just last week in Edmonton and I always enjoy the opportunity to meet those who share the front line of the IT contracting world. And as usual, while much of the chatter involves getting to know everyone just a bit better, there comes a point in the conversation where the inevitable happens and the discussion turns to the market and what our predictions are for the short and long term future of the economy. And a big part of the discussion this time around centered on the situation in the oil patch.

First off, Edmonton is not Calgary. Edmonton’s economy is more diversified and less directly impacted by the low price of oil. We have a large public sector that spends massively in health care, infrastructure and education. There is a thriving small to medium business sector that provides all kinds of products and services and employs a large number of Albertans. But also true is that the funds that the public sector uses to fund its projects comes from revenue directly related to the resource sector and many of those small to medium sized business’ products and services are directly targeted at the oil industry. So it was no surprise that the question being debated amongst a number of attendees was just what was going to happen to the price of oil.

What's Really Going to Happen to the Price of Oil?This article written by Peter Tertzakian for uses the analogy of the fashion world to describe why oil prices might just be ready to ascend.  Given how interesting and relevant it is to the discussions I had just last week with independent contractors in Edmonton, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share it with all of our readers on the Talent Development Centre:

Why Oil Could Head Back To $90 Sooner Than Thought

Quick Poll Results: How Often Do You Read Your LinkedIn Newsfeed?

LinkedIn offers a number of services for job seekers and independent contractors. It lists job openings, offers second-to-none networking opportunities, and professionals around the world share a wealth of knowledge with each other. Overall, simply being active on LinkedIn can help you grow professionally.

Last November, our Contractor Quick Poll asked how you use LinkedIn. Not surprisingly, nearly everybody said they keep and up-to-date profile and picture, but a lower percentage of people did much more than that. What we didn’t ask on that survey was if you log into LinkedIn to take advantage of the information shared in your newsfeed and how often. So, almost a year later, we finally asked the question. Here are the results:

How often do you read your LinkedIn news feed?

Quick Poll Results: How Often Do You Read Your LinkedIn Newsfeed?

100 Web Design Tools that Anyone Can Use (Infographic)

Personal branding should never be taken lightly by any IT professional. Depending on your region and your skill, there are often hundreds of other independent contractors out there who you compete against for work. You need to stand out to recruiters and employment agencies as their top choice and, when you interview with a recruiter or client, you need to leave the best impression. One element of personal branding that we’ve discussed throughout the Talent Development Centre is your online presence and, more specifically, creating a personal website.

To create the perfect personal brand for yourself as an independent IT contractor, you may want a specific look and feel on your website. Unless you’re a designer or find the perfect template, that exact image could be tricky to attain. Instead, have a look at this infographic from Illustrio which gives dozens of  helpful tools (some even free) that will help you design the perfect website.

100 Web Design Tools that Anyone Can Use (Infographic)

Hobbies & Interests – Who Cares?

Hobbies & Interests - Who Cares?The Talent Development Centre features a lot of resume advice, and often directly from the mouths of recruiters. For example, we’ve told you what recruiters say independent contractors must have in their resume, what recruiters hate about your resume, and how they suggest you should format your resume. One common point that each of these posts had is that the Hobbies & Interests section included by many IT contractors is of zero interest to recruiters.

We went back to recruiters and asked them for some more specific thoughts about this controversial section. While one was quite positive, and noted that an applicant’s unique accomplishments demonstrate personality and make them more memorable, most had comments similar to the following:

  • “They should never have them on there.”
  • “Hobbies and Interests should be banned from resumes.”
  • Usually I see people with a small list of “safe” hobbies (most of them include golf, working out, and camping) and it doesn’t really add anything of value.
  • I really don’t pay attention to that too much as it’s not really relevant.
  • Never put hobbies or interest… nobody cares!

Ouch! As for those memorable Hobbies and Interests, here are the 4 most unique ones Eagle recruiters have seen on IT contractors’ resumes:

  1. Skydiving
  2. Nights Out
  3. UFO Chasing
  4. Photo-bombing

Do you keep a Hobbies & Interests section on your resume? If so, what do you list? Do you think they add value? Leave your opinion in the comments below!

Graciousness in the Workplace… Where Did it Go?

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

Graciousness in the Workplace... Where Did it Go?In today’s fast paced world full of never-ending negative social media blitzes, over-hyped reality television, shock-jocks/journalist rants, and larger than life politicians, it appears that the concept of being gracious to one another has been lost.  People are too focused on trying to get our attention with outrageous and unkind behaviour.  They fail to see that the simple act of being gracious can have a more positive and lasting outcome and, yes, get our attention too!

In speaking with contractors, I always ask them why they left their last place of work.  Did the contract end? What were the people like? What was the work environment like? I often hear how negative workplaces have become, how managers and executives don’t seem to care, and that everyone is too stressed out to focus on basic human decency.  This is one of the main reasons contractors do not take an extension with a current client or want to leave a project early. On the other side of the coin, “Was a candidate gracious?” is not the top reference question a client asks, but they do ask if that person was a team player and were they easy to get along with. Therefore, there’s an argument for everyone, clients and independent contractors, to bring graciousness back into the workplace. So how do we do that?

The simple act of saying THANK YOU goes a really long way.  Often, people will stay in a busy work environment if they know they are working with great people in a team who recognize their effort.

Another easy way is by being in the moment — giving someone your full attention and time. When you are in a meeting, or even more importantly, speaking with someone directly, put away your device.   It shows the person you respect them and value what they have to say.

Give positive feedback along with the negative.  People want to hear the good and the bad but want to hear it in a constructive manner.  Graciousness goes along way when working with others on how to improve their work.  You can still get the same message across without being overly negative.

Be open to helping others.  How?  Some simple ways:

  1. If a new person joins the team, introduce them to others.
  2. Say HI to your co-workers
  3. Recognize people’s achievements – privately and publicly
  4. Be genuine
  5. Share your project knowledge capital and help them get set up for success
  6. Be responsive

I know graciousness is sometimes hard to embrace because it demands our time and it can seem counter intuitive to business strategies that promote looking out for #1. However, graciousness does lead to a better workplace.  A better workplace leads to happier people, and happier people lead to better project outcomes, which lead to better references and more work in the future.  WIN-WIN-WIN for all!

Contractor Quick Poll: How do you get into work each day?

In this month’s quick poll, we’re curious to know how IT contractors get themselves to and from the office each day. Do you live close to the office and are you active enough to enjoy a walk each morning and afternoon? Do you appreciate the comfort and convenience of your car where you can listen to the radio? Do you avoid traffic and take advantage of cost savings and environmental benefits with public transportation or your bike? Or, do you work from home and this entire post is irrelevant to you?

Regardless, we’d love to learn more and see if there’s a trend among our readers. Feel free to share your experiences or opinions in the comments section of this post.

Every Tech Geek Will Love This Infographic About Algorithms (Infographic)

Finally, somebody created an infographic all about algorithms. What they are, where they came from, some different forms and what they do.

If you’re a software developer who can’t get enough of this topic or new to this world and want to better understand algorithms, then check out this graphic created by Futurism. We guarantee that you will learn something new, regardless of who you are or what your background might be. Of course, if you are an expert on this subject and have something to add or argue, we always welcome discussion in the comments section below.

Every Tech Geek Will Love This Infographic About Algorithms