How Many of These 79 MS Word Shortcuts Do You Already Know?

Microsoft Word is filled with handy keyboard shortcuts that can help you get through writing long documents much quicker. Everybody knows a few but how many of us take advantage of everything that’s available?

GoSkills put together this cheat sheet of 79 Word shortcuts for both PCs and Macs. Some are basic and obvious but others will blow your mind. There might even be a few that you’ve hit accidentally and then sat in a state of confusion as to why Word did what it did. Regardless, this infographic will be helpful next time you’re writing a resume, putting together a technical document or submitting a report. Enjoy!

How Many of These 79 MS Word Shortcuts Do You Already Know?

Change the Negative Attitude That’s Destroying Your Career

Change the Negative Attitude That's Destroying Your Career

When we look back at all the reasons contractors have created a bad reputation for themselves, one common theme sticks out across the stories — a negative attitude. We all have bad days but there are some IT professionals we meet who are plagued with a negative attitude that hinders their relationships with not just recruiters, but clients too. In fact, there are situations when clients have asked us never to present an individual to them again because their demeanour was too sour.

Examples of negative contractors stand out through the entire job search and contracting process. Some destroy their first impressions with rude interactions when a recruiter first reaches out. Rude behaviour like immediately demanding “What’s the rate?”, swearing or hanging up mid-conversation are all behaviours that almost guarantee you will not be hearing from that recruiter again, no matter how much of a fit you are for the next role. You might argue that intrusive phone calls from random recruiters in the middle of the day warrants a harsh response, but there are certainly more polite ways to handle the human being on the other end of the phone.

Then there are the times a negative attitude suddenly appears from the qualified IT contractor who we’re working with to submit to a client. These individuals were amazing in the initial screening but transition into a monster. They refuse advice, telling us their resume is “good enough” and when they get in front of the client for an interview, they immediately start bashing previous clients and sometimes even the potential client! Then, when the inevitable decline comes in, they throw the blame back on the recruiter, claiming they were badly prepared or misinformed about the opportunity.

And finally, the most common example of negative attitudes that hinder a contractor’s career come when they’re at the client site. It’s usually something that doesn’t come out immediately, but then the client informs us that the individual is intolerable. The negative person takes a hostile approach to dealing with confrontation or has a “my way or the highway” frame of mind. In other words, customer service on the contractor’s part is clearly lacking.

Do any of these examples sound like you? Have you noticed that people are calling you less and less for opportunities? It might be time to take control and bring a more positive approach to your work. Here are a few tips on how to do that:

  • Recognize the negative attitudes you have and when they’re most prevalent. This is the most difficult part of the process and requires some uncomfortable self-awareness.
  • Identify the cause. Are you unhappy in other parts of your life? Are you under pressure or frustrated and reacting with too much emotion?
  • Understand how negativity is affecting your career. Recognizing the bridges you’ve burned will give you motivation and goals to create a change.
  • Evaluate how you speak. You may think you’re a positive person, but if you think back to conversations you’ve had throughout the day, your wording may have been perceived as miserable.
  • Force yourself to use positive speech and positive self-talk. Consciously adding more positive words and eliminating the negative words from your vocabulary will shift your way of thinking and your natural conversations.
  • Put yourself in positive situations. Indulge in more comedy, read more uplifting stories and, most importantly, surround yourself with positive people. You’ll naturally pick up a different approach.
  • Take on a “Change” mentality instead of being a victim. Rather than get angry at a situation, ask questions to see how you can make it better.

All of us slip up here and there. Sometimes you’re having a bad day and, frankly, sometimes you have to deal with ridiculous people who need to be put in their place. What will differentiate you as a negative or positive contractor is how you deal with each situation. Carefully thinking about your wording, recognizing when you mess up and apologizing, as well as understanding other people’s bad days will all move you into a more favourable spot with both recruiters and clients.

Handling a Recruiter’s Unexpected Cold Call While Maintaining a Positive Relationship

 

Handling a Recruiter's Unexpected Cold Call While Maintaining a Positive Relationship

IT contractors who have been in the community for long enough know that cold calls from tech recruiters are inevitable. Sometimes you welcome them, other times you find them a nuisance, but one thing you’ve learned is that they’re not going away.

Naturally, we prefer that you embrace these calls. Recruiters dream of calling a contractor who answers the phone on the first ring, drops everything to listen intently about the opportunity, provides all the information required and gratefully thanks them before hanging up and emailing an updated resume right away. Ha! We also understand the reality that you’re a busy professional receiving calls from other agencies too and you simply don’t have time to humour us all.

Great recruiters understand that they need to build respectful relationships with IT contractors if they want to do business with them in the future. Similarly, smart contractors are aware that it’s wise to build relationships with recruiters today if you want to increase your chances of getting a gig tomorrow.

Why Are Recruiters Cold Calling You?

When a recruiter contacts you out of the blue, they might have a specific job opportunity and are wondering if you’re interested or they may have some intelligence that a company or several companies will soon be looking for contractors with your unique skillset. In any case, they are not calling to offer you a job on the spot, but rather want to understand your current status and if you’re open to opportunities.

The Best Way to Handle a Recruiter’s Cold Call

If you pick up the phone and find a recruiter on the other end, the first thing is to remain polite, even if you’d rather not hear from them. Remember, it’s always important to build that relationship… plus they’re human and deserve respect. If you don’t have time but are interested, ask to reschedule at a better time. If you’re not interested at all, let them know that quickly as well, to save everyone some time.

When you have a few minutes and know you’ll be looking for a contract in the coming months, we recommend taking the time to listen to what the recruiter is asking about. A respectful recruiter will keep it brief and transparent. A few questions you should be prepared to answer include:

  • When are you available to start your next contract?
  • What industries and/or disciplines do you prefer?
  • What’s your current rate range?
  • What area(s) of the city do you prefer to work in?

If You Choose to Ignore That Call

Every recruiter would love it if you answered the phone but we understand if you don’t. Especially In today’s world, an unfamiliar number is usually somebody trying to sell you something or a computer notifying you that you’re under arrest. That said, the recruiter is almost definitely going to leave a voicemail and/or follow-up with an email. Do your best to respond promptly. Like you would on the call, briefly let them know your interests and availability for your next contract. Sending an updated resume is always a nice touch. Or, if you’re happy where you are with no intentions to leave, be open about that as well.

Every relationship has micro-opportunities that allow you influence it in a positive or negative way. A simple 3-minute phone call can make a huge difference in whether or not you hear from a recruiter down the road.

Simple Tips to Lighten the Mood in a Job Interview

Simple Tips to Lighten the Mood in a Job Interview

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

Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience and a struggle for most people. Wouldn’t it be nice to head into an interview knowing that you can control the mood of the interview? Here are some tips and suggestions to not only make a great impression but to also help you lighten the mood of the interview.

First and foremost, smiling is the one thing that can make the most difference in an interview. Even if you aren’t feeling happy, simply smiling can brighten your mood and your tone. Walk into the office and into the interview room with a smile on your face. It will start your interview off on the right foot. You will come across as confident and positive.

You should always focus on demonstrating a positive, friendly attitude when speaking to a potential employer, client or recruiter. Employers want to hire people that appear positive and someone who would likely get along with their team members and clients.

Find ways to incorporate humour into your interview, but use it sparingly. Don’t head into an interview telling jokes but rather use real life examples. Balance your humor with statements and examples that paint the picture that you’re a smart, dynamic, results-driven team player. Humour is part of your professional image so don’t lay it on too strong and don’t neglect your other professional attributes. Read your audience and follow your interviewer’s lead. Pay attention to cues. How does the interviewer react to your humor? You don’t want it to ever feel awkward or unprofessional. Practice your humor before the interview. Decide which stories you want to tell and practice it on your family or your friends, or even the neighbour. If they don’t laugh then try a different approach. Remember, if it isn’t natural, don’t try to force it. There are plenty of other great ways to connect.

This video is a great 2-minute discussion on how to lighten the mood in a job interview. Darryle Brown gives some great simple tips to follow:

  1. Relax — if you’re tense in an interview setting it can make the entire atmosphere tense as well. Be on time or early so you can concentrate on your thoughts and the things you want to say before the interview begins
  2. Tell a personal story — preferably something humorous. Something to help lighten the mood that the people within the interview setting will consider appropriate for that particular setting.
  3. Have a sense of humor — if you’re tense it makes it impossible for you to really be able to deliver, relate or connect with the interviewers in the midst of the interview setting.

So remember, it’s important to relax, tell a personal story that can connect with the interviewers and have a sense of humor so that you’re able to win them over and lighten the mood in an interview setting.

Build a Stellar Client Relationship by Managing Realistic Expectations

Build a Stellar Client Relationship by Managing Realistic Expectations

A reality IT recruiters face is that some gigs are going to go wrong. The contractor and client get off to a good start, and then a few months in, we get a call that things aren’t working out. There are a number of reasons IT contracts crash and burn — personalities, lack of skills, poor leadership — but many times, we learn that the situation could have been avoided if more clear expectations had been set up front. Obviously, the contract between all parties defines the project and deliverables, but a good working relationship has to be built on more than is typically written in a contract.

Failing to define realistic expectations with your client, your team, or anybody involved with an IT contract can lead to damaged relationships and unnecessary conflict. As the project progresses, all parties may make assumptions that drift further and further apart. Suddenly, when one person thinks everything is running smoothly, another is disappointed and angry at the status.

A standard contract will define the final deliverables, expected hours to be worked, location, duration and rate. But there are always other smaller expectations to be discussed upfront with your client. For example, you might ask your client for more details about the final deliverables, their own goals for the project, and milestones they would like to see met. It’s also the time to be upfront about your own limitations to avoid and scope creep. For example, which days you are unable to work and which skills you do not have (and never claimed to have).

Expectations are not limited to complete projects and should be set on a micro level as well. One example is meetings. These are frequently referred to as a waste of time because proper expectations were not set. If everybody attending is aware of the goals, desired outcome, expected duration and who will be in attendance, it not only helps them prepare, but you know if the meeting was successful at the end. When it’s a waste of time, everybody will understand why and can work to improve it.

How Can You Set Realistic Expectations with Your Client?

The earlier you can set expectations to ensure everyone is working towards the same, common goal, the more efficient the project will be. Here are a few tips to get you on your way:

  • Don’t assume anything. Put everything on the table and ensure you both clearly understand each other’s expectations, desired outcomes and definitions of success. Understand what’s a must-have and what’s nice-to-have.
  • Eliminate the fluff. We’ve posted many times about realistic SMART goals and expectations should follow the same guidelines.
  • Build your communication skills. It is impossible to understand expectations if you cannot communicate your own. You also have no control over other people’s communication abilities, so yours need to make up for their shortfalls.
  • Confirm it all in writing. Not everything has to be in a formal contract, but a follow-up email summarizing the agreed expectations can be invaluable.
  • Provide updates. Things are going to go wrong and off-track, and that’s ok. But if expectations were never adjusted, there is going to be disappointment when reality is revealed.

What expectations do you set with your clients before beginning a project? What about with your recruiter? Are there any discussions you like to have upfront before moving forward on an application? Please share your opinion in the comments below.

Spring is Sprung, the Grass is Riz… I Wonder Where the Magic Is? Coping with COVID-19 Accommodations

Spring is Sprung, the Grass is Riz… I Wonder Where the Magic Is? Coping with COVID-19 Accommodations

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

In Canada, winters are tough and as soon as we get past March, we begin looking forward to Spring… more light, warmer temperatures, a sense of waking optimism! That’s the magic of this season. Or, it has been in years past. This season feels a little (a lot??) different. Social distancing, doubt about careers, and worry for loved ones all contribute to a significant headwind against the optimism that Spring typically brings.

Some people take this all in stride — a grand adventure! “It’s not the situation, it is how you choose to react to it!” That’s fine and good for the folks who have the wherewithal to adopt this mental state and if you are one of these, consider yourself lucky. Mental Health has been given increasing levels of press these past years, thanks to the advent of Mental Health Week/Month and advancing education on this important subject. Eagle supports this by running a “Not Myself Today” campaign each year and, during these COVID-19 accommodations we are extending this. We’re working hard to ensure none of our staff are “left behind” struggling to cope with isolation, loneliness, anxiety, or stress. Sometimes the solution isn’t just adopting a tough mental attitude, people need more assistance.

As contractors, you are both “regular employees” and “business owners” With this, the stressors can be double. Uncertainty as a contractor isn’t a new thing, but this COVID-19 world that we live in elevates uncertainty to levels that can be hard to cope with. If you are struggling with this, you need to recognize that you are not alone in feeling this way. But with the necessary accommodations required to stem COVID-19, isolation is a bigger threat. Know that there is a lot of help out there for you. Any number of agencies, government or private, exist to give you the boost you might need to work through your challenges. You need not wait until you are overwhelmed by things to seek help; in fact, the earlier you begin the easier it will be to work yourself into the right mindset. Two terrific sources of support are MindBeacon and the Canadian Centre for Mental Health. MindBeacon is typically offered as a “for-fee” service, but during the pandemic, they have opened up their services free-of-charge to all Canadians that need their assistance and the CCMHS is always available for those Canadians requiring their services. And, certainly, there are other sources of help as well. A quick online search will find many such organizations.

If you don’t need immediate help, but the stress of these times are beginning to wear on you, I thought I’d share a YouTube video that I found to be helpful. It’s theme is pragmatism above pessimism (and even optimism!) I found that it helped to put things into perspective. These next months will be hard but we’ll make it through and it will be better on the other side. Spring magic may just have to wait this year.

I wish you all good health, safety and the perspective needed to persevere!

Contractor Quick Poll Results: How Many Languages Do You Speak?

Canada has two official languages: French and English. Unofficially, there are more than 200 languages spoken nation-wide and the 2016 Canadian Census found that 17.5% of the population spoke at least two languages at home. That’s a lot of diversity!

Speaking multiple languages can help you in your job search as it simplifies communication and building relationships with more people. In last month’s contractor quick poll, we decided to get a grasp on our readership and understand how many languages you can speak. The results have been fascinating with roughly 75% of respondents being able to speak more than one language and a few who can even speak 5 of more!

Quick Poll Results - How many languages do you speak?

Contractor Quick Poll: Where do you prefer to be working?

It’s now been about two months since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Canadian economy to shift in a way we’ve never seen before. While some companies had to shut down projects and cut contracts almost immediately, others saw the opposite effect where demand for IT talent couldn’t be greater. Across all organizations, nearly all staff and contractors have been asked to work from home and that has been a major change for many of us.

Now, we’re weeks into the pandemic and slowly starting to see the economy open up. While few offices are bringing their teams back, we are at a point where we can at least start talking about it. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to know what you think of working from home, especially after being forced to do so for so long.

IT Industry News for April 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on May 12th, 2020

This is my 30,000-foot look at events in the Tech industry for April 2020. 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 April in previous years …

Five years ago, in April 2015 Nokia paid $16.5 billion for telecom company Alcatel-Lucent.  A couple of other big deals saw Capgemini pay $4 billion for services firm IGATE and LinkedIn made its largest acquisition ever, paying $1.5 billion for training portal Lynda.com.  LinkedIn also bought a predictive insights startup company, Refresh.  Netsuite paid $200 million for ERP and commerce software company Bronto Software and Blackberry reputedly shelled out $150 million for file sharing security company Watchdox.  Salesforce was also out shopping, picking up mobile two-factor authentication startup, Toopher.  In another deal involving billions, Informatica decided to follow in DELL’s footsteps and go private for a $5.3 billion price tag.

April 2016 saw some big deals, the biggest was Bell’s $3.8 billion bid for Manitoba Bell logoTelephone System, which closed in 2017.  Other large deal saw a Chinese conglomerate bid $3.6 billion for Lexmark; and Plantronics shell out $2 billion for Polycom.  Oracle paid $663 million for cloud-based construction software company Textura.  Nokia, who were also in the news announcing layoffs, and continued to evolve their business model, this time into the wearable tech arena with the $192 million purchase of Withings.  Other deals saw Autodesk acquire 3D animation software company Solid Angle; and Dimension Data bought Toronto based cloud services company Ceryx.

Three years ago, in April 2017 Microsoft bought Israeli cloud-monitoring and analytics ACCENTURE LOGOstartup, Cloudyn. Flipkart, one of India’s larger ecommerce companies, acquired the Indian division of eBay (eBay.in) as part of eBay’s $500 million investment in Flipkart. VMware’s vCloud Air unit was acquired by OVH, a French hosting and cloud company. Global professional services provider, Accenture, purchased the UK-based automation services provider, Genfour. Toronto-based startup, Turnstyle Analytics, was acquired by Yelp for $20 million. California-based Coupa Software purchased Swedish software company, Trade Extensions for $45 million. Montreal-based financial technology provider, Alithya acquired big data solution provider, Systemware Innovation Corporation.

April 2018 was not super busy on the M&A front although there were a few deals, including Mitel Logoa $2 billion purchase of Ottawa based Mitel by Searchlight Partners, who will take the company private.  Mobile payments company Square paid $365 million for website company Weebly; iconic photo site Flickr has been bought by SmugMug; Adobe acquired AI startup Uru; Indeed bought Canadian jobs site Workopolis; and HPE Pointnext bought Redpixie.

Last year April 2019 was an extremely slow M&A month with just two deals hitting my Intel logoradar.  Intel bought Omnitek, a company that produces programmable chips for the video space.   This comes as Intel announced it was exiting the 5G modem space for smartphones, suggesting it was not a profitable business for them.  The other deal saw the merger of two large US based MSPs, as Corsica bought EDTS to bring the level of scale.

Which brings us back to the present …

April 2020 continues to be dominated by COVID-19, with global efforts to fight the pandemic causing the economy to retract worldwide.  The focus is on social distancing and flattening the curve … and the world is anxious to get back to work, and yet anxious about what that means.  A strange time indeed.

Talking about the impact of the pandemic, IDC released projections on Canadian IT Spending and it wasn’t pretty.  They suggest Canada’s annual spending will drop to minus eight percent for the remainder of 2020 … negative spending can’t be good!

There was some M&A activity in April.  Apple picked up an AI voice company, Voysis that is The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itexpected to improve on Siri; Accenture beefed up its security practice with the acquisition of Revolutionary Security; and Cisco picked up Fluidmesh Networks to assist in their IoT strategy.  Other deals included security company Zscaler buying cloud security startup Cloudneeti; mobile security company MobileIron bought Incapptic Connect, to assist in software releases; and Scopely scooped up another gaming company, this time PierPlay make of Scrabble Go.

Cognizant was in the news as it was hit by the Maze ransomware, affecting both it and its client’s systems.  In other cyber security news, it appears that targeted attacks, such as spear-Phishing, now accounts for the 60% of cyber attacks.

That’s it for my 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 at the beginning of June, until then – don’t forget to wash your hands and social distance!

Tech Wins at Companies Across Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tech Wins at Companies Across Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The news is full of depressing stories, political controversy and plenty of fear. Certainly, these are tough times and many people around the world are suffering in ways nobody would have predicted a mere few months ago. Still, there are good stories around the world, coming in all shapes and forms.

Companies are moving at a fast pace to keep up and adapt. Yes, there have been layoffs and the worst may still be ahead in some organizations, but when we look deeper, there are many encouraging, feel-good stories coming from this crisis.

Here at Eagle, we had a huge win within our back-office team. Most of the company has worked in a predominately electronic environment for many years with the ability to work virtually anywhere and an existing work-at-home program made the move from office to home seamless.  However, our Accounting Team still had a few processes that depended on paper, creating a reliance to work in a centralized location. This pandemic has been an opportunity to completely transition from paper. Impressively, the team built and implemented new processes in a matter of days! Not only does this result in a positive environmental impact, but the morale boost will be long-term. Even after offices open up, this team will now have the option to work-from-home, impacting their work/life balance in a positive way.

Eagle’s story is just one, minor example of using technology to make improvements in the wake of a crisis. Eagle’s founder, Kevin Dee, set out to find more examples and published a series of LinkedIn Posts highlighting tech wins across Canada. Here are examples from three very different Canadian organizations who all used technology to overcome unique, challenging situations:

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

It’s unusual to see the CRA in a good news story, but credit is certainly due given what these public servants pulled off for the country. When Justin Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in mid-March, the news brought relief to millions of Canadians, but stress to the employees at CRA. There was no existing system to manage the volumes and speed at which this system needed to deliver.

Still, the CRA team was able to deliver a system in three weeks that not only processed the volume of applicants in a timely manner but also introduced direct deposit payments to banks, which the CRA had not done previously, other than as a pilot. In the end, this helped millions of Canadians and gave the government a high-profile story about a successful, fast implementation.

TD Bank

TD Bank also successfully used technology in two areas to lead the way through the COVID-19 crisis. The first comes from their Trader Group, which was housed on a massive floor of a high rise building, a situation screaming of health risks at the onset of the pandemic.

Trading was soaring as the markets responded to the pandemic so work had to continue. Most companies were sending their people home, or at least splitting teams into smaller groups, and TD Bank knew that they needed to act quickly and effectively in order to compete. They assessed all of the risks and obstacles of suddenly sending their teams home, including security, hardware options, process issues and communication issues. In the end, they managed to pull off the impossible and got 300 of 357 traders home, replicating a high-tech trading floor in hundreds of residential dining rooms and spare bedrooms.

The bank also pulled off a similar feat with its 15 call centres located across North America, employing 9000 people. They moved 95% of those people to a home office and kept the call center operations going.  The logistics involved were huge, but the bank was able to overcome all of them.

In both of these examples, TD Bank transformed the way they do business, which is rare in such a traditional industry. Similar to Eagle’s story, both their Trader Group and call centres have the option to work remotely long after this crisis is over, boosting employee morale and saving them real estate costs.

TC Energy

The final example comes from the Oil & Gas sector in Calgary and demonstrates how proper planning pays off. For the past couple years, TC Energy, which has approximately 8,000 employees – 50% of whom are in Calgary, has been working on a digital transformation project. The project embraced big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence while migrating systems to the cloud.

Because of this preparation and embracing the latest technologies, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, TC Energy was successful at moving to a work-from-home environment in just one weekend. Furthermore, their ability to hire and onboard staff has barely been affected, a major stumbling blocks for many large companies.

Adversity has potential to bring out the best in individuals and companies alike and these examples are a handful of the stories we can find all around us. As we work through tough times, continue looking for positive stories and recognizing those who are overcoming hurdles every day. It’s this attitude that will help you come out stronger on the other side.