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December Tech News

IT Industry News - December 2017This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for December 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Novembers

Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseFive years ago, in December 2012 there was a fair amount of M&A activity with Oracle making two acquisitions, marketing automation company Eloqua ($871 million) and Dataraker which provides analytics for utilities companies.  The big deal of the month saw Sprint pay $2.2 Billion to take full control of cellular competitor Clearwire.   Montreal based Cogeco paid $635 million for Peer 1 Networks and NCR paid $635 million for retail software and services company Retalix.  In the BYOD space Citrix bought mobile device management company Zenprise for $355 million.  Finally, Redknee added 1200 employees and 130 new clients through the purchase of Nokia Siemens’ Business Support Network. IBM logoDecember 2013 was a slow month, however Oracle pulled off a $1.5 billion buy of marketing software company Responsys; Akamai paid $370 million for cloud-based security solutions provider Prolexic; JDS Uniphase paid $200 million for enterprise performance management company Network Instruments; IBM bought a “big data” file compression company Aspera and Hitachi expended its solutions capability with the purchase of Calgary based Ideaca.  In other company news Target, although not an IT company, had a major security breach involving details of 40 million debit and credit cards.  Three years ago December 2014 was not such a slow news month, with the political and technical ramifications of “the Sony hack” causing uproar, some very positive economic indicators out of the US and some big names making acquisitions, albeit not huge deals.  Microsoft made two acquisitions, the $200 million purchase of mobile email app startup Acompli and mobile development company HockeyApp (which has nothing to do with hockey).  SAP bought travel and expense management company Concur; Intel bought a Montreal based identity management company PasswordBox; Oracle bought digital marketing company Datalogix; Teradata bought data archiving company Rainstor; and MongoDB bought high-scale storage engine company WiredTiger. December 2015 was not a busy M&A month but there was some interesting activity.  The big deal saw Canadian telco Shaw make a big play into the cellular space with its proposed acquisition of Wind for $1.6 billion.  Meanwhile Rogers was also out shopping and growing its Maritimes presence through the acquisition of Internetworking Atlantic Inc.  Other deals in December were not large but did feature some of the big players.  Oracle bought Stackhouse a cloud company with a specialization in “containers”; IBM boosted its video in the cloud capabilities with the purchase of Clearleap; and Microsoft picked up a mobile communications company, Talko.  Other deals saw Ingram Micro buy the Odin Service Automation business from Parallels and in the storage world Carbonite bought Evault from Uber logoSeagate.  Last year in December 2016 Adecco sold its majority stake in Beeline VMS to GTRC, a private equity firm, for $100 million in cash plus a $30 million note; CRN solution provider SS&C purchased asset service firm Conifer for $88.5 million; solution provider QRX Technology Group acquired IT equipment provider Kerr Norton; networking solution provider, Juniper Networks acquired cloud operations management provider AppFormix; Uber bought start-up Geometric Intelligence Inc.; and Shopify acquired Tiny Hearts, a Toronto-based mobile product development studio.  Yahoo hit the news revealing that one billion accounts were hacked in 2013 making it the largest data breach recorded in history.

Which brings us back to the present …

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itDecember 2017 saw Atos enhance the footprint of their IT Services firm by paying $5 billion for Gemalto.  Apple were busy, paying $400 million for music recognition app Shazam plus they invested $390 million into optical communications components company Finisar.  Finally, in a relatively quiet M&A month Ingram Micro increased its data protection capability through the purchase of Cloud Harmonics.

The Canadian economy had some positive indicators, adding jobs and reducing the unemployment rate to 5.9%.  The US also continued its growth rate, albeit at a slightly reduced pace although the announced tax changes for business are going to provide a significant stimulus.  Generally reports from around the globe were fairly positive, with job growth and reduced unemployment in most countries.

There was a cautionary report about ransomware in Canada that might suggest up to 44% of SMBs were hit with ransomware in a 12 month period.

That’s what I saw affecting the tech industry for December 2017.

Until next month Walk Fast and Smile!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Great Salespeople Ask Questions!

Brian Tracy quote about making assumptionsWe have all heard the saying, “You should never assume, because when you assume, you make an ass of ‘u’and ‘me’.” 

The problem is that we still do it.

Consider just a couple of very simple situations.

The CIO says, “We won’t be spending anything now until next year.”  The salesperson takes this onboard, makes a mental note to check back in October to have lots of planning time.

The CIO actually means “next fiscal year” … which starts in March!

The COO tells the salesperson that his spending will increase by 100% next year.  The salesperson plugs that number into his forecast and creates a sales plan around getting his share of that extra spend.

The COO did not share that 80% of that total spend is earmarked for a capital purchase, meaning that the actual services spend is going to decrease significantly.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  George Bernard Shaw

A big part of a salesperson’s role is to understand and qualify opportunities.

The way to do that is to ask questions … probe, qualify and confirm that what you heard is what the person meant you to hear!

Then ask more questions!

The salesperson could confirm what the CIO said by saying,  “So if I were to schedule a followup meeting in October would that give us enough time to plan?”  This would surface the confusion and would lead to more questions about budget, planning and how the salesperson could best bring value.

Similarly the salesperson could confirm the COO’s statement by suggesting that this would mean a big increase in services spend, to which the COO could provide clarification.

A salesperson should always be prepared when heading into client meetings, and a list of desired information,  desired contacts and a meeting agenda will help to get the right outcome.

“Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity.”  Zig Ziglar

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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November 2017 Tech News

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for November 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Novembers

Five years ago in November 2012 Cisco made two significant “buys”, cloud infrastructure company Meraki ($1.2B) and cloud datacentre and software company Cloupia ($125M); Dell bought software tools company Gale Technologies; NCR bought retail software company Retalix ($650M); Cray bought software company Appro ($25M); Sprint Nextel bought a chunk of US Cellular ($480M); and Toronto based NexJ (headed by another ex-Andersen Consulting alumni) bought Broadstreet for $8.2 million.   In November 2013 Opentext paid $1.1 Billion for cloud based integration services company GXS Group and another Canadian deal saw Mitel buy Aastra for close to $400 million.  Other deals included ebay’s $800 million purchase of global payments company Braintree; Apple’s $370 million purchase of 3D sensor company PrimeSense; and Akamai’s purchase of Velocius Networks. Three years ago November 2014 was an exceptionally quiet month on the M&A front with the largest deal being the merger of two semiconductor companies, Cypress Semiconductor and Spansion to form a $4 billion company; private equity company Carlyle Group paid $700 million for investment bank technology company Dealogic and Yahoo shelled out $640 million for video advertising company BrightRoll.  November 2015 saw expedia pay $3.9 billion for HomeAway as a vehicle to better compete with Airbnb.  Zayo Holding Group became the first foreign company to own a Canadian telco after paying $465 million for Allstream.  Other, smaller deals saw Apple buy Faceshift, a motion capture company whose technology was used in a Star Wars movie; and Lightspeed POS bought SEOshop, increasing its size as a competitor to Shopify.  Other deals saw Ingram Micro grow its Brazilian presence with the purchase of ACAO; PCM bought Edmonton based services firm Acrodex; Data centre company CentriLogic bought infrastructure company Advanced Knowledge Networks; solution provider Scalar Systems bought another Toronto company, professional services firm Eosensa; and Washington based New Signature bought Toronto based Microsoft Partner, Imason.  Last year November 2016 saw Broadcom acquire Brocade Communication Systems for $5.9 billion; Adobe purchased multi-channel programmatic video platform TubeMogul for $540 million; IT services and outsourcing provider Wipro Limited bought IT cloud consulting firm Appirio for $500 million; Oracle Corp. announced its plans to acquire DNS solution provider, Dyn Inc.; SoftwareOne acquired and integrated House of Lync; and Avnet completed an acquisition of Hackster.

Which brings us back to the present …

November 2017 saw some interesting information from countries round the world.  China’s growth slowed a little, India is struggling in the IT jobs space and there are some negative some effects from the upcoming Brexit that are affecting the UK and EU.  The US is looking strong again following a hurricane affected dip and Canada added 35,000 jobs in October.

The Big M&A activity for the month sees investment firm Thoma Bravo pay $1.6 billion for Barracuda networks.  McAfee also made an acquisition of Skyhigh Networks now that they are no longer a part of the Intel group of companies.  Smaller deals saw Talend buy Restlet and Qualys buy Netwatcher.

Other companies in the news include Lenovo, a struggling hardware company in a declining PC market and laying off 2% of their workforce.  The other company of interest was Uber who revealed a massive security breach which they had neglected to mention when it happened a year ago!

That’s what I saw affecting the tech industry for November 2017.  Until next month Walk Fast and Smile!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Making the Most of Your 8 Hours

Time quote from H Jackson BrownIf you could be convinced that it is in your best interests to be very productive at work then what could you do to be so productive?

WHY should you be your most productive?

  • It feels good.
  • It is how you get ahead.
  • If you have variable compensation it is how you earn more.
  • It is probably the only job security available in the modern workplace.
  • If you can be super productive in your 8 hours then you should not NEED to work longer … giving you more personal time.
  • You have to be here anyway, so why not be the best you can?

What can you do?

  • Drive your day as much as you possibly can … rather than being reactive to things that drive you.
  • Prioritise work and focus your efforts where the highest return is.
  • Be a planner … plan your day, your week, your month, your quarter and ultimatley your year!
  • Develop GOOD work habits.
  • Be VERY conscious of where you are spending your time … and focus the majority of your time on high return activity.
  • Minimise wasted time.
  • Look for ways to be more efficient.
  • Ask for advice.
  • Invest in yourself … training and development, both company sponsored and personally.

“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”  Golda Meir

There is a lot of self satisfaction from being good at your job.  I try to explain to people that the work you do every day is for you, not for your boss.  The skills you learn, and the experience you get stay with you for life, and position you for future success.  Your boss just gets the benefit of them as long as you are in that job.

As the slogan once said, “Be all that you can be.”

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Contracts Are Important

Branson quote about having time for the small thingsAs a young salesperson it always seemed like contracts took all of the fun out of a sale.  There is the “high” of getting a YES from a client but then you have to get a contract agreed, with all of that “legal stuff”.

My experience is that many companies really don’t pay attention to the detail of a contract, and rather than negotiate will basically sign anything … hoping that it doesn’t come back to bite them!

There is some logic to that approach because in the large majority of situations the other party will not take advantage … but sometimes they will.

There are several reasons why it is important to negotiate a reasonable and fair contract that pays attention to the detail.

  • It protects the interests of both parties, not just one.
  • If you are signing on behalf of your company then you have a responsibility to protect the interests of your employer.
  • If you agree to poor contract details it is a fair bet your management will be unimpressed.
  • A clear contract makes decision making easy.
  • A good understanding of the contract detail is a show of professionalism and given that a contract is often a first business  interactions with a client you should start off in a professional manner.

If you go about the negotiation in the correct manner you can get through the contract negotiations with a minimum of fuss and have a good professional start to to a business relationship.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are being “difficult” when you are just doing your job.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Take Responsibility for Your Own Career

Lincoln quote about creating your own futureDo you OWN your career?

Ask yourself a few questions …

Am I “drifting” in a general direction that life is taking me … or am I on a path that I chose?

Do I know what I want from my career?

Am I making conscious decisions that will get me where I want to be in my career?

Am I investing in myself … outside and in addition to, what my employer offers?

Am I taking full advantage of the development opportunities my employer gives me?

Am I getting advice from people other than my boss, my family and my friends?

Do I understand what the future looks like in my chosen career, what disruption will happen, where the opportunities are etc?

These questions are just designed to get you thinking.  There is so much that you could be doing today … but you have to realise it, and then be willing to make that investment.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Internet Advice

Truth OR Opinion?The internet is an amazing resource.

We can instantly get answers to all sorts of questions.

The caution here though is that you will need to understand whether the “fact” you are getting is actually a fact or is it someone’s opinion, or even a straight out fabrication (fake news?)!

Some things are pretty easy … if you want to know who starred in a particular movie or who was the former Prime Minister of Canada the answer should be forthcoming quite easily.

If you want advice on dress code, the length of your resume or whether you should divulge your previous salary when discussing a potential job offer you will get (very strong) advice that is “all over the map”.

My (internet) advice to you is similar to advice I received from a math teach many years ago.

He said that I needed to be able to understand math enough that I could, with a degree of certainty, accept or reject  the answer my calculator gave me !

In the same way, you need to have enough of an understanding, or have done enough research, on the various answers you get to know if the one you are accepting is OK with you.

When it is YOU sitting in front of that interviewer are you really going to refuse to divulge your reported income for last year?  Do you REALLY think that is a unreasonable question?

Your call.

“The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.”  Arnold H Glasgow

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————

 

 


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October 2017 Tech News

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for October 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Octobers …

Five years ago in October 2012 news was dominated by Hurricane Sandy and the US presidential election.   The big deal of the month was a $1.5 billion merger of two US cell carriers, T-Mobile and MetroPCS.  There were also a number of smaller deals, with EMC beefing up in the security area (Silver Tail), Telus expanding its medical solutions portfolio (Kinlogix Medical) and Avnet improving its IBM capabilities (BrightStar and BSP).  In the social networking world Yelp bought its European competitor Qype in a $50 million deal.

Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseIn October 2013 Oracle announced two acquisitions, both “cloud based companies: Big Machines provides pricing and quote date for sales and orders; and Compendium is a content marketing company.  Other “names” out shopping included Avaya buying the software division of ITNavigator for its call centre and social media monitoring software; Rackspace bought ZeroVM a tech company with a software solution for the cloud; Intuit bought consulting company Level Up Analytics, primarily to acquire its talent; VMWare bought “desktop as a service” company Desktone; Netsuite bought human capital software company TribeHR; and Telus enhanced its mobile offering with the purchase of Public Mobile.

HP logoThree years ago in October 2014 we saw a new trend, with two public companies both choosing to split into smaller entities.  HP announced it was creating a business service focused Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and personal computing & printer company HP Inc.  Symantec also chose to split into two independent public companies, one focused on business and consumer security products, the other on its information management portfolio.  Other interesting news saw IBM pay $1.5 Billion to GlobalFoundries so it would take away its money losing semiconductor manufacturing business.  NEST bought competitor Revolv; EMC bought three cloud companies, The Cloudscaling Group, Maginatics and Spanning Cloud Apps; and in Korea, Kakao and Daum merged to form a $2.9 billion internet entity.

dell logoOctober 2015 brought some big deals with the biggest seeing Dell offer $26 billion to buy storage company EMC.  Interestingly an EMC subsidiary, VMWare was also out shopping, picking up a small email startup, Boxer.  In another deal involving “big bucks”, Western Digital paid $19 billion for storage competitor Sandisk.  IBM were also writing a big cheque, paying $2 billion in a big data/internet of things play for The Weather Network (minus the TV operations), and IBM also picked up a storage company, Cleversafe.  Cisco paid $522.5 million for cybersecurity firm Lancope; LogMeIn is paying $$110 million for LastPass; Trend Micro is paying $350 million for next generation intrusion prevention systems company HP Tippingpoint; Red Hat picked up deployment task execution and automation company Ansible; Vasco Data Security is paying $85 million for solution provider Silanis; and Apple is buying a speech processing startup, VocalIQ.  As industries converge it is interesting to see Securitas pay $350 million for Diebold’s US Electronic Security business.

October 2016 saw Qualcomm pay $47 Billion for NXP Semiconductor (interesting that one year later Qualcomm are being pursued).  The only other sizable deal saw Wipro pay $500 million for IT cloud consulting company Appirio.  Google picked up Toronto based video marketing startup FameBit and Pivot Technology Solutions picked up Ottawa based Teramach.

Which brings us back to the present …

Cisco logoOctober 2017 continues a recent trend of reduced big ticket M&A activity, although there was certainly some action.  Not yet a done deal, but Broadcom is chasing Qualcomm pretty hard and if it goes through it will be the biggest tech deal yet.   The latest rejected offer was north of $100 billion (some reports said $130 billion), but watch that space.  In the meantime Cisco is shelling out $1.9 Billion for Broadsoft which improves Cisco’s software capabilities.  The final significant deal saw Telus beef up its service provider capability with a $250 million purchase of Xavient.

Amazon logoThe other company in the news was Amazon (a) because of its much publicized search for a site for its second headquarters … which has 239 cities around the world excited at their prospects; (b) because they also announced a second presence in Vancouver, bringing another 1,000 jobs and (c) for its growing influence in the AI world, announcing a research center in Germany.

The economy continues to have many positive signs, although Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma and to a lesser extent Maria caused some temporary  negative impact to employment numbers in the US.  The general consensus seems to be that things will pick up again now, with some sectors even benefiting from the clean-up work.  Canada’s numbers were again good with Canada adding more than 300,000 jobs in the last year.

That is my update on tech news for October 2017 … until next month, Walk Fast and Smile!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Independent Contractor or Employee (Canada)

Henry Ford quote about business ownershipBefore I get into this blog post I will post a disclaimer … I am not an accountant or a lawyer, so this article cannot be construed as “advice” from a professional.  I am a staffing company owner who has been in the business more than 20 years and have been very involved with this issue at an industry association level.

In Canada independent contractors are typically one person corporations that offer their services on a “just in time” basis to many organisations.  That flexibility is good for our economy.  Some (small) percentage of those independent contractors will go on to create bigger companies, and that is also good for our economy.

I have written previously about the importance of independent contractors to Canada’s economy …  Independent Contractor Myths and Realities in Canada.

The Federal and Provincial governments have a problem with independent contractors because they often believe they are “employees of a different type” and thus are avoiding paying taxes, EHT, CPP, EI etc.   Obviously in such a climate it is prudent to do everything possible to be “onside”.

“A large percentage of small businesses are actually just ways for wealthier Canadians to save on their taxes …” Justin Trudeau

If you are an independent contractor it is imperative that you operate like a business … here are just three reasons.

  1.  The CRA look at independent contractors across a lot of different industries and are constantly evaluating whether they are true businesses.  If you are deemed to be (a) an employee (worst case) or (b) a dependent contractor (bad news) or  (c) operating on a Personal Services contract (also bad news) the tax implications are significant.
  2. The Ontario Government are likely to pass bill 148 with its effect starting in January 2018.  Some aspects of the bill address  independent contractors including  an increase in fines associated with misclassification.  They are also hiring 175 new employment standards officers, who will be focused on the new Bill 148 changes.
  3. The Federal Government recently tabled tax changes for small business, because they believe some people incorporate to avoid taxes.  You do not want that scrutiny.

Government continues its assault on the independent contractor, so independent contractors need to clearly demonstrate that they are a legitimate business.

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”  Peter Drucker

Here are some common sense (although not always common) suggestions:

  • Incorporate.  Yes, you can operate as a sole proprietor … BUT as a sole proprietor your agency must deduct CPP and EI, and there is even some debate about EHT.  This makes you look like an employee …  you do NOT want to look like an employee.  If you are serious about being a business then incorporate. PS More and more agencies are refusing to work with sole proprietors.
  • Get advisers … an accountant (who TRULY understands the nuances of this space … most don’t) also get a lawyer.  Sure its OK to do your own books, but still engage these professionals.
  • Have your own website.  What other business do you know that does not have a website?  This is just basic stuff.  You MUST operate like a business.  Your own domain would be a good idea.
  • Have business cards.  Even in the digital age I know of no service business that operates without business cards.  Considering the cost, why would you NOT get them.
  • Have a separate business phone number.
  • Have business insurance.  This is good business sense, and is the right thing to do professionally.  It is available at a reasonable rate and is a business expense … so just do it.
  • Advertise your services … on your website, and perhaps job boards.
  • Participate in industry associations such as AQIII or APCC.
  • Invest in yourself.  Take courses on your own time, learn new skills, spend some of those revenues on increasing the capability of your company (you).
  • Do NOT OPERATE like an employee.  If you are operating on a client site then invariably there will be employees there, with similar skills to you.  You should try to differentiate yourself, to avoid the appearance of being an employee.  Some ideas (and there are plenty more)
    • If you attend a company social, pay your own way;
    • If you take any training through the client, pay for it;
    • Do NOT adopt the rigid 9 to 5 mentality … you are a business, do what it takes.  Leave after the employees and if possible arrive before them.
    • Never get involved in company politics, part of being an independent contractor is remaining independent.
    • Do not get paid like an employee … every business I know gets paid monthly or based on milestone deliverables.  Getting paid every two weeks (or twice monthly) just looks too much like an employee.
  • Have your own tools. This is a big indicator in the CRA tests but most (maybe ALL) IT contractors cannot take their own tools to work, typically for security concerns.  However you should have your own tools for marketing purposes, writing proposals, accounting purposes, training purposes, tracking expenses etc.  Any demonstration that you have your own tools helps.
  • Take on risk.  This is another key indicator for CRA.  Sometimes you may get an opportunity to bill Statement of Work activities rather than time and materials, but most often you are paid an hourly rate.  You should accept contractual risk (non competes, monthly payment terms paid only on acceptance of work etc.).  You accept the risk of being responsible for your own future, training and your next contract.  Anything you can do to exhibit an entrepreneur’s mindset on risk will help.
  • Control. Where possible you should get terms removed from your contract that demonstrate a control over you, such as an employee would have.  Eg Hours of work, dress code, how you do your work etc.  This is a difficult one and end clients are often hard to convince, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Sole client. The longer you work at one site, in the same role, the more you begin to look like an employee.  Despite opinions, there are no hard and fast rules about how long is “safe” or pushing the limits.  You can be pretty sure that if your contract is going into years then it is likely to be scrutinised more closely.  That doesn’t mean you can’t be a contractor, it just makes it harder to justify.  Can you have other clients?  Perhaps a part time role supporting someone else?   If it is a long term contract could you change the terms to a higher risk based reward such as a deliverables based contract?  You could offer your services to charities and give them “in kind” donations of your time.
  • Educate yourself. Do not fall into the trap of reading the US articles, their laws are very different than ours.  Understand how the various levels of Canadian government look at independent contractors.  Be CLEAR about ALL of the things that differentiate you from an employee … hopefully most of the ideas here, but also no pension, no sick days, no vacation.  You accept the risk of no pay if you are not working.
  • Have a Sideline. Many large companies were started by contractors, or a group of contractors.   That is one of the values to the Canadian economy that contractors bring.  Your “sideline” could be Canada’s next big company … it could be anything such as an app, a software or hardware product, a services company.  Have a business plan, work with partners, explore the potential.  It could grow from an interesting hobby into something significant.

All of these ideas are just normal practice for a business, so the overriding consideration for anyone operating as an independent contractor is Think and Operate like a business.

To someone starting out this might seem a little onerous, but really none of these are BIG things and they go some way to telling the world that you truly are an independent business.

As already indicated, these are my personal thoughts on this subject and cannot be viewed as professional advice.

 

The following are some links that might be useful:

Government of Canada CPP & EI Explained (IT Consultants)

AQIII (Quebec Association of IT Freelancers)

APCC (Association of Professional Canadian Consultants)

SMB Statistics in Canada

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Canada’s Job Market – Third Quarter 2017

General Observations:

newspaper job sectionThe unemployment rate at the end September was 6.2%, an improvement from the 6.5% unemployment rate at the end of June.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 320,000 jobs (almost 289,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the third quarter it returned to the Q1 level just above 15,600, a gain of about 500 points.

picture of an oil rigThe oil patch continues to struggle, with the price of a barrel hovering in and around the $50 a barrel range.  The continued lack of support from the various levels of government has led to the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline.  This will mean (a) lost jobs, but also (b) reinforce a message to the investment community that Alberta oil is not a good investment.

The Canadian dollar has been relatively strong lately and in the third quarter ranged between 78c US and 82c US.

Piggy Bank accepting moneyThere is little change in the banking sector, which is one of the bigger employers in Canada.  The talent demands for the banks address areas such as regulatory changes, new product development, new service offerings and addressing the aging workforce.  On the other side, new technology and offerings also displaces some of the roles traditionally found at the banks.  The banks remain a good place to find employment, but increasingly the skills needed are specialised.

The telecommunications sector is another large employer in Canada.  Like the banks, this sector is operating in an environment affected by new technological change, demographic pressures and regulatory change in addition to extreme competition.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  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, and over the third quarter averaged about 90,000 new jobs per month.  The demand for skills in the US is luring talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  As an example almost all of the jobs added in Canada in September (about 100,0000) can be attributed to public sector jobs.  Clearly the increased government spending is not a boon for the economy, but good for those looking for public sector jobs.

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 reading at the end of the second quarter was 114, which was up from 110 last quarter, and also 110 in Q3 last year.

Eagle logoHere at Eagle, we experienced an expected drop in demand over the Summer months, of about 10% from the second quarter however demand was up 10% over the same quarter in 2016.  There was a corresponding drop in people looking for work over the Summer months.

 More Specifically:

cn towerThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market continues to be one of the busiest markets in Canada, and we see strong demand from our clients for skilled talent.  There is some concern that new legislation from the Ontario Government (Bill 148) will have a negative effect on the temporary help market in particular.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada continues to struggle, receiving little help from our Federal government and not helping themselves much at the provincial level.  The cancelling of the Energy East pipeline was a tough blow for the region and optimism in the oil patch is low.  While the Conference Board had expected Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 I doubt we will see that happen.  The BC economy continues to do well despite the concerns about legislation to curb foreign investment in real estate.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, although there are some smaller tech companies rising from the ashes of Nortel, JDS and the previously large tech sector. The government continues to employ a lot of people (22,000 more in The NCR since the Liberal government took office) but despite significant Federal government hiring the unemployment rate in Ottawa has been a concern.  Quebec appears to be enjoying a renaissance as its unemployment rate is now better than Ontario’s, in addition to having healthier finances.  They have been able to attract industries (such as large data centres) to help the economy and add jobs.  It doesn’t hurt that their hydro rates are very competitive as opposed to Ontario’s situation.  The Maritime Provinces don’t represent a great opportunity for the job seeker, however PEI and Nova Scotia are both showing signs of an improving economy.

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. Digital, big data, data scientists, 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.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

 Summary:

There are numerous good indicators for Canada’s economy and hence job seekers, but there are also some challenges on the horizon:

  • NAFTA re-negotiations may have a negative impact on our economy;
  • we don’t yet understand all the implications of the Energy East project being cancelled;
  • January in Ontario will see the introduction of Bill 148, a severe increase in minimum wage plus new labor laws that will hurt business and cost jobs;
  • January we will see the introduction of new carbon taxes in Ontario;
  • our Federal Government is introducing new tax changes affecting small business, possibly to help pay for their out of control spending;
  • at the same time that Canada is raising taxes, the US is encouraging small business through tax breaks, which may well cost Canada as some companies will be forced to go where they can make money.

If all of this goes ahead, then we will see a big impact on the job market.

Canada added 320,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  The BIG elephant in the room is whether the factors listed above will conspire to undermine our economy and create a government driven recession.

For job seekers there remain the bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers), jobs moving to Canada from more expensive places like Silicon Valley and companies developing new technologies.  The large employers, such as banking sector, insurance sector, retail sector, telecommunications sector and the construction industry will always require large workforces representing job opportunity. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that, some possible impacts include immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies such as the NAFTA negotiations (possibly negative for Canada); and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

Job seekers should research and understand the growing sectors and where the in-demand jobs are.  They also need to be willing to go where the work is!  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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