CEO Blog

Category Archives: IT Staffing Industry

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to the information technology (IT) staffing industry.

Canada’s Job Market – Fourth Quarter of 2017

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end December was 5.7%.  This was the lowest rate in forty (40) years, and a significant improvement over September when it was 6.2%.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added a very strong 422,500 jobs of which 394,200 were permanent full time jobs.

As just one indicator of the markets, and for the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX which showed strong growth during Q4, ending with a reading of 16,200 which was an improvement of 600 points from the end of Q3.

The price of a barrel of oil saw a little resurgence in the final quarter of 2017 reaching heights it hadn’t seen for a few years now.  It remains to be seen whether a price near the $65 range is sustainable, or the result of some OPEC activity but some companies are reacting positively.

The Canadian dollar continued to operate in the 80c US range, which was very similar to Q3.  This was positive given how well the US economy has been performing.

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 latest reading Q4 was close to its high, at 123.  This was a big jump from its Q3 reading of 109 and a reading of 116 in Q4 of last year.

Eagle logoHere at Eagle, demand was about as expected in Q4 which includes the holiday season.  Client demand dipped about 15% and was very similar to demand in Q4 of last year.  The number of job applicants was up more than 20% from Q4 of a year ago, and very similar to last quarter when we would have expected a seasonal dip.

Some of the sectors with big talent demands.

Piggy Bank accepting moneyThe financial sector is a huge employer in Canada and top talent is always in demand.  Technology is a huge part of their ecosystem and they invest in leading-edge technologies to gain competitive advantage and to improve productivity.  The banks have been leaders in automation (ATMs etc) and invest in AI, technology incubators and all of the latest innovations.  There will continue to be a demand in their technology shops into the foreseeable future.

Like the banks, the telcos are big believers in technology and invest heavily.  They have large technology groups and are always looking for ways to differentiate and gain competitive advantage through the use of technology.  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 with the recently introduced tax changes we can anticipate more investment and an even bigger appetite for talent.  The demand for skills in the US coupled with Canada’s increased tax burden will ensure that Canadian talent continues to head South.

ConstructionThe construction industry continues to thrive in Canada, and presents a good career opportunity.  The never-ending demand from the big projects (look at the skyline in just about any city), coupled with the demand for home renovation projects will ensure this demand continues for some time yet.  The aging workforce will also present opportunities, as workers retire.

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers, employing more than 20% of Canada’s workforce (CFIB).  These are well-paying jobs with great benefits, and with the retiring baby boomer generation comes a continuing need for talent.

More Specifically:

cn towerThere are more than six (6) million people living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and it is home to more than 50% of Canadian head offices. It is the 4th largest city in North America, and represents about 60% of Eagle’s business.  As such it remains Canada’s busiest market, with the biggest appetite for talent.  The financial, telecommunications, insurance and services sectors are all busy.  The construction business is booming and there is a vibrant high tech/startup community.

The Saddledome in CalgaryThere are plenty of signs that Western Canada is recovering from the oil sector meltdown.  While the oil and gas sector itself is not particularly vibrant, it has turned the corner and the worst of the downsizing and layoffs are finished.  Large companies will always need talent, to replace their retiring employees, for new projects and to bring new lifeblood into the organisation.  Governments in Western Canada are continuing to implement programs and projects that require talent, infrastructure spending is happening and there are opportunities, particularly in the larger centres.  BC is enjoying the lowest unemployment rate in the country and Alberta is starting to see jobs come back.  Saskatchewan continues to be a leader in promoting business and hence job opportunities and Manitoba too is doing well.  Overall the West is in a good place.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, and there are opportunities in the Feds, which is returning to its employment highs of some years ago.  The tech sector in Ottawa is alive and well with some up and comers, like Shopify and Assent Compliance joinng the Mitels and others that have been around a while.  While not providing the opportunities of Toronto, Ottawa does have some demand for talent.  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:

Canada added more than 422,000 jobs last year, and with the unemployment rate at its lowest in 40 years it is a good time to be looking for work.

There are a number of factors creating this positive situation, including 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 continue to demand talent. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

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”.  Clearly the biggest job market is the GTA, but opportunity exists across the country.

In the hotter markets we are seeing clear skills shortages and the “in demand” people are receiving multiple job offers, giving them the ability to “pick and choose”.  So … IF you are looking people, and want to hire the best talent here are some things you should consider:

  1. Start the process early with a strong PLANNING phase;
  2. Develop very clean processes to find, screen, choose, hire and onboard these new resources (if you drag out the hiring process you WILL lose);
  3. Know that you will have a lot of competition and therefore speed in decision making will be critical;
  4. The job doesn’t stop there … a great retention strategy will be critical!

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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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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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 – Second Quarter 2017

General Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.5%, an improvement over the 6.7% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 351,000 jobs (almost 250,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the second quarter it slipped about 400 points from 15,600 to around 15,200.

Oil canThe oil patch continues to struggle, and while the price of a barrel has been in and around the $50 a barrel range, it actually finished the second quarter down in the $45 range.  The foreign investment money that exited the Canadian oil patch is unlikely to return unless there is a significant shift in political support for this sector.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar had seemed to be settled around the 75c US level, but during Q2 edged up to 77c. (It should be noted that post Q2 an interest rate increase has driven the Canadian dollar even higher.  It remains to be seen whether the increased cost of borrowing will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy.)

There 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 in significant numbers, averaging more than 200,000 jobs a month over the last quarter.  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.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people.  Under the current Liberal administration the Federal workforce has grown significantly, with about 150,000 employees.   All levels of government are dealing with the issue of retiring “boomers”, among the executive ranks in particular.   The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

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 110, which was unchanged from the first quarter.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that, the indication is a positive one.

Here at Eagle, we experienced consistent demand from our clients in the the first six months of 2017.  This is a positive indicator given that demand represents a 25% increase in demand over the fourth quarter of 2016. Eagle did see a big increase in people looking for work in the first quarter (20%) and the second quarter saw another increase of 16%.  There could be many factors at play, but one that we are seeing is both an increased demand for contract talent and an increased interest in the gig economy by professionals.

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 be most impacted by the woes in the oil patch, but there are some positive indicators.  The oil patch has settled into its “new normal” and continues to employ a lot of people, albeit nowhere near the highs of the boom times.  The various levels of government are working hard to replace some of those jobs by attracting new industries, such as technology companies, offering educated and affordable workforces, especially compared to Silicon Valley and more affordable and yet attractive lifestyles. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017.  The BC housing market has been affected by recently introduced legislation to curb foreign investment and a minority government will mean less affective decision making and an uncertain economy.

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 the unemployment rate in Ottawa rose steadily in the second quarter. Quebec leads the country in job gains, and have improved their unemployment rate to 6% and added 122,000 jobs in the last 12 months.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

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:

Canada added 351,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  Forecasters are optimistic for the next twelve months, in fact the Bank of Canada just raised interest rates sparking a recovery for the Canadian dollar.  If we can keep new legislation (CASL at the Federal level, and Bill 148 in Ontario would be just two examples) from hurting job growth then we should enjoy a period of growth.

For job seekers there are 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 work-forces 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, early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies (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 second 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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Why Clients Should NOT Source Their Own Contract Talent

CEO of Pepsico on the value of talentThere are 3 compelling reasons why clients should NOT source their own contract resources:

“Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.”   Nancy Pearcey

  1.  PRICE
    •  At first it seems counter intuitive, but if you think about it, the competitive process will almost always give you the best price.
    • Our experience at Eagle would demonstrate that “client sourced” contract resources cost 10% more, on average, than contractors sourced in a competitive process.  Don’t take our word for it, do a little investigation yourself!
    • Experts offering “shop in your own database” options sell their clients on the concept of saving agency fees.  Don’t get blind-sided.  What matters is what you actually pay all-in, not what you pay the agency
  2. GOVERNANCE
    • A hiring manager who identifies a contractor to do some work has a vested interest in their success … that can create governance issues.
    • Will they be subjective that they are choosing the best person for the job?
    • Will they be willing to make tough decisions as quickly as an agency sourced contractor who is not performing?
    • Will they negotiate the best rate or just pay what the contractor asks? (Part of the reason for the price differential.)
  3. RISK
    • In Canada the CRA are very interested in contractor relationships.  If you sourced the person and pay them then are they your employee?
    • Do all of your hiring managers truly understand the risks associated with contractor mis-classification?
    • Do your processes fully protect your company?

“Data beats emotions.” Sean Rad

If those “compelling reasons” were not enough, then consider this

The staffing industry is a $13 Billion industry in Canada designed to find talent for their client in a hyper-competitive market.

  • Do you want to recreate that capability within your organisation, or should you focus on your core capabilities?
  • Will your internal sourcing be as competitive as companies designed solely for that purpose?
  • What is the cost of your internal recruiting organisation?
  • Do you measure that cost against “saved agency fees” or against “reduced contractor spend”?

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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The Decline of the Staffing Industry is Greatly Exaggerated

Hiring quote by David OgilvieThe staffing industry comprises “middle men” who find talent to meet their client’s demands.  In the optimal case they find the perfect candidate, in a timely manner and at a good price.

Of course “middle men” have been targets for disintermediation for years.  Technology will replace them (travel agents) or better business models will replace them (taxi companies using the sharing economy).

The recruitment industry can be a frustrating one for both clients, and the talent they pursue, which just increases the desire of innovators to replace the industry, either with technology or just a better way of doing things.  Everyone thinks they can do it better.

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”   Red Adair

Over the years those of us within the industry have seen some major changes that were predicted to cause that disruption.  There were job boards that would allow clients to access the candidates directly.  There was technology that would restrict a client’s staff from engaging “unapproved staffing vendors”.  More recently there have been technology innovations using Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, Big Data and analytics in addition to crowdsourcing, shared economy solutions and just about any option using pieces of the above.  Yet here we are.

Why has this industry survived?

  1. It is not as easy as it seems. How hard can it be?   The client needs someone, you find a qualified person, you match them up and there you go!  Well it is just not that easy … here are Just SOME of the challenges:
    • Understanding the client need is not simple. Job descriptions are never complete, different industries use different language to describe the same roles, acronyms are widespread & inconsistent.  Job roles change and very often client needs “evolve” as the search progresses.  Staffing companies understand this world, and trained agency staff work hard to become proficient in this environment.
    • Clients have many competing priorities and the hiring cycle can suffer, meaning that quite often they lose great candidates because they couldn’t act fast enough. Yet the staffing companies keep coming back with more.
    • We have many, many GREAT candidates … BUT also many, many candidates lie! Big lies and little lies, and certainly more often than you would think.  On their resume, in their interviews and we have even had different people interview than showed up to sign the contract!  Agencies use experience, process and tools to be able to manage this.
    • Among the candidates that don’t “lie” are the many candidates who oversell themselves. Just because they say they can do the job, and their resume might be written that way, it does not mean that they can!   Agency recruiters learn to identify the real candidates.
    • Attracting more candidates seems like a good thing to the casual observer, but in reality higher volume just equals LOTS of extra work. Staffing companies cope with this and work to serve their clients.
    • Many clients have challenging expectations. Expecting “A” candidates for below market rates, expecting experts when all the job needs is a journeyman, expecting great talent in extremely competitive markets etc.  But that is just a staffing company’s reality …if we don’t deliver, then we don’t get paid.
    • Demographics and global competitiveness are conspiring to create serious skills shortages … finding talent is getting harder. It’s what staffing companies do.
    • Candidates can be challenging too … changing their mind, having unreasonable expectations, expecting Champagne service on a beer budget (despite the fact that they pay nothing), leaving jobs early, playing clients off against each other, playing staffing companies off against each other.  The experienced agencies understand this world and work hard to ensure things are handled professionally.
    • Our “product” is people! With all of the differences inherent in the human race and while we have never seen it all, the average staffing agency has dealt experience with these kinds of issues.
    • I could go on …
  2. The Staffing Industry has been doing this a long time. We understand the challenges and have developed the processes, capabilities, training and tools to deal with them.
  3. The Recruitment world is hard work! Recruitment companies hire, train and set an expectation of their people that their job will be hard, every day”.  From the outside it looks easy, but once you understand the nuances and take into account the human factor you quickly change your mind!
  4. The successful recruiter is a sales person in addition to all of their other skills. These are hard skills to find, and to train.  The recruitment function within companies tends to be an HR function … which is not typically associated with a hard charging, sales culture (I am generalizing of course because there are SOME very successful internal corporate recruiting teams).
  5. The Staffing Industry continually evolves as the landscape changes. We take advantage of the new technologies, new approaches, and tools.
  6. Focus brings success. Car companies focus on building cars, banks focus on finance and staffing companies focus on talent acquisition.
  7. Profits in the staffing industry are skinny. To compete and be successful staffing companies have to be good at what they do.

I have no reason to believe that the changes in today’s environment will signal the end of our industry.  In fact the growing need for talent (#1 on CEO wish lists worldwide), the growing skills shortages and hyper competitive nature of business today will just mean a stronger staffing industry.  Don’t count us out just yet!

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”  Lawrence Bossidy

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder 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 First Quarter 2017

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.7%, an improvement over the 6.9% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 276,000 jobs.

The stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth ending the first quarter of 2017 at around 15,600 points.  This was up slightly from a reading of 15,300 at the end of last quarter.

Oil canThe oil patch has settled a little, but that isn’t a great news story.  With the price of a barrel hovering around the $50 a barrel range there is a still a conservative approach to adding jobs.  There has been some exodus of foreign money from the oil patch, allowing Canadian companies to increase their property holdings.  While in some ways that is good, it is an indicator that the big players are investing their money in more business friendly jurisdictions.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar seems to be settled around the 75c US level for now, which is where it was last quarter.  While there are some small benefits of a weak Canadian dollar, including positive impact on tourism, overall it is a negative for the Canadian economy and thus for job creation.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  Areas of growth for the banks have been any area that improves productivity and profitability, including robotics.  In addition risk mitigation in an era of economic uncertainty has created specific demands.

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, 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 in significant numbers, averaging more than 250,000 jobs a 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 US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

Construction worker

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.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

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 first quarter was 110, which was significantly up from last quarter when it was 96.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that the indication is a positive one.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we experienced a 25% increase in demand from our clients in the first quarter of 2017 versus the previous quarter, and the demand was about the same as the first quarter of 2016.  We also experienced a 20% increase in people looking for work over the previous quarter and a 16% increase over the same quarter last year.  This would suggest an uptick in activity that is a positive for the economy, if we can keep it going.

 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 has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We have seen a small increase in demand in the first quarter and anticipate things will pick up as the year progresses.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016 but with an election coming and legislative interference harming the housing sector, the BC economy has started to slow down.  Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government although it too is hit by a decline in oil revenues and is struggling with deficit reduction, so no job boom here. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 but that remains to be seen as the province is not attracting foreign investment (because of Federal and Provincial government policies) and unemployment remains high.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  There has been an increase in Federal government hiring in 2017 with our civil service now employing an extra 23,000 in just the last year (wonder why our taxes are so high?).  Quebec is enjoying low unemployment and continuing to fund new tech growth in the province (wonder where those transfer payments are spent?).  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

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.

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

 Summary:

 There are some positive indicators that would suggest light at the end of the tunnel, but it is early to tell whether that will lead to economic growth.  At a very low growth in GDP, and increasing government debt loads and no clear fiscal policies to help I do not anticipate significant job growth in Canada for a while.

There are however bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers) and new technologies.  The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada), trade agreements (possibly negative for Canada) and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

In today’s Canada job seekers need to understand the growing sectors, the in demand jobs and 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 in 2016 and some of its influences.

——————————————————————————————————————————
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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