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Uncategorized blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency.

One Thousandth Blog Entry … on Guy Fawkes Day!

I started blogging almost five years ago and today is my one thousandth blog entry … today also happens to be Guy Fawkes day, or Bonfire night as I knew it growing up in Liverpool many years ago.  When I started blogging I wanted to share my passion  for the staffing industry, for the sales profession and talk about personal development (I certainly didn’t start my working life with the thought I would own my own business).

Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the British parliament, and the day is celebrated with fireworks. I can remember the fun as a young boy, a raging bonfire and my dad setting off the little box of fireworks in our back yard.  It was no comparison to the Canada day fireworks here in Ottawa on July 1st … but to a young lad growing up in working class Liverpool in the 60s (that was a long time ago!) it was an exciting night.

You might not see fireworks from this blog … but occasionally you might see the passion shine through as I get excited about a specific issue.  Generally though I try to keep the topics positive and uplifting, rather than a rant. 

Thanks for reading my blog, I hope that you get the occasional nugget here.

Below is a little more information about Guy Fawkes Day …

Celebrated in Britain annually on November 5th. The event is accompanied by firework displays, the lighting of bonfires and the ceremonial effigy-burning of one Guy Fawkes. The origin of this celebration stems from the conspiracy known as “The Gunpowder Plot,” intended to take place on November 5th 1605 (the day set for the opening of Parliament). The object of The Gunpowder Plot was to blow up English Parliament along with the ruling monarch, King James I. It was hoped that such a disaster would initiate a great uprising of English Catholics, who were distressed by the increased severity of penal laws against the practice of their religion.  Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed.

Also known as “Firework Night” and “Bonfire Night,” November 5th was designated by King James I (via an Act of Parliament) as a day of thanksgiving for “the joyful day of deliverance.” This Act remained in force until 1859. On the very night of the thwarted Gunpowder Plot, it is said that the populace of London celebrated the defeat by lighting fires and engaging in street festivities. It would appear that similar celebrations took place on each anniversary and, over the years, became a tradition.

Guy Fawkes Night is not solely a British celebration. The celebration of Guy Fawkes and his failed plot remains a tradition in such places as Newfoundland and some areas of New Zealand, in addition to the British Isles.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Eagle finds GREAT Technology People for our clients across Canada!
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Avoiding Decisions

I have written about decision making a couple of times … one titled Decision Making talked about the fact that often indecision is worse than a wrong decision.  Generally in business you can “course correct” if needed, but you need to have some momentum in order to do that, indecision just creates an inertia … and that can be worse than any kind of action.

I also wrote a blog called Decisions and Consequences that talked about some of the poor decisions people make … I picked on Zinedine Zidane, one of the world’s greatest footballers sent off in the World Cup for head butting an opponent; I also talked about some of the decisions that led to the downfall of WorldCom and Enron.

Today I was reading David Allen’s newsletter and his topic was about avoiding decisions, and some tips for getting past those “roadblocks”.  So, with a little shameless plagiarism I am reprinting the article by David Allen, author of the GTD (Getting Things Done) time management methodology.

DAVID’S FOOD FOR THOUGHT

What decisions are you avoiding?

Every senior executive I’ve ever coached, without exception, has at least one (and usually several) key projects hung up and bottlenecked at him/her, simply because it requires a decision about something and there’s no clarity about what action is needed to move forward on making that decision.

If you can’t decide about something, it means you lack enough information to feel comfortable making some choice. Therefore, the next-action coaching question would be, “So what action do you need to take to begin to get the information you need to make that decision?” Nine times out of ten, there’s a specific action to take, such as “surf web re: xyz” or “e-mail A & B to set meeting to explore options about xyz.”

Every once in a while, though, the information you need has to come from inside—i.e. your intuition. You need to sleep on it. But even then, to really clear your head, you need to make the decision about how long you can “just sleep on it” until you feel like you need to actually make the Big Decision. Two weeks? Two months? Four days? Six hours? Whatever that answer is, you simply need to park a trigger in a calendar or tickler file to yank your chain at that point, ensuring that you re-assess the situation in your own timing. You might even, at that future point, decide that you need or want more time, in which case simply repeat the move-forward trigger. In other words, it’s OK to decide not to decide—as long as you park something appropriate in your “decide not to decide” system. Of course at some point you or the world may change sufficiently to have the whole thing exhaust its relevance and disappear; and you can simply forget the issue. But you will have consistently remained clear in your own agreement with yourself about how you’re engaged with the situation.

So, what decisions are you avoiding? What data would you like to get? Where could you start to get it?

Are you OK with not deciding? For how long? What reminder should you insert in your systems, for when, in order for your psyche to let go and really relax in its thinking?

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?


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The Best Laid Plans …

I blog often about time management (or personal productivity) … the last such blog was about Making the Most of Your Time.

One area of time management that I have not touched on previously and which is perhaps a little “off track” is that just sometimes, despite best efforts, you don’t “get it done”!

My considered advice in these rare occasions … don’t sweat it too much.  Change the things within your control and let the other stuff go!

If you are like me then you take your commitments very seriously and sometimes I beat myself up a little too much when I am unable to step up to a commitment.  I don’t think I should change my level of commitment, but perhaps I should give myself a break when things don’t quite work out.

Remember … be nice to yourself!


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Are You Willing to Give … Blood?

Anyone who knows me at all will know that I am a big believer in giving back to the community … to me it just goes with the territory.  Yes, we are all the architects of our own destiny, which means “we have what we have” because we worked to get it … but if it wasn’t for the infrastructure around us then we couldn’t be successful!  Therefore it is incumbent upon us all to look after that infrastructure we call our community.

I give money.  I give time.  My company gives money.  My employees give money and time … AND are proud of their contributions.

So … the burning question of the moment is, even though I’m happy to give money, and happy to give time, am I willing to give blood?  I’m not talking about the nice neat kind of giving blood using a needle, I’m talking about the potential of climbing into a boxing ring and going three rounds with some other “blood donor” all to raise money for cancer!

For the last three years the Fight For the Cure has been held in Ottawa to raise funds in that more serious fight, the fight against cancer.  Bouts are set up between local “white collar” participants, who are not otherwise boxers … and for 2011 I was asked to “think about it”. 

The first part of my “thinking process” was to go and see my doctor who is still working on fixing up my knee so I can play soccer again next year.  His response, “Other than I don’t know why anyone wants to get their heads pounded, I don’t see why you couldn’t do it!”  was not either the ‘easy out’, OR the resounding endorsement that I was looking for.

The doctor’s visit was followed by a “training session” at Final Round Boxing in Ottawa.  The owner, Matt Whitteker, a twenty-something super-fit former amateur boxer spent an hour with this old codger to see what he thought, and for me to continue the “thinking process”  (Now I’m thinking about whether I could survive the training regimen, never mind three two-minute rounds with someone trying to bash my brains in).  Matt’s club is a sponsor of the event and donate some serious time … so kudos to Matt!

I tried to clarify a few things, given my Liverpool up-bringing … would you believe that head butting and use of the knee is frowned upon!   They don’t even allow elbowing … there go all my secret weapons!  I forgot to ask about ear biting, but I seem to remember that’s not allowed any more either!

So it appears that I AM willing to give blood for charity … however there is one last hope in my “thinking process”, which is that they can’t find another fifty-something, in my weight category, who is also dumb enough to do this.   Other than that its five months of training to prepare for six minutes of “blood donating” in “the GeezerRumble”!  Some people will ANYTHING for charity!

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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 Centre!
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CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Mini update Sep/Oct 2010

General Observations: 

In September Canada gained 37,000 full time jobs, and lost 44,000 part time jobs for a net loss of 7,000 jobs.  The unemployment rate however improved slightly, dropping by 0.1% to 8.0%.  Since September last year Canada has added approximately 350,000 jobs in its slow but steady recovery from the recession, which cost the country more than 400,000 jobs.

The Canadian dollar achieved parity with the US dollar at the time of writing this report, which is probably as much a story about the weakness in the US economy as it is about the strength of the Canadian economy.  The markets continue to show volatility and many experts are still wary about the long term sustainability of this recovery.  Having said that, the general trend is positive and the TSX was up again at better than 12,600 which is close to 500 points better than last month.

In the trenches as a staffing company we are currently experiencing a big increase in demand for skilled labor.  The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) has led the way for the past many months and now Calgary is starting to get very hot too; Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver are also showing signs of life which is nice to see!  The obvious disappointment is the National Capital region which continues to languish a little.

More Specifically:

The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) continues to be a market with a big appetite for skilled people.  Demand is increasing across all sectors with even the Provincial Government starting to drive some demand.  Still the hottest sectors are the financial institutions and the telecom sector, both of which need to invest heavily in technology for competitive reasons.  We are seeing all of the traditional issues of a hot market, with contractors receiving multiple offers and clients needing to make fast decisions in order to get the best talent.

In Western Canada, Calgary is enjoying a little boom in demand, although partly that is fueled by some impending outsourcing contracts that will have offshore component.  This creates some uncertainty in the market with people looking to move to “more secure” contracts.  Vancouver which has been quiet following the Olympics, an election and the Summer holidays is starting to heat up at last . never a “booming” market we are seeing some increase in demand here. Edmonton too, is starting to warm up again with a steady increase in demand for people.

Not much has changed in Eagle’s Eastern Canada region where Montreal continues to be quite busy, most particularly in the permanent rather than temp/contract world, and like the GTA it is the financial sector, telcos and system integrators that have the biggest demand.   The national Capital Region continues to disappoint and under perform with Ottawa unemployment hitting a 7 year high at 7.2%.  None of that is helped by the CRA’s focus on the “independence” of incorporated contractors, a change in heart . not a change in rules!  That is also exacerbated by a continuing attack on the staffing industry for its success in supplying a temporary workforce to meet the needs of the Federal Government.  I have to say it again . if the politicians would get out of the way then business could focus on recovering from the recession!

The following are some facts/indicators we are watching as of time of writing:

> The price of oil is up more than $7 from last month to $82.78, perhaps one of the reasons for increased optimism in the Calgary market.
> Natural Gas prices are pretty steady, or slightly down.
> The markets continue to be volatile, however the TSX was up almost 500 points to 12,621 from 12,144 last month.
> The Canadian dollar hit par with the US dollar at time of writing!
> Prime remains at 3% after three recent increases, and is not expected to rise again soon!
> Canada added 37,000 full time jobs, lost 44,000 part time jobs resulting in a loss of 7,000 jobs, however there was a slight gain in the unemployment rate to 8.0% from 8.1%.  Canada has added 350,000 jobs in the last 12 months, against losses of about 400,000 during the recession.
> Eagle continues to see a pickup in activity in most sectors, banks, energy companies, and telcos in particular.  Clients are recognising the need to develop recruitment and retention strategies, in addition to having smooth efficient hiring practices.
> The Canadian Federal government seems to have slowed spending and reduced its employment ranks.  Suppliers in this market are all hurting a little.  The focus on independent contractors and the staffing industry is particularly painful.

 Summary:

Last month I anticipated telling you how busy all of the markets have been from a labor demand perspective.  I am happy to report that most markets are busier and both the GTA and Calgary are achieving that state of “almost too busy” …  if that were possible.  Most other markets, besides the National Capital Region, are seeing an increase in demand which is nice to see.  Maybe Ottawa will catch up soon?

The staffing industry is often the first to see changes in a market because companies will use their flexible workforce as a buffer when demand fluctuates.  The general increase in staffing demand is likely to be a precursor to an increase in hiring across the board, so it would not be unexpected to be seeing a return to skills and labour shortages early in 2011.

Companies can prepare themselves for this in a number of ways.  They should develop excellent retention strategies, assign contracts for longer periods (eliminating risk of losing key personnel) and move quickly when in the hiring cycle.  These best practices will ensure that they don’t lose out on the best candidates because someone else was that bit quicker, or had slightly better “selling messages”.

That is my monthly look at the job market across Canada and some of its influences.


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Networking is Like Planting seeds

I have written about networking in the past … the last time was an article called 10 Tips for Networking in Today’s World.   Today I read a decent article in BNet called Three Big Lies About Networking, which is more good advice about how to network, and some myths about networking.

Given that there is a lot written about “How To” network, I thought it was worth talking a little about the “Why” because I think (a) some people just do it because they think they should, (b) others don’t do it when they should and (c) some do it for all the wrong reasons, and with unreasonable expectations.

Here is my theory … networking is a way to build out your contacts such that, potentially, at some point, those contacts might be able to help you.

I work in the staffing industry so our recruiters need to network so they can build out a strong set of contacts willing to work with them, our sales people need to network with potential clients and hiring managers.  Beyond the staffing industry (or any industry0 benefits when the leaders network and work together to raise the professionalism across the whole industry.

I believe that when networking it should be (a) with a long term view, and very few “short term” expectations; (b) with the expectation that we will be “giving” more than “receiving” for some time; (c) the new “contacts” we meet just might move up our hierarchy of relationships (from acquaintance, through various levels to potentially close friend) over a long period of time … so treat them accordingly.

Business networking is just that, a BUSINESS activity … so it should be done professionally.  As a relationship does “deepen” it moves to a more personal level, but there should always remain that “professional” aspect to it if there are to be business dealings too.

I am very turned off by people that are too pushy in trying to network with me … they have very overt “needs” and it is clear they want something from me.  I would suggest that any networking should be low key, non-threatening and certainly not with a view to “getting something” … if anything it should be with the expectation of “giving something”.

So … why should you network when (a) it is hard work (b) you have no expectations of anything (c) you may actually be expected to give something?

1.  Think of it as planting seeds … it is a rewarding exercise that results in something growing, in this case a relationship.

2.  We all need friends, close friends or even acquaintances are much easier to deal with than strangers.  So, even if we expect nothing there is always something in it for us.

3.  Giving is the one sure way to success … those who give selflessly will be rewarded.   I say this a lot, and the only way people understand it is if they are already sold on the concept … which means they have to sell themselves.

Networking is about business, but people like to “do business” with people they like … so go find some new friends and see what happens to your business.  Just understand that planting seeds takes effort and patience before you see results.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Let Eagle find your next Finance and Accounting Professional anywhere in Canada?


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New Blog Address!

Change is a good thing … especially if it is change for a good reason!  After about four years of blogging at Blogger I am switching allegiance to WordPress and an address on our eagle website!

This is NOT a reflection on Blogger, which has been a great tool to use.  It is however a recognition that “fresh content” on a regular basis is a good thing for a website … and since I post to my blog most business days AND Eagle is my company it only makes sense that we “put it all together”!

I will continue to write about the staffing industry here in Canada and the value it brings to our clients and the Canadian economy.  I will also blog about the sales profession, of which I am a staunch supporter, and critic in the same breath!  I will continue to write about personal development topics … and hopefully awakening some passion and personal accountability with the occasional reader.  Now and again I will review  a book of interest and you will continue to see my regular monthly updates on the Canadian Job Landscape and the IT Industry News.  I expect I will also continue to comment on Government issues of relevance to businesses and in particular the staffing industry.

So … only the address will change, I hope that those people who have enjoyed reading the Eagle Blog from time to time will continue to visit us at our new location here!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?


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CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Mini update Aug/Sep 2010

General Observations:

In August Canada gained 80,000 full time jobs and lost 44,000 part time jobs, for a net gain of 36,000 jobs … however an increase in people entering the workforce meant that the unemployment rate went up, albeit marginally, from 8% to 8.1%. The Canadian Staffing index for August was up 4 basis points, suggesting strong growth in the temporary help and contract world in August. As we have seen for some time now, any good news appears to come with a little bad news too … so, while the recovery continues in an overall positive trajectory, it is slow and with a “2 steps forward, one step back” motion.

The markets continue to be volatile, however at time of writing the TSX is up a little at 12,144, from last month at this time when it was 11,788. The Bank of Canada introduced its third hike in three months resulting in the prime business rate hitting 3%. The intent being to fight inflation, however there is still concern that the recovery is not yet stable enough to put it at risk by increasing the cost of borrowing. The housing markets have slowed down and the banks are getting competitive with mortgage rates to try and generate some business that way.

Eagle focuses on the supply of both IT professionals and Accounting professionals and at a high level we are seeing a continued increase in demand across the board, with some markets getting quite hot (GTA), some “getting there” (Calgary, Montreal) and other still improving but not yet there (Vancouver, Edmonton). There are also markets where things are just not even warm yet (Ottawa).

More Specifically:

As already indicated, the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) continues to be the hottest market in demand for professionals. The financial sector drives the demand but we are seeing other sectors heating up too, notably the communications sector and insurance industry with increasing demand almost across the board. More and more we are seeing savvy clients “locking in” on longer term contracts, and ensuring that their hiring processes are “slick” to ensure they don’t lose great people through indecision. The best candidates are in great demand and enjoying “multiple offers”, so clients are again looking at attraction and retention strategies. The Ontario government market has been somewhat slower than expected, but the pent-up demand is expected to hit some time in the Fall

Alberta continues to lead the way in demand in Western Canada, but is certainly not back to the “boom days” of a couple of years ago. One trend that appears to be increasing is the awarding of large scale outsourcing contracts which will see more work move offshore. In the meantime there is still a pretty healthy demand, and the “great” resources are being snapped up quickly. August, while a traditionally quieter month due to vacations was actually quite busy, so September is expected to “raise the bar” in demand for talent, even higher. The rest of the West was a little quiet in August, with some talk of coming initiatives in the Fall, but not a lot of action.

In Eagle’s Eastern Canada Region Montreal continues to be quite busy, most particularly in the permanent rather than temp/contract world, and like the GTA it is the financial sector, telcos and system integrators that have the biggest demand. Ottawa has been very quiet of late, with word that employment in the Federal ranks reduced year over year (from 165,500 to 159,000) for the first time in a long time(lowest since 2005). Once again the Fall is anticipated to bring an increase in demand, which will be welcomed by most suppliers.

The following are some facts/indicators we are watching as of time of writing:

> The price of oil is a little over $75 a barrel, about the same as last month … activity in the oil patch continues to be busy.
> Natural Gas prices are pretty steady.
> The markets continue to be pretty volatile, however the TSX was up a little to 12,144 from 11,781 last month.
> The Canadian dollar remains about the same at $97.83c US.
> Prime rose to 3% after three recent increases!
> Canada added 80,000 full time jobs, lost 44,000 part time jobs resulting in a gain of 36,000 jobs, however there was a slight increase in the unemployment rate to 8.1% from 8.0%.
> Eagle continues to see a pickup in activity in most sectors … banks, energy companies, and telcos in particular. Clients are recognising the need to develop recruitment and retention strategies, in addition to having smooth efficient hiring practices.
> The Canadian Federal government seems to have slowed spending and reduced its employment ranks. Suppliers in this market are all hurting a little.
> Canada’s Staffing Index gained 4 basis points to 89, against the benchmark 100 set in July 2008 … another significant step towards recovery.

Summary:

Job seekers in the Canadian market enjoy the fact that Canada is faring better than many other countries. Canada is generally adding jobs on a regular basis, enjoys an unemployment rate of 8.1% compared to higher in the EU and the US. The Canadian dollar is also consistently strong, helping many Canadian companies and many indicators are good that our recovery is continuing.

We are however still recovering from recession, and while there is increasing demand for the most qualified workers, there is still reduced appetite for investment in new entrants to the workforce, or in retooling employees. This will change as the economy continues to recover and we truly start to see the skills and labour shortages reappear. Until that time job applicants will need to work hard to get jobs.

In most of the major markets we are seeing an increase in demand for “skilled”, experienced professionals. The end of the summer vacation period should see an increase in activity and we are expecting a very busy hiring period

We are educating our clients on the need to develop excellent retention strategies, contract for longer periods and move quickly when in the hiring cycle. These best practices will ensure that they don’t lose out on the best candidates because someone else was that bit quicker, or had slightly better “selling messages”.

Next month I anticipate telling you about just how busy the market has been … let’s hope I’m right!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Eagle finds GREAT Technology employees for our clients across Canada!

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Adopt a GOOD Attitude

Attitude is one of my favorite topics for this blog, and I have to be careful not to over do my “obsession” with the subject. I have written about it many times, its importance to individuals, to companies, to teams and to family.

Everyone wants to be around the positive, outgoing characters … they just make you feel better. Yet we ALL have the ability to develop and display the kind of attitude that we want!

As a regular reader of Seth Godin’s blog I was struck (once again) by a recent blog entry suggesting that in previous times Your Smile Didn’t Matter. Its a thought provoking piece, because he suggests that today its ALL about attitude!

Its funny that he talks about smiling, when he talks about attitude … and as usual, he is right on the money!

Take a few minutes and re-visit a couple of my older blog entries. Back in 2006, not long after starting this blog I wrote an entry called Attitude – The Answer!

It must have been on my mind because that year I also posted a blog entry called Smile … its contagious.

In August 2007 I referenced a study that suggested you should Be Positive and Live Longer!

And of course … one of my first blog entries is also one of my favourite sayings … Walk Fast and Smile!

Some clarification:

Everyone can adopt a positive attitude … it is all in your own hands.
It has NOTHING to do with personality types, Zodiac signs, how you are raised, wealth or any external thing … it is all in your head!
It costs you nothing.
You WILL feel better.
You WILL make others feel better.
Like Nike says … Just Do It!

Seth Godin suggests that the new world (and I’m always talking about how everything is changing) requires you to have a great attitude … he’s right! I just think that the “old world” wanted it too … its just more important now!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Let Eagle find your next Finance and Accounting Professional!
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Some Sales Tips

Ladies and Gentlemen … I am a recovering Salesperson!

Let’s admit it … salespeople can be frustrating. They tend (generalisation) to be sloppy with paperwork, they might not be so good at following process, sometimes they might even bend your rules a little.

Every company has its own way of doing things and certainly all companies need to work with their sales team to make sure that process is followed, that paperwork is done and that their own application of “the rules” does not put the company at risk.

There WILL be time when the behaviour is just not acceptable.

Having said that … here are some truths!

  • Every company NEEDS sales.
  • The sales organization drives business.
  • Without salespeople there is no business.

What a connundrum! Whatever can you, as a business owner or executive do?

Can’t live with them … can’t live without them!

EDUCATION!!!!!

1. Work with the team … continuously!
2. Have established processes … and train them about how to use them.
3. Explain why the processes are there, don’t just tell them “do it or else”.
4. Listen to their input.
5. Encourage lifelong learning.
6. Encourage professionalism.
7. If in Canada, get them to join the Canadian Professional Sales Association.
8. Develop a sales methodology for your company … and train them.
9. Have regular learning sessions.
10. Teach them about the ethics of your comapny … just where is that hard line!

It is easy to find regular sales related articles and share them with your team … and encourage them to comment/discuss. Here are just a couple of VERY recent articles from Profit magazine:
> 5 Fast Ways to Spur Your Salespeople
> Help for Timid Cold Callers

The sales organization can be the BEST part of your company … it can also be the most frustrating. Make it the best!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (Canada’s Professional Staffing Company)
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective)
VirtualRecruiter service?


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