Canadian IT Employers Use Contract Work to Circumvent Skill Shortage

Canadian IT Employers Contract Work to Circumvent Skill Shortage

In a recent Hays Canada survey, 67% of IT employers reported moderate-to-extreme skill shortages, a problem tempering many corporate hiring strategies in 2015. Although permanent staffing will likely rise this year—half of respondents intend to expand their workforces—a lack of specialized talent continues to affect businesses of all sizes.

Last year, when faced with a similar situation, numerous hiring managers resorted to posting ads for contractors. A third of respondents claim they may now do so again to find qualified individuals. This begs the questions: why do so many IT pros operate contract-to-contract and not day-to-day?

Top Reasons Why IT Pros Prefer Contract Work

Hays Canada identifies money as a main incentive for contract work. In fact, some contract roles pay double in wages. With that said, contract workers lose job security along with various health and financial benefits that add value to a full-time career. Nevertheless, here are a few boons in turning to contract work:

  • Contract jobs sometimes permit IT pros to telecommute and/or work by their own schedules;
  • Contract employees need not rely on the business’ success to generate income;
  • Contract positions allow IT pros to gain an array of experience within a short period (some sample different industries, while others stick within a niche);
  • Contract jobs can turn into full-time gigs;
  • Contract work expands an IT pro’s networks and introduces him/her to a variety of corporate cultures and conventions (soft skills);
  • Contract workers are less bothered by corporate politics and co-worker relationships;
  • Contract employees can deduct work-related expenses that regular employees cannot.

Let’s hear your opinions. Would you rather work in a permanent position or move between contracts? Can you identify a few more benefits not mentioned above? Speak with FlexStaf-IT today to learn more about open positions in Canada and how to apply.

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New Year, New Career: Job-Seeker Resolutions

Job-Seeker Resolutions

Four Goals for IT Professionals in 2015

People tend to focus on health and wellness in the New Year, committing to new diets and exercise regimes. Doing so is commendable, but what about career-oriented goals? January marks the perfect time to accelerate, switch or start a job. For those still on the market from 2014, January also provides a chance to regroup for the winter-spring hiring seasons. To help, maul over the following job-seeker resolutions as you plan the twelve months ahead.

1. Build a Thriving Network

Connecting with others in your industry boosts your visibilityhow easily employers can find you. Networks create opportunities and inform you of important trends and developments. Job seekers cannot afford to search without a professional network, so make this a priority in the New Year. For the truly ambitious, consider offline networking through associations and other groups for like-minded professionals.

2. Discover New Skills

Investigate in-demand roles and their associated skill sets. Moreover, consult employment studies to see which hard and soft skills may heighten your employability. Internal communication (i.e. memos, reports, presentations) and external communication (i.e. email, voicemail, publications), for example, are two areas IT professionals should focus on this year. In terms of technical abilities, many IT professionals find the New Year a viable time to return to school and to explore new career paths.

3. Find Temporary Work or Experience

The perfect career might not come along immediately, so consider settling for a temporary role in the interim. Both contractual and non-contractual gigs (i.e. freelance, volunteer) can refine and add to your current skill sets. These jobs also help you grow your networks and gain relevant experience.

4. Get Organized

Take the first few weeks of 2015 to prepare yourself physically and mentally for the search ahead. This means scheduling tasks and compiling resources. Turn to your agenda and allot time for the aforesaid resolutions, transforming the hunt into a transitory full-time job. It’s important also to stay orderly, tracking your progress and noting those whom you’ve contacted. Doing so allows you to set milestones and alter your strategy along the way. Before approaching the market, though, verify all of your documents are up-to-date, including your resume and CV.

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Market Watch: Hot IT Jobs in 2015

Market Watch: Hot IT Jobs in 2015

Results from the 2015 ComputerWorld Forecast Survey are in. Of the 194 IT executives questioned, a quarter intends to increase IT staff in the New Year, particularly in areas associated with infrastructure expansion. The chart below summarizes the results, ranking jobs in order of popularity based on the next 12-month period.

Position Title Rank This Year Rank Last Year Respondents (%)
Programming/application development 1 1 48
Project management 2 5 35
Help desk/technical support 3 2 30
Security/compliance governance 4 7 28
Web development 5 n/a 28
Database administration 6 6 26
Business intelligence/analytics 7 8 24
Mobile applications and device management 8 4 24
Networking 9 3 22
Big data 10 11 20

In addition to the predications above, other research firms have weighed in and proposed a selection of different jobs. For instance, Mashable interviewed Scott Dobroski of Glassdoor, who identified the following positions as in-demand for 2015: data scientist, Java developer, UX designer, Android developer, Scrum Master, front-end developer, quality assurance engineer and PHP developer.

The Corporate Executive Board (CEB), too, released a report stating 80% of IT organizations train/educate their employees inadequately and so the majority do not have specific hiring strategies for the New Year. In response to this statistic, CEB highlights six critical roles in 2015 to rectify this disconcerting trend: collaboration and social media evangelist, technology broker, information insight enabler, user experience expert, cloud integration specialist and end-to-end IT service manager.

Upcoming Salary Bumps

Interestingly, the ComputerWorld Forecast Survey shows how only 20% of respondents see talent acquisition as a current priority. Perhaps, this is due to an issue Robert Half Technology discovered earlier this year: 61% of CIOs find IT-hiring difficult due to a lack of skilled candidates on the market. Despite these hurdles, it seems businesses are trying to entice professionals as 2015 promises more salary gains.

US (average bump of 5.7%) Canada (average bump of 3.7%)
Position Increase (%) Position Increase (%)
Mobile app developer 10.2 Data architect 7.2
Big data engineer 9.3 Chief security officer 7.1
Data security 7.4 Senior business systems analyst 4.2
Senior web developer 6.8 Compliance officer 4
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How to Enhance the Visibility of Your Resume

How to Enhance the Visibility of Your Resume

Most resumes look the same. Conventional formats tell applicants to order information in certain ways, without regard for what they wish to convey. For this reason, conventions work best when tailored to a particular situation. Job seekers should combine what they know about resume writing with the following to improve their visibility and stand out from others in the pile.

Metrics and other Quantifiable Data

Employers care about accomplishments, not necessarily responsibilities. For instance, sports cards highlight aspects of a player’s performance; rarely do they describe the position because the audience presumably knows these things. Strengthen your resume, then, by describing and contextualizing your results: demonstrate the significance of each achievement and compare it to industry benchmarks. Since this might take up more space, jettison resume entries that contribute little to these accomplishments (i.e. hobbies).

Font, Format, Layout and Colour

Resumes can stand out visually, but sometimes in a bad way. Too much clutter or poor arrangement, for example, creates visual noise, a term referring to elements that distract or dissuade readers from continuing. Consider how your document’s headings, headers/footers, margins, colours and fonts work for or against your cause. What impressions do they give individually? How about collectively?

The Economic Times suggests tearing the top-third of your resume off and determining if it says enough to land an interview. Such a test demonstrates how necessary it is to lead with strong information (plus identifiers like name and contact information). Summaries can work particular well when written and designed with the employer’s interests in mind.

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Is There an Opportune Time to Job Hunt?

Opportune Time to Job Hunt

Seasonal employment trends often correlate with fiscal quarters—a reason why November and December are usually slowest. Leading up to the New Year, businesses exhaust the last of their budgets on long-term initiatives, leaving few resources for hiring new employees. However, once the months reset, many offices aggressively recruit new members. This season rivals only the fall, which is the biggest hiring period for many industries.

The aforesaid trends illustrate known recruitment cycles—spring/fall peaks versus summer/winter slumps. Many factors, however, affect these cycles: economic downturns and upswings, generation transitions, local boosts and setbacks, government interference (i.e. new regulations) and more. Even the emergence of new competition or a major unexpected merger can influence the behaviour of other entities in a marketplace, so job seekers must be aware of the forces in play before submitting resumes and scanning for interviews.

Understanding changes in hiring patterns can help job seekers align their schedules with businesses. Examples stated above are generic, though, and thus job seekers require deeper research to pinpoint active times for suitable employers. Such research needs to consider both the market and employer’s stability—something easier to determine for public companies. Whenever available, parse annual reports and press releases to collect this information.

Regardless of the month or season, job seekers need to allocate lots of time. Networking, for instance, is hard work; forming impressions, creating leads and following up become a full-time job on their own. For this reason, if not pressured (i.e. currently employed), plan to situate your job hunt according to the research and the trends.

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How to Prepare for a Competency-Based Interview

Prepare for a Competency-Based Interview

Psychologists often design competency-based interviews for employers, structuring the questions in a way that unearth a candidate’s behavioural, technical and analytical skills and tendencies. Typically, such interviews are situational: they ask candidates to reflect on past decisions and report the instances most representative of their character or ability.

Some employers supplement competency-based interviews with written tests to measure a candidate’s level of theoretical expertise, but these require special preparation apart from standard Q&A sessions. In regards to strictly the verbal component, adopt the STAR technique:

  • Situation: Identify the context and/or conflict. Explain why your chosen example demonstrates the skill in question. (Hint! Find workplace examples likely to arise again in other settings. These need not be generic; they simply need to reassure employers that you can handle common occupational hiccups).
  • Task: Describe the task appointed to you as well as the employer’s expectations. Defining the task is essential in justifying the action taken.
  • Actions: How did you deal with the situation? Were there ethical considerations to be had (i.e. values or loyalties)? If so, how did you weigh them? What alternatives were available to you?
  • Result: Based on the last three steps, would you consider the outcome positive or negative? In retrospect, would you change your performance? What did you learn from this experience?

In order to formulate complete coherent answers, you should investigate the popular questions in your field. Even parsing the job description can help you brainstorm relevant scenarios: match the required skills to entries on your CV, and then run the example through STAR.

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Big Data Talent Gap Survey 2014

Canada Big Data Talent Gap Survey 2014

New data reveal a shortage of 150,000 IT professionals with deep analytical skills in the U.S., a large enough number to inspire Ryerson University’s Big Data Consortium—a national private-public sector consortium involved in the examination of Big Data and Advanced Analytics issues—to conduct a study that will determine if a similar talent gap exists in Canada. The first phase of the project is already underway, and so the consortium invites organizations from across the country to complete a survey on the following:

  • Section 1 requests basic information regarding the size, sector, function and value of the responding organization;
  • Section 2 inquires about the role of Big Data and Advanced Analytics in the organization, including both current and future programs, projects or objectives;
  • Section 3 asks organizations to assess their talent needs.

Phase one of this project wraps up December 31st, 2014; take 25 to 30 minutes between now and then to answer the above (click here). In the New Year, the Consortium will host a Big Data Talent Gap Summit as a part of phase two, in which organizations from across the board will strategize ways to shrink the gap. The consortium will then translate the results of summit into a white paper, which will be available for download early 2015. Those who complete the survey can pre-register for a copy of the final report.

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