Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Archive for March, 2009

SAP and PeopleSoft job boards…

Posted by sweens on March 31, 2009

Further to my post from yesterday, here are some job sites candidates should look at for both SAP and PeopleSoft positions.






It is important for candidates to explore all their options when searching for a new opportunity, and often times, niche job boards such as these can provide you with that new opportunity. 

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SAP vs PeopleSoft: Highest paying jobs?

Posted by sweens on March 30, 2009

Often times in my daily contact with candidates, I find myself engaged in conversations about what technologies are hot or what the high demand / big paying jobs are in the market today.  To those people who are willing to accept a new career path I suggest they look into two products – PeopleSoft or SAP.  Before we dive into these two products, I would say that if you lived in Ottawa and had a Secret level security clearance and experience with either PeopleSoft or SAP, you would be deciding which contracts you wanted and which ones you did not.


PeopleSoft and SAP offer both financial and human resources solutions to clients all around the world.  They are arguably the two biggest solutions on the market today and are found in many private and public sector clients in the Ottawa area.  What sparked this blog for me was that I was wondering how much certification for these positions cost.  This thought came to be as I worked on recruiting an SAP order and the person I was speaking to wanted to be paid $135 per hour.  Naturally I thought to myself “how can I get a job that pays as much?”


The answer is pretty simple – get a job in PeopleSoft or SAP.


But it comes at a price, a very large price.  Training for SAP and PeopleSoft is to say at the least ‘slightly’ on the expensive side.  Let us take for example someone who wants to train themselves as an SAP Netweaver MDM consultant.  You go to, find the training you are interested in and register for each class.  The MDM training has 7 courses that are required in order to complete the certification – ranging from a 4 hours to a 5 day course.    With an average (estimated) cost of $3000 – Canadian – per course, you are looking at over $20000 in order to certify yourself. 


All of a sudden, these high bill rates are starting to make sense to me.


I did a quick search on PeopleSoft training and the prices are comparable.  What a smart business model by Oracle (owners of PeopleSoft) and SAP.  Not only do they get to make money via the sale of the software, they get to make money on the training.  The training is also expensive enough to deter anyone who is not serious about it, and therefore keeps the supply in the market reasonably low. 


And there you have your high bill rates – highly trained and overly demanded professionals.  So I continue with my usual suggestion in that if you are looking for a high paying job – get into SAP or PeopleSoft.  While the training will cost you a pretty penny, you will certainly have the ability to make your money back (and then some) in a very short time frame. 

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Nortel stocks jump up 80%…

Posted by sweens on March 27, 2009

Shares in Nortel grew by over 80% yesterday as the sale of Nortel’s data-switching division was approved for sale to Israel’s Radware for $17.7 million. While the deal is not finalized, the motion to approve the sale was approved in a U.S. bankruptcy court yesterday. Nortel had originally planned to put the division up for auction on March 23rd but was forced to cancel as it did not receive any additional bids.

To read the full article, please visit:

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CBC to cut 800 jobs…

Posted by sweens on March 26, 2009

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is expected to cut 800 jobs based on a report that was released yesterday.  The publically owned operator of national television and radio networks is expect to make these cuts in an effort to help fight a funding shortfall caused by a sharp advertising downturn. 


CDC currently receives $1 Billion a year in funding from the Federal Government while also generating $600 million from commercial activities and $340 million from advertising.  The Government of Canada says that it expects CBC to follow a path similar to two of CBC’s private sector competitors in hopes of cutting jobs to increase cash flow. 


CTV has cut 225 jobs since November 2008 while Canwest Global Communications Corp has cut 560 jobs.  Canwest is looking at selling some TV stations while CTV has announced it will shut down two stations.   


To read the full article, please visit:

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EI and bankruptcy levels are on the rise…

Posted by sweens on March 24, 2009

CBC is reporting that the level of Canadians who filed for bankruptcy is up 15.8% according to a report released earlier today.  The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada reported that 117,000 Canadians filed for bankruptcy for a 12-month period ending January 2009. 


Statistics Canada is also reporting that the number of Canadians who filed for employment insurance benefits rose above the 500,000 level nationally for January.  This number represents a jump of 23,700 or 4.4% compared to January.


To read the full article, please visit:

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Understanding the organization: A key element to any placement

Posted by sweens on March 24, 2009

Often times in the staffing industry the firm who can connect with candidates quicker then the other firms, can often win the business.  Unfortunately, in this situation, details are often left out (or not known yet) and the ability to completely understand the opportunity for all that it has to offer can escape the candidate.


I recently visited my corporate office in a different city and was interested to see the different culture that takes place in that office compared to my office.  While both cities sell the same services in different cities, the way they go about business and the values they have differ substantially.  This has gotten me thinking about how much importance the work environment has on a persons willingness to accept a new position (contract or permanent).


I suspect that with a contract, the work environment is not as important when compared to that of a permanent role.  As a contractor you can simply show up to work, bill your hours and then go home.  When the contract is finished you are able to disappear into the night.  When you are contracting you are expected to be an expert for the requirement you are filling and come in to do a specific job.  The work environment is more likely to be less of a deciding factor for a contract position as the contractor will not be tied to this organization for an unseen amount of time.


With a permanent position, you are going to join the company and ultimately follow the company direction and company values in providing whatever service(s) that company provides.  You are likely to be assimilated into the culture of the organization and when you join, you usually join under the assumption of being there for quite some time.  In this case, company culture comes into play.


I mention these points because I think working in an environment that you do not enjoy or with people you can not get along with is likely a poor career move for any individual.  Being unhappy with a place where you spend the majority of your week is not something anyone would really want to do.  Candidates should work with recruiters to understand the values of the company (hard work, education, punctuality, etc) when working on a given opportunity.


Candidates should also use the interview process to find out as much information about the hiring company as possible.  Just because you go in for an interview, does not mean you can not interview the company.  It is likely an undesirable venture to join a company only to learn that the environment is not suitable for you.  Something to think about when you get that next big offer!



“Success in life is that your kids want to spend time with you once they’ve grown up.”


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Equilibrium: Apparently it applies to more then grade 10 science class…

Posted by sweens on March 23, 2009

Today I had a coffee with a professional who has a similar profession to my own.  During our coffee chat it was pointed out to me that there is a sense of equilibrium that exists within the recruitment world and the labour market.  This relationship is as follows:


The labour market always has either too many jobs with too few resources or too few jobs for too many resources (supply and demand). 


I thought this was an interesting way to look at the recruitment world because it is an accurate statement.  If the labour market were ever to balance out – where we would have an equal number of jobs to resources – there would be no need for the recruitment industry.  So what can we say when the industry is on either side of this equilibrium?


It seems to be common knowledge that when you are in the recruitment industry and the economy is booming and people are hiring – the times are great.  Money is to be made and it has been described as shooting fish in a barrel.  Smaller recruitment companies are formed and there is a lot of competition.


When times are bad, those smaller companies tend to fold or down-size and the whole industry is affected.  When the number of placements drops there is less to go around for everyone in the industry so things obviously decrease in size.  The larger companies can often look at this situation in a positive manner because smaller companies are more likely to fold during this time and offer them less competition during a recession and once the market comes out of the recession.


All in all, the recruitment industry is heavily reliant on the economy and depends on the fact that employers can not satisfy their own staffing needs, either due to too many or too few candidates.    

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Recruiting Industry: Money to be made…

Posted by sweens on March 20, 2009

Lately I have tried to keep up with the recruiting industry and monitor how the industry is performing on the whole.  By industry I am referring to the recruitment industry rather then the industries people recruit in.  The general consensus seems to be that things are slower then desired.  While the need for recruitment services still exist today, that need has obviously declined with the economy.


However, as a recruiter I am excited for the future of recruitment.  Perhaps it is just my industry of recruitment (Information Technology) but I can foresee the need for requirement – on the large scale – once the economy comes back around and starts growing again.  The challenge for many will simply to be around once that curve starts to climb. 


The need for IT recruitment should be needed because today’s market is going to create some unfavourable situation with employers.  Employees will be working for less then market value and in positions they are not overly keen on in an effort to ride out this economic wave. Once the economy grows again, these employees will likely look for an organizational change.  Once those employees leave, employers will have to deal with two challenges.


Keeping up with their internal growth and replacing employees who have moved on to other organizations.  These factors should reflect the greatest staffing challenges most IT companies will face in years to come.  I know several recruiters who would be happy to help any organization meet these challenges moving forward.


Todays – ‘The Way I see it’


“People need to see that, far from being an obstacle, the world’s diversity of languages, religions and traditions is a great treasure affording us precious opportunities to recognize ourselves in others.”

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The Way I See It

Posted by sweens on March 19, 2009

As I am sure you are aware by now – I suffer from a small Starbucks coffee addiction. I have often thought about incorporating the Starbucks quotes I read on the back of my cup into my blog and today I figured I would as it has some relevance on a conversation I had today.

 BACKGROUND – Starbucks has a section on each cup titled “The Way I See It.” If you go to their website you will find a tab that explains the thought behind this. Starbucks tries to promote good and healthy discussions amongst its customers. As such, they put a quote on the back of every cup which represents a collection of thoughts, opinions and expressions provided by notable figures in an effort to promote these healthy and good discussions.

Back on track – I was having a conversation today with a friend about choosing between a job that pays more money but offers less career potential or a job that pays less but offers more of a career path. Which to choose? Based on that conversation, I only offer the idea that getting trapped into a job that you hate but is financially satisfying can be dangerous.

On that note, I leave you with my Starbucks quote from today:

“Failure’s hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever.”

Please visit the following URL for more information on “The Way I See It”.

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Understanding the Government of Canada contracting game…

Posted by sweens on March 17, 2009

Often in ones professional career, an individual may need some event to take place that pushes them to start or try something they have always thought about. Tough economic times will offer some of those people the opportunity to branch out and try something they have probably thought about doing for a while.

I have spoken to several individuals lately who through their own actions or their employers actions, have found themselves in a position to start their own professional ventures (mostly starting their own consulting practice). While this is an exciting step in the careers for many professionals, it can also be a difficult and frightful one.

Since the Ottawa market is obviously in a bit of uncertainty these days, many of these new ‘consulting professionals’ are looking to break into the Government world as the Government is obviously the most stable and biggest spending organization Ottawa has to offer during this time. However if you have never contracted into the Government there are a few things you should try to do before you tackle that market space.

The first step is to obtain a security clearance. These days it is almost impossible to get a contract with the Canadian Government without a security clearance. They run from Level 1 to Level 3. Level 2 and Level 3 require more personal information and can take 8 months (or more) to be processed so starting early is not a bad thing. I would recommend that candidates obtain a level 2 (also known as ‘secret’ level) clearance as some of the major departments (DFAIT, DND, Health Canada, etc) often require this level of clearance. Level 3 clearance is almost never required unless working on top secret projects for organizations such as CSIS or DND. Candidates can obtain a clearance via the following URL:

 Secondly, candidates should wrap their head around the whole procurement process that exists in Government contracting. Candidates should be aware that contracts valued under $25000 can be directed to an individual without going to a competitive process. Anything valued over this amount, must go to a competitive process and will likely require the assistance of a staffing firm who has procurement vehicles into the Government. Unfortunately, candidates can not simply walk into a Government department and get hired on as a contractor (as can be done in the private sector).

Thirdly, candidates should be prepared to tailor their resume for each position they apply for, as well as be prepared to complete a skills grid. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, the Government values metrics and the ability to justify why they chose candidate ‘x” over candidate ‘y’, which is where this resume work comes into play. Candidates should be submitting resumes that reflect the requirements for each position they are applying for. This resume along with the skills grid will increase your chances of landing your desired contract.

As more people look to Government contracting over the next while, understanding how the process works and how to achieve the success you are looking for is crucial for any successful consultant.

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Professional Definitions: Can they be achieved?

Posted by sweens on March 16, 2009

I find myself with a bit of ‘writers block’ today as I am searching for an idea for a blog entry.  I have had a few thoughts lately but not enough meat for a blog entry.  I think one of the re-occurring thoughts that continually invades my head is the notion of dealing with roadblocks in defining yourself as a professional.  This has always been a challenge for me personally as I have always wanted to fit in to any organization I have been a part of.  I do not mean joining a new company and feeling like part of the team.  I refer more to the idea of contributing to the team and being respected and recognized as a player within the organization.


Based on a few events that have happened around me lately, I realize that the challenge to define oneself as a professional is an on-going task.  Perhaps one that no one has ever mastered.  Individuals obviously reach different levels within their career but that does not mean they stay stagnant once they reach a certain level.  I think it is crucial for an individual not to plateau but rather drive to continue growing as a professional. 


People can be in different situations that require a different professional definition.  What motivates these people to find this definition?  Can you find it?


I am not really sure but I do see that your definition always changes.  I think about something I heard once from someone I can not remember at this time.  We were speaking about how my generation is driven to define themselves professionally at a young age, which is something I agree with.  Someone then said that in your later years, you will define your success by the success of your children.  I say this not to draw a comparison, but to demonstrate that your need for a definition can shift focus over time.   


I think that is accurate for all individuals throughout their career.  Take an individual who has worked a full-time job for their whole professional life.  They suddenly make a change and start their own consulting practice.  Well that person needs to define them self as a professional in a different realm then they had previously succeeded in.  Take an individual who has run a franchise for 15 years and decides they want to start their own shop.  Well that person now needs to define them self as a successful individual on their own. 


While your previous experience will always help you in your future positions, you leave a bit of experience (professional definition) behind when you take a new role, or take on new responsibilities.  As such your ability and need for defining yourself will always change.  I think this challenge represents the best of the workforce and is a driving factor in people trying to continually succeed and climb the corporate latter (so to speak).

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Private VS Public: The challenges in dealing with the Government

Posted by sweens on March 13, 2009

One of the big challenges the Ottawa market faces in the work force is the difference between the private sector and the public sector.  Both represent large beasts that struggle to be tamed on a frequent basis.  Let us look at some of the major differences in trying to gain employment in both.


I would suggest that the two main differences between the two are the method of getting in and the way in which you are evaluated.  To get into the Government as a permanent employee takes a long time and usually the more people you know, the better.  I have already discussed the hiring cycle with the Government so let us not repeat such a thrilling topic. 


If you are tired of waiting to get in as an employee you can contract in.  In order to do so, you need to find a procurement vehicle to get in.  Most people end up using an agency that stay in business by placing people into the Government on contract via these procurement vehicles.  While it can be frustrating, this is the way the Government works.  They can not just say “I like Steve Smith and I want to give him this contract.”  They need to begin a competitive process so that others can compete for the business.


Private sector companies do have this ability to work with someone or an agency and simply hire the individual that is of interest to them.  They often provide a list of requirements to an agency and review resumes accordingly while evaluating the candidate based on what their needs are and then proceed to an interview.  This is not always the case with the Government. 


Government usually has candidates fill out detailed skills grids demonstrating their experience.  This process is usually not very labour intensive but certainly slows the process down.  This is done so that everyone who is submitted against a competitive bid can be evaluated in the same manor and everyone can view what the requirements are.  This also leaves the department less vulnerable to someone challenging their hiring decisions as candidates are screened, scored and evaluated the same way based on a specific requirement.


While some candidates may prefer dealing with the private sector or the public sector over the other, understanding how the evaluation for each side is done is essential to finding gainful employment on either side.  Private sector values work experience and places importance on the interview.  Public sector values metrics and places importance on how you compare against similar candidates.


Oh, I forgot to mention that price ALWAYS plays a key in hiring decisions. 


So whether you are interested in public or private sector opportunities, you need to be aware that both sectors have different values when it comes to making a hiring decision.  Understanding this decision is an important element to your job search.


I also forgot to mention, that the Government spends Billions of Dollars every year on contracting.  Something to think about as the private sector slows down right now.

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Starbucks VS Moxies: Unique Applicant Interviews?

Posted by sweens on March 12, 2009

As a technical recruiter I have been able to conduct a large amount of interviews with candidates during my time in the industry.  While interviewing candidates for technical roles can require a different style of interview then say interviewing at a grocery store, I think the basic principals are the same.


Get the candidate to talk about their past work experience.  Talk about some challenges they have faced in previous positions.  What type of opportunity they are looking for in a new challenge?  You are trying to draw out how their experience will help you fill your current requirement as well as how their personality will fit with the team, allow them to handle corporate challenges and ultimately some personal traits about the person.


This fundamental challenge should be drawn out in every interview for any kind of position.  That being said, I personally would like to take part in two interviews to see how they are conducted.  And these interviews would be for two unique organizations. They would be: Moxies Bar and Grill; and Starbucks. 




I would pick those two corporations for different reasons.  First of all, Moxies is well known for hiring some of the most gorgeous women in the city (Moxies has locations in numerous cities).  Walk into any Moxies on a Friday afternoon and you will see numerous gorgeous girls in tall boots and short skirts serving a sea of men looking to get a jump start on the weekend.  What are the interview questions that take place when someone interviews for a job there?  What do they try to draw out of each interview?  These are questions I would love to get the answers to.


Secondly, I would pick Starbucks.  And I would pick Starbucks for the simple reason that I have never been to a Starbucks (and I go a lot) and met an employee who seemed to be in a bad mood or who was not ‘chipper’.  Everyone who works at Starbucks is always friendly and ready to serve.  I know that personally if it was 8:30am and I had to make 10 double pump non-fat vanilla lattes, that I would be a little beside myself.


I have heard that Starbucks does a really good job of training and motivating their employees.  It fosters a positive and healthy work environment that people want to be in.  I would like to learn how to draw that out in an interview.  Do they write a personality test and have to score a certain percentage?  Maybe it is like applying to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and you have to take a psych test and score high enough.


These are just personal thoughts of mine running through my head today, but drawing out ‘happy’ and ‘attractive’ people is a tool I am sure every technical recruiter would be happy to learn.

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Canadian dollar continues to slide…

Posted by sweens on March 10, 2009

The Canadian dollar fell to an all time low since 2004 yesterday as it reached 76.53 cents on the US dollar. This represents the lowest rate since September of 2004 which was prompted by a sharper then expected decline in new home construction in Canada.

The drop in the Canadian dollar came promptly after a report came out stating that Canadian housing starts fell 12.3% in February to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 134,600 units from 153,000 in January.

To read the full article, please visit:

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Canadian men still leading the gender gap?

Posted by sweens on March 6, 2009

The Ottawa Business Journal is reporting that less then 6% of the countries top earners in 2008 were women.  The recenty study from 2008 Catalyst Census of Women Corportate Officers and Top Earners stated that little changed from women in the workforce from 2006 to 2008.  In 2008, women represented 5.6% of the 1,044 top-earning positions of FP500 Companies.  The article goes on to state that this is an increase of 0.2% since 2006.

The study also stated that the number of female corporate officers grew by almost two percentage points over the last two years, however women still still hold less thrn 17% of corporate officer positions, and only about 11.4% of senior leadership line roles. 

To read the full article, please visit:

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