ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, September 06, 2016

ACM CareerNews is intended as an objective career news digest for busy IT professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of ACM. To send comments, please write to careernews@hq.acm.org

Volume 12, Issue 17, September 20, 2016



DevOps and IT Jobs Continue to Go Up the Pay Scale
CloudTech, August 24

The latest survey of IT salaries has found that more than half of IT employees in the U.S. earn more than $100,000 per year, while IT manager salaries continue to go up much faster than those of other tech professions. The latest DevOps salary report, which garnered responses from more than 4,600 IT professionals, suggests that the percentage of U.S. managers earning more than $150,000 went up to 43% in 2016, from 26% last year, while 34% of system administrators now earn more than $100,000.

The number of IT practitioners earning more than $100,000 has gone up to 58% from 47% over the past 12 months. IT practitioners earn more in the U.S. than in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, with the most common salary range in the US being $100,000 to $125,000 compared to a lower bracket for the latter three countries. The research also found that the more servers IT teams manage, the more money they’re likely to earn. The cut-off point appears to be 5,000 servers; those who manage more are on average earning between $100,000 and $125,000, while those who manage less are more likely to be on $75,000 to $100,000.

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How to Look For a Job While You’re Still Employed
CIO.com, August 23

Finding a new job while you're still employed comes with its pluses and minuses. On the one hand, you're more attractive to potential employers if you're already holding down a job. On the other hand, one false move and you could end up being fired or, at the very least, spoil your reputation in the marketplace. With that in mind, executive search and career experts offer five tips for conducting a job search while you're still employed, including the use of social media to get ahead and get noticed.

If you're trying to land a job while you're still employed, you need to minimize the competition for available roles. That means getting the timing of your job search exactly right. Late summer is a great time to launch your search, as the number of available roles stays pretty constant, but the number of active job seekers drops. Also, social media can be a job seeker's best friend, if you know how to leverage it correctly. LinkedIn should be your first stop, but don't make the mistake of updating your professional profile only when you're looking for a new role. Ideally, you should be updating LinkedIn constantly; it's a living, breathing document that shows potential employers what you've been working on and what your value is. Unlike other social media and social networking sites, it has the added advantage of being viewed positively by your employer. They want you to be updating it and adding to it, because it can reflect positively on them.

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8 Steps to Building a Successful Cybersecurity Career
Information Week, August 23

The information security field is rapidly growing as businesses scramble to hire skilled professionals to protect their data. IT professionals pondering a career switch would be wise to consider cybersecurity, where the demand for talent far exceeds the supply. However, an abundance of open roles does not mean a career will come easily. The path to a successful cybersecurity career is not paved with expensive degrees but with motivation, practice, and persistence. Those who take the time to develop skills that businesses need, and who take the necessary professional development steps, will be rewarded with interesting and consistent work.

Experts agree that applying cybersecurity concepts in a real environment is core to building a successful cybersecurity career. Experience is all-important, so be open to any opportunity in the field that will have you. In fact, experience is often considered more important than certifications in the cybersecurity hiring process. For many aspiring cybersecurity specialists, gaining this experience can be difficult. It's often tough to get a job because many employers want different types of experience -- but how to gain the experience if you don't have the qualifications for an entry-level cybersecurity career? One possible answer is volunteering to get this experience: if you know someone who has a small company, offer to do a security program, look at their security, find ways to volunteer and get practice. You can also volunteer at conferences or if you're in IT, within your organization. If you get as far as the interview portion of the hiring process, you'll have the opportunity to explain how your volunteering prepared you for the job.

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How to Construct Tomorrow's Information Management Professional
FCW.com, August 26

As one of the biggest users and collectors of information, the federal government needs to pay greater attention to the development of information management professionals who will have the ability to manage all that data. According to federal agencies' latest Records Management Self-Assessments, only 50% of federal records officers are dedicated full-time to their agencies' records and information management (RIM) programs. And of the 50% who are not, more than 70% commit less than half their time to RIM programs. That is not nearly enough manpower to handle the exponential growth of information and information assets. The shortfall spotlights a clear need to address core capabilities to meet future information management requirements.

The problem is that there is a gap between the skills professionals currently have and what they believe they will need in the future to manage the information boom. The survey identified clear and recognized needs for improving electronic records retention and disposition, RIM and analytics capabilities, but it also showed that professionals might not be correctly prioritizing the corresponding skill sets. That hints at a rising skills gap that will only exacerbate information management problems. If agencies do not make it a point to explicitly address those discrepancies, they risk being caught unprepared for the 2016 and 2019 deadlines set by the presidential directive on managing government records. And they almost certainly will not be ready for evolving future requirements.

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As Silicon Valley's Prices Explode, More Entrepreneurs Head to the Silicon Desert
Inc.com, August 24

Much of the IT workforce still considers Silicon Valley the place to be in order to work with billion-dollar tech startups. But that may be beginning to change. While Phoenix may not surpass San Francisco in terms of the number of venture capitalists or billion-dollar companies, it is snagging some tech jobs from the Bay Area, due to the fact that it has become a popular place for tech companies like Uber and Yelp to set up "outpost" offices. In fact, the number of tech jobs in Phoenix (known by some as the "Silicon Desert") grew by 8% from 2014 to 2015, while the number of tech jobs in the Bay Area grew by 7% in the same time period.

In addition to the low cost of living, some of the most frequent reasons that Inc. 5000 entrepreneurs gave as to why Phoenix was a great place for startups included proximity to the Bay Area and the Western United States (it's a 90-minute flight from San Francisco), the supportive environment of the entrepreneurial community, and the work-life balance. For Phoenix, the influx of tech jobs provided a much-needed resurgence to a city that was known as the poster child for the 2008 housing crash. Moreover, the tax differential matters: the 2016 corporate tax rate in California is 8.84 percent, significantly higher than Arizona's rate of 5.50 percent. Additionally, California's maximum individual income tax rate is a whopping 13.3 percent (the highest in the nation), meaning that both entrepreneurs and their employees don't get as much to take home.

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How Automation and Algorithms Are the Future of Tech Hiring
Tech Republic, August 15

As the U.S. economy continues to add jobs, tech firms - particularly e-commerce, cloud computing, Internet of Things, and mobile companies - are inundated with qualified applications and are increasingly relying on automation to sift and surface the best candidates. Companies use algorithms to sort piles of application data. And recruiters, often paid per referral, rely on automated tools to match successful candidates with job opportunities. The article examines one specific recruiting algorithm, which targets information at the intersection of employer data, recruiter talent data, and the social web.

Automation is at the core of the Reflik business model. The company crowdsources top candidates for open jobs from thousands of recruiters and industry professionals, meaning that they are sometimes able to fill positions in half the time and for half the cost of traditional recruiting methods. From this large pool of qualified candidates, the company delivers the top 10 candidates for the job in less than 10 days. In terms popular jobs, FinTech, e-commerce, and mobile tech are growing sectors in terms of how many jobs there are to fill on Reflik. There are also several roles growing in popularity, including cybersecurity, analytics, and cloud dev-ops positions. While the data set of hiring preferences is relatively small, software developers, both iOS and Android, appear to be in high demand and there is a surge of positions in e-commerce.

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7 Little Changes That’ll Make a Big Difference With Your Resume
TheLadders.com, August 24

There are seven little changes that will make a big difference on your resume and help you get noticed by hiring managers and HR recruiters. Keep in mind that a hiring manager will look at your resume like they might an online dating profile. They know exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate, and a few misused words on your profile (or resume) could cost you your chance at the position. Once you begin to think like an HR gatekeeper, you will be better able to craft a winning resume.

The first step to a better resume is to remove fluffy, clichéd, generic or obvious statements, such as “I have excellent communication skills.” Even if this statement is true, it’s also so overused that the hiring manager won’t give it a second thought. Be specific about your skills - don’t just copy terms from resume samples that you think fit you. Secondly, remove broad, generic and outdated skills. Just list skills relevant to the position you’re applying for, and leave the extras out. Also, be sure to emphasize your work history, not your education, on your resume. Otherwise, gatekeepers and hiring managers might see your resume, assume you’re a new grad with little experience and move on to the next candidate.

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Burn the Talent Churn Using Big Data
The Globe and Mail, August 8

With the ever-increasing variety and volume of today’s workforce data, the application of predictive models to talent retention is still in the formative stages, but it is becoming the new norm. People are the most valuable asset of any organization, so being able to anticipate when and why star players will be at risk of leaving is paramount to success. As such, predictive analytics is a mandatory component of the new generation of strategic workforce and talent management. In today’s competitive labor market, experience, data scientists, and a combination of publicly available data and private employer data will help companies proactively retain and protect their most valuable employees.

For most companies without data scientists, the only insight into employee attrition is achieved during exit interviews. But for many reasons these interviews do not always provide useful information. That is why forward-looking companies are turning to Big Data to determine why employees leave. Common employee attrition drivers from traditional data analytics include: lack of engagement; lack of leadership and clear vision from the executive team; lack of opportunities to grow internally; tenure, age and gender; years of experience; commute time to work; work-life balance; and performance reviews, assessments and rewards. Attrition reasons differ from one company to another; however, mining this data will help to anticipate who is at risk of leaving.

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Wait, Have I Been Coding?
Computers in Entertainment, August 16

Within society, two conflicting views on the role of programming exist. The first is, "everyone can program." It is the rhetoric of massively open online courses, and K-12 computer labs, and lively bookstore corners; and what it intimates, essentially, is that programming is the new literacy, which can greatly expand our capabilities. The second rhetoric can be summed up as, "you don't need to know how to program anymore," meaning that it is possible to do things previously thought to require programming skills without typing a line of code. Instead, you can rely on various software tools that take care of the technical stuff for you, enabling you to focus on the creative process.

Both views of programming are prominent in the world of videogames. The former is tangible in modding communities and the rise in popularity of such tools as Unity and Flixel, which, while requiring a degree of programming ability, make the developer’s job easier by virtue of being specifically geared towards creating computer games and providing ready-made solutions for many low-level stock routines (graphics rendering, controls, game physics, etc.). The latter rhetoric manifests particularly clearly in computer game creation tools such as Clickteam Fusion, YoyoGames' GameMaker, and Construct 2, which are explicitly advertised as requiring no programming.

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Academic Rankings Considered Harmful
Communications of the ACM, September 2016

Moshe Vardi, editor in chief of the Communications of the ACM, weighs in the role of academic rankings within academia, especially as a key factor in helping undergraduate and graduate students find the right university. Despite the popularity of these rankings, there is also deep dissatisfaction in the academic community with the methodology of such rankings and with the outsize role that commercial entities play in the ranking business. The recent biennial meeting of the Computing Research Association (CRA) dedicated a session to this topic. Many members of the community currently feel the need for an authoritative ranking of CS departments in North America, but are looking for a superior methodology to guide them.

As Vardi points out, the computer science community has a responsibility to better inform the public, by ceasing to "play the ranking games" and by providing the public with relevant information. The methodology currently used by U.S. News and World Report to rank computer-science graduate program is highly questionable. This ranking is based solely on "reputational standing" in which department chairs and graduate directors are asked to rank each graduate program on a 1–5 scale. It is an open "secret" that rankings of graduate programs of universities of outstanding reputation are buoyed by the halo effect of their parent institutions' reputations. Such reputational rankings have no academic value whatsoever, though they clearly play a major role in academic decision-making. But the problem is deeper than the current flawed methodology of rankings of graduate programs.

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