ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, January 24, 2017

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 13, Issue 2, January 24, 2017


The Best Job in America is Mobile App Developer
ADT Magazine, January 6

A new report from CNNMoney, which takes into account quality-of-life considerations in addition to salaries, places mobile app developers at the top of all jobs in the nation. That means mobile coders, earning median pay of $97,100, are ranked above other professions that may have compensation two times or even three times higher. According to experts, a persistent lack of skilled pros and growing mobility initiatives in both the enterprise and consumer spaces have combined to drive mobile developer salaries sky high.

Importantly, the new report also factors in considerations such as significant growth opportunities, great pay and satisfying work. Mobile development earned "A" grades in three of the four quality-of-life metrics: personal satisfaction, telecommuting and low stress. In the fourth metric, benefit to society, it graded a "C." And, in addition to high salaries (topping out at $133,000), mobile developers are expected to enjoy 10-year job growth of 19 percent. With their work, mobile app developers get to create something that can reach millions of people on a daily basis. That means growing demand for developers who build and update apps so they're secure, user-friendly, and popular.

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14 Tips To Land the Job You Want in 2017
Computerworld, January 13

If you resolved to get a new position in the New Year, now is the time to start preparing. There's always an uptick in hiring right after the holidays, and if you're prepared and eager, you might get first crack at some great new opportunities. The period right after the holidays is a great time to reconnect with former colleagues that you've lost touch with over the years who may be in a position to hook you up with the right opportunity or serve as a solid reference.

First, you’ll want to focus on your LinkedIn page. That’s because the most common thing employers do after reading your resume is check out your LinkedIn page, so it's crucial that your LinkedIn profile demonstrates all the positive attributes you've expressed in your resume, while also telling a story that compels a prospective employer to reach out. You regularly should add to your list of connections, and ask for recommendations from colleagues and former managers. Also, having a professional social media presence beyond LinkedIn is a must-have for job seekers. Don't discount platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and remember that they should help to tell your professional story.

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How Tech Pros Can Build a Professional Development Roadmap
CIO.com (via IDG Network), January 12

As IT professionals navigate their careers, professional development opportunities are paramount to continued growth. While many technology professionals possess excellent research and problem-solving skills, some knowledge is best learned from others. Especially as IT professionals work to fill growing needs around cloud management, information security and AI, professional associations and their advantages will become more valuable. Access to both industry research and peers provides a balanced line of insight into trends affecting the IT sector, while also providing guidance for advancing your career. There is no one-size-fits-all pathway to success as a technology professional, but by seeking out and nurturing connections with fellow IT professionals, you’ll be better equipped to find the right path forward.

There are a number of strategies IT professionals can employ to seek out professional development opportunities. For example, they can join a professional association. Organizations for IT professionals offer IT novices and veterans alike the opportunity to expand their knowledge base and turn the unfilled positions in the IT services sector to their advantage. Industry associations are an invaluable resource for IT professionals looking to advance their career, regardless of industry experience or skill level. Association resources including networking, employment opportunities and continuing education programs provide ample benefits, whether retraining to meet an emerging demand or approaching the sector for the first time. For younger IT professionals and mid-life career switchers, industry associations provide a forum to learn from their more experienced counterparts.

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Five Ways To Recruit More Women in 2017
Network World, January 18

Companies, especially in technology, are pulling out all the stops to recruit and retain women. But while these perks might be appreciated, they're not the fundamental drivers of women's decisions to come on board with your company or to stick around. Companies should start by asking women what they really want from an employer, and then building their benefits and perks from there. In general, women are not looking for employers to answer their specific needs, whether for family-raising, socializing or creating work-life balance. Rather, women seek employers that treat them fairly and provide them with the choice, the flexibility, and the financial means to fashion their own lives as they see fit. In short, they are looking for paid time off, flexibility and competitive salary.

The most important thing women want from their workplace is paid time off (PTO), according to the survey. This demonstrates that women want the ability to manage their own work-life balance. So, if your company isn't providing a reasonable amount of PTO, it may be time to rethink the value that this could bring to your workplace, and how that impacts your ability to recruit and retain women. Salary satisfaction, mentioned by 89 percent of respondents, was also at the top of the list. While the gender gap in technology is narrower than in other fields, it's still a major problem. So women want to be paid fairly for the work they do. While there certainly are more strides to be made regarding equal pay in this country and elsewhere, women at the very least want to be compensated competitively for the amount of effort they put in, the experience they bring, and the scope of their responsibilities.

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The Free Resource For Recruiting Top Tech Talent
Entrepreneur.com, January 18

For companies struggling with IT talent acquisition, one way for attracting the best employees and retaining them is to embrace the tactics of inbound marketing and sales. In contrast to outbound marketing (e.g. interruptive ads and billboards) and outbound sales (e.g. cold calling and buying lists of contacts), inbound marketing and sales are much more organic, and better reflect the way candidates search for jobs. Moreover, outbound recruiting is becoming less effective (think job boards and cold calls from recruiters), and recruitment and HR teams are shifting to inbound recruiting to attract, engage and hire top talent.

To best understand inbound recruiting, it’s important to start with what it isn’t. Outbound recruiting is when you rely solely on posting adverts and interruptive head-hunting to fill your vacancies. Not only is it an inefficient and expensive process, it also only taps into those employees that is actively looking to change jobs, which only represents 15 to 25 percent of the total market. Inbound recruiting on the other hand, is all about attracting the top candidates into your recruitment funnel, before they’re even looking. You're most powerful inbound recruiting asset, and the one that is totally free, is your careers blog. While 73% of candidates start their job search on Google, most companies don’t have a careers blog to take advantage of these searches and get found. Now, the content you create on your career blog needs to be very different to what you have on your existing company blog; after all, it’s designed to attract a different persona. Before you can begin, you need to know who you’re trying to attract. If you’ve not done so already, begin by creating some key recruiting personas for your business. Each of your recruitment personas should have a unique set of challenges, goals and aspirations. It’s these unique characteristics which you will use to curate your content so that it attracts, converts and retains employees.

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6 Steps To Network Your Way to a Better Job
Tech Republic, January 13

The word “networking” is often misunderstood, but it includes the same tools from your online world that can be used to help you make smarter business connections. Some 70% of all jobs are found through networking, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most people want a fast track to an answer, but unfortunately there's no fast way to do these things—only smart ways to use tools to help you enhance your career prospects. The digital age has changed many elements of the way people connect, but has not changed the importance of having the right connections in your network to make the job search easier. The article provides an overview of six steps to begin your path to creating a strong professional network and landing your ideal job.

First, determine how others obtained your dream job: Tools like LinkedIn help us not only research open jobs, but also see the profiles of people who currently fill similar positions, and their career paths to reach those positions, from the school they attended to the volunteer work they did. And as many people document their lives and careers over social media, it's easier than ever to gain an understanding of someone's day-to-day job and life. If you're prepared to invest time in your career and use these tools to get that background information, invest in relationships, maintain contact with people on social networking sites, and update your own profile on those sites, you have the ability to make connections that might lead to that ideal job or show you your dream career path. This may require you to reassess the activities you are currently involved in, from how you spend time online, to the membership organizations you are involved in, to the volunteer work you do.

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Move Over, Coders: Physicists Will Soon Rule Silicon Valley
Wired, January 16

Today, physicists are moving into Silicon Valley companies. But in the years to come, a similar phenomenon will spread much further. Machine learning will change not only how the world analyzes data but how it builds software. Neural networks are already reinventing image recognition, speech recognition, machine translation, and the very nature of software interfaces. As a result, software engineering is moving from handcrafted code based on logic to machine learning models based on probability and uncertainty. And that’s forcing top tech companies to re-think what types of employees they need to hire. In other words, all the physicists pushing into the realm of the Silicon Valley engineer is a sign of a much bigger change to come. Soon, all the Silicon Valley engineers will push into the realm of the physicist.

If physics and software engineering were subatomic particles, Silicon Valley has turned into the place where the fields collide. Physicists are now working on projects with endless challenges and possibilities. Moreover, the pay is great. This embrace of physicists is happening across Silicon Valley because structurally and technologically, the things that just about every Internet company needs to do are more and more suited to the skill set of a physicist. Of course, physicists have played a role in computer technology since its earliest days, just as they’ve played a role in so many other fields. But this is a particularly ripe moment for physicists in computer tech, thanks to the rise of machine learning, where machines learn tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data. This new wave of data science and AI is something that suits physicists. Among other things, the industry has embraced neural networks, software that aims to mimic the structure of the human brain. But these neural networks are really just math on an enormous scale, mostly linear algebra and probability theory. Computer scientists aren’t necessarily trained in these areas, but physicists are.

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Eleven Telltale Signs You Should Quit Your Job
Inc.com, January 10

There are compelling reasons to hang on to your full-time job as long as you can, but if you’re becoming more miserable with each passing day, it could be time to quit. Some people hang on to a job they hate because the money is too good. Some people hang on to a job they hate because the prestige of the title makes it too hard on their egos to quit. And some hang on to a job they hate because they're afraid to start their own business. Life is too short to go home every day feeling unfulfilled or working for a terrible boss. Sometimes the best thing you can do is have the courage to leave a job that doesn't make you happy.

Life's too short to spend your time developing your boss's career at the expense of your own. So if your boss is spending all of his or her time focusing purely on advancing up the career ladder, and not enough time on developing the team, then it’s time to move on. That’s also true if your ideas are disregarded or even ignored. Everyone has ideas. And everyone loves when his or her ideas are taken seriously and implemented. But when your boss or company shoots down or even laughs at your ideas, it's not only insulting, it's de-motivating. And pretty soon you stop caring. Getting criticized in public is another clear signal you need to quit your job. Life's too short to walk around waiting for the next time you'll be criticized (and even humiliated) in front of other people.

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Striking a New Balance Between Understanding, Problem-Solving, and Design in Introductory CS Classes
Blog @ CACM, January 9

In teaching introductory computer science classes, there needs to be an appropriate balance between understanding and problem-solving. In short, a computer science educator has to balance teaching efficiently (which requires abstract understanding) and motivating the student (which requires problem-solving and design). Efficient teaching means teaching abstractly, emphasizing practice, and preferring direct instruction over having students "figure it out." Motivating the student means giving them authentic situations, real-world complexity, and reasons to practice. The only problem is that a teacher of introductory computer science faces the tension between letting students figure out complex situations and telling students the answer.

Teachers need to understand the students who are in their classes, not just rely on generalizations or stereotypical descriptions of what students want. A student who takes an introductory computer science course wants to make something. Even if the student doesn't want to become a professional software developer, they want to create software, to design something digital. We want to go from where they are to producing something interesting. The challenge is that students enter CS class with less background in the discipline than any other STEM field. It's hard to design when you don't understand the medium that you're designing with. We know that students need to develop an understanding of what the computer does when it executes programs. Computing education researchers call that the notional machine. To design and debug programs, students need to develop a mental model of the notional machine. We have a poor track record in helping students be able to trace and predict program execution. Maybe our students don't develop enough understanding of the notional machine because our introductory courses don't make program understanding a key learning goal.

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Bias in Technology
Communications of the ACM, January 2017

Despite recent signs of improvement, the technology world still has a diversity problem. A recent U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) report found that the high-tech industry employed far fewer African-Americans, Hispanics, and women, relative to whites, Asian-Americans, and men. The difference is especially glaring in Silicon Valley. At some companies, African-Americans represent just 1% of the tech work force. In academia, the figures are also discouraging. Today, experts in both the corporate and academic worlds are working to understand the root of the imbalance and searching for ways to expand the number of women and minorities in technology.

The necessity of a more diverse technology workforce is a matter of social equality, but there are other compelling factors as well. When groups are under-represented on product development teams, for example, the resulting technology can be biased. Even algorithms can have bias, and that may unknowingly exclude certain types of users. The good news is that broader representation can lead to increased performance (including revenue and profits). Still, the business argument for inclusion may be simpler than that. If you really want everyone in the world to use your products, then you need to have everyone working for you. If you want to sell to everybody, you have to hire everybody.

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