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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, January 18, 2011

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-request@acm.org

Volume 7, Issue 2, January 18, 2011




Technology Job Outlook Improving
Web Worker Daily, January 7

According to new reports on the employment outlook, growth in the IT job market is outpacing the growth of the wider job market. In turn, this is creating optimism about the future career opportunities for remote workers. The article takes a closer look at the technology- and Web-related positions that are showing the greatest improvement, while also providing a brief overview of the concerns facing both technology workers and employers as the overall economy rebounds.

These recent employment reports highlight the improving fortunes of the technology job market. According to Indeed’s December 2010 Industry Employment Trends report, postings for IT positions increased by 82% over December 2009. The most popular positions included graphic designer, program manager, technical writer, software engineer, systems administrator, and network engineer. The U.S. cities with the most postings included New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, Austin and San Diego. Web-related positions also rate highly. The position of software engineer has been named as “the nation’s best job,” according to a study from CareerCast. Other technology-related jobs in the Top 50 include computer systems analyst (fifth), technical writer (26th), computer programmer (27th), and web developer (44th).


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Software Engineering is the #1 Job in the United States in 2011
Java World, January 9

In its annual review of career opportunities, CareerCast recently ranked Software Engineering as the #1 job in the United States for 2010. This continues a recent trend, in which the software engineering, software development and programming professions have received high rankings in various career surveys. In the previous year’s rankings, for example, Software Engineering was ranked as the #2 job. The article explores possible reasons why Software Engineering is enjoying new popularity and responds to reader comments about the specific roles and responsibilities of Software Engineering.

There are several reasons why Software Engineering moved to the #1 spot for 2011. The study identified the software engineering job market as widening in both scope and diversity, thanks primarily to cloud computing and mobile device development. The greater number and variety of positions leads to greater potential for an industry and reduces the competitiveness factor in finding new jobs. At the same time, the stress factor for Software Engineering careers declined, enabling an improved work-life balance.


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Confidence in Jobs Recovery Continues to Grow
Network World (via Computerworld UK), January 12

The UK job market is on the road to recovery, with IT industries leading the way, according to the latest monthly study by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. The demand for permanent employees across all sectors grew at the fastest rate in four months in December 2010, with IT workers one of the groups that were most in demand during that period. With the growth of permanent placements remaining solid and demand for staff rising strongly, the UK job market is poised for continued near-term growth, especially within the IT and computing sectors.

In December, the demand for IT and computing workers grew at the strongest rate out of all industry sectors, with growth picking up to a six-month high. The index figure for permanent IT staff was 60.5, down slightly compared with 63.6 December 2009, but up from 56.6 in November 2010. For temporary IT staff, the figure was 56.6 in December 2010, which was also a small reduction from 58.1 in 2009. Over the next few months, cutbacks in the government sector may start to have an impact. The impact of the recent VAT increase to 20% will also impact UK consumer demand and job creation. Employment, especially among the one million young people under age 24 who are looking for jobs, continues to remain an important issue for the public sector.


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LinkedIn Tips: Three Ways to Polish Your Profile for the New Year
CIO.com, December 15

There are three simple tips that you can use to refresh and revamp your LinkedIn profile and help set you apart from the rest of the pack. By reducing your reliance on profile buzzwords and by complementing text and images in your profile with new features such as video, you can increase the chances of employers contacting you. According to LinkedIn, descriptors like “results-oriented” are ambiguous and really don't say anything to employers. Rather than simply using the buzzwords that you see and hear in the media, think about words that truly reflect your unique career situation.

Most importantly, focus on ways to simplify your LinkedIn profile. This usually means reducing your use of buzzwords. The key is to use simple words to tell others who you are, what you're doing and how you can help others. That's the message you're trying to convey, so keep it clean and make sure it's easily understood. Keywords can be used to convey your career goals to others. One of the most common mistakes is joining LinkedIn without a goal. Take some time to determine what you hope to accomplish in using the service and then develop a set of appropriate keywords that people could use to find you on LinkedIn. Use these keywords throughout your profile, but be sure not to overdo it.


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The New Rules of Online Job Hunting
ABC News, January 7

Michelle Goodman, author of two popular career advice books, comments on the most effective tactics for online job hunting. It is no longer enough to scour the online job boards for new openings; at the same time, it is also not enough to create a basic profile on LinkedIn or send out a few tweets on Twitter. As Goodman explains, to be a Web-savvy job seeker, you need to understand how certain online job search tactics can be used to find out about new jobs or expand your network. Understand this, and it could make the difference between a protracted employment hunt and starting your next gig before spring.

The new thinking about finding a job is that job seekers should forget about applying for work through the online jobs boards. Instead of submitting their resumes everywhere, savvy job seekers should use online job sites for research only; sniffing out which companies are hiring, what sort of candidates they're looking for and what experience is required. Then he or she will mine her LinkedIn, Facebook and other online networks for a contact who can make an introduction to a hiring manager at the company. Moreover, when it comes to selling yourself to employers, your resume is no longer your be-all-end-all marketing tool. Today it's all about earning a stellar reputation online. Use blogs and social networks to communicate what makes you a special and attractive candidate. Attract the right job opportunities by explaining what you're passionate about and the types of jobs you're interested in. To stand out among your peers, contribute articles to industry newsletters and websites or craft a catchy video to promote your talents.


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Landing the Boss’s Job
Career Journal, January 9

Not surprisingly, many workers think about the day when they will advance to the position of their boss. Being the next in line doesn't guarantee that you'll be promoted, but there are a few things you can do to improve your chances. Many would-be successors are actually underqualified because they have been hired to serve in specialized roles that don't necessarily require leadership skills. That's why it's important to develop the hard skills early so you can prepare for when your boss does leave. You can prepare for this new position by volunteering for more work, bolstering your qualifications, pursuing mentorships and attending management seminars.

A recommendation from your boss is the best way to land a promotion, so start earning that support by letting him or her know that you are interested in advancing. Inquire about your strengths and weaknesses so you can fill knowledge gaps with some professional development. Also request additional work that helps you build experience and allows you to manage projects from beginning to end. Learn what your boss does by following his or her daily routine. Observe the interactions between your boss and other employees and ask to collaborate on tasks so you can gain an inside view of the job. Distinguish yourself by doing your job well and being supportive of your boss, even if you don't agree with his or her work processes.


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Making the Move from IT Operations to the Applications Group
InfoWorld, January 11

What happens when you are re-assigned from one technology department to another, with a completely different set of expectations and workflow? In one example of a technology worker who was re-assigned from the IT operations group to the applications group, the transition actually created a unique opportunity to increase exposure within the organization and develop new relationships with other business groups. While some IT groups thrive when systems are functioning and running as planned, other IT groups thrive on delivering new projects on time and on budget. Your ability to adapt to the needs and responsibilities of each will determine how successful you are in your career transition. Success will depend on your ability to manage interpersonal relationships throughout the business and clearly define your job responsibilities to your subordinates and co-workers.

One important factor to consider is how visible your work will be within the organization. The more visible your work, the more time, energy and attention you need to devote to developing and managing interpersonal relationships throughout the business. You can start by making sure that every executive and middle manager knows who you are, likes you, and trusts you. If they do, they'll forgive the occasional bump in the road and work with you to fix it. If they don't, every problem will be magnified. You will also need to consider how much time you will devote to improving your technical skills, and how much for setting the overall technical direction. You will need to be able to explain what good performance looks like and outline a way to deliver it.


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Ambition: The Fire in the Belly Employers Want
AOL Jobs, January 10

According to recruiters and hiring managers, ambition is becoming one of the most highly sought-after traits of job seekers. Job applicants who are able to demonstrate drive have the edge over even more technically qualified candidates, especially in fields such as health care and information technology. Ambition, as long as it’s kept in moderation without alienating other co-workers, is that extra quality that many employers are looking for in new hires. Ambition takes on many forms in the workplace: even if you have ambition throughout your entire career, the way that this ambition manifests itself may change over time, with changing goals and desires.

Employers now know that what kept their business growing or even saved it during the recession were the employees who saw beyond their job description and pushed to do whatever was needed at the time. That's one reason employers are competing to recruit those who are ambitious, often offering them incentives to join their organizations. Researchers trying to uncover the secrets of ambition are mixed on whether it can be learned and taught on the job. They are also trying to discern a link between ambition and career success. After all, not all the ambitious do well professionally. Some even get turned down for jobs and promotions, over and over again. The missing ingredient is a lack of what's referred to as emotional intelligence, which is the ability to focus outside yourself, understand what others need and want, and create mutually beneficial work conditions. That entails basic skills like listening, negotiating, acknowledging input from others, and recognizing your own mistakes.


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Ethics and Tactics of Professional Crowdwork
Crossroads, December 2010

As professional “crowdworking” platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk grow in popularity, they are also raising questions about what they mean for the future of information workers. Working for a couple of dollars an hour, anonymous computing workers may never meet the programmers who use them as part of their research and engineering efforts. The article takes a closer look at the relationship between these workers and their employers, highlights some of the practical problems that crowdworkers face, and explains why continued exploration into the practices and norms of “crowdworking” will enable researchers to build a collection of technologies, practices, and concepts called human computation. Perhaps most importantly, researchers will be able to build a link between technical conversations about human computation to discussions of engineering ethics that have gone on for at least 40 years.

The Mechanical Turk labor pool hosts a growing international population earning less than $10,000 per year, some of whom rely on Turking income to make basic ends meet. While Indian residents made up only 5% of respondents to a November 2008 survey, they comprised 36% of respondents to a November 2009 survey and 46% in February 2010, at which point American Turkers, formerly the majority, comprised only 39% of survey respondents. Many Turkers see themselves as laborers doing work to earn money. In survey data collected in February 2009, 91% of respondents mentioned a desire to make money. Turking to pass the time, in contrast, was mentioned by only 42% of respondents. 25% of Indian respondents and 13% of U.S. respondents reported that Mechanical Turk is their primary source of income.


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ACM Launches New Version of Digital Library for Computing Professionals
ACM Press Room, January 11

ACM has released a new version of the ACM Digital Library that greatly enhances user access to a comprehensive database of computing literature. Building on the breadth and depth of existing library holdings, the new site simplifies usability, extends connections, and expands content with a wide range of new tools and features. Each year, more than 1.5 million users have access to ACM’s Digital Library, a readership representing individuals and institutions from over 190 countries worldwide.

New features in the ACM Digital Library enable users to browse efficiently by author, publication type, ACM Special Interest Group (SIG), and conference venue. These features include reorganized author profile pages; broadened citation pages; enhanced interactivity tools and an expanded table-of-contents opt-in service for all publications in the Digital Library. The new Digital Library also integrates extensive visualization technology that captures details of the more than 150 international conferences and symposia associated with ACM. The redesigned format also lists conferences alphabetically and chronologically, and links to access the published proceedings of each event as well as authors, acceptance rates, and downloads of presented papers, tables of content, abstracts, source material, and a history of the conference.


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