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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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 6, Issue 8, April 20, 2010




Glimmers of Hope for North American Jobs
TechCareers.com (via EE Times), April 12

Despite a national unemployment rate hovering around the 10% mark, there are hopeful signs for IT employment heading into the second quarter of 2010. Various companies, industry sectors and regions are announcing hiring and retraining programs that focus on tech workers. These first steps in the economic recovery are leading to improving perceptions about the number of job opportunities available in technology hubs around the nation. From new corporate hiring initiatives to new government-sponsored programs that support re-training, cities and regions across North America are creating new opportunities for IT workers in both traditional areas and emerging areas such as clean technology.

The Arizona Technology Council recently formed a partnership with Jobing.com to connect local employers and job seekers in the technology industry. With the Council's newly expanded online Career Center, tech industry job seekers now have a repository of available positions posted either through the council or on Jobing.com and its 100 partner employment Web sites in Arizona. Also, the Utah Technology Council launched a Clean Tech Initiative that will create green jobs in the waste and recycling segments. The goal is to encourage Utah venture capital investment in clean technology.


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Online Recruitment Is At Its Highest Since 2008
HR Magazine (UK), April 14

According to Monster, in the first quarter of 2010, U.K. online recruitment activity rose to its highest level since late 2008. While marketing, PR and media led all sectors in total recruitment activity, the technology sector experienced growth as well. In fact, activity in the IT sector is at its highest level in 15 months. On a year-over-year basis, the Monster Employment Index UK rose by 15%, reflecting improving labor demand conditions on a wide-scale basis. From a job availability viewpoint, conditions in March were more favorable than in any month since December 2008.

Marketing, PR and media was the fastest-growing sector of the month, growing at a 6% rate. Year-on-year, the sector has gained 12%. Healthcare gained 5% in March, while financial services sectors also registered notable increases in online demand. Online recruitment activity in the IT sector also continued to rise in March; the increased demand for workers indicates likely upward shifts in trends for computer infrastructure investment by UK firms. In fact, online job demand strengthened in all nine occupational groups monitored by the Monster Employment Index in March.


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Five Ways to Kick Start Your Own Job Recovery
U.S. News & World Report, April 14

As the U.S. economy improves, recruiters and hiring managers are starting to widen their search for workers. Instead of hiring only a small number of highly specialized workers, they are now seeking workers with a wide variety of skills and experiences. Even with this widened hiring scope, however, IT workers will still need specialized skills to accomplish what companies require as they strive to do more with less. As they seek out the right certifications and training, job seekers will need to be strategic as they seek a competitive edge in the recovery.

Pursuing a science, math, or technical certification is one way to stand out from peers in a competitive jobs environment. Technical skills and scientific knowledge top the list of what employers want and workers lack; credentials and certifications are one way of signaling this knowledge. In fast-growing fields like healthcare, math and science are almost prerequisites. In fact, of the 10 undergraduate degrees with the highest median starting salaries, eight are in engineering or computer science. Job retraining programs and community colleges offer ways to keep up with employer needs.


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Are Your Social Networking Profiles Sinking Your Job Search?
CIO.com, April 12

With more hiring managers than ever before using social networking websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to source and vet candidates, there is greater pressure on candidates to update and maintain their social networking profiles. According to CareerBuilder, 35% of hiring managers immediately screened out candidates based on what they found on candidates' social networking profiles. Moreover, only 18% of hiring managers polled by CareerBuilder last year said they were encouraged to hire a candidate due to his or her online presence. As a result, job seekers need to understand how to use social networking websites more effectively in their job searches. There are seven ways to ensure that social networking profiles don’t negatively impact your chances of landing a new job.

First, make sure your social networking profiles are complete. An incomplete profile can reflect poorly on a candidate, showing a lack of enthusiasm and follow-through. Adding search-engine friendly keywords that describe your skills and experience helps employers find you before they've posted a job ad. Secondly, use social networking websites to communicate your career status. Talk about freelance, contract or part-time work you may be doing, and explain the types of job opportunities you're seeking. Also, post recommendations from current and former managers, staff, clients and colleagues.


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Fred Wilson: 10 Ways to Be Your Own Boss
Web Worker Daily, April 14

At a conference in New York, venture capitalist Fred Wilson discussed ten different ways that technology employees can launch their own successful businesses. He gave his perspective on the various categories of entrepreneur, explaining how these different types can grow and reach critical mass. According to Wilson, these Web businesses can be successful and influential without relying on venture capital investment. The examples cited range from small, loosely bound collaborators to larger, more traditional business structures. For Web workers seeking to fulfill their entrepreneurial ambition, this illustrates that there are many paths to success.

As a prominent venture capitalist as well as an astute spotter of emerging Internet trends, Fred Wilson has led investments in companies such as Boxee, Meetup, Tumblr, Twitter and Foursquare. Based on his experience of interacting with entrepreneurs and understanding their evolving business models, he points to companies such as Twitter and Foursquare as examples of how entrepreneurs can bootstrap a company without the need for a formal VC investment model. Among the other companies and projects mentioned in his presentation: James Cameron’s Avatar, The Hype Machine, Red Stamp and Openshop Studios.


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The Next Best Career Move: Actually Moving
Wall Street Journal, April 13

A small but growing group of job seekers are relocating to areas of the country with stronger job markets or more desirable living, even without the security of a job waiting for them. Driving the self-imposed moves are personal desire and cuts in company relocation programs that have forced hiring managers to look locally for candidates. Thus far, the trend has primarily included senior-level job seekers who have a financial cushion to weather the costs of the move and more junior-level job seekers, who have fewer fixed expenses and can move easily. Both categories of job hunters are taking concrete steps to appear to be or become part of a local community as part of a long-term investment in their future careers.

People looking to reposition for the next phase of their career are choosing locations with a robust and diversified economy. Some who can't afford to make the move are giving the illusion of being local by renting a mailbox, getting a local mobile phone number, and staying with friends and family nearby to attend networking and industry events. Now that companies are loath to pay hefty relocation costs for out-of-state candidates, being local can be the difference between getting an interview and being passed over. Approximately 58% of companies have reduced their corporate relocation programs, 27% have frozen such programs, and another 17% have eliminated them entirely. The bottom line is that companies want to pay less to acquire new talent.


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Fitting In With a New Employer
Computerworld, April 12

Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, suggests several ways that jobseekers can develop a feel for an employer’s culture during the hiring process. Since many of the workplace norms unique to a particular company aren't readily apparent, learning as much as you can about the corporate culture upfront improves your ability to accept or decline a job offer with confidence. As Willmer suggests, making an effort to understand the culture of a potential employer also gives you the best chance of quickly integrating with your new colleagues once you’re hired.

It’s important to start researching a prospective company as early as possible. Start by visiting the company's Web site and checking out the company's presence on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Then, use interviews and office visits as opportunities to observe the organization's culture in a relatively unfiltered way. Observe how employees greet each other in the hallways and whether people seem to be working independently in cubicles or interacting in common areas. During your interview, ask your interviewer questions about the corporate culture. Talking to employees can also be a valuable source of information about an employer's culture. Reach out to members of your professional network to find contacts who’ve worked at the company.


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Seven Basics for Job-Hunting on LinkedIn
BNET UK, April 13

As social networking sites such as LinkedIn gain in popularity, jobseekers will need to consider how they can create the types of online profiles that effectively present their capabilities and ambitions to employers. With the ability of social networking sites to facilitate connections, there are several ways that job candidates can use their profiles strategically as part of their work identity. With that in mind, the article provides seven useful suggestions for maximizing the opportunity set provided by LinkedIn.

Completing your LinkedIn profile is a necessary first step. LinkedIn functions much like a search engine and when it detects profiles with data gaps, it leaves them out of the search results. Don’t leave out your picture. Employers like being able to put a face to a name; a photo also gives your profile greater authenticity. Make yourself available. Since LinkedIn is a business tool make yourself easy to contact without using high privacy settings. Configure your settings so that you are able to receive pictures and invites from people who view your profile. The more contacts you have the more easily you will be discovered. Don’t sit waiting for invites to come to you: send invites to friends, ex-colleagues, relatives, everybody you know.


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Three Weeks Left to Apply for the SC10 George Michael Memorial HPC Ph.D. Fellowship Program
SC10, April 10

The SC10 George Michael Memorial HPC Fellowship Program is accepting applications until May 1. The Association of Computing Machinery, IEEE Computer Society and SC Conference series have established the High Performance Computing (HPC) Ph.D. Fellowship Program to help address the important issue of training the next generation of HPC scientists and engineers. Every year, fellowship recipients will each receive a stipend of at least $5,000 for one academic year, plus travel support to attend the SC conference.

Over the past several years, multiple reports from government agencies and nonprofit institutions have outlined the need to develop a highly trained cadre of HPC scientists and engineers. The George Michael HPC Fellowship Program is designed to directly address this recommendation by honoring exceptional Ph.D. students throughout the world with the focus areas of high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. The HPC Fellowship Program also supports workforce diversity and encourages nominations of women and members of underrepresented groups.


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ACM Recognizes Leaders Who Have Raised Awareness of Computer Science
ACM Press Room, April 14

ACM announced the winners of two awards, the Distinguished Service Award and the Outstanding Contribution to ACM Award, which honor significant contributions to the computing and information technology field. These awards recognize Edward Lazowska and Moshe Y. Vardi for their creativity and commitment in the computer science field. Through their work and innovative thought leadership, both award winners have raised awareness of computer science and its role in changing the way the world lives and works.

The Distinguished Service Award went to Edward Lazowska for his wide-ranging service to the computing community and his long-standing advocacy for this community at the national level. Lazowska served as co-chair of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) from 2003-2005, where he championed the importance of computing in achieving federal priorities. He served for six years on the National Research Council’s (NRC) Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) and made major contributions to NRC and CSTB studies involving the information technology innovation ecosystem; the role of information technology in improving learning and countering terrorism; and the management of university intellectual property.


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