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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 3, 2012

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 8, Issue 7, April 3, 2012




IT Jobs Will Grow 22% Through 2020, Says U.S. BLS
CIO.com (via Computerworld), March 29

By 2020, employment in all computer occupations is expected to increase by 22%, with some IT fields faring better than others, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While offshoring will hurt the growth of programming jobs in this decade, the expansion of health care IT and mobile networks will in turn increase demand for software developers, technical support and system analysts. Demand for software developers will be the strongest in this period, with increases ranging from 28% to 32%. The agency's forecasts, particularly for technology-related jobs, are often controversial because they can't account for rapid market changes and tech disruptions. However, its estimates are often cited in various policy debates in issues ranging from U.S. educational needs to immigration policy.

The outlook across IT occupations varies. Demand for database administrators is expected to increase by 31%, adding 33,900 jobs in this decade thanks to a need to make use of an ever-growing mountain of data. For IT managers, employment is projected to increase 18% by 55,800 jobs to 363,700 jobs by 2020. BLS said growth in the health care industry and the need for more IT security might help increase IT management jobs. The weakest IT growth area is computer programmers: the number of people employed as computer programmers will increase by just 12% through the decade, from 363,100 in 2010 to 406,800 by 2020. Offshoring was blamed for relatively weak growth in demand for computer programmers.


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Startup Tech Jobs Go Begging -- How To Get Yours
InfoWorld, March 29

According to StartUpHire.com, engineering and other technical jobs account for more than 36% of the 14,000 jobs waiting to be filled at startup companies. However, the number of qualified applicants would fill only half of those spots. Overall, jobs at startups increased by 23% over the previous year and the market is so strong that large numbers of executive-level jobs are even being posted. Though the numbers make it look like jobs at startups are yours for the asking, that's not entirely true. In order to land these startup jobs, candidates need to take steps such as showcasing previous startup experience.

To increase your chances of being hired by a startup, it’s not enough to know how to program. To show that you’re an expert, contribute to open source projects and find innovative ways to use the company's APIs. Being a generalist will get you noticed, too. Big companies can afford to have people with narrow skill sets, but startups can't. Startups are looking for passion -- and for people who are willing to settle for a smaller salary than they'd get at a larger tech company, with no guarantee that the new company will go public via an IPO. Where you've worked in the past matters. Startups have a preference for people who've worked at startups previously. In fact, nearly one-quarter of the applicants on StartUpHire.com have worked for at least one startup.


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Talent Pool Can't Meet Skyrocketing Demand For Cloud Skills
Computerworld (via Network World), March 14

Based on current trends in the labor market, cloud computing is now one of the hottest hiring areas in the tech industry. The number of job openings in the cloud computing industry is growing so rapidly that there aren't enough qualified people available to fill the positions. There were 5,000 jobs posted online related to cloud technology in February, a 92% increase from the previous year, and a more than fourfold increase from 2010. The article looks at the specific job titles and geographic areas that are driving the hiring activity for cloud computing jobs.

Most of the cloud jobs are available at service providers. VMware posted the most jobs last month, with 360 openings. Microsoft had the second most, with 230, while Amazon.com and Google were also in the top five. Cloud computing professionals that are most in demand are those with technical skills, such as software engineers, systems engineers and network administrators. But not all of the cloud-related job openings require tech skills. The leading nontechnical jobs that required some knowledge of the cloud included marketing managers, sales managers, management analytics specialists and financial analysts. The employers seeking to fill those positions tended to be involved in marketing cloud services or marketing a cloud-based offering.


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Is Wall Street Losing Its IT Career Luster?
Information Week (Via Wall Street & Technology), March 27

Wall Street traditionally was one of the most desirable industries for technologists, but things are starting to change, as many IT professionals look for other jobs with the same earnings potential. A mix of layoffs, bonus freezes, and an overall reduction in IT budgets has made the financial services industry less appealing. In addition, Wall Street's image has been tarnished recently, further reducing the appeal of working in financial services. In comparison, Silicon Valley's IT industry, especially at new tech start-ups, is the place top tech talent wants to be.

The decision to leave Wall Street can be rewarding for many IT workers. Rather than work for one firm on the same technology infrastructure, you get to bring your knowledge from years on Wall Street to other firms that are just building their technology infrastructure. Another attraction is the chance to work in an emerging field for a firm that is poised to capitalize on a new technology, such as cloud computing or virtualization. The opportunity to take on a senior role and use the skills acquired with multiple different clients, not just one client, can be very appealing as well.


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Five Stealthy Ways to Find a New Job With Social Media
Mashable, March 25

While you certainly want to leverage social media as much as possible when searching for a new job, you don’t want to jeopardize your current job by making it obvious that you’re looking for a new position. That doesn’t mean you should avoid social media during your job search to raise your personal visibility. In fact, 54% of social media users employed Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter in their hunt for work in the last year, and one in six found their last job through an online social network. With that in mind, the article highlights five ways to show you’re a valuable professional via social networks without telling everyone you’re on the hunt.

To increase your visibility to employers, spruce up your existing networking profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Make sure each profile is as complete as possible — including key skills, experience and education — to ensure you show up in search results. Build your networks on these sites and re-connect with people you’ve known for a while. Remember: one easy way to blow your cover is to put “Seeking a position as…” or “Looking for a new job in…” on your profile. This might seem obvious, but some job seekers think their current employer won’t see their profiles, so they share that they are job searching with their whole network. Instead of blatantly telling contacts that you’re looking for a job, you can show your expertise by sharing relevant content, joining and participating in industry groups and communities, and by keeping in touch with your network connections.


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Community Colleges Should Urge Women to Pursue Science and Math Careers, Report Says
Chronicle of Higher Education, March 20

Not enough women at community colleges—especially low-income students and those with children—are studying for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. As a result, community colleges should take additional steps to encourage female students to pursue careers in STEM fields. Community colleges can play a crucial role in educating women for STEM occupations: Those institutions tend to enroll a disproportionate number of low-income women who are also parents, and many such students pursue careers that are not associated with high salaries.

The report recommends actively recruiting women, especially those with children, into STEM programs by emphasizing the economic value of occupations in those fields. Other recommendations include expanding child-care services on campus and offering financial incentives, such as payment for course completion. Although women make up close to half of the labor force, only one in four STEM jobs is held by a woman. Employment in the STEM fields is expected to increase by 10% between 2008 and 2018, according to the report, and, in some subspecialties, that growth is projected to be up to 30%.


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Elance Predicts the Future of Online Work
Web Worker Daily, March 27

Online labor platforms are growing strongly, as more and more firms embrace online hiring. According to Elance, more than $500 million worth of work has been contracted on the platform, and this will only increase in coming years. As Elance points out, there are three long-term industry trends that will shape the future of work: one in three employees will be hired online by 2020; half of businesses will have online teams by 2020; and online professional guilds will emerge for the next generation of IT employees.

One in three people will be hired online by 2020. Monster and LinkedIn are only the starting point when it comes to using the Internet to find talent. In the future, it will be common for businesses not only to identify candidates online, but also to interview, hire and work with them at a distance. Within a few years, your ability to work remotely will be so extraordinarily compelling that there may not even be a need to meet in person. By 2020, half of businesses will have online teams. Businesses increasingly see hiring contractors as a long-term strategy and competitive advantage, rather than a short-term stopgap or simple cost-cutting measure. More and more businesses will come to see the benefits of online hiring and come to view the practice as a normal, if not essential, business practice.


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Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Who Would You Rather Hire?
TIME Moneyland, March 29

The millennial generation has different conceptions of the workplace compared to the older Baby Boomer generation, and that could lead to the appearance of a new type of workplace within the next decade. For example, younger workers in their 20s and early 30s want flexible work schedules, more “me time” on the job, and nearly nonstop feedback and career advice from managers. They’re also more likely than average to have very strong opinions about the workplace -- how it should be run, and what their place should be in it. By the year 2025, three out of every four workers globally will be Gen Y. This means that Gen Y will be able to create an environment that is hyper-connected, entrepreneurial, collaborative and fast-paced.

Millennials grew up texting, using Facebook and Twitter, and getting nearly immediate responses to their questions. In the workplace, they expect the same environment. They want to be able to ask questions and get career advice all the time. In the survey, 80% of millennials said they want regular feedback from their managers, and 75% yearn for mentors. The study also found that 79% of millennials think they should be allowed to wear jeans to work at least sometimes, compared to only 60% of boomers. An overwhelming 93% of millennials say they want a job where they can be themselves at work, and that includes dressing in a way that makes them comfortable. Boomers, on the other hand, are more prone to believing in the importance of maintaining a standard professional look in the workplace. The 9-to-5 workplace standard is falling away, and the change is at least partially being driven by millennials. Research shows that 81% of millennials think they should be allowed to make their own hours at work, compared to only 69% of boomers. Whereas more boomers feel the office environment and the traditional workday is the best way to get the job done, millennials prefer a flexible approach.


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Improving Gender Composition in Computing
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 55 No. 4, April 2012

Twenty-four academic and corporate organizations from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) committed to adding 1,000 "Net New Women" to the U.S. computing talent pool by 2012. The nationwide NCWIT Pacesetters program will focus on technical women who would otherwise not have pursued or remained in computing careers. NCWIT Pacesetters are creating a model for change that they hope will finally lead to more women within the IT industry. The Pacesetters program is the first of its kind where organizations come together, work across corporate and academic organizational boundaries, and identify effective ways to recruit or retain a specific number of technical women.

Pacesetters combine top-down and bottom-up approaches for progress based on both research findings about organizational change and observations of what works for NCWIT members. Each Pacesetters organization must have meaningful participation by executive leaders who work top-down, and change leaders who work bottom-up. Together they build internal teams, develop and fund the needed programs, and share their results. Pacesetters' approaches include actively recruiting graduate and undergraduate students; retaining them in the major through curricular, pedagogical, and community innovations; developing and raising awareness of midcareer options; and fostering technical innovation by facilitating women's contributions. Early evaluation shows tangible value in building this type of Pacesetters learning community around a shared and urgent goal.


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Princeton Computer Scientist Sanjeev Arora Honored for Breakthroughs that Have Advanced the Power of Computing
ACM Press Room, March 29

Sanjeev Arora of Princeton is the recipient of the 2011 ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences for his innovative approaches to problem solving. Arora's research revolutionized the approach to essentially unsolvable problems that have long troubled the computing field, the so-called NP-complete problems. These results have had implications for problems common to cryptography, computational biology, and computer vision, among other fields. The ACM-Infosys Foundation Award recognizes personal contributions by young scientists and system developers to a contemporary innovation that exemplifies the greatest recent achievements in the computing field.

Arora's work provides key theoretical concepts for distinguishing between problems that can be approximated efficiently and those that cannot. He played a key role in the development of probabilistically checkable proofs (PCP) that resulted in the PCP theorem, which leads to designs for more secure use of agents common in cloud computing, and implies limits on our ability to understand proteins and other biological systems. He also contributed new ways to find approximate solutions to problems. His efforts have inspired other computer theory researchers and helped raise the level of funding for theoretical computer science. Arora’s work on the PCP theorem is considered the most important development in computational complexity theory in the last 30 years.


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