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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, August 3, 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 15, August 3, 2010




After Pay Cuts, IT Workers May Seek Payback in New Job
Network World (via Computerworld), July 21

As the IT job market continues to show signs of improving, companies should be bracing for an increase in employee attrition rates. According to a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive, confidence among tech workers in the economy is on the rise. In the second quarter of 2010, 38% of the IT workers believe the economy is getting stronger, compared to 32% in the first quarter. As worker confidence improves, they are likely to seek out new opportunities elsewhere.

The Harris Interactive results could foreshadow trouble ahead for IT managers and companies now relying on fewer IT employees. Many IT workers may already be preparing to look for new jobs over the next year, especially if their salaries were cut or salary increases suspended. Approximately 61% of IT workers earning between $35,000 and $50,000 a year are "likely" to start looking for a new job over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, 27% of IT workers now making between $50,000 and $75,000 annually and 36% of those whose salaries exceed $75,000 are "likely" to begin a job search.


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Tips to Recharge Your Job Search
San Francisco Chronicle, July 22

While flexibility is key during a job search, it is not always the case that more jobs will be available to you if you adopt an "I will work anywhere" strategy. To make your job search as productive as possible, you need to put your plan into action. For example, if you are not accomplishing what you had hoped for in your job search, consider joining a job search group that shares a common goal. With that in mind, the article offers a handful of the most common tips for recharging a job search.

Put your job search plan into action by following through on at least one job search activity every day. The more action you take, the more momentum you build. Try a new job search technique if your job search is not yet producing results. You may also want to fine-tune your elevator pitch so that it expresses what you want people to remember most about you. Stay in contact with your networking group. In addition to calling them, consider sending cards or interesting articles to those who have helped you. This goes a long way when developing rapport and creating good will. Join a job club or job search group to discuss leads and share ideas.


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Five Mistakes Online Job Hunters Make
Wall Street Journal, July 22

In a difficult hiring environment, building and maintaining an online presence is critical to networking and job hunting. Done right, it can be an important tool for present and future networking and useful for potential employers trying to get a sense of who you are, your talents and your experience. If done improperly, however, it can actually take you out of the running for important positions. Based on an understanding of best practices, the article highlights five mistakes online job hunters often make on social networking sites.

If you use Twitter or you write a blog, you should assume that hiring managers and recruiters are going to read your updates and your posts. Approximately 80% of hiring managers and job recruiters review online information about job applicants before making a hiring decision. Of those, 70% said that they have rejected candidates based on information that they found online, such as inappropriate comments and photos. Keep in mind that blanketing social networks with half-completed profiles accomplishes nothing except to annoy the exact people you want to impress. One online profile done well is far more effective than several incomplete ones. Many people make the mistake of joining LinkedIn and other social media sites and then just letting their profiles sit publicly unfinished.


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Five Questions to Ask Before Taking That Telecommuting Job
Web Worker Daily, July 22

Before you agree to what seems like a dream telecommuting role, make sure that both you and your potential employer are clear about the role, your responsibilities and your work process. While some employers have defined telecommuting policies in place and have management who are used to working with remote staff, many do not. Getting answers to these questions before you agree to take the job will not only clarify the role, but could also help your potential employer to produce its own telecommuting policy.

As a first step, find out what equipment will be provided and whether or not equipment-related expenses will be reimbursed. It’s worth checking what equipment will actually be provided, as sometimes what an employer thinks you’ll need and what you think you’ll need won’t align. Next, find out how your performance will be measured. When you’re not coming into the office every day, your manager won’t be able to see that you’re hard at work. You will need to understand which metrics the company will use to assess your performance as well as how often they will be reviewed.


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How to Decode a Job Posting
Forbes, July 20

During any job search you will review hundreds of job postings. Some will be very well written and provide quality information, while others will tell you little about the employer's needs. The majority of them have a similar format and characteristics, and they provide insight into what the employer wants if you know what to look for. While a job posting can be written by either a hiring manager or a recruiter, it's usually the recruiter who receives and screens the applications. With this in mind, you should understand the three primary parts of a job posting so that you are able to convince a recruiter that you are qualified for the role.

The job title is often what first interests you in a posting, and it's the first thing the hiring manager thought of when he or she decided to create the position. The job title gives you the most likely keywords that will be used to find qualified candidates for the job. Make sure that your summary statement and areas of expertise are in line with the job title. Moreover, the words in the job title should appear prominently throughout the résumé. The responsibilities section describes what will be expected of the employee in the position. While there may be multiple bullet points in this section, the first three responsibilities are the most important. Your résumé should focus on your experience, results and accomplishments that relate to these first three bullet points.


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Why Personal Branding is So Misunderstood
Influential Marketing Blog, July 30

Building a personal brand is not the same thing as being a “social media guru.” While skeptics may attempt to make this point, personal branding is not the same as being someone with a big personality who has used social media expertly to amplify their success. When handled appropriately, social media can be an important branding tool for expressing the most important elements of your experience and skills to others. Rohit Bhargava analyzes the pros and cons of creating a personal brand in an effort to separate fact from fiction when it comes to social media.

There are several fictions about personal branding. The first is that personal branding is more about ego than reputation. Hardly anyone would argue that your reputation is important, but somehow the label of "personal brand" became disconnected from that. The second fiction is that personal brands are only grown at the expense of corporate brands. Yet when we look at successful executives who perform well and move on to bigger and higher paying jobs, they are not criticized for building their own reputation while successfully contributing to the company they work for. It is also not the case that only certain types of individuals have personal brands. In an age where our virtual identity extends beyond just who we are in person and also encapsulates our profile on LinkedIn or the networks we join on Facebook, each of us has a digital reputation and personal brand.


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Befriend the Intern to Fire Up Your Career
Brazen Careerist, July 30

Penelope Trunk highlights four ways you can fire up your career by paying close attention to the people with the least work experience. As she points out, there’s a lot you can learn about advancing your IT career from the office intern. Interns are the gatekeepers to the “good stuff” within an organization, and can open your eyes to how you can repurpose this “good stuff” in all sorts of creative ways to promote your career. In addition, they can help you find and address weak spots in your background.

As savvy workers know, interns often know about projects and initiatives that may not yet be high profile within an organization. Especially if they are interning for powerful managers or executives, they can help you with glimpsing the types of ideas and approaches that their bosses are using or experimenting with. Also, since interns chat about things that really matter to them, they can help you generate new ideas. They can point out trends happening around the country or tell you about the expectations and aspirations of their peer group. They can also suggest great ways to repurpose content using creative methods that you might not have thought of.


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Much More Than Office Space
Entrepreneur, July 22

Some entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the vacant real estate left in the wake of the economic recession to create new types of working spaces for entrepreneurs and start-ups. The most popular of these spaces combine the amenities of a marketplace with the business assistance features of a small business incubator. Sites such as POOL Together in Arizona, the Embarcadero in San Francisco, the Brewery in Los Angeles, and Pike Place Market in Seattle are at the forefront of this trend. They primarily function as business incubators, offering entrepreneurs affordable leases in a shared commercial space, and its owners provide assistance with business planning, marketing, space customization and cross-pollination as part of a comprehensive lease agreement.

The most popular of these shared workspaces offer a support system to local entrepreneurs as well as a built-in sense of community. They are typically located in previously occupied storefronts that closed down due to poor economic conditions, rather than in overpriced executive suites. These workspaces are not in the business of renting out workstations or office space – they are in the business of building local entrepreneurial communities. As a result, they can offer all of the unique advantages, resources and opportunities that only arise as a result of being part of a like-minded community.


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Are Female IT Graduates Still Underrepresented?
Communications of the ACM, July 30

According to the latest figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency, women are still lagging behind men in earning degrees in typically male-dominated subjects. In fact, over the past decade, there has been little or no increase in the number of women taking up mathematical sciences. Indeed, the figure has stayed at a constant 38%. In engineering and technology degrees, women still account for just 15% of the student population; meanwhile, the number of women studying computer science has actually fallen in the past five years, from 24% to 19%. Taking a big picture view, this under-representation of women in IT could impact the competitiveness of industries that require a highly skilled, IT-savvy workforce.

While careers advice services in schools certainly play a role in encouraging girls to choose an IT career path, primary schools also have a responsibility. There are not enough female role models teaching science in primary schools, and this lack of role models at an early age is impacting the educational system at each successive stage. Higher education action group Universities UK said that institutions are working to bridge the gender gap, encouraging more women to take science-based subjects and in turn encouraging men to take typically female-dominated subjects such as medicine and education.


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U.S. Congressman Introduces Measure to Address Crisis in K-12 Computer Science Education
ACM Press Room, July 30

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis recently introduced the Computer Science Education Act, a key legislative initiative that is part of a continuing effort to improve the state of K-12 computer science education. The legislation will bolster computer science education programs across the country, and help ensure that the education pipeline will produce the workforce the nation will need to thrive and compete in the 21st century. The Act targets a variety of factors that currently work against quality computer science in K-12 education, such as uneven computer science learning standards across the states and limited availability of professional development for computer science teachers.

The new computer science legislation is supported by major stakeholders in the computing field ranging from industry to nonprofit associations, such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). As Congress reviews the recently enacted Elementary and Secondary Education Act, these organizations are working to make sure that the proposed Computer Science Education Act is a way to strengthen U.S. K-12 computer science education. The central part of the Act proposes grants to assess the current condition of computer science education in the states, and create state plans and actions for reform.


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