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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, December 18, 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 24, December 18, 2012




What Does a Cloud IT Career Really Mean?
CIO.com, December 6

While there has been an explosion of career opportunities for cloud IT jobs over the past few years, many of these roles have yet to be clearly defined. As more and more companies move to the cloud to save money, scale more easily and achieve faster times to production, they will need to describe what a cloud career entails. The tech industry is now ready to move to the next level of what cloud IT means. This means defining the skills necessary for leveraging all the cloud has to offer, and offering candidates a better idea of what roles and responsibilities tie into a cloud career.

Companies need to re-think their own view of the cloud now that it is has become more mainstream and there are so many players in the market. Cloud IT is becoming a very inclusive definition -- by some accounts, there are now more than 150 different cloud-related job titles. As a result, things that have never been included in what would be considered a cloud role or job are being added to the growing list of cloud jobs. This type of shakeout in IT careers also occurred at the dawn of the Internet phenomenon. Many companies who were using the web had no idea what developer roles were or what they should be paying their people. It’s happening more recently in HIT (Healthcare Information Technology). What this means, is that the cloud market is in transition and hasn't ordained or adopted a set of jobs or skills that you can call cloud skills.


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Six Technology Jobs That Will be Hot in 2013
IT World Canada, December 11

According to a new Robert Half Technology report, there are six technology jobs that will be in highest demand in Canada in 2013, including network engineers and mobile app developers. In addition to candidates with top technical skills, companies will be seeking individuals who can help with key growth initiatives, such as improving the firm's web and social media presence, gathering and analyzing business data, and optimizing a customer's online experience. Many of these positions are quite challenging for employers to fill and in some cases, the supply of qualified professionals is lower than the demand.

Demand for network engineers is as strong as ever, because organizations continue to use wireless or wired networks that require high bandwidth for multimedia applications. Those who can effectively engineer the integration of cloud computing with other new technologies and maintain a secure transfer of data to multiple locations via LANs or WANs will have little trouble finding work. Moreover, as companies strive to reach consumers on smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices, they need mobile app professionals who can develop for the small screen. Average starting salaries for mobile applications developers are expected to range from $79,000 to $112,000. Companies are also looking for business intelligence analysts who can assist firms in making critical business decisions by gathering and analyzing data to better target marketing efforts.


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Data Scientist Shortage: Split Role In Half
Information Week, December 12

Amidst increasing signs that it is getting more difficult to find talent for the nearly two million Big Data jobs that will be created in the U.S. by 2015, some employers are opting to split Big Data duties into two job responsibilities: data management specialist and data scientist. This division of labor will help IT organizations meet all of their Big Data needs, at least in the short-term, at a time when advanced analytic capabilities are in high demand and hard to find.

According to some IT industry experts, the era of the data scientist's "secret domain" is rapidly coming to an end, as organizations try new approaches to manage ever-growing volumes of unstructured information from a variety of sources. For IT organizations and providers, this means that IT departments will be called upon more and more to handle the data management phase in order to offload this effort from that scarce data scientist resource. This shift will be the result of concentrating the scientists' focus on the analytics, visualization and actual business absorption of the analytical results.


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Sorting Out the Best Developer Candidates
Computerworld, December 3

Since it can be difficult choosing between two developer candidates based only on a resume, recruiters need to be able to learn how to spot truly exceptional developers during the interview process. After all, the true test is how a developer will work in a specific corporate environment. You have to have both candidates meet the team and see them in your environment. The team has the best feel for what traits work well within its own group, and those traits are not going to show up on paper. Paper shows the tools and gives some insight via past projects, but it does not always demonstrate the process or the efficiencies employed in completing projects.

There are many ways to put developer candidates in situations that may simulate real project scenarios. Taking a candidate out to lunch with members of the team to evaluate how the candidate and the team members interact is one way. You can also ask candidates to tell you about their hobbies or interests outside of the position you are interviewing for. That helps you understand a bit more about the candidates as people, of course, but it will also give you an idea about how well they are able to explain concepts they know a great deal about. Are they able to explain things succinctly and clearly, or do they end up somewhere far outside of the audience's comprehension without even realizing it?


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The Differences Between Leading And Managing Your Job Hunt
Business Insider, December 9

There's a big difference between looking around for a job and actually taking full responsibility of your job hunt. In this competitive work environment, you need to be completely proactive. According to a recent survey, 61% of jobseekers say that it’s been harder finding a job this year compared to the previous one. And this is the reason why those looking for a job should stop managing their job hunt and instead start leading it. They should be coming up with new ideas and new approaches, keeping their eyes on the horizon and developing new strategies and tactics. In order to stand out from the crowd, they need to be active on social networks like LinkedIn and establish a familiarity with an employer’s social media sites.

TLinkedIn is a massive networking opportunity for professionals and contributing to the discussion will present you as a thought leader within your industry. You should target the right groups and start conversations related to your areas of expertise. Leaders are also aware of their blind spots and will ask for opinions from people they respect. It’s a highly effective strategy to invite professionals to join this board of advisers who have a pulse in your industry, career goals, and intrinsic values.


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Time to Make Computer Science Part of Schools' Core Curricula
Houston Chronicle, December 7

By making computer science a part of schools’ core curricula, it may be possible to address the critical shortage of qualified job seekers in the computer science field. Even in a difficult economic environment, thousands of computer science go unfilled simply because not enough individuals with the skill set companies need exist to fill these positions. The problem is deep rooted: In the United States, fewer than 25% of students have rigorous computer science courses available to them, and even when these courses are available, not enough students are taking the college-level AP Computer Science exam. Moreover, the U.S. needs to be doing more to train teachers who are qualified to teach state-of-the-art computer science courses.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students participating in computer science training has decreased from 25% to 19% over the last 20 years. And those who do show an interest in the field find that most public schools simply do not offer an up-to-date, rigorous computer science curriculum. For example, in the Houston Independent School District last year, only 150 students took the college-level Advanced Placement Computer Science Exam, and the course is only available in a small number of schools across the state. Public school districts, HISD included, are not doing enough to prepare students or encourage them to pursue high tech careers.


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If Tech Is So Important, Why Are IT Wages Flat?
Computerworld, December 5

Despite the fact that technology plays an increasingly important role in the economy, IT wages remain persistently flat. The still sluggish U.S. economy gets most of the blame for this wage stagnation, but factors such as outsourcing and automation also contribute to the problem, according to analysts. IT salaries have not kept pace with inflation. For example, in 2000, the average hourly wage was $37.27 in computer and math occupations for workers with at least a bachelor's degree. In 2011, it was $39.24, adjusted for inflation. In real terms, IT wages overall have gone up by $1.97 an hour in just over 10 years, based on data from the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These government statistics are largely supported by similar findings in the private sector.

Companies are making more use of contracted labor, allowing organizations to staff up temporarily during periods of high demand and essentially run virtual just-in-time talent supply chains. There is a correlation between the wages paid to temporary professional workers and the salaries of full-time employees, because historically temporary demand increases have preceded an increase in permanent employee demand. However, this recovery period has been so sluggish that the industry has not seen the correlation between an increase in contracted labor indicating that an increase in permanent jobs is imminent. Moreover, the globalization of markets for goods and services is helping restrain wages across many sectors: by some estimates, 30% of IT organizations are offshoring some app development work.


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Is the Economy Creating a Lost Generation?
Washington Post, December 9

With the caveat that it’s usually a mistake to generalize about entire generations, Robert Samuelson analyzes how the current economic environment continues to impact young Americans and recent graduates. There is still reason for optimism - after all, the economic recovery may strengthen; the retirement of baby boomers will create new job openings; and surveys indicate the young remain optimistic despite setbacks. The problem, however, is that high-paying jobs remain relatively scarce and younger workers are having a more difficult time finding jobs that fit their talents. By some estimates, fully one-fifth of younger workers belong to the underemployed.

But it’s more than the lack of jobs — or full-time jobs — that hurts the young. Wages have also sagged because too many applicants are chasing too few openings. Traditionally, U.S. labor markets have featured enormous turnover, as workers search for better-paying jobs. However, this churn is now abating: employers are creating fewer net new jobs, and workers won’t give up the ones they’ve got. As the labor market freezes up, the young lose bargaining power. The glut of job seekers depresses wages in a second way: new firms — which create a disproportionate share of new jobs — don’t have to pay as much to hire. In 2001, workers at firms 10 years old or less earned 85% as much as workers at older firms. By 2011, they were paid only 70% as much.


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ACM Fellows Named For Computing Innovations That Advance Technologies in Information Age
ACM Press Room, December 11

In naming the 2012 ACM Fellows, ACM has recognized 52 of its members for their contributions to computing that are leading to innovations in fields ranging from healthcare to entertainment. The 2012 ACM Fellows personify the highest achievements in computing research and development from the world’s leading universities, corporations, and research labs, with innovations that are driving economic growth in the digital environment. The impact of their contributions highlights the role of computing in creating advances that range from commonplace applications to extraordinary breakthroughs, and from the theoretical to the practical. ACM will formally recognize the 2012 Fellows at its annual Awards Banquet next June in San Francisco.

Within the corporate sector, the 2012 ACM Fellows named from Hewlett-Packard were cited for contributions to multithreaded programming and automatic memory management, and to matrix computations and parallel scientific computing. IBM Research’s Fellow was recognized for advances in programming languages and open-source research infrastructures. Goldman Sachs’s Fellow was cited for contributions to high performance computing software and compiler optimizations. Microsoft Research’s ACM Fellow was honored for achievements in human-computer interaction focusing on computer-supported cooperative work. Other companies with 2012 ACM Fellows include Amazon, NVIDIA and Mentor Graphics.


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Computer Science: Filling the Education Pipeline Gap
Blog @ CACM, December 5

Ruthe Farmer, chair of CSEdWeek 2012 and Director of Strategic Initiatives for the National Center for Women and Information Technology, weighs in on the ways that educators can encourage more students to pursue a career in computer science. As Farmer points out, the state of K-12 computer science education is heading down a dangerous path: only one-third of states in the United States have rigorous computer science education standards for high school, and most treat computer science courses as an elective and not as part of a student's core education. This not only fails to encourage students to seek out opportunities in this rapidly growing field, it actively discourages students from taking a computer science academic track, since it is not offered or does not satisfy a graduation requirement.

At a time when only 7% of high schools nationwide offer the AP Computer Science class, CSEdWeek is a call to action to raise awareness about the importance of computer science education and its connection to careers in computing and many other fields. The first step in getting involved is to voice your support by taking the pledge. The next step is to do something. It can be as simple as writing to your local school superintendent to express your concern about the issue, or as big as organizing a public event. The goal should be to include as many high potential students as possible, rather than excluding them due to a lack of resources.


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