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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, December 20, 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@hq.acm.org

Volume 7, Issue 24, December 20, 2011




Six Hot IT Jobs That Will Pay Well in 2012
CIO.com, December 1

2012 is shaping up to be a great year for IT careers, led by advances in fields like cloud computing and mobile technology. The consensus is that the IT jobs market is expected to grow as much as 10-15% in 2012, despite global economic challenges. IT staffing experts also anticipate that salaries will finally increase after years of stagnation, as employers realize they need to pay premiums for certain IT skills in a competitive job market. Within the tech sector, the supply of talent is extremely low and the demand for talent is extremely high, leading to job opportunities not just in Silicon Valley, but also in cities coast-to-coast. The article takes a closer look at the six IT jobs that staffing experts say will be in greatest demand and will command the highest salaries in 2012.

IT professionals who can develop applications for mobile devices are easily the hottest commodities in IT these days. IT staffing experts agree that this group will remain in high demand through 2012, as companies race to adapt their websites and apps for smart phones and tablets. On Dice.com, job postings for Android and iPhone developers are up 129% and 190%, respectively, over last year. Programmers writing PC-based applications should not feel slighted by their mobile counterparts. Companies need their share of Java, .NET, C#, SharePoint, and Web application developers. Because so many of the apps companies are developing—whether for PCs or mobile devices—are customer facing, they need user interface or user experience designers to ensure the apps are fun and intuitive to use.


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Tech Hiring Boom? Yes -- For These Skills
InfoWorld, December 12

The technology industry is in the midst of its biggest hiring surge since the days of the first dot-com boom. The hottest job markets are in places like New York and Washington, D.C., where financial services firms and the federal government are hiring IT professionals. As a barometer of the job market, in October 2011, Dice.com listed 83,567 IT jobs openings, an increase of 72% over January 2010, and 18% higher than October 2010. While there are many openings, landing a position still takes the right experience, the right education, and a willingness to chart a new career path when necessary. The article takes a closer look at which jobs are gaining the most traction and the IT skills that are most desired by tech employers.

While companies are avoiding a too rapid ramp-up of the workforce that hurt many Silicon Valley startups founded during the last Web boom, they are still aggressively hiring for key business priorities. This current tech jobs boom favors developers, cloud experts and business strategists. Interest in new mobile applications has spurred strong demand for programmers with skills in Ruby and JavaScript. In addition to experience with programming languages, employers are eager to find employees with experience working with the cloud. Employers also want a solid grasp of business priorities, both those of the customer and of the employer. People need to be attuned to the use of technology. Companies need support engineers who not only have the technical chops, but can get a sense of the customer's business and sell the benefits of cloud computing.


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The Ten Key Skills for the Future of Work
GigaOm (Web Worker Daily), December 16

With technology and economic developments moving so quickly, exact job titles and career paths of the future are hard to predict with any accuracy. However, it is still possible to prepare yourself for the careers of tomorrow. The Palo Alto–based Institute for the Future focuses on long-term forecasting and recently released a report titled “Future Work Skills 2020″ that analyzes some of the key drivers reshaping work this decade. With that in mind, Institute for the Future was able to suggest some of the broad skills that will help workers adapt to the changing career landscape.

First among the skills needed in the new world of work is the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed. Social intelligence is the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions. Novel and adaptive thinking is proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based. Cross-cultural competency is the ability to operate in different cultural settings. Computational thinking is the ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand reasoning with data.


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Entry-Level IT Jobs Will Be Plentiful in 2012, Experts Predict
Network World, December 14

For college seniors with technology skills, the entry-level job market for IT workers looks solid in 2012. In some geographic markets, the unemployment rate for the U.S. IT industry was less than 3% in November. According to Dice.com, there is a shortage of IT workers in 18 states and Washington, D.C., with the biggest gap between job postings and recent grads in California, New Jersey, Texas and New York. This shortage is likely to drive entry-level IT salaries up in 2012 after several years in which these entry-level salaries fell. As a new college grad, this means that you shouldn’t just take any job, but instead, really try to negotiate a good salary as you start your career in tech.

Traditionally, entry-level IT positions have involved customer service, such as help desk or desktop support. Job openings in these areas appear to be holding steady. With a college education and good interpersonal skills, you can be a team leader or a process analyst. However, tech support roles aren't the only option for college seniors to pursue. There is also strong demand for application developers in such emerging areas as smart phones and social media. Because these technologies are new, employers are willing to consider recent college grads without extensive experience. Companies are willing to hire a recent graduate with a computer science degree who has developed an application for a smart phone that is available at an app store.


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Message to Women: Apply for High Tech Jobs
CBS News, December 1

Despite the difficult economy, companies are still going overseas to fill jobs in computer science and engineering partially because not enough women are applying. Currently, just one in every 10 computer science graduates is a woman, so getting more women on the tech track is becoming a priority for industry leaders. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, women can help to close the IT skills gap. Her top priority is to convince more women to join her in the world of high tech, citing the higher salary and increased job security within the tech world. If America wants to stay in the leadership opposition it has had in the world economy, suggests Sandberg, the country will need to educate the next generation of women in technology-related disciplines.

According to Sandberg, the U.S. education system needs to be revised. As Sandberg suggests, we are not giving kids enough of a chance, and we're therefore not setting up our country for the success we need going forward. Women still report the shocked feeling when you walk into a classroom and you are the only woman there. Once girls start seeing women as role models in these fields, it will be a lot easier to feel they belong in that room.


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Job Seekers Choose Facebook as ‘Friendly’ Networking Tool
The Globe and Mail, December 15

Personal branding expert Dan Schawbel analyzes several ways that Facebook is having an impact on the way candidates search for jobs. While LinkedIn is often the first website people think of when job searching, many are actually finding greater success with Facebook. According to a recent Jobvite survey, 48% of job seekers have used Facebook in their job search, while only 26% have used LinkedIn. In addition, many employers are using Facebook before LinkedIn when conducting background checks on candidates during the recruitment process. Not only does Facebook have more than seven times the number of members of LinkedIn, more people are connected with close friends and colleagues on Facebook – exactly the types of people who might be willing to help you find a new job.

Most importantly, notify your Facebook friends that you’re job searching. A lot of people are afraid to publish the fact that they are jobless and are searching for new opportunities. If your friends and family aren’t aware that you’re looking for work, they can’t help you. Ask your Facebook friends if they know of any opportunities or if they can refer you to either a recruiter or hiring manager. Use other social networks, and a blog, in combination with Facebook. This will help you acquire a larger audience of people who could hire you. You can also use a blog to get your ideas out and attract a strong readership base, which translates into more Facebook friends. A blog is a tool that allows other people to understand who you are and what you do.


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LinkedIn SVP Deep Nishar's Three Career Tips For Novice Networkers
Fast Company, December 13

LinkedIn product SVP Deep Nishar offers three tips for finding your next career opportunity, even if you’re a networking novice. As Nishar explains, you have to manage your career every single day, and given the current economic environment, it's now more important than ever to obsessively manage any and all career prospects. Everyone is an entrepreneur these days: this means you manage your career as if you are your own business. With studies consistently showing that referrals are the No. 1 source of external hires, your career network may be the most valuable resource you have to find your next job opportunity.

According to Nishar, the first and most important step is to establish your network, even when you don’t think you have a professional network to establish. A common concern, especially true for students, is that it is simply too difficult to establish professional connections. Your network could ultimately help facilitate a referral, but if it's not established, you'll be stuck sifting through job boards or the classifieds. Due to the ease of applying for new jobs, companies on the receiving end are getting inundated with resumes. Unless you have a network for potential referrals, you won't be able to cut through the clutter.


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Looking For Work? Keep It Up Through the Holidays
Wall Street Journal, December 16

The peak of the holiday season is no time to hit the pause button on a job search. Many job seekers take a break from the hunt in late November and December, figuring that employers are distracted by holiday parties, vacation plans, and end-of-year assignments like closing out the books. In addition, some unemployed people simply want a respite from the often-demoralizing work of looking for a job. Yet, according to experts, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's can be the most productive time of the year for a job search precisely because the competition declines so much and hiring managers have such pressing priorities.

Large companies often have "use it or lose it" hiring budgets they need to spend by the end of their fiscal year, which for many firms coincides with the calendar year. If a company doesn’t spend the money on recruitment, it might go toward signing bonuses and relocation packages. Keep in mind, too, that companies sometimes start big projects in January and need to staff up in advance. Both of these facts mean that companies may be looking to hire at year-end.


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2011 Fellows Represent World's Leading Universities and Corporations
ACM Press Room, December 8

ACM has recognized 46 of its members for their contributions to computing that have provided fundamental knowledge to the computing field and generated multiple technology advances in industry, commerce, healthcare, entertainment, and education. The 2011 ACM Fellows, from the world’s leading universities, corporations, and research labs, are helping to drive innovation in the digital age. These leading thinkers and practitioners in computer science and engineering are changing how the world lives and works. They are working to address the many significant challenges that confront populations across the globe, in areas ranging from healthcare to robotics.

Within the corporate sector, the 2011 ACM Fellows named from AT&T Labs were cited for contributions for data management and algorithm design and analysis. Google’s ACM Fellows were recognized for advances in full-system simulation and information retrieval, while Microsoft Research’s ACM Fellows were honored for achievements in software analysis, computer graphics, reasoning and decision-making, network control, and distributed computing. Other companies with 2011 ACM Fellows include Cavium and Forte Design Systems, who were cited for their work on high performance micro-architecture and hardware simulation.


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Doctoral Program Rankings for U.S. Computing Programs: The National Research Council Strikes Out
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 54 No. 12, December 2011

While the rankings of graduate programs in computer science are useful for everything from institutional resource allocation to attracting prospective students and faculty, they present a number of methodological problems. The practical difficulties are enormous, such as deciding which metrics to use, how to get accurate values for these metrics, and how to determine the weighting of each of these metrics. The article takes a closer look at the rankings prepared by the U.S. National Research Council (NRC), arguing that they do not come up with the most accurate overview of the nation’s computer science programs for several key reasons.

While the NRC ranking process developed out of a strong basis, the results were less than optimal. The NRC developed a single set of metrics for all 62 disciplines being analyzed, covering disciplines in science, engineering, humanities, social sciences, and others. It then collected the data for these metrics via questionnaires administered to institutions, programs, faculty, and Ph.D. students plus submitted faculty CVs. Determining the weights was done via two related approaches: asking a set of participants how much various metrics mattered in their perception of department rankings, and a linear regression of a set of rankings vs. these metrics. Unfortunately, these two approaches yielded substantively different results, which led to additional questions about the basis for the final rankings.


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