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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, February 1, 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-request@acm.org

Volume 7, Issue 3, February 1, 2011




Rise in Social Media Jobs Means Opportunity
US News and World Report, December 28

Heading into 2011, one of the brightest trends in the technology jobs market is the sharp increase in the number of social media jobs. According to Indeed.com, three times as many jobs with “social media” in the title were indexed in November, compared to the year-earlier period. Moreover, jobs with "social media" in the description have also tripled over the last year, reaching more than 14,000 in November compared with about 4,300 during the same month in 2009. Within social media, titles and responsibilities run the gamut, from community managers to digital strategists who help with the company's overall social media campaign to developers, the people who build the campaigns, Facebook applications, and mobile apps.

Even job seekers who aren't looking for social media positions sometimes end up in those jobs because there are more openings than in other industries. The pay for social media positions varies widely. Recent college graduates tend to make between $30,000 and $40,000 annually, while those with a few years of experience can earn between $50,000 and $75,000, depending on their location and employer. Since social media is a young industry, there aren't many professionals with years of experience, giving new opportunities to young grads. In addition to technical skills, companies want a smart communicator—a professional they can trust to be the voice of their brand. Marketing experience is also a plus, and in some cases, a must. Already social media has changed the face of public relations, with communications and marketing specialists increasingly using online tools to spread the word about their clients' services.


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U.S. Tech Salaries Flat Two Years Running, But Silicon Valley Pay Rises
Network World, January 19

A new survey from Dice.com suggests that salaries within Silicon Valley are finally making a comeback after two years of remaining nearly flat. Nationally, IT workers pulled in an average of $79,384 last year, an increase of 0.7% over 2009. In Silicon Valley, average salaries approached $100,000. Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) received a salary increase in 2010 compared to just 36% who saw raises in the previous year. And more technology professionals received bonuses: 29% percent compared with 24% of respondents in 2009. About half of tech professionals said they were satisfied with their pay, but nearly 40% believe they could improve their salaries by switching employers in 2011. As a result of the pent-up demand for IT talent, employers that are reluctant to increase compensation or step-up retention efforts may face increased staff turnover.

Working for larger companies and adding expertise and skills seem to be the two most effective ways of boosting salary. Location also matters. Silicon Valley tech workers saw a 3% salary increase to $99,028, after a decline the previous year. More than one-third of Silicon Valley workers received a bonus in 2010, up from 26% the previous year. New York and Washington, D.C./Baltimore employees also receive significantly higher salaries than the average tech worker, at $87,298 and $89,149, respectively. On the flip side, technology professionals just entering the field now can expect to make less than if they got their first jobs a few years ago. For the second straight year, the average salaries of technology professionals with less than two years' experience have declined, and are now 6% below their peak average wages in 2008.


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Jobs 2.0: Data-Centric Jobs for Generation Y
Web Worker Daily, January 17

Generation Y will be the first generation entering the workforce that has the skills to apply measurement and analysis to all facets of their IT responsibilities. Skilled at using apps on their smart phones, using metrics and analytics to raise their Klout scores and developing new ways to boost their follow counts on Twitter, they are no strangers to how data can be used to tell better marketing stories, contribute to business results and drive projects forward. That, in turn, is opening up a new set of job opportunities that can fully leverage these data analysis skills. These jobs span a broad range of functional areas, ranging from Marketing to Engineering. The article takes a closer look at some of the job titles with appeal to members of data-centric Generation Y, including Content Monetization Manager, Game Mechanics Designer and Metrics Manager.

Content Monetization Managers must consider all possible ways to monetize content, such as affiliate links, daily deals, in-text ads, sponsorships, promoted on-site Twitter feeds and inventory optimization. How to best utilize these monetization strategies for your users, your content, your site design and your bottom line is a tricky thing, and often depends on understanding usage analytics and A/B test strategies. The new Webmaster 2.0 role, much like the content monetization manager, will be responsible for fine-tuning every detail of the corporate website. The end goal is to produce the desired result, such as sales or leads, at a time when websites are becoming much more dynamic and content-heavy. Tools of the trade include Google Analytics, with a healthy amount of keyword and inbound linking SEO. Another role is the Amplification Manager, who finds ways to make social media and sharing a powerful tool for promotion. While the first five years of social media were about “engagement,” the next five will be about “amplifying.”


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Most Promotions Take Place in January, Study Finds
Career Journal, January 26

For U.S. professionals, the greatest percentage of in-house promotions takes place in the month of January. According to data analyzed by LinkedIn on its social networking site, 16% of promotions since 2000 occurred in January, more than any other month. June and July were the next most popular months. LinkedIn analyzed its users' profiles, which detail employment history, to learn when people were promoted within the same company. The January and mid-year peaks may be partly explained by companies' fiscal years, which tend to begin at those times.

Part of the shift has come from younger workers. According to the LinkedIn study, just 14% of promotions that occurred in January came from those born in the 1980s, compared to 22% coming from people born in the 1950s. Employees born in the 1980s tend to be more aggressive in asking for raises and promotions than their older counterparts. They speak up about what they want and don't want to wait for a boss to notice they're doing a good job. Ideally, employees should be setting the stage for a promotion throughout the year, by keeping their bosses up-to-date on successes and their desire to move up. When the performance review comes around, you'll have a catalogue of your successes to show them and make that conversation easier.


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Ten Tried and True Ways to Land That Job
AOL Jobs, January 25

The Five O’Clock Club, a national outplacement and career coaching organization that helps members find a new job within an average 10 to 12 weeks, has developed a list of the Top 10 ways to land a new job. As the list makes clear, online searches and job posts are a very small part of the equation. There are so many directions to go in when you start a job search that it often overwhelms people into inaction. By providing a list of steps to take, all of which are grounded in a proven, research-based methodology, it is possible to develop greater structure around the job search process.

Most importantly, take the time to do the necessary planning before embarking on a job search. Think about what kind of job you want, where you want to work, and where you see yourself in five to ten years. You have to set targets for what you want to do and where you want to work. Also, narrow down the industries you want to work in, the positions you want to hold, the geographic areas you're willing to move to and so forth. These targets will help to drive your search. While the current trend is to do everything online, with webinars and other online opportunities, the fact remains that one-on-one or small group coaching can help keep you positive and on track. It may also help to create a 3x5 index card that holds the personalized keys to your job hunting success. It helps you narrow down and stay focused on your most important "talking points."


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IT Hiring Shows Gains, But Jobs May Be Shifting
Computerworld, January 11

In December, the U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs overall, as the national unemployment rate declined from 9.8% to 9.4%. The broader improvement in the national economy filtered into the tech sector, where hiring and wages also improved at year-end, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Labor data from different IT industry groups, such as TechServe Alliance, point to an improving outlook for the tech sector in 2011, both in terms of job opportunities and compensation.

TechServe Alliance, an IT services industry group that analyzes the U.S. Labor Department unemployment data, said that tech employment added 3,500 workers, bringing the overall IT workforce to 3.9 million. At its peak more than two years ago, tech employment was at 4 million, representing a year-to-year gain of 2.61%. In its analysis, Foote Associates, a workforce analyst firm, counted a net gain of 9,600 in IT-related jobs, mostly in the categories of management and technical consulting services and computer system design and related services. Through October, 26,000 jobs were created.


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Hiring Top IT Talent: The Reverse Interview
Datamation, January 28

The ability to attract, acquire and retain the best staff can become a competitive advantage for any company. As a result, it’s important to take your hiring process very seriously and consider how your company presents itself to a candidate. No matter how well respected your tech firm is, a job candidate will get one chance to peer into the inner workings of your company. Talented workers will judge you based on your processes. The interview process is the best way to indicate to the candidate what the overall company is likely to be like and how it functions. A good hiring process reflects a healthy company using good processes and possessing good staff. A bad hiring process reflects a company with generally poor procedures and employees who may have selected the company based on salary alone.

The hiring process is often either a complete afterthought or, at best, based completely around weeding out bad candidates. There is little thought put into convincing good candidates to accept a position at the firm. The better the candidate, the more likely that that candidate is already working and getting offers from more than one company. So the interview process must often convince a candidate that the unknown of your company is better than their existing, known position, and that it is better than the unknowns of potentially many other firms. In addition, focusing so heavily on ruling out bad candidates will often also tell good candidates that this isn't a place where they are interested in working. Good candidates don't want to work in a place lacking bad people -- they want to work in a place full of good people.


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How to Get What You Want at Work
Fortune, January 24

Regular Fortune magazine columnist Anne Fisher points out the best way to get what you want in terms of a new position or job responsibility is a tactic known as incremental negotiating. The most common mistake, she points out, is trying to push for everything at once. In answering a reader question about making a career move in a short period after getting hired, she notes that the best approach is to signal a move to a new department or functional group in a series of gradual steps. Drawing on advice from respected negotiation expert Stuart Diamond, she points out why incremental negotiating often achieves better results in a shorter period of time than you would expect from a riskier, all-at-once negotiation tactic.

Sometimes, merely asking about the possibility for a lateral move within your organization could negatively impact your relationship with your boss. You need to put yourself in your boss’s shoes and realize that your goal of an immediate transfer may be unrealistic. Focus on small steps, such as cultivating contacts and cross-company exposure. Once you get to know people elsewhere in the company, and figure out what you might be able to contribute, you can ask your boss if you could spend some of your time working on other priorities and responsibilities, as long as they do not interfere with your regular job. You can't always get what you want immediately, but you should be able to plot a course that will get you there eventually. By gradually gaining experience in areas such as finance and strategic planning, you can get closer to your long-term goal without letting down the boss who has hired and supported you.


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System Administration Soft Skills
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 54 No.2, January 2011

System administration can be both stressful and rewarding. Stress generally comes from outside factors such as conflict between system administrators (SAs) and their colleagues, a lack of resources, a high-interrupt environment, conflicting priorities, and SAs being held responsible for failures outside their control. There are some well-known interpersonal and time-management techniques that can help. The role of SA can be stressful, but once you recognize what some of the stress factors are, you can alleviate much of that stress and turn the job into the rewarding position that it should be. There are various methods for reducing conflicts with colleagues, coping with a lack of resources and an interrupt-driven environment, resolving conflicting priorities, and embracing the fact that SAs are held responsible for every failure.

SAs often feel their efforts are not appreciated and that their department is a source of frustration for some people in the company. The sources of these conflicts can be varied. The attitude that the SAs project and how they are perceived by their colleagues, how they prioritize their workloads, how they follow through, the first impressions they make on their colleagues, and poor communication skills are all pieces of the puzzle. The conflict is often exaggerated in an engineering environment where technology-savvy employees have different needs and expectations of their computing environment. How people perceive you is directly related to the attitude you project. Remember that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Teach your colleagues how to do things themselves, provide documentation, and make sure they do not need to ask time and time again how to do something. It is also the responsibility of an SA to politely reject requests that are against policy.


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Predictions for e-Learning in 2011
eLearn Magazine, January 6

To understand the ideas and trends that will be informing the e-Learning space over the next year, eLearn Magazine reached out to a number of experts, who shared their thoughts and predictions for 2011. These experts identified trends such as the need for grassroots change at the individual teacher level, the increasing importance of networked learning, and the blurring of the line between workplace and personal learning. Moreover, managers will increasingly examine how to make the best use of their e-learning investments. For example, better curation during the learning process can play an important role in organizing the massive amount of information online.

As speed and complexity in the workplace increase and the jobless recovery continues, informal learning will rise in importance, especially in the emphasis on personally directed professional development. More people will create their personal learning networks and organizations will experiment with new ways to train their workers. At the same time, deeper uses of technology are going to surface: more data-driven interactions, complemented by both more structured content and more semantics. Traditionally, the shift to e-Learning has been driven by cost reduction. In 2011, it will be driven for substantive purposes: to move learning, information and support into the workplace or wherever they will be needed and used; to deliver on demand; to encourage conversations and community; to enable many perspectives and tons of practice; to distribute expertise; to engage and immerse; and to measure and provide transparency into results and progress.


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