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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, February 16, 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 4, February 16, 2010




IT Workers Getting 1.8% Pay Bump
Computer Economics, February 2010

According to the 2010 IT Salary Report, IT organizations are budgeting to give the typical IT worker a 1.8% boost in pay. By historical standards, the 1.8% median pay increase is nothing spectacular. However, in light of still-high unemployment rates and the cost-cutting measures implemented during the recession, the upward trend in wages is a promising sign. A previously published report, Outlook for IT Staffing and Spending in 2010, indicates that more than one-third of IT organizations are planning to increase staff, helping to restore some of the positions shed over the past two years. Even with these pay raises, however, median total compensation may remain steady if organizations are able to hire new workers at rates lower than those who were laid off during the recession.

The annual salary study finds that IT workers in the trenches are among those receiving the highest pay raises, while managers and IT executives, in that order, will get the lowest bumps. Those at the top will need to await a stronger recovery before total compensation levels will grow. C-level executives and directors will be last in line to receive raises in 2010. This is partly because incentive pay makes up a larger portion of total compensation for executives and directors, but it is also an acknowledgement that the recession was harder on the rank and file. Managers, at 1.7%, will fare slightly better than executives fare but still receive below-average raises.


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How to Succeed in the Age of Going Solo
Wall Street Journal, February 8

With unemployment rates hovering near 10%, more Americans than ever before are working as consultants or freelancers. By some estimates, 20% to 23% of U.S. workers are operating as consultants, freelancers, free agents, contractors or micro-entrepreneurs. Experts believe this trend will continue in coming years, as entire career paths and professions shift from stable full-time jobs with definable career ladders and benefits to almost completely contingent work forces that shift from project to project. Using a variety of strategies and tactics, however, consultants and freelancers are able to earn real income and enjoy real success in their careers, as well as redefine what it means to be a success.

Too many freelancers see their condition as only temporary, one that will go away as soon as economic conditions improve. However, freelancers need to think in terms of the long haul and put in the necessary time and investment. To grow your business, think of a technical skill or expertise that is too expensive or infrequently used for companies to keep in-house. Such consultants demand greater salaries, and since the demand is only temporary, it is more efficient for the firm to hire this talent short term. Keep in mind, too, that finding the next assignment cannot be done at the expense of retaining and enhancing these skills. Cutting-edge expertise is vital to long-term professional health. Successful consultants keep their edge by attending workshops or training courses.


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IT Help Desk Most Sought After Job
Network World (via Computerworld Australia), February 10

According to the February SEEK Employment Index, IT help desk support was the most sought-after job across Australia in January. The index also reported that job ads rose 7.1% across all industries in January, continuing an upward trend. Since June 2009, there has been a 31.8% increase in job ads in the marketplace. IT help desk support edged out administrative receptionists and retail sales assistants to become the most competitive occupation, as well as the category with the most candidates. IT architects placed fifth in January's survey of most sought-after employees.

SEEK pointed out that the first two months of 2010 have been reassuring for job seekers. The steady recovery of the labor market now seems to be showing a clear trend in the right direction. Looking at the trend in new job ads, it would appear that unemployment has peaked below the higher figures widely anticipated and a recovery could be forming. IT job ads decreased slightly in January and fell behind the national average, according to the latest results released earlier this week by the Olivier Job Index. Across the board, job ads rose 3.59% according to Olivier, and grew faster than the previous two Januaries.


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Job Search Secrets: Targeting Done Right
CIO.com, January 27

The best way for job seekers to land a new job in the current economic environment is to target specific employers and then network their way into them. However, most job seekers go about this the wrong way. They tend to over-rely on networking with people who can't offer much help in this job market. Moreover, they tend to send out their résumés indiscriminately to members of their network, hoping those people will pass it on. Such a scattershot approach to networking and to the job search doesn't work when thousands of unemployed professionals are using the same approach. Instead, job seekers should think of themselves as a product and market themselves accordingly. The article provides advice on how to target specific employers effectively.

In a job search, job seekers should first identify the industries and the companies where they would fit best. Then, identify any movement in a company, including talk of merger and acquisition activity or a new executive hire, which might signal a potential opportunity. The next step is to learn everything you can about the industry and the target employer. You need to know the pain points and business goals of both the industry and the company so that you can communicate exactly how you're going to solve the company's problems. Employers want to hear your strategies for making the company money, saving money and minimizing risk.


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YourEncore Finds New Use for Retired Scientists, Engineers
Innovation Weblog, February 2

Scientists and engineers are discovering new options for parlaying their knowledge, skills and wisdom as they near retirement age. For example, YourEncoure.com invites talented retirees with subject matter expertise in science and engineering to become part of a worldwide network that companies can call upon to help solve some of their biggest innovation challenges. Started six years ago, YourEncore.com now has a worldwide network of 6,000 scientists and researchers, 65 clients and a track record of some very successful engagements. Gary Crays, VP of client development at YourEncore.com, shares insights and ideas on why companies are tapping into the accumulated experience and wisdom of retired scientists and engineers.

There are two factors behind the success of YourEncore. First, the global economic downturn that resulted in across-the-board cost cutting may have resulted in companies downsizing too quickly. Now that an upturn is on the horizon, these very same companies need to develop new products and services, but are struggling because they have jettisoned some of their brightest people. Secondly, within the last year, open innovation has evolved from an interesting concept to a strategic imperative. If a company is open to searching for solutions from outside, they will turn to networks like YourEncore, which has a rigorous approach to vetting its partners.


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Tips for the Long-Term Unemployed
The Work Buzz, January 29

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of long-term unemployed continues to trend up, reaching 6.1 million in December 2009. Approximately 40% of all unemployed workers have been jobless for 6 months or longer. In addition, about 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force last December, an increase of more than half a million from the previous year. Long-term unemployed workers need to pinpoint areas of their candidacy they may be able to change in order to increase their chances for success. Job seekers need to continually make adjustments, run a focused campaign and never give up.

Make sure that your references are telling potential employers what you think they are, and they are up to date on your skills and accomplishments. Job seekers should ‘groom’ their references constantly and determine in advance exactly what their references will say about them. Finally, use only those that will ’sell’ you the best to potential employers. Be sure you are targeting the right industries that are hiring. The health care industry, for example, has added 630,000 jobs since the recession began. Also, the financial services, manufacturing, and professional service industries are the most likely to re-hire people they have previously laid off.


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How to Cope With an Unsupportive Boss
Computerworld, January 29

When it comes to managing people and advancing their employees' career goals, many IT managers fall short of the mark. For employees, it becomes difficult – but not impossible - to get ahead when their boss is unwilling or unable to support their ambitions. For workers, it means being willing to take some initiative. Think about where you want to go, and then find unique ways to gain those skills – whether it’s a new technical skill, enhanced people skills or stronger leadership abilities. The article suggests five strategies for getting noticed within your organization despite the presence of an unsupportive boss.

Be clear on what value you offer to a potential employer. By being too vague on what you offer and what talents you have, you might underestimate your value. Before you begin your campaign for advancement, take some time to think about your passions and motivations as well as your needs at work. When you define those strengths, then you can look out to your peers and boss and find ways to apply your value. Being seen as helpful is going to get you projects and promotions. In a face-to-face chat, let the boss know that you need him or her to be more of an advocate. It's got to be framed in the positive, in the form of a request. Be ready to listen to what your boss needs from you, and be ready to articulate what you can do for him or her and how your skills can help the organization.


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Leaving Your Legacy at Work
Business Week, January 28

For employees thinking about leaving their jobs – or suspecting that they may be forced out soon – there are concrete steps they can take to leave a lasting legacy at their workplace. As the end of your tenure at an organization approaches, take time to build on your past successes while exploring ways of developing others in the workplace. Finish with pride and integrity, while focusing on the passions that brought you to the organization in the first place. By following these strategies, you will be able to leave a lasting mark at your former employer.

Someday, you'll look back over your career and regret the opportunities missed and time squandered. But you also will remember all your successes. When time is running short, think about what you can put in place to outlast you. Examine the challenges that'll shape your company in the coming years. Next, take time to develop others at your organization. We spend our careers creating, building, and supporting. Yet we know everything—our successes and traditions—can easily be lost and forgotten once we're gone. To make a lasting difference, seek out those who share your values. Invest your time and wisdom on those who possess the energy, talent, and loyalty to accomplish everything you couldn't.


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Chinese, Russian Universities Claim Top Spots in ACM International Programming Competition
Communications of the ACM, February 8

Three Chinese teams and four Russian teams dominated the top ten rankings of the 2010 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC). Shanghai Jiaotong University took first place followed by Moscow State University in second place. National Taiwan University placed third. In fourth place was Ukraine's Taras Shevchenko Kiev National University. Petrozavodsk State University finished in fifth place. The remaining top slots were won by Tsinghua University, Saratove State University, Poland's University of Warsaw, St. Petersburg State University, and Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) University in tenth place.

ACM President Dame Wendy Hall cited the global nature of the ICPC event as an outstanding example of ACM's recent initiatives to recognize computing achievement in international arenas. She pointed out that by strengthening ACM's ties in multiple regions throughout the world, including India and China, and raising awareness of its many benefits and resources with the public and in-country decision-makers, the organization can play an active role in the critical technical, educational, and social issues that surround the computing community.


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Mobilizing and Globalizing With Online Education
eLearn Magazine, February 4, 2010

Online education offers an opportunity for America to address inequities and inefficiencies in its educational system, especially as the nation attempts to maintain a market lead over global competitors. Brick-and-mortar educational institutions are increasingly trying to show their understanding and respond by developing their online capabilities and by fostering global initiatives. Using the state of Georgia as an example, the article focuses on how regional educational systems can harness the power of online education to bring more education to more students.

With e-learning already established as a powerful global communication tool, it is time to re-evaluate distance learning institutions to determine how they can serve as a viable and marketable study option for diverse populations in an ever-changing and globalizing economy. Brick-and-mortar institutions are already facilitating interaction between different cultures, through initiatives such as study abroad programs. Some of the U.S.'s largest colleges and universities even require some kind of international and cultural-exchange participation for graduation. Inclusiveness is also evident in new curricula for existing and new courses and programs of study.


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