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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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 9, Issue 4, February 19, 2013




Software Developers Expected to See the Highest IT Job Growth Come 2020
InfoWorld, February 12

The number of IT professionals working in the United States is expected to grow by 22% through 2020, and the majority of those new jobs will be geared toward software development and computer engineering. The numbers are from a newly released report by CompTIA that provides a detailed breakdown of the U.S. IT industry, which now represents around 5 million jobs. The report also provides a summary of the distribution of IT jobs across all industries. Overall, the report provides a snapshot of how core IT positions break down today and an idea of how the IT job landscape will look come 2020.

The IT occupation with the highest projected growth through 2020 is systems software developer. The total number of jobs will grow by 32%, from 387,050 to 510,906. Systems software developers currently earn around $100,420 per year. DBAs jobs will increase by 31% through 2020, jumping from 108,500 to 142,135. The average annual salary for DBAs is $77,350. Application software developer positions will swell by 28%, from 539,880 to 691,046. They earn an average salary of $92,080. Network and systems admin jobs totaled around 341,800 in May 2011. The number will jump to 437,504 by 2020, a 28% change. Currently, these IT pros earn an average annual salary of $74,720.


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How to Say ‘Look at Me!’ to an Online Recruiter
New York Times, January 26

Technology and social media have greatly altered the way some employers consider candidates, making it imperative for job candidates to have an Internet presence that is easily found by recruiters and hiring managers. Some employers aren’t even bothering to post jobs, but are instead searching online for the right candidate. Not having an Internet presence can be damaging. As a result, job seekers should spend time detailing their skills and experience on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, with an eye toward making their names a magnet for search engines. Additionally, having a blog can be a good way to show that you are a thought leader while improving your professional visibility.

LinkedIn remains a very important online tool for making connections with recruiters. The site offers premium services for a fee, but almost all of the main features for job seekers are free. Spend a few minutes on the site each day making new connections, and keep your profile up to date. To improve the chances that a connection request will be accepted, especially from someone you don’t know, send a personal message along with it, noting your similar backgrounds. Also, think about ways you can share links and advice with people in your LinkedIn network before asking for a favor like an introduction to a hiring manager or a written recommendation that would appear on the site.


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Connect to Human Networks To Find Breakout Opportunities
LinkedIn, January 30

Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn, weighs in on the importance of social networks in helping workers find new career opportunities. As Hoffman points out, breakout opportunities are what transform your career, and each of these opportunities revolves around people. If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for people. If you’re evaluating an opportunity, you’re really evaluating people. If you’re trying to gather resources to go after an opportunity, you’re really trying to enlist the support and involvement of other people. A company doesn’t offer you a job, people do. Opportunities flow through groups of people, and those with good ideas and information tend to hang out with one another.

As Hoffman points out, early versions of today’s social networking sites existed in the U.S. as far back as the mid-18th century. Americans have always had a proclivity to form associations around interests, causes, and values. Small, informal networks are still uniquely efficient at circulating ideas, whether it’s alumni groups from schools or conferences and industry meetings. If you want to increase your opportunity flow, join and participate in as many of these groups and associations as possible. There are plenty of networks at your fingertips where you are already an insider - you just have to be a little creative to think beyond traditional networks such as alumni groups.


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Eight Tips for Job Hunting While You’re Still Employed
CIO.com, February 12

According to many career experts, conducting a job search while you're still employed makes you more attractive to hiring managers. However, balancing your current job, your family and your job search can be exhaustive, and if you're not careful it could end in disaster. With the caveat that many IT workers may actually be better off transferring to a different role or department within the same company rather than looking for a new job, the article provides eight different tips for optimizing your new job search without losing your old job.

First, think about whom you can tell about your new job search. It's never a smart move to lie to your boss, but sometimes it may be a necessary evil if you want to hold onto your job. Some companies have a policy of letting people go who are actively searching for a job. Secondly, remember that conducting your job search on company hours is never a good idea. When you are at your current job, it should be your primary focus. Also, don’t use company email addresses or phone numbers. Whether you're talking about social networking site profiles like LinkedIn or your resume, you really want to stick to using your personal email addresses and phone numbers for your accounts.


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The 10 Sticky States Where the Federal Government Will Have Trouble
NextGov.com, February 10

There are 10 states where federal agencies may not have much success in luring highly skilled IT workers into the government workforce. According to the latest issue of the Dice Report, there are 10 “sticky states” where companies, hiring managers and recruiters have a home field advantage when it comes to recruiting technology professionals. By correlating tech professionals’ confidence in their ability to find a new position with their willingness to relocate, it’s possible to determine the states where hiring managers will have a particularly hard time convincing tech talent to uproot, even for the perfect position.

Topping the list of “sticky states” is Georgia, where 72% of tech professionals say they could easily find a new job. At the same time, the majority of the Georgia tech talent pool is not interested in relocating, with only 37% willing to move for a new job. Also making the list was New York, where 61% of tech pros say they would have an easy time finding a new job in 2013, yet only 37% said they would be willing to relocate.


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IT Training Gets an Extreme Makeover
Computerworld, February 11

Traditional approaches to IT training are fast becoming a thing of the past, as more and more companies are giving IT professionals access to new technology such as simulated environments, cloud-based e-learning modules and high-quality video productions. Together, this makeover of IT training is giving workers more ways than ever before to earn certifications and upgrade their skills. There are a number of variables spurring the adoption of new IT training techniques: shrinking budgets, cost-cutting measures, and new delivery mechanisms that are enabling companies to offer online courses anytime, anywhere, and at a fraction of the cost of on-premises programs. In addition, IT professionals who grew up on a steady diet of bite-size online videos now consider it commonplace to learn within a video-centric training environment.

The growing popularity of online video for educational purposes has forever changed the IT training experience. For example, Lynda.com is an online training service that's wildly popular among techies because of its hands-on, all-you-can-eat approach. At a starting price of $25 per month, Lynda.com members receive unlimited access to nearly 1,600 courses encompassing more than 85,000 video tutorials. These tutorials, which range in length from one hour to 20 hours, are led by experts in specific disciplines, rather than trainers, and have a decidedly movie-like quality to them. Each video is divided up into 10-minute chapters -- bite-size chunks -- that allow members to easily search for relevant content, or jump in and out of a training session. It's a self-directed, piecemeal approach to training that's particularly appealing to today's typically independent, supervision-resistant techies. Since launching its online training service in 2002, Lynda.com has enlisted more than 3,000 corporate clients and more than 2 million individual members.


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How to Use LinkedIn's Alumni Tool to Network and Job Hunt
CIO.com, February 1

The new LinkedIn Alumni tool, which gives you insights into your college or university’s alumni and helps you connect with them, can help you explore career paths and grow your network. The Alumni tool, an update of the LinkedIn Classmates tool that debuted in October 2011, helps to surface high-level information about fellow alumni - such as the most popular companies they work for, the fields they're working, where they live and more. Gathered from the profiles of more than 200 million members, LinkedIn's Alumni tool helps you explore alumni career paths from more than 22,000 colleges and universities worldwide.

If you're looking for a job at a specific company, in a particular industry or in a certain location - or are just curious about where your college friends are now working - the LinkedIn Alumni tool makes finding those people easy. Navigate to the Alumni page to start. Your college or university will automatically be selected. At the top of your Alumni page you'll see three subheads: "Where they live," "Where they work," and "What they do." All the graphs are interactive: Click any of the blue bars to drill down and refine your search. You can also explore the alumni of other colleges and universities, or narrow searches by refining the attendance dates.


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Can Obama Convince High Schools To Teach Kids To Code?
Forbes, February 14

With President Obama making time in his State of the Union Address to address the national deficit in STEM education, there is now more momentum than ever before for the learn-to-code movement within U.S. schools. However, learning to program is difficult and getting schools—particularly public high schools—to introduce new curriculum is very slow going. While there have been some early successes – such as Codecademy and CodeHS - much still remains to be done. In fact, at a time when one of the most in-demand STEM skills is computer science, most high schools continue to neglect computer science: introductory CS courses have decreased by 17% since 2005, and only 5% of high schools now offer AP CS.

Leaders of the learn-to-code movement view the task of getting computer science into our high schools as a valuable way to give students the skills they need to become digitally literate citizens. Moreover, teaching students coding skills early will prepare them for the future workplace. In Silicon Valley, every company has a shortage of qualified developers, and this problem is rooted in problems with current approaches to early CS education. The image of computer science needs to be one that is accessible, fun, and leads to opportunities in all fields. That’s one of the pluses of programs such as CodeHS – it’s a way to bring CS to a high school, even if they don’t have a computer science teacher. Or, consider the case of Codecademy, where thousands of users have gone on to find jobs with the new coding skills they acquired for free.


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The Explosive Growth of Postdocs in Computer Science
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 56 No. 2, February 2013

The number of postdoctoral researchers in computer science more than doubled over the ten-year period ending in 2008, and then doubled again in the subsequent three years. Overall, this explosive growth of postdoctoral researchers in computer science greatly changes the demographics of the academic computing research enterprise, with tremendous impact on the number of new Ph.D.’s who will receive tenure-track faculty positions. At a time when most graduate departments primarily train Ph.D. students for a tenure-track faculty position in a research institution, this is especially troubling. The article concludes with thoughts on best practices for nurturing future postdoctoral candidates within the computer science field.

While there are many positives associated with the typical postdoc experience - such as the ability to work under the tutelage of a specific expert or to gain exposure in a related area – one major negative is that postdocs in academia are paid at a rate that is substantially lower than close peers. While the average nine-month salary for an assistant faculty member was $90,000 in 2010, and a research faculty member was paid an average of $81,000, the comparable postdoc salary was $50,000. In some universities postdocs have fewer or lesser benefits in areas such as health care, retirement, access to childcare, and access to wellness centers. Moreover, the postdoc generally focuses only on their individual postdoc objectives without other distractions and responsibilities. Unless there is good mentoring and a strong collegial relation around a postdoc, that person could become isolated. In some cases, postdocs are directed to work on research projects or take on teaching obligations that do not advance their long-term career trajectories, simply because they are cheap labor for their advisors.


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The Future of Learning Starts With a Click
Computers in Entertainment, February 7

New offerings within the online learning world are making it easier than ever before to learn new skill sets to advance a career or gain new technical expertise. In 2012, for example, the start-up Codecademy signed up more than 450,000 people who wanted to learn how to code. This year, online education is on its way to reach new peaks, especially with the broad-based adoption of massively open online courses. With more and more educational institutions using innovative technology to access education and track progress, online learning tools can be used more effectively to educate future generations of students.

Most importantly, elite academic institutions have opened their doors to the global community, where there is a groundswell of desire to learn online. Open online education has flourished in the past year, breaking barriers to education worldwide. Going beyond educational YouTube videos, non-profits and educational institutions have designed online seminars, where a large number of students participate via online sessions and self-guided learning modules. One example is edX, a not-for-profit enterprise founded by Harvard and MIT that offers interdisciplinary online courses. According to edX, more than 150,000 students, ages 14 to 74, from over 160 countries registered for MITx's first course.


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