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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, February 5, 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 3, February 5, 2013




Cloud, Mobile and BI Skills to Lead Technology Hiring in 2013
Computerworld UK (via IDG News Service), January 14

In 2013, IT hiring will focus on jobs involving cloud computing, mobile technology and business intelligence. In some cases, companies will want candidates with multiple skill sets capable of working together in a team while integrating two or more of these technologies into one system. While there will be ample programming positions open this year for software developers, companies increasingly want business-savvy developers who are familiar with software offerings from a variety of vendors. According to IT recruiters, the number of software developers, consultants and overall workforce necessary to support these emerging technologies haven't developed quickly enough.

At this point, nearly every company across every industry has some sort of mobile project in the works, which is intensifying demand for candidates with mobile technology skills. This demand is reflected in the 2013 hiring professional staffing priority report from Dice.com, which ranked mobile developer second among all job titles. However, the booming mobile space makes finding candidates challenging since mobile development goes beyond just having the right skills. Someone who thinks they can just hire someone to develop a mobile application is missing out on the fact that you often need multiple skills sets. In addition to the standard development skills, you might need a background in security or experience building a user interface.


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Tech Hotshots: The Rise of the UX Expert
CIO.com, January 18

In an age of mobility and consumer-facing technology, IT departments are putting a premium on hiring people with user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) expertise. Recruiters note that, between 2010 and 2011, there was a 25% increase in the number of requests for UX designers; between 2011 and 2012, the increase was 70%. Salaries are going up as well. Recruiters cite starting salaries ranging from $70,000 to $110,000, with the upper end hitting $150,000 and up. According to annual salary surveys that track compensation for UX designers, salaries went up 6.2% in 2012 and could go up another 4.8% in 2013. That percentage could even jump as high as 30% for UX designers in tech hubs such as Silicon Valley.

Both user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) skills are in high demand, thanks in part to how Apple has emphasized the way that design, hardware and interface should intersect. Designers need to concentrate not only on how a design looks, but also on the whole wireframe of the application, and where their requests are going into the back-end of the system. The image of your brand is at stake in your mobile application now. Companies that have great design, whether they're a restaurant chain or a car manufacturer, have a more valuable brand. Moreover, as mobile computing explodes, a company's client base becomes both broader and more demanding of a consumer-like product experience. Companies have to create a design so that the experience is accessible to everyone, while still providing them with a sense of uniqueness.


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Pentagon to Boost Cybersecurity Force
Washington Post, January 27

The Pentagon has approved a major expansion of its cybersecurity force over the next several years, increasing its size more than fivefold to bolster the nation’s ability to defend critical computer systems and conduct offensive computer operations against foreign adversaries. The move, requested by the head of the Defense Department’s Cyber Command, is part of an effort to turn an organization that has focused largely on defensive measures into the equivalent of an Internet-era fighting force. The command, made up of about 900 personnel, will expand to include 4,900 troops and civilians. Details of the plan have not been finalized, but the decision to expand the Cyber Command was made by senior Pentagon officials late last year in recognition of a growing threat in cyberspace.

The Pentagon plan calls for the creation of three types of forces under the Cyber Command: “national mission forces” to protect computer systems that undergird electrical grids, power plants and other infrastructure deemed critical to national and economic security; “combat mission forces” to help commanders abroad plan and execute attacks or other offensive operations; and “cyber protection forces” to fortify the Defense Department’s networks. Although the Cyber Command was established three years ago for some of these purposes, it has largely been consumed by the need to develop policy and legal frameworks and ensure that the military networks are defended. The new plan gives greater flexibility to deal with malicious actors who might attempt a significant cyberattack on the United States at some point.


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Tech Salaries Jump 5.3%, Bonuses Flat
CIO.com, January 22

Average salaries for IT professionals increased 5.3% to $85,619 last year, up from $81,327 in 2011. It's the largest salary jump in more than a decade, according to career site Dice.com. After a three-year lull, salaries for entry-level talent (two years or less experience) saw an 8% year-over-year increase to $46,315. At the other end of the wage spectrum, average salaries for tech professionals with at least 15 years of experience topped six-figures for the first time, growing 4% to $103,012. In a tight labor market for IT talent, companies either pay to recruit or pay to retain and, in some cases, companies will be doing both.

While tech salaries were up in 2012, the number of IT professionals receiving tech bonuses was flat, with 33% of respondents receiving one in 2012 compared to 32% in 2011. However, these bonuses were slightly less lucrative at an average of $8,636, down from $8,769. In terms of geographic location, Pittsburgh IT pros saw the largest salary increase, up 18% year, to $76,207. Six other cities also reported double-digit growth in salaries: San Diego, St. Louis, Phoenix, Cleveland, Orlando and Milwaukee. Silicon Valley remains the only market where tech professionals average six-figure salaries ($101,278).


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Tim Berners-Lee: Coders Can Do Incredible Things
Develop, January 28

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, generally recognized as the creator of the World Wide Web, has called for better education in computer science for young children. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Berners-Lee said only a small set of people using the Internet actually knew how to program. Indeed, says Berners-Lee, many people treat computers like an appliance that they do not completely understand. In the future, he said, children should learn how to code at an early age so that they understand the functionality of computers and the opportunities they give programmers who can create something new.

In his talk, Berners-Lee added that it was very important to expose children to computer science early on so they can learn the philosophy and mathematics behind programming. Learning to understand a computer, learning actually how a computer ticks and being able to program it is in fact a high idea. For educators, it’s important to keep in mind that computer science classes must impart an understanding of the philosophy of computer science as well as the mathematics of computing. It’s about learning to really build stuff, meaning that it’s very different from other technology-related classes. Making that distinction very clear and early on in schools is very important.


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Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Attacks Gender Stereotypes at Work
The Guardian, January 25

At the World Economic Forum, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg discussed some of the gender stereotypes that hold back women at work. Chief among these is a perception that women are not liked as much as their male peers once they become successful within the workplace. Women, too, are singled out for being “aggressive” when they attempt to boost their performance. Sandberg, who is publishing a book on women in the workplace in March, also mentioned subtle cultural signals that make it harder for women to make it in the IT workplace. Finally, Sandberg also criticized the fact that it is still assumed women will take on the majority of the caring responsibilities at home, even when both parents work.

Sheryl Sandberg was appearing at a panel session in Davos, where five of six speakers were female, the opposite of the gender balance at many Davos events. Only 17% of delegates at the high-powered event in Switzerland are women and in an effort to increase female numbers the organizers now insist that the top 100 "strategic partner" companies that attend and which can bring five delegates must include one woman.


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How IT Mentors Can Help Advance Your Tech Career
Network World, January 29

Whether it's something as mundane as how to approach a specific assignment or something more life-altering such as weighing job offers from different companies, having a mentor in your corner can help turn your IT job into a career. Mentors are helpful because, in addition to expertise in their field, they have a network of business professionals and they are willing to share what they know. People who mentor are likely to have had mentors at some point that helped them understand their industry better, hone their strengths or sharpen skills. With this in mind, the article provides tips on what to look for in a mentor, describes how a mentor can help your IT career and offers advice on how to choose a mentor.

When it comes to choosing a mentor, the qualities that make a good mentor are those that define a great leader. Being insightful and experienced, a good listener and approachable are all qualities to look for. Not all leaders or teachers are great mentors, but all great mentors find ways to teach and inspire, without criticism, and are always supportive. Having a mentor is valuable regardless of your age or your position since everyone needs someone from the outside to share insights and experiences. Mentors can help you establish the 'big picture', as well as help you to truly enjoy life and become more productive. You might also want to consider having more than one mentor at time, such as one for technology questions and another for management issues.


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Kick-Start Your Career Dreams in Three Weeks
U.S. News and World Report, January 29

By investing just 10 minutes a day over the next three weeks in following through on your dreams, you can improve your potential for future career success. This is harder than it sounds, however, because it's easy to get distracted by the necessary responsibilities of your daily life, including those related to work, family and friends. However, if you want to do anything in your life you must first visualize yourself doing that thing. With that in mind, the article provides three simple steps to get your brain buzzing with big ideas for your future within just three weeks.

During the first week, you should concentrate on asking questions about your optimal career path. Take 10 minutes each morning to focus on a single question like: What makes me feel the most energized? What have I always wanted to learn more about? What kind of work sparks my interest? What skills am I most happy using? What kind of change do I want to make in the world? Scribble down short notes. Talk out loud. Free write your ideas. The goal isn't to come up with definite answers, but rather to awake the part of your brain that is curious, striving, and ready for a new challenge.


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Growing the ACM Family
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 56 No. 2, February 2013

Vinton G. Cerf, ACM President, weighs in on possible steps to increase interest in computer science careers across a broader spectrum of potential candidates. For now, says Cerf, the easiest steps to widen general awareness include developing new content for ACM publications and ACM blogs. In addition, Special Interest Groups such as those dedicated to Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), Computers and Society (SIGCAS), Access (SIGACCESS), Information Technology Education (SIGITE) and University and College Computing Services (SIGUCC) might play a role. Finally, Cerf notes that new types of educational activities and new activities focused on engaging women might broaden the range of participation.

Assuming that we do not have nearly as wide a range of participants as desired in the computing profession, the question is whether we can take additional steps to foster interest in this field. There are all kinds of extramural activities that draw young people into computing, such as the FIRST robotics competitions and the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC). There are many more such activities, several of them focused on computer and network security. On top of all that, we have the emerging Massive Open Online Courses phenomenon that may involve hundreds of thousands of participants in all age groups.


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PAEMST Awards Now Include Computer Science
CSTA Advocate, January 28

Chris Stephenson, Executive Director of the Computer Science Teachers Association, reports that for the first time ever, the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) will specifically include computer science teachers. The PAEMST award is the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science teaching. The PAEMST program authorizes the President to bestow up to 108 awards each year. Awards are given to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions. The award recognizes those teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning.

Eligible computer science teachers must meet the following criteria: teach mathematics or science (including computer science) at the 7-12th grade level in a public or private school; hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; be a full-time employee of the school or school district as determined by state and district policies, and teach K-12 students at least 50% of the time; have at least 5 years of full-time, K-12 mathematics or science (including computer science) teaching experience prior to the 2012-2013 academic school year; and teach in one of the 50 states or the four U.S. jurisdictions.


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