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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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 8, Issue 1, January 10, 2012




What Job Seekers Need to Know in Today's Digital Market
Mashable, January 1

What do you need in order to be successful in today's digital job market? Those seeking their next dream job should cultivate their online presence and contacts strategically in places where employers will be on the lookout for the best talent. According a recent survey of more than 3,000 companies, social media has flourished as a burgeoning recruitment strategy, becoming a more mainstream approach for companies of all sizes and industries. For job seekers, social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter have established new ways of getting discovered by employers, as well as directly reaching recruiters and hiring managers.

In toady's digital market, your social media profiles are just as important as your resume. 36% of companies surveyed are using social media for recruiting. In today's competitive market, recruiters look for the most current information on candidates, which is readily and easily available on social networks. Job seekers should actively include links to their complete and up-to-date Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter profiles in their applications. Be sure to use social news streams as a dynamic extension of your traditional resume. Job hopefuls should share interesting and relevant news about their industries and areas of expertise, demonstrating their knowledge and experience. Social media enables us to stand out, to be more noticeable, to differentiate ourselves from the masses and to tell the whole story behind and beyond a one-page resume. When contributing to your news streams and profiles, choose current topics of interest, start participating in discussions about your professional field and industry trends, and share your own hands-on tricks of the trade. Additionally, follow the influencers in your field via Twitter, contribute to the discussion and share it with others who might be interested.


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Up-and-Coming Tech Jobs and How to Land One
Computerworld, January 3

With big data, mobile computing, social media and cloud computing all shaping the IT sector in 2012, new technology job titles are beginning to emerge. While project managers and business analysts will continue to be in demand in 2012, there are also new roles for IT workers with specialized knowledge in mobile, social and cloud computing. The article takes a closer look at a handful of positions and titles that are starting to appear on the radar of hiring managers and recruiters, from Director of Cloud Transformation to Chief Social Media Strategist to Data Scientist.

As companies move from the client-server world to one where systems reside in the cloud, they're hiring professionals to oversee this transformation. Whether the position's called director of cloud transformation, vice president of virtualization or cloud transformation officer, the job description remains roughly the same: oversee all the moving parts required to make the move to the cloud. As companies of every size are implementing ever more ambitious strategies involving social media, it's only logical that they need technologists who can make the most of their investments. Some of them are moving to hire people who understand both the marketing value of social media as well as its technical complexities, putting a new generation of talent into positions with titles like chief social media strategist, new media coordinator and manager of social media. It’s about leveraging technology to monitor online activity and interactions and to engage consumers.


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The Rise of Co-Working
The Economist, December 31

For increasing numbers of people, co-working offers a welcome hybrid between working from the office and working from home. The concept of co-working means working alongside and collaborating with people in an office environment where each person is working on a different project. The idea first surfaced a few years back, but it reached an inflection-point about 18 months ago. The absolute numbers are still small -- there are now around 760 office-based co-working facilities in America, up from 405 in 2010. Several factors are fuelling their rise, including technologies such as cloud computing; more women and freelancers in the workforce; and economic pressure on firms’ property costs.

Some co-working spaces are dedicated facilities, others are set up within business incubators or company offices. According to Loosecubes, 65% of the 2,800 workplaces available are inside small, private companies with desks to spare. Creative and media businesses with a culture of bringing lots of people together to work on specific projects are heavily represented among both users and space providers. New co-working chains are emerging, with names like The Hub and NextSpace. More established firms have also cottoned on to the trend, turning business centers into lounge-type environments for freelancers to work.


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How to Find the Job You Really Want in 2012
The Telegraph (UK), January 6

Heading into 2012, nearly seven in 10 employees have set work-related resolutions for 2012, with at least one in five hoping to change careers. More than half of the workers surveyed said they would spend January dreaming of turning their weekend hobbies – such as fitness, photography and cooking – into a new career. But those itching to leave their jobs must plan their next move properly or they face starting a new role that will lead them back to square one. Don't just quit: the worst thing de-motivated staff can do is resign before finding another job. Also, never go for a lower-paid role simply to escape your present job. Also remember: the chances that the first job that comes along is the best one available to you are virtually non-existent.

The best thing anyone with the January job blues can do is take a step back and work out exactly what it is they want out of their career. Consider the prospects at your current job, such as the chances of a promotion or achieving something new in your work over the next 12 months. If you are certain you're ready to go, you must make a career plan. Write down a list of at least ten things of what you want from your job in both "needs" and "values". But before jumping headfirst into a new role, make sure you carry out the same exercise with any potential new job. Work out which of your needs and values the new role will give you and also give them a score as to how much satisfaction you think they will give you. If the score is larger than your present job, that's a good start. If you don't know enough about the new job, you haven't done the necessary homework. Make sure you research thoroughly any new role – ask about company culture, the authority you will get, what you can achieve in your first year and so on.


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Six Job-Hunting Tricks For a Web 2.0 World
Computerworld, December 19

Approximately 53% of IT workers are actively or passively searching for a new job right now, according to a Computerworld survey. At the same time, 46% of the respondents say it's been five years or more since their last job search. For those who are new to job hunting in a world of social networking and LinkedIn, the hiring landscape has changed considerably. With employers advertising fewer open positions because they are deluged with resumes, job hunters must make themselves easy to find on social networking sites. After updating your resume and joining LinkedIn, the key is to build a robust network of contacts that can help you in your job search.

The most important tool in your jobseeker's toolkit should be LinkedIn. With more than 100 million registered users, LinkedIn is the most popular tool used by recruiters and job seekers alike. Nowadays, LinkedIn is essentially your first interview, and it happens without you. A hiring manager or recruiter takes a look at your background and makes a quick decision of whether or not you would make a good fit. IT job seekers can make full use of their LinkedIn profile by using new LinkedIn applications like SlideShare, Creative Portfolio Display and Year in Review. For job seekers who are targeting a specific company, LinkedIn has added a feature called Company Pages. By clicking the Statistics icon on a Company Page, or corporate profile, users can find out where departing employees found new jobs.


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Job Seekers, Be Creative and Flexible
Wall Street Journal, January 1

In 2012, creativity and adaptability will be key to landing and keeping a job for many workers. With staff levels remaining lean, companies will expect job seekers to be able to respond to a wide variety of demands. In addition to the standard prerequisites such as technical knowledge, employers will be looking for workers who are able to quickly adapt to new responsibilities as companies respond to changing economic and industry trends. So workers should highlight their creative skills to differentiate themselves. Firms have so many job seekers per opening. They are going to want candidates with clear credentials, but also a little extra shine in interactive skills and creativity.

To complement this creativity and adaptability, technical literacy is at the top of the list: it's important for workers at a variety of levels to be familiar with some of the technical processes that keep organizations running smoothly. Within the healthcare industry, for example, knowledge of electronic data handling is important. Workers also need to be good users of social media. There's a fine line between letting interested parties know about the latest news and bombarding them with too much information. Still, individuals shouldn't be afraid to use networking sites such as LinkedIn to make employment connections.


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The World Is Changing: Will Education Change With It?
U.S. News & World Report, January 5

Faster computers, social networks like Facebook, and nanotechnology are changing not only the tech sector, but also society, in fundamentally new ways. As a result, educators must prepare the next generation to interact fully with this technologically evolving world. Given that the curriculum in the K-12 world has not drastically changed in America in recent years, it may be harder than it sounds for America to develop new and innovative STEM education initiatives.

It’s hard to ignore the broader context in which computer science is emerging as more important than ever before. Supercomputers are able to process more computations than ever before. At the same time, Facebook is becoming one of the largest statistical databases in the world, with simple actions such as “likes” transformed into pieces of data. Mathematicians can analyze the plethora of information and see patterns of choices that will impact economical, political, and cultural decisions in substantial ways. Many companies are already mining this data set and are using the information to develop major business initiatives.


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HR and Virtual Employees
Management Issues, January 3

Within the structure of the modern organization, HR does not always understand the role of virtual employees who work off-site. Given the rapid pace of technological change in the industry, there are some serious issues that HR needs to address. In many ways, HR departments are basing their outlook on the days when "remote employees" were one or two road warriors and most people were still working at headquarters. With this in mind, the article outlines ways that HR can re-think its role to adapt to the rapidly growing virtual workforce.

The new reality of the way we work surprised many companies, and they're scrambling to make sense of what's happened. It's impossible not to acknowledge that while IT was busy building tools to cut costs and minimize travel, the discussions frequently didn't include HR beyond how much they could cut costs and head count. This has led to some areas different – and sometimes competing - business units within organizations need to work together to address.


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Online Stanford Classes Explore New Models for CS Learning
Blog @ CACM, December 21

When Stanford announced their online CS classes, most of the attention was on the large numbers that were enrolling. Eventually, some 200,000 people signed up, and about 32,000 completed the coursework. What is most interesting about the Stanford AI classes is that it was an exploration of new models of CS pedagogy. We need new models for CS pedagogy. We teach computer science in order to create great software developers, but there are lots of audiences – like high school teachers - for CS education that have nothing to do with being a great software developer. The article suggests that we need new models for CS pedagogy that take into account these different learning goals.

The Khan Academy videos are a good way to convey some kinds of information but most people do not learn from watching videos. People learn from doing something, and getting feedback on what they did. While the Stanford online CS classes did use videos, they were interrupted by questions, mainly fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice questions, for students to use as "exercises." It's a small change from just watching a video, and is hardly a revolutionary educational technology advance. But just that small change from videos-only would make a dramatic improvement in learning for large numbers of students in computer science.


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Are Virtual Worlds (Still) Relevant in Education?
eLearn Magazine, December 2011

The effort to leverage virtual worlds in education has proceeded on a rollercoaster of hype, moving from initial excitement to today's somewhat jaded and cautious reactions. Back in 2005, the growth of Second Life seemed to herald the age of educational virtual world use. In the years following, there were conferences, academic sessions, on-campus development projects and the birth of journals devoted solely to the topic of research and application of virtual worlds. Administrators saw these initiatives as the solution that would reinvigorate online courses and overcome the stereotypes of distance education. However, in the last few years, the movement has lost steam, as many educators have shifted their attention to other opportunities.

The economy has played a major role in shaping perceptions. In the last three years, universities have been faced with more and more budget cuts. Campuses have been faced with downsizing and generally doing more with less: initiatives that aren't proven as effective are the first to go. Just when educators needed to be most rigorous about the potential benefits of the technology, they were faced with other obstacles made the argument for virtual worlds seem a bit less important than other fundamental efforts. Moreover, these virtual worlds had a steep learning curve: merely learning how to merely navigate a virtual world can be a substantial obstacle. Add to this learning curve the need to not only have basic competence in the space but to have the advanced understanding of the tools necessary to create learning experiences in the world and you have significant adoption difficulties.


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