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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 22, 2008

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 4, Issue 14, July 22, 2008




Recession-Proof IT Jobs
Business Week, July 17

While the overall U.S. unemployment rate is the highest it has been since October 2004, the job outlook for the technology sector continues to be positive. According to a new report by job listings company Jobfox, four of the top 20 "recession-proof" occupations are technology-related. These “recession-proof” positions include software developers (#2); system administrators who manage complex corporate networks (#6); quality-assurance testers who design automated processes for testing products (#12); and chief technology officers (#16).

Washington-based Jobfox compiled a list of the professions in greatest demand by recruiters and then analyzed that data over the eight-month period from November 2007 through July 7, 2008, to compile a list of the 20 jobs with the best median monthly rankings. In general, it appears that technology jobs have been relatively immune to the overall economic slowdown, which appears to have been primarily concentrated in the housing sector during that time period. Growing technology companies with significant cash holdings may fare particularly well. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, IBM, and Intel are examples of tech companies that are unlikely to take a big hit.


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Meet the Millionaire CIOs
CIO.com, June 27

According to publicly-available compensation data available on the 1,000 largest U.S. companies, nearly 50 senior-level technology leaders have total compensation packages worth more than $1 million annually. At this elite level, as much as half of the total compensation is tied to bonuses, perks and incentive pay, rather than base salary. The technology leader with the richest compensation package was Barbara Desoer of Bank of America, who received $10.5 million in total compensation, including $4.7 million in stock and $2.2 million in options. Overall, the top 50 CIOs earned an average salary of $435,200, excluding bonuses and other compensation.

The highest-paying companies in terms of overall CIO compensation are generally in the financial services, manufacturing and retail sectors. According to the latest SEC filings that detail 2007 compensation, the 47 highest-paid CIO superstars earned an average salary of $435,200, an amount that far outpaces average salaries for CIOs generally. In comparison, CIOs at companies of $1 billion or more in revenue reported an average salary of $344,400. However, organizations are in a holding pattern in IT in terms of discretionary payouts right now as they assess the state of the overall economy. Most of the big payouts in 2007 (77%) came not from salaries or bonuses but from a category known only as “other.”


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Looking for IT Work in All the Right Places
Network World, July 15

As social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn gain in popularity, they are becoming important destinations for hiring managers and recruiters to find and attract IT talent. As Forrester Research points out in a new report, traditional job boards are becoming less relevant to job seekers, forcing employers to become savvier about social networking. Recruiters would rather search LinkedIn or Facebook than go out to generic job search sites because they find more active candidates and more dynamic information. With that in mind, the article covers the changes in recruiting tactics, explains how job seekers are responding, and provides insights on how to optimize an online presence.

The popularity of social networking means that job seekers must re-think how they play to get ahead. Expanding their job search beyond career sites could also help IT professionals find more postings relevant to their skill sets. By joining online user groups or associations targeted at specific technologies, IT professionals can stay in touch with peers at companies that might be looking for their skills and learn more about events they may find of interest, such as job fairs in a particular industry. Also the 24-7 nature of today's career sites can give members an edge when looking for work. Some sites such as Dice will allow candidates to pick and choose the resume they want to submit for a particular position, and then track the people who looked at their profile and which jobs they've applied for.


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Take Control of Your Online Image
Computerworld, July 14

Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, weighs in on the various ways that IT jobseekers can leverage their online Web presence to find new job openings and advance their careers. As Lee suggests, it makes sense to treat all of your online activity, including postings on message boards and information on personal Web sites, as part of a public relations campaign that presents a professional image for both potential employers and colleagues. With that in mind, she explains how to leverage the various other aspects of your online Web presence as part of a comprehensive job search strategy.

In addition to professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, valuable professional connections can also come from social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Orkut. When networking online at any of these sites, you should craft your profile carefully; strive for quality, rather than quantity; and seek out recommendations from others that you can add to your profile. In addition to being a job search tool, online social networks can also help you stay up to date on industry trends and find mentors who can offer valuable career advice. They can also alert you to upcoming events and educational opportunities.


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Changing Your Web Working Niche
Web Worker Daily, July 16

Whether you want to take your IT career into a different direction or you simply want a refreshing distraction from your regular work, it’s likely that you’ll consider changing your niche market at least once in your career. If you’ve already established your personal brand within a particular niche, shifting to another one, whether completely or temporarily, might be confusing to possible employers. The article examines the consequences of changing your niche and offers some advice on how to go about leveraging strengths and interests so that you will not look unfocused or spread yourself too thin.

There are ways to avoid employer confusion when you change your Web working niche. Be clear about the niche or field you’re prioritizing in, and let your website or blog reflect those priorities. If your interests are very different, consider different “storefronts” for each. If you want to be both an illustrator and a programmer, for example, you might need different websites for each service. This will allow you to market and promote both services equally, without confusing your Web site visitors in the process. It is helpful if you can find an intersection between your current niche and the one you want to shift to.


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Finding Success in the Summer Job Market
Job Journal, June 22

For students in computer science and engineering, summer can be an excellent time to prepare for the full-time job search. While hiring at many companies does tend to lag during the summer as a result of vacations and attention dedicated to the influx of college and high school interns, the summer can be a great time to brush up on your telephone skills, take part in summer social activities and sign up for volunteer work. All of these activities can pay off handsomely when companies gear up their hiring in the fall.

During the summer, improving your telephone skills is one tactical way to boost your full-time job search. With people on vacation, you will be receiving more voice mail messages than usual as you try to reach people in your job search network. Always make calls with a notepad or organizer nearby and take note of when your contacts will be back in the office. In addition, make the job of contacting you as easy as possible by repeating key information twice and clearly noting how to best contact you. Take advantage of summer social activities, from picnics to family reunions to ball games. Most jobs are filled through word of mouth. That means the more people with whom you network, the more effective your search. Make the most of get-togethers to gather information for your search and extend your network toward your target companies.


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Older Employees Happier at Work
BBC News, July 17

New research commissioned by Vodafone may change the way that companies think about their mid-career and older workers. Nearly 70% of workers aged 50 and over said they felt “fulfilled” compared with only 50% of workers in the 25-to-31 age group. Moreover, 97% of those 65 and over said they felt "enabled" in their work, compared to only 61% of those in the 31-to-35 age group. Overall, people in their thirties expressed the most negative feelings about work, with 58% feeling undervalued, 49% feeling unfulfilled and 43% saying they were de-motivated. As a result, companies need to be doing more to avert this mid-career depression in the workforce.

According to Vodafone, the results from the report demonstrate that more should be done to empathize with and understand those in the middle portion of their careers. Helping out these mid-career workers is an imperative for many companies, especially when these people are the future leaders of tomorrow. Given the ambition and drive of many younger workers, the report also warned that those born since 1980 would face "inevitable disillusionment" as they hit their thirties. As the report explained, with higher expectations of rapid career advancement there is also the risk of greater disappointment.


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Consulting to In-House: Does It Pay?
CIO Insight, July 10

The transition from being a consultant to an in-house corporate IT manager can require some adjustments in the way that you approach your career. In general, consulting firms seek out and develop a certain kind of person; consider turnover rates in the high teens healthy; foster an up-or-out culture; and focus on rewards and incentives. In the corporate world, however, there is less focus on strategic incentives as motivational tools and more focus on mediation and recognition and reward systems. With that in mind, a corporate IT manager who successfully made the switch explains the main adjustments that he made.

Some of the challenges involved in moving from consulting work to in-house corporate IT are obvious, such as issues related to the work/life balance and the value placed on being self-directed and self-motivated. However, other issues are not so obvious. For example, management and motivational tools that have been effective in the past in developing people and meeting business needs may no longer work as expected. Moreover, strategic incentives don’t work as well in the corporate world, and there are situations, such as managing long-tenured employees, when the consulting managers’ toolkit doesn’t offer any effective tools. In these cases, new tools, such as mediation, recognition and reward systems, need to be acquired, practiced and mastered.


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If They Like the Brand, They Will Join You
Management Issues, July 18

Protecting an organization's brand and public image are becoming an increasingly important part of attracting, hiring and retaining top executives. A survey by recruitment firm Kenexa has found that while compensation is the most important reason why employees accept a job, corporate reputation runs a close second. In general, senior managers and sales people place the greatest value on the organization’s reputation in deciding whether or not to accept an employment offer. The importance of a company’s brand and reputation is a global phenomenon, extending across both developed and developing markets.

The reputation of an organization consists of a variety of characteristics, including its involvement in corporate social responsibility initiatives, the quality of its products and its overall profitability. Yet the employer brand is one factor that employers and managers often overlook. For example, a study of 5000 HR and finance managers in 17 countries by Robert Half found that two-thirds of firms did not have a formal employer brand strategy in place, and many had no plans to develop one. As Kenexa points out, the correlation between the organization's reputation and successful recruiting efforts strongly supports the importance of employment branding. There is value in presenting and maintaining positive brand messaging to the potential employee talent pool, such as through highlighting community outreach initiatives and corporate profitability.


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Computing Society Officers Pledge to Expand International Programs and Increase Diversity
ACM Press Release, June 3

With the election of Wendy Hall as president for a two-year term beginning July 1, ACM is well-positioned to reach its full potential through a number of initiatives focused on international expansion and increasing gender diversity in all aspects of computing. Over the past two years, ACM has already established a successful track record in both of these areas. In addition to opening an office in Beijing to extend its worldwide relationships, ACM established the Education Policy Committee and launched a project with the WGBH Educational Foundation to enhance the image of computer science among high school students in the U.S. The new incoming officers have pledged their support for similar types of initiatives on a global scale.

Given her background as former President of the British Computer Society from 2003-2004, and a researcher with many international connections, Wendy Hall has outlined a vision for guiding ACM toward more international initiatives, especially in India and China. She also indicated her interest in rethinking the society’s relationship with Europe, and exploring relevant opportunities in South America and other parts of the world.


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