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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 6, 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 13, July 6, 2010




Eight Trends Driving IT Job Growth, Salaries
CIO.com, June 10

According to the latest economic and employment trends, IT hiring appears to be on the upswing in the second half of 2010. While CIOs are more optimistic about their budgets and staffing levels than they were a year ago, IT salaries and benefits are still under pressure. Moreover, there is more volatility in the demand for IT skills than at any point in time in the past decade. The unpredictability in compensation for both certified and uncertified skills is the result of companies making wholesale changes to their IT staffs, with more work being outsourced to contractors and more full-time hiring for IT architects, systems analysts and product development experts. The article summarizes the key trends from a group of the latest IT salary and hiring surveys.

As companies accelerate their move to more flexible staffing models, they are outsourcing more technical work, hiring more contractors, and putting more applications in the cloud. At the same time, they're hiring full-time IT people with business and analytical skills, such as risk management and project management. According to Dice.com, IT hiring will grow in the second half of 2010. Nearly half of IT hiring managers and recruiters said they plan to add 10% more employees in the next six months than they did in the first half of the year. Another 28% of respondents plan to increase hiring by 11% to 20%. This hiring trend could impact salary compensation. A quarter of survey respondents predicted that IT salaries would rise in 2010, compared to 10% of survey respondents making this prediction six months ago. A mid-year IT salary survey found that total mean compensation for IT pros has increased to $78,210 from $77,690 a year ago.


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Can Legislation Fix America’s Science and Technology Gender Gap
Newsweek, June 29

A number of policymakers and politicians are working to address the gender gap in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Currently, girls account for only 17% of computer-science AP tests in high school and only 18% of computer and information-science degrees in college. As a result, they make up just under a quarter of computer and math professionals. In an attempt to increase the representation of women in STEM fields, Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson proposed legislation aimed at strengthening women’s achievement in math and science. If successful, it would incentivize academics to figure out ways to minimize gender bias in tenure, promotion, and honors. It would also help women take time off for pregnancy or childcare without being penalized in their research or pursuit of tenure.

There are several issues at play in why women continue to lag behind men. Recent studies show that the problem for women in math and science is related to socio-cultural factors. A March report from the American Association of University Women found that female postdoctoral applicants have to produce 20 more papers to be judged as productive as their male counterparts. Another study found that more than 40% of female and minority chemists and chemical engineers had been steered away from pursuing careers in math and science at some point during their education. These findings are consistent with studies showing that girls from countries where gender equity is more widespread are more likely to perform well on math assessment tests.


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Social Networking Ever More Critical to Job Search Success
Network World, July 1

Based on the results of its third annual social recruiting survey, Jobvite highlights the many reasons job seekers need to integrate online social networking into their job searches. HR and recruiting professionals increasingly view social networks as a viable channel for sourcing high-quality candidates and plan to increase their use of social networking websites in their recruiting efforts this year. At some companies, in fact, social recruiting is beginning to eclipse traditional channels for sourcing candidates, such as job boards and third-party recruiters and search firms. The article summarizes four reasons to join LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, the three social networking websites most popular with employers.

Using social networking sites, you'll have access to job opportunities at exciting, growing companies. Companies that are hiring the most people in the shortest periods of time are the ones who are more aggressively pursuing social recruiting. Companies with the most growth opportunities are trying to get better, higher-quality candidates through social recruiting. You'll also have access to job opportunities first. The Jobvite survey results show that employers prefer using social networking sites for recruiting because they make advertising jobs and sourcing candidates cheap and easy. For that reason, online social networks are among the first places employers advertise jobs.


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Four Tips for Job Searching Long-Distance
Glass Door Blog, June 29

Since long-distance job searching requires competing with candidates in another city for the same position, you have to create a strategy that puts you in front of hiring managers in the most effective way possible. Nothing is better than making face-to-face connections in your desired city to boost your long distance job search. With that in mind, the article considers how candidates can tap into the power of the Internet and members of their existing social network to maximize their chances of finding a position in another city.

First, line up the finances to plan a trip. It would not be productive if you can’t attend events or explore the city you would like to call home in the future. If you are able to go on the trip, ask family or friends if you can stay with them to reduce the cost. Have business cards, resumes, and hardcopy portfolios available just in case a connection asks for them. Dress and act like you currently have a job. After all, you never know when someone will ask you to do an unplanned interview with a company.


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Job Hunting On the Sly
Career Journal, June 22

The easiest way to search for a job while working full-time is to leverage the power of social networking site LinkedIn. Simple steps like creating a new executive summary and updating bullet points with recent accomplishments can signal to recruiters that you are serious about making a change and are someone worth contacting. In addition, savvy job hunters and career experts say there are a number of creative and traditional ways to ease the burden of looking for a job, such as hiring a personal assistant to research job opportunities for you. As a result, you will be able to coordinate with recruiters through e-mail and social networking sites without wasting time with other more labor-intensive steps.

Professional networking websites like LinkedIn are becoming particularly popular to recruiters who often have specific needs to fill when hiring. 85% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. To give yourself the best edge over the competition, make sure that any online profiles you have are up-to-date and complete. Your profile serves just like your résumé would. Another way job hunters are keeping their job searches secret is through meetings either early in the morning or late at night. Those doing the hiring will make the time to see a desirable candidate even if it's outside business hours. But don't be too restrictive when suggesting times: give the person on the other end a lot of options for time slots.


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QA Jobs Morph as Agile Development Methods Gain Ground
Computerworld, June 17

The recession is changing the types of skills and experiences required of Quality Assurance (QA) professionals. According to a survey of engineers and QA experts by Capgemini US and Hewlett-Packard, companies are looking to speed up software development cycles. Since agile software development methods promise a faster development time, in addition to cost savings and improved software quality, it is perhaps not surprising that the most sought-after QA professionals are those with demonstrated agile software development skills.

The widespread adoption of agile development is changing the skill sets needed by QA professionals. The notion of a tester as just a tester is gone. Companies are looking for QA professionals with a range of skills and an ability to look at software quality from multiple angles and disciplines. The survey found that in North America and Europe about 60% of those organizations are using agile development methods. A survey by Forrester Research earlier this year of 1,300 IT professionals found an adoption rate as high as 46%.


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Career in Business Intelligence: Have You Got What It Takes?
Tech Careers, June 2010

While getting started in a Business Intelligence (BI) career may be the easiest way for a graduate to break into the IT industry, being well prepared to build a successful career is something else. There are five main areas a Business Intelligence specialist needs to be proficient in. Each of these skills can be acquired in a reasonable time frame. Moreover, most of these subjects are covered as part of any computer/IT relate degree, and if you have had the advantage of this level of training it is usually enough to get you a solid start as a Business Intelligence analyst.

Understanding how relational databases work is one of the most important things in Business Intelligence. Working blindly to the table schema provided by the database developer will drastically limit what you can do. SQL, or Structured Query Language, is the programming language used exclusively for extracting information from databases. SQL does not change much between different databases, so learning one version is enough to apply to all databases. It is possible to have a successful Business Intelligence career and never be able to write a line of SQL, but it can certainly make it easier when trying to solve more complex problems.


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Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn In Your Job Search
Business Week, June 25

With seventy million users, LinkedIn has become an essential tool for job seekers. The social networking site showcases not only your name, photo, and professional credentials but also your colleagues' recommendations, your brilliant thinking and your excellent roster of connections. Your profile on LinkedIn includes basic information about your skills and experiences, as well as more advanced features like your full-text résumé in Word format, an article you wrote, your own blog, or other content. Create a personalized LinkedIn URL for yourself and use that URL on your résumé, job-search business cards, and job-search-related correspondence. Launching a LinkedIn profile is only the first step. The article offers ten different ways to leverage LinkedIn in your job search.

Create a compelling profile so that your LinkedIn profile does not read just like your résumé. You can use a more human voice to showcase your professional passions and drivers. In particular, make sure that your "headline" field lets the world know your purpose. If you're unemployed, by all means use your "headline" to showcase your availability for work. In the LinkedIn Summary field, there is plenty of room to share your career history with readers in a compelling way. Stories are easier on the reader than résumè-type paragraphs. If you're job-hunting, it's better to let hiring managers and recruiters find you easily by opening up your profile to public view. Other settings will allow you to dictate how LinkedIn communicates with you and whether your contact list should be visible to your connections.


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ACM Elects New Leaders Committed to Expanding International Initiatives
ACM Press Room, June 9

Alain Chesnais, the newly elected president of ACM, outlined his goal to strengthen ACM’s presence in China and India and to expand its online presence to serve the needs of the next generation of computing practitioners, educators, researchers, and students. ACM also elected Vice President Barbara Ryder, of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Secretary-Treasurer Alexander L. Wolf of Imperial College London UK to two-year terms. In addition, Members-at-Large elected to four-year terms include Vinton Cerf (Google) and Salil Vadhan (Harvard).

Chesnais has made international expansion a priority for ACM during his term, with an emphasis on changes to the chapters program designed to increase ACM’s worldwide presence. As president, he plans to apply his experience with social networking sites to expand ACM’s online presence and facilitate the exchange of ideas and information among members. Barbara Ryder indicated her determination to maintain ACM’s strong voice on technology issues affecting public policy worldwide. She urges expanded support for computing education from K–12 through college and postgraduate levels, and advocated additional support for the Special Interest Groups and more meetings outside of North America.


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Interview with Linda Formichelli On Designing, Launching, and Teaching an e-Course
eLearn Magazine, July 1

In a Q&A, Linda Formichelli outlines the steps she took to develop an online writing course, including some of the business decisions she's had to make, and her experience actually teaching the course. In 2005, she launched her e-course Write for Magazines as a way to build on her previous writing and publishing experiences. As Formichelli explains, the benefits of creating a course are that you get to work one-on-one with students and feel inspired as you watch them learn and succeed. She answers questions about how to get started, how to tweak the course for student needs, and how to balance the work-life demands of responding to student concerns on a regular basis.

Formichelli first discusses why she created the online course and how she decided to offer it. Starting with eight long lessons with assignments, she structured the course around questions writers might have about the publishing process. It took Formichelli a few weeks to develop the course, and it's still a work in progress. Whenever she learns something new or finds a better way to do something, she adds it to the course. The first week of the course is the most time-intensive, as it includes thorough critiques for each of her students. In later weeks, she needs to spend less time critiquing the work of her students.


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