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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, June 5, 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 11, June 5, 2012




For Job Security, Try Cybersecurity, Experts Say
Mashable, May 29

Across every level of the federal government, there is growing need for experts with cybersecurity experience. As a result, for any young IT worker making a future career choice, a cybersecurity job within the government offers one of the best guarantees for steady, well-paying employment. In many ways, cybersecurity is a field where the rules of the recession seem flipped: there are plenty of jobs, but relatively few qualified applicants. The government needs to hire at least 10,000 experts in the near future and the private sector needs four times that number. That trend is expected to continue as cyberattacks continue to increase in size and scope, attracting the attention of high-level government decision-makers.

Not enough digital experts are entering the cybersecurity field to meet the ever-growing demand. Every company is looking for the same thing, forcing recruiters to visit colleges across the country in search of talent. According to a 2009 study, college graduates earning degrees in computers and mathematics represented just 6% of all graduates. Of those, only 36,500 of them, or 2%, earned a degree directly related to cybersecurity. The percentage is so low because many college students who train in Computer Science are attracted to fields other than security, such as software development or computer engineering, which can sometimes offer six-figure starting salaries. The median salary for a graduate earning a degree in security was $55,000 in 2009 compared to $75,000 for computer engineering.


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Up-and-Coming Tech Jobs
CIO.com, May 21

With big data, mobile computing, social media and cloud computing all shaping the future of IT, some new and intriguing job titles are beginning to emerge. Companies are creating titles like “cloud transformation officer” and “chief social media strategist” to reflect the changing priorities of their organizations. If current trends prevail, your career could even include a stint as a data scientist, an augmented reality specialist or a chief agile officer. With that in mind, the article summarizes a handful of positions you can expect to see showing up on the radars of IT hiring managers, along with details on what you’ll need to land one of them.

As companies move to an IT environment where systems reside in the cloud, they're hiring professionals to oversee the entire strategy. Different roles -- director of cloud transformation, vice president of virtualization or cloud transformation officer – are responsible for overseeing all the moving parts required to migrate to the cloud. Companies of every size and stripe are implementing ever more ambitious strategies involving social media, so it's only logical that they need technologists who can make the most of their investments. Some companies are hiring people who understand the marketing value of social media as well as its technical complexities. Organizations are putting a new crossbreed of talent into jobs with titles like chief social media strategist, new media coordinator and manager of social media.


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Job Prospects for Millennials Best Since Start of the Recession
Forbes, May 30

According to recent employment data and hiring sentiment indicators, the job market for graduating students is the strongest it’s been since the beginning of the recession. The unemployment rate for college grads is now 7.2%, compared to 9.1% in 2011. In addition, 87% of employers say they will hire more new grads this year than last. Almost as many say that in the past six months they have already hired up to 25 new grads each. As more and more Millennials enter the workforce, it’s important for hiring managers to realize that there are some important differences between recently graduated Millennials and their Gen X and Boomer peers.

Young people entering the workforce are more empowered and technologically savvy than any other generation. This generation is very focused on quicker, more efficient ways of completing tasks. This translates into the workplace in positive ways, including higher productivity. There’s a lot we can learn from our younger colleagues and we should give these young workers the credit they deserve for handling substantial responsibilities. They have grown up working in teams and collaborating since elementary school and are undoubtedly the most empowered group to enter the workforce in the last 30 years. They are motivated to make a meaningful contribution to whatever organization they work for and don’t want to waste time on anything that doesn’t provide value.


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An Inside Job: More Firms Opt to Recruit From Within
The Wall Street Journal, May 29

Many firms are ramping up internal hiring efforts and investing in new career sites to boost intra-organization mobility, cut recruiting costs and retain high performers. These initiatives are the result of a growing conviction that there's plenty of talent already within the organization, together with research showing that hiring outsiders can lead to costly missteps. New internal career programs that make it easier to identify passive candidates are designed to help recruiters approach internal candidates the same way they do external ones. They can also significantly boost worker satisfaction with a company’s career development efforts.

Promoting from within, from the CEO on down, can deliver more benefits for companies than hiring outside talent, a growing body of research suggests. One recent study from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School found that external hires were paid some 18% more than internal employees in equivalent roles, but fared worse in performance reviews during their first two years on the job. Hiring managers may be wowed by an outsider's résumé or new perspective, but they "underestimate how hard it is to integrate new people. No matter how good the software, recruiters and employees need to carefully manage talent-hoarding bosses who fear losing top performers.


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Tech Guns For Hire: 5 Places to Find Skilled IT Contractors
Computerworld, May 22

Even for organizations with a highly skilled full-time IT staff, situations often arise where temporary outside help is needed. One obvious way to get short-term help is to contract with a large IT staffing agency, as larger organizations typically do. But it's entirely possible to hire talented contractors on your own using websites that help IT professionals advertise their services, secure paying work and develop ongoing relationships with clients. If you have a clear definition of the skills and knowledge you need and a willingness to pay for top talent, sites that pool freelance talent can help you complete key projects on deadline and on budget.

Perhaps the largest and most comprehensive resource for finding and recruiting high-quality IT contractors is oDesk. While the site's workforce-for-hire comprises everything from market researchers to accountants, many of its contractors specialize in technical skills including software and Web development, network and systems administration and tech support. Another important resource is vWorker, formerly known as Rent-a-Coder, which features a host of freelancers specializing in everything from data entry to Web design, with a concentration of programmers and other technology workers. Both of these sites takes a percentage of the worker's wages, ranging from 6.5% to 15%, depending on the type of project.


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Why You Should Hire Other Entrepreneurs
Inc.com, May 29

Candidates with dreams of starting their own business can actually make great hires for other entrepreneurs. For example, after combing through millions of Facebook profiles to glean insights about how the social network is being used professionally, experts discovered something surprising: among young people, the fifth most popular job title was “owner.” The entrepreneurial life appeals to younger workers because they can have an impact almost immediately, whereas in a large company, they would have to go through months of training for a single role. Younger workers also prefer to make many rapid adjustments to their careers rather than work for the same company for decades.

Young people with entrepreneurial dreams can actually make great hires for your business. As fellow entrepreneurs, these 'kindred spirits' would make the best employees for your small business. Who better understands that a lack of resources and manpower forces you to work harder in the initial stages than a young entrepreneur? Not only will these fresh-faced workers offer a breath of fresh air into your staff, they will bring a different perspective as well. You don’t have to sacrifice your vision for your company, as long as you keep an open mind.


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So Now What? Reflections on she++
Huffington Post, May 30

The two co-founders of she++, Stanford's first conference on women in technology, weigh in with their reflections on the role of women in the tech sector. In order to become computationally literate, young women now have options, whether it is reaching out to role models or participating in open source code projects. When it comes to gender stereotypes, leaders within the CS field should be making programming more accessible and intuitive for female computer scientists. With that in mind, the two co-founders of she++ highlight several projects – such as a new curriculum that will allow all age groups and experience levels to learn how to program mobile applications – that invest in women, in their ideas, and in the potential of technology.

The co-founders of she++ would like to remove all barriers that prevent women from achieving success in technology. Unfortunately, as she++ confirmed, women are afraid of the nerdy programmer stereotype and working in unfulfilling work environments. Women are not averse to technology, but they are sometimes averse to its context. And that is quite possibly the answer to recruiting more women into technology: we don't need to change anything about computer science, but we need to shatter the myths around it. Despite unnecessary jargon and acronyms, programming is in fact highly accessible, and the leading companies in the technology sector want you to try it out.


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I’ve Become the Boss of Me
Information Week, May 31

Technologies such as cloud-enabled services are helping to create a new wave of super-powered, micro-sized businesses with fewer than ten employees. In aggregate, this growing cohort of micro-enterprises threatens to poach the best employees, snatch the top customers, and surprise everyone with new business models. With that in mind, the article looks at why federal policymakers are currently ignoring these micro-enterprises and expands on the reasons why they are shrinking the scale of business everywhere.

Cloud-enabled software services are picking up where the PC and Internet left off to create a next generation of super-powered, cell-sized businesses. As a result, different organizations are scrambling to calculate how many micro-enterprises exist within the U.S. The Census Bureau counts "non-employer" companies at 21 million. The Association for Enterprise Opportunity defines the “micro-enterprise” as businesses with fewer than five employees, founded with less than $50,000 in seed capital. By those criteria, AEO estimates 25 million establishments, providing work for some 32 million people. In California alone, self-employment has increased by 25% in just the past five years. That means smaller businesses may also be more of a job-creation engine than originally imagined.


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U.S. Women in Computing: Why Isn't It Getting Better?
Blog @ CACM, May 20

What steps are needed to improve the representation of women in undergraduate computing? While there have been some recent success stories, since 2005, the percent of bachelor's degrees in Computer Science awarded to women has actually dropped. Computer Engineering has the lowest percentage of degrees going to women and Information Systems is plummeting. The number of women graduating with BS and PhD degrees in CS has dropped across the years, and no increase in MS degrees among U.S. women. The problem may be that improving the diversity of the CS field is not a problem that can be fixed top-down, but only at the level of individual organizations and the behavior of individuals.

We've known about the problem for over a decade, and yet we seem to be making little progress. Why is that? Could it be that we in the IT community are not yet convinced that there's a problem? At a time when the number of women in senior technology positions at U.S. companies is down for the second year in a row and approximately 30% of those polled said their information technology (IT) organization has no women at all in management, only about half of survey respondents consider women to be under-represented in the IT department.


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ACM Recognizes Leaders Who Shaped Future for Computer and Engineering Professionals, Educators and Policymakers
ACM Press Room, May 2

ACM announced the winners of two awards whose recipients are changing the face of computing throughout the world. William Wulf of the University of Virginia and Kelly Gotlieb of the University of Toronto touched a broad range of computer disciplines with their focus on building information infrastructures, promoting recognition of innovation and achievement, and initiating educational and funding opportunities to sustain the growth of computational thinking. ACM also announced the winner of the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, Seth Cooper of the University of Washington, for his research on video games to solve scientific problems.

Virginia’s William A. Wulf won the Distinguished Service Award for his leadership of the National Science Foundation's Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) Directorate, and as president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The only computer scientist to serve in both of these leading organizations, Wulf helped develop the High Performance Computing and Communication Initiative to spur the construction of a national information infrastructure. At NSF, he oversaw the merger and conversion of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) from the US Defense Department to the National Research and Education Network (NREN), a critical step that evolved into the Internet. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, and AAAS.


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