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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 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 5, March 5, 2013




Tips for Finding Top IT Talent on LinkedIn
CIO.com, February 26

Unlike traditional Internet job boards that only engage the IT workers who are actively looking for a job, LinkedIn also offers the ability to engage passive job seekers. This means that companies no longer have to post a job and wait – they can approach candidates who might be interested in an ideal opportunity for career advancement. When a company finds a good candidate in terms of skills, experience and culture fit, it should use its company page to show off its culture and highlight what’s good about working there. In addition, a company can use LinkedIn to tap into the networks of its employees for referral candidates or to identify industry thought leaders.

First of all, companies should focus on making a good impression with job seekers. LinkedIn, when all is said and done, is a social network. If you are going to use it to recruit, you should have a dynamic, regularly updated presence. This includes a company page and a high level of engagement with the LinkedIn community, including new ways to share content across company pages. To make your company more visible, come up with a list of keywords that encompass the role you are trying to fill. One good way to do this is to search through profiles of people who are already in this position and see what keywords show up with regularity. These can then be incorporated into your search for the right candidate.


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IT Security Organizations Facing Shortage of Skilled Professionals
eWeek, February 25

According to a new study from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, IT organizations around the world are facing a shortage of security experts with strong leadership and communications skills. And, in turn, this talent shortfall could pose a direct risk to their future cyber-security. Among the report's findings is that hackers (56%) and cyber-terrorism (44%) are among the chief concerns identified by participants. Yet, at the same time, 56% said their organizations are short-staffed and lacking candidates with a mix of technical and interpersonal skills.

Hiring managers increasingly perceive that a really good information security professional not only has the technical knowledge but also a desire to stay on top of their field and broaden their managerial skills. As a result, communication skills was the second most commonly cited success factor for information security professionals (91%), coming in right behind a "broad understanding of the security field." Leadership skills and experience in project management were cited by 68% and 57%, respectively. Nearly 70% said they view security certifications as a reliable indicator of competency when hiring. In fact, almost half of all hiring companies (46%) require some form of certification. Additionally, 60% said they plan to acquire certifications in the next 12 months, with the CISSP certification being in top demand.


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Connect to Human Networks To Find Breakout Opportunities
NPR, February 25

The leaked memo from Yahoo that bans telecommuting for its workers as of June continues to generate controversy in the technology sector, where companies continue to debate whether working from home is the end of productivity or the future of work. In its bid to reshape itself for the future, Yahoo is returning to a workplace culture of the tech industry's past, many experts argue. They say that the move goes against a popular workplace perk among tech companies and a wider trend toward more work-from-home options across several industries. On the other hand, while technology has made collaboration easier, it does not necessarily mean that a distributed workforce is more productive.

Technology has made collaboration easier than ever before for employees who aren't physically in the same space, and companies who back telework say it has helped cut costs and made it easier to compete for wider talent pools. Ten years ago, it was seen more as an employee benefit. Today, businesses around the world are seeing telework as a necessity. According to a recent Microsoft survey of more than 4,500 information technology workers, there has been a steady rise toward more teleworking – and this trend is expected to persist.


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The Virtual March on Washington for Immigration
Wall Street Journal, February 24

A group of technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists is launching a "virtual march on Washington” in order to convince politicians to make the U.S. more welcoming of skilled immigrant workers. They claim that the U.S. is in a global competition for the best and brightest. Immigrants now have choices, including going to the many countries other than the U.S. that value them. The “virtual march” will use the Internet and social media to harness the digital activism that last year overturned far-ranging anti-piracy legislation with millions of emails and tweets as well as hundreds of websites that went dark in protest.

The idea for the virtual march came from technology leaders wanting to use technology to change the debate. In the old days, groups would hire a lobbyist. Now the plan is to get millions of people to use social media. These leaders say the debate should be about jobs, attracting the best and brightest, and creating a robust legal regime to allow skilled immigrants. The MarchforInnovation.com site is backed by leaders from hundreds of technology companies who are frustrated by losing top talent to countries such as China and India, due to the lack of available U.S. visas. The site links to research reports supporting reasons why the U.S. needs many more skilled immigrants. For example, for every 100 immigrant technologists with advanced degrees who stay in the U.S., 262 jobs are created for American workers. Moreover, immigrants or first-generation Americans founded more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies.


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Top Users of H-1B Visas Are Offshore Outsourcers
Computerworld (via Network World), February 25

The biggest users of H-1B visas are offshore outsourcers, many based in India, or U.S.-based companies whose employees are mostly located overseas, according to new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data. This data is certainly controversial for the supporters of the skilled-worker visa program, who are pushing to increase the H-1B cap from 85,000 annually to 300,000. The new data suggests the major beneficiaries of an increase in the H-1B cap would likely be offshore outsourcing companies, not domestic technology companies. So does the H-1B visa undermine career opportunities for American tech workers or not?

Not all major H-1B users are India-based. Microsoft, the primary public face in the U.S. for H-1B supporters, is the 11th largest user of H-1B visas. IBM is also a major user, but a significant number of the H-1B visas it is granted go to its India-based unit. According to the 2012 USCIS data, initial H-1B approvals, those for first-time applicants rather than renewals, jumped 35% year-over-year. With that big increase -- which surprised many analysts -- the number of new-use approvals broke the 100,000 mark for the first time. Some observers who reviewed the numbers speculate that the higher H-1B count may be the result of a shift away from use of the L-1 visa, which is used by companies with offices in the U.S. and abroad to transfer employees.


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How Code.org Promotes an Agenda of Diversity & Equality in the Tech World
VentureBeat.com, February 27

By making coding part of the American dream, Code.org hopes to open up opportunities in programming regardless of race, gender or economic background. Code.org is an advocacy campaign focused at getting more kids interested in computer science. It’s also working to get more states, schools, and teachers on board with the program. The most visible aspect of its work so far has been a series of short films featuring the superstars of the digital age — Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey — talking about programming and how learning to write code can change lives for the better. In those videos, the Code.org team specifically attempted to get more women and people of underrepresented races front and center.

At a time when 90% of schools don’t even offer computer science, addressing gender and economic inequality is a big part of the messaging for organizations such as Code.org. The first part of addressing the gender gap is giving girls role models and dispelling misconceptions. Various studies have shown that by the time they’re in high school, girls steer clear of computer science because of preconceived — and largely inaccurate — ideas about what computer scientists do. Thus, with the video montage of different workplaces, Code.org wanted to get across that these are really great jobs, while showing that these people are working together in attractive workplaces. The new video takes on the idea that girls are bad at math and therefore can’t code, a message that’s passed down in popular culture if not in tech culture.


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Is Gen Y Less Entrepreneurial Than We Thought?
CBS News, February 27

Much has been made about Generation Y being the generation of entrepreneurs. Yet, according to a new study conducted by Monster.com and Millennial Branding, only 32% of members of Generation Y consider themselves to be entrepreneurial, as compared to 41% of Generation X and 45% of Baby Boomers (those between the ages of 50 and 69). The findings are so surprising because the conventional wisdom suggests that workers under age 30 – the members of Generation Y - are busy paving their own path, launching new ventures and starting new companies.

The most surprising finding from the study was that Boomers and members of Generation X consider themselves to be entrepreneurs more often than members of Generation Y. Based on previous research and anecdotal evidence, you would assume the opposite to be true. The case may be that Boomers are best positioned to start companies with their vast Rolodexes, wealth and experience, relative to Gen Y members who are just starting out and carry debt. The survey also found that different generations evaluate companies differently. Boomers and Gen X members care about location and healthcare, whereas Gen Y members care about training and development opportunities.


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Maybe Management Isn’t Your Style
New York Times, February 2

Many newly minted leaders rarely stop to think about the time commitment and learning curve as they transition from successful individual contributor to manager of a group of diverse people. They often fail to consider the demands of an expanding work schedule; the complexities of hiring, training, supervising and firing workers; or the needs to develop a vision and a tactical strategy, to create budgets or to be accountable for others’ productivity. Experts caution that, before going into management, you should know whether you are truly suited to the role. When offered a management position, perform a full assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and then talk to your future boss, to the person you’d be replacing, to team members and to anyone else who can tell you what the job entails.

When thinking about a career in management, reflect on your motivations, and then ask yourself these questions: Do I enjoy working with people, helping them to grow and to become successful? Do I handle uncertainty well, and do I mind making decisions without knowing the entire picture? Do I communicate well, in good times and bad? Do I have the time to take this on? If your answers are yes, then you could well have the makings of a good boss. On the other hand, do you need for everyone to like you? Want immediate and constant reinforcement? Feel nervous about having legal and financial responsibilities for others? Balk at the idea of evaluating or firing someone? Then it’s possible that you’re just not cut out to be a boss. Before deciding, find out what kind of leadership training the company offers, especially if you are new to management. Will you receive training at this level and for this job?


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Research Questions About MOOCs
Blog @ CACM, February 20

For all the current excitement surrounding MOOCs in the academic world, the initial evidence, for now, appears to be that MOOCs do a significantly worse job at engaging a diverse range of students and at educating than face-to-face classes. As a result, educators ought to know what we're getting into before they start replacing entire courses with a mostly untested and unproven technology. Going forward, researchers should focus on three central questions about MOOCs: What will be the impact of MOOCs on diversity in computing? Are MOOC online discussions as effective as classroom discussions? How much learning is going on in MOOCs?

For now, it appears that MOOCs are unlikely to change the diversity situation within the computing industry. This is unfortunate, given that the percentage of women in computing continues to decline, with only 11.7% of bachelor’s degrees in CS going to women in 2011. For now, only a small amount of data is available about the demographics of MOOCs. Tucker Balch just offered the first Coursera MOOC from Georgia Tech's College of Computing, and his demographic survey results suggest that MOOC-based computing education would be even more exclusive than what we currently have. The MOOC enrollees who finished the course were 88.6% white or Asian and 91% male. Of course, there might be ways to offer MOOCs that draw in a more diverse student body and retain them. We should figure out those best practices before we replace existing courses with MOOCs.


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E-Learning's Rock Stars
eLearn Magazine, February 2013

Within the e-learning industry, a mix of academics and technologists who are passionate, love what they do and truly believe they can change the world are driving innovative new educational offerings. These so-called “rock stars” are dedicated to improving upon what has previously been built and immersing themselves in their craft. They create experiences for their students and encourage communities where these students can share their knowledge with others. By studying what 12 of these leaders do, it’s possible to get a sense of the state-of-the-art in the e-learning industry.

Whether it's using new technologies, or staging an epic event, Neil Lasher is an expert at making impactful learning. Jane Bozarth is a master at leveraging social media and finding low-cost online training solutions. Clark Quinn is a leader in learning technology, strategy, and design, focusing on how people really learn, think, and perform. A designer and a strategist, Megan Bowe is helping to form the vision for an experience API to bring learning, portability of data, and formative analysis into focus. Chad Udell is a guru in creating usable, meaningful training solutions for mobile platforms. Alicia Sanchez specializes in implementing games and simulations into a variety of learning environments.


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