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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 6, 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 5, March 6, 2012




The Best Cities For Finding IT Jobs in 2012
CIO.com, February 16

The best U.S. cities for finding IT jobs are Washington DC, Houston, Minneapolis and San Francisco, according to a survey of three national staffing firms. The recruiters based their choices of the best cities on a number of criteria, including open positions they need to fill or have filled in each city so far this year, the importance of the positions that need to be filled, the cities in which they see the biggest increases in job orders, salaries in those cities, and national hiring surveys. The article also provides an overview of which sectors are driving IT job growth within each of these leading cities.

Washington, DC and its suburban environs (e.g. McLean, Virginia) top the list of the best cities for finding IT jobs. The federal government may not be creating many jobs, but the systems integrators, defense contractors and professional services firms servicing the government are making up for it, according to staffing industry executives. Banking companies in the area are also hiring tech workers, as well as rising tech startups. Another leading city is Houston, where oil and gas companies are major catalysts for tech hiring. Notably, the medical and healthcare industry is beginning to rival the energy industry as a top tech employer in the area.


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Half of UK IT Professionals Awarded Pay Rise and Bonus in 2011
Computer Weekly, February 29

According to the latest IT salary and career survey, almost half of UK IT professionals received a pay rise last year. The survey of 600 UK companies, conducted in November 2011, found 46% of respondents received a pay rise; 33% received a bonus; and only 0.6% said they had experienced a pay cut. Senior C-level executives averaged their current salaries at £64,000, rising to £93,000 with bonuses and commission. The average base wage came to £45,500, rising to £50,500 with bonuses and commission.

The good news is that this upward salary momentum in the UK is likely to continue in 2012. Some 46% of respondents anticipated a pay rise in 2012. The survey found 36% expected another bonus, with only 0.2% predicting a pay cut. As of yet, though, recruiters have not seen large raises in salaries and bonuses. In fact, many people are moving jobs for the same money or are taking pay cuts to move in to roles they feel will develop them further in their career through learning new and different skills.


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The End of the Full-Time Salaried Job
TIME, February 17

As the number of “free agents” – contractors, freelancers, and consultants - in America continues to rise, the workplace environment is rapidly evolving to offer more freedom and flexibility. Companies are hiring more free agents than ever before because they save money and acquire niche expertise to solve specific business problems. In 2009, companies hired 28% more freelancers, and now in 2012, they are hiring 36% more. In the current economy, this means that there is less job security. In response, IT professionals need to understand the resources and tools for remaining relevant to their organizations.

As Dan Schawbel points out, the biggest challenge you will have is to build a pipeline of client projects to survive and thrive on. There can be periods of time when you’re looking for the next project, unlike a full-time gig where your manager delivers the next project right to you. You have to be a good salesperson and be able to develop relationships if you want to last in the business. By bonding together, you can share resources and have ongoing interactions with clients in a more scalable manner. You should refer jobs to other free agents because they might reciprocate in the future. Tap into freelance marketplaces. There are websites where you can bid on new projects, blogs with their own job boards and aggregation sites that compile opportunities for you, such as Elance.com or Freelancer.com


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IT Jobs on the Rise -- Both Offshore and in U.S.
InfoWorld, March 1

As growth returns to the world economy, outsourcing returned to favor again in 2011 and will continue to post bold gains in 2012 as well. Although the macro-trend is continued growth in the use of IT outsourcing, it's not all going overseas. "Labor arbitrage" -- the difference in wage rates between the United States and other countries -- is decreasing, particularly in China. As it becomes more attractive to “insource” and “rural-source” to U.S.-based providers, the Chinese are now emphasizing competitive advantages beyond cheaper labor costs. Although many, and perhaps most, of the companies shifting to rural America are still small, large companies are also packing up and moving parts of their operations to places like North Dakota.

The U.S. outsourcing market is recovering, with the financial services segment leading the way. For all industry sectors, however, last year’s activity was essentially at or above the five-year average, which can be taken as an indication of a broad-based increase in overall economic strength. During the worst of the recession, companies balked at the high upfront costs of outsourcing, and they weren't willing to wait the years it would taken to recover that initial outlay through subsequent savings. The report reveals other key findings. Today, the Chinese outsourcing industry is roughly a $20 billion business, and the Chinese government is intent on growing that number. Despite public opposition, U.S. state governments -- faced with the conflicting demands of shrinking budgets and the need to revamp aging IT infrastructures -- are beginning to look at outsourcing as a solution.


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Re-Framing Talent for Our Times
The Ideas Economy, February 6

Leading management gurus John Hagel and John Seely Brown weigh in how companies need to re-define “talent” for the current generation. Today’s economy, characterized by rapid, volatile change and mounting competitive pressures, places a new set of demands on firms. Yet, companies have not yet risen to these challenges, leading to declining performance. Companies realize that recruiting and fostering top talent is crucial to their performance; indeed, firms are paying increasingly high premiums for knowledge workers in an effort to attract those they consider to be talented employees. As Hagel and Brown suggest, firms must broaden their view of “talent” from a static set of skills and relationships held by a few to a much more dynamic set of dispositions that can drive sustained performance improvement.

While companies invest heavily in recruiting, most firms employ a static view of talent, focusing largely on one or two dimensions: skill set and network. The most prevalent view of talent, particularly at lower levels of an organization, is skill set. In this view, an individual’s value to the organization is defined by the information conveyed on his or her resume. A two-dimensional view of talent takes into consideration both “what” and “whom” a person knows. This view of talent is often employed when recruiting for senior positions. While these two dimensions may convey an individual’s value at a given point, they fail to capture how he or she may develop over time or how the individual might cope when faced with an unexpected challenge or change.


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Hot IT Skills in 2012
CIO.com, February 21

The three big areas for IT skills in 2012 will be mobile application development, cloud computing and big data, according to the latest data on IT salary trends and IT staffing requests. The findings are grounded in the analysis of growth patterns for various tech skills and IT hiring trends in key metropolitan markets. The 14 IT skills in greatest demand are HTML5, iPhone/iPad, Android, JavaScript, UI Design, Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce, Google Apps, Amazon Web Services (EC2), MySQL, HBase, Cognos and Informatica.

These findings on the hot IT hiring areas for 2012 match up with those of other research firms. Typically, firms analyze the value of various IT skills and the premiums companies pay to obtain them. Foote Partners' research supports the notion that iPhone/iPad and Android development skills are among those in greatest demand, as companies are paying some of the highest premiums to obtain those skills. Employers are also paying high premiums for Cognos and Informatica expertise, according to Foote's data.


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Six Networking Mistakes Job Hunters Make
Fortune/CNN Money, February 24

As career coaches and other experts point out, there are many misconceptions about what networking really is. In fact, there are six classic networking mistakes that job hunters make, even when they understand the value of online social networking. While sometimes it seems like an imposition to get in touch with former colleagues and acquaintances, this is typically because the approach being used is not right: getting in touch with your business contacts, letting them know you are looking for work and asking if they know of anything is not effective. With that in mind, the article guides through the process of how to fine-tune the networking process to make it as effective as possible.

One mistake that job networkers make is leading with their need. If you seem desperate, people will run the other way. Instead, take stock of exactly what kind of work would fascinate and engage you most, and then launching an information-gathering campaign. Find ways to approach people that call on their knowledge and expertise, and the conversations you have with them will be far more productive. Not only will you make more connections and learn more about specific openings, but also you'll vastly increase your chances of ending up in the right place. There's no question that LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be tremendously useful in a job hunt, but you can’t use them exclusively. You need to get away from the computer screen and connect with people.


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Why Don't We Use Worksheets in Computer Science Education?
Blog @ CACM, February 20

Worksheets, when used appropriately by computer science education instructors, can provide a boost to students in learning how to code. Educators can use thee worksheets to complement CS education approaches used now, such as tweaking the next programming assignment to emphasize problematic issues or adding new material to lectures. These worksheets, which consist of a short, constrained, set of exercises with mostly fill-in-the-blank, true/false, and multiple-choice activities, can provide a more timely way to test students’ knowledge. The article covers the basics of these computer science education worksheets, focusing on why they help to provide a superior educational experience.

In comparison, other STEM disciplines – from chemistry to physics to mathematics - use worksheets all the time, even in higher education. With worksheets, student work is guided and constrained, to help students succeed and focus on the learning issues. Worksheet activities can work quite well in an introductory course: instructors lecture through about half of each class session, and then have students do a worksheet, and they discuss the results in class. The worksheets are only used to mark attendance, not for correctness. The goal is to encourage student learning and break up a long lecture.


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The Four Tech Tools You Should Be Using in Your Classroom But Aren't
eLearn Magazine, February 2012

Can technology make the teaching process easier, beyond the basics of electronic grade books and word processing? The answer is yes, as long as the specific programs and websites that we use are intuitive for new users and, more importantly, fill a pressing need in an educator's life. For educators, the goal should be uncovering hidden gems of technology that improve the educational process and then bringing them into the classroom. Examples of technology that makes life easier, more streamlined and more exciting include Prezi, Pinterest, Springpad and Dropbox.

One tool for educators is Prezi, which is essentially a high-powered version of Powerpoint. Prezi allows users to create interactive presentations that are the antithesis of boring, bulleted slideshows. Prezi takes viewers on a journey, one that could include twists, turns, and sudden shifts in orientation. Embed graphics, videos, text, and shapes to make things even more engaging. The next tech tool is Pinterest, which is a visual pinboard that allows users to store, organize and share all of the cool things they find on the Web. Pinterest allows you to bookmark an inspiring lesson or a compelling photo of a classroom. Pinterest will allow you to electronically "grab" a photo from any webpage, type in a description, and store it on one of your many boards.


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