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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, May 3, 2011

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 7, Issue 9, May 3, 2011




Software Engineer Ranked Best Job for 2011
TMC Net, April 28

The new Jobs Rated report from job site CareerCast indicates that Software Engineer is the top ranked job for 2011. Identifying a software engineer as someone who can design and create software for everything from operating systems to cell phone apps to interactive games, the site suggested that the push toward Web applications and cloud computing is opening up the market for software engineers. More companies are designing apps for smartphones and tablets, while cloud computing is creating a need for software that can be hosted online.

In addition to its increased diversity of job responsibilities, software engineering scored high marks for growth potential and competitiveness. Those good grades mean that software engineers are less bound to employers or vulnerable to outsourcing, according to CareerCast. And as a result, the overall stress ranking for the job has also improved this year. Overall, CareerCast sees software engineering as offering a comfortable work environment, few physical demands, better than average income, relatively low stress levels, and strong hiring. The site estimated the annual salary at $87,140.


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IT Staffing Expert Says Tech Employment Is Improving
CIO.com, March 30

According to IT staffing firm Technisource, IT employment generally has stabilized, and in some areas - such as application development and project management - is now starting to pick up. Based on staffing requests the company is getting from clients, companies are beginning to invest in capital projects aimed at automation to lower their increasing labor costs. These need IT professionals—both full-time and contract—to design, develop, plan, manage and implement these automation projects, especially in areas such as healthcare.

These trends point to the fact that we'll see more IT projects getting done, typically on the applications side, in a 70/30 ratio of applications to infrastructure projects. Not surprisingly, the IT workers who stand to benefit the most from this automation trend include application developers, project managers (particularly those with PMI certifications), business analysts and IT architects. On the infrastructure side, there appears to be a lot of companies interested in outsourcing infrastructure: server monitoring, data center management, help desk and service desk.


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The Five Core Competencies For Developing IT Leaders
Information Week, April 28

A senior technology executive with a 40-year IT career highlights the five core competencies that IT leaders should be developing. CIOs need to build a strong team of officers and departmental directors that can execute without a lot of detailed direction. While performance reviews and annual objective-setting exercises are useful in aligning individual tasks, management expectations, and organizational goals, they do not build true leaders. Particularly when it comes to high-potential individuals, it is important to create a multi-dimensional framework to develop core competencies of IT leadership in the following areas: People, Project, Financial, Executive, and Contract Management.

Departmental directors should have mastered the basics of managing people, including teaming, motivation, follow-up, task assignment, legal issues, communications, and company policies. Yet, high-potential directors often have gotten to where they are because of their deep personal knowledge of an area, a favorable set of circumstances, or a great team. One way to ensure that directors have mastered these fundamental attributes is by rotating them between different departments and different styles of management.


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Hire For How They Learn, Not What They Know
Management Issues, April 28

While many companies use brainteasers and other puzzles to identify creative problem solvers as part of their interview process, these questions are not a guarantee that the person is creative or that they will help the company innovate. The lesson for companies: don't just hire for what they can do now or for what you need doing now. Employees need to be able to respond to changing market conditions and adapt to future trends. While each can be individually brilliant, each also has to play their role as part of a team committed to day-to-day innovation.

Tests – of all kinds - are popular for many reasons. Popular companies deal with tens of thousands of applications each year, so various pseudo-scientific methods are able to reduce that number before inviting candidates for an interview. IQ tests don't measure creativity although there is correlation between creativity and intelligence. Far more important than what a person knows is how a person learns. What a person knows matters. You want experts, you want knowledge, but this should be taken as a given. However, the way that people have learned what they know and the way they intend learning what they will need to know in the future is the real difference between candidates. It's also the difference between companies. Learning new things is at the heart of innovation.


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Promoting Coworking Spaces to Your Distributed Team
Web Worker Daily, April 26

Coworking spaces, shared office-like workspaces that offer desks, Internet access and social interaction, are appearing all over the world and are proving to be a popular choice with freelancers and independent professionals. Businesses working with distributed teams should consider the benefits of coworking spaces, too. The article takes a closer look at the argument for having team members work out of professional, physical office space instead of their homes or cafés, at rates a fraction of what it would cost to maintain dedicated office locations.

With a telecommuting staff, you likely don’t have a lot of input into where exactly your team works. However, it may be worthwhile suggesting local coworking spaces as an option to your team members, especially if you see productivity declining. There are now a number of online resources for finding local coworking spaces. Not all coworking spaces are created equal, but they will offer a more professional environment than a home office or coffee shop. And for some people, just having to leave the house can make a world of difference. Of course, if you’re suggesting team members use coworking spaces, you’ll need to be prepared to cover the costs, but coworking spaces are generally fairy inexpensive, and can be offset against the costs of setting up and maintaining team members’ home offices.


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Quora: The Next Social Network IT Pros Need to Know?
CIO.com (via Network World), April 25

Quora, an increasingly popular social network for asking and answering questions on topics related to technology and computer science, is emerging as a way to identify new IT talent. On the site, questions range the gamut, from questions about acquisitions in the technology space to questions about how to improve specific products, services and platforms. While there are other Q&A sites on the Web, Quora is unique for the quality of its answers and the established backgrounds of people answering the questions. Given the hype initially generated around Quora by bloggers and technology news sites, the article takes a closer look at the pros and cons of using Quora as a competitive differentiator for IT professionals.

The best way to get a quick sense of whether Quora could be useful for your IT career is to post a question on the site. Once you have a large number of followers on Quora, you will likely receive more responses. While Quora isn't extremely useful yet for detailed enterprise IT topics, it’s possible to learn quite a bit about enterprise software startups, hosting services from the likes of Amazon and Rackspace, and software as a service. According to Quora founder Adam D'Angelo, creating an enterprise-specific version of Quora isn't a current priority. However, there are enterprise-specific Q&A offerings available or in the works such as Opzi and Mindquilt.


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2011 Will Be Landmark Year for Hiring in India
The Times of India, April 25

In India, this year is expected to be a significant year for tech hiring and job mobility as market visibility improves, global customers increase their spending and project pipelines remain full. External head hunters are optimistic of a very bullish trend with hiring requirements going up substantially this year by 60% to 70%, compared to last year's 20% increase over the previous year. The industry will see around 200,000 new engineering graduates entering the job market this year while another 300,000 people will move and change jobs within the industry. Also, there will be another over 100,000 graduates entering the market with undergraduate degrees in computer science-related fields.

In addition to this influx of young graduates, nearly 50,000 mid-to-senior people are expected to join the IT industry from traditional verticals like manufacturing, auto, oil, telecom and logistics. The IT/ITES industry employs around 1.5 million people and at least 25% of that population will be looking for a new job this year. Many people stayed put in organizations for the last three years due to sheer want of options outside. As a result of this new mobility, this year we can expect a net hiring of around 400,000 people, compared to 200,000 in 2010 and only 100,000 in 2009.


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The Informational Interview: Seven Easy Steps to Success
CBS MoneyWatch.com, April 26

Informational interviews, in which you gather information about a contact’s job and industry, are vitally important to learning about new careers and opportunities. An informational interview can put you at the head of the line when a position appears, lead to valuable employment contacts, or simply help you figure out your next career move. After explaining how to identify the right people for an informational interview, the article provides advice on every aspect of planning, meeting and then following up with this new contact. By following these seven steps, you will be able to make the most of any informational interview.

Don’t lead off the interview by asking for a job. This is precisely what separates an informational interview from a regular one: an informational interview is not about a job, it’s about meeting someone, getting to know what they need, and letting them know what you want. Avoid the temptation to pry about internal contacts or job openings. A common misconception about informational interviews is that the interviewer is there just to take information from the person they are interviewing. Instead, it should be a two-way dialogue. Know how to present yourself in the first 60 seconds with a story that describes your clear goals. Make certain when you leave that the individual knows what you are looking for and the three key strengths you bring to the table so that it is easy for them to share your story with others.


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ACM Recognizes Leaders Who Created Research, Learning Opportunities in Computing
ACM Press Room, April 21

ACM announced the winners of two awards that recognize individuals who understand the importance of collaborative research and learning environments to promote creativity and drive innovation in computing and IT. Dr. Reinhard Wilhelm of Schloss Dagstuhl in Saarland, Germany, and Joseph S. DeBlasi, former Executive Director of ACM, guided the development of institutions that attracted and inspired computing students and professionals from around the globe. The programs and infrastructures they built and sustained during their respective tenures produced renowned innovators who have changed the world. Both will be honored at the ACM Awards Banquet on June 4 in San Jose.

The awards include The Distinguished Service Award to Reinhard Wilhelm for two decades of exceptional service at the Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz Center for Informatics, creating a stimulating environment for advancing research in informatics. Wilhelm brought together researchers from complementary computing areas for intensive workshops that promoted new research collaborations and directions. As scientific director of the Schloss Dagstuhl Center, Wilhelm encouraged seminars that brought together people with common interests but limited prior contact. A Fellow of ACM for his research on compiler construction and program analysis and his leadership of the Leibniz Center for Informatics, Wilhelm is a member of the European Academy of Sciences. In 2009, he was awarded the Konrad-Zuse medal for his achievements in research and education, and in 2010, he received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.


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Let ACM Help You Find Your Next Job Online
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 54 No. 5, April 2011

According to a recent Harris Interactive Poll of hiring managers and HR professionals, recruiting in the IT and technology sectors is expected to increase 26% and 19% over 2010 respectively. While hiring and recruiting are on an upswing, finding the right position and the perfect match between candidates and employers is not always an easy task. There are literally hundreds of online resources posting jobs in the technology sector and academia with hundreds of thousands of candidates competing for those positions worldwide. To make that task easier, ACM continues to develop its own online Career and Job Center, which attracts the most experienced and talented employees, faculty, managers, and executives.

This ACM career site provides career-oriented resources, such as the ability to post your résumé or CV, the ability to search an active database of hundreds of open positions, and the ability to set up alerts and feeds of positions that fit your personalized criteria. Over the past three years, 1,500+ employers have posted more than 1,782 jobs on ACM's Job Board, nearly 14,000 ACM members have signed up to use the free service, and over 4,800 ACM members have posted their résumés in the secure database made available to employers. The site is among the most heavily trafficked of all ACM Web sites with over 72,000 unique visitors from over 181 countries using the site over the past year generating nearly 150,000 visits and 550,000 page views. The site also attracts many of the most respected employers from both academia and industry around the world.


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