Document Actions

ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, May 7 , 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 9, May 7, 2013




 

Wanted: IT Staffers With Vertical Industry Chops
Computerworld, April 22

Hiring managers and recruiters are now looking for IT candidates with deep industry expertise that will help them keep up with fast-changing business processes as well as comply with a growing list of government regulations and industry standards. As a result, now what is critically necessary are not only technical skills and business knowledge, but also a detailed knowledge of what customers need, how the industry is changing and how clients and vendors think. The article outlines several reasons for this shift in thinking and also suggests several ways that IT candidates can demonstrate this industry expertise.

In some industries, such as healthcare, it’s a mix of regulatory change and the overall rapid pace of technological change that’s driving the need for this new set of credentials. Companies have found that getting technical people to understand the regulatory sphere is tough because it's a field they're usually not interested in. Another key factor is the speed of business change, which is putting a premium on individuals who understand the business requirements of a project, not just the technical requirements. This means that companies are broadening the reach of their IT recruiting efforts.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


First Lady Gets Behind Veterans' IT Training
FCW, May 1

A White House initiative for IT training combines the efforts of the public and private sectors to offer certifications for technology careers for military veterans preparing to transition to civilian life. First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Information Technology Training and Certification Partnership at the end of April, highlighting the reach of the program and the variety of career tracks it will help provide for veterans. The partnership comes as veterans face high unemployment rates and documented troubles in gaining critical job certifications. The partnership developed under a DOD task force effort the White House coordinated to identify military specialties that can readily be adapted to high-demand jobs.

As originally envisioned, this new partnership program will provide up to 161,000 service members with the chance to gain the certifications they need for 12 different high-demand, high-paying technology careers. The Task Force's work is focused on industries that have an identified need for more skilled workers and stand to benefit from military expertise and training, including manufacturing, first responders, healthcare, information technology, and transportation and logistics. The technology professions targeted through this partnership are expected to generate more than 1.8 million job opportunities by 2020, and have an average annual salary of more than $81,000. Participants in the program include industry trade associations, academia, unions, state governments, veterans' organizations, state licensing boards and a number of companies such as Cisco and Microsoft.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


The Rise of the Graduate Entrepreneur
The Independent, May 1

Even while the job market for traditional corporate jobs is shrinking within the U.K., a new job market for entrepreneurial startups is growing. With the rise in graduate unemployment, more and more graduates are reassessing their career options and looking for more entrepreneurial career paths. This is especially true since Gen Y graduates are generally less motivated by money, but more by the ability to make an impact and have autonomy in their work, which working in startup environments allow. Within the technology industry, the future is looking bright for young and tech-savvy entrepreneurs looking to start their own business.

This rise of the graduate entrepreneur has been helped by the creation of new tech startup hubs, such as East London’s Silicon Roundabout, as well as new startup acceleration programs. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of startups that are able to hire people within a couple of years of being founded, with relatively low risk for the new employee. New career fairs showcase promising startup companies, as well as entrepreneur-support programs that seek the startup creators of the future. Many of these companies offer internships and graduate positions, just like their established corporate counterparts. In general, there’s increased awareness of entrepreneurial startups, spearheaded by startup careers events across London, as well as new understanding of what startup companies have to offer.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


The New Résumé: It's 140 Characters
Wall Street Journal, April 9

For IT workers, Twitter is becoming the new job board as well as the new résumé of choice. Fed up with traditional recruiting sites and floods of irrelevant résumés, some recruiters are turning to Twitter to post jobs, hunt for candidates and research applicants. Job seekers, in turn, are trying to summarize their CVs in 140 characters. Twitter, which was founded in 2006, isn't yet revolutionizing recruiting, but some employers are already using it to great advantage, citing quick, direct contact with candidates and access to broad networks. This appeal will grow as Twitter develops functionality allowing recruiters to target the right individuals at the right time with tweets.

For now, the rules of recruiting on Twitter are still unclear. Job seekers are determining the proper mix of professional details and personal updates. There’s also debate about how to write a 140-character résumé in the form of a single tweet summarizing one's experience and unique attributes. The article provides an example of a Boston network-infrastructure firm that decided to exclusively recruit for a social media marketing position using Twitter. The firm promoted the position via tweets and only accepted candidates who tweeted their interest using a specific hashtag. They also requested that applicants have more than 1,000 active Twitter followers. Having narrowed the field down to about 15 finalists, the company became convinced Twitter recruiting is the way to go. The Web is your CV and social networks are your references.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Is the STEM Shortage a Myth?
Inc.com, April 25

Amid the heated immigration debate, many businesses claim there aren't enough high-skilled, domestic IT workers to fill the vacancies within the STEM industries. But that may not be the case, according to a recent study released by Economic Policy Institute, which found that U.S. colleges do produce a sufficient number of STEM workers to meet the market demand. The study, which focused only on the IT/Computer Science field, found that for every two American students who graduate with an IT degree, only one is hired into a STEM job. A third of the graduates who did not make it into an IT job said it was because such jobs were unavailable.

Hal Salzman, a Rutgers professor and one of the authors of the STEM shortage study, argues that at least 50% of new IT job openings are being filled with H-1B visa candidates. That number is unacceptably high, he argues, and should lead others to question whether there really is really a STEM skills shortage and whether there is an inability of the U.S. to produce talented people for these IT labor markets. The authors of the study looked at the domestic labor pool and supply and found that overall the colleges graduate twice as many STEM graduates as are going to STEM jobs. Within IT and computer science, only about 65% of computer science graduates go into an IT job. When they asked them, those who were employed but didn't go into IT, why they didn't go into IT, one-third said they couldn't find a job in IT and half said they found a better job elsewhere.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Companies Want Business-Savvy Tech Workers
IDG News Service, April 24

As companies continue to focus on ways to better align IT and business, it is changing what is expected from technology workers, say executives and staffing professionals. Business acumen is now on par with possessing stellar technical skills. Prior to the fiscal downturn, controlling IT spending wasn't emphasized, but now everything is about bringing down costs and ROI. Regardless of industry, the most-sought-after candidates are not only well versed in popular technologies, but also understand how their jobs are tied to better products and services and the bottom line.

IT workers who are able to see how technology can boost sales or improve a product may find themselves considered for new career opportunities. In short, extremely technical individuals who don’t have that ability to be a great listener to the business problem, they're not desired. As a result, some companies ask potential employees during the interview process if they're interested in learning the business and understanding the business enough to drive it forward. Companies want somebody that acts and functions as an owner and has a stake and ownership in the business and our customers. To give employees that ownership stake all workers are encouraged to share product ideas that are in the customer's best interest since satisfied users ultimately benefit the company.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Big Data, Trying to Build Better Workers
New York Times, April 20

Breakthroughs in workforce science, a new field of study which leverages Big Data, are making it possible to change the workplace so that it is more adaptive to the needs of workers. In some cases, workforce science calls into question long-held beliefs about what makes employees effective. For example, workforce science has found that an applicant’s work history is not always a good predictor of future results. Overall, workforce science adds a large dose of data analysis to the field of HR management, which has traditionally relied heavily on intuition and established practice to guide hiring, promotion and career planning.

Workforce science, in short, is what happens when Big Data meets HR management. For too long, most companies have been flying completely blind, without any way to measure the workplace. Today, every e-mail, instant message, phone call, line of written code and mouse-click leaves a digital signal. These patterns can now be inexpensively collected and mined for insights into how people work and communicate, potentially opening doors to more efficiency and innovation within companies. Digital technology also makes it possible to conduct and aggregate personality-based assessments, such as by using online quizzes or games, in far greater detail and numbers than ever before. In the past, studies of worker behavior were typically based on observing a few hundred people at most. Today, studies can include thousands or hundreds of thousands of workers, an exponential leap ahead.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Nine Things to Consider Before Accepting That IT Job Offer
CIO.com, April 23

There are nine questions you need to ask yourself before you change IT jobs. To be the best at what you do and succeed, you need to do some evaluating of your own before you sign that offer letter. In short, you need to be interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you. Based on new research that highlights key predictors of future job success, there is now a better understanding of which questions you should be asking. With that in mind, the article provides a list of nine factors will help you define with more clarity whether a new position or company is right for you.

First of all, know what motivates you in the workplace. This sounds simple, but many people don't really know the answer to that question. According to career experts, many times money is not the primary factor behind what motivates people. For example, if it's important to you to make independent decisions and you accept a job with a controlling manager, you will not be happy. Second, knowing the situation that created the position can tell you a lot about what's going on in the company. For example, if the position you are about to fill has had four people in the last two years that should throw up a red flag. It is important to know why the person before left to be prepared for the role and its demands.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


The Science in Computer Science
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 56, No. 5, May 2013

Peter J. Denning, editor-in-chief of Ubiquity, makes the case that computer science is indeed a “science” and that it is fundamentally distinct from any of the STEM fields. As Denning points out, how we define “computer science” matters for educators, researchers and practitioners. When it comes to education, for example, viewing computer science as a “science” will elevate it in any discussion of funding priorities for building a competitive IT workforce. When it comes to the workplace itself, it means that computer scientists will be seen as genuine collaborators with reliable predictive models and valuable analytic tools, rather than just as professional coders.

Denning points out that two external factors – the rise of computational science and the discovery of natural information processes - have spawned a science renaissance in computing. Experimental methods have regained their stature because they are the only way to understand very complex systems and to discover the limits of heuristic problem solution methods. New fields heavily based in experimental methods have opened up—network science, social network science, design science, data mining, and Bayesian inference. The widening claims that information processes occur in nature have refuted the notion that computer science is not "natural" and have complemented earlier arguments that computing is a science of the artificial. This brief history suggests that computing began as science, morphed into engineering for 30 years while it developed technology, and then entered a science renaissance about 20 years ago.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


People of ACM: Moshe Y. Vardi
ACM Bulletin, April 23

Moshe Y. Vardi, the editor-in-chief of the Communications of the ACM, talks about the changing landscape of the computing industry over the next decade. According to Vardi, ACM will continue to respond to the changing needs of IT workers, while preserving its own important role within the computing industry. Looking ahead, Vardi weighs in on new career options for technologists, such as the emerging field of Big Data. He also offers his take on computer automation and global outsourcing, suggesting that while the process is accelerating, it is not fundamentally changing the outlook for computer science jobs.

As Moshe Vardi points out, a burgeoning new era in data analysis has the potential to create new career options in Big Data for young grads. The explosion of social media, mobile devices, and sensors means that we now have access to mountains of data, enabling us to quantify many aspects of society, the environment, and even ourselves. This is bound to have significant implications on business, health, public policy, and the like. While there are undoubtedly great technical and occupational opportunities in Big Data, we must also remember that human beings are not fully quantifiable. Big Data will explain a lot, but it will not explain everything.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top