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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, September 17, 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 18, September 17, 2013




Fed Says Tech Skills Demand Outstrips Supply in Boston, San Francisco
Computerworld, September 9

While the IT employment outlook has provided mixed signals across the nation, hiring appears to be particularly strong in both Boston and San Francisco. According to the Federal Reserve, in these two cities demand for certain types of tech skills is outstripping supply. In the New England area in particular, there remains a shortage of skilled technical workers to fill high-end IT and engineering jobs, primarily due to a skills mismatch between available workers and hiring firms. In the Bay Area, the high demand for IT skills is forcing firms to compete vigorously for a limited pool of qualified workers, which is spurring significant wage growth.

According to recruiters, the experience most in demand is the ability to build the Web infrastructure and applications that can handle millions of visitors. That kind of experience makes hiring difficult, especially as larger tech firms compete with smaller start-ups for the best talent. In terms of programming and platforms skills, recruiters cited a broad range of programming languages, including Java, Ruby on Rails, and Python. As firms compete for the best tech talent, that tends to have an impact on salaries. In Boston, for example, salaries have increased anywhere from 10% to 15% over the past six months.


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Open Source Career Opportunities Continue to Abound
CIO.com September 4

Despite an uncertain environment for some IT hiring, open source jobs remain a consistent source of career growth for technology professionals. Now, with technologies such as the cloud, social media, big data, software-as-a-service and mobile all maturing so rapidly, it makes more sense for companies to leverage the open source community effort to accelerate development and deployment. Having a community of developers devoted to improving the code and continually adding functionality can help businesses shorten the adoption cycle and more quickly leverage new and emerging technologies to their benefit.

Whatever industry you're in, if you're an open source developer, it seems the market's wide open. Programming languages are certainly one aspect that remains in demand, but search technology, the cloud, big data and security are also popular. Many companies use open source technologies to not only accelerate technology development, but also to get around exorbitant licensing costs. For organizations with more than about 20 or so servers, it's much more cost-effective to hire skilled open source developers and pay for their expertise than to pay for proprietary software licenses. Companies are also using open source to write customized code that works to connect homegrown applications and database management solutions to legacy applications.


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The NSA Sponsors Cyber Operations Training at Universities
Washington Post, September 11

Carnegie Mellon became the latest university to partner with the NSA on a program designed to recruit young cyber security experts. The NSA has run this cyber operations program since 2012, working with Northeastern University, Dakota State, the University of Tulsa and the Naval Postgraduate School to design curricula that match the intelligence and infrastructure needs of the agency. The purpose is to shift cyber capabilities from cyber defense to cyber offense. It is also to attract the next generation of analysts and hackers directly to the NSA, CIA, Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies and contractors. While the NSA does not teach these classes or dictate what faculty members teach, schools compete for NSA certification and students have the opportunity to work with the NSA during summer sessions.

At Carnegie Mellon, aspiring government hackers, programmers and cyber security analysts start out with basics such as fundamentals of telecommunications networks and introduction to computer security before moving on to courses in mobile security, operating systems and Internet services. All students also take a class on applied cryptography during their second year, which covers both how to encrypt digital information and how to crack encrypted signals. That mirrors the cyber ops program at Northeastern, which, unlike the Carnegie Mellon program, is open to undergraduates. Computer science majors at Northeastern study theory, programming languages and other basics before taking required classes on cyber ops.


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More Women Are Going Into Math and Science But Bypassing Tech Careers
Quartz, September 10

Although women have seen an overall increase in their representation within many science and engineering jobs, the percentage of women in computer jobs has dropped since 1990, a new U.S. Census report shows. Women represent almost half of all U.S. workers, and now hold 47% of mathematical jobs and 61% of social science jobs. At the same time, they only account for 27% of computer jobs and 13% of engineering jobs. The computer field is important because it has grown to represent almost half of all STEM occupations. Women are especially underrepresented as computer network architects (11.1%), systems administrators (19.1%) and mechanical engineers (6.3%).

For the computer science field, the problem of the gender gap in IT is particularly vexing because large amounts of money and programs are being invested to encourage girls and young women to consider computer and engineering jobs. Though the Census data covers the US, the decline in women in the tech field is affecting many countries. For example, India has some of the lowest participation rates of women in science and technology. Even in countries where the numbers of women studying science and technology have increased, it has not translated into more women in the workplace, according to researchers at the Women in Global Science & Technology.


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Jobs and the Future of Work According to LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner
GigaOm.com, September 10

According to LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, the future of work and jobs will be complex and filled with uncertainty. As a result, job seekers will have to be creative about how they connect the various aspects of their professional lives, how they think about the idea of work and even how they consider the concept of reputation in a digital, interconnected world. Weiner said his company wants to build the economy graph which would allow LinkedIn to map jobs to skills, talent, companies and geographies. And in order to do so, it needs to bring almost 3 billion people who work (or will be looking for work) on to its platform.

Technology is creating different kinds of job opportunities, meaning that you do not necessarily need to be a data scientist or a developer to have a job in the future that is related to tech. In order to better prepare for the big technological shift, LinkedInā€™s Weiner believes that as a society we should be investing in education for the long-term. At the same time, we need to invest in vocational education to retrain workers of today for the jobs that are out there. It is this training that will have an immediate impact on the labor markets. The fractionalization of work is not going to go away. Simply put, the full time job opportunities as we have gotten used to might not exist in the future. As a result, we have to think differently about work. There will be many new opportunities as technology merges with every day economic activity at a much deeper level. They are leading to jobs, but not the kind we can put in a box.


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IT Job Search Tips for Baby Boomers
CIO.com, September 3

From re-thinking how to present a resume to developing a social media presence, there are concrete steps that aging Baby Boomers can take to showcase their extensive IT skills and land a new position in the technology field. At a time when age discrimination in the tech industry appears to be a growing trend among companies, there isn't a lot you can do if a hiring manager is bent on hiring someone younger. However, there are things you can do to prevent yourself from being cut before you even make it to the interview. There are several employer misconceptions that you have to overcome if you are a Baby Boomer IT professional.

For Baby Boomers, job hunting needs to be a full-time job. The IT job market is fiercely competitive so you've got be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort. Don't rely only on your recruiter or job boards; you've got to have a multipronged attack if you want to secure a job in a reasonable amount of time. Work with a recruiter, use job boards and put the word out to your network. The resume is a great place to start. This often times is the only contact you may have with a prospective employer. Write a solid accomplishment-driven resume that shows how you overcame challenges with results. There are other ways to present a winning resume: do not list of all your experience on your resume, especially if it includes out-of-date skills; remove unnecessary dates that might enable recruiters to ballpark your age; and include groups, affiliations and awards that are thought to be at the cutting edge of technology.


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Lessons in Entrepreneurship
Wall Street Journal, September 4

It is possible to learn how to become a tech entrepreneur, even if you do not think you were born with the entrepreneurship gene. Thatā€™s the view of Bill Aulet, the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, a research and teaching program at MIT. As Aulet points out, educators currently spend too much time regaling students with tales from the trenches and not enough time providing clear directions. In fact, Aulet says there are 24 detailed steps to create a successful startup, each of which can become part of a broader road map to create new products and make them profitable. And, he says, it is not necessarily the case that entrepreneurship courses should be based in business schools.

After explaining how the nature of entrepreneurship has changed, Bill Aulet of MIT analyzes the new types of workplace opportunities that are being made possible by entrepreneurs. In many ways, entrepreneurship is the new face of work: the only stability you have is to build a skill set that allows you to control your own destiny. Unfortunately, schools have embraced the wrong way to teach entrepreneurship. Simple storytelling is not effective. It may inspire people to work hard and take on the competition, but it does not prepare people to run companies. People need to have a set of tools in the toolbox, not just one standard skill (tool), and that means that business schools are not always the best place to teach entrepreneurship.


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Your Video Strategy May Hold the Key to Hiring Top Talent
Network World, September 9

If the video technology strategy of your company is not up to par, you could be losing out on top talent, especially as the next generation of executives comes into their own. That's the takeaway from a recently released study, 2013 Cisco Global Young Executives' Video Attitudes Survey, which was sponsored by Cisco. While business-class video always has been used to help organizations stay better connected, younger executives increasingly see the technology as a 'must-have' at their current and future firms. The study showed that 87% of these executives would choose to work at an organization that invested more heavily in business-class video, even if presented with another job offer with a higher salary.

As business becomes more global, having a seat at the table, even if you can not literally be there, is critical to developing and maintaining relationships with customers, suppliers, vendors and colleagues. 87% of respondents say video will have a positive impact on their organization, with the top areas of impact being the ability to better read visual cues and foster better communication with colleagues and customers as well as having an enhanced telecommuting experience and the opportunity to reduce travel costs.


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CCC Launching New Postdoc Best Practices Program with Funding Opportunities
The Computing Community Consortium Blog

With backing from the National Science Foundation, the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is announcing a program to develop, implement and institutionalize the implementation of best practices for supporting postdocs. This program will award grants to institutions or consortia of institutions to implement best practices for strengthening the postdoc experience in computer science and computing-related fields. These supporting programs will enable Ph.D. graduates to transition effectively to research roles in a variety of sectors.

The new CCC program fits in with the broader goal of developing new computing talent to carry out high impact research. Since an appointment as a postdoctoral researcher is an increasingly common starting point for a research career, the NSF, Computer & Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate and the CCC seek to recognize the critical importance in having an excellent postdoc training experience to help junior researchers advance their careers.


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Has the Computing Innovation Cup Run Dry?
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 56 No. 9, September 2013

Moshe Y. Vardi, Editor-in-Chief of Communications of the ACM, tackles the debate over innovation in the computing world. Have we reached a plateau of innovation, dooming us to several decades of sluggish growth, or are we on the cusp of a new industrial revolution, with the promise of dramatic changes, analogous to those that took place in the first half of the 20th century? While many like to think that we have experienced a golden age for computing technology, a growing number of pessimists claim that life today does not seem that different than life 50 years ago. Vardi weighs the various arguments for and against, and winds up on the side of the techno-optimists, who see emerging technologies forever changing how we live and work.

As Vardi points put, it is hard to be a pessimist when there is so much new and innovative research happening in the computing field. As an example, he points to the historic gathering in 2012 in which ACM celebrated Alan Turing's centenary by assembling almost all of the living ACM Turing Award Laureates for a two-day event in San Francisco. Participants said this was one of the most moving scientific meetings they have ever attended, and a true celebration of 75 years of computing technology that has changed the world, as well as the people who pioneered that technology. It is difficult to imagine this technology not broadening and deepening its impact on our lives.


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