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ACM CareerNews for Wednesday, November 16, 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 22, November 16, 2011




Why Digital Talent Doesn’t Want to Work At Your Company
Fast Company, October 27

The opportunity to do great things, to make a real difference, is what drives most digital talent -- whether they’re programmers, developers or designers. At the end of the day, top digital talent prioritizes the right types of opportunities over salary, geography or special workplace perks. Most companies, however, don’t offer the chance to change the world, so top talent decides to work somewhere else that’s more innovative and exciting. The good news is that you can offer them something exciting: the promise of changing a giant, behind-the-times organization into an Internet-savvy business. Job candidates and new hires with digital skills must truly believe in the company’s dedication to digital transformation and they must see that they are empowered to make this change.

Digital talent won’t want to work at your company if every element of their work will be pored over by multiple layers of bureaucracy. In a technology environment, new products and businesses spring up daily and a new endeavor can go from conception to launch in a matter of months. Reining in the momentum will be read as inaction and a clear signal the company isn’t willing to grasp the new way of the world. Also, accepting a culture of mediocrity will discourage digital talent. They want to be expected to do something great. They want to be pushed. They care about their work. Employees need the freedom to try out new ideas, so that they can take initiative, make decisions, and learn from their mistakes. It also demonstrates that the company has an attractive and inspiring entrepreneurial spirit.


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Looking for Work? Here's a Job Fair Touting Tech Openings in India
Computerworld, November 11

Indian IT companies, as well as American consulting firms and technology vendors operating in India, are now trying to convince the best and brightest tech workers to return to India. At a recent job fair at the San Jose Convention Center, companies were actively recruiting Indian workers who may be in the U.S. on a visa by informing them about the professional and economic opportunities back home. Overall, there are 13 companies involved in the jobs fair, including a number of high-profile U.S.-based tech companies with extensive operations in India.

The success of the San Jose fair builds on the success of an East Coast version of this job fair in New Jersey that drew about 1,000 people. Recruiters are looking for professionals where there are gaps in the Indian market. Indian companies need experienced people who can step into project management roles up to senior levels. The companies are typically looking for someone with eight or more years of experience and specific domain knowledge. In addition, workers should have the ability to lead large project teams and run large Web sites.


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Using LinkedIn to Track Down Your Dream Job
The Globe and Mail, November 6

Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to showcase your skills and talents and help the right people and opportunities find their way to you. Tapping your social network on LinkedIn can be an effective way to embrace a different functional area in your career, especially if your connections know about a job that has not yet been posted or your connection to the hiring manager has already been created. Whether you’re using LinkedIn to find a job or to build a network, it’s important to have a complete profile. Members with at least one past position listed on their profiles are 12 times more likely to be found by employers, while adding a photo to their profiles increases their chances sevenfold. The more complete your profile, the better the chance that you can hear about new opportunities through indirect connections.

Focus on building your network. Even if you’re already employed, having a strong network of people you know and trust is essential. You may be able to use those connections for references and job leads in the future. A good word from those who know your work highlights your strengths, so reach out to past managers and colleagues for references you can include in your profile. Highlight your skills. By adding relevant skills to your profile, you’ll come up in search results when employers need someone like you for a project or job. Skills pages will also tell you which groups on LinkedIn you can join to learn more about that skill and jobs that require that ability. Keep tabs on companies. When you follow a company page on LinkedIn, you’ll be able to see updates on new hires, promotions and job opportunities.


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How to Retain Your Startup Workforce
Mashable, November 6

In order to retain top hired talent, startups need to provide a unique and exciting atmosphere. By choosing not to work for an established company, startup workers have shown they want the chance to be a part of a team that shapes the company through every part of its development and launch. As part of creating this entrepreneurial spirit, startups need to provide employees a chance to dive into areas that aren’t necessarily part of their job description. Startup employees have to be flexible and knowledgeable in several different industries, and possess a variety of skills, while the employer must work even harder to hire and train the right employees. The article provides insights on how entrepreneurs can keep their new employees from moving to competitors and larger corporations.

Retaining your workforce starts with proper orientation and on boarding. While many startups hire people who know the job, you still need to help new employees understand your vision, values, direction, gaps and product. As with a new company or product, there is a greater need for employee education and that can only come at the beginning of the job. To understand how they can make good decisions on the job, startup employees need an orientation of what every team is trying to accomplish. The second key is recognizing workers for a job well done. Encourage employees to set personal goals. Start with lightweight goals with no firm end dates. Once these goals are set, an employer can monitor and recognize an outstanding job on an as-needed basis.


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Three Tips to Go From Coworking Newbie to Ninja
GigaOm, November 4

As the coworking movement takes off nationally, workplace experts are starting to take a closer look at how remote workers and freelance talent can maximize their participation in these coworking spaces for their future career development. Joining a coworking space is obviously a necessary first step, but it’s not enough to get the maximum benefit out of participating in the movement, according to experts. If you want joining to really boost your career you need to approach your new workspace with a bit of networking savvy and understand how you fit into the culture of the coworking space.

Once you join a coworking space, prepare a short introduction about the types of projects you are working on, so that you can start interacting with others using the space. However, you shouldn’t go on a self-promotion blitz. Many freelancers recommend waiting until after-hours events to put on the charm. Or ask someone to lunch or grab a coffee, so that bonding and networking is less obtrusive. Some of the biggest benefits of coworking come when you find collaborators and clients at your local space, but it’s not the job of the space to make sure those connections happen. Coworking works best with self-starters who actively seek out others for conversation and collaboration. The sooner you get to know your coworkers, the sooner you can start building the relationships that can lead to collaboration.


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Stop Looking For a Job, Start Looking For An Opportunity
AOL Jobs, November 2

The path to a high-paying job used to involve getting the highest academic degree you could obtain, along with specific technical job skills, in order to start climbing the career ladder. Today, this career path has changed completely. If those jobs still exist, the needed knowledge and skills of those jobs have changed. To succeed in the new hiring environment, you need to adjust to the way the world is working now. If you are unemployed, underemployed, or want to take control of your financial future, the article presents seven strategies to find and obtain new opportunities.

Stop looking for a job and start looking for an opportunity. Take the skills you have as an employee and turn those into a contract services business. You have an expertise, knowledge and experience in something that's unique to you. Your skill set might be so unique you don't even recognize it as personal expertise. Once you discover your specialization, hire your expertise out -- offer it to multiple businesses and entrepreneurs who need what you can deliver. More companies are hiring consultants and contractors for specific projects, specialized skills and services. You also can write about your area of skill or expertise. You can create a how-to information book or create a podcast or video blog series and distribute it through iTunes or other distributions channels.


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The Advantages of Being a Woman in Tech
Huffington Post Tech, October 27

Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior shares career advice for female tech workers, based on her experience of becoming one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley. As Warrior explains, she nearly bypassed a career in the tech industry altogether, turned off by the dearth of women in the field. However, as the tech industry has steadily become more accessible to women, there are now more outlets than ever before for women to make their mark. While women are still underrepresented in the tech sector, Warrior explains that this can actually become an opportunity for women to demonstrate their unique knowledge and capabilities to managers within the organization.

The tech industry has changed for women over the past two decades. When Padmasree Warrior started her career, women were told they had to be tough in the tech world and have a thick skin. Now, we're in an environment where women can be who they want to be. Women now bring a different perspective than their male colleagues, tending to take a broader, bigger-picture view of things. Women are also typically better at sharing power. You have to know when is it okay to share your power and let someone else feel powerful and enjoy the spotlight.


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Working Trade Shows
Career Journal, October 30

Trade shows can be great opportunities for job hunters to build connections and mine for information that can lead to a future job. As a result, trade shows should become part of a broader career strategy. That's especially true since people tend to be less guarded at trade shows: they might say something that can really give you an edge when applying for a job. Keep in mind, however that trade shows work best as a second or even third step in a multi-pronged networking process.

Use each trade show event as an intelligence-gathering mission. Talk to competitors, vendors and anybody else who can provide some inside company insight. However, you definitely don't want to just hand over your résumé and start talking about yourself. Establish your connections before the show. Try to secure introductions through mutual colleagues, or start a dialogue through an email or a telephone conversation. Then use the trade show as an excuse to meet in person to have coffee. Use Twitter to keep track of companies, people and special events like networking sessions and lunches. Also, you can use Twitter to pinpoint times when people aren't busy, which is usually when conferences are in session.


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Will Software Engineering Ever Be Engineering?
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 54 No. 11, November 1

While much has changed over the past 15 years, software engineering is not yet considered to be part of the engineering profession. Starting with that controversial argument, the article compares the field of software engineering against standard definitions of engineering as a functional skill, discipline and profession. Using these definitions, software engineering still does not meet the strict standards of being considered engineering. While software engineering actually began with an attempt to copy engineering practices, the enormous complexity of software has forced software engineering to develop in ways engineering has not. In fact, many of the very methods that make software engineering useful distinguish it from engineering.

There are several reasons to think that engineering might someday merge with software engineering. For example, take electrical and computer engineering (ECE), which is often thought to be the field of engineering closest to software engineering. Over the last decade, ECE has become less committed to traditional engineering courses concerned with the material world. If that trend continues, then either ECE will split off from the main body of engineering or engineering's core of required engineering courses will increasingly resemble those of software engineering. Additionally, engineers are increasingly replacing mechanical systems with software. Not only do most engineers now use software regularly, many write specifications for software, modify existing programs themselves, or even write programs. Whether or not software engineers do any engineering, engineers increasingly engage in activities that look like software engineering.


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Applying for Postgraduate Studies
XRDS Crossroads, September 2011

In the competitive application process for postgraduate studies, students should be aware of the ways they can prepare a remarkable application. Although the procedure may change per country and university, there are some specific steps that can increase your chances of being accepted into your preferred courses. Most importantly, you will need to start preparing your applications as soon as possible. By starting early and knowing exactly for what programs you want to apply, this will also give you the opportunity to meet deadlines for funding applications.

Take the required tests, such as the GRE or GMAT, as soon as possible. Keep in mind you have to reserve your space about a month before the exam date. Prepare a detailed CV. Even though it may not be a requirement for your application, a CV will make filing out the application less time consuming. Your CV will also be useful while in contact with faculty members. Prepare a personal statement. This is the reason why you want to attend the specific program, outlining your goals and aspirations.


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