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CareerNews: Tuesday, December 18, 2007

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-request@acm.org

Volume 3, Issue 20, December 18, 2007




What Hiring Managers Want for Christmas
Computerworld, December 11

The holiday season can be a great time for IT professionals to pick up consulting assignments that could lead to permanent positions in 2008. With the increasing popularity of online shopping, retailers are beefing up their IT infrastructures to deal with a surge in holiday Web traffic. In addition, organizations are boosting their spending on IT operations as well. Faced with the prospect of losing unspent budgetary funds, they are finding creative ways to use up their IT budgets before the end of the year, making them receptive to short-term hiring opportunities for IT consulting staff.

To prepare for this holiday-related hiring surge, there are a number of things you can do to become more proactive in your job search. You need to be as visible as possible on social and business networking sites and take every advantage of opportunities to keep your skills up to date. Any holiday position, whether permanent or consulting, gives IT professionals the chance to go above and beyond the call of duty and show how well they perform under pressure. If you get a seasonal gig and do a great job, the role can turn into a long-term position once the holiday season ends.


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Network Skills in High Demand
Network World, December 4

According to a CIO poll conducted by Robert Half Technology, the most sought-after IT skills in 2008 will be those related to network administration. More than 70% of those polled cited network administration as the area in which they expect to see the most growth over the next 12 months. Other IT skills mentioned by a majority of those polled include Windows administration, database management, firewall administration and wireless network administration. After summarizing the poll findings, the article provides a closer look at the key factors driving growth in these five areas of IT expertise.

Generally speaking, network-related expertise serves as a foundation for any emerging new technology trend such as wireless, Web 2.0 and virtualization. As a result, it is easy to see why a majority of those polled cited networking as a skill in high demand for 2008. In addition to networking-related skills, other hot skills over the next 12 months include help desk and user support, applications development, Internet and intranet development skills and database management skills.


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How to Create and Execute an Employer-Centric Job Search Strategy
CIO.com, December 4

Most jobseekers start their job search by updating their resume. However, this updated resume may have little or nothing to do with the hiring needs of your future employer. Before updating your resume, you need to think like an employer. With your target audience in mind, you can tailor the information on your resume to the specific job opportunity you are pursuing and to the specific needs of the hiring manager. In short, this means adopting an employer-centric approach to your job search and marketing yourself as a solution to specific needs and challenges of the organization.

In order to conduct an employer-centric job search, start by describing your ideal employer in terms of industry, size and location. Based on this, you will be able to come up with a short list of companies that would value your expertise. Identify the synergies between the kinds of companies you want to work for and those that would benefit from your skills, and look for jobs in those areas. Next, sort through this list to focus on the employers that are most likely to hire you. Give high-potential employers a reason to invest some time in getting to know you by being specific about your needs and experiences.


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Demand for IT Jobs Will Soar Through 2016
CIO Insight, December 5

According to a new employment forecast from the U.S. Department of Labor, five IT specialties are among the 25 fastest-growing jobs over the next 10 years. The fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. will be positions in network systems and data communications analysis, slated to increase by 53% by the year 2016. Other fast-growing IT specialties include computer software application engineers (with a growth of 44%), computer systems analysts (29%), database administrators (29%) and computer systems software engineers (28%). One major factor driving this surge in career growth is the aging and retiring of the Baby Boomer generation, which is forcing companies to consider their replacement hiring needs.

In addition to the five IT specialties cited by the U.S. Department of Labor, other IT occupations expected to experience sharp growth over the next 10 years include network and computer systems administrators, computer and information research scientists, computer information systems managers and computer support specialists. That being said, not all IT jobs will experience growth over the next decade. For example, computer programming positions are expected to decline by 4%, while overall job growth over the next 10 years is expected to increase slightly less than it did during the previous ten-year period (1996-2006). The primary reason for this is the aging and retiring of the Baby Boomer generation. As a result, the need to replace workers who retire or leave the labor force for other reasons is projected to create a significant number of additional job openings.


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How to Network: 12 Tips
CIO.com, December 11

While most people would acknowledge that networking is one of the most essential skills in business, too many workers do not spend the time learning how to do it effectively. For shy IT workers, networking is made even more difficult due to a lack of confidence, fear of rejection and a sense of unworthiness. To overcome these feelings, IT professionals must realize that successful networking is all about building intimate relationships based on mutual generosity and that there is nothing wrong in asking for help in building a career. With that as backdrop, the article provides some common sense advice for IT workers looking to increase their networking prowess.

In order to become more proficient at networking, start out with small initiatives, such as by seeking out relatives and friends for career advice. As you meet new people outside of your inner circle, do not apologize for asking for their help. Be yourself, so that you not more outgoing than normal and not too artificial. Prepare in advance. For example, if you are attending an event specifically to network your way to a new job, have your personal pitch ready and be able to anticipate questions you may be asked, such as why you are looking for a new job. Have clear, concise answers and work on developing an attention-getting delivery. Be willing to take risks, such as by cold-calling people or striking up conversations with strangers.


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Five Tips for Staying Productive When You Work Where You Live
Career Journal (via MarketWatch), December 7

For home office workers, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain a divide between personal and professional life. Yet, as any telecommuter knows, succumbing to the ease of working from home can interrupt an otherwise fluid career path. Working at home is not for everyone, because it takes the right type of personality and motivation to be able to stay on track. The article provides five ideas to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls of working from home and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Most importantly, separate your work space from the rest of your home and spend time in it only when you are working. If family members are omnipresent, it may be necessary to create physical barriers, such as a door or a flight of stairs to isolate yourself from your home routine and focus your attention. It is also important to sit at your desk at the same time every day and keep normal business hours. After all, one of the major challenges is prioritizing your tasks because nobody is there to tell you what to do.


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Older Workers, Do Not Despair
InfoWorld, December 11

While social networking generally appeals more to recent graduates than to more established employees, Cisco is unveiling a number of new technology initiatives that place the emphasis on Web 2.0 collaboration and social networking for older workers. At a Cisco analyst conference in Silicon Valley, CEO John Chambers demonstrated a set of social networking tools being used for business. Over time, these collaboration and social networking tools could change the fundamental nature of work in the IT sector. At Cisco, for example, technology has already enabled Cisco to move from a top-down organization to a structure where task groups can be formed among all parts of the company.

The collaboration push at Cisco for older workers includes Telepresence high-definition conferencing and new initiatives stemming from its acquisition of WebEx. For example, Cisco recently demonstrated a new product from WebEx that enables organizations to create online spaces for collaboration. Employees can engage in text chats that stay up for future reference, describe problems and ask for ideas to fix them, create Facebook-style profile pages that others can search to find people with the expertise they need, and then check the presence of a contact and engage them in a Telepresence session by clicking on their names.


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Web Worker 101: Building Your Professional Team
Web Worker Daily, December 7

For the entrepreneur leaving the security and resources of a large corporate organization, it can be difficult to know how to pick the right professionals to help out his or her small business. When it comes to hiring a banker, accountant or lawyer, knowing that you need this help and finding the right people to do it are often two completely different things. Before hiring a professional for your team, you should always schedule a get acquainted meeting to explore whether they are right for you. With that in mind, the article provides several questions to ask when meeting with prospective members of your professional team.

The first question to ask is whether these professionals have small business experience. Some professionals may work best with large organizations and be unable to keep up with the demands of a smaller shop. Next, ascertain how much knowledge they have of your field. All other things being equal, if you can find a professional who has worked in your field, you have a better chance that they will be able to understand and sensibly advise on your issues. Even if they know the ins and outs of your business, you also have to make sure that they are available via online so that you can exchange documents easily and stay abreast of recent developments via e-mail.


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$200,000 Award Gives Computer Science a Local Boost
ACM MemberNet, November 7

The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) has received an award in the amount of $200,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the level of computer science education at the state level. Local educational leaders will spearhead this initiative and help to support and promote the teaching of computer science at the K-12 level. In turn, this educational initiative from CSTA could lead to greater interest in computer science careers and additional attention at the national level for the issue of computer science education.

With the continued support of ACM, the CSTA ensures that teachers have the tools they need to get students interested in computer science careers and promote CS as a discipline. The funding provided by NSF will allow CSTA to develop state-level leadership teams that can effectively address key curricular, certification and professional development issues for computer science. By improving computer science education at the state level, CSTA also hopes to reverse the trend toward declining CS enrollments nationwide. By ensuring a steady supply of CS talent, the CSTA will help to avoid any long-term skills shortages within the U.S. tech sector.


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Can MentorNet Become the Next Facebook?
MentorNet News, December 2007

According to one member of the MentorNet Board of Directors, MentorNet could become the next Facebook. However, transforming a mentoring network into a true social networking platform will require significantly more resources than MentorNet currently possesses. Through the generosity of current members of the MentorNet community and continued partnership with entities such as ACM, though, the organization could realize its goal of becoming the go-to place where protégés and mentors can meet virtually to share ideas and help one another succeed in fields related to engineering and computer science.

If everyone in the MentorNet community were to become a donor, the organization would be able to thrive and expand as necessary to stay current with social networking and collaborative communication technologies. For donors, the return on investment can be just as significant as for the organization. Donors can impact the career trajectory of another MentorNet member and ensure that thousands of students each year receive the information they need to successfully embark on their study or career in science, technology, engineering, and math-related disciplines.


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