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CareerNews: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Volume 3, Issue 10: Tuesday, July 24, 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

Twelve IT Skills That Employers Can Not Say No To

Get the IT Job You Want

The New Generation of Entrepreneurs

How to Become an IT Standout

Are You Getting Ahead or Just Getting Paid?

Could China Supplant India In Outsourcing?

What Gen Y Wants from Work

When the CIO Earns $9 Million

Freelancers Forgo Office Space for Casual Co-Working

Is the Pay Gap Between Executives And Average Workers Too Wide?

A Silicon Valley in Siberia?

"Twelve IT Skills That Employers Can Not Say No To"
Computerworld, July 11

With an IT skills shortage looming within the U.S., there are 12 skills that are in especially heavy demand by recruiters. In an effort to guide the next generation of IT workers as they make their career choices, a number of recruiters, curriculum developers and computer science professors provide short descriptions of what they think will be the hottest skills of the near future. Many of these skills piggyback on high-profile technological trends, such as the growing popularity of mobile applications and the need for more powerful security and encryption measures, while others extrapolate on still fledgling trends, such as digital home technology integration.

One area in high demand is the ability to design and create mobile applications. With mobile devices becoming more important as business tools, companies will need people who are adept at extending applications such as ERP, procurement and expense approval to these devices. Wireless networking is another key area. With the proliferation of wireless standards, securing wireless transmissions is top-of-mind for employers seeking technology talent. As companies work to build software such as collaborative filtering, spam filtering and fraud-detection applications that seek patterns in jumbo-size data sets, some observers are seeing a rapid increase in the need for people with machine-learning knowledge, or the ability to design and develop algorithms and techniques to improve the performance of computers.

There are a number of other areas that are drawing the attention of recruiters. For example, there is growing demand for knowledge of human-computer interaction and user interface design, which is the design of user interfaces for the Web or desktop applications. Other hot areas include project management, anything related to networks and network convergence, open source programming, business intelligence systems, and embedded security. Looking into the future, recruiters also expect that the broad topic of digital home technology integration will become a key area of focus.

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"Get the IT Job You Want"
Datamation, May 8

A seasoned recruiter points out that one of the biggest challenges for technology professionals in landing a new job is creating an attention-getting resume. It is possible to improve a resume by targeting content for the respective employer and industry, sprinkling in words that have specific meaning for the chosen function and job title, providing a short summary of skills and experiences at the very top of the resume, and quantifying achievements whenever possible.

In order to attract the attention of recruiters, take the time to tailor your resume to each job opening by highlighting your relevant skills and experience. A company that is recruiting a network security manager, for example, will be more interested in your knowledge of intrusion detection than your technical support skills. Choose your words wisely. Many organizations use computer programs to evaluate resumes, searching for keywords in the documents that indicate certain experience, skills, personality traits, software proficiencies or academic credentials. Often, the phrases that employers seek are listed directly in the job description. Using language from the posting in your resume will increase the number of hits it generates during this initial screening process and improve your chances of being selected for an interview.

Try to begin your resume with a brief summary of your qualifications. This summary should clearly and succinctly describe your professional experience and expertise, as well as any certifications or awards you have received. Finally, attempt to quantify your achievements. Instead of simply listing technical skills, you need to demonstrate return on investment. No matter how relevant or impressive your skill set, employers want to see how your expertise and efforts will impact the corporate bottom line. Highlight your contributions to the companies for which you have worked using percentages and other numerical estimates.

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"The New Generation of Entrepreneurs"
Management Issues, July 19

Innovative young entrepreneurs from emerging markets are forcing Western business leaders to reconsider how they do business. According to a new study conducted by business consulting firm McKinney Rogers, approximately 50% of the managers and business leaders in emerging markets were ready to embrace entrepreneurship, even when working in large organizations, compared to just over 25% of managers and leaders in Europe and the UK. Moreover, an overwhelming number of managers in emerging markets believe that entrepreneurialism is something that can be developed and nurtured, versus just over a third in the UK and Europe. As a result, Western business leaders should be thinking of ways that they can celebrate risk-taking employees while making their businesses more entrepreneurial.

The findings of the McKinney Rogers survey could encourage U.S.-based organizations to become more entrepreneurial. Indeed, nearly 70% of Western managers polled agreed it was important for large organizations to develop a core competence in entrepreneurship. Moreover, many executives said the line between entrepreneurs and business leaders was blurring, suggesting the emergence of a more entrepreneurial approach to business from the next generation of business leaders. Executives saw both entrepreneurs and chief executives as being strong communicators and inspirational voices for the future. They also viewed the role of a CEO as including risk taking and flexibility and pointed to new behaviors that need to be encouraged within the workplace, such as a more entrepreneurial mindset.

There are important takeaway lessons from the survey results. According to McKinney Rogers, for older, more established markets to continue to flourish, they need to integrate some of the core qualities of being an entrepreneur into a large business and adapt the culture to allow this to happen. For workers, entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly important trait to possess. As a result, a growing number of HR departments will likely place a greater emphasis on identifying and nurturing entrepreneurial qualities in existing employees and creating a culture that supports some of the innovation, risk-taking and flexibility that is associated with entrepreneurs.

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"How to Become an IT Standout"
Computerworld, July 16

The executive director of Robert Half Technology provides some tips and advice for become a top IT worker. Anyone hoping to reach the highest rungs of the career ladder should be willing to emulate the best practices of IT innovators and business leaders. In addition, technology standouts need to be able to change course based on developments in their companies and fields and respond to new professional opportunities. In short, any IT worker can take steps toward a more fulfilling career by taking advantage of lifelong learning opportunities, spending time on developing soft skills related to interpersonal communication, and redoubling efforts to be viewed as a leader within the organization.

High-achieving IT professionals are unable to rest on their laurels. While it is essential to master a technical specialty, those who become IT leaders tend to broaden, not just deepen, their areas of expertise. Attending a conference on a topic that is outside your comfort zone is a great way to stimulate your thinking. In addition to traditional classes and seminars, seek out other ways to learn, like finding a mentor or taking on projects that stretch your abilities. Keep track of Web sites in areas that interest you, participate in online forums, and attend trade shows and networking events, always with a critical eye on your future. By keeping up with changes in technology, you gain the ability to steer your career toward growing specialties, and away from less marketable ones.

Technical skills and knowledge are only part of the answer. You will also need to develop your interpersonal and communication skills. CIOs typically cite interpersonal skills, the ability to work under pressure and communication skills as the top non-technical traits they seek in IT professionals. For the most successful IT professionals, job descriptions are just starting points. When you take the initiative to expand your role, people start to think of you as a leader. Serving as a leader also means demonstrating integrity and selflessness. For example, the willingness to accept mistakes or participation on a failed project does more to establish your credibility than making sure you get your share of the credit when a project succeeds. Joining a professional association, going to conferences and offering to speak or present at industry events are good ways to build your reputation and become an active part of the exchange of ideas.

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"Are You Getting Ahead or Just Getting Paid?"
Management Issues, July 16

It is not always the case that the most talented or the hardest working person receives the next promotion, the next reward or the highest salary increase. Sometimes, it seems as if there is no relation whatsoever between actual ability and the propensity that some have for climbing the career ladder. Getting beyond this mindset requires looking at your career in a slightly different way. Knowing what expectations others have of you, knowing what goals your boss needs to achieve, creating a complementary professional profile with that of your bosses, being able to network with others and being able to manage office politics are all key components. Managing the different dimensions of each of these expectations is one way to generate the type of change that can propel forward your career.

Knowing what expectations the organization, your boss, and others have of you is the first step towards career advancement. At the end of the day, if you know what is expected of you, you can achieve it. Universal expectations refer to the values of the organization and its business principles. Slogans and posters and mission statements can not be ignored. Taken together, they represent what the organization expects from you. By understanding what these behaviors are, you can then integrate them into your approach to work.

Secondly, understand the expectations that others have of you that are related to your role. This is the most obvious and traditional. In most cases, it is simply your job description. The annual appraisal checks that you are doing it on a consistent basis. Finally, you must consider niche expectations, which are the personal standards, the little things that are important to your boss about the way they like people to work with them, or get things done for them. These are little quirks that have emerged over time, and become intuitive to them. If you work in the same way, or appear to work the same way as your boss, you will become more valuable to the organization, with a better chance at future promotion.

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"Could China Supplant India In Outsourcing?"
Forbes, July 6

China is rapidly gaining on India as the preeminent overseas IT outsourcing destination. As early as 2011, Indian cities like Bangalore and Mumbai could be surpassed as outsourcing centers by the Chinese cities of Dalian, Shanghai and Beijing. As consulting firm IDC points out, the Indian outsourcing industry continues to struggle with infrastructure problems and wage inflation, while China is making massive investments in infrastructure, English-language training, Internet connectivity and technical skills. The article reviews the rise of China as an IT outsourcing destination, emphasizing that many of the competitive advantages once enjoyed by India are now being eroded.

For now, Bangalore remains atop the list of the Top 10 cities best suited to be offshore IT services centers, followed by Manila, New Delhi and Mumbai. The Chinese cities of Dalian, Shanghai and Beijing, though, are close behind. The ranking, compiled by IDC, is based on cost of labor, rent, turnover rates and language skills, as well as political risk and future plans for infrastructure improvements. Within India, attrition rates and wages are rising as companies fight for talent, reducing the attractiveness of cities like Bangalore and New Delhi. In the most recent year, wages grew at an average of 12% to 15%, and are expected to rise another 20% over the next 12 months. Moreover, India is experiencing a shortage of skilled resources at nearly every level of the technology personnel chain and continues to be plagued by congestion problems. By comparison, China is on stronger ground when it comes to infrastructure and the relative ease in setting up operations in the country.

While there is little doubt that China is becoming a strong contender to India, some analysts continue to express skepticism over whether it will surpass India anytime soon. In general, India is better at producing graduates with strong English-language skills. Moreover, the Chinese software services market remains tiny compared to the one in India. China also faces the same problems as India, such as attrition, increasing wages and a lack of experienced managers and technical leads. Japanese demand for Chinese IT outsourcing services is starting to grow, but U.S. and European firms have been less eager to divert their attention from India to China. According to research firm Forrester, China must be 20% cheaper than India in order to sway the opinions of big Western decision-makers.

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"What Gen Y Wants from Work"
Web Worker Daily, July 16

Ryan Healy of Employee Evolution provides insights into the needs and expectations of Generation Y. In contrast to older workers who prefer traditional office environments, the members of Generation Y actually thrive on the freedom to work offsite in places like the local coffeehouse. The Internet continues to revolutionize the world of work, giving IT workers the types of technological tools that enable them to work in non-traditional environments both productively and efficiently. As Healy also points out, many Web workers no longer define themselves by a particular profession and embrace flexible ways of experimenting with entrepreneurship.

Employees want to feel trusted when they work outside of the office. Most Web workers feel they are more productive and happier when working from somewhere other than the standard workplace environment. Cubicle farms are a thing of the past, nobody likes them and thanks to new technologies, the majority of companies do not even need them. These remote working arrangements, though, will completely depend on trust between employer and employee. With the increased use of virtual offices, there is no need to be micromanaged at work any longer.

Jobs no longer define who we are. Many employees now have outside entrepreneurial ambitions, small consulting projects or writing assignments. Anyone can be whatever they want thanks to the power of the Web. As Gen Y continues to enter the workforce, our day jobs will no longer define who we are. More and more, we are also seeing entrepreneurial activity in the workplace. No longer is needed a business plan and a lot of cash to start a new business. Starting a business is a reasonably cheap and attainable reality. To keep young workers around, companies will have to give young workers the opportunity to come up with an idea and have free rein over development, implementation and follow through. Retention rates will increase as employees no longer feel the need to leave a company that provides them with a range of new opportunities on a frequent basis.

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"When the CIO Earns $9 Million"
Baseline Magazine, July 17

For individuals attaining the CIO position, multi-million-dollar compensation packages are becoming more common than ever before, according to a new study by Baseline Magazine. In the current year, for example, there are 39 CIO millionaires among the 1,000 largest publicly-traded companies, compared to only 21 in the year earlier period. Primarily, these heftier pay packages are the result of additional business-related duties being added to the traditional IT responsibilities of the CIO. Being a CIO, in other words, is no longer just about the technology. The article takes a closer look at the new types of responsibilities being handed off to the CIO, and provides a detailed breakdown of the compensation data by industry and gender.

As a general rule, the plain vanilla CIO title is going by the wayside. Instead, more than half of the CIOs profiled in the article also manage another area of the company, whether it is operations, logistics or customer service. With the role of CIO shifting to include more business-related responsibilities, technology leaders nowadays have to meet an increasingly wide set of expectations. For starters, before installing any new technology, there must be a business need. And many chief executives also expect CIOs to find new sources of revenue, or perhaps think up entirely new businesses, through technology. A CIO must also know how to interact with board members, how to communicate with other business line managers, and how to create a transparent decision-making process.

Drilling down into the data, the compensation package of the CIO is anything but typical. Each organization prefers a different mix of base salary, bonus and stock options or stock grants. For example, eight of the top 10 did not receive bonuses last year, though all 10 received millions of dollars in stock and other equity-related compensation. For the ten at the end of the list, bonuses accounted for as much as 45% of total compensation. Financial services firms dominate the rankings with 15 entries. Retail is second, with 11 executives on the list. Overall, women comprise 13% of the entries, compared with just 4.3% last year.

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"Freelancers Forgo Office Space for Casual Co-Working"
Wired, July 20

The Web 2.0 lifestyle can be as exhilarating as it is lonely. As a result, self-employed Web entrepreneurs are finding ways to meet regularly in order to discuss job-related concerns and socialize with similarly-minded colleagues during the work day. At the Jelly event in New York, for example, groups of five to seven people meet on a bi-weekly basis to work and talk about challenges they face in a relaxed, Web-enabled environment. Several participants of Jelly have already started their own Web companies, and there are already plans afoot to expand the number of events to other cities across the U.S.

There are a number of reasons why these casual co-working spaces are gaining in popularity. For one, meetings like those at Jelly are a way for people who usually work at home to get out of the house, find similar types of workers to collaborate with, or simply to socialize. For many freelancers, the events offer an opportunity to meet with others instead of working from home during lonely, 18-hour days in cramped urban apartments. Moreover, these co-working events do not require any monthly or annual commitment, as is the case with many other co-working arrangements that depend on rented office spaces and a structured financial commitment. In many ways, Jelly is a pop-up office that only exists for one day every other week.

The popularity of the concept is growing. The New York Jelly event was the first, but in the last year, similarly named gatherings have popped up in cities throughout the world, from London to Austin to Orlando. In Philadelphia, a related group calls itself Cream Cheese and meets at a local coffee shop, where there is a virtual chat room for all the attendees. At the end of the day, the events speak to the need for a work-life balance as well as the social nature of being an entrepreneur.

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"Is the Pay Gap Between Executives And Average Workers Too Wide?" (via Market Watch), July 19

According to nearly 50% of all U.S. workers and 67% of workers at publicly traded companies, the gap between the pay of executives and that of average workers is too wide. In addition, staffing and outsourcing firm Hudson found that 56% of workers at publicly traded companies think that top executives get paid too much. To narrow the pay gap, 64% of survey respondents said companies should directly link the compensation of senior executives to the performance of the organization. The survey also takes a closer look at the link between worker happiness levels and total compensation packages, as well as possible ways to reward high-performing workers with non-monetary benefits, such as better retirement benefits, more time off, and better health care benefits.

There is an important link between workplace happiness and whether or not compensation is linked to individual performance and firm performance. Perhaps not surprisingly, workers who say their pay is based on their own performance report being happier with their compensation packages. 79% of the workers who are paid based on performance are happy with their pay compared with 60% of those whose pay is not based on performance. More companies now pay workers based on their performance, with 41% of workers in the survey reporting their pay is based on performance, up from 35% in the same survey a year ago.

High-performing workers expect a mix of bonuses and salary increases for their efforts. When asked to point to one change that would make them happier about their compensation, more workers pointed to money than any other benefit. 41% said more money, 21% said better health-care benefits, 12% said better retirement benefits, 11% said better work-life balance and 7% said more paid time off. While pay and benefits play a role in staying with an organization, sometimes it is just as important whether the organization provides career development, whether or not you are able to get along with your manager and how well the organization can respond to your personal needs.

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"A Silicon Valley in Siberia?"
Chicago Tribune, July 15

In Siberia, Akademgorodok is attempting to transform itself into a world-class high-tech hub. Formerly one of the leading centers for Russian science and technology, Akademgorodok languished for many years during the perestroika period. Now, however, the Russian government is dedicating new resources to revitalizing the forgotten towns dotting the Siberian taiga. While the outsides of the buildings may still evoke the Soviet era, the insides are bursting with the energy, youth and IT talent one might find in San Jose, leading some to call Siberia a Russian version of Silicon Valley.

Rather than creating a new technology hub from scratch, Russia is leveraging existing world-class research capabilities. In Akademgorodok the legacy for high-powered research dates back to 1958, when Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev gave his support for the construction of a city devoted solely to science. Today, Akademgorodok and the rest of Novosibirsk have morphed into a burgeoning high-tech hub, with more than 100 computer and software companies and at least a dozen universities with IT programs. Intel has offices here, as does Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. For the Kremlin, Akademgorodok is the kind of high-tech hub that can become a model for a Russian high-tech resurgence.

The Russian government is hoping that Russia can join the worldwide technology boom. President Putin went to Novosibirsk to tout the idea in January 2005, a month after making a trip to Bangalore to visit the software development industry in India. For now, however, Russian technology prowess pales in comparison to global IT giants and even software outsourcing leaders China and India. Russian software firms can not offer the same low labor costs of the Indian outsourcing industry. However, their executives say their edge lies in tapping programming and engineering talent in a country that put the first satellite and man into space.

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