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CareerNews: Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Volume 3, Issue 17: Tuesday, November 6, 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

After Succeeding, Young Tycoons Try, Try Again

IT Salaries to Rise Twice as Fast as Inflation

Advice for Aspiring CIOs

The Science Education Myth

Employers Change HR Policies for Generation Y

Top IT Executives Make Millions of Dollars

Less Networking Can Mean More

Resume Rules Not Made to Be Broken

How to Field the Headhunter Call

ACM Announces New Career and Job Center

E-Mentoring for ACM Students through MentorNet

"After Succeeding, Young Tycoons Try, Try Again"
New York Times, October 28

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs such as Max Levchin, who co-founded PayPal in 1998, are joining the Web 2.0 boom by launching new start-ups that they hope can approach the scale and significance of their earlier ventures. Somewhat surprisingly, these multi-millionaire entrepreneurs are often eschewing the trappings of wealth, such as large homes and luxury cars, and spending as many as 15 to 18 hours per day growing their new start-ups. As the article points out, these thirty-something entrepreneurs consider themselves too young to retire or become a philanthropist. Instead, they would rather risk their considerable wealth on creating the Next Big Thing.

Mr. Levchin, now age 32, is the unofficial leader of a new generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have accumulated tens of millions of dollars as a result of previous successful ventures. If anything, the global reach of the Internet has greatly accelerated the wealth creation phenomenon, producing a larger cohort of multimillionaires even younger and richer than in the past. However, with great wealth comes great responsibility. A great majority of them have chosen to throw themselves back into a start-up, not so much because they want a new luxury home or a personal jet, but because they are in a competition with themselves and one another.

For these entrepreneurs, the greatest status symbol is their ability to start hot new companies and work with hot new technologies. Despite acknowledging that he has already earned more money than he could ever spend, Levchin continues to work an average of 15 to 18 hours a day. In addition to Levchin, the article highlights a number of other Silicon Valley superstars: Dennis Fong, who sold a company to MTV Networks for $102 million, Marc Andreesen, who co-founded Netscape Communications when he was 22, and Scott Banister, who recently sold an anti-spam company to Cisco for $830 million.

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"IT Salaries to Rise Twice as Fast as Inflation"
CIO Insight, October 30

According to the Robert Half Technology 2008 IT Salary Guide, the compensation for skilled IT professionals will increase by an average of 5.3% next year. The increase, while modest, is nearly twice the current consumer inflation rate of 2.8%. As the salary guide points out, the biggest increases will go to lead software application developers (7.6%) and application architects (7.5%). Other IT skills seeing salary increases of 7% or higher include Web development, network management and database administration.

The upward path of salaries continues a trend in which firms are willing to pay up for skills most in demand. The biggest increases are still in the application development space, especially for individuals that have skills and experiences related to Web 2.0. Those who can architect and develop Web spaces posted the highest increases. The highest salary increases were for the following positions: Lead Applications Developer (7.6%), Applications Architect (7.5%) and Manager (6.1%).

According to Robert Half Technology, wireless communication continues to be one of the top areas driving IT hiring in U.S. companies, as developers create more and more tools for mobile devices that IT departments are increasingly responsible for supporting. Industries foreseeing strong demand for IT professionals next year include financial services, healthcare and commercial construction. The highest salary ranges were for the following positions: Applications Architect ($120,000), Manager ($117,750), Project Manager ($111,500) and Lead Applications Developer ($108,000).

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"Advice for Aspiring CIOs", October 30

The CIO role, if managed correctly, can be the perfect place to prepare for becoming a CEO. In general, CIOs are accomplished at solving complex problems, are precise and experienced planners, and tend to have a more comprehensive view of the business than their peers. With that in mind, four CIOs-turned-CEOs share their perspective on what it takes to become a CEO.

The aspiring CEO needs to learn how to balance internal and external demands. Every CEO has a large group of external constituencies including the board, investors, partners and customers, and has to know when to prioritize the internal versus the external. A CEO also needs to know how to change his or her management style when needed. As CIO, you manage people with different skill sets, but most of them have a direct relationship to IT. As CEO, you have a far more diverse group of people to manage, and you have to learn to relate to them in different ways. Along the way, you need to keep in mind the differences between the consumer and the enterprise sides of the business.

In addition to leveraging strengths within technology, the CIO should try to develop other abilities as well. If you have experience in general management, for example, that can only be a positive. Also, try to scale your conception of systems relationships to a broader level that includes boards and governance, product management, people, services and sales, you will be able to adopt the CEO mindset. Since it is unlikely that a company will promote a CIO directly to the CEO position, it is best to aim for a role running a business unit before attempting the CEO role.

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"The Science Education Myth"
Business Week, October 26

While the conventional wisdom holds that U.S. educational institutions are unable to produce as many talented science and engineering grads as tech employers require and that the U.S. is falling behind countries such as China and India when it comes to math and science education, the reality may be quite different. According to a new report from the Urban Institute, math, science, and reading test scores have increased over the past two decades, and U.S. students are now close to the top of international rankings. Moreover, the report suggests that the U.S. education system actually produces more science and engineering graduates than the market demands.

As the Urban Institute report demonstrates, U.S. student performance has steadily improved over time in math, science, and reading. The report also found enrollment in math and science courses is actually up and that the U.S. continues to compare favorably to other countries in areas ranging from science to literacy to reading. The sharp discrepancy between myth and reality may be due to the way that the international rankings interpret the data. The few countries that place higher than the U.S. are generally small nations, and few of these rank consistently high across all grades, subjects, and years tested.

The report also suggests that there is a more than sufficient supply of IT talent in the U.S. From 1985 to 2000, about 435,000 U.S. citizens and permanent residents a year graduated with bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. Over the same period, there were about 150,000 jobs added annually to the science and engineering workforce. According to the research, there were no engineer shortages in the U.S., and companies were not going offshore because of any deficiencies in U.S. workers. However, there may sometimes be short-term shortages of engineers with specific technical skills in certain industry segments or in various parts of the country.

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"Employers Change HR Policies for Generation Y"
Network World, October 31

As Generation Y expands its presence within corporate America, more companies are changing their HR policies to account for their tastes and preferences, according to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive. Companies are re-thinking how they approach promotions, flexible work schedules, vacation time and even compensation. If not handled properly, these changes can become sources of tension with older workers and even hamper organizational productivity. The article summarizes the major differences in the way that Generation Y, Generation X and Baby Boomer employees communicate and highlights the different cultural frames of references for these various generations.

Communication styles can vary widely between different generations. For example, Gen Y workers tend to communicate more through technology, such as blogs, instant messaging and text messaging. In contrast, Baby Boomers and Generation X prefer face-to-face or phone conversations. Cultural frames of reference can also widen the generation gap in the workplace. 55% of employers over the age of 35 think Generation Y workers have a more difficult time following directions or responding to supervisors than older generations. Generation Y and older workers often have different expectations of how they will be treated on the job. According to an overwhelming majority of respondents, Generation Y workers feel more entitled to receive better compensation and benefits, more flexible schedules, more vacation or personal time, or faster career advancement than older workers.

Generation Y has been so upfront about its job expectations that employers are beginning to take notice. A growing percentage of employers say they are changing their HR policies or implementing new ones to cater to Generation Y workers. For example, 57% have introduced more flexible work schedules, 33% have implemented more recognition programs, 26% give employees more access to state-of-the-art technology, 26% have increased salaries and bonuses, 24% offer more ongoing training programs, 20% pay for cell phones and BlackBerrys, 18% offer more telecommuting options, and 11% increased vacation time.

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"Top IT Executives Make Millions of Dollars", October 24

CIO Magazine recently reviewed SEC regulatory filings from the top 1,000 publicly-traded companies in order to determine how much the highest-paid CIOs make in salary, bonuses and incentives (i.e. stock and options awards). While the CIO was one of the top five highest-paid executives at only 52 of the Fortune 1000 companies, the IT executives at the top of the list are making upwards of $6 million per year in total compensation. As a whole, the top 52 highest-paid CIOs were paid $137 million in 2006, while the top 10 in that group collectively received $65 million.

The top five highly compensated CIOs, in terms of salary, bonus and stock awards, were Jeff Fox of Alltel, Bob Willett of Best Buy, Jean Davis of Wachovia, Larry Kittelberger of Honeywell International, and Joe Antonellis of State Street. By and large, these highly-compensated executives have extended their duties beyond those of the traditional CIO. Overall, eight of the top 10 are accountable for operations, customer service or other senior-level responsibilities at their organizations.

As the CIO 2008 survey points out, CIO influence is rising commensurate with these expanded job duties. Currently, more CIOs than ever before (41%) now report directly to the CEO. In some cases, these CIOs are also taking on board-level executive responsibilities. Judging by the survey responses, these CIO leaders are also gaining greater respect and credibility within their organizations.

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"Less Networking Can Mean More", October 29

Bestselling author and networking expert Dr. Ivan Misner explains that less may be more when it comes to business networking. While obtaining referrals and adding personal contacts should be part of your business networking strategy, an overemphasis on running from one networking event to another looking for new relationships may be counter-productive. This is time, money and energy that you should be using to develop the relationships you have already started. In short, examine what you have, prioritize it, and then spend more time developing and nurturing closer relationships with the contacts that matter the most.

Many people think that networking requires constant activity. The reason is that it is almost impossible to measure how successful a certain networking tactic might be, so there is an incentive to become as active as possible. However, this scattershot approach only increases the number of your cold-prospecting opportunities and, at the same time, forces you to adopt a lottery type of mindset in which one contact will lead to that one big job opportunity. As a result, the long-range success of relationship building is not measured, because it does not happen.

You can attend too few networking meetings, but you can also attend too many. If you make all your required meetings and then proceed to spread yourself too thin by joining and attending a dozen other groups of various kinds, you are quickly going to run out of quality time for your partners. You can also spread yourself too thin by getting more referrals than you can manage. In order to keep any relationship healthy and productive, you need to meet your partners regularly and generate lots of good referrals for them. The bottom line is to aim for quality, not quantity.

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"Resume Rules Not Made to Be Broken"
Job Journal, October 21

Penelope Trunk, author of The Brazen Careerist, imparts some common sense rules for thinking about resumes. As she points out, some rules are made to be broken, but not when it comes to resumes. While HR professionals acknowledge that some variation from the traditional resume template is acceptable, the decision to exceed the suggested one-page format or experiment with new design and font elements comes with a certain amount of risk. With that in mind, Penelope summarizes the six rules that resume writers should never break.

Most importantly, limit the resume to one page. The job of a resume is to get you an interview, not get you a job. Since the average resume receives about 10 seconds of attention, adding extra pages provides very little added value. In the interest of brevity and conciseness, you can also omit any obvious information, such as a willingness to provide references on request. In the same manner, you can minimize the number of personal interests that you list on the resume. Only list personal interests that reveal a quality that will help you meet the needs of the employer.

As a general rule, focus on quantifiable achievements rather than job duties. Past performance is the best indicator of future performance and future employers want to see some measurement of how you have performed in the past. Avoid unnecessary design flourishes unless absolutely necessary. For example, if you have more than three fonts on your resume, you probably are trying too hard. List your most recent job first. Reverse chronological order is rarely a good idea. Savvy recruiters will interpret this to mean that you are trying to hide something.

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"How to Field the Headhunter Call"
Business Week, October 25

Often, a corporate headhunter calls when you least expect it, leaving many job seekers unprepared for how to transform from a passive job candidate to an active job candidate. Regardless of how you would now rate your own career security and job satisfaction, given the increasing frequency of management transitions, it is worth your while to take headhunter calls and give them just enough time to see where they might want to lead you. As the article points out, there are three key steps for working with a corporate headhunter.

As a first step, listen to what the corporate headhunter or executive recruiter has to say. By listening, you will be best able to assess how to respond to the call. You need to establish whether the executive recruiter is calling you as a referral or information source on a search assignment they are now pursuing, or whether they are trying to qualify you as a potential candidate. Remember that you are in control whenever the headhunter calls. You can choose not to return the call, you can speak with them long enough to answer their questions and clarify any next steps or reason to connect in the future, and you can try to be helpful by offering a referral or sharing some market perspective.

However, be careful what kind of information you share. Of course, be cautious and especially judicious when it comes to sharing any critical data, intellectual property, or information about products in development. If you would be uncomfortable sharing the data with a rival, do not share it with a headhunter. Also, do not be surprised if recruiters are unwilling to identify the hiring company on whose behalf they have called. Many clients simply will not give headhunters permission to identify them as the hiring organization until much later in the search process and then with only a handful of shortlist candidates.

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"ACM Announces New Career and Job Center"
ACM Career Benefits, November 2007

The new ACM Career & Job Center provides members with access to some of the most exciting new job opportunities in the computing industry. ACM members have access to a number of value-added benefits, including hundreds of corporate job postings that are exclusive to the ACM site and an advanced Job Alert system notifying them of opportunities matching specified criteria. It is also possible to receive live career advice on topics related to writing a resume or cover letter or researching new companies.

Whether you are a seasoned professional, or a student studying computing, you will find valuable career resources in the ACM Career & Job Center. For example, using the ACM Job Board, you can browse and apply for online employment opportunities, post your resume, and receive email alerts about jobs that match your interests. In addition, the Computing Careers website provides details that will help those interested in computing prepare for a career in this area. The site also contains the popular Computing Careers Brochure in PDF format for easy downloading.

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"E-Mentoring for ACM Students through MentorNet"
ACM Career Benefits, November 2007

In an effort to provide students with relevant information about career prospects in fields related to computer science and engineering, ACM has partnered with MentorNet. Through this partnership, students will be able to establish e-mentoring relationships with professionals in the areas of engineering, science and math. Participation in the program can have significant impact on a future career by providing access to real-world information, encouragement and advice.

According to the terms of the partnership between ACM and MentorNet, professionals in industry and government will mentor engineering and science students (both undergraduate and graduate) at a variety of different educational institutions, including community colleges and universities. Tenured faculty members will also mentor graduate students, post doctoral candidates and untenured faculty pursuing faculty careers. Mentoring relationships last for eight months, with mentors and students communicating entirely by email.

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