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CareerNews: Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Volume 3, Issue 18: Tuesday, November 20, 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.





Future of IT: Why Tech Managers Will Need Sharper Skills





Nine Non-Techie Skills that Hiring Managers Wish You Had




The Best Young Entrepreneurs in America




Demand for Information Technology College Grads Soars




Google Goes Globe-Trotting




The CIO Cycle




10 Career Killers to Avoid




Speed Date a Potential Employer And Get an Offer That Same Day




Report From India: Experienced IT Pros Earn $36,000




A Shallow Talent Pool Means Hiring Challenges




Gender Pay Gap from Graduation to Boardroom


Future of IT: Why Tech Managers Will Need Sharper Skills
CIO Insight, November 8


The typical IT organization is changing in response to external factors such as globalization, forcing a re-think in the types of attributes and skills that IT managers must possess. Over the next five years, CIO Insight Research predicts a dramatic transformation in the size and scope of the traditional IT organization, as internal departments become smaller, nimbler and more specialized. Along the way, senior executives must determine what is truly core to the IT business, and which processes and systems can be outsourced to specialists around the globe.

This changing composition of the IT organization will impact the way that companies hire IT talent and the way that they partner with outside IT talent. A smaller team of managers, analysts and planners will continue to oversee mission-critical work, while most other functions will become the purview of consultants, contractors or offshore service providers. IT departments are moving away from outsourcing low-risk, low value-add activities and outsourcing higher-risk, higher value-add activities. Moreover, companies will need to innovate faster and introduce new capabilities while dealing with increased commoditization of IT.

Assuming that more organizations will be moving to this leaner model of IT, it is likely that businesses will continue to outsource more specialized work, from software development to knowledge management. As IT becomes more strategic and integral to the operation of the business, executives must re-think their expectations of the CIO and their expectations of IT. Not only must they contend with severely limited staff time and departmental budgets, but they must learn to operate in a changing environment where they are expected to manage and control alliances and negotiate contracts and service-level agreements, all while staying in tune with business needs and priorities.

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Nine Non-Techie Skills that Hiring Managers Wish You Had
Computerworld, November 12


While technical skills remain the bedrock of any IT position, an increasing number of employers are now expecting their new hires to have a broad range of skills in areas ranging from communication to accounting to leadership. In their continual attempt to align IT with business, executives and managers say they are increasingly looking for staffers who have solid business acumen and so-called soft skills. The article provides an overview of nine skills employers are looking for, with additional advice on how to acquire them.

Writing and communication skills remain an important prerequisite for nearly any mid- to high-level IT position. Also important is the skill of being able to understand how to map different business processes and create visual depictions of how business processes flow across functional areas. Thirdly, IT workers must be comfortable with public speaking. For each of these skills, there are clubs, educational programs and courses that can address any shortcomings.

Other important skills include a familiarity with accounting and the ability to work well with a team. A person who is able to gain consensus and sell an idea not only gets the job done, but makes the group stronger. Hiring managers highly value people who can seize the initiative without the need for constant oversight. They place a premium on an inquisitive mind, the ability to get a point across, and a willingness to take risks. The modern IT person needs to be more of an IT entrepreneur, since he or she is constantly looking to improve upon existing ways of doing things or identify other business and operational opportunities.

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The Best Young Entrepreneurs in America
Business Week, October 22


The excitement surrounding Web 2.0 is making it a fortuitous time for young entrepreneurs to be starting new Internet businesses in the U.S. With that in mind, Business Week profiles 25 young entrepreneurs under age 25 who have already made a difference in a wide range of industries, ranging from manufacturing to investment banking. For the most part, these new businesses have been boot-strapped by young super-achievers who have leveraged the power of the Internet and understand how to sell to a Web-enabled audience.

Many of the 25 entrepreneurs profiled by Business Week are building businesses based around the Web. For example, the challenge of getting a restaurant reservation at the last minute was the spark for one entrepreneur to launch an online marketplace for restaurant reservations. Other entrepreneurs have launched businesses around social networking and online advertising. In addition, several of the young entrepreneurs are expanding into areas such as publishing, manufacturing, and investment banking.

Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs with immigrant backgrounds have a prominent place in the Top 25. In addition, there are more women-owned businesses than ever before in the Business Week survey. For example, one woman entrepreneur launched a profitable business that produces free, downloadable guides for parents visiting their kids at college. Another woman creating her own path is a Russian-born immigrant who is combining her knowledge of fashion and business savvy to launch a fashion production-services business.

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Demand for Information Technology College Grads Soars
ACM MentorNet News, November 2007


According to forecasts from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, over one million computer and IT-related jobs will be added to the U.S. labor force by 2014. At the same time, demand for women and minorities to fill IT jobs will continue to increase. Against this backdrop, however, the supply of women and minority job candidates to fill these jobs has not kept pace. Jim McGrath, the Global Leader of University Relations and Recruiting for Cisco Systems, provides a number of suggestions for addressing this imbalance between supply and demand, hinting that universities must do a better job of making IT careers more exciting and attractive to young graduates.

In order to encourage more women and minorities to enter the IT profession, universities and other educational institutions must be willing to play an expanded role. As Jim McGrath of Cisco points out, universities must do a better job of exposing all students, including people of color and women, to the broad spectrum of jobs available in IT today. McGrath emphasizes that employers and educators need to do a better job of re-imagining IT to get this message out and make careers more attractive to students, particularly women and minorities. In addition to careers in product development, design and engineering, for example, there are also opportunities in consulting and business services.

In addition, educators and business leaders must find new ways to reach junior high and high school level students, so that these young people are exposed to math and science early in their educational careers. As for what he thinks might excite younger students to learn, one key is emphasizing how dynamic technology can be within any business organization. Educators must help students overcome their initial fear of globalization and outsourcing by focusing on the tremendous new opportunities to work around the globe with diverse teams.

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Google Goes Globe-Trotting
Newsweek, November 12


At Google, the two-year Associate Product Manager program is considered a fertile training ground for new leadership talent, with fast-rising recent graduates often given tremendous responsibility for innovative new projects. In order to introduce these new Associate Product Managers to the global economy, mid-way through the program Google sponsors a training trip to important locales around the world such as China, India and Japan. Newsweek goes behind-the-scenes with a look at a recent trip that featured18 different Associate Product Managers, chronicling their reaction to stunning poverty in Bangalore, chaotic innovation in Tokyo, and bureaucratic interference in Beijing.

While almost every Associate Product Manager boasts a computer science degree from a prestigious university and top-notch technical skills, doing business on the global stage often requires a different set of skills. In India, for example, the APM participants experienced first-hand the crushing poverty and lack of computers that are a fact of life in many rural villages. In Japan, they were required to barter in a legendary but chaotic electronics market to bolster their negotiation skills and street smarts. In China, the Google employees were encouraged to network with fellow employees, learn about Google competitors and soak up the local culture.

While Google has had phenomenal success in finding and grooming future leaders as a result of the Associate Product Manager program, the members of the Google senior executive team are pragmatic about the average tenure of many Google hires. At other Silicon Valley companies, the Google pedigree commands respect as well as a higher salary, and various Google executives interviewed for the article concede that 80% of Google hires may leave after four or five years at the company. Overall, the description of the 16-day overseas trip provides a unique look at Google, including the management philosophy of the company, its values and its attempts to maintain its culture in the face of tremendous year-over-year growth.

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The CIO Cycle
Information Week, November 12


While the average tenure of the CIO has lengthened to approximately five years, the rate of CIO turnover is actually on the rise. According to The Advisory Council, an IT research and consulting firm, the higher rates of CIO turnover are due to changing expectations about the CIO position. Typically, a company is looking to hire a CIO only for a particular need or to complete a specific project. Once that goal has been accomplished, the company may decide that it needs a different CIO with new capabilities. For the CIO planning a long tenure, this means that quickly adapting to the new business environment is of paramount importance.

For the average CIO, there are several lessons to learn from the increase in CIO turnover rates. The current CIO mindset is to solve the problems at hand, then move on to understanding the next set of issues and solving the next set of problems. A more effective mindset might be to stay ahead of the curve and research issues before they impact the organization. Once a CIO loses his or her position, it becomes hard to find employment elsewhere, so there is incentive to stay updated on new issues.

However, that does not mean that the CIO position is in jeopardy. The average tenure of the CIO is actually growing, to a span of about five years. In contrast, the average tenure of the CFO is shrinking, to about two years. Most experts also agree that the number of CIO positions is only going to increase in the future. Thanks to the increase in private equity deals and the need for these investors to realize a quick return on their investment, the CIO position is growing in importance.

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10 Career Killers to Avoid
Network World (via Computerworld), November 7


With the goal of helping IT professionals avoid classic career blunders, career coach and bestselling author John M. McKee shares his insights into 10 counter-productive career moves and offers advice about how to recognize and avoid them. From failing to have a long-term career plan to not keeping up with new technological trends, each of these actions has the potential to sideline an otherwise attractive career.

The most obvious career-killer is failing to have a long-term plan for advancement. In the same way that a company leader creates an annual business plan for the future, employees must also map out certain goals related to their career. The second biggest mistake is not keeping your skills current. With individuals able to do the same work that someone is doing anywhere in the world today and the prospect that organizations will chase skill sets around the world, if you are not up to date with your skill sets in IT, you are significantly at risk of being replaced.

In addition, you can derail an otherwise promising career by failing to deliver results. Employees who advance are those who are accountable for their actions in the workplace and can quantify their activities. Simply becoming more efficient in your job is a short-term solution, but does not address the ways that you become indispensable to an organization. The article also highlights other mistakes employees make, such as believing that they are irreplaceable, pretending to know it all, and forgetting to give credit to others.

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Speed Date a Potential Employer And Get an Offer That Same Day
Career Journal, November 6


New speed interviewing techniques, modeled after speed dating events, have advantages for both the job seeker and the employer. For candidates, it is now possible to line up new job offers faster than ever before. In some cases, the offers are coming within hours. For companies facing increased competition for the best hires, these speed interviewing techniques are a way to accelerate the recruiting process and lock in top candidates before they can explore other options elsewhere.

For companies, the primary allure of speed interviewing is being able to meet and hire enough candidates before gearing up for the start of a major project. Much like speed dating, the idea is to meet with multiple job hunters for a position within the course of a single day. In addition to being able to meet with many candidates, there are other advantages from the perspective of an organization. Speed interviewing allows recruiters to quickly size up candidates against one another without being obligated to reference previous files and without the risk of forgetting the initial impressions of a candidate. Perhaps most importantly, a shortened interview period decreases the risk of losing candidates to competitors.

For job seekers, participating in several interviews at a company over a short time period can make it easier to assess the relative attractiveness of different opportunities. Moreover, most job seekers say they appreciate knowing as early as possible whether they have landed a position. That being said, job candidates should think twice before committing to a quick job offer. Companies that make a speedy offer sometimes request a reply within 24 hours. Accepting an offer quickly can create problems for candidates who fail to develop a strong understanding of the job and company culture.

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Report From India: Experienced IT Pros Earn $36,000
Information Week Outsourcing Weblog, November 8


According to anecdotal reports, the average salary of an IT professional in India has more than doubled in just the past few years. Whereas the average Indian IT professional might have earned $15,000 annually, that figure has now increased to approximately $36,000. As Information Week explains, the rapid pace of economic growth in India has swelled the cost of living, and that in turn has led to upward pressure on wages. As these IT wages increase, Indian expatriate workers are encouraged to move back to India to land relatively high-paying new jobs using programming and technical skills they learned in the U.S. Taking a big picture view, the anecdotal evidence suggests that the relationship between the U.S. and Indian labor markets may be more complex than at first assumed.

In India, a booming economy and a rising cost of living are combining to change perceptions of what it takes to lead a middle class lifestyle. Cities such as Mumbai and Bangalore are expensive by Indian standards, putting upward pressure on wages. Even five years ago, IT salaries were five or ten times the industry average, but now all the other industry segments are catching up as a result of skyrocketing consumer demand. Outsourcing revenues represent only a tiny percentage of the Indian economy and the Indian stock market has risen by over 7 times within the past 2 years.

The changing cost structure of the Indian IT sector has immediate implications for workers in the U.S. For one, it shows that any U.S. company hoping to find cheap software coding in India will likely be disappointed, since these IT salaries are on the rise. Secondly, any organization looking to India for outsourcing help must evaluate the talent pool not only on the basis of cost, but also on the basis of other factors. If companies are now willing to pay $36,000 for an IT pro in India, the additional costs of managing an offshore relationship may negate any cost advantage. As long as the U.S. is able to develop a rich pipeline of IT talent, companies may decide to intensify their focus on homegrown talent.

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A Shallow Talent Pool Means Hiring Challenges
CIO.com, November 12


Chuck Martin, a best-selling business author, argues that a shrinking IT talent pool will make it imperative for organizations to make sure their employees are engaged, challenged and appropriately compensated. If they are unable to retain their best workers, they may be faced with the possibility of hiring under-qualified or inexperienced IT workers from outside the organization. For example, NFI Research recently found that 64% of senior executives and mangers view the currently available talent pool as sub-standard, with a majority also noting that they will curtail their hiring of entry-level candidates over the next 12 months.

Across a broad range of organizations, there is difficulty finding qualified applicants with the right IT skills. In some cases, companies are posting help-wanted ads and not receiving any responses from candidates who possess certain necessary skill sets. In response, organizations are realizing that to deal with the quality of the current talent pool and impending talent shortfalls, they should be focused on taking care of the current staff and keeping them engaged. According to some estimates, nearly 80% of executives and managers claim that it is already more difficult to hire rather than retain employees.

The good news, though, is that smaller businesses are still hiring and finding the talent they need. The NFI Research study points out that 60% of small companies plan to increase their staffing next year, but only 32% of large organizations plan to staff up. In addition, slightly more executives and managers at small companies than at large ones say the talent pool is strong, offering job seekers even more hope for employment in small organizations.

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Gender Pay Gap from Graduation to Boardroom
Management Issues, November 8


In the U.K., women at both the entry level and board director level suffer from a gender pay gap, according to recent surveys conducted by the Institute of Directors and the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Moreover, this compensation gap appears to be widening, with the gap as wide as 26% in some sectors for senior-level positions. The article takes a closer look at the statistical data, hinting that the continued persistence of this trend may lead to regulatory action by the British government as well as changes in hiring practices by British companies.

For entry-level positions in the U.K., male graduates were earning as much as £1,000 more a year than their female counterparts within three years of leaving the university. For director and boardroom-level positions, the average gender pay gap widened to 22%, up from 19% in the year-earlier period. The biggest gaps were in the service and nonprofit sectors, where female pay was as much as 26% below that of their male counterparts. The public sector had the smallest gap (5%) and some sectors, such as financial services, actually reported narrowing pay gaps.

According to the survey coordinators, unless the gender pay gap narrows significantly over the near-term, Britain could face further regulation in this area. When women in comparable positions do not receive the same compensation as their male counterparts, there may be systemic problems that the market is not able to correct by itself. Given that the gender gap actually seems to become more pronounced over time, the problem may require more attention than first expected.

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