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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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

Volume 4, Issue 24, December 16, 2008

Recession-Proof Jobs: Software Design, Network Administration, IT Security
Network World, December 3

According to a survey conducted by career website Jobfox, the 25 most recession-proof jobs include several technology-focused career paths. The IT jobs most in demand include those related to software design and development, networking and systems administration, and IT security. Jobfox analyzed the 120-day period ending October 28 and ranked professions based on demand from recruiters and other employer agents using the online service.

When it comes to recession-proof jobs, sales representatives and business development professionals came in first, while tech jobs showed up four times in the top 25. With median salaries of $75,000 to $85,000, software design and development was the fifth-most recession-proof job. Networking and system administration was in seventh place and commanded $55,000 to $65,000 in median salary. Technology executives, making $105,000 to $115,000, were the 16th most in-demand, up from a prior ranking of 24, according to Jobfox. IT security moved into the top 25 list at No. 20, with the field commanding a median salary of $75,000 to $85,000.

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IT Careers Expected to Survive Global Economic Storm in '09 (via IDG News Service), November 25

Despite weakness in the broader economy, the outlook for IT recruitment in Australia remains positive, according to recruitment firm Peoplebank. Companies are still lining up IT projects for 2009, and recruitment could pick up by April of next year, thanks to a considerable amount of IT project work that is already in the pipeline or underway. Even though IT has experienced a softening in permanent recruitments throughout the year, Australian employers are not pulling back in their efforts to attract and retain employees.

According to recruiting firm Hudson's latest research on IT recruiting trends, it has been difficult for hiring managers to source, attract and retain good quality over the past few years. Thus far, the current economic climate hasn't changed that fact. According to Hudson's research, 42% of employers said they continued to find sourcing candidates with appropriate skills difficult. There appears to be a shortage of software developers and business analysts in the marketplace, with an over-abundance of project managers and SAP professionals.

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Web 2.0 Adds a New Twist to Familiar Job Search Strategies
Computerworld, December 9

Dan Cobb, senior vice president of talent and outsourcing services firm Yoh, shares his thoughts on how workers are using Web 2.0 to complement familiar job search strategies. One of the biggest shifts has been a shift in emphasis from job boards to social networking sites. Job candidates are also thinking smarter about how they use the Web. For IT professionals out of work or looking to make a career change, there are five key steps to using the Web to their job-seeking advantage.

To adjust your job candidacy for Web 2.0, first perform a self-assessment of your core strengths and define the qualities that will set you apart from the competition. Then strategize ways to emphasize these qualities in your resume, cover letter and the interviewing process, especially when it comes to integrating key words. Next, in order to stand out and stay on the cutting edge, find ways to demonstrate fluency in key IT areas by reading and commenting on blogs, participating in online communities that share your personal or career interests and tapping into research available online.

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Explaining Your Layoff to a Job Recruiter
Wall Street Journal, December 9

There are a number of ways to deal with a layoff and then explain it to a job recruiter. With so many workers now clamoring for the same positions, you will need to think carefully about how you would like to position your candidacy. The competition may be stiffer than anything you've faced before, and you'll likely be asked difficult questions about your dismissal. Knowing where to look, how to set yourself apart and what to say about your situation could mean the difference between getting a job and remaining unemployed. By coming to terms with your job loss as early as possible, you can ensure that you start your job search off on the right foot.

To identify employers that are still hiring, start perusing local newspapers, trade magazines and business publications. In addition to looking for small businesses that may have specific hiring needs, consider companies that are in counter-cyclical or recession-proof industries. Also, think about adding recruiters to your network as they’re very close to the market and tend to have an idea of what's happening. Since recruiters typically prefer to meet job hunters through referrals, ask former colleagues, business associates, alumni and other members of your network for an introduction to a recruiter they have a relationship with already.

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Online Networks a Magnet for Job-Seekers
Reuters, November 26

As the economy experiences continued weakness and the U.S. unemployment rate edges upward, many workers are exploring the potential of online social networks as a way of finding new jobs. Professional networking has always been a staple of any job search strategy, and now during unstable economic times, online networking has grown in popularity. Online social networking sites like Xing and LinkedIn have reported a spike in usage and sign-ups as people hedge against losing work and laid-off employees seek jobs. As experts point out, the “weak” ties created by these sites often lead to eventual job opportunities.

At social networking sites like LinkedIn, the current period of economic difficulty has led to unprecedented growth. For example, membership on LinkedIn has jumped to more than 31 million from 18 million at the start of the year, with strong growth within the technology field. Search firms are also experimenting with these social networking sites and have experienced a rising number of requests to connect on professional social networking sites. Moreover, companies like Microsoft, News Corp and Comcast have also entered the social networking space.

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Is IT Offshoring an Overhyped Myth?
Datamation, December 1

Due to contradictory statistical evidence, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether the trend toward IT offshoring is gaining or losing momentum. James Maguire weighs in on the debate, pointing to the latest data from the Society for Information Management. On one hand, offshoring still accounts for a relatively insignificant share of overall IT budgetary spend. On the other hand, evidence points to a growing lack of certain skills in the U.S. and a greater reliance on overseas talent to fill positions. After weighing the evidence, James Maguire claims that offshoring poses a huge future challenge to domestic IT vendors, especially within the software industry.

The data from the SIM 2008 survey suggests a conflicted view of the IT offshoring space. On one hand, data appears to show that offshoring is still essentially an insignificant and fledging trend that’s too small to be concerned about. The SIM 2008 IT Trends Survey shows that the share of IT budget allocated to internal staff (33.7%) and outsourced domestic staff (6.2%) far outweighs the allocation for offshoring labor (5.6%). On the other hand, the data suggests that the offshoring trend is growing in intensity. If you look at the larger trend line from 2005 to 2009, fluctuations aside, the trend is clearly toward more overseas activity.

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Job Hunting in Hard Times
Management Issues, November 26

When times are tough and jobs are scarce, it is important to be strategic in how you look for a job. Flooding the market with your resume and filling out online applications hoping someone will notice you is often an exercise in futility and can leave you feeling discouraged. A strategic job search requires that you understand where the job opportunities are and understand the various ways you can increase an employer's bottom line. By positioning your skills and experiences so that they benefit an employer, you can optimize the results of a job search.

During any economic downturn, your first step is to figure out where the jobs are. Begin by identifying these industries that have been least affected by a struggling economy because you will be more successful in finding jobs in them. Keep in mind that layoffs and hiring freezes may not mean that all jobs have evaporated in an industry. In some cases new opportunities may exist to sort out the problems that formerly plagued an industry. In other cases, there is strong counter-cyclical demand for certain products and services.

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Job-Hunting Realities: What No Really Means
Business Week, November 25

When an employer fails to extend a job offer, it may have little or nothing to do with how qualified you actually are for the position. Thus, don't be demoralized when an employer turns you down -- the reasons behind a rejection usually have more to do with the company than with you. So when your fruitless search fills you with angst and self-doubt, always remember that the people screening your resumes may have little or no connection with front-line developments within your industry and that key decision-makers do not always make rational picks about whom they eventually pick.

During a job search, the best person isn't always picked and the playing field is rarely even. At the end of the day, there are so many ways to get passed over and just as many reasons for it. A company may already have a candidate in mind, such as a proven internal applicant who represents little risk. Also, decision-makers screening the resumes are often far removed from the front lines. They may not be aware of industry developments and may not be well-versed in a position's daily responsibilities and requirements.

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Starting Over, With a Second Career Goal of Changing Society
New York Times, December 12

Harvard recently launched a new program as part of a larger effort to help find productive “next” careers for a coming flood of retiring baby boomers. With many of these 75 million baby boomers rejecting the traditional retirement ideal of leisure and travel, educational institutions such as Harvard are re-thinking how they can help them prepare for “encore” career paths. For example, the new year-long social entrepreneurship program at Harvard is intended to help a group of over 50 workers learn how to be successful social entrepreneurs or leaders of nonprofit organizations focused on social problems like poverty, health, education and the environment.

The educational opportunity, the fellows say, is to pick up new knowledge, skills and professional relationships in a new area. The program, called the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, is a collaboration among five of the university’s professional schools. It is seen as a next stage for universities, beyond undergraduate and then graduate and professional schools. If successful, Harvard professors say, it can serve as a model for schools at other universities, creating case studies and course material. As one Harvard Business School professor points out, “This is about deploying a leadership force to have an impact on major social problems.”

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ACM-W News: Brazilian Women in Computing
ACM-W Council Women in Computing News Blog, December 10

Energized by the task of recruiting more women into the computer science field, computer science university teachers in Brazil are organizing new initiatives for women. In 2007, they created an official event sponsored by the Brazilian Computer Society concerning issues related to Women in Information Technology (WIT). The third WIT event will take place in July 2009, in the city of São Leopoldo, in the south of Brazil. Many WIT participants are now actively promoting new initiatives to attract more women and raising the overall awareness about related issues, including a bimonthly column in a new e-magazine called SBC Horizons.

The new column in SBC Horizons, slated for launch in December, will discuss opportunities and challenges for Brazilian women in IT. It will be available to student members and also available on the SBC Web site. The e-magazine is geared towards undergraduate students, and covers matters related to job market, career opportunities, curriculum options and research challenges. Several subjects are also of interest to high school students, especially young girls, who are considering career options.

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