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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 22, 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 careernews-request@acm.org

Volume 4, Issue 8, April 22, 2008




How to Turn that IT Internship Into an IT Job
eWeek, April 17

Using a few tips from IT recruiters, students can maximize their chances of converting an unpaid internship into a full-time job offer. While internships are a great way to get your foot in the door of an organization, not all interns are offered full-time positions. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, one out of every three new hires from the 2007 graduating class landed their first job with a company they'd previously interned for. With that in mind, the article summarizes what to do – and what not to do – during an internship.

Most importantly, you must know what kind of internship you have and the expectations your employer has surrounding that internship. Some organizations use internships as a form of campus recruiting where there is a direct path from internship to full-time employment. Others view it differently, as more of an outreach effort to local universities. Secondly, you will need to network aggressively. If someone is rooting for you within the organization, you will have a better chance of convincing an employer to hire you on a full-time basis. Finally, you should use every opportunity possible to learn additional skills.


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Ten Tips for Recruiting and Retaining IT Pros
CIO Insight, April 10

Despite the economic downturn in some sectors, competition for the most skilled IT professionals - those with the right mix of practical experience and skills in the hottest IT segments - is still intense. Against that backdrop, Katherine Spencer Lee of Robert Half Technology shares five tips on recruiting and retaining IT professionals. As she points out, in order to locate the right IT staff members at the right time, savvy companies are devoting greater resources and ingenuity to their recruitment and retention efforts.

Recruitment needs to be an ongoing priority at all organizations. Recruiters need to be able to “sell” the firm to potential applicants. They need to recognize the unique selling points of their company, such as career growth opportunities, leading-edge technology, tuition reimbursement, corporate stability or flextime. Promoting these positives via the company’s Web site, prominent social networking sites and corporate literature can go a long way toward recruiting the talent you seek. Next, it is also important to offer a competitive compensation package. Companies are increasing compensation levels for new hires at nearly all levels of experience, meaning that you might have to pay slightly more than other firms to attract the market’s best talent.


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Companies Get More Savvy With Internships to Find Next-Gen IT Workers
Computerworld, April 11

To ensure that they consistently have a talented and well-stocked pool of future workers from which to choose, many employers are dedicating more resources to their college internship programs, updating them to keep up with the needs of their businesses. By highlighting the internship programs at seven large technology companies (e.g. Microsoft, Google and Sun), the article makes it easier to understand the general size and scope of these programs, as well as the expectations of employers who hire interns. In general, these companies are looking for college students with strong technical skills who have a strong likelihood of becoming employees after they graduate.

Companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun, Red Hat and the New York Times actively coordinate IT internship programs in order to recruit top talent. At Microsoft, about 1,000 paid interns each year work on various hardware and software products as well as product marketing, while another 30 to 35 work on internal IT projects. To see if these interns will be a good fit for the company, Microsoft sets up a challenging work environment for them. Microsoft assigns them to teams, arranging for them to meet with their managers once a week like regular employees. In addition, Hewlett-Packard hires anywhere from 400 to 650 students for paid summer internships, while IBM has nearly 2,000 internships available annually.


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Searching the Hidden Job Market for Opportunities
CIO.com, April 1

Debra Feldman, a recruiter who specializes in senior-level executive job search campaigns, explains how to tap into the hidden market for IT job opportunities. Whether you are entering the job market by choice or whether you have been forced to look for work, the hidden job market continues to represent the best source of high-quality job offerings. During an economic downturn, employers are extremely cautious and selective, and recruiting proceeds at an unusually slow pace. As Debra explains, though, tapping into a broad mix of contacts already inside organizations that you are targeting can help speed up the process of landing your next job.

To access the hidden job market, you need connections inside the companies you're targeting, especially as referrals become a more important source of new hires. Employers look favorably on employee referrals because they generally come from trusted internal sources and because they serve to pre-vet candidates. As a result, between 70% and 80% of new hires join their new employers through a personal connection or a networking referral. Internal connections can help job seekers discover open positions before they're advertised. They can also serve as the eyes and ears of jobseekers, enabling them to monitor the recruiting process and keeping them apprised of the status of their candidacy.


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Recruiting Today: What Are You Promising?
Business Week (via Harvard Business School Publishing), April 10

Even with a weakening economy, the competition for top talent remains intense. For IT organizations, one of the keys to attracting talent is to offer elements of the employee experience that match the values and priorities of the individual being recruited. In order to connect with current jobseekers, companies are offering anything from more flexible scheduling to enhanced volunteer opportunities. In some cases, they are even offering expanded access to senior decision-makers within the organization.

In order to attract the best candidates, some firms offer special amenities, most designed to make the new employees' life more productive by making key tasks more convenient and enhancing personal health and fitness. For example, Abbott Laboratories offers on-site fitness centers and a sports fitness program, while Google provides free gourmet lunches and on-site massages. Other organizations provide opportunities for community service. Another approach is to allow more frequent and more intimate access to senior executives, in the hopes that job candidates will respond to the greater opportunities for informal mentoring, feedback, career advice, and frequent coaching.


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The Ins and Outs of Recruitment Software
Network World, April 10

By understanding how recruitment software works and how to position your candidacy accordingly, you will be better able to find the job you want. Most importantly, you need to convince résumé screening programs that you have the required skills and should be granted an in-person interview. This often means tailoring your resume to certain keywords of interest to employers. The article also offers an overview of how candidates can search listings, submit résumés and learn more about a company.

On the plus side, the superior analytical capabilities of the online recruiting software tools help companies sort through hundreds or thousands of résumés by using keywords or intelligent algorithms. By removing the manual labor of sorting résumés, the software improves the recruiting process for employers and potential employees, enabling them to correlate skills with job descriptions. Especially in a period with an abundance of applicants, the automated recruiting process helps hiring managers focus on the most qualified candidates. Simply stated, HR employees working alone cannot keep up or give attention to those that could best fit the position.


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Five IT Skills That Won’t Boost Your Salary
InfoWorld (via Network World), April 18

Certain areas of IT expertise are declining in importance as the technological advances of Web 2.0 force companies to update the IT skill sets of their workers. In the past, the focus was on memory, drivers, address locations, and what used which interrupt, but in the current environment, that knowledge is no longer valued as highly. As certain IT skills lose relevance or are replaced by hot skills like virtualization and AJAX, the compensation associated with them is also on the decline. The article outlines which high-tech talents, operating systems and specific vendor products are rapidly declining in importance.

One IT skill that no longer commands the premium it once did is HTML programming. As companies embrace Web 2.0 technologies such as AJAX, the demand for skills such as HTML programming are falling accordingly. According to research from Foote Partners, pay for skills in technologies such as AJAX and XML increased by 12.5% in the last six months of 2007. Skills in legacy programming languages such as COBOL, FORTRAN and PowerBuilder also are experiencing a fall-off in demand, as are certain other applications which were very popular during the 1990s.


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Pro or Parasite?
Computerworld, April 14

Don Tennant, editor of Computerworld, weighs in on the current state of the IT labor market. As he points out, the subject of IT skills and labor management remains an emotional and volatile issue. Opinions are mixed on the issues of H-1B visas and offshore outsourcing, while many IT insiders continue to debate whether an IT labor shortage even exists. With that as backdrop, Tennant highlights some of the key issues and data that are feeding the debate over the global IT labor market.

IT insiders are mixed on whether the U.S. educational system is producing enough graduates in technology-related fields. While China, India and other countries are educating a large number of scientists and engineers, it is still not clear whether the U.S. has relinquished its competitive advantage. For example, in November 2007, a recent research study conducted in collaboration with Case Western Reserve and Georgetown found no shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates in the U.S. The available data indicate that the U.S. educational system produces a supply of qualified STEM graduates in much greater numbers than jobs available.


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Generation Y Still Wants It All
Management Issues, April 15

Recent college graduates are worried they are set to face a tougher jobs market this year, with two-thirds concerned that the fragile state of the economy will make it much harder for them to land an appropriate position. Yet, approximately three-quarters of these young Gen Y grads say this new hiring environment will in no way compromise their demands when it comes to salary, being able to work flexibly, access to training, or keeping the workload to less than 40 hours a week. In fact, more than 80% of graduates polled said they would still be looking for a job that offered a good salary and benefits package, with health insurance as a given.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed said that they expected interesting and challenging work in their new job. More than half also wanted a workplace with a social atmosphere and camaraderie with colleagues as well as a manager prepared to mentor and coach them. Approximately 40% said they would be looking for a firm that offered flexible hours, while around a third said the organization's reputation as an employer would impact their choice. Almost half said they expected to work fewer than 40 hours per week, while more than 40% said they were concerned that would not be able to keep up with interests outside of work. Despite changing economic conditions, only four in ten acknowledged that they might need to broaden their search by industry, skill area or geographic location.


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ACM President Cites Advantages of Preparing Students to Compete Globally
ACM Newsroom, April 10

At the 32nd annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, only two teams from the U.S. placed in the top 10. According to ACM President Stuart Feldman, the relatively unimpressive performance of U.S. students vis-à-vis rivals from Russia, Ukraine and China further highlights the importance to the U.S. of strengthening computer science education and filling the talent pipeline for future workers. To remain globally competitive, the U.S. must have a workforce well-trained in the fundamentals of computer science. Bringing the best and the brightest into computing is a valuable strategy for any country that hopes to succeed in the rapidly-changing global economy.

In the U.S., ACM recently created a high-level committee of nationally-recognized computer scientists and educators to improve opportunities for quality education in computing and computer science. Chaired by Bobby Schnabel, dean of the Indiana University School of Informatics, ACM’s new Education Policy Committee is developing initiatives aimed at shaping national education policies that impact on the computing field. ACM is also instrumental in efforts to help high school students, teachers, and parents better understand the kinds of careers that are possible by studying computer science. For example, "Computing Degrees & Careers" is a concise brochure detailing expanding job opportunities for students with computing degrees.


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