Document Actions

ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, August 4, 2009

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 5, Issue 15, August 4, 2009




Where the Tech Jobs Are
Fortune.com, July 21

While layoffs have been occurring within the tech sector, companies continue to hire recent college graduates and experienced IT workers with the right technology skills to help them meet their business objectives. In fact, CompTIA recently launched a new recruiting campaign aimed at filling an estimated 400,000 tech job openings. To increase your chances of getting hired six months from now, experts advise upgrading your skills and credentials in hot IT areas, while simultaneously seeking out those industries – such as healthcare – that are looking for job candidates with specific types of IT skills.

Even people with years of tech experience may need to upgrade their certifications and venture into new territory in order to adapt their careers for today's job market. The good news, though, is that young candidates don't necessarily need to be programmers or systems analysts, or have worked for a tech company, to get hired. Most IT jobs for recent graduates are in tech support, where employers are mostly looking for people who can do hardware and software integration or data security. Once you have been hired at the entry level, you can add certifications from specific vendors, as well as other more advanced certifications in order to move on to network administration, security, database management, or some other specialty.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Hot IT Skills: Certified and Non-Certified IT Skills in Demand
Datamation, July 29

Foote Partners, an IT staffing and hiring consultancy, has compiled lists of which IT skills and certifications are most in demand in the current IT job market. While overall job listings are down and IT salary levels are being squeezed as part of cost-cutting initiatives, there are still pockets of growth. The data from Foote Partners includes a list of “hot” IT skills, regardless of certification, as well as a list of “hot” IT certifications. In general, the non-certified list focuses on broad-based skills, while the IT certification list focuses on niche skills. Encouragingly, some IT skills are maintaining their value – or even increasing in value – at a time when there is significant downward pressure on wages.

Based on a survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. and Canadian employers, Foote Partners has created a list of “Hot” IT skills that are very much in demand by employers. The Top 10 "Hot" IT Skills (Non-Certified) in July 2009 included Java; Linux; Virtualization; Microsoft .NET; NetWeaver (SAP); Flex; Business process management & modeling; SAP SM (Service Management); Security; and SAN (storage area networking). As Web 2.0 has expanded rapidly in popularity, Java developers and expertise are needed more than ever. Linux and Virtualization are near the top since both help companies cut costs. Demand for the SAP skill set remains very strong, especially after SAP moved into the smaller business market.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Skip Job Boards and Use Social Media Instead
Business Week, July 28

Dan Schawbel, personal branding expert for Gen Y and the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, weighs in on the advantages of using social media instead of job boards to conduct a job search. Schawbel explains that, if you rely on job boards or corporate Web sites for your job search, you'll find yourself unemployed for a very long time. Instead, look to your networks, both in real life and online. In your job search, social media allows you to connect directly with hiring managers who work for companies you have genuine interest in instead of applying through job boards. As the résumé becomes less and less relevant, you can use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, as well as your personal blog, as outlets to communicate your personal brand and find a job faster than the competition.

The most obvious social network for corporate recruiting is LinkedIn, with more than 40 million professional member profiles across all industries. There are literally thousands of recruiters searching for passive talent, as well as job seekers who are leveraging the network to find available positions. In some cases, candidates are landing positions without even submitting a résumé. Before you attempt to use LinkedIn for a job search, be sure to construct a full profile; obtain recommendations; join groups; and keep your profile information up to date. Additionally, blogging can give you the visibility to help secure a full-time job within a much shorter timeframe; showcase your credibility as a specialist within a certain field; and even become a conversation-starter during job interviews. All of that can separate you from your peers and help you land a job. Recruiters can gain a better understanding of an individual based on a blog, compared to a résumé that has the same standard fields, such as experience and education.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


How to Find Job Posts on Twitter
CIO.com, July 23

Some employers and recruiters have turned to Twitter to post positions and find new talent for jobs that require specific technical skills. However, using Twitter to find new work opportunities isn't always a straightforward process, due primarily to the limitations of using only 140 characters to post new job openings. According to career experts who have experimented with Twitter, job candidates need to become familiar with hashtags, a symbol (#) Twitter users assign to their tweets that sorts them into different categories. Job candidates should also start compiling a list of Twitter handles (Twitter user names) that post helpful information about finding new jobs.

Twitter hashtags are indexed at hashtags.org, a comprehensive list of categories that users have created to help others find information on Twitter. The Twitter tags most utilized by job seekers include #jobs, #job, #jobseeker, #career and #careers. On Twitter, you can search for these hashtags by putting the symbol "#" in front of the phrase (for example: #jobs) when you type it into Twitter’s search engine. The search engine will return tweets that have been assigned the #jobs hashtag in real-time. To find specific job openings, use Twitter’s search engine and type in the hashtag (#jobs) along with a keyword related to your expertise (e.g. "project manager"). Because recruiters and employers must deal with the 140-character limit, they may omit a keyword in their tweet. Thus, if you search too specifically on Twitter, you could miss some good posts.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Do Elite Colleges Produce the Best-Paid Graduates?
New York Times Economix Blog, July 20

PayScale, a site that collects data on salaries for different professions, recently released an updated data set from over 1.2 million users on the salaries of graduates from hundreds of universities and colleges, as well as salaries and career choices broken down by department/major. As a way of measuring which colleges produce the highest-paid graduates, the salary data includes rankings by median mid-career salary (minimum 10 years out of school) and by median starting salary. While prestigious Ivy League universities ranked near the top, it was not always the case that their graduates reported higher median salaries than graduates from less well-known universities. As a rough guide, the data gives students and their parents an understanding as to what their return on investment is going to be.

In the statistical survey from PayScale, Dartmouth College has the highest median mid-career salary, while Loma Linda University (with strong placements in healthcare-related fields) has the highest median starting salary. In general, engineering schools produced the best starting salaries, and represented eight out of the top 10 schools in starting salary. In addition, Ivy League schools are the best bet for mid-career pay, with five out of the top 10 positions. As might be expected, quantitative-oriented degrees – like engineering, computer science, mathematics and economics — filled most of the top 20 slots in both highest starting median salaries and highest mid-career median salaries.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Building a Credible Image When You Work in Multiple Fields
Web Worker Daily, July 27

In order to sell yourself and your freelance services online, you need to develop a methodology for combining your skills and experiences across multiple fields. If you fail to do so, a potential client will assume that you lack focus, and perhaps don’t excel at any of the things you do. While freelancers have to be flexible and creative with their talents, they should focus on putting together a single portfolio site where they can send professional contacts. Instead of providing links to multiple profiles and blogs that don’t tell the whole story, a dynamic professional website can help to build a credible image across multiple fields. With that in mind, the article suggests three possible methodologies for combining together disparate career skills.

Some experts on personal branding suggest that multi-faceted freelancers should start to think of their offerings the same way a bakery does. Everyone knows what a bakery is and that you can get a variety of baked goods inside. So although you may have many different “baked goods” to offer your clients, you should choose one item to put in the shop window when creating your personal brand, and everyone will know that you will likely provide the complementary services, too. Keep in mind, however, that this strategy may not work for everyone, especially for people with diverse skills and talents that may not be complementary (e.g. project management and public speaking).


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


What’s In Your Future?
Wall Street Journal, July 26

The rapidly changing nature of the global workplace means that IT workers need to be on the continual lookout for ways they can reinvent and adapt. By the year 2025, the IT workplace will likely look radically different than it does now. Giving the current economic environment, workers may not be concerned with surviving beyond the current recession, but they should be. In order to have long-term, successful careers, we all must rethink how we'll stay marketable in the future work force, especially when it comes to dealing with the twin challenges that face a majority of 21st-century workers: outsourcing and automation.

The people who look at every interaction as an opportunity to add value and solve problems will be the most sought-after employees in 2025. The essential worker of the future will have close, one-on-one relationships with customers that keep them coming back. By 2025, many will work remotely for a variety of organizations, and hours will depend on the geography of the team with which you're collaborating. Although technology will be available to track what you're working on and when, you'll need to be productive without the boss looking over your shoulder. Another requirement is comfort with rapid change. Employers will also value skills related to strategic planning, computer programming, design and creative thinking.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Why This Recession Has Been So Tough on Recruiters
ERE.net, July 29

The current economic downturn has been difficult on IT recruiters, especially for those that have failed to adapt to the changing needs of the digital workplace. Unfortunately, many recruiters remain tactical, and fail to grasp how strategic their function is to a firm. They need to become leaders who take command of the recruiting process and develop a function that competes effectively against other organizations and consistently supplies their organization with quality talent without relying on the use of extraordinary, one-time measures. The article demonstrates why bad habits within the recruiting world can lead to lackluster results, and then highlights specific ways to address these bad habits.

For recruiters, one bad habit to overcome is an over-reliance on yesterday’s tools and techniques for finding new talent. Techniques like cold calling, telephone screening, and resume reviewing are examples of methods that have seen their heyday but may have outgrown their effectiveness. Instead, recruiters need to embrace such emerging practices as social networking, video interviewing, online assessment, and candidate relationship management. Recruiters experimenting with virtual communities and with building online relationships already have a advantage over the recruiter who is tied to geography and to face-to-face meetings. The second bad habit is filling requisitions instead of meeting business objectives. Most recruiters are obsessed with filling slots. Instead, they should discuss the value of positions with hiring managers to see which skill sets are truly needed and how new hires will impact the future of the organization.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


The Day My Industry Died
ACM Queue, July 23

Joel Spolsky, co-founder and CEO of Fog Creek Software and author of the popular blog Joel on Software, reviews his decision to launch a Web consulting firm during the Internet boom years of the late 1990s. A decade ago, when everybody was starting a Web consulting business, programmers became part of designing and building the future of the Internet. By Spring 2000, however, the outlook dimmed, as clients started pulling back on their commitments and firms struggled with business models that no longer made economic sense. In an article that first appeared in Fast Company magazine, Spolsky sheds some light on what to do when your industry dies, offers advice on how to spot the early warning signals of an impending collapse, and highlights the right questions to be asking yourself when you launch a new business.

By 1999, everyone was starting an Internet company and web design consulting firms had more clients than they could handle and were hiring like mad. The immediate problem all those consultancies faced in 1999 and 2000 was that they couldn't find enough great software developers to handle all the new business they were bringing in, so they had to turn away clients. Fog Creek started with the idea of treating programmers like talent instead of hourly workers, and then hired the best and the brightest. To get around the limited margins of the Web consulting business (once overhead and salaries were figured in), Fog Creek decided to start out as a plain-vanilla Web consulting business and then look for situations where several clients were asking for the same basic thing. Then, using consultants who weren't currently working on projects, Fog Creek could build a software application to suit the group's needs. Later, this software product could be licensed far and wide.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top


Time for Computer Science to Grow Up
Communications of the ACM (Vol. 52 No. 8), August 1

Engineering and computer science professor Lance Fortnow argues that the computer science field, now more than 50 years old, needs to adapt to a conference and journal model that has worked well for every other academic field. Fortnow argues that the current conference system forces researchers to focus too heavily on quick, technical and safe papers instead of considering broader and newer ideas. Meanwhile, academics devote too much time and money to conferences where they can present papers, leaving them less time to attend events where they can socialize with colleagues. Fortnow first highlights the reasons why conferences have become more prestigious than journals as a way to disseminate computing research results and then explains why the current system is no longer appropriate for the demands of the computer science discipline. In the final analysis, academic journals should be the place to rate papers and researchers, while conferences should act as a broad forum to bring the computer science community together.

After reviewing how the conference and journal model for computer science came into being, Fortnow describes why it has led to a splintering of the computer science community. Because of limitations of money and time, very few conferences draw many attendees beyond the authors of accepted papers. Conferences now serve the journal role of other fields, leaving nothing to serve the proper role of conferences. Moreover, having different publication procedures discourages proper collaboration between researchers in computer science and other fields. The final result is a situation in which too many papers chase too few conference slots. To maintain their quality reputations, conference program committees have become biased toward safe papers (incremental and technical) versus those that explore new models and research directions outside the established core areas of the conference.


Click Here to View Full Article
to the top