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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, September 22, 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 18, September 22, 2009




Ten Best Places for Tech Jobs
U.S. News and World Report, September 15

Some cities are faring better than others when it comes to creating job opportunities for IT workers. Although tech employment overall has suffered along with the rest of the economy during the recession, job losses have not been evenly distributed across different geographic areas. High-tech manufacturing jobs have been shed more rapidly, while IT service jobs in engineering and in software services have been more resilient. To find the cities with the best prospects for tech jobs, U.S. News started out with a database of 2,000 cities and then sorted them according to factors such as rates of graduate degrees, supply and demand of IT workers and salary data.

Northern California is an obvious focus for tech industry job seekers. Between San Jose and San Francisco, it would be impossible to find a more tech-savvy population. But San Francisco has a bit of an edge over San Jose in this recession, with an unemployment rate in July of 9.3%, compared to a 11.8% unemployment rate in San Jose. Although best known for its software companies, Seattle’s tech sector has enormous potential to become more diverse. According to the Washington Technology Industry Association, Seattle is home to more than 700 tech industry organizations and companies. In 2009, Seattle had among the highest demand ratios for computer software applications engineers relative to supply. On the East Coast, New York boasts high annual salaries as well as a high ratio of job postings to employment in multiple tech occupations. There may be more to come if the city can find a way to benefit from the expanding healthcare industry.


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HR Execs Predict Best Careers
California Job Journal, September 13

John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, analyzes the emerging career opportunities that have the highest potential for young IT workers. These fields are especially promising for the approximately 2.9 million young men and women who are beginning their postsecondary education and thinking about career choices. According to a recent survey conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, more than 50% of HR executives said they would advise college freshmen to pursue degrees in engineering, computer science or healthcare. In doing so, it’s best to build in some amount of flexibility, since it is impossible to predict exactly what the job market will look like in four years.

With so much uncertainty in the jobs market right now, it is best to seek skills that are flexible and highly transferable between various industries. The areas recommended by HR executives attempt to provide future graduates with a great amount of flexibility to pursue careers in fields that are emerging now or could emerge over the next two decades. In the survey, computer science/information technology edged out engineering as the most-recommended field of study. It was selected by 16% of survey respondents. Engineering was favored among 15% of human resource executives, while medicine/healthcare was recommended by 14.3%. While the federal government could become a very fruitful source of jobs in the coming years, fewer than 5% of respondents recommended public service (government/nonprofit) as the best career path to pursue.


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Global Jobs Market Shows Signs of Recovery
Management Issues, September 8

While some emerging markets are likely to see a jobs recovery in 4Q 2009, the outlook for developed economies in North America and Europe remains mixed. According to the quarterly Employment Outlook Survey from recruitment company Manpower, employers in 17 of the 35 countries surveyed expect some positive hiring activity in the quarter ahead. Of the 15 countries reporting negative hiring expectations, ten reported their weakest hiring outlook in nearly 50 years. Employers in India and Brazil are leading the way as far as recruitment confidence is concerned, with Australia, China, Singapore and Canada also showing signs of recovery. In the U.S., signs point to a slow jobs recovery.

India emerged from the survey with 25% more employers planning to take on staff than are planning to shed them, closely followed by Brazil, at 21%. For the leading G7 economies (except Canada), the story is less encouraging, with all reporting negative hiring expectations. In general, employers in emerging markets are more optimistic about hiring compared to their counterparts in more developed economies. While a quarter-over-quarter comparison shows modest improvements in six of the G7 countries, with the exception of Canada, all are reporting negative hiring expectations. As demand for their products and services continues to be weak, employers remain very selective in their hiring process, resulting in a sluggish job market.


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Why High Tech Needs Women Executives
Computerworld, September 8

Joyce Brocaglia, founder of the Executive Women's Forum, takes a closer look at the opportunities available for women in high tech and explains why gender diversity at the IT executive level matters. As Brocaglia explains, many companies are beginning to recognize that gender balancing is good for business. In short, the corporations that are taking actions to identify, promote and retain high-potential women are reaping the benefits. According to recent studies, Fortune 500 companies with three or more women on the board gained a significant performance advantage over those with the fewest. Moreover, those companies with the most women on their senior teams showed superior growth in equity, operational results and share price.

The issue of women as leaders is no longer simply about equal employment opportunity, it's also a matter of smart business. In 2003, Brocaglia responded to the needs of executive women in the fields of information security, privacy and risk management and founded the Executive Women's Forum. What began as one-on-one conversations about gathering like-minded women together to build a trusted network has evolved into a community of more than 500 of the most influential women in their fields who have attended national conferences, regional meetings and interact through an online community. The community has been so successful since it is a "safe place" where women gather and are willing to be authentic in sharing their successes and challenges and discuss issues that they are wrestling with.


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The Importance of a Compelling Bio
Web Worker Daily, September 8

Your online biography can have a significant impact on how recruiters and hiring managers view your candidacy. As the article explains, it is important to think carefully about how you are filling out fields required by social networking sites and completing seemingly routine “About” pages. A compelling introduction delivered with enthusiasm and interest can make all the difference. Every time someone visits your profile, sees your photo within a network, or visits your web site, you’re making an impression, so it’s important to make sure that you’re telling a story that grabs the attention of your target audience. With that in mind, publicity expert Nancy Juetten suggests a few tips on how to develop a compelling personal bio and create an attention getting “About” page.

There are four cornerstones to creating an exceptional bio: stunning results, succinct stories, sound bites and social information that is relevant to your career. Most importantly, you have to be able to show how you help people and achieve results for your clients. If you are unable to quantify these results, obtain several testimonials from satisfied customers to demonstrate your abilities and unique skill set. By telling succinct stories, you will be able to explain how and why you ended up in your line of work. Using a sassy sound bite or quote, you can explain your approach to life, your beliefs or your business outlook. Finally, by providing social information about your hobbies, interests and personal passions, you can help clients connect with you better.


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Government Should Help Widen Cyber Knowledge
Federal Times, September 14

The Department of Homeland Security should be doing more to recruit top cyber security talent and develop a highly skilled workforce of cyber security workers who are at the front lines of protecting federal computer networks from attacks. While there are some signs that government leaders within the Department of Homeland Security are starting to pay closer attention to the cyber workforce, a recent study by the Partnership for Public Service found broad agreement among federal officials and outside experts that the government has a serious shortage of technically sophisticated professionals capable of combating the growing cyber threat from hackers, criminals, foreign governments and terrorist organizations. The time is overdue for the government to commit the resources and exert the leadership to build and nurture a highly skilled cyber workforce.

Within the federal government, there has been a lack of high-level leadership, with no one in charge of assessing and planning government-wide workforce needs. Experts claim the government has an outdated job classification system, little training for workers to upgrade their skills, and no career path or uniform technical certification system for cyber-security specialists. Against that backdrop, attacks on government civilian computer networks tripled between 2006 and 2008. Federal IT leaders report difficulty finding, hiring and retaining qualified cyber-security experts in many specialties including computer network engineering, forensics, software development, defense, vulnerability and protocol analysis, intrusion detection, and, in the case of the military and intelligence communities, digital exploitation and attack.


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Should You Look For a New Job Now?
Yahoo! Hot Jobs, September 14

With signs of a nascent U.S. economic recovery on the horizon, there are steps that IT workers can take now to be prepared for a full recovery in the jobs market. However, given that unemployment rates were higher in July than a year earlier in all 372 metropolitan areas covered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many IT jobseekers have been cautious in looking for a new job. The article points out, however, that even in a difficult job market, there are pockets of opportunity. Now that job security is a thing of the past, you should still be open to hearing about new openings, even if you’re not actively searching for work. As recruiters point out, it’s often easier to find a job when you have a job.

With job security on the wane, just because you have a job today does not mean that you won't be looking tomorrow. The absence of job security coupled with unhappiness in your current position should spur you to explore your options sooner rather than later. Passive candidates have an edge. Recruiters, rightfully or not, prefer the passive candidates -- the ones who are currently employed -- rather than unemployed people who are very actively out there looking. Make sure you keep a current resume and an open mind, so you're prepared for anything that comes your way.


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Online Co-Working: Up From Starbucks
Datamation, September 10

Co-working, which involves individual workers and prospective business owners taking advantage of common facilities and resources such as conference rooms and reception areas, continues to grow in popularity as a networking tool. Co-working enables you to move beyond the local coffee shop or other free Wi-Fi location to attain a more professional presence when interacting with clients and more easily meet other like-minded job seekers. After detailing the logistics of popular co-working initiatives, such as Jelly in NYC, the article explains why interacting with a community of people from different walks of life, skill sets and interests can be beneficial for your job search.

In many co-working arrangements, the total cost is about $50 a month or even less, and includes a Wi-Fi connection and coffee. Some facilities offer more, such as multiple-line phones and conference rooms, and some have less. All are a step up from Starbucks, though. There are many online resources on co-working and it’s possible to view the locations in major cities. Most locations will have a small dedicated group of regular coworkers who come anywhere from several times a week to just a few times a month.


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What to Do When Your Boss Ignores You
Wall Street Journal, September 10

Even for senior-level male IT executives, it can be difficult to break into the “good old boy” network that can sometimes determine the pace of career advancement. Even if you are bringing forth new ideas, delivering on every project and implementing important programs, it may seem as if your boss has little, if any, interest in your work. This can be particularly acute for a CIO when the CEO does not understand how technology influences the bottom line. Based on the experience of a bank CIO in Texas, the article suggests several steps to take if members of the senior management team are ignoring you. In making the decision to stay in the position or leave, there are several variables to consider, such as whether the CEO’s views on technology may change over time, and what other types of opportunities exist at your skill level.

Try not to take your boss's lack of attention personally. Most likely, the CEO’s dismissive attitude towards you is really due more to uninformed views on information technology than what he or she thinks about you. You have a number of choices for your next move and need to consider them objectively. If you do make the decision to stay, you will need to help your CEO see the light. In your next meeting with the CEO, find out what he or she wants to accomplish over the next five years. Then, take that information and use your experience as both a business and IT executive in the industry to craft a plan that outlines how IT will support this agenda.


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Sept. 15, 1947: Association for Computing Machinery Gets Whirring
Wired, September 15

As part of its ongoing “This Day in Tech” feature, Wired magazine takes a closer look at the founding of the Association for Computing Machinery on September 15, 1947. Interest in the infant field of computer science was growing in 1947. Building on advances in World War II computer cryptography and other fields, engineers and inventors were seeking each other out through existing organizations. After detailing earlier initiatives to bring together computer science pioneers, the article details the decision by Edmund C. Berkeley to convene a group at Columbia University in New York City.

Prior to the founding of ACM in September 1947, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers held six meetings on analog- and digital-computation machinery during 1946 and 1947. Harvard University, home of the Mark I and Mark II computers, sponsored a January 1947 symposium on large-scale digital-calculating hardware. Meanwhile, also in Cambridge, MIT’s Electrical Engineering department held it’s own six-session series on electronic computing in March and April of 1947. Deciding that it was time to get together and establish a dedicated group, Harvard-educated mathematician Edmund C. Berkeley convened a meeting of the Association for Computing Machinery on Sept. 15, 1947, at Columbia University with the purpose of advancing the science, development, construction and application of the new machinery for computing, reasoning and other handling of information.


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