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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, January 20, 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 2, January 20, 2009




Career Experts Predict 2009 Should Be Good For Tech Pros
Tech Careers (via Information Week), January 8

Despite the economic recession, career experts say IT professionals should feel optimistic about the hiring environment in 2009. After all, IT has become a core, embedded function at every company, meaning that there is now less volatility to IT hiring plans. As a result, technology workers will continue to weather the current economic turmoil better than many other professions. Many employers want to hold on to and even bolster their teams of IT people who keep the business running, as well as IT workers who can help their organizations take greater advantage of technology.

Given this need to bolster their core businesses, many organizations are experiencing greater demand for systems engineers, application developers, and database pros who can help make that happen. They are placing particular emphasis on individuals who will be able to move innovative projects forward once the economic uncertainty lifts. Potential areas of growth include mobile technology and electronic medical records. Generally speaking, companies will be looking to align themselves with the new priorities of the Obama Administration, especially when it comes to technology policy.


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Recruiter Reveals Hot Jobs for 2009
Network World, January 13

According to executive recruitment firm CTPartners, there are two general categories of executive IT jobs that will be in high demand throughout 2009: social media and healthcare. Moreover, as companies position themselves for an economic recovery, there will be a growing list of jobs that will experience an increase in demand. Within the financial services sector, for example, IT experts who can help fix current problems will be in high demand. As well, there are opportunities in clean tech, alternative energy and infrastructure. The article takes a closer look at the mix of strategic and hands-on executive roles within the social media and healthcare sectors.

Social media continues to gain momentum as organizations look to broaden their presence on the Web. According to research firm Gartner, organizations must adopt these social media technologies to engage the best candidates. Moreover, organizations must grasp the opportunities in figuring out how to exploit the potential of Internet-based communities. As CTPartners points out, there are two technology-related job titles that are drawing the most attention from organizations: head of digital media and head of advanced new media technology.


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Engineering Education Beckons Changes
EE Times Asia, January 1

At the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), James Plummer, Dean of Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, warned that U.S. universities must change or reform engineering education to address a future talent shortfall in the discipline. Moreover, Plummer pointed out that the future of engineering education will have an impact on U.S. competitiveness in an increasingly global and flat world. Any change must start with the curriculum of engineering schools. Rather than following the curriculum model of law and medicine, engineering should follow an approach that combines the current engineering curriculum with classes in related and unrelated fields.

As a result of these proposed curriculum changes, Plummer notes, engineering schools will be able to develop ''T-shaped” people. While engineers need to learn their discipline in depth, they also need to expand and broaden their education in areas beyond math, science and related classes. Engineering schools must teach students how to innovate and be creative. In addition, engineering schools must teach entrepreneurship, instruct students how to work well as a member of a diverse team and offer undergraduate research programs in a faculty lab or related setting.


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Five Tips for an Outstanding IT Resume
CIO.com (via InfoWorld), December 22

With the competition for tech jobs heating up as a result of the economic downturn, having an effective résumé is almost becoming a prerequisite for finding the right job. Unfortunately, many IT workers fail to optimize their résumés for the way that recruiters sort through potential candidates. In today's hiring environment, a well-written résumé can make all the difference in standing out in a crowd of other IT professionals. With that in mind, the article provides five essential tips for writing the perfect tech résumé, including advice on everything from which technical details to include, to how to position new certifications, to how to blend a mix of business and technology experiences.

According to recruiters, the primary problem with most technical résumés is that they are too long and too detailed. Résumés should only be two pages maximum and should summarize technical accomplishments, not provide in-depth detail about them. Moreover, too many resumes include an objective at the top or bottom. Companies want to know what you can do for them, not what you want from them. When outlining your accomplishments, try to keep a balance between those related to business and technology. A prior job description should start with a general statement similar to a summary bullet, and then proceed to technical details that show technology’s impact on business.


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The Brand You is Dead: Long Live The Brand You Build
Eyecube, January 5

In the era of the social Web, personal branding has become as easy as launching a website, creating a Facebook page or starting a Twitter account. However, is it possible that we’ve reached a point where personal branding on the social Web needs to be re-thought? What was once a smart move now feels self-congratulatory and driven more by ego than producing value. After re-visiting the famous 1997 Fast Company article by Tom Peters on “The Brand Called You,” Eyecube takes an introspective look at the ways that people should be interacting on the social Web and building their personal brands.

Back in 1997, Fast Company changed the way business people thought about themselves, business, branding and marketing with the “Brand Called You” cover story by marketing guru Tom Peters. With the advent of social media platforms and content sharing sites, people have interpreted personal brands to mean “look at me.” However, that’s a gross misrepresentation of what Peters was saying, or at least what he meant. His idea of a personal brand was one that provided unique value that set you apart from others. In short, the inward-looking focus on branding yourself is no longer the best way to serve yourself. There is a big difference between reputation and personal branding, and in helping others versus just promoting yourself.


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How to Get Paid Better in 2009
Web Worker Daily, January 5

For web workers looking to receive an increase in the rates they receive from clients, there are several concrete steps they can take to boost their billable rates. After all, raising your rates is one of the many ways you can go a step further on your personal career ladder and find new career opportunities. While raising your rates comes with some extra work, the additional effort is almost always worth it. While asking for a raise in 2009 may be complicated by the wave of layoffs and cost-cutting initiatives throughout the economy, the article provides seven simple ways to increase your value to clients.

The easiest way to increase your billing rate is by adding new skills, projects and credentials to your resume. You can lengthen your list of credentials through certifications, new courses in a relevant field, awards, and participation in high-profile projects. Then, you can highlight your additional credentials by posting about them in your blog or on your social networking profiles. Another way to increase your value is through networking. When there are obvious connections between you and a prominent person in your client’s industry, this provides a more compelling reason to hire you. While it doesn’t strictly follow that you will be able to increase your billing just because you know them or follow them, it does make a good impression.


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More Businesses Using Freelancers, Experts Say
CNN, January 14

Wary of the risk of being laid off from large organizations, many highly-skilled workers are deciding to go into business for themselves. In many cases, they feel that they can deliver a better product or service to their clients as an independent contractor or consultant than as an employee of a large organization. Within America, the percentage of people who are working as independent contractors continues to grow, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the latest numbers available, 7.4% of U.S. workers were classified as independent contractors. Amidst the backdrop of an uncertain economic environment, the article conjectures that more companies are using freelancers because their business models are becoming more project-based.

Business models are changing to reflect the new economic uncertainty. Since a business really can rarely forecast more than 12 months in advance, they are operating from business cycle to business cycle. This provides economic incentives for businesses to hire freelancers, enabling them to cut the costs of benefits and payroll taxes. Moreover, because of the bureaucracy of many companies, it's much easier to get a freelancer approved for a project with a specific short-term time period than it is to get a new full-time position approved. Flexibility is also a key concern, since companies can scale back if they don't meet projections by cutting the number of freelancers they use.


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The Two Websites Every Job Seeker Needs to Join
CIO.com, January 9

While online job boards represent a valuable source of job leads, there are other online destinations that may be more valuable to job seekers. David Perry, author of Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters and the blog Guerilla Job Hunting, explains why job seekers should join two websites – ZoomInfo and LinkedIn – if they want to connect with recruiters and hiring managers. As Perry points out, headhunters use them every day to find candidates for new jobs, so it makes sense for job seekers to increase their visibility on these sites.

The first website is ZoomInfo, which is basically a search engine that scours the Web for business information about people and companies. According to ZoomInfo, it gathers information from the same publicly available web sources that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft use. Once ZoomInfo has collected information on a person or company, it combines all of that info into an individual "Public Profile" that anyone searching the Web can see. If your profile is not already listed on ZoomInfo or is outdated, create a new one that is accurate and up-to-date. Once your account is live, creating and updating your profile is relatively easy. If a person has a complete and compelling profile on ZoomInfo, that alone should indicate clearly enough to recruiters that the individual wants to be found.


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The Course of Your Career
California Job Journal, January 11

Many high school graduates are bypassing the conventional stint at a four-year college and choosing career and technical education (CTE) programs as a faster, more cost-efficient route to employment. According to recent estimates, 15.4 million students were enrolled in CTE programs, according to the Association of Career and Technical Education. As many people look to improve their employment situation in 2009, they are turning to these CTE programs as a way to retrain themselves in new area or brush up on old skills. The article takes a closer look at the primary selling points of these career and technical education programs, including a review of the DeVry technical education program for IT professionals.

One key selling point of these CTE programs is their relatively short duration. In some cases, programs completed in six to 24 months can prepare you to work in a broad array of fields, including electronics technology, computer networking, Web design and administration and software technology. In addition to services like free tutoring and lifetime career services assistance, students also receive the benefit of placement assistance arrangements with major employers, which for some graduates means starting a new job immediately after earning their diploma. Unlike four-year academic programs, schools typically focus on real-world training so graduates can hit the ground running their first day on the job.


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ACM Names 44 Fellows for Contributions to Computing and Information Technology
AScribe Newswire, January 15

ACM has recognized 44 of its members, many of them from the leading universities and research organizations in the world, for their contributions to the field of computer science. The 2008 ACM Fellows have spearheaded advances in computer theory as well as practice and have consistently demonstrated the value of these technological advances in forming the foundation for sustained economic growth and improving the quality of life in the world. ACM will formally recognize the 2008 Fellows at its annual Awards Banquet in San Diego in June.

Among U.S. corporations, the 2008 ACM Fellows were chosen from Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Hewlett-Packard. From Microsoft Research, individuals were cited for contributions ranging from computer security and verification to human-computer interaction, computational photography and distributed computing. From the IBM Almaden and Thomas J. Watson Research Centers, Fellows were recognized for query-processing language, computational geometry, computer-aided design, robotics, and other applications. Other corporate fellows were named for their contributions to compiler technology and computer performance enhancement tools, database management and computer communications protocols.


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