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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 3, 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 21, November 3, 2009




High-Tech Talent Set to Take Off Post Economic Recovery
Network World, October 27

There are growing signs that high-tech workers who have endured salary freezes (or reductions) and added workloads over the past 12 months will be looking for new jobs as soon as an economic recovery gets underway. In the midst of the worst economic downturn in decades, CTOs and VPs of engineering need to be taking steps to retain their top high-tech talent. If the message is that people should be happy just to have a job during this tough time, companies could experience high turnover rates. Thus, companies that cut salaries, benefits and other perks such as professional development and mentoring programs could experience a loss in high-tech talent right when business could be poised for growth.

Employees that have spent the past year cutting costs and working more hours, all while losing personal time and restricting their own vacations out of fear of losing their jobs, will feel disengaged and disenchanted with employers. A loss of employee engagement threatens companies' ability to benefit from an economic rebound. Job security is one of the biggest predictors of employee engagement and widespread layoffs have hurt this engagement. A report from Gartner found that unrelenting workload and stress is a significant barrier to building engagement. Moreover, Deloitte in 2009 reported that employee morale and trust in senior management has taken a turn for the worst. And research from Towers Perrin in 2008 showed that 38% of global employees felt disengaged or disenchanted, with 85% of those feeling disengaged planning to leave their companies.


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Ten Tried-and-True Tips for Switching Industries
CIO.com, October 16

Veteran IT leader Marc Hopkins, who has worked in a variety of industries, shares his advice on how IT professionals can make a seamless move between industries. With the economic recession wreaking havoc on many sectors, many IT professionals who've been laid off are considering an industry switch to open up their job searches. Career experts are urging job seekers to apply for jobs in the few industries that are growing or are poised for growth, such as green energy and technology, education, and healthcare. The problem, however, is that companies often don't want to hire executives outside of their industries because it increases the risk of not being able to hit the ground running. While switching industries can be challenging, there are a number of steps that you can take to ease the transition.

In order to make a seamless industry switch, it is essential to immerse yourself within the new industry. As an experienced IT leader, your expertise is extremely valuable to many organizations across other vertical markets. You can lay the foundation for a change by talking to people within the new industry, gathering their support and feedback before any formal steps are taken, and taking steps to increase your credibility. It is important to gather information about your new industry and identify ways to help prospective employers. In order to establish your credibility within a social network, you have to become “one of them.” This will give people confidence in the move you are making.


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IT Jobs Will Expand Globally by Nearly 6 Million in Four Years
eWeek, October 16

By 2013, jobs in the information technology sector will expand by 5.8 million worldwide, according to a recent report by technology analyst firm IDC. This significant growth in IT jobs is linked to the impact that emerging technological trends, such as the migration to cloud computing, will have on business growth. Quite simply, the effect of new companies and revenues equates to a surge in new IT jobs worldwide. IDC expects that 75,000 new businesses will be created with an annual rate of job growth at 3% during that span.

The IDC report cites growth in software and cloud computing as a major driver of new businesses and jobs, and expects new "in the cloud" businesses to generate $800 billion in revenues by 2013. Of the 52 countries in the analyst report, IDC forecasts IT spending to expand to $1.7 trillion by 2013, up from $1.41 trillion in 2009, with more than half the net increase coming from emerging markets. That rate of increase will be more than three times the expected rate of gross domestic product growth in the 52 countries studied, which account for almost all current IT spending. Emerging economies such as those of China and India have been less affected by worldwide recession than Europe and North America, and have more room to grow as consumers become more affluent.


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Giving a Stalled Job Search a Jump-Start
Career Journal, October 20

For many out-of-work professionals, finding a job in today's market requires far more effort than it did in the past. According to the U.S. Labor Department, it now takes unemployed workers an average of 27.2 weeks to land a job, up from 19.1 weeks in September 2008 and 16.7 in September 2007. The good news, however, is that there are several ways job hunters can revive a stalled search. One way is to take a highly targeted approach to focus on certain employers. Another is to focus on unadvertised positions where companies seek out their own applicants, rather than relying solely on job-board listings. With that in mind, the article provides a closer look at how several jobseekers were able to jump-start their stalled job searches.

As employers cut back on advertising jobs online, they are relying on word of mouth and referrals to draw a more manageable number of applicants. That requires more networking on your part in order to connect with people you don't know well. It’s easier to sit in front of your computer and just start looking for jobs as opposed to getting out there and meeting new people, but you may not be able to land a single interview using that approach. To shift gears, reach out to everyone in your network, even people you haven't spoken to in years. In addition to setting up informational interviews, career counselors also recommend keeping up with news and trends in your target industry to identify potential job opportunities. By keeping up with companies making headlines, you may receive a tip about an upcoming job opening, or get an offer for a freelance assignment.


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Need a Job? Talk to a Stranger
ABC News (Good Morning America), October 26

Tory Johnson, CEO of Women for Hire and the workplace contributor for ABC's Good Morning America, offers insights on the most effective networking techniques that lead to new job opportunities. Based on feedback that she’s received at events across the nation, including a recent event for women jobseekers in California, she comments on how to outflank the competition and make the job search process as easy as possible. Jobseekers can get their foot in the door at companies by volunteering at industry events, leveraging social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and learning how to state their employment needs very succinctly and directly.

One way to connect with new people who can get you closer to your next employer is to volunteer at an industry conference or networking event. Since these events often need volunteers, call the organizers and offer your time and talent in exchange for entry. Working the event and wearing the "staff" nametag puts you in a position to strike up a conversation and get an introduction. You can also go to networking events alone. It’s not easy, and can be nerve-racking at first, but it forces you to introduce yourself to new people. Sometimes nothing comes of it, but other times, you will get a new contact, new lead, or new resource that you never would have gotten had you not put yourself out there. Always introduce yourself by sharing who you are and what you do.


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How to Succeed Before, During and After Networking Events
Brazen Careerist, October 21

Experienced jobseekers can use their networks to accomplish a variety of goals: to keep in touch, to learn more about careers, to seek out employment opportunities, or even to help others find new opportunities. At the end of the day, networking is a relationship, meaning the other person needs to benefit somehow. It could mean you occasionally send them an article relevant to their job or a project they’re working on. You could even send them a thank you whenever you use the advice they gave you. The article provides practical advice on how to expand the success of your formal networking activities by understanding what must happen before, during and after these networking events.

Before any networking event, research the companies that will be present, be up to date on current news involving potential employers and their related industries, and make sure you have some nice, professional-looking business cards. At the event itself, talk to the companies that you are very interested in first as they are likely to be busy. Be courteous and don’t monopolize the time of the employer – there are many people wanting to talk to each employer, so ask a few good questions and then move on. At the end of the event, go back to each person you talked to and thank them for their time. Remember to ask for a business card and give the employer yours. Ask the person if it’s okay to contact them, as well as what method of contact they would prefer.


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Recruiting Software: Ten Ways Job Seekers Can Beat the System
CIO.com, October 26

By some estimates, 90% of the top 500 U.S. employers are using some form of recruiting software to filter candidates' résumés based on how well they match the job description. As a result, applicants need to understand how to insert key words into their resumes to make it past the keyword-matching algorithms and filters. But recruiters have upped the ante even further, sometimes using sophisticated artificial intelligence programs to find the right applicants. To increase the odds of hiring managers seeing—and responding to—your résumé, a group of career experts offer 10 tips for standing out and getting past the electronic gatekeepers.

As a rule of thumb, try to apply only for jobs for which you're qualified. When you're unemployed, it's tempting to apply for any and all jobs in your field, regardless of whether you meet the exact requirements. A more targeted approach tends to yield better results than a scattershot approach. Then, know what keywords to include in your résumé and cover letter. Reading every job ad related to your profession will give you a sense of the key skills and capabilities organizations consistently seek. Once you have these keywords, think about how to include them in your résumé to increase the chance of them being found by recruiting software and applicant tracking systems. You want to ensure your résumé includes appropriate keywords, but without going overboard with every possible version of a specific term.


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Why You Need to Develop a Healthy Unemployment Routine
Personal Branding Blog, October 23

To increase the chances of landing a new job, unemployed workers should reassess their daily routine. Establishing a daily regimen while unemployed can help job seekers make the transition more quickly to full employment. Moreover, it will lead to a positive mentality that will inject optimism and a sense of purpose into your daily regime. There are two keys to establishing a healthy unemployment regime: getting up early at a regular time and creating an efficient daily routine that balances fun with work (publishing blog posts, submitting resumes). Develop the kinds of habits you would have, even if you were working, and you will be able to hit the ground running at your new job.

By getting up at a reasonable hour, you can lay the foundation for an effective daily routine. You don’t have to be an early riser, but you are going to have a tough transition to the working world if you get up late on a regular basis. Second, if you can get into the habit of having a daily routine or ritual, you will have a reason to get out of bed. This can be something as simple as publishing blog posts on a daily schedule or submitting resumes to companies. Having tasks and rituals will give you some sort of purpose other than “I really need to find a job.” If all you are thinking about is “I need to find a job,” your entire focus is on the lack of a job and this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


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Dot Diva: New Program to Improve Computing's Image to Girls
ACM Press Room, October 2009

Dot Diva, formerly known as New Image for Computing, is an initiative of ACM and the WGBH Educational Foundation to improve the image of computer science among college-bound high school girls. The Dot Diva program is inviting participation of students, faculty and interested others via recruiting, nominations and an active presence on Facebook and Twitter. Ignite Talks, a new component of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), recently included a presentation on Dot Diva to raise awareness of efforts aimed at improving the public perception of computing among women.

Through a national research survey, effective messages were identified and the next phase of research tested different branding concepts with girls, each based on different graphic treatments and variations of the messaging. Dot Diva emerged as the concept with the most powerful appeal. The overall messaging of the program is that “Dot Divas” are the new face of computing. They believe in the potential of computing to redesign the future and build a better world. They're young women with the power and passion to make a difference. The Dot Diva website recently highlighted the following announcements: registration for the She’s Geeky event in Washington, DC; nominations for 2010 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellows; and the launch of a new campus forum for women interested in math and science at the University of Richmond.


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Congress Endorses Computer Science Education as Driver of Innovation, Economic Growth
ACM Press Room, October 21

ACM is joining with several partners from the computing community to commend the U.S. House of Representatives' passage of a resolution to raise the profile of computer science as a transforming industry that drives technology innovation and bolsters economic productivity. The resolution designates the week of December 7 as "National Computer Science Education Week." Microsoft, Google and Intel, as well as the Computer Science Teachers Association, National Center for Women & Information Technology, and the Computing Research Association are partnering with ACM to build awareness of computer science education as a national priority. The goal is to help draw attention to the need for an educational system that values computer science as a discipline and provides students with critical thinking skills and career opportunities.

Chris Stephenson, executive director of CSTA, pointed out the vital role of computing in people’s daily lives and the urgency of building a strong computing workforce. As she explained, the U.S. needs to expose K-12 students to computer science concepts to help them gain critical 21st century skills and knowledge. Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT, pointed to ongoing efforts by NCWIT, ACM, CSTA, and others to address computer science needs of K-12 students and to attract more women and minority groups to the field. As she suggested, an annual week to acknowledge computer science can bolster efforts to inform students, teachers, parents, and the general public about how computer science enables innovation in all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, thereby creating economic opportunities.


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