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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 17, 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 22, November 17, 2009




IT Employment May Be Stabilizing After Loss of 250,000 Jobs
Computerworld, October 30

After nearly 12 months of steady job losses, the IT labor market may be finally stabilizing, according to Virginia-based industry group TechServe Alliance. Since last November, IT employment had declined by nearly 250,000 jobs, or 6%. However, only 1,100 jobs were lost in September, a negligible decline. The TechServe Alliance, which conducts an ongoing analysis of IT occupation data, now offers a positive near-term outlook for IT hiring. With promising signs of an uptick in the broader U.S. economy, companies and staffing firms have started to change their view of the IT employment market and could be the first to hire out of a recession.

The U.S. Commerce Department recently reported that the U.S. economy grew by a 3.5% annual rate in the last quarter. At the same time, however, there has been little upward pressure on IT wages, according to research firm Foote Partners. Foote said about two-thirds of IT workers have either seen their salaries go down or remain flat over the last year. The economy is having a huge impact on employers just having the freedom to pay what they want, and this trend could persist into 2012. Nonetheless, Foote said there remain many IT skills that are increasing in value, especially in SAP and security.


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Four Ways to Stand Out In Today’s Market: Marketing Your Expertise
CIO.com, October 26

In order to differentiate yourself in today’s job market, there are several ways that you can market your expertise. Even if you’re doing all the right things with your resume, networking and interviewing, the key to job search success is being in the right place, with the right skills and solutions, at the right time. Job candidates need to be where their targeted employers are and where they are looking for talent. They also need to identify what their targeted employers are looking for and meet those needs. Then, they need to get noticed, which usually means marketing yourself both online and offline as the ideal solution to a potential employer’s needs.

A targeted job search – one that focuses on a particular industry or specific employers who might need your skills – is far more effective than the “shotgun” method of plastering your resume everywhere during your search for a new job. Once you’ve identified your targeted employers, create saved searches and RSS feeds for the specific roles you want with these firms, using your skills, experience and certifications as keywords. You can also be where your targeted employers are by attending the conferences and events that they attend. Industry conferences and seminars are one of the best ways to stay connected to and network within your industry. Social media and social networking tools provide yet another way for job seekers to be where their targeted employers are. Between 45% and 63% of employers use social networking sites as both recruitment tools for new talent and as screening sites for potential employees.


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Do This One Thing Before You Accept That Job
Web Worker Daily, November 1

In order to find a new job that will be challenging and rewarding, it helps to have a clear, real-world view of the potential employer from someone who knows the company well, yet has no vested interest in whether you take the job. Sometimes it’s not enough to research the company, meet with different team members, or go on a tour of the office space. IT workers should also call a colleague who used to work for the company to get the inside story about the company culture, as well as the company’s attitude to various aspects of the work that are important to you. This conversation, which is almost a reverse job interview, can confirm many of your thoughts on the organization while alerting you to other aspects of the place and people that you may not have been aware of.

Obviously it’s important to get to know the company you’re considering working for as best you can. If you haven’t had any experience with the organization yourself as a customer or client, it’s not enough to rely on a web site and your interviewer as your only sources of information. There are a few other ways you can research your potential employer. You can ask someone who’s worked at the company how they enjoyed their time. Of course, their reasons for leaving the place may skew their answers to your questions, but this is a good starting point. You can also ask if you can speak to another person who works for the company about what it’s like there. You might suggest this to your potential employer as a way to get a feel for the company culture from an objective person. Spending half an hour with someone who works in the organization can be a useful way to gain insight into the way the place functions and the way that it values staff and clients.


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How to Move Beyond the DIY Transition to Encore Careers
MSNBC (via Business Week), November 12

The way that older workers are now transitioning to encore careers, rather than retiring to a life of leisure, marks a significant change in the dynamic of the American workplace. As a result, experts note that there are several changes that are needed to help older workers transition to their next phase of their professional life. The most important of these include new educational programs and new public policy innovations in government. These workers in transition may have worked 20-25 years within a specific industry, then decided to explore new career options. Or, they may have taken early retirement and then decided to open new career doors without knowing where to turn for help. The article takes a closer look at the career and life transition that fifty-something American workers are now taking.

Today an unprecedented number of Americans are progressing through their 50s, bound for a new stage of life that, for most, includes work. However, too often, the paths to find this kind of encore career range from dimly lit to nonexistent, and the search is all too often a DIY project made all the worse by tough financial times. Of course, there are an increasing number of consultants -- life coaches, financial planners, and headhunters -- who are willing to help for a fee. However, with 10,000 boomers crossing over the half-century mark every day, it's time to tackle their transition not just one at a time, but as a society.


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How and Where People Network
Entrepreneur.com, November 10

Dr. Ivan Misner, considered by many to be the “father of modern networking,” reviews some of the most popular and effective ways that job candidates can spend their time networking. After all, there are countless networking activities we could participate in but it's not always clear which of these are truly beneficial. Plus, it can be difficult to figure out how much time we should devote to networking, both online and offline, in order for it to be effective. According to a study from Misner and his colleagues, the average amount of time business owners spend networking to promote their business is 12-15 hours per week. In addition to face-to-face networking activity at industry events, this also includes online networking using sites like LinkedIn.

Whether or not a business considers itself local or national in scope has a pronounced effect on networking strategies. Entrepreneurs that think of their companies as national are twice as likely to use LinkedIn (40% vs. 20%); more likely to use Twitter (10% vs. 2%); twice as likely to use online social networks (30% vs. 15%); more than twice as likely to have a blog (25% to 10%); more likely to value chance encounters (22% to 14%); and three times as likely to prefer big networking groups of 100 to 1000 members (16% vs. 5%). An analysis of the data from the survey suggests if you have a local, non-scalable business, you can find your advocates and supporters by conventional, local networking. However, if you're trying to promote ideas or scalable services nationally, you'll benefit from the connections that Internet-based networking offers.


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How to Prepare for a Performance Review
Computerworld, November 10

Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, suggests a few practical steps that jobseekers can take to prepare for a half-year or annual performance review. While performance reviews can be stressful, they can also be an opportunity to re-examine your current position, your relationship with your employer and your career goals. By asking yourself some key questions, you'll increase the chances that your performance review will be productive for both you and your employer. With that in mind, Willmer reviews the five most important points to consider when preparing for your review.

Start by reviewing the events of the past year. Examining old e-mails and files may refresh your memory. Take a month-by-month look at your responsibilities and achievements, both expected and unexpected. Keep an eye out for any cases in which you went beyond the call of duty. As you look back, also note any projects that didn't meet expectations, as well as any challenges you've experienced. Chances are you came out of your last performance review with some new goals or areas for improvement. Take the time to find and review last year's appraisal. If there are objectives that fell by the wayside, consider whether they remain important, or if new ones are now more appropriate. During your review, don't hesitate to ask about your employer's current ability to assist you with these goals. Even if you think a raise is richly deserved, take into account the financial condition of your employer before broaching the subject. Also consider alternate ways your employer can express appreciation for your contributions, such as flexible scheduling, work-at-home options or additional benefits.


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How Do You Stay Positive In Your Job Search?
Brazen Careerist, November 6

Volunteering, unpaid internships and professional networking events can keep you motivated and focused during a job search. In addition, there are other ways to keep your motivation and self-confidence high as you pursue opportunities relevant to your professional goals. When activities that you hope will land you contacts or lead to a meeting for a job don’t always yield the right results, it’s important to have a fall back plan. The article provides four tips to keep motivated and self-directed every day during a protracted job search.

In order to remain positive during a job search, try doing one thing you always wanted to do or learn about but never had the time to do. With more time on hand to pursue interests, you could read a book you’ve always wanted to, teach yourself a new skill such as Internet marketing, start a blog, or catch up with friends. It helps to maintain a schedule since idle time and lack of a structure to your day is a surefire way to allow negative thoughts to creep in. Make a list of things to tackle for the day (and then stick to it), end the day with defining a rough agenda for the next day, and follow a daily regimen that allows you to balance job-search related work with personal time.


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Why Developers Get Fired
Datamation, September 20

Software developers can take three specific steps to insulate themselves from the risk of being let go by their employers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how clever you think you are or how much everyone loves you on your team, there are always potential circumstances that can lead to you being fired. Sometimes it’s like being blindsided by a bus, while other times, the events play out in slow motion. If management follows the typical rules of providing warnings before letting someone go, then no one should be surprised. However, younger developers often have a harder time reading these signs. The article reviews three reasons why software developers are fired and what you can do to avoid being let go.

If your software job consistently isn’t getting done, then you will eventually be let go. All it takes is a few missed deadlines and your manager may have no other choice. You might be thinking the missed deadlines are not your fault. Your excuses may include “the design was bad” or “the deadlines are not realistic” or “they are making me code in Java and I am a .NET expert.” In the corporate world, only results matter. If your deliverables are always late, then you need to sit down with your manager and look for solutions. Don’t assume conditions will change on their own. You have to not only be a change agent, but you have to document every action you take to improve adverse conditions.


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ACM-BCS Visions 2010 Conference Aims to Energize Computing Field
ACM Press Room, November 2009

The ACM and British Computer Society (BCS) announced additional details about the upcoming ACM-BCS 2010 “Visions of Computer Science” conference, to be held at the Informatics Forum, Edinburgh University, in April 2010. This event aims to energize the computing community and bring it together around some positive and inspiring visions within the discipline. Some of the best papers from the event will appear in the ACM Digital Library as well as The Computer Journal, the archival research publication of the BCS. Submissions for papers are being solicited in all areas of research covering the broad fields of computer science and engineering.

The ACM-BCS Visions 2010 Conference follows the highly successful Visions of Computer Science conference in 2008. Topics for the upcoming conference include but are not limited to: Computer Architectures and Digital Systems; Theoretical Computer Science: Algorithms and Complexity; Logic and Semantics; Non-standard Models of Computation; Programming Methods and Languages; Software Engineering, and System Design Tools.


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ACM Names Distinguished Members for 2009
Dr. Dobb’s Journal, November 12

ACM has named 84 of its members as Distinguished Members in recognition of their outstanding individual contributions to advances in computing technology that have dramatically influenced progress in science, engineering, education, business, and many other areas of human endeavor. This year's Distinguished Members more than doubled the previous year's designees, reflecting the continued growth of ACM membership and initiatives worldwide. In 2009, nearly one-third of these honorees hail from non-North American countries, including representatives from Europe, Asia, Russia, Australia, and South America. The 84 Distinguished Members include computer scientists, engineers, and educators from some of the world's leading corporations, research labs, and universities.

As an international society, ACM continues to recognize the growing number of nominees from countries across the globe who are demonstrating creativity, leadership, and dedication to computing and computer science. Their achievements in science, education, and engineering underpin the innovations necessary to sustain competitiveness in a global economy. Thirty-six of the 2009 recipients represent renowned international corporations in the high technology sector, and their achievements have resulted in innovations in datamining, systems engineering, memory and storage systems, processor designs, artificial intelligence, mobile services platforms, financial services, electronic commerce, usability research, process management technology, Web searching, and optical networking protocols. Within the academic world, 48 recipients from prominent universities were recognized for their achievements.


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