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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 21, 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 8, April 21, 2009




Leverage Social Media for Career Success
Mashable, April 7

Dan Schawbel, author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success,” weighs in on the various ways that social media tools can be used as part of a job search. As he explains, social media tools are essentially free advertising and give you the ability to connect directly with hiring managers, entrepreneurs and recruiters, instead of applying for jobs through job boards. Taken together, your Web 2.0 assets become your online identity and how people discover and connect with you. Schawbel explains how to align social media tools with your personal brand and then market your brand for career success.

By analyzing your current career trajectory, you can understand better how to leverage social media for career success. This means taking a good look at your life, what your current responsibilities are, the amount of resources you currently have and your career position. Also, determine the relative strength or weakness of your professional network. Since social media tools require multimedia and written components for profiles, you’ll need to figure out your personal brand before you start building your profiles. Start by assessing what your strengths are, what you’re passionate about and then ask your network for feedback. Figure out how people describe you already and how you want people to perceive you in the future. Social media tools should be selected according to three criteria: volume, credibility and relevancy. By determining these three things, you can decide which social networks to join, what type of content you will create, and how often you will contribute.


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How Older IT Workers Can Keep Their High-Priced Jobs in a Recession
CIO.com (via Network World), April 6

During a time of economic belt-tightening when companies are looking to cut costs, older workers within the IT industry need to re-think the skills and experiences that are valued by employers. For example, they are more experienced in solving business problems and have been exposed to a wider range of technologies and IT solutions than their younger counterparts. They are also generally better at developing and mentoring the younger members of the staff. With that in mind, career consultant Janice Weinberg discusses five things that older IT workers can do to make themselves more valuable to their organizations.

Older IT workers should attempt to learn new technologies that they don't currently use, but that may be used elsewhere within the company. It may be helpful to check job listings for jobs similar to the one you have now so you can identify technologies used by your counterparts at other companies. Secondly, it is important to show your manager how your experience with the company's legacy systems can be an advantage in planning and implementing conversions to new systems. If your company is considering upgrades of legacy systems, you might prepare a cost/benefit report analyzing the company's internal legacy systems and prioritizing which ones should be converted to newer technologies. The goal is to make clear how your years of experience with the legacy systems will lead to a successful migration to modern-day technologies.


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On the Job But on the Lookout for Work
New York Times, April 8

Fears of unemployment rippling throughout the U.S. economy have led even gainfully employed managers and executives to re-double their networking efforts to protect their careers from any downsizing. As long as the economic outlook remains dicey, one can never have too many friends. In fact, 2009 is shaping up to be a golden era of networking. Informal groups are popping up everywhere, inspired by people’s hopes that any connection might lead to the next job. The article takes a closer look at these informal groups and offers suggestions to workers on how to leverage these new opportunities.

Making the decision to network before the pink slip arrives is a measure of the anxiety seeping into nearly every corner of the workforce, during a recession that has already claimed 1.5 million white-collar jobs. People are worried about where the next job will come from even before they lose their old one. They know that three months from now, they could be gone, too. In some areas of the country, membership in tech-related meetups has swelled by as much as 75%, while attendance at some networking events is up as much as 300%. Some business-related social networking sites say they are adding new members literally every second. In Silicon Valley, there is increasing wariness among engineers and developers who are concerned about their own job security and, at the same time, are being hounded by peers desperate to connect. As a result, IT workers are choosing to establish a wide-ranging presence with professional groups, career-related events, meetups, and social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.


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Defense Jobs and Where to Find Them
Forbes.com, April 3

The U.S. defense, aerospace and homeland security industry is aggressively hiring technical graduates with highly sought-after skills. Defense jobs include everything from designing systems in an airplane’s cockpit to writing software that guides missiles. For candidates who already have government security clearance to work on classified projects, the job market is wide open. In fact, the number of such jobs has only grown since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, meaning that there simply aren't enough skilled workers to fill them. In geographic regions from Washington, D.C. to Huntsville, Alabama, the hiring statistics point to a bright future for the defense and aerospace industry.

As might be expected, the best place in the country to find defense-related jobs is in Washington, D.C. Among the biggest defense employers there are the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Government Accountability Office, the Securities and Exchange Commission, NASA and the Department of Justice. The average salary for a security-cleared professional in the nation's capitol is $81,250, according to ClearanceJobs.com. Other hubs for defense jobs include Tampa, St. Petersburg and Orlando in Florida; Dallas/Ft. Worth and Huntsville, Alabama. All of these cities have defense contractors or military bases in the area.


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Job Hunting 2.0: Get Social in a Down Economy
CIO.com (via PC World), April 7

As a result of the more competitive hiring environment, job hunters are turning to social and business networking sites, rather than traditional job board sites such as CareerBuilder, Craigslist and Monster for new opportunities. These job boards are swamped by applicants, and do not enable social interaction with people actually responsible for the hiring decision. As a result, job hunters are finding that an extensive network of contacts on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn could be the most effective way to learn about new career opportunities. As the article suggests, there are five basic ways to tap into the power of social networking tools to jump-start a job search.

Becoming active in social networks can be an effective way for job seekers to find work, especially for laid-off professionals who want advance notice of new job listings. These days, by the time a listing has been posted on Monster, companies already have a couple of candidates they're interested in, and then you have to compete with the flood of résumés that comes in. People can't wait until they lose their jobs to start networking. At a minimum, this means connecting your online profiles and notifying your colleagues and friends that you're looking for work. It also means being smarter about job boards. It’s still OK to post résumés on employment sites such as CareerBuilder, Monster, and Yahoo HotJobs. However, when applying for a job on these sites, try leveraging your social network to gain a competitive edge by obtaining a referral inside a company.


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Tech Recruiting Clashes with Immigration Rules
New York Times, April 11

The debate over the future of foreign skilled labor within the U.S. technology industry shows no sign of abating. On one hand, experts argue that the U.S. is at risk of losing out to top immigrant talent to other countries by failing to update its immigration policies. On the other hand, insiders argue that foreign IT workers are pushing down wages and resulting in lost jobs for American-born workers. By and large, immigrant technologists have transformed the industry, creating wealth and jobs. Yet, byzantine and increasingly restrictive visa and immigration rules have imperiled the ability of companies to hire more of the world’s best engineers. Using the case study of a high-profile technologist in Silicon Valley, the article takes a closer look at the link between economic competitiveness and the decision to hire foreign-born IT talent.

The debate over foreign IT workers and their impact on innovation and long-term economic growth has only sharpened as the country’s economic downturn has deepened. On one hand, some experts within the tech sector complain that we are watching the decline and fall of the United States as an economic power due to a declining education system that cannot be easily fixed and the lack of new measures that enable companies to hire more foreign engineers. On the other hand, staunch foes of liberalized immigration and advocates for hiring American-born engineers claim that foreign workers on visas are pulling down wages of IT workers and forcing the hand of companies that can no longer afford to retain American-born workers. This debate is playing out across organizations in Silicon Valley, from small start-ups to large tech giants. In the process, talented, highly-motivated foreign IT workers are finding that they could lose their ability to work in the U.S. relatively easily – even if they are star contributors at some of the hottest companies in the tech industry.


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Get Started as a Web Worker
Web Worker Daily, April 11

For talented IT workers who have recently lost their jobs, the Web can become a new source of opportunities. For some, this means using the Web to uncover new IT job openings, while for others, it means using flexible, off-the-shelf Web 2.0 tools to start their own business. In either case, Web working provides an easy, cost-effective way to launch a career, especially for freelancers. With that in mind, the article provides a few tips for getting started as a Web-based business.

Review your skills and experience to see what you can offer on a freelance basis, such as web development or other IT services. Then, hone in on one skill and use it as a starting point. Since web workers can work anywhere, create a space for work that sets the right mood and tone so you avoid procrastination. After you have created an office space, think about adding a web site to bring in prospects. Most times, a clean and simple website works just fine. At least you’ll have a place where people can go and learn more about the services you offer. You only need two things on your web site: a simple explanation of the services you offer and a quick background about you and your experiences. A photo also adds a personal touch to show there’s a person behind the business.


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Should You Socialize Your Hiring?
Tech Careers, April 8

Some midsize companies are using social recruiting technologies to attract better talent at lower cost by tapping into employees' social networking contacts. In a time of widespread cost-cutting, technologies such as Jobvite are gaining in popularity at small and midsize companies as a way to track applicants, streamline the recruiting process and hire the best possible talent. For example, Jobvite leverages employee connections as it harvests qualified candidates for open positions across job boards, social networks, and e-mail contacts. For small and midsize technologies companies, there are five ways that technologies like Jobvite make the hiring process more streamlined and more effective.

New social technologies such as Jobvite help automate the type of word-of-mouth-style marketing that's crucial to finding the best prospects. When a company posts a position, this job listing goes out and hits traditional Web sites that job applicants use -- but it also gets sent to managers, friends, and co-workers. This naturally leads to more efficient applicant identification and tracking. As a result, companies can eliminate some of the expenses in tracking applicants throughout the hiring process, especially when it comes to posting vacancies on job boards. In addition, they can more effectively measure the ROI of hiring recruitment efforts and find the best candidates possible through referrals. However, the reliance on social networking tools means that companies must first overcome the perception that job-related status updates are spam. In addition, they must allay privacy concerns about social networks and adjust for the fact that older employees may not be comfortable with the idea of social networking.


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Computing Education Matters
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 52, No. 4

Andrew McGettrick, chair of ACM's Education Board and Education Council, weighs in on the state of computing education. According to McGettrick, the student enrollment crisis in computer science has propelled the need to re-examine all aspects of computing education on a global scale. At a time when there is a strong need to recruit more participants into the field and to stimulate greater interest in the discipline itself, the ACM’s Education Board and Education Council are taking active steps within the educational world to transform computing education and introduce new approaches. Going forward, enrollment within the computer science field will be a key focus of attention.

Over the past three decades, the Education Board has initiated important education activities regarding computer science curriculum developments. In addition, the Board has provided support and encouragement for projects with broad societal impact. Recently, the Board's activities were restructured and the ACM Education Council was created to bring together the educational and accreditation activities existing throughout ACM. With this as context, McGettrick explains the respective duties and responsibilities of the Education Board and the Education Council. He also details the recent accomplishments of the Education Board and the Education Council, such as the completion of a major curriculum project and the creation of a comprehensive chart of all the educational activities and initiatives within ACM.


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ACM Reintroduces Queue Website with Expanded Content on New Technologies
Ascribe Newswire, April 7

ACM's Queue magazine, aimed at computing practitioners who demand a critical perspective on current and emerging information technologies, has been re-launched as acmqueue, an online, web-enabled resource. The new digital format gives software developers and software architects an expanded range of new fresh content as well as new offerings that capture the contemporary relevance of engineering content from the ACM Digital Library. The new website is the next step forward in providing readers with the content they want in the most timely and easily accessible manner, while focusing on the technologies that are having an impact on the computer science field today.

The expanded format includes more features and new sources of content to create a robust online resource. For example, the planet queue feature includes an aggregation of blog postings by acmqueue authors commenting on ACM Digital Library articles. This feature permits acmqueue authors to unlock valuable Digital Library content, and it enables website users to read the author's blog and to access relevant content that would otherwise require a Digital Library subscription. Multimedia features include video content from the ACM website; downloadable audio content with selections from interviews and forums; and roundtable discussions with leading chief technology officers.


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