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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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 6, Issue 12, June 22, 2010




Permanent IT Jobs Returning to Growth
Network World, June 14

The IT jobs market is showing signs of recovery, particularly on the permanent side, according to Reed Specialist Recruitment. The number of available permanent jobs is increasing in small and mid-sized enterprises, as well as in the financial services and software segments. Over the last five or six months, the IT jobs market has started to pick up again as companies look to build up their permanent teams to meet current demand. As a result, job search cycles are shrinking and IT salaries are starting to see an uptick.

The lead time between interviews and job offers has shortened to that of before the recession. Generally speaking, the time between interview and job offer has shortened to four weeks, down from two months or more. In terms of the roles that are in demand, there is a growing trend for project management and change management roles, mainly in the financial services sector, due to banks merging.


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Steering Grads to Start-Ups
Wall Street Journal, June 9

HackNY, a new nonprofit organization in New York City, hopes to steer more area graduates in computer science, math and related fields to careers at technology start-ups. In doing so, the organization is changing the typical career trajectory for these youth, who typically have considered high-paying careers on Wall Street or prestigious positions at large technology companies. As Chris Wiggins, a HackNY organizer and a professor at Columbia University, points out, many recent grads who have taken finance jobs haven't been happy with their decision. In contrast, challenging positions at new start-ups give these students an opportunity to use their computer science knowledge from the first day.

The HackNY program started approximately six months ago after a meeting among Mr. Wiggins, New York University professor Evan Korth and Hilary Mason, a former academic and chief scientist at bit.ly. The three had separately been trying to encourage more links between academia and New York technology companies, and came up with the idea of a 24-hour student "hacking" competition, paired with a summer fellowship. This year, there are 12 HackNY fellows from an applicant pool of more than 100. The fellows will also spend at least one evening a week participating in workshops to learn technical skills, and practical skills such as how to land investors for their own tech companies.


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The IT Labor Market: Volatile, and No Tranquility in Sight
Computerworld, June 7

In this Q&A, the CEO of Foote Partners explains why high volatility in the IT labor and skills markets will remain long after the economy recovers. According to the IT Skills Volatility Index, skills volatility over the past 18 months has increased significantly on a quarterly basis. In some cases, the index has been swinging back and forth by as much as 10 points over each quarter, which is unprecedented. Within each IT skill category, consistency is very hard to find. While IT employment and salaries have been stabilizing, pay and demand for specific skills and specialized talent remain highly volatile and unpredictable.

In addition to the recession, a dramatic shift to new IT service delivery and sourcing models has played a role in greater skills volatility. Companies are under pressure from their business counterparts to become more agile and flexible, react faster and execute more quickly. There's risk involved in organizational and staffing change of this magnitude, so managers are experimenting with new approaches. What the downturn has done is get IT managers motivated by the new opportunities presented by shifting away from traditional IT staffing models.


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The Five Things Job Recruiters Want from You Now
Forbes, June 9

Jerome Young, the founder and president of a diversity recruiting and job search consulting firm, offers his view on the five most important traits in demand by recruiters. With too many people looking for too few jobs, employers are being very selective and demanding more than ever from job candidates. Marketing yourself with a résumé that simply explains the things you've done in previous positions is not enough. Employers want to understand your ability to add value through results and your potential contribution to the bottom line. Recruiters are looking for people with strong records of accomplishment who stand out from others. In short, they want proven expertise, clear success stories, stellar recommendations, work samples and a consistent message.

If you’re in a field where many people have very similar job titles, consider what types of expertise make you stand out. Start by listing your responsibilities at your latest and previous positions and then prioritize them in order of their value to the business. Next, focus on success stories. Tell concise success stories of how you increased revenue, decreased costs or helped businesses meet their goals. You must understand how your position and your accomplishments clearly helped the bottom line of the business. Put together recommendations from a manager or colleague. Be sure to ask recommenders for write-ups that explain your concrete contributions and value to specific projects or areas of business.


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Start Planning Your Future at the Finish
Bloomberg Businessweek, June 11

To have a successful career, it sometimes helps to focus on your long-range goals and work backward. Write down who you'd like to be at the end of your career, and then figure out how to get there. By starting at the finish, you'll enrich yourself with the focus and tenacity necessary to understand fully what it will take to achieve your dreams. Even if goals are aggressive – such as owning one’s one company and retiring early – this methodology is effective if it helps you realize what types of experiences and skills you will need to move to the next level. The article provides practical advice on the steps necessary to achieve a fully realized future.

Carefully determine what you want to accomplish. Be completely honest and realistic about the skills you possess to get there. Write your specific objectives down. Without a clear, specific target to move toward, it's easy to become distracted and get off course. You will be amazed by your progress within mere months after setting your goals. Be sure to envision what your entire life—not just your career—will look like at the finish. Remember, though, that nothing goes exactly according to plan. Recall the challenges you've already encountered and then envision those yet to confront you. Think about what keeps you awake at night now and project how these same obstacles might grow over time or evolve into new hazards to your success. Everything you've learned and accomplished until now has made you a savvier, more streetwise person than you were the day you graduated.


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Web Worker Survey 2010
Web Worker Daily, June 14

The most recent Web Worker Survey provides background about the traits and experiences of the current generation of Internet-enabled workers. In order to get a clearer picture of today’s web worker, Web Worker Daily partnered with GigaOm Pro to survey more than 350 readers. According to the survey results, a majority of web workers are actually full-time employees rather than independent contractors. In addition, the survey shows that co-working is more popular in Europe than the U.S. and that web workers are aggressive adopters of VoIP technology as well as cloud-based applications.

Contrary to the common perception that most web workers are home-based freelancers, a majority of web workers (61%) are full-time employees, while 45% freelance in some capacity. Co-working is more popular in Europe than the U.S. Nearly three in 10 respondents use some form of co-working at least some of the time. Interestingly, though, co-working is more popular in Europe than it is in the U.S — perhaps a surprising result, given that most of the well-known co-working centers are based in the United States.


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What to Do When You’re Overqualified
CIO.com, June 9

Being overqualified for a job does not always give a job seeker a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, it can be more of a liability than an asset in a job search. With that in mind, the article highlights five ways to address hiring managers' concerns about your candidacy. While there’s no doubt that overqualified job seekers can bring a broader range of experience and greater depth of knowledge to the role, they need to realize that many hiring managers view them as a potential liability. As a result, these job seekers need to show that they are interested in the long-range prospects for the position and that they will not pose a threat to other colleagues and managers.

Overqualified workers need to use the cover letter to sell themselves to hiring managers. All cover letters should explain why you're interested in the company and the position for which you're applying. If you know you're overqualified for the job in question, explaining specifically but succinctly in the cover letter how your experience makes you ideal for the position and uniquely suited to solve the company's problems is critical. If you're applying for a position at a lower level than you've previously worked, your cover letter should address why you're downshifting. You may be tempted to downplay your experience on your resume and to leave off various skills you possess and certifications you hold, thinking that a hiring manager might dismiss you as overqualified on the basis of your résumé. But IT hiring managers say don't give into the temptation.


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IT Career Burnout: What to Do When the Thrill is Gone
Computerworld, June 10

The demanding nature of IT jobs, coupled with a perceived lack of respect and appreciation from others in the organization, leads many IT professionals to face the prospect of burnout. Many eventually wonder whether a career in IT is still the right choice. Especially for IT leaders, the recession has forced them to spend the last 18 months focused on the more tedious aspects of IT management--namely cost-cutting, politics and more cost-cutting. Based on input from IT leaders around the world, the article provides seven suggestions for reigniting one's enthusiasm for IT while on the job and for battling burnout.

Developing your staff members and observing their camaraderie makes all the politics and bureaucracy that otherwise grinds you down worthwhile. Look for a new challenge on the job. New technology, new ideas, and innovation challenges can make it seem as though anything were possible. A new challenge might be developing a strategic plan for the IT department and working with one's team to implement that plan, or identifying new ways that IT can make a substantial impact on the company. While there is enough to do just maintaining the day-to-day operations and handling administrative tasks, it helps to keep your eyes on what's next and beyond.


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Are You Invisible In the Workplace?
BLOG @ CACM, June 15

Jack Rosenberger, a senior editor for Communications of the ACM, discusses how IT workers can improve their visibility in the workplace. Many employees believe that if they do their job and work hard, they will be recognized and justly rewarded. However, employees need to make sure the work that they do is aligned with the company’s goals; bring their accomplishments to the attention of their superiors; and create a network of mentors who will guide them and ensure that they win a spot on the company’s list of employees who are the leaders of tomorrow. Based on the anecdotal example of a Hewlett-Packard manager who received a less-than-satisfactory annual performance review and later went on to become the CEO of her own business management company, the article gives practical advice on how to become a more prominent and well-regarded employee.

The most reliable way to advance your career is to add more value to your business. You need to understand what is most important to your company in terms of your job and focus on that. Everything else is less important. To get ahead in the workplace, it’s important to figure out how to deliver your work but also how to create free time at work during which you can manage and advance your career. After all, if you spend all of your time working, you won’t have the time or energy to understand the company and its goals, promote yourself and your accomplishments, and build relationships with mentors and fellow employees. The most successful employees learn how to be the master of their work and not let it control them. They understand which aspects of their job are most important to their company, and focus on them.


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SC10 Announces Opportunities to Participate Through Education, Diversity and Volunteer Programs
SC10 News Release, June 2

SC10, sponsored by IEEE Computer Society and ACM, showcases the many ways that high-performance computing leads to advances in scientific discovery, research, education and commerce. The event offers technical programs, education and diversity programs, networking opportunities and job fairs. In keeping with the theme for this year’s conference, “The Future of Discovery,” SC10 is now offering opportunities to students, faculty, and emerging leaders from groups traditionally underrepresented in computing to attend this year’s SC10, which will take place November 13-19 in New Orleans.

Recognizing that HPC and advanced networking have become a critical component of a growing worldwide cyber-infrastructure, several programs are now accepting applications. The Broader Engagement Program offers students, faculty and professionals from groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in high-performance computing (HPC) an introduction to SC through networking and technical sessions. The Education Program introduces HPC and computational tools, resources and methods to undergraduate faculty and pre-college educators. The Student Volunteer Program offers undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in HPC the opportunity to help with the management and operation of the conference.


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