ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 04, 2016

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 [email protected]

Volume 12, Issue 19, October 04, 2016

Tech Jobs That Will Get You the Biggest Raises Next Year
Computerworld, September 27

The biggest raises in 2017 will go to data scientists, who can expect a 6.4% boost in pay next year. That’s well above the average 3.8% increase that’s predicted for all tech workers, according to new data from Robert Half Technology. The top 7 jobs seeing the highest boost in pay including the following: data scientist, front-end web developer, big data engineer, network security engineer, chief security officer, web designer and software engineer.

Robert Half Technology recently released its annual guide to U.S. tech salaries, which finds IT workers will be getting slightly bigger pay bumps than many other professionals. Across all fields, U.S. starting salaries for professional occupations are projected to increase 3.6% in 2017. The largest gains will occur in tech – where starting salaries for newly hired IT workers are forecast to climb 3.8%.

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12 Hot Markets for Cybersecurity Jobs
Dark Reading, September 14

The new “Cybersecurity Workforce Report” from Randstad Technologies analyzes the 12 markets nationwide experiencing the highest demand for top-tier cybersecurity talent. The demand in these markets was determined based on a combination of the number of employers competing for talent and number of open job listings. The top markets for cyber talent include: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix and San Francisco.

Cybersecurity talent in industries such as healthcare, retail and finance has been highly sought after over the last several years. Randstad Technologies has seen a surge in demand nationally for cybersecurity job orders from its clients, with a year-over-year increase of 35% from June 2014 to June 2016. As demand has increased in these top markets, more and more companies are moving operations to emerging markets like St. Louis, Charlotte, Richmond, Nashville, Orlando and others to find top talent. CIOs now rank security and cybersecurity expertise as one of the most essential needs for their IT departments, and are looking for ways to attract willing and highly qualified candidates from their local market.

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IT, Dev Boot Camps Help Kickstart Careers
Information Week, September 23

IT professionals and developers looking for new opportunities and new grads looking for an advantage in getting that first IT job are exploring new education options, especially in the form of IT and technology education boot camps. In just a few weeks, these boot camps can teach IT workers the basics of an emerging new technology. They are becoming so popular now because for two main reasons: they help hiring managers find new talent to fill job openings, and they help IT workers transition into new career paths.

The sheer number of IT and development jobs posted on popular career sites such as and reflects a perennial complaint among hiring managers that there's not enough talent to fill the openings. That demand creates an opportunity for IT pros and developers looking to change careers or move into new areas. It could even open doors for recent graduates who are looking to gain real experience in the workforce. But when your skills don't match the skills listed in the job description, what can you do? Educational boot camps are newer options for entry-level candidates and career changers. These programs jam the skills you need to get the job into short full-time courses to get you up to speed quickly. Many of them also offer help with job placement once the course is complete.

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Getting Off to a Great Start in Your Big Data Career, September 14

More businesses have come to realize the numerous benefits they stand to gain through adopting big data analytics, and that has led to a surge in hiring data scientists and those with the right analytics skills. By gaining knowledge of skills, tools, roles, and industries, you’ll be set for a long and productive career in big data. However, big data is a relatively new field, and there’s no predetermined path you can take that will guarantee you a position in the years to come. There are, however, ways for you to get started that will increase your chances. In a field that’s become highly competitive, knowing these tips can give you a clear advantage.

Any good career needs to start with the solid foundation of education, and big data is no exception. The problem, as many have found out, is that universities have generally been slow in getting their own data science programs off the ground. This isn’t the case everywhere, though. Some colleges have charted their own course by establishing programs and degrees designed to prepare the new generation of data experts for big data careers. Some of these institutions include the University of Iowa, DePaul, Ohio State, and the University of Wisconsin. If you want to have a big data career, get your education at a place that offers the right programs. Also, consider your tools: In many jobs, the worker is only as good as his or her tools. Big data has plenty of tools to work with, so getting familiar with them should be a priority.

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Next Generation of Software Engineers Need Training, Not Retraining, September 22

While coding boot camps are effective for mid-career professionals who already have a bachelor’s degree and several years’ worth of work experience, they may be less effecting in preparing high school graduates and unemployed professionals who don’t already have a tech background. What’s needed is a training alternative for these workers that combines the best aspects of a college education with the best aspects of coding boot camps. Programs that are shorter than four years in length, but longer than three months, may be the best way to help U.S. companies recruit candidates for their 545,000 open positions requiring IT skills.

Some experts say that longer programs, starting at seven months, could be a compromise solution. These lengthier programs work better for recent high school graduates who have more to learn about soft job skills and how to navigate the workplace. The problem with longer programs is that students still need to pay for room and board. The U.S. Department of Education understands the value of this new type of education and has decided to launch a program called EQUIP. Short for “Educational Quality Through Innovative Partnerships,” EQUIP is designed to provide financial aid to low-income Americans so they can acquire skills that colleges have trouble teaching, such as coding.

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5 Signs You’re A Unicorn Employee
LinkedIn Pulse, September 26

Just like unicorn companies—startups valued at $1 billion or more—“unicorn” employees represent a special breed, possessing a unique set of qualities that make them extremely rare and valuable. Like actual unicorns, they’re hard to find, but once hired, offer up enormous benefits in the workplace. To name a few, they shatter expectations, raise the bar for everyone and are simply a joy to be around. Unicorn employees can literally take your business to the next level. Whether you’re looking to hire a whole team of unicorns, or hoping to boost your own value in the workplace, there are five key qualities of unicorn employees to keep in mind.

Most importantly, unicorn employees are not limited by their job title. Through the cycle of growth, employees who truly flourish are those who are flexible and intellectually curious. This means having the ability to wear many hats and excel at varied tasks, critical at a fast-growing startup. Later, as a company grows, unicorn employees jump at the chance to dive deeper into specific, growing areas of business. Exceptional employees are able to think strategically. This means having the ability to take a step back and see the overall company goals, or the industry as a whole, then apply it to your work. To be effective in business, you must be able to see the big picture. On the flipside, while big-picture thinking is critical, the best employees also know the devil is in the details. Running a business requires meticulous attention. A minor copyright issue, improperly executed email campaign, or even what seems like a small technical glitch can end up being catastrophic, affecting a lot of clients in a short period of time.

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White House to Data Scientists: We Need You
Network World, September 29

According to the chief data scientist in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the government is eagerly recruiting aspiring new data scientists to solve pressing national problems. It has now been nearly two years since President Obama created the U.S. chief data scientist role, and now the White House has unveiled a strategy to unlock the power of data for every American. The mission of the chief data scientist is to "responsibly unleash the power of data to benefit all Americans," with an emphasis on the word "responsibly" and the focus on inclusion.

The government’s data scientists are analyzing problems like the opioid epidemic, highway safety, precision medicine, empowering underserved segments of the population, and education. The government’s chief data scientist emphasizes the need for caution when working with big data, including ethical issues such as algorithmic transparency. A technology is neither radical nor revolutionary unless it benefits everyone. This includes tasks, such as efforts to overhaul the U.S. criminal justice system. There are several data initiatives at work to solve that problem. However, siloed data, manual entry, privacy, integration, legacy systems and a lack of skills are among the factors that present obstacles.

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How You Can Build a Killer Remote Team, September 30

Each year more companies are choosing to leave the office behind and create a remote team that includes workers from all over the world. For an early-stage startup, a remote team can be especially beneficial. It drastically reduces company overhead, maintains a flexible schedule and helps recruit the best talent possible. Remote teams are also cheaper and faster to get started and gain momentum. Even for the traditionalist company, the benefits of building a remote team are enticing. To start building a high-quality remote team, first familiarize yourself with three core tenets of operating a remote business: communication, trust and culture. You’ll have to set clear standards for each of these aspects early on so your business can operate seamlessly.

Communication is hands-down the most important aspect to focus on for remote teams. Without consistent communication, a remote team will fall apart. Each member needs to understand his or her responsibilities and deadlines, and everyone needs to be regularly checking in with each other. In a team environment, there’s no substitute for talking with others face-to-face. Scheduling video calls with your team (or parts of your team) is one of the best ways to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Skype and Google Hangouts are your friends here. Make face-to-face chats a regular part of the workweek. Keep the conversation going. While video calls are important, you also need to create ongoing communication channels. Many companies use Slack to keep real-time chat going, which approximates the in-office experience. A remote team needs clear-cut rules on how communication will happen. Set aside days and time slots for meetings, and specify how other tools - like email and Slack -- will be used.

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Star Trek at 50: Inspiring Discovery and Innovation
CACM @ ACM, September 8

50 years after “Star Trek” premiered on American TV, it is still inspiring technology workers around the world to think creatively and become innovators. “Star Trek” arrived with a new feeling of technological optimism that has proven enduring for five decades. While some point to the show’s characters and ethical dilemmas as the reasons for the show’s astounding popularity, a key aspect was also the embrace of new technologies and the pursuit of discovery. Most importantly, “Star Trek” has inspired generations to pursue science and technology careers, not a few of whom have transformed part of that television science fiction into technological and commercial fact.

In no small part, cellphones (communicators) and tablet computers both owe some elements of their form and function to the “Star Trek” vision of ubiquitous computing and communications. The tricorder X Prize competition, to create a portable, wireless health-monitoring device, is a direct homage to “Star Trek.” Others view the “Star Trek” universal translator as an inspiration for their work on real-time language translation. More generally, the computing community’s work on deep learning and intelligent assistants is inspired not only by technical goals but also by a motivating vision of artificial intelligence that runs deeply through “Star Trek” and the science fiction world. From weak AI to ambitions of strong AI, we yearn to build a machine that will be proud of us. Across computing, we ponder issues of AI ethics and their instantiation in autonomous vehicles, consider the limits of silicon-based computing and quantum alternatives, and debate the future of ubiquitous sensors and digital privacy. These and hundreds of other technical challenges also inform our imaginations and our dreams of the future.

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Using Video Games to Crowdsource Scientific and Intellectual Work
eLearn Magazine, August 2016

The new book “Knowledge Games: How Playing Games Can Solve Problems, Create Insight and Make Change” by Karen Schrier explains how video games are now being used by both corporations and universities to crowdsource scientific and intellectual work. What Karen Schrier suggests is that video games can be used by IT workers to make discoveries and solve real-world problems. By exploring and tapping into ongoing conversations about crowdsourcing, big data, and participatory culture, Schrier provides her readers with a platform and a rhetoric for thinking about, discussing, and developing a special type of video games.

Not to be confused with "serious games" or "games for learning," knowledge games are altogether different. Schrier describes them as actively seeking "to invent, create, and synthesize new understandings of the world." For example, games like EyeWire—which tasks players with mapping neutrons—have the capacity to contribute to our working knowledge of the human brain. Where small research teams might struggle to analyze such large datasets, knowledge games like EyeWire can instead serve to outsource that work to the masses. In turn, the players—wittingly or unwittingly—generate knowledge as they collectively overcome a game's challenges and attempt to set high scores. For Schrier, these knowledge games have thus already proven themselves to be powerful tools. However, they are not without their limits, pitfalls, or ethical dilemmas.

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