ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 18, 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

Volume 12, Issue 20, October 18, 2016

Tight IT Market Means Employers Will Pay More
Computerworld, October 4

It's common knowledge that an IT career pays well. But if you're an IT professional looking for a new role, your paycheck could increase even more. IT staffing company Modis surveyed 500 IT professionals responsible for key decisions, including hiring, in early August. The research shows that approximately 32% of IT organizations are willing to offer a 10% to 15% salary increase to currently employed IT professionals in an effort to attract elite talent. To get the right talent, they are going to have to pay for it. And they won't be able to keep the talent they do have when the market's paying 10% to 15% more.

While 26.4% of respondents say salary is the most important benefit for attracting talent, salary alone won't keep organizations competitive. Candidates also are looking for work-life balance and flexibility, as well as the opportunity to grow and develop in their career. Companies are finally listening to what people want and what they need to succeed. Whether that's the ability to work at home, have flexible hours or perks like ping pong tables or Friday happy hours. Companies also are realizing that candidates aren't just looking at the current role, but what the next step is in their career evolution, so they're making investments in that area, too. IT and tech leaders also believe that employees highly value the ability to innovate and create new products, projects or ideas as well as having upward mobility in their career, so employers are keen to provide these opportunities to potential talent.

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How to Get a Job in IT Services, October 4

Work in IT services is closely related to IT consulting, with a few key differences. Although some companies offer both IT consulting and IT services, and both types of businesses are looking to hire highly skilled IT professionals, there's a distinct difference between the two. That difference is essentially the difference between strategy and tactics: An IT consulting firm plans new systems, while an IT services provider maintains systems after they're deployed. Like consulting, IT services demands that employees be flexible and able to quickly understand not only a client's systems but its entire industry as well. The good news is that employment potential is red hot in IT services. According to a May 2016 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT services jobs represented 52.6% of high-tech jobs.

The primary advantage to a job in IT services, recruiters say, is the breadth and depth of experience that people are exposed to on the job. You get a whole new vision of where the world is going that you can't get elsewhere. You're solving problems for companies doing business in multiple regions, with a variety of maturity models. You're pulling together diverse teams, stretching yourself professionally and personally. It's intellectually challenging and rewarding. Companies often find that they can get expertise in new specialties more quickly by contracting with a services provider than they could if they tried to hire people themselves. As in IT consulting, employees of IT services firms need client-facing skills, the ability to move easily between projects and a willingness to travel. IT services jobs are typically less frenzied than consulting gigs. A consultancy's development project may have to be done in three to six months, whereas a maintenance project in services can last a couple of years.

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Three Career Paths to Becoming a Data Scientist
Tech Republic, October 6

There are three routes to a career in data science – the university route, the bootcamp route and the government route. Despite the growing number of ways to join the data field, there still exists a deficiency in the number of available IT workers with a solid background in data science. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, by 2018 the U.S. could be facing more than 140,000 unfilled jobs that require deep analytical skills. Whether you choose to enroll in a university program, bootcamp, or other training, there will likely be many jobs to choose from once you've learned the skills needed to work with data.

Recently, many universities have begun catering to aspiring data scientists. New York University, for instance, launched in 2013 the Masters in Science in Data Science program (which calls itself "the world's first" MS degree program in data science). One of the capstone projects for the program gives students the opportunity to interact with IBM's supercomputer Watson. On the other side of the country, the University of California, Berkeley, recently started a 20-month program called Master of Information and Data Science. The core curriculum, which is all taught online, primarily focuses on "research design, data cleansing, storage and retrieval, communicating results, statistical analysis, ethics and privacy, data visualization, and data mining and exploration."

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12 Best-Paying IT Jobs
Datamation, October 11

The 12 highest-paying IT jobs for 2017 include CIO, CTO, VP of Technology, Big Data Engineer and Systems Integrator. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall unemployment in the U.S. has been hovering around 5% most of this year, and among IT workers, unemployment rates are even lower. Given those low rates of unemployment, it's no surprise that IT salaries are again on the rise. According to Robert Half Technology, IT workers will see an average salary increase of 3.8% in 2017, and some specialties, like security, development and database administration, will see even larger growth.

The very best paying IT job titles are those at the very top of the corporate ladder. According to Robert Half Technology's 2017 forecasts, typical pay for a chief information officer (CIO) will range between $175,000 and $279,000, while a chief technology officer (CTO) can expect $149,000-$240,000 and a chief security officer (CSO) will likely make $145,250-$236,750. Just slightly lower on the corporate ladder, the average vice president of information technology can expect $143,250-$234,250 in compensation for 2017. That's a 3.1% increase over 2016 levels. In order to qualify for a VP of IT role, job candidates generally need to have substantial experience in IT management—often a decade or more. Many jobs require degrees in computer science and/or business management, with many requiring an MBA. In general candidates for these positions need to have an excellent understanding of both technology and business, and are expected to be able to advocate for the needs of both of these parts of the company.

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How Older Workers Can Thrive in IT
IT News, October 11

As Silicon Valley struggles with its exclusionary image, recruiters and hiring managers are including age -- in addition to gender, race, ethnicity, education and work history -- as an underrepresented group that deserves consideration. There are some well-worn stereotypes about the white, male, under-30 and university-educated programmers in the IT industry. However, when employees hire, they are looking for things like passion, intellectual curiosity, aptitude, attitude and integrity. These are all transferrable skills that can be applied from any background. Ageism isn't just an issue for older tech workers. It can apply to young and entry-level workers who aren't seen as seasoned or experienced enough, and therefore aren't capable of doing the same work as their colleagues.

Older IT workers should never stop learning. And there are so many ways to do that now, that it's almost impossible not to find opportunities: coding bootcamps, community colleges and internships are just the start. Many companies are offering sabbaticals, work sharing and job sharing programs to allow their workforce to gain critical skills. Certifications are another way to show potential employers that, regardless of your age, you have the chops to perform in their organization. Credentials like certifications, as well as blind coding challenges, are another way to bypass the unconscious biases many IT workers who aren't white, male and young encounter in the hiring process. Certification gives everyone a lingua franca through which to talk about skills and your experience. It's a shared language that everyone understands.

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Enterprises Struggle to Hire, Retain Cyber-Security Pros
eWeek, October 5

Nearly half of all companies surveyed have difficulty recruiting cyber-security workers, but aren't training or offering career options to current employees. Companies need to help their cyber-security specialists not only keep their skills up to date, but also develop new ones—a hard idea to sell when these workers change jobs so often, according to a new survey released by the Information System Security Association. The survey of more than 430 security professionals found significant dissatisfaction among workers in the industry and underscored the demand for these skilled employees and their good job prospects—a combination that highlights companies' difficulties in retaining security workers. The survey found 56% of security professionals believed their company did not provide adequate training to keep up their skills. At the same time, 46% of those workers received an offer to apply for another job at least every week.

Companies that do not invest in their workforce or provide clear career paths are coming to grips with the rapid employee turnover resulting from the high demand for security professionals. It's no surprise that there are not enough cyber-security specialists to go around. Even though 200,000 workers were expected to enter cyber-security positions last year, there will be a shortfall of 1.5 million globally by 2020, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan. The security workforce shortfall has made workers tough to find and even tougher to retain. Companies that prioritize security behind other business goals, fail to meet market rates for security professionals and do not provide opportunities for skills development are those most likely to lose workers, according to the ISSA survey. About two-thirds of respondents, for example, stated they did not have a clear career path.

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The One Big Mistake Millennials Make on Their Resumes, October 13

The worst mistake millennials make in their resumes is demonstrating excessive pride in themselves or their achievements. And in professional settings and situations, this trait definitely shows. The most effective way to avoid having someone older and wiser see right through your fluffy or smug words is by maintaining a professional tone in describing your previous work experience and future goals. Don't insert jokes and sarcasm in a resume, even if you think it might impart a sense of good humor on the person reviewing it.

In general, never exaggerate your accomplishments. You might think you're telling a harmless white lie when putting your one-pager together, but your lack of experience will be painfully clear after a short period of time on the job--or even a preliminary job interview. Employers who are well versed in millennial buzzwords, fluffed-up descriptions, and exaggerations know better than to trust flashiness on a resume, so don't waste their time. As a rule, it's best if your resume reflects who you are at your most genuine, rather than trying to be someone you aren't. Whenever information is pumped up or falsified, it always makes itself known. And, sometimes, this means losing out on that perfect job you've been hoping for.

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Your New Job Is A Nightmare But You Can Still Quit And Save Your Career
Fast Company, October 14

It's a common phenomenon - the interviews went well and the job seemed like a perfect fit, but after just a few weeks, you start to realize that you've made a terrible mistake. When that happens, take a moment and determine whether what you're feeling is a normal "fish out of water" phenomenon that many people experience when starting a new job. If you often feel uncertain in new situations, this might just be your normal sentiment in new situations. Second, consider your new coworkers. Do they communicate to you that everyone feels the same when they first start in this organization or career, and that over time it gets better? If the answer to either is "yes," you may want to give it more time before you make a decision to move somewhere else.

If you're really certain this isn't the job for you, look at your options immediately. You likely still have contacts and perhaps even prospective interviews, depending on whether you were engaged in a full-scale job search and how recent it was. Speak with your executive recruiter if you worked with one. While they may have a vested interest in you staying in the job, they may also be able to help make the transition out easier. It's also advisable to find a mentor who can offer calming advice and reassurance about the non-technical aspects of a job. Because this is an emotional decision, the type of support you'll need is likely different than what a more traditional mentor who offers guidance on the organization and the job duties might provide.

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Adding Art to STEM
Communications of the ACM, October 2016

By combining the arts with STEM, it's possible to get the best of both worlds – creativity and design that's backed by math, science and engineering. In short, art, science, math, and engineering can (and should) be linked together. Students that study in this way learn differently, better, and create amazing and novel things just as part of their coursework. By using curricular elements from STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) in different ways, it's even possible to create entirely new disciplines – such as psychoacoustics, which blends together math, music, physics, design, and engineering.

Artists need to know technical concepts. They need to program, build, solder, design, test, and use technology in making art. Engineers and scientists can benefit greatly from knowing more about art and design. Cross-fertilizing the two is good, but having both in one body is the best of all. Being both artists and scientists, they can create some very unique projects. They do concerts and/or create multimedia art works. They research and publish papers. They create both technology-based works of art and artistic works of code, design, and technology. Specialization is necessary to garner expertise, but striving and working to become a skilled multidisciplinary generalist creates a whole person that can create, cope, build, refine, test, and use in practice.

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Is Uber the Worst Four-Letter Word in Higher Education Today?
eLearn Magazine, October 2016

Uber may be one of the hottest companies in the tech industry these days, but the same business model applied to the university would have far-reaching negative consequences. The “Uberfication of the University” is actually the title of a new book by Gary Hall, a professor of media and performing arts at Coventry University. In it, he argues that “ubercapitalism" will force university workers to experience all the negatives of the sharing economy. It would force universities to downsize the human interface of learning, to limit faculty determination of what and how things are valuable to be learned and to embrace teacher-less courses.

The reality is that our notions of higher education have been undergoing massive changes for decades. This is the case irrespective of whether we are talking about the splintering of the monopoly of credentialing; the increase of nontraditional students, such that they are by now the new student majority; the fiscal disinvestment in public universities; or the unbundling of faculty work. We can't simply blame Uber or technology or neo-liberalism. We must, at least in part, blame ourselves. A preponderance of evidence points to the sad realization that in far too many colleges and universities, our traditional models of education are inadequate.

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