ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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Volume 13, Issue 6, March 21, 2017

10 Cities Where IT Pros Aren’t Paid What They’re Worth, March 13

While IT salaries continue to rise and many are still well above the national median income, new research from compensation and salary data solutions company Paysa shows that many tech workers are still underpaid when you compare their current pay to their market value. Paysa examined more than 5 million resumes of tech and engineering professionals from their salary database and compared their education, experience, skills, work history and current salary to their market value for identical available roles. The findings reveal that more than one-third of tech professionals (nearly two million people) are underpaid by 10 percent or more. The cities where IT professionals aren’t paid fair market value include Seattle, Boston, San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin.

It's not that companies underpay their talent deliberately, especially not mission-critical IT and engineering talent. Companies bring people on at competitive rates. But once they're on board, companies don't tend to do much more than the standard yearly increase. After a couple years, new talent is being brought on at much higher rates than existing talent, and companies don't pay attention to this fact until their employees take drastic measures, like threatening to leave for a higher-paying opportunity. That's more likely to happen in areas where tech companies are highly concentrated and in major metro areas where competition for talent is fierce.

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How Microcertifications Work for IT Job Seekers and Employers
Computerworld, March 13

For many IT job seekers and the organizations that would hire them, microcertifications (also known as microcredentials) are a faster, more affordable and more effective way to achieve the same result than traditional certifications. In short, they get open jobs filled faster. Microcertification, or microcredentialing, is the process of earning a mini-certification or a mini-credential in a specific, highly focused topic area which is then used to demonstrate your mastery of that specific topic or skillset. This is especially useful in technology, where innovations happen at lightning speed and traditional education avenues (and even classic certification tracks) have problems keeping up.

The problem with traditional certifications is they are often too broad to capture all the nuances of today’s rapidly changing technology fields. In the real world, you'd need to be proficient in whatever technology stack your potential company is using -- and if you're trying to land a role at a new company, proving that you can get up to speed quickly on their stack is a competitive advantage. For companies, microcertifications give companies the opportunity to specify what their technology environment looks like and what skills they need from candidates to accomplish their strategic goals, and then validate those skills. Microcertifications cost less than traditional certification paths, too, which makes learning and credentialing much more accessible to a larger pool of talent. Microcertifications are exponentially more affordable and accessible to a greater number of people, and that means the skilled talent pool is that much larger, that much faster.

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Transitioning From IT Professional to IT Manager
Baseline, March 8

The promotion from being an IT professional to becoming an IT manager can be one of most promising in anyone’s career. A move into the management ranks can lead to even greater levels of future responsibility and contribution. Few may realize, however, that this transition is very challenging. In fact, as many as 60 percent of first-time managers struggle or fail in these new roles. With that in mind, the article provides tips to help first-time managers prepare for, and be successful in, a new management position.

One of the major reasons that many first-time managers stumble through this transition is that organizations tend to do very little to formally prepare professionals for these roles. This is especially the case with technical organizations, which tend to prioritize technical training and overlook the importance of investing in the development of management skills. But to succeed at managing, IT professionals need to become skilled in the social and emotional sides of work—areas where technical education usually falls short. To take charge of your own learning and development, you can start by addressing some fundamental questions, such as those concerning your distinctive strengths and core values. Answers to questions like these can open up a robust and personalized learning agenda for becoming a manager. They can also help you make important choices about the kinds of roles and environments that bring out the best in you.

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4 Ways Technology Has Changed Recruitment For Better And Worse, March 15

From professional networking sites and job boards to online applicant systems, technology has revolutionized recruitment, profoundly changing how employers and recruiters find potential candidates. For example, applicant tracking systems and new AI software can help HR departments manage the massive influx of resumes they receive daily. While technology can offer easy solutions, it often has a way of creating new problems in the process. The new AI-powered systems can do a great job sorting through candidates, but the risk is that non-traditional candidates or candidates with unusual experience that might be a very good fit could fall through the rules-based system, even one that learns and improves with experience.

Businesses can't get enough of big data, and while it's certainly valuable in recruitment, there is such a thing as too much data. More data is not always a good thing if you don't know what to do with it. They say knowledge is power, but in the wrong hands or with the inability of how to use that knowledge, it can be detrimental and damaging. More data means more confusion, allowing tiny details to skew process and drive people to take action on things that don't matter, while ignoring the real underlying problems with the recruiting function. Analytics and AI are only getting "more intelligent," with some systems so finely tuned that they can boil a pile of resumes down to one applicant who will be the best fit.

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You Probably Should Have Majored in Computer Science
Quartz, March 10

If you’re looking for a college major that gives you a great future job outlook, computer science is still one of the most attractive options available. There are almost 10 times more U.S. computing jobs open right now than there were students who graduated with computer science degrees in 2015. That year, the most recent for which the National Center for Education Statistics has collected data, about 60,000 students graduated from U.S. institutions with bachelor degrees in computer and information services. There are about 530,000 computing jobs currently open, according to, which used data from business research association The Conference Board.

Of course, it’s not possible to expect new graduates to fill all job vacancies in a healthy labor market—as many open positions will require more experience—but filling less than 10 percent is indicative of demand for talent far outstripping supply. The Obama White House predicted that by 2020, there would be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs available, and only about 400,000 computer science graduates who have the skills necessary to apply for those jobs.

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How to Create a Winning Compensation Culture
CIO Insight, March 9

According to a recent compensation best practices report, companies are taking new steps to ensure that raises keep up with cost-of-living increases and that employees are appropriately compensated for their skills and experience. In fact, a significant number of organizations are paying more than 3 percent in annual raises and are acknowledging the need to recognize strong job performance. This especially applies to CIOs, given that IT positions are considered the hardest to fill. In 2017, CIOs and other executives are expected to continue to combine merit-based pay and bonuses along with other benefits—including learning and development opportunities and bonus perks—to establish an environment that encourages valued employees to stay.

In 2017, most compensation challenges will center around recruitment, engagement and retention. Demographics are a huge factor: It turns out that retaining Baby Boomers on the cusp of retirement is just as difficult as retaining Millennials. In general, respondents agree that compensation and culture are intrinsically linked. An estimated 7,700 employers and 147,000 workers took part in the research. The key to recruiting and retaining talented IT employees is redefining and enhancing your compensation strategies. 57% of the 7,700 employers surveyed said their executives are increasingly viewing workforce compensation as important to their organization. Three out of 10 respondents said their company gave an average of more than 3% in raises last year, and 11% said their organization gave more than 5% on average.

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The Job Interview Will Soon Be Dead, March 6

Most companies rely on the traditional in-person job interview to make hiring decisions. However, more companies – including many in the technology sector – are coming to the conclusion that it’s not always an effective tool. Here's why: 81 percent of people lie during the interview. Companies are creating a condition where people are being dishonest because it's the only way for them to get a job. If candidates are asked about a skill they don't have, the only perceived option for them is to talk around it and give a potential boss a false impression.

Our built-in biases actually work against us during interviews. Even if you were getting 100 percent honest answers from a job candidate, there's a real question about whether you would be accurately evaluating the person in front of you. We have unconscious biases when we look at other people and evaluate their skill set. Chances are you've probably interviewed an attractive person, a tall person, or someone who speaks with a deep voice. People who are good looking tend to be evaluated as being more competent, intelligent, and qualified than their less attractive colleagues, despite not being objectively better at any of these things. People who are taller tend to be evaluated as having more leadership skills than their shorter counterparts. The same results also held for women, though the effect was not as large. Also, decades of data have revealed a clear relationship between height and salary at every age.

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Top IT Career Resources
Information Week, March 13

Landing that perfect job in the IT world starts with understanding the job market and the dramatic change that's taken place over the last decade. The career landscape has changed considerably and that has made the job search much more complicated. At the same time that IT professionals are in greater demand than ever before, many technologists find themselves in unfulfilling positions or unable to devote time to learning critical new skills. The article outlines how can you differentiate yourself at your company, stay on top of new developments, and make the most of the opportunities out there.

In addition to the complexities of evolving IT systems and the increase in different types of technology and the intricacies of connecting them all together, much more is expected from IT professionals in the modern era. While once IT was a meritocracy where success depended on being great at fixing things like servers, desktops and email systems, IT is now a strategic part of the business, demanding that its members have both soft skills and business skills to effectively interact with many outside departments.

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Making the Field of Computing More Inclusive
Communications of the ACM, March 2017

Despite the long-term focus on making technology accessible for people with disabilities, the computing profession has not focused on making itself inclusive of people with disabilities. Such people remain highly underrepresented at all levels and roles, including practitioner, researcher, student, and teacher. Although the percentage of undergraduate students with disabilities in technology-related majors is fairly representative of the worldwide population as a whole, it is estimated that less than 1% of students who earned Ph.D.'s in computer science identify as students with disabilities. People with disabilities bring diverse perspectives to the design of technology. Becoming more inclusive will be of great benefit to ACM and to technology in general. It is thus important to examine the barriers that exist and determine how we can best overcome them.

Becoming more accessible for people with disabilities makes strategic and tactical sense. After all, for a professional organization that wants to increase membership, there are many potential community members with disabilities who could join the community were it more accessible. So professional organizations in computing need to start to make themselves more accessible. To understand what needs to be done to enable better access for researchers, practitioners, teachers, and students with disabilities, the article includes a case study of the steps taken by SIGCHI, the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction, to be more inclusive for people with disabilities.

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A Fundamental Look at Cultural Diversity and the Online Classroom
eLearn Magazine, March 2017

Understanding the unique differences between online and traditional classroom environments, and how culture makes itself felt within each setting, can help shape a positive educational experience for students. At a fundamental level, anticipating the challenges that learners may experience with respect to areas such as classroom dynamics, requirements for participation, comprehension of course themes, and interpretation of course resources and design, can help support students through thoughtful course design and instruction. Also, beyond the practitioner level, organizations should encourage more culturally inclusive ways of thinking to help support faculty and staff development as well.

With the continued growth of the global, online classroom, it is important to continue the conversation related to better understanding and supporting students from diverse cultures. This will help support sustained improvement of online course design and facilitation, while benefitting students and their learning. However, to fully understand culture and its significance and influence in online courses is quite a complex undertaking. The article provides a review of instructional and design strategies relevant to cultural diversity in online learning. The broader discourse focused on cultural diversity and education considers areas such as content, pedagogy, and knowledge construction, in light of a student's race, gender, country of origin, language and their impact on education.

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