ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 04, 2017

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 13, Issue 7, April 4, 2017

Your Next High-Paid Tech Job May Be in These Cities
USA Today, March 30

According to a report from TechNet and Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), emerging tech hubs are springing up all over the nation, with many of them forming in the South and Midwest. The so-called Next in Tech cities include Nashville, New Orleans, Cleveland, Denver and Charleston. The irresistible lure of a lower-cost of living and talent pools fed by nearby colleges help. But in the case of several cities, such as Detroit (Internet of Things, connected cars) and Nashville (health care), local industries and existing infrastructure are the real attractions. If lawmakers find the right mix of regulatory policy, improved access to talent and greater access to capital in these fledgling cities, it might lead to 1 million additional new jobs.

If you thought all the new emerging tech hubs were found near the East Coast or West Coast, the findings of this report could be surprising. E-commerce contributed to job creation in Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky among companies large and small. Start-up culture began in the garages of Silicon Valley, but has spread nationally. The best, most productive way to create jobs is to foster start-ups in those regions. Dynamic tech start-ups just create jobs at a faster pace. In 2014, companies in their first five years created 2.2 million jobs; those older than five years created only 450,000 jobs.

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The Fast-Growing Job With a Huge Skills Gap: Cyber Security
Forbes, March 16

Cyber security skills continue to be among the most desired skills by employers. In fact, according to the ISACA, a non-profit information security advocacy group, there will be a global shortage of two million cyber security professionals by 2019. Every year in the U.S., 40,000 jobs for information security analysts go unfilled, and employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cyber-security related roles. And for every ten cyber security job ads that appear on career websites, only seven people even click on one of the ads, let alone apply.

One of the most in-demand cyber security roles is security analyst. Security analysts work to prevent and mitigate breaches on the ground. In 2012 there were 72,670 security analyst jobs in the U.S., with median income of $86,170. Three years later, there were 88,880 such analysts making $90,120. Another hot job is security manager. Security managers develop and implement processes to keep information private. Often you’ll need a professional certification to be considered for such a role, like a CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) or CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). Compensation for the most senior roles in cyber security, like chief information security officer, can reach $400,000.

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How To Find the Right Fit in IT Hiring
Information Week, March 23

Hiring goes beyond reviewing lists of certifications and an impressive resume. As hiring managers you need to understand culture: both the culture of the job candidate and the culture of your organization. Then ask whether they match. For employers, that is the key to making sure that you don’t have any regrets about the hiring process. Often, it turns out that another candidate might have been a better choice, even though their technical skills weren’t as impressive.

Strong technical skills are still crucial in IT roles. However, there also has to be a balance between those hard tech skills and soft skills. Within the tech sector, it's very easy to be focused only on hard skills. But that’s not all there is when it comes to making a hiring decision. You can look at the person who has the greatest skills and they cannot get the job done. On first impression, those managers are star struck by a candidate's resume, their skills, their past titles and the prestige of previous employers. But then the realization sinks in that maybe the person is not the best fit for a job.

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Cyber Defense Just One of the Skills Next Gen IT Professionals Will Need, March 30

Within the UK, cyber security is not the only skill set that IT professionals should be looking at for a career change or a long and successful career. Senior managers have noticed a widening skills gap, according to Reed’s 2017 Salary Guide. Almost half (47%) of those in management, and 54% in supervisor positions, now recognize a lack of skills in their organization. Evolving technology is one of the main reasons these skills gaps are opening up. Additionally, Brexit, one of the most significant events of recent times, is, and will continue to be, a factor in widening the skills gap. Some talented IT workers have already gone overseas, and more will do so once the effects of Brexit are felt across the UK.

There are many opportunities in the IT sector for candidates who take note of the skills needed and move quickly to learn them. But where are these gaps? There is considerable demand for development staff at the moment, and those with C# and .Net skills hold the most valuable of bargaining chips. The role of data analyst is also rapidly emerging in the UK, as the desire to analyze, manipulate and securely store data is essential for any business in the current climate. Additionally, with the constant thirst for new and innovative programs that will assist with company growth, Java developers are in demand. With regards to sectors that IT professionals should be considering, financial services is a lucrative trade where the knowledge of technology workers is certainly in demand.

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Never Mind Perks, Tech Companies Should Focus on Culture
Tech World, March 15

Instead of focusing on adding the newest perk to attract and retain employees, companies should take a closer look at their organization’s culture. Often, perks are only intended to address surface symptoms of what might be a broader cultural malaise. In short, perks are not a silver bullet to problems, especially when they are implemented without a clearly defined or well thought through strategy. To build a healthy work culture, firms should focus on more face-to-face contact, reasonable working hours, manageable workloads and good quality managers.

Companies need to change the nature of the work environment. They need more face-to-face contact, no sending of emails in the same building, and people to switch off after work. One of the leading indicators of happiness at work is your relationship with your line manager. If they are bad and inefficient, or socially insensitive, that will damage people's health. Some firms have taken the idea of trust and transparency to another level, such as by giving them unlimited holidays or letting them determine their own working hours.

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This Is the No. 1 Soft Skill You Need to Develop, March 21

Given the overwhelming emphasis on automation within the workplace, soft skills and continuous learning will be what lift some careers while others stagnate. The No. 1 soft skill to develop is to become an effective communicator able to provide context, analysis, and nuance. Regardless of your field, you are communicating constantly with colleagues, teams, partners, clients and stakeholders. If you are not as good as you could be, you're likely missing opportunities to sell your ideas, focus your team, gain credibility and respect, reach your goals, and avoid a lot of wasted time and confusion.

Within the tech sector, strong written communications skills are a must. That means a mastery of both content and context. You don't need to include every detail, but it's important for people to understand the background of what you're saying, especially in those threads where new recipients get added halfway in. Similarly, rather than just hitting forward to blast a message out, consider how you could add value to the conversation and ensure recipients pick up the points you want them to. Don't assume people will get it. Spoken communication also matters. You may never appear on a big stage, but you can still benefit from learning a few basics of public speaking. Before your next meeting, you can prepare and give careful thought to the ideas you need to communicate and how best to reach your audience. Most of us only make that effort for "important" meetings, but every meeting is supposed to be a productive time for groups to ideate, make decisions, solve problems, or develop plans together.

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7 Strategic Ways To Increase Employee Retention While Reducing Costs, March 31

Although it may feel counterintuitive, spending a little more time and money to retain your best employees is one way of making your company more productive. It has been understood for a long time that employees who love their jobs tend to stick around, which reduces ongoing hiring costs, of course, but happy employees also boost customer loyalty and the bottom line. If your business experiences any turnover, it will lead to high time investment and increasing difficulty of hiring the new right person. Another factor that increases the cost is finding someone with in-demand skills. So employers should be looking for better ways to retain their employees, as well as making their workplace a more desirable destination for talented tech workers.

One way to boost retention is to build a team atmosphere: Outings and parties can boost morale and happy employees are 12% more productive than others. They can also help encourage your employees to better connect with one another and feel closer to your business in the process. Sending out weekly, or monthly, staff memos pointing out employee milestones and successes helps your people know their hard work is being recognized. Research shows that ethical businesses, those that have strong impact missions are more sustainable. They can make more money and are preferred by customers. They attract more loyal employees, too. Another priority should be to keep your staff healthy. If you don’t already, you should cover health care now.

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8 Practical Ways to Make Your Tech Job Less Stressful
Tech Republic, March 31

A competitive culture and always-on mentality can often lead to high workplace stress levels in the tech industry. In one survey, about half of IT employees reported feeling burnt out at work, and more than two-thirds of U.S. employees said they suffer from work overload. Stress can cause burnout and a loss of motivation, and so it’s important for employers to find ways to make their workplace environments less stressful. Ping pong tables and free food are not enough to solve the problem. With that in mind, the article provides a review of eight practical ways to manage stress in tech jobs.

For tech firms looking to make their jobs less stressful, allowing employees to work from home certain days of the week is a major stress reliever. Many workers in tech are mobile and are used to balancing their work and personal lives. It's up to you to get to your objective, and in doing so you will need to create efficiencies. Good time management is a skill that can be learned. Take the time to differentiate between the really high-impact tasks you're working on and the busy work. Focus on the tasks that really matter and let the rest ride for the moment. Evaluate things like time constraints and potential profitability. One way to do this is single-tasking. Focusing on one task at a time, and ignoring your email and any other work, can increase productivity.

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How Do You Step Up From Mere Contributor to Real Change-Maker?
Queue, March 1

Even for IT employees who are smart, passionate, and driven, it can be difficult to get their best ideas in front of top management. The reality is that making great things happen at work is about more than just being smart. Good ideas succeed or fail depending on your ability to communicate them correctly to the people who have the power to make them happen. Thus, if you want to step up from being a star contributor to a serious innovator and change-maker in your organization, you need to re-think how you are communicating your ideas and focus on three key elements: the right people, the right time and the right way.

Just because you think you know a better way to do something, even if you're right, no one is required to care. When you are navigating an organization, it pays to know whom to talk to and how to reach them. For most decisions, there will be a number of stakeholders who need to buy in to your idea: your manager, any other department leads who would be involved, maybe even your executive team. Before you do anything else, you should identify exactly who needs to sign off on your idea. Who are the key stakeholders? Why do they matter? Who is least likely to be on board? Who is most likely? Think about how each of these people functions in the organization and what your relationship to them is. Your relationship with each of these people matters and will influence how receptive each is to your ideas.

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Generation CS: When Undergraduates Realized They Needed Computing
Communications of the ACM, March 28

According to a new report from the Computing Research Association (CRA), there has been a dramatic increase in enrollments in computer science (CS) over the last 11 years, with an especially rapid increase since 2009. A majority (60%) of academic units surveyed more than doubled their enrollment in that time. The report describes a new generation of undergraduate students who realize the importance of computing education. The CRA committee that assembled the report carefully analyzed the data in terms of size of the department, type of department, and differences in growth in terms of majors vs. non-majors.

The current surge of CS majors is pervasive. Large and small academic units, in public and private institutions, have been affected similarly. Doctoral granting and non-doctoral granting units are affected, though doctoral granting units to date have seen larger increases. While academic units are taking a range of actions to handle the increased enrollment, percentage increases in tenure-track faculty are about 10% of the increase in the number of majors. Non-major enrollment is also increasing, and at all levels. One might expect the number of non-CS majors to increase at the intro level, but there are also huge increases at the mid and upper levels of the undergraduate curriculum.

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