ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 18, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 13, Issue 8, April 18, 2017
- Go West, Young Techies, For IT Jobs
- Video Games and Other Top Hobbies of Promising IT Job Seekers
- The Cities Creating The Most Tech Jobs 2017
- Highest Paying Jobs in Cyber Security 2017
- Is San Francisco Becoming the New Silicon Valley?
- IT Jobs in Jeopardy: 5 Steps to Protect Yours
- Do You Have the Digital Skills To Succeed in the 21st Century?
- Six Job Interview Questions You Should Have Asked Much Earlier
- Gender Diversity in Computing
- Cyber Insecurity and Cyber Libertarianism
If you want a tech job in the United States, your chances are better living in California. According to the new Cyberstates 2017 report, California still leads the country when it comes to total tech sector employment. But cities in other states also make a good showing. New York City; Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Boston; Washington, DC; Atlanta; and Chicago are all major hot spots for tech jobs by one measure or another. What's more, the overall trend for the U.S. tech job market in 2016 was positive, no matter where you lived. Approximately 4.4% of the overall U.S. workforce (6.89 million people) is now employed in some kind of tech job.
Where you live in the United States is a major determinant in how much access you'll have to the IT job market. For years, California has been the biggest tech sector employer—and by a large margin. There are 1.186 million tech jobs in that state, with 48,000 added last year. California also boasts three of the biggest urban centers for tech in the nation: San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. San Jose ranked No. 1 in tech sector employment concentration vs. overall employment (29.6%), No. 1 in average annual tech wages, and only New York City beat it out as a top employer for tech workers generally. San Francisco is No. 3 in concentration (11.5%) and No. 2 in annual wages ($168,000 per year vs. San Jose's $217,000).
In addition to the IT skills listed on a resume or LinkedIn profile, businesses looking to fill technology positions are also paying attention to the hobbies of job candidates. The staffing specialists at Robert Half Technology recently polled more than 2,500 CIOs in the U.S. to uncover some of the tech-related activities that catch their eye. Half of all respondents said new graduates looking for their first IT job can increase their appeal by highlighting their website or app development hobbies. Employers are also keen on candidates who play or develop video games (24%) and take part in hackathons (17%).
While there's no substitute for meaningful work experience, highlighting relevant hobbies and activities can be an effective way for new tech graduates to demonstrate their passion for the industry and impress hiring managers. And for some initiatives, like artificial intelligence, leaders are seeking employees from a variety of backgrounds. Having a background in other fields can also improve a candidate's chances of landing an IT job. More than one-third (36%) of CIOs said a background in mathematics is a competitive advantage when pursuing a technology role. Employers are also on the lookout for candidates with experience in business or marketing (31%), liberal arts (22%) and psychology (10%).
The Bay Area still stands as the top creator of tech jobs in the United States, but a new survey of the metropolitan areas with the strongest tech job growth turns up some surprising places not usually thought of as tech hubs. For example, Charlotte, North Carolina ranks second on the list. These hubs may have tech and STEM workforces that are far smaller, but quality of life and lower housing prices seem likely to help them to continue to attract tech workers. To determine the metro areas that are generating the most tech jobs, the survey analyzed employment data from the nation's 53 largest metropolitan statistical areas from 2006 to 2016.
The San Francisco metro area, which includes tech-heavy suburban San Mateo County, ranks first. The Bay Area continues to excel in large part as a product of the rapid growth over the past decade of social media and business applications for technology. However, there were plenty of surprising names that cracked the top 10, including Indianapolis, which ranked No. 5 on the list. The share of STEM jobs in the local economy (5%) is close to the national average but STEM employment is up 18% since 2006. Tech employment has grown rapidly, with the job count at tech companies up an impressive 68% since 2006, led by 1,700% growth at Internet-based businesses and 8,100 new jobs in custom programming and systems design.
Highest Paying Jobs in Cyber Security 2017
Computer Business Review, March 2017
If you're working in IT, or looking for a career change, a job in cyber security can be a rewarding and high-paying option. Demand for staff with cyber security skills has increased more than 50% because of explosive growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) and introduction of new cyber regulations. Cyber crime has now moved to the top of the C-suite agenda, resulting in a surge in demand for IT security professionals. This demand is reflected in salary rises: annual IT security salaries climbed by 4.99% on average in Q4 2016. That means the cyber security job category was one of the fastest growing IT occupations during 2016.
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) ranked No. 1 on the list. These employees are responsible for establishing and maintaining information security for the entire company. As the most senior security role, CISOs often face the blame for incidents and regularly resign over breaches. But for professionals prepared to manage the responsibility of this position, it can be immensely rewarding. The highest percentage change in salary across tech jobs was in the CISO role, up 4% in 2017, according to the Robert Half 2017 Salary Guide. By 2018, 75% of CISOs will report directly to the CEO, not the CIO. When CISO positions reach C-suite level, alongside Chief Financial Officers (CFO) and Chief Operating Officers (COO), it will increase the scope of CISO salaries, potentially doubling them.
Is San Francisco Becoming the New Silicon Valley?
Network World, April 14
The factors that led to Silicon Valley becoming the center of the technology world are now changing, creating the pre-conditions for other regions along the West Coast to become "the next Silicon Valley." Within California itself, San Francisco is beginning to rival Silicon Valley as the place where top tech companies are moving their operations, especially due to its ability to attract young millennial workers who would rather live in a big city. Another factor is that Silicon Valley is simply running out of room to grow. The article takes a closer look at which tech companies are opening up big offices in San Francisco, and how that might tilt the balance of power away from Silicon Valley.
Large tech companies such as Google, Yahoo, Cisco and others have already opened big offices in San Francisco. Some have arrived due to the need for more space than is currently available in Silicon Valley, while others have come due to business or tax incentives. And, in a few cases, such as Salesforce, they have long had a presence in San Francisco. The CRM firm, in fact, is the largest tech employer in the city and hopes to have as many as 10,000 employees within three years. But as Salesforce reaches for the sky in San Francisco, other companies like Apple are looking to spread out across the shrinking amount of commercial real estate farther south. That's leading to a healthy debate of whether it's better to have a sprawling campus or more of a vertical campus that's tightly integrated with the surrounding city.
IT Jobs in Jeopardy: 5 Steps to Protect Yours
Information Week, April 11
Emerging technologies might make your current IT job expendable, but there are steps you can take to make yourself more valuable than ever. The cloud, mobile and big data were just the beginning. Automation and AI are now posing a new threat to traditional IT roles. For IT, this means skills that were once considered essential will be less valued in the future. But there's an upside: individuals who can help their organizations capitalize on these emerging technologies will be highly prized, and the role of IT will become more strategic in the future.
Companies are trying to become more competitive using emerging technologies like cloud, mobile and big data. IT has a role in explaining to business leaders how they can use these technologies to compete more effectively. So top employees need to help business leaders to navigate the noise and complexity of the IT market and find the right tools to achieve their goals. You also need to treat your clients like any business would. Anticipate their needs and find ways to keep them happy. As a result, IT is no longer seen just as a service center but also as a team that innovates. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do; drive new ideas at your company.
Do You Have the Digital Skills To Succeed in the 21st Century?
Computer Weekly, April 2017
Top executives cannot fully understand the business opportunities and requirements of the modern company unless they first upgrade their own digital skills with first-hand experience and understanding of the technologies being so rapidly adopted by the market and the digital mindset that surrounds them. Executives need to have 21st century skills and mindsets before they can lead 21st century organizations. The pace of technology change and the shift to a digital world has been so great that it's little wonder busy executives have had trouble keeping up. So many things have changed so fast that the people at the top, even in successful organizations, and even in IT, don't really understand what is happening, and don't realize how dangerous that is.
Having a digital mindset and matching skills are critical to leading the 21st century organization of the future. But that's sometimes harder than it sounds. The first reason is that there has been a blurring of the line between the physical world and the digital world. Because we don't see this digital world, we forget or fail to understand its full impact. And ways of communicating are changing vastly. With social media, we are able to share anything easily with selected or public groups. Social media, in many ways, is the next phase of humanity because it connects us in ways that have not been available before. There are five human characteristics that are now mirrored online: connecting with each other, engaging in conversations, sharing stuff, helping each other, and belonging in or to groups.
Six Job Interview Questions You Should Have Asked Much Earlier
Fast Company, April 14
IT job candidates can and should take charge of the interview, turning it into a genuine conversation where both parties ask things of each other. And that means posing your own questions all the way through, rather than waiting until the end. But this requires some tact and preparation, or you'll come off as being too aggressive. The key to slipping your own questions into the interview is looking for openings right after you've been asked something similar. The article focuses on six job interview questions to ask.
Career coaches usually suggest asking a question about the last person to hold the position, and why that person left. But it could be a mistake to wait until the very end to ask it. Instead, ask how the role opened up just after you've finished explaining why you left a previous job or are looking to make a change. It's a natural segue. It's great to ask a hiring manager why they like working at the organization. This lets you compare the interviewer's response with the employee reviews you've already read online. A great time to ask this is when you're asked about your own current or past employers—what you've liked best about working for them, or how they might describe you. You could also expand this to ask about the turnover rate, either in the position you've applied for or in the organization overall. It may not be possible for you to speak to the person who was last in the position, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
Gender Diversity in Computing
Communications of the ACM, April 2017
The situation for women in computer science has not improved markedly over the past 25 years, and that's leading to new calls to improve gender diversity in computing. In 1984, 2.42% of all women's degrees were earned in CS. During 1989–2006, between 1% and 2% of women's degrees were earned in CS, and since then it has been less than 1% each year. By way of comparison, 6% of men's degrees were earned in CS in 2015. While companies are hiring women in greater numbers, the attrition rates are still very high. Approximately 45% of women entering tech leave within five years while only 17% of men leave. Bringing more women into tech has not succeeded in changing the climate there, nor apparently led to significant changes in the attitudes and behavior of many people who work in tech.
The problem facing the tech industry is that attitudinal change can be slow. The good news is that ACM can contribute to efforts to make people aware of bias and to encourage them to change their attitudes and behavior. For years ACM has supported ACM-W, the Council on Women in Computing. Thanks to ACM's support, and additional funding from Google, Microsoft, and Oracle, today there are 30 Celebrations of Women in Computing worldwide, over 160 ACM-W Chapters, and over $35,000 in scholarships for women CS students to attend research conferences.
Cyber Insecurity and Cyber Libertarianism
Blog @ CACM, April 14
Moshe Vardi of ACM weighs in on the current state of cyber security, arguing that it might be time to take a stronger regulatory stance, even if that directly contravenes the ideas of cyber libertarianism in Silicon Valley. In short, security won't improve just through market forces alone. As he points out, cyber insecurity seems to be the normal state of affairs these days. While we have made significant progress in the development of security-enhancing techniques, we have not really succeeded in making IT infrastructure more secure. As information technology permeates more and more aspects of our lives, the stakes are getting higher and higher. And yet, the IT community marches forward with no special sense of urgency.
The basic problem is that cyber security never gets a high-enough priority. We build a computing system for certain functionality, and functionality sells. Then we discover security vulnerabilities and fix them, and security of the system does improve. The question is whether we are eliminating old vulnerabilities faster than we are creating new ones. Judging by the number of publicized security breaches and attacks, the answer to that question seems to be negative. This raises some very fundamental questions about our field. Are we investing enough in cyber security research? Has the research yielded solid scientific foundations as well as useful solutions? Has industry failed to adopt these solutions due to cost/benefit considerations?
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