ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, September 05, 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 careernews@hq.acm.org

Volume 13, Issue 17, September 5, 2017


The 13 Best Value Cities For Hiring Tech Talent
IT News, August 29

The most expensive cities to operate in - San Francisco and Seattle - are still home to some of the best tech talent in the industry. However, in 23 other cities (including two in Canada), companies will find cheaper operating costs and a tech labor market that ranks "very high" in quality, according to a new report from CBRE. The report looked at the number and concentration of software engineers with three or more years of experience that have graduated from one of the top 25 computer science programs in the U.S. and Canada and then cross-referenced that data with the cities ranked for the lowest overall cost for rent and wage. As a result, 23 cities came out on top as the best bets to make affordable hires of high-quality tech talent.

The most cost-efficient city to hire top IT talent is Vancouver, British Columbia. While the U.S. dollar is strong, Vancouver offers strong value to U.S. businesses looking for quality talent. It's the cheapest city to operate in across every category and the city has seen a nearly 13% increase in total tech occupations since 2011, whereas non-tech occupations grew only 8.5% during the same time period. Another relatively cost-efficient city for tech hires is Toronto, Ontario. This is one of the most affordable cities to operate in with quality tech talent. In Toronto, more than 32% of the workforce holds a bachelor's degree or higher, and the city has seen nearly 15% growth in total tech occupations since 2011.

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Tech Industry and CS Majors Are Highest Earners, Says LinkedIn Job Survey
Tech Crunch, August 30

According to a new survey from LinkedIn, the IT and software industry is where it's at when it comes to making the highest salaries, with hardware and networking a very close second. Both offer median compensation of over $100,000 annually. The survey is a byproduct of research that LinkedIn has been collecting since November 2016, when it launched a salary tracker for people to use to get an idea of what other people in their field are earning, based on geography, years of experience and other parameters. LinkedIn said that it used data from some 2 million members who entered their details into the system to compile this report, which it then ran against other data to throw out numbers that it deemed to be inaccurate.

Tech remains the leading general category in terms of financial compensation, although individual jobs in other professions can command high six-figure incomes. User-experience designers and product engineers are the two highest-paying entry-level jobs in tech, with respective salaries of $72,000 and $68,000. Taking all the jobs in a given industry, tech comes out on top. In fact, tech-related industries are the only ones that break the $100,000 mark when it comes to median compensation.

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Getting a Job in Big Data
Seattle Times, August 25

As the amount of data within organizations expands at a prodigious pace, demand is quickly growing for skilled workers who can help companies experiment with new ways to make decisions using data. However, hiring this talent can be a challenge: good people are in high demand, especially in cities with a large concentration of technology companies. As a result, companies are no longer relying on a single data expert with a laundry list of skills to convert data into actionable insights. Instead, they're hiring data teams comprised of people with various specializations that complement each other. This is opening up the field to people with a variety of backgrounds.

While new titles, such as data scientist, data analyst and data engineer, have recently emerged, these core roles have long existed. Many insiders now compare a data engineer role to that of a software engineer who also has a background in statistics, and a data scientist to a statistician with an expertise in computer programming. A data analyst aligns with a business analyst who has augmented their skill set with statistics and computer programming. These positions commonly require a background in mathematics and statistics, along with experience in computer programming. The job titles associated with big data are new enough that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lumps them in the current classifications of statisticians, computer programmers or in other occupations, depending on the tasks.

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How AI is Revolutionizing Recruiting and Hiring
CIO.com, September 1

Recruiters and hiring managers are putting AI to work to help define a job posting's perfect fit, better surface strong candidates from search pools, and improve their ability to fill job openings fast. A major focus of AI-powered solutions, as might be expected, is shortening up the hiring window. That's because unfilled job postings are a significant drain on organizational productivity. For recruiters, it's now imperative to quickly analyze huge amounts of data and then make decisions and predictions based on that data.

To ensure the right recruiting resources are being applied to filling a particular job opening, some hiring teams are using creative ways to use AI that borrows methodologies from fields as diverse as healthcare. In order for AI-powered systems to work effectively, companies take data on jobs they've filled in the past: how long those took, how many candidates, open roles, information about the company as well as job market data from sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for instance, to find out how all of those things impact the time to fill an open job. As a result, organizations can see whether or not a job will be a tough one to fill, and then they can decide whether they should put extra resources toward that now instead of waiting and potentially failing to deliver candidates.

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10 Best US Cities for Tech Jobs in 2017
Information Week, August 22

While Silicon Valley still is home to some of the largest technology companies in the United States, a lot of the IT job growth is happening in other parts of the country. Researchers from online job board Glassdoor recently analyzed the company's database of job posting data, looking specifically at job postings with the word "software" in the title. They found that over the last five years, San Jose has seen a 7.7% decrease in its share of software job postings, while ten other cities experienced increases. When you factor in the cost of living and other key metrics, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Denver and Austin all rank among the leading cities for tech jobs.

In the Glassdoor study, Seattle had the highest growth in software job postings by a wide margin. In fact, it had even more software jobs than San Jose. Like many other tech hot spots, the cost of living is high, but IT salaries are generally high enough to compensate. Two of the most well-known tech employers in the area are Microsoft and Amazon, but they aren't the only ones. Other big tech employers in the area include Booz Allen Hamilton, Verizon, Lockheed Martin and Comcast. Detroit is also rising up the ranks as a prime place for IT talent. As connected cars and autonomous vehicles move from science fiction to reality, Detroit is beginning to hire a lot more technology workers. It's no surprise that three of the biggest employers in the area are Ford, GM and Chrysler, but other big employers include Quicken Loans, Compuware and several large healthcare facilities.

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10 Tips to Ace That Tech Interview
Tech World, August 31

The most important tip to ace your next big tech interview is also relatively simple: do your research. This is the very minimum requirement for interviewees. Read up on the company's story, their product history and team. Be prepared to answer why you want to work for the company and what you think the role will entail. A lack of knowledge about the company suggests a lack of enthusiasm about the role.

Being able to show your passion is an important part of acing the interview. An interviewer wants to see your enthusiasm for the role and company. In fact, talking passionately about working in the industry can be the most attractive quality in a candidate. Remember, you're trying to set yourself apart from other interviewees so don't be afraid to be yourself and talk about what excites you professionally. Be specific during the interview, too. Avoid generic and overly rehearsed answers. Saying that you're a perfectionist who works too hard won't do you any favors. Your interviewer wants to hear why you want to join their tech team specifically, so pick out elements that are unique to a role or company.

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7 Top Qualities That Make a Successful Software Developer
Silicon Republic, August 31

There are seven important qualities that all successful software developers have, including the ability to work well in teams. If you're confident you have them too, you're well on your way to landing a high-paying and rewarding job as a software developer. Just keep in mind: while there are plenty of jobs out there for software developers, that doesn't mean the competition isn't fierce. A budding software developer still has to be at the top of their game and stand out from the crowd in order to get their dream job.

Engineers who are team players are much more likely to be successful in their careers than solo types. There's a pop culture stereotype of the brilliant but emotionally stunted programmer – but this doesn't work in real software development teams. As a software engineer, your job is to solve issues and create a great product, not just to write as many clever lines of code as possible. That means communicating with all kinds of people: other developers, quality assurance pros, product managers, sales reps and customers. Also, successful developers don't bring their egos to work. No matter how good you are at what you do, you're not always going to be right. Other team members might have constructive criticism during code review, or your code might have bugs that you only find out about after shipping the product. When this happens, you have to be OK with other people pointing out and correcting your errors. That's why humility is such an important quality for developers to have.

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The 9 Signs an Employee Deserves a Promotion
Inc.com, August 22

For many companies, the way to get promoted is obvious: complete a specific task, gain a certain amount of experience, or simply be the next in line. However, for companies looking to hire and retain the very best tech talent, other factors matter, such as the employee's attitude. That's because attitude informs action and attitude informs behavior. Attitude is the driving force behind every achievement, accomplishment, and success.

An important part of having a great attitude is being a great teammate. People never accomplish anything of lasting value by themselves. That's why great teammates make everyone around them better. Great leaders provide the tools, training, and culture to help their employees do their jobs better and achieve their own goals. Great companies serve their customers first; they know that by serving their customers they ultimately serve the interests of their business. The employee who's only in it for himself (or herself) will someday be by himself. The employee in it for others may not get all the limelight, but the right people definitely notice.

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Measuring Student Self-Efficacy and Learning Trajectories for K-5 CS
Blog @ CACM, August 27

The 2017 International Computing Education Research (ICER) conference was held August 18-20 at the University of Washington in Tacoma. With 150 attendees, it was the largest ICER ever. ICER has two paper awards: the Chair's Award and the John Henry Award. The Chair's Award is awarded by the conference chairs based on reviewer scores. The John Henry Award is the "people's choice" award, based on attendees' votes for attempting a task that pushes the envelope of what's possible with CS pedagogy.

The Chair's Award at the conference went to Holger Danielsiek, Laura Toma, and Jan Vahrenhold, for their paper titled "An Instrument to Assess Self-Efficacy in Introductory Algorithms Courses." Self-efficacy describes a person's belief in their ability to succeed in specific situations or to accomplish specific tasks. Since self-efficacy is an important factor in student retention (especially in introductory courses), knowing how to measure self-efficacy is useful in understanding whether students will persist in their study of computing. Danielsiek and team developed an instrument and validated in three U.S. institutions and one German institution. The computing education research community is still young, so having carefully validated instruments is important for the research community.

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Is Quantum Computing For Real?
Ubiquity, July 2017

For many young graduates of CS programs, one area that continues to draw special attention is the nascent field of quantum computing. So who better to explain quantum computing than a pioneer in the field? In this interview, computer scientist Catherine McGeoch of D-Wave Systems demystifies quantum computing and introduces new concepts of computational thinking. As McGeoch explains, quantum computing really is a new way of thinking: no sequencing, no conditions, no loops-indeed, no instructions. The machine is not a set of logic boxes controlled by clock; it is instead a large number of cells each containing a quantum bit or "qubit," connected with each other through weighted links. Changing just one bit triggers a cascade of changes in all the others.

That quantum effects such as superposition and entanglement could be used to build vastly more powerful computers was first suggested in the early 1980s courtesy of Richard Feynman of CalTech and David Deutsch of the University of Oxford. In 1994, Peter Shor, then at AT&T Bell Labs, showed how a quantum computer could be used to factor large numbers. The first quantum bits made of atoms, molecules, or photons appeared in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Despite the progress, physicists still struggle to construct more than a few qubits that can remain in superposition and entanglement for any useful time span. Then in 1999, the Canadian company D-Wave Systems embarked on a mission to make quantum computing practical. Over the years, the company has been developing quantum computers with a steadily doubling number of qubits. In January 2017, D-Wave announced a machine with an unprecedented 2,000 qubits. With this many bits, realistic problems can be tackled. This opens up a number of new possibilities for businesses, scientific organizations and research labs.

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