ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, January 9, 2018
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 14, Issue 1, January 9, 2018
According to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, 21% of employers across all industries in the U.S. are planning to hire in the first three months of 2018. Moreover, fears of AI or automation eliminating jobs appear to be overblown. Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends report of more than 10,000 HR and business leaders found that 77% said they will either re-train people to use new technology, or will redesign jobs to better take advantage of human skills. For IT professionals actively looking for a new position in 2018, there are several important points to keep in mind that will impact the way they search and land that new job.
The skills employers are looking for are changing rapidly, so it is important for professionals to constantly learn the emerging skills in their field as well as new skills that open up entirely new career options. By switching their thinking from "what is my title" to "what are my skills," professionals can broaden their job options. Current job seekers can better position themselves for 2018 career opportunities by making it a personal goal to become more proficient in STEM-related skills. Whether it is taking on a specific subject like computer programming, learning how to analyze data more effectively, instructing others to use technology, signing up for a course like statistics or basic fundamentals of coding, watching an online tutorial on argumentation, or even working on an independent project at home like a DIY kit, these are all great examples of ways to build STEM abilities.
The social network LinkedIn has launched new features that can help members land a new job or help them build up the skills required for a career change. For example, after analyzing its massive database of user and employment data, LinkedIn now issues monthly notifications that alert users to the skills that are trending among people with the same job title. If members already possess a given skill, they can add it to their profiles, indicating that they are current in their skill sets and improving the chances that interested employers will contact them.
In the U.S., LinkedIn users will soon get notifications on regional hiring trends based on LinkedIn's Workforce Report. Each month, the service takes data from 143 million workers in the U.S. and compiles a report on hiring trends, job movement, skills gaps and more. For example, in the December 2017 Year in Review edition, LinkedIn discovered that hiring was up more than 10% in 2017 compared to 2016. In metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham and Salt Lake City, employers are dealing with a skills gap while workers in Boston and Columbus, Ohio faced a skills surplus. In the near future, some of those insights will be delivered directly to LinkedIn users, enabling them to make informed decisions about their careers.
IT leaders have the opportunity to accelerate their tech careers in the year ahead by understanding better how technology can help to drive key business priorities. For these IT leaders, the ability to enhance the digital transformation of their organizations represents a unique opportunity. As the requirements for advanced technology continue to evolve, so will the skills requirements for digital leaders. One key skill, for example, is being able to listen to and engage with other stakeholders in the organization. For example, the CIO needs to understand the priorities of other top C-level executives in the organization in order to drive wider digital transformation.
In order to accelerate their careers, IT leaders must be able to educate people why technology matters within their organizations. In short, they have to convey the fact that IT has to do so much more than just keep the lights on at night. It is incredibly important that organizations recognize IT needs to be a top priority. Moreover, IT leaders need to convey how it is able to deliver value for the business and its customers. In short, IT must be aligned with the business and the rest of the organization must recognize the value of technology.
Most Coveted Job Skills For 2018 Are STEM Skills
Forbes, December 31
In 2018, employers across all industries, not just the tech industry, are likely to put increasing emphasis on STEM skills such as data analysis and social media proficiency. This reflects the fact that STEM skill sets are steeping into all areas of the professional world due to the rise of the digital economy. Accordingly, tech skills will continue to revolutionize all industries and continue to be in high demand. Being able to demonstrate these traditional STEM skill sets will make workers more competitive and give them an advantage in practically all careers.
Among STEM skills, data analysis is at the top of the list. The reason is simple: more and more business decisions are based on data. For example, when companies try to understand how to boost their sales or expand in different product spheres, they use digital data available that allows them to understand consumer behavior. They analyze this data looking for various trends and points of interest to make an appropriate decision. Another example is in the financial world, where many algorithms are tested for trading stocks or predicting the behavior of the markets. Thus, from small-scale projects within a company to large-scale implementations to model various behavior ranging from consumer preferences to predicting market moves, data analysis is a skill set that is in demand and will continue to be so in 2018 and beyond.
Six Common Interview Questions for Developers
Tech World, January 2
To land a job as a software developer, you need more than just technical proficiency or certain programming skills. You also need a number of soft skills and the ability to critically analyze and solve problems. The interview process will likely involve a technical task and several interviews, including one with HR and one with a member of the product team. While the more technical interview will focus on your favorite software or how you ensure the product remains functional while fixing bugs and your programming habits, the HR interview will be looking at how you work with others and how you would fit with the company culture. Thus, you need to display a mix of hard and soft skills.
According to hiring experts, one of the most common developer interview questions is, "What excites you most about coding?" This seemingly straightforward question helps determine how passionate you are about your job. HR managers want to hire a candidate who can articulate their excitement and passion for development, so do not be afraid to get animated when discussing the elements of your job you enjoy. Another common question is, "What is your favorite feature of the product?" If the place you are interviewing at builds a certain product, being able to speak about the different features of the product shows your interviewer that you are invested in the company and that you have done your homework. The strongest candidates will be able to offer insights on the different features of the product and an understanding of the different stakeholders involved in getting these features built.
The 10 Top Skills That Will Land You High-Paying Jobs by 2020
Inc.com, December 29
The World Economic Forum recently surveyed 350 executives across 9 industries in 15 of the biggest economies in the world to generate a new report on the future of jobs. The intention of the report was to predict how technological advancement will transform labor markets and to provide insights into which skills will be most in demand by employers. In a world increasingly dominated by robots, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, having a firm grasp of what employers will be looking for is a smart way to prepare for a future career.
In 2015, creativity ranked 10th on the list. However, it is now one of the top three skills employers will seek. As we are bombarded by new technologies, employers want creative people who can apply that tech to new products and services. Critical thinking is also an important skill very much in demand. As automation increases, the need for humans who can employ logic and reasoning increases. This is, in part, because machines must be directed ethically and optimally. Employers want people with critical minds who can evaluate the uses or abuses of the power of technology, and use them to benefit the company, the people in it, and the future.
5 Steps to Becoming a Global IT Leader
IT News, January 2
IT professionals must be prepared to drive technological innovation in globally interconnected markets. To this end, they need transferable leadership skills effective across all markets, industry and cultures. Although there are many increasingly popular international management programs that can help prepare you for global leadership, ultimately the most successful business people have three core traits: respect for foreign cultures, a tech skill that is in demand and the patience to communicate openly.
The most effective global IT leaders are those who make an effort to understand the local business and cultural environments in which their organization operates. The best leaders take from the norms of multiple cultures and disciplines they work with to create a blended strategy, one that leverages the best practices from headquarters and from the local offices. Creating this blended approach takes time but also generates greater buy-in and a sense of ownership by the local offices. An IT leader in a multicultural environment must also be aware of his or her own cultural framework. For an American CIO, that may mean a high degree of individualism and personal accountability, a task-based versus relationship-based approach and a linear view of project timing.
Gender-Based Preferences HR and Hiring Managers Should Know
Information Week, December 20
Two recent reports, one by Dice, and another jointly produced by Women in Technology International (WITI) and 451 Research, highlight gender-related issues in the IT workplace. The goal of the Dice report, for example, was to discover differences in how men and women value various aspects of the IT workplace, such as organizational culture and flexible work hours. The goal of the WITI and 451 Research report was to uncover the various factors shaping career choices for both men and women. For top tech companies, it is important to pay attention to the details of both reports in order to become the employer of choice for both men and women.
According to Dice, 80% of the Top 10 employers were the same for men and women, and in fact, the top five are exactly the same: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook. Salesforce and JP Morgan made the top 10 employer list for women while men chose Tesla and SpaceX instead. Top values differ significantly more than Top 10 companies, however. For example, women placed benefits at the top of the list, while men rated it fourth. Conversely, among men, challenging/interesting work and competitive salary tied for the top spot, when women ranked those fourth and second, respectively. Among women, the number 3 value is manageable work hours, which ranked number 8 among men. Men ranked positive organizational culture number 3, while women ranked it number 5.
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Communications of the ACM, January 2018
While computing yields tremendous societal benefits, it is also important to keep in mind the potential societal costs of technological change. For example, automation has the ability to make life more efficient and productive, but it also comes with the risk of taking away jobs. Another example is the friction-less sharing made possible by social media: it helps to connect people, but it also helped to precipitate the rise of the fake news phenomenon. Until recently, many of these costs had not been fully recognized. The computer science profession has an obligation to recognize the potential adverse societal consequences of computing and then take responsibility for this technology.
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), founded in the early 1980s, was conceived as an organization promoting the responsible use of computer technology. The triggering event was the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a proposed missile-defense system intended to protect the U.S. from attack by ballistic strategic nuclear weapons. CPSR argued that society lacks the technology to develop software that would be reliable enough for the purpose of SDI. Later, CPSR expanded its scope to other tech-related issues. The organization was dissolved in 2013.
Why Computer Science Education in K-12 Settings Is Becoming Increasingly Essential
ACM on Huffington Post, December 6
Mehran Sahami, co-chair of ACM's Education Board, weighs in on the increasing importance of Computer Science for K-12 education. There is newfound momentum around this concept, given the CS for All initiative, which calls for over $4 billion in funding to greatly expand access to K-12 CS education, including funds for teacher training and curriculum development. It is important to keep in mind that the goal of making CS education available to all K-12 students is not easy and will require significant, ongoing commitments from government, academia, and industry. But the reason for taking on such a great challenge is that it presents such a tremendous opportunity for future generations.
The opportunity in teaching CS is not simply to train a large workforce of programmers. While there is no question that there is a huge need for information technology workers, computer science is far more than just programming and the end goal of a CS education is not just to produce software engineers. The goal is to provide students with frameworks to think critically about and better understand the world in which they live. Thus, learning CS is not just about giving students the skills to build the next mobile phone app. Much more significantly, learning CS helps students develop systemic thinking skills for problem solving, practice logical deduction, and learn to express themselves with greater precision and clarity.
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