ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, February 20, 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 [email protected]
Volume 14, Issue 4, February 20, 2018
Tech jobs across every industry continue to boom, but certain fields will give IT professionals a higher average salary than others, according to the new State of Salaries 2018 report. Hired examined its 2017 data on real technology workers, including software engineers, designers, product managers, and data analysts. The average tech worker makes about $135,000, the report found, but those in industries such as transportation and retail may make more. Since 35% of hiring decision makers expect employees to quit in the next year, this may be a good time for tech professionals to reevaluate the hottest industries for their tech skills.
The IT workforce of today needs to be ready to compete in a data-driven, cloud-enabled, digitally transformed environment. While many companies are working towards this goal with worker re-training programs, the reality remains that many workers are in IT roles that will no longer be needed within a decade. As a result, it is important for companies to be training workers for the technologies that will drive the business of tomorrow, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science.
Companies are facing a fundamental problem as they look to evolve their businesses for a new era: they can no longer hire or acquire their way to success. If they do not have the trained staff today, it is not really clear how they will get to where they want to be for tomorrow. For example, only 3% of CEOs are investing in training people in new skills, even though the skills shortage is a top concern for CEOs. To address the challenge, experts are recommending enterprises to follow three basic steps to move from where they are today to where they need to be: re-imagining work, pivoting the workforce, and scaling up new skilling.
After another record-setting year for cybercrime, security professionals are in line for a well-deserved raise, according to recent research. The Robert Walters Salary Survey 2018 predicts that salaries for cybersecurity jobs around the world will rise by 7% in 2018. In addition, the recruitment firm estimated that all IT roles will see an average increase of 2% in salary. Of course, the expected compensation varies by geographic location. For example, the survey showed that salaries for technology professionals in China could rise by as much as 18%, while increasing only marginally elsewhere.
In the United States, there is greater demand for big data and data science roles, especially mid- and senior-level professionals who can implement new systems that empower businesses to benefit from advanced insights. Most likely, the growth of e-commerce and digitalization projects among established businesses will drive up demand for software engineers. The situation is somewhat different on the West Coast, where machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are major growth areas in 2017. As a result, businesses are expected to prioritize product designers and data scientists in their 2018 recruitment efforts. While some technology professionals may have trouble securing pay raises, the ones with the most sought-after skills may be able obtain as much as a 10% increase in salary. Organizations looking to hire these professionals must move quickly, because qualified candidates are likely to receive multiple offers at the same time.
Blockchain Engineers Are in Demand
Tech Crunch, February 14
Demand continues to skyrocket for blockchain talent, and that is leading to increased career opportunities for IT workers with knowledge of blockchain technology. More than $3.7 billion has been raised through initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the United States alone, meaning there is plenty of capital to hire these workers. Blockchain-related jobs are the second-fastest growing in the labor market today; there are now 14 job openings for every one blockchain developer. With capital entering the market at a rapid pace, it is putting a premium on finding the very best talent. Freelance talent marketplaces and other types of on-demand tech talent marketplaces are now front and center for finding this talent.
Requests for on-demand blockchain talent are skyrocketing. For example, last year, freelance talent marketplace Upwork saw blockchain rise to the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 skills in terms of freelancer billings. This represents a year-over-year increase of more than 35,000%. These requests span ICO advisory services, engineering projects and overall blockchain consultancy. Since January 2017, the demand for blockchain engineering talent on Toptal has grown 700%, and 40% of the fully managed software development projects requested in the last month require blockchain skills.
5 Keys to Improving Your Hiring Process
CIO.com, February 15
Good hiring practices are vital to the success of any business, and that is especially true within the IT industry. For example, if you are recycling job descriptions, especially ones that may be out of date, you run the risk of attracting the wrong talent for your business needs. Throughout the hiring process, strong collaboration between hiring managers, recruiters, HR reps and department heads is essential. If the HR team understands what the team is trying to accomplish in filling the role, and the hiring manager can clearly articulate the business strategy, both teams can work together toward the goal. An efficient hiring process that includes regular check-ins on changing job descriptions and job requirements can boost efficiency and hiring quality.
The first key to improving your hiring process is simply making sure that the person writing up the job description and requirements knows how to do the job. It is easy to overlook small details in the day-to-day workload if you have not worked in the same position, so consider consulting current employees as part of the process. This discovery should be a partnership with HR that dives deep into the skill set of the current team, business strategy and goals for future, which then is documented in a job description. Moreover, it is important to keep descriptions updated, even when roles are filled. If you hired for a role just one or two years ago, you still want to reevaluate the job description. Things change fast, especially in the technology industry, so the skills and requirements you listed two years ago might already be outdated.
This Simple Mental Shift Can Help You Land Your Next Job
CNBC, February 13
When you are ready for a professional change, figuring out what to do next can be confusing. However, as former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo points out, making the right choice about what to do next can be made easier simply by changing your mindset: Be a "fisher," not a "catcher." In other words, go after what you are curious and passionate about, do not just wait around to see what comes your way. When you are "catching" things and not "fishing" for them, you are simply responding to things that are coming at you are based on what you did before. You will be most successful, says Costolo, when you are actively charting your own course.
When you are actively "fishing" for new jobs, you are freed from the sort of shackles of your previous roles that have defined you and free you to move on to what you want to do next. When you are a manager or a leader, one of the most important things you can do is listen and gather feedback when you are trying to make decisions. The same is true during the job search. If you do not listen, you cannot communicate. "Fishing" and taking risks has served Costolo well, and he advises others to do the same. Be willing to take risks, and you will see growth in your career, as well as more variety in the types of opportunities you encounter.
What Makes a Beginner Stand Out to the CIO
The Enterprisers Project, February 16
For young IT talent, the promise of a career within the industry can be enticing, as businesses compete to hire the best IT talent to solve complex problems. But these days, a degree alone is not sufficient. These technical skills may get you hired, but if you want to get noticed by the boss, you will need to bring more to the table than technical skills. In terms of the traits and skills that they value most on their IT teams, most CIOs will not mention in-depth technical training or special certificates. Instead, these CIOs will highlight people who were exceptional team players, or who raised their hands for a special assignment, or who reached out to help someone below them.
Being able to over-deliver is the primary trait that separates the most successful workers from everybody else. In short, always bring back more than your boss asks you for. It is also important to be a team player. The biggest thing you can do early in your career to stand out is to be seen as an exceptional team player. There is very little that individuals working alone can accomplish in the IT field now. Being an exceptional team player brings you the reputation of being able to contribute individually, contributing to the talents of the team, and making sure the goals and the mission of the team come before individual aspiration. Those people who are exceptional team players stand out as the ones who can serve as leaders and role models for the rest of the enterprise.
Hiring Manager Warns Coding Bootcamps Are Lacking In Two Key Areas
The Next Web, February 9
As confidence continues to wane in the traditional college experience, coding bootcamps are gaining momentum. It is easy to see the appeal. Rather than graduating with untold thousands of dollars in debt, students can instead elect to spend as little as $5,000 and attend class for just six weeks. As of last year, 95 full-time coding bootcamps grossed some $266 million in revenue and graduated an estimated 22,000 new developers. That is up from just 2,000 in 2003, according to Course Report. However, according to at least one hiring manager (and ex-Google employee), its graduates may not be getting all of the skills they need to thrive.
One problem with coding bootcamp graduates is that they often lack ability in Big-O analysis. In a coding bootcamp, you might only spend a week on Big-O. They just do not have time to cover it in depth. Big-O analysis is used in computer science to describe both the complexity and performance of an algorithm. It maps the execution time required (or space used) on a disk when running the algorithm. For non-coder types, it might appear to be largely unimportant. What is important, however, is that Big-O is often used to quantify ability, particularly in problem solving and executing on tougher design challenges.
Do Not Forget the Science in Computer Science
Blog @ CACM, February 8
At the end of the day, computer science is a science just like physics or chemistry, and not just systems programming or software engineering. In order to solve the big problems of today, it is important for computer science practitioners to keep this in mind. While systems programming and software engineering are valid applications, the science supporting CS must also progress and it will not if we ignore the theoretical contributions, fundamental theories and analytical frameworks within the CS field. Computer science has always been partly a science and partly an engineering discipline, and that has always complicated matters for practitioners.
One CS discipline where it is possible to see this tension between science and engineering is Natural Language Processing (NLP). We now have leading labs (both in industry and academia) graduating or nurturing experts in language processing. However, these experts are indifferent to a couple of centuries of fundamental work by some of the most penetrating minds in logic, semantics, and formal languages. They are experts in Natural Language Processing but have not heard of metonymy, intension, scope and reference resolution, and other challenges in the computational treatment of natural language. In many ways, that is like a physicist who has never heard of Newton or Einstein, or a lab researcher who has no knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics.
Openness in Education and Digital Scholarship
eLearn Magazine, February 2018
Bonnie Stewart, who is currently the program lead for experiential education at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada, shares her thoughts on experiential learning, non-curricular programming and the future of CS education. She is currently building a campus-wide process for integrating experiential opportunities into learning, as well as developing non-curricular programming to support the capacities and competencies of students. In this wide-ranging interview, Stewart touches on topics such as the contemporary information ecosystem, participatory models of engagement, media literacy and the Antigonish Movement adult education model.
As Stewart acknowledges in this interview, there is no precise definition of openness in an educational context. For her, openness has many shades of gray. More material, tangible instances like OER (open educational resources) and open textbooks focus on licensing and freely-circulating ideas, bypassing the proprietary publishing industry, while more ephemeral concepts like open practice and open pedagogy emphasize transparency and sharing in educational practice and learning. For Stewart, openness is an approach that assumes that knowledge is a public good and that accessibility in the broadest sense is therefore also a good to be supported, encouraged, and contributed to.
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