ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 6, 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 careernews@hq.acm.org

Volume 14, Issue 21, November 6, 2018


These Skills Will Land You A New Collar Job
Forbes, October 31

During a period of rapid technological change, you have to up-skill to future-proof your career. This means that you have to be ready to build continuous learning into your already over-scheduled day. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), you need 10 skills to thrive in 2020, with these including a mix of technical and soft skills. The good news is that you no longer need a four-year degree in order to land certain tech jobs. To qualify for them, you need vocational training in relevant technical skills, many of which can be obtained via nontraditional educational paths, such as by taking online courses.

The good news is that new collar jobs span multiple disciplines. The four main categories of these jobs are technology, software, engineering and healthcare. There are also many new collar jobs in manufacturing opening up as well, especially as new disruptive technologies begin to transform the sector. Big data, nanotech, drone tech, wearable tech, and 3D printing are leading the way in manufacturing technologies. These technologies create many diverse new collar jobs, as well as many new workplace opportunities to put these skills to work.

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How to Craft Effective Data Science Job Descriptions
CIO.com, October 30

Finding good data science talent starts with an effective job description. But to craft just the right posting, organizations must understand the talent market and role they are targeting. In the current data science job market, demand far outstrips supply. That means organizations must resist the temptation to seek candidates with every last required data science skill in favor of hiring for potential and then training on the job. A lot of data science has to do with statistics, math and experimentation, so you are not necessarily looking for someone with a computer science or software engineering background, though they should have some programming experience. Job candidates need to have the ability to look at data and use tools to manipulate it, explore correlations and produce data models that make predictions.

When it comes to crafting any job description, you are primarily marketing your organization and the role. The goal is to communicate why that role is an exciting opportunity rather than focus only on the skills and responsibilities. A lot of organizations seeking data scientists make this mistake, putting them at a disadvantage right off the bat. For a high-skill role like data science, the goal is to convince applicants who might be on the fence that your company and your role are interesting and worth their time. This is especially important not just because the market is so hot, but because a lot of the necessary skills are industry and company-specific. Instead focus on the mission of your company, what the role will accomplish, and any technical details of the exciting problems candidates will get to solve. For data science in particular, it can work great to write about the interesting data sets that the candidate will have access to.

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Three Things Leaders Can Give to Employees That Will Make Them Want to Stay
Inc.com, October 23

Employee retention is still a major factor for organizations, both large and small. For example, LinkedIn reported that 10.9% of its members changed jobs in 2017 alone. As you might expect, technology-related jobs have the biggest turnover, at more than 13%, but sectors from health care to financial services also see double-digit numbers when it comes to losing employees. Given the high cost of constant attrition and the intensive amount of time required for retraining, it is perhaps no surprise that top tech leaders are focusing on how to give their employees what they need and want so they will be loyal and productive for a long period of time.

In order to convince employees to stay, find ways to compensate them in ways other than just a raise. In the current climate, where jobs are more plentiful than they have been in years, you might find your employees starting to look around at their options. Some companies are getting employees to join them and stay by, among other things, getting involved in their need to pay for educational expenses. That can go beyond tuition reimbursement plans to include student loan counseling and refinancing support. An employee who feels secure about his or her financial future can think about expanding horizons and trying new things at work.

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Four Emerging Tech Careers in Development
Devex, November 2

Technology increasingly influences each aspect of our lives, and the development sector is no exception. According to a recent report, there are four technologies expected to have the greatest impact on the sector in the coming years. Perhaps not surprisingly, both big data and cloud computing are at the top of the list, followed by one technology that might not be as familiar to many people: geographical information systems. For anyone looking to jump-start their careers, learning skills in these hot areas can provide a real boost.

One tech career that is very much in demand is big data, which requires deep statistical and analytical skills. A university degree in mathematics, information technology, computer science, economics, electrical engineering, or bioinformatics, will all provide you with relevant skills to pursue a career in big data. Continuing with an advanced degree and specializing or majoring in big data is also advisable. Coding and programming languages, such as Python, are also essential for big data scientists. These, too, are learned in an academic setting or can be gained through online courses. The best way to hone big data skills is on-the-job. Additional reading on the topic and attending conferences will also help to broaden knowledge.

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This Is What a Recruiter Actually Sees When They Open Your Resume
Silicon Republic, November 2

When you are on the hunt for a job, your resume is one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Knowing this, almost every jobseeker views their resume with a mixture of fear, awe and dread. But are they focusing on the right factors when they update and format their resume? Obsessively editing your resume might not be the best use of your time, especially considering the fact that the average recruiter spends just six to ten seconds before deciding whether or not you would make a good fit for an open role. Instead, it is far smarter to understand what needs to be included as part of every resume in order to attract the attention of a recruiter.

A recent study from IBM found that HR representatives spend as little as six seconds looking at an application. It is an impossibly tiny window in which jobseekers have to make a strong enough impression to proceed to the interview stage. That is why it is important to understand exactly what a recruiter sees when they look at your resume. They are looking, first and foremost, for information about your most current position. They are also looking for evidence that you will be a good fit for the advertised role, and that means listing certain keywords in the resume so that the fit will be as obvious as possible.

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The True Value of a Project Management Professional
Tech Republic, November 2

Within the tech sector, there is no shortage of companies looking for project managers. In fact, according to a new talent gap report by The Project Management Institute, the demand for project managers in the U.S. alone is estimated to grow by almost 700,000 by the year 2020. Given the overall size of the workforce, though, the term project manager might be overused to describe jobs being created. After all, managing tasks and various aspects of a project like timing, scheduling, resources and communications does not imply that you are a project manager in the professional sense. Further, many informal activities simply do not require the knowledge and elevated skill levels of a trained and certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Organizations increasingly look to PMPs and other certified project professionals to sufficiently reduce low-performance rates and achieve higher success rates. PMPs and other certified project professionals have the technical project management skills, leadership capabilities, strategic mindset, communication, and team building skills needed to drive measurable results. So, with that in mind, is the project manager title overused? Firms certainly seem to use the term more and more often, potentially where it is not the most appropriate. And with more people claiming to be project managers, certainly, there is some overselling that takes place. Having said this, in these disruptive times where organizations are looking to control scope, grow value delivery capabilities, and achieve better results, certified project professionals have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications and skills in a meaningful way.

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Seven Ways To Network When You Work From Home
The Enterprisers Project, November 2

While there are plenty of advantages of working remotely, there is one serious drawback: a lack of face-to-face networking. After all, networking and relationship building are extremely valuable to career success. Making the right connections is key to career advancement, and connecting with co-workers in meaningful ways also adds to career satisfaction. In the IT sector, employees need to have open lines of communication and collaboration, no matter where they are located. It is a catalyst for the creativity and innovative ideas teams need to move the business forward. As a result, finding ways to network needs to be a priority when you are working remotely.

While meeting overload is a real issue for most professionals working remotely, it is worthwhile to add a standing weekly check-in to your calendar to keep relationships alive and lines of communication open between teammates. Determine a time that is convenient across your team and schedule a weekly video meeting where everyone is given a few minutes to share personal and work updates. This provides an opportunity for employees to interact with team members they may not usually work with and have valuable face time. Check in with your colleagues once a week just to touch base, even if you do not have a scheduled call or a project to discuss at that moment. If the majority of your communication is typically over email, instant message, or Slack, consider picking up the phone every once in a while.

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Why Leaving Your Job Could Be the Smartest Career Move You Will Ever Make
Entrepreneur.com, November 2

Deciding to leave your job is one of the biggest decisions that you will ever make. Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not you are passionate about what you are doing now, and whether the current workplace environment is conducive to the type of life you would like to lead. The No. 1 myth that keeps people stuck in unfulfilling jobs is that leaving a highly paid job will result in a loss of security. However, what you have to keep in mind is that security is an illusion, especially given the risk of layoffs and the whims of inflexible bosses. If you lay the proper groundwork, leaving your job could be the smartest career move you will ever make.

Most people require a pep talk before deciding to pull the plug. Still, the anxiety over leaving a successful job, even if it robs you of your personal time and relationships, or involves networking at after-work events, can persist. Just keep in mind that failure is good. Failure means you took a risk. Now use that failure to inform what you do next, and view your ability to move on as proof that you are strong enough to do this. You also need to get over the fear that nobody else will want to hire you. Be confident in your experience and achievements.

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Nine Traits of Exceptional Innovators
Blog @ CACM, October 21

Pioneer scientists, brilliant technologists and successful entrepreneurs all share several traits in common. Learning how to emulate one or more of these nine traits can help anyone become an exceptional employee. However, emulating every one of the traits will not ensure a lifetime of promotions. Instead, it is important to adapt those traits that are most applicable to your own career and then apply them in ways that maximize your own potential.

What all exceptional innovators have in common is that they are smart, and not just in their specific niche or domain. They often possess deep knowledge beyond their specialties and have interesting conversations. You approach them because of the fame they gained in one domain, and learn from them about topics far beyond it. They are also idiosyncratic and diverse. They come in all stripes, from the stuffy professor to the sandals-shorts-and-Hawaiian-shirt surfer. Their ethnic backgrounds vary. Some are men and some are women. Consideration of many personality and lifestyle features yields not pattern at all.

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Uncovering the Evidence Behind Common Learning Myths and Misconceptions
eLearn Magazine, September 2018

There are commonly held beliefs, myths, and misconceptions about many aspects of learning. A new book from Clark Quinn methodically and skillfully dissects common and not-so-common claims, evaluating them in light of established theories of knowledge and learning, and provides insightful commentary on learning-based myths and misconceptions. As Quinn points out, if learning design is a field that aspires to be truly professional, mistaken beliefs can serve to undermine the credibility of the field. He encourages the diligent and careful evaluation of any and all claims by a careful application of scientific rigor and research methodology.

The book compiles a number of specific claims that are logically presented by their appeal and their positive and negative implications. Quinn defines myths as untrue beliefs, superstitions as prevalent practices that persist despite their lack of value, and misconceptions as controversial subjective interpretations of research. For the first two, he provides a brief examination of the supporting evidence and directives to evaluate and follow-up the original claim. For example, one such claim is that it is possible to characterize people by their relative proportion of left- and right-brain capabilities. Yet, by looking at neuroimaging scans, the conclusion is that there was no definitive evidence for the aforementioned claim.

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