ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, December 18, 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 24, December 18, 2018


Rise of IoT, Robotics Created 80K New IT Jobs in 2018
Tech Republic, December 10

The IT job market boomed in 2018, marking the highest rate of job growth in three years. According to a recent report from Janco Associates, nearly 76,500 new IT jobs were created between January and November 2018, which is 20,100 more new jobs than were created in the same period of 2017. An estimated 7,000 more are expected in December, leading to a total of approximately 83,500 new IT jobs created this year.

The current economic recovery continues to create demand for IT professionals, with new positions appearing in fields such as robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), SEO, social networking and identity management. At the same time, CIOs are creating new jobs that address the increased focus on Internet-based operations, compliance, and digital automation. It now not unusual to see positions like IoT or robotics analysts added to the mix of IT professionals that are being recruited. There are now more than 300 unique job descriptions included in these new positions.

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Blockchain Developer Is the Fastest-Growing US Job
Venture Beat, December 13

Blockchain developer is the top emerging job in the U.S., according to data published in the 2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs report from LinkedIn. Blockchain has come a long way since the creation of Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency. In many ways, Bitcoin served as a proof of concept for its underlying blockchain technology, and we are now seeing all manner of use cases develop within the enterprise. But to truly flourish, as the early Internet and World Wide Web did, blockchain needs developers with the skills to build on its foundation and fulfill its potential.

Using data obtained from the LinkedIn Economic Graph, which serves as a digital representation of the global economy by analyzing the skills and job openings from across 590 million members and 30 million companies, LinkedIn found that the role of blockchain developer has grown 33-fold in the past four years. It is worth noting here that blockchain did not appear anywhere in the top 20 emerging jobs in 2017, while machine learning engineer topped the list last year and is in second place this year.

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These Four Cities Seek to Unseat San Francisco As the Top Locale For Tech Talent
San Francisco Business Times, November 26

San Francisco still ranks No. 1 when it comes to offering companies a large community of high quality technology professionals with a diverse skill set. However, tech hubs like Seattle, New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. are not too far behind. In short, the rest of the country is catching up to the Bay Area. In identifying the cities with elite tech talent, research firm Forrester recently considered the quality and diversity of skills of the workforce in each city, the total size of the IT workforce, the number of computer science graduates, and the growth of the Millennial population in each city.

The relatively high tech salaries and housing costs of the Bay Area have prompted companies to consider other regions for less cutting-edge technology work, such as processing and automation technologies. But companies that require niche expertise in emerging technologies, such as integrating social media data with artificial intelligence (AI), tend to remain in the Bay Area. The competitive advantage for the Bay Area is its ecosystem of startups, venture capitalists, established large tech companies, and colleges and universities with their pipeline of computer science graduates that are fueling innovation, the researchers said. The tech workforce of the Bay Area has grown 6.3% on a compounded annual growth rate since 2012 to 310,530 employees.

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A Quarter of Developers Are Self-Taught Coders
HR Dive, December 11

In a HackerRank survey of more than 10,000 student developers, more than half of students say they have acquired their skills at least partially by self-teaching methods. This would appear to indicate that university computer science programs have not kept pace with advancing technology, which has caused students to rely on themselves as teachers. More than a quarter of respondents said they are completely self-taught. Almost three-quarters of respondents said they rely on YouTube to learn, versus 64% of professional developers.

According to the survey, the number of students who can code in a given language generally outpaces the number of employers that need workers fluent in that language. Almost half of employers need employees who can code in JavaScript, but only 42% of respondents said they know this language. With more than half a million open computer science jobs in the U.S. and less than 50,000 computer science graduates per year, supply is not meeting demand. Students revealed they are interested most in jobs with professional growth and learning, coming in at 58% of those surveyed. Work-life balance was a second choice at 52% and having interesting problems to solve came in at 46%. Wages and perks were lower on the list than growth.

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What Does It Take to Excel As a Data Scientist These Days?
Forbes, November 26

In nearly every industry, there is a shortage of data scientists to help companies use more of their data. As a result, data science is fast becoming one of the most in-demand careers. For students majoring in data science and hoping to become a data scientist, an advanced degree is becoming a business necessity, given the increasing complexity and innovation taking place in the space. But for students beginning their college careers in undergraduate studies, the path to earning a data science degree has always included courses such as mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering and programming languages such as Python.

In order to become proficient in the current artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-driven marketplace, new classes may be needed to provide training in areas such as Hadoop, Apache Spark, data visualization and machine learning. With the volume of data required for current solutions, courses in Hadoop help budding data scientists learn how to quickly convey data to various points on a system and perform data exploration, data filtration or data sampling. Just as with Hadoop, Apache Spark is a big data computation framework that helps run complicated algorithms faster. Many universities offer courses on machine learning, specifically natural language processing (NLP), deep neural networks and computer vision. To learn how to visualize data through new tools such as PowerBI, courses in data visualization help students learn how to take data and turn it into actionable insights to solve specific business problems.

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New Study Reveals 70 Percent of Workers Are Actively Looking for a New Job
Inc.com, December 4

New thinking is emerging about the importance of support and recognition in the workplace. When companies do not create a supportive environment, it contributes to higher levels of stress and isolation, and is strongly correlated with job dissatisfaction and people quitting. According to a recent Workplace Health Survey, organizations need to address this issue or face the prospect that their employees will be looking for new career opportunities where they are fully appreciated. In fact, 70 percent of respondents who participated in the Workplace Health Survey were either actively looking for new job opportunities or were thinking about it.

In addition, a more recent survey conducted by Randstad during July 2018 found that 60 percent of workers have quit in 2018 (and about the same number are still thinking about doing it). In terms of understanding how support and recognition in the workplace can impact retention, only 21 percent of respondents felt that they were paid what they deserved. 45 percent of respondents said that they were rarely or never paid what they deserved. 77 percent of respondents believed that skilled employees were not given proper recognition. 44 percent of respondents believed that skilled employees were always or often overlooked and not given recognition. 36 percent and 34 percent of respondents felt that they could rely on supervisor and colleague support, respectively. 74 percent of respondents felt hindered by trivial activities or felt micromanaged. 65 percent of respondents reported feeling isolated in their workplace because of an unhelpful and hostile environment.

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Do These Things To Prepare For a Performance Review
Fast Company, December 13

The performance review is one of the most important tools of communication an employer has to effect change in his or her career. This annual, biannual, or even quarterly review of an employee allows employer and employee to speak directly. However, despite what you may think, an annual review is not just about employee performance. It is about the performance of the organization as well. Instead of worrying about what feedback management might have, think instead of what you have achieved over the past 12 months, and the types of resources or management support that you will need to be successful over the next 12 months.

The performance review is a rare opportunity for an employee to have dedicated time in which to communicate wins, losses, struggles, ideas, wants, needs, and hopes for his or her future at the company. The best part is that all of these things are communicated directly to your management, often face to face. The No. 1 rule of a performance review is to come prepared. Before asking for a raise in a performance review, ask yourself if it is the right time. When asking for a raise, you need to make a case for why you absolutely deserve a raise. Create a script to ask for your raise. Communicate to your manager all of your successes over the past year. Make sure your boss knows exactly what you bring to the team, the new skills you have acquired, what praise you have received over the past year, and your detailed plans for future success.

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What Hiring Managers Want Beyond IT Skills
U.S. News & World Report, November 19

Within the IT sector, working to develop expert-level skills and qualifications is just the beginning. Technical skills may be enough to get you hired, but you will also need to develop some valuable soft skills and personality traits if you hope to succeed in the future. For example, compatibility is a very important issue. When hiring, busy managers need to factor in assimilation and effectiveness in the current environment. They are looking for individuals capable of building rapport, trust and respect while managing others. Managers seek to add adaptable new hires who will be comfortable and productive as quickly as possible.

Managers are also looking to hire employees who are resourceful in finding solutions to common problems. In an expanding economy with information overload and rapidly advancing technology, employees at all levels have never felt more stressed. No matter how technically proficient you may be, you will be a burden on your manager and team if you cannot figure out things on your own. There is always some acclimation and orientation required. An employee must be resourceful to get answers and to drive productivity when there is not a set procedure or process or someone to ask. An employee must also have a keen sense of when to ask a question and when to try something out on his or her own.

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Learning To Be a Generalist Is Valuable To Your Career
ACM Ubiquity, November 2018

In a wide-ranging interview, Dr. Bushra Anjum, senior editor for Ubiquity, discusses important steps that computing professionals should be taking to advance their careers. As Anjum points out, the computing revolution is fostering a fusion of technologies that is quickly blurring the lines between real and virtual, physical and digital. As a result, the technical workforce is facing a world of accelerating change, many surprises, and a constant threat of rapid obsolescence. According to Anjum, the most critical training for young engineers is to understand and grow the mindset of a generalist. Rather than being tied to, or specialized in, a particular area, technology, language, or framework, a generalist engineer focuses on gaining a basic working knowledge of multiple domains, principles, and techniques, and goes deep when there is a professional need, or personal interest, in doing so.

In the interview, Anjum also weighs in on the changing notions of domain expertise. Until recently, domain experts were the go-to resource when one needed a deeper understanding of a problem in a specific area. These individuals devoted their entire careers to one particular domain, working in, retaining, and growing its knowledge base. Things are different in the digital tech industry, especially today. The concept of a domain is becoming increasingly fluid as technology is progressing at an accelerating speed. Furthermore, today knowledge and people are independently evolving, loosely coupled entities. A particular domain of knowledge is a living and growing entity with many sources contributing to it daily such as books, papers, opinions, forums, and experiences of people working on relevant projects. If one needs a deeper understanding of a particular area, one does not need to find a domain expert; instead, one needs to know how to engage with this thriving body of knowledge.

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Broadening Participation in Computing is Easier Than You Think
Blog @ CACM, December 11

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recently introduced new requirements for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate programs, whereby some funded projects must include a Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) Plan. To facilitate this transition, the Computing Research Association (CRA) is launching a resource portal that is being funded by NSF to connect organizations that provide BPC programs with computing departments and NSF grant proposers. These changes reflect a recognition that any significant impact on the diversity of the field will benefit greatly from engaging the entire academic computing research community. Many universities will respond by expanding their broadening participation efforts to include students from groups who are underrepresented in computing, including women, underrepresented minorities, and students with disabilities.

There are several steps that departments can make toward this broadening participation in computing goal. For example, they can organize departmental BPC efforts. They can also create a departmental strategic plan for broadening participation that faculty can support and amplify in their funded NSF CISE proposals. It is also important to make departmental infrastructure accessible, inclusive and internationalized. Also, measure and track as frequently as possible. This means analyzing your enrollment and demographics regularly to identify potential problem areas and then track changes.

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