ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, February 5, 2019
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 15, Issue 3, February 5, 2019
Artificial intelligence (AI) skills dominated the list of the fastest-growing jobs in 2018 and this is a trend that is expected to grow in the future. Experts predict that AI and related fields such as machine learning will create 133 million new jobs by 2022, since companies are racing to adopt the technology that promises to revolutionize the way work gets done. As companies continue implementing AI, they are in need of new hires to operate, deploy, monitor, and manage the services. To help IT job candidates narrow their focus, KPMG recently identified five AI-related roles that will be most in demand by companies 2019, including AI architect and AI product manager.
The AI architect position focuses on individual business operations to determine where AI can be most successfully executed within an organization. The person in this role is responsible for measuring AI performance and maintaining AI sustainability. Working alongside the AI architect, the AI product manager coordinates between business teams to make sure solutions are integrated correctly. They also determine what organizational changes need to be made for optimal performance between employees and AI. Data scientists have consistently appeared on top AI jobs lists, and these professionals typically earn an impressive salary. These employees are experts in analyzing data and gaining meaningful insights from the information for the business.
Many industries are facing a shortage of cybersecurity professionals to respond to all the threats facing them from external hackers and other bad actors. The technology industry has never seen anything quite like it. Seasoned cyber pros typically earn $95,000 a year, often markedly more, and yet job openings can linger almost indefinitely. The ever-leaner cybersecurity workforce makes many companies desperate for help. Between September 2017 and August 2018, U.S. employers posted nearly 314,000 jobs for cybersecurity professionals. If they could all be filled, that would boost the current cyber workforce of 714,000 by more than 40 percent, according to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.
Overall, there is a global gap of nearly 3 million cybersecurity positions. Companies are trying to cope in part by relying more aggressively on artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions, but this approach is still at a relatively early stage and can never do more than mitigate the problem. Big companies have their hands full, and it is even worse for smaller enterprises. They are attacked more, sometimes as a conduit to their larger business partners, but primarily because their defenses are weaker. Preferably, companies and government entities want to hire people with an undergraduate degree in programming, computer science or computer engineering. They also are looking for an academic background that includes courses in statistics and mathematics.
Lured by the prospect of high-salary, high-status jobs as part of the current tech startup boom, college students are rushing in record numbers to study computer science. Yet, on campuses across the country, from major state universities to small private colleges, the surge in student demand for computer science courses is far outstripping the supply of professors, as the tech industry snaps up talent. While this is good news for startups looking to hire new CS talent, it also raises serious questions about just how sustainable the current tech boom really is, as well as what happens when the external factors that led to the boom begin to weaken.
The number of undergraduates majoring in CS more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, to over 106,000, while tenure-track faculty ranks rose about 17 percent, according to the Computing Research Association. This is what is leading to the mismatch in supply and demand. Economics and the promise of upward mobility are driving the student stampede. While previous generations of entrepreneurial undergraduates might have aspired to become lawyers or doctors, many students now are leery of investing the time, and incurring six-figure debts, to join those professions. The tech frenzy can be seen in the monthly count of global VC deals that raised $100 million or more since 2007.
Tips For Preventing Great Hires From Getting Away
Inc.com, February 1
In the current tight labor market for IT professionals, if you do not take care of qualified job applicants, your competitors will. With unemployment at historic lows, losing qualified candidates to other companies can be a particularly costly setback. One way to set your company apart from the competition is to rethink how you treat job candidates. In other words, the hiring experience is absolutely vital for the company to get the best engagement with the top candidates. With that in mind, the article provides some tips on how any organization can revamp the candidate experience.
One way to increase interest in open positions is to write job descriptions that resemble sales pitches. Focus on including factors like whether or not a new hire will be able to grow within the company or travel for work. Putting the benefits of that specific role upfront is more valuable than listing the criteria. Whatever you do, avoid simply copying boilerplate job descriptions from the web. Your company is unique and so is the job you are filling, so write the posting to reflect that and the specific type of candidate who will thrive in the role. Also, make it a point to keep in touch with candidates. Do not let long periods of time pass without any communication between you and the applicant. As part of this approach, institute a policy for communicating with candidates.
How To Describe Weaknesses in a Job Interview
U.S. News & World Report, February 1
Being able to describe your weaknesses during an interview in a credible way can help to set you apart from the competition and increase the comfort that a hiring manager has with your candidacy. Essentially, a hiring manager enters a job interview with three main questions: Can the candidate do the work? Will the candidate do the work? And will the candidate fit into the organizational culture? Thus, it is helpful to frame any response about weaknesses against the backdrop of those questions, regardless of the format or sequence of the interview. Those who come well prepared for inquiries about personal weaknesses will have responses that reinforce their suitability for the position.
According to hiring managers, candidates should never claim that they do not have any weaknesses, because dodging the question will be interpreted as shallow, evasive and unrealistic. They should also avoid spinning an unequivocal strength (such as working too hard) as a weakness. When considering a thoughtful and helpful response, keep in mind that an acceptable weakness is one that it is coachable and correctable. Most importantly, the weakness must be believable and credible. A weakness that does not seem to fit the personal brand of the candidate is not effective.
56 Percent of Employees Lack Digital Skills Needed For Future Jobs
Tech Republic, February 1
More than half of employees worldwide said they do not have adequate digital skills needed for future jobs, according to a recent Vodafone report. Even in countries that are considered digital leaders, such as the United States, employees do not feel prepared to handle future digitization, the report noted. The report surveyed 9,000 employees across nine countries to determine attitudes about the future of digitization. Overall, most countries felt like they lagged behind in learning future digital skills.
The majority of respondents (85 percent) said digital skills are necessary for their jobs, but only 29 percent of employees felt their skills are currently strong enough, according to the report. Specifically in the U.S., only 32 percent of respondents said their companies give them the opportunities or tools to continue gaining digital skills. This study really shines a light on the reality that employees do not feel prepared for future jobs. The good news is that individuals largely do not lack ambition for digital skills, what they are lacking is the support of their employer. Digital has become the new language employees are required to speak fluently, yet many businesses expect that without providing adequate learning opportunities or support to nurture new skills.
Tips to Get Good IT Job References
The Enterprisers Project, January 30
IT job references come into play when potential employers start reaching out to your former managers and co-workers in order to find out more about you as a worker and leader. No matter how well you communicate, how well you position yourself, and how well you sell your capabilities during the hiring process, nothing is as relevant as the perceptions of others you have worked with in the past. In short, IT job references still matter. According to recruiters, references are a valuable source of intelligence about the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate. While it is impossible to change the opinions and experiences of those you have worked with in the past, IT leaders seeking new roles need to prepare wisely.
First and foremost, be sure to pick your best spokespeople as references. It may seem obvious, but putting forth the right references is key. If someone has made job moves every four or five years, it should be relatively easy to find people they have worked with one job ago or someone at their current company that is left to offer up as a reference. Also, provide some variety in references. Recruiters like to see a collection of people you have worked for, worked with as peers, and managed as direct reports. If you do not offer up a 360-degree view of yourself via the references you offer, the hiring company or recruiter may find some on their own.
How to Reframe Your Thinking About the Worst Parts of Your Job
Fast Company, January 31
In order to boost your job satisfaction, it is important to reframe your thinking about aspects of your current workplace that you do not enjoy. It might be an annoying task that has to be done frequently or it might be something more significant, like dealing with difficult clients. There is a temptation to magnify the discomfort of these tasks, but when you think negatively about something, it highlights the negative over the positive in general. Extensive research on job satisfaction makes clear that the people who love their jobs are the ones who see how their work serves a bigger purpose. That means you need to develop strategies to think differently about the negative aspects of your job.
As a way of making your current job more enjoyable, try to turn unfavorable tasks into a social event. Gather other colleagues and make it a communal experience. Also, keep reminding yourself of the importance of the job you do. That way, even when particular tasks are a drag, you are aware of the broader impact of your organization. Do not procrastinate the tasks you hate. You want to minimize the amount of time you have to dread something you do not like, so take care of it quickly. And while you are doing that task, pay attention to how you are actually feeling. Often, the task itself is not as bad as you fear it will be. By recognizing that it is not as bad as you remembered it, you might make it easier for you to do that task in the future.
Do We Really Need Computational Thinking?
Communications of the ACM, February 2019
For many CS practitioners and academics, it is conventional wisdom that it is important to be able to think like a computer scientist and then apply this competence to every field of human endeavor. So, in an era when learning to code is more popular than ever, do we also need a specific term, such as computational thinking (CT), to describe this way of thinking? There is not yet a commonly agreed definition of CT, or even a common goal for CT. In the end, we probably need the expression as a shorthand reference to a well-structured concept, but it might be dangerous to insist too much on it and to try to precisely characterize it. It should serve just as a brief explanation of why computer science is a unique and independent scientific subject worthy of being included in a curriculum.
Educators agree that it is important to each computer science in schools to all students. However, people are increasingly considering CT a new subject that is somehow different or distinct from computer science. For example, people are stressing one or another aspect (abstraction, recursive thinking, problem solving) of CT, and in doing so, they obscure its meaning. This situation becomes even more confusing when it comes to education. Speaking about teaching CT is a very risky attitude, because it raises all sorts of questions from pedagogues, teachers, and parents about what is actually being taught and how it is different from computer science.
Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Online Classroom
eLearn Magazine, November 2018
The growing diversity of the U.S. population continues to impact formal education in many ways. One key area has been the increased awareness of the need to adapt learning environments to enhance the achievement of students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. Culturally responsive teaching is designed to increase motivation by replacing mainstream teaching practices with a culturally responsive teaching (CRT) framework that places cultural identities of students at the core of the learning process. Other factors included as part of this framework include prior experiences and performance styles of diverse students. There are many dimensions of diversity present in most classrooms, so CRT means that educators should engage the full range of student identities in the classroom.
A primary assumption of CRT is that learners from minority backgrounds experience mismatches between their own cultural identities and the collective cultures of the school, the instructor, and the course. These mismatches can inhibit the learning process. Referred to as barriers in universal design of learning, there is a widespread understanding for the need to erase these mismatches or barriers in order to create optimal learning environments for all learners. Culturally responsive teaching positions the cultural identities of the learner at the core of the learning process and uses different cultural knowledge, experiences, and frames of reference in order to help the learner become successful in the course and at the school.
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