ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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Volume 15, Issue 5, March 12, 2019

IT Talent Shortages: What Businesses Are Doing to Cope
Information Week, March 7

For organizations that are having trouble recruiting IT professionals with in-demand skills, the good news is that some additional options have become available as a result of the cloud and gig economy. Many companies are forgoing their external talent searches and instead seeking to cope in other ways. The reality is that many new skills required are completely unique and cannot be easily or quickly developed in-house. Instead of training existing employees to fill in any skills gaps, or looking to hire outside consultants, organizations are exploring new alternatives, such as purchasing technology platforms delivered as a cloud service.

Big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are in high demand for enterprise IT, and both require skills that are difficult to obtain overnight. Moreover, all the top-tier talent is going to the largest companies that can afford to pay top dollar. Ultimately, most businesses are going to be hard pressed to find this type of talent that is willing to work on lower profile projects with lower pay. In these situations, IT leaders are looking at a couple of options to gain the advanced technology the business demands without using internal IT staff to get them there. The first option is to bring on hired guns that move from company to company designing and deploying new technologies, then training in-house staff to maintain what they have built. These types of consultants have the skills, yet they prefer to architect and build, not support. They also can make far more money performing gig work, as opposed to becoming a full-time employee.

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Radical Change Is Coming to Data Science Jobs
Forbes, March 1

The job of data scientist as we know it today will be barely recognizable in five to ten years. Instead, end users in every economic sector will work with data science software the way non-technical people work with Excel today. In short, a basic understanding of data science will become a required skill for many jobs. Already, some data science work is being automated, and some observers warn that data scientists might be automating themselves out of a job. With that in mind, the article takes a closer look at how the role of the data scientist is already starting to evolve.

Most coding today is done in high-level, easy-to-learn languages like Python, and relatively few programmers need to know how to speak directly to the hardware. Data science is quickly following the same progression. Over the next three to five years, higher-level tools will increasingly alleviate the need for expertise in foundational technologies like high-performance computing, preparing raw data for analysis, the internals of machine learning systems or low-level statistical methodologies. All this will be handled under the hood. Today, dozens of companies are introducing new data analytics tools, with many of them aimed at reducing tedious data preparation work and allowing data scientists to quickly get to the analytical work. Also emerging are data science frameworks that automate algorithm selection and parameter tuning. These frameworks and tools are combined with platforms for data management to create large building blocks for the data consumer of the future.

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Jobs of the Future: Top Five Emerging Careers
New Straits Times, February 13

Given the rapid pace of digital transformation in the enterprise, tech workers need to keep a careful eye on how technology will change many career trajectories. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) will likely replace many present jobs, and that will put a premium on any career paths where it is impossible to replace human workers with automated workers. According to career experts, anything related to data analytics, information technology and robotics are good fields to venture into. Jobs requiring a high sense of creativity and decisiveness will be much sought after, as will any jobs that require soft skills such as teamwork.

Data scientists have always been in demand but until recently, only large enterprises and digital first-movers were willing to make the significant investment. Corporations know that if they are slow to act, they will become dinosaurs in this digital age and lose their competitive advantage. Management and executives are now actively utilizing data to make business decisions and are actively recruiting data scientists and data analysts in various industries. Data scientists are at the top of the data science career ladder since they possess both theoretical knowledge and technical skills. Whether it is the field of AI, machine learning, deep learning or analytics, the possibilities are growing. A career in data science is considered an extremely broad field, as data scientists are relevant across industries, fitting in both vertically and horizontally. Exceptional understanding of all aspects of data, programming and business is highly valued by employers.

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Best Practices For Hiring Software Developers
DevPro Journal, February 25

When hiring software developers, there are several best practices that companies can use to find the best talent and convince them to join their team. For example, being able to hire engineers regardless of their location can be essential to success and fast growth. Rather than requiring relocation or limiting your search to cities like New York or San Francisco, you can focus specifically on the skills and experience a candidate has and how that might add to your team. There are a number of talent insight tools that can help inform and narrow your search, gathering supply and demand data from around the world for specific types of talent so that you can search for candidates in locations where the demand is low but the supply is high.

Interviewing for a new role can often be daunting, even for the most experienced software developer. Therefore, be upfront and transparent with potential candidates so that they know what to expect from you, your company, and the role itself. For example, you can publish a detailed overview of the hiring process for all roles, and then outline what tech interviews look like for software developer candidates. It also helps to define carefully the requirements and skills needed for each role and job level, helping candidates determine whether the role and the company is the right fit for them. This makes it possible to make faster decisions about each application, saving time for candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers. Even when it comes to compensation, it is best to be open about what your company can offer, and why. A compensation calculator can give job seekers the visibility into what they can expect for each role based on things like job level, location, and experience.

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There Are Plenty of Strong Career Paths For Non-STEM Graduates
The Globe and Mail, March 9

If you do not have a STEM background, but are looking to get started with a technology career, you still have a number of viable career paths. First of all, though, you must determine your strengths, aptitudes and interests and understand how tech companies can leverage them to attain their business goals. Secondly, you need to identify the sectors or industries that offer the best opportunities for personal and professional growth. Third, you need to identify roles or functions that fit with your strengths and interests. In additional to making use of online assessment tools, you can also talk to people in different roles and industries to get a better understanding of where you can make a future difference.

In a 2018 study on the future of jobs, the World Economic Forum (WEF) identified the top ten skill demands in 2022. These skills include analytical thinking and innovation; active learning and learning strategies; creativity, originality, and initiative; technology design and programming; critical thinking and analysis; complex problem solving; leadership and social influence; emotional intelligence; reasoning, problem solving and ideation; and systems analysis and evaluation. Importantly, only two of those skills are directly related to STEM, and they are fairly far down the list. The reality is that implementations of artificial intelligence, robotics, and blockchain projects all will have functions that do not require technical skills. These functions might include finance, human resources, sales, marketing and operations.

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3 Reasons Why the Tech Talent Shortage Is Overblown
Tech Republic, February 28

The tech talent shortage is not as bad as many media reports make it out to be, according to a recent Indeed report. While the tech labor market faces its own set of challenges, the industry may be making the problem out to be more severe than it is in reality. Using job seeker resumes and job postings on Indeed between 2014 and 2018, the report analyzed how fast types of tech jobs change, how many job seekers tech employers see, and how well tech job seekers match the qualifications set by employers. The report identified three key ways the tech talent shortage has been blown out of proportion.

Compared to the overall labor market, the tech job market is not changing very rapidly. While job postings in all sectors on Indeed were 25% different in 2018 than in 2014, tech job postings only changed by 18%, the report found. Tech talent is not as rare as it appears. The tech industry does have fewer jobs seekers than job opportunities compared to the overall economy. However, tech employers had a relatively easier time finding workers in 2018 than in 2014, the report found, indicating the shortage may be shrinking.

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A Career Secret Weapon: Thank You Notes
Reuters, February 19

During the hiring process, the simple act of writing a simple thank you note can really differentiate you from the crowd. Only 24 percent of job applicants bother to send thank you notes these days, but 80 percent of human resources managers surveyed felt those messages were useful in evaluating potential hires. A handcrafted personal touch actively sets you apart from others. The business case for them is that they only take five minutes of your time, and can open doors for you that otherwise would have remained closed. Even if the payoff is not direct, you are at the very least strengthening a relationship.

Writing a thank you note enables you to boost your career and build your network at the same time. To maximize the effect of each thank you note, write them at unexpected times. Thank you cards are rote and expected at certain life moments, so if you pen them at more unique occasions, you can multiply their impact. Moreover, you should make them as personalized as you can. If you go to the trouble of writing a note, but then make the message something general that could have been written to anyone, you are defeating the purpose of the exercise.

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Want to Lead Extraordinary Employees?, February 25

The latest research shows that praising employees motivates them to work harder and smarter. In the workplace, praise offered at the right time and the right place inspires workers to become better leaders and better teammates. However, you need to praise your employees the right way. According to research on the nature of achievement and success, it is important to foster a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset in employees. What this means in practical terms is helping employees understand that intelligence, ability, and skill can be developed through effort. In short, employees need to know that they can be what they strive to be.

Building a growth mindset in the workplace is key. You can still praise achievement and still offer constructive feedback after failures. But you must also praise effort and application. The optimal strategy is to praise results based on effort (such as by working weekends and nights), not on innate talent or skill. And by praising effort, you create an environment where employees feel anything is possible. Success is a matter of effort and application, not innate talent. The same principle applies to how you encourage your employees. To consistently improve employee performance, build an environment with a growth mindset. Your team member skills will improve. And so will their willingness to take risks.

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Silence Is Golden, Especially When You Need to Say Something Important
Ubiquity, February 2019

If you are looking to be viewed as a subject matter expert in the workplace, think about ways that you can use brief moments of silence to reinforce what you are saying. As professional speakers know, silence is a natural and necessary part of any good presentation. Unnecessary noises that you might make in order to avoid moments of silence actually hinder thinking rather than helping it. No matter how interesting, pertinent, and well organized your presentation, listeners occasionally need a brief break in order to better absorb and assimilate what you have been saying. Silence provides these crucial respites. Using silence instead of noise while you are thinking confers another important benefit. It gives the impression that you are careful, conscientious and fully in control of your subject matter.

If you accept the notion that silence benefits your presentation rather than damaging it, you are now ready to apply this knowledge. The next time you give a presentation, consciously concentrate on avoiding any detrimental noises by putting silences in their place. At first this may feel strange. However, once you experience how silences help your thinking and impress your audience, the strangeness will quickly disappear. Using helpful silences rather than destructive noises will rapidly become natural and automatic. The speed at which this changeover takes place can sometimes be startling, virtually from one day to the next.

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Engaging Learners in Online Environments Utilizing Universal Design for Learning Principles
eLearn Magazine, February 2019

Student learning outcomes depend on the depth and quality of engagement in learning. Engagement is a complex construct that consists of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional components. As a result, instructors should attend to each one of these components to effectively engage their learners. Sustained student engagement functions as a facilitator of student learning, leads to meaningful outcomes, prevents students from dropping out, and prevents boredom and lack of respect for authority. The problem is that some online learning environments may present inherent barriers to student engagement. In order to keep engagement rates high, then, intentional and meaningful design is necessary when creating the online learning environment.

The quality of student engagement correlates directly with the quality of student learning. If engagement rates are higher, more learning can take place. While convenience, accessibility, and flexibility attract many students to online learning, the learning environment can be alienating if not thoughtfully designed. The learners drawn to online learning bring an increasing diversity of abilities and represent vast differences economically, geographically, racially, linguistically, religiously and culturally. As a result, traditional online instruction that is, for example, text-based, driven by information provision, and assessed through regurgitation will not offer the flexibility to meet the variety of learning needs. In this light, the role of the instructor and the design of the learning environment are the primary determining factors in student engagement. The behavioral, cognitive, and emotional components of engagement are elusive in the absence of deeper relationships with the instructor, other students, and the material itself. Online learning environments deprived of these relationships can leave students feeling isolated and unsuccessful.

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