ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, May 21, 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 10, May 21, 2019
In order to land a job in cloud computing, many IT professionals will need to transition into roles that have never existed before. The ability to land a job in cloud computing when you do not have experience in the field depends on how far along you are in your journey. For those who are brand new to the industry, it is an effort that will take some time. However, if you are an existing IT industry professional, you are in a prime position to ramp up and take advantage of the opportunity since you are already in the game. Regardless of your industry knowledge, there are a few things you can do to pick up cloud skills and practical experience that employers desperately need.
Building open source projects is one common way to transition into cloud computing. There is no better way to gain practical experience than actually building something from scratch. Building something using the tools and services offered by one of the major cloud providers and sharing it with the world can help you attract attention. Your digital assets can be shared and made open source through a service like GitHub. This practice exercise will get you involved in the field, and it might also help someone else in the community who is just one or two steps behind you. Too many people are waiting for experience when they can start anytime they want. All you need is an idea for a project, and a willingness to learn as much as you can.
Working in different fields and industries can enrich your career in many different ways, especially when it comes to expanding your network and opening up new leadership opportunities. However, it is important to keep in mind that each career change should be strategic in nature. Whether you are changing job descriptions or shifting to an entirely new industry, you need to make sure that the knowledge and skills you gain will help you reach your ultimate professional goals. Always have a vision for your career down the line, and only take jobs that align with that vision.
When thinking about a career change, do not be afraid to move to a new geographic location for a job. You will gain countless unique experiences, in addition to friends and colleagues from all over the world. However, do not get into the trap of job hopping simply to get a change of scenery. Never join an organization without staying for at least a few years. When seizing a new opportunity, focus intently on the company and industry. Push yourself to achieve your goals and be the best you can be. Moreover, nurture relationships wherever you go. Just remember that it takes time for lasting relationships to develop. You cannot shortcut a relationship, because you have to invest and earn the trust.
Employee happiness should be a business imperative, yet many organizations fail to take the right steps to maintain employee satisfaction at a high level. Research shows that happy employees are better at customer service, and are far less likely to get burned out or leave their jobs than their less happy peers, making happiness a key component to a thriving, engaged company culture. Companies tend to think they understand what makes a happy employee, such as a competitive salary, lots of social events, and plenty of free perks. However, after surveying 4,000 workers across the U.S., UK, France, and Germany, a recent report found that employees are looking for more of a work-life balance, and companies should shift their focus accordingly.
One commonly-held myth about employee happiness is that people do not leave their job, they leave their managers. While effective leadership is necessary to boost employee morale and motivation, managers are usually far from the only factor contributing to a decision by an employee to stay or leave. When asked to rank the top factors impacting workplace happiness, the happiest employees ranked management and leadership below both flexible hours and company culture. And even the least happy employees ranked it below compensation and doing meaningful work. Overall, compensation, flexible hours, and doing meaningful work were the top contributing factors to employee happiness.
Should You Apply For the Role?
Silicon Republic, May 17
The job hunt is complicated enough without scores of fraudulent postings floating around the Internet. Job scams are, unfortunately, all too common in the tech world, as many bad actors will post listings or contact candidates under the guise of representing some of the most recognizable brands and companies in the tech sector. The consequences of falling prey to these types of schemes can range from merely wasting your valuable job-hunting time to having your money or identity stolen. Even setting the scam element aside, there are certain job postings that are not worth your time applying for, for various reasons. The specifications could be out of date and for a position that has already been filled. There could even be early indications that the role could be a bad fit for your current needs. Fortunately, there are some indicators that a trained eye can quickly spot.
One clue that you perhaps should not apply for a role is if a job was posted more than a few months ago. In many cases, the position has already been filled and the company has merely forgotten to take the ad down. Large firms will advertise across numerous different platforms so it stands to reason that occasionally, one ad may slip through the cracks. Jobs that require you to do free work upfront should be avoided, as should postings without official company email addresses provided. Asking for sensitive information, such as your payment details, is also a major red flag.
How to Recognize a Good (or Bad) Coding Bootcamp
Dice Insights, May 14
There are several key questions to ask in order to determine if a particular coding bootcamp is the right choice for your future career path. Coding bootcamps can be a very polarizing topic, especially because they are for-profit entities with very specific goals about how many people they need to sign up in order to be profitable. Many of them have recruiters who are paid commissions based on how many people sign up, regardless of whether or not those people actually complete the program or land a job later. Thus, before you sign up, inquire how you can get a refund if you decide that the bootcamp is not for you, and find out as much as you can about job placement rates.
During your bootcamp evaluation process, you will need to find out how many graduate the program and find jobs in tech. Entities such as CIRR (Council on Integrity in Results Reporting) aim to keep bootcamps honest about graduation and job placement rates. However, the reality is that coding bootcamps and schools self-report their data. Individual bootcamp transparency is comforting, but does not mean much without an independent review of the results. There are some metrics you should pay close attention to with the job placement data of any school. First, how many graduates are actually working in the field they studied for? Sometimes coding bootcamps will report a graduate of a coding program works at a major tech company, while failing to mention they might be in a department having nothing to do with their field of study.
Should Companies Use AI to Assess Job Candidates?
Harvard Business Review, May 17
Using AI-powered algorithms to determine whether or not a candidate should be considered for a job is fast becoming a reality for companies that struggle with talent identification. Many organizations complain that they are unable to find the right person for key positions, and many people end up in jobs that are far from inspiring. Consider that even in the U.S., where talent management practices are far more science-driven and sophisticated than anywhere else, the labor market is quite inefficient. Hiring managers still over-emphasize hard skills at the expense of more important and critical soft skills, or use intuitive and biased hiring methods, such as the unstructured job interview, to determine who gets the job. All the while, predictive assessments and data-driven tools are largely under-utilized, and the prevalence of prejudice, bias, and discrimination are everywhere.
AI has the potential to significantly improve the way organizations identify talent as it can reduce the cost of making accurate predictions about employee potential, while at the same time removing the bias and heuristics that so often cloud human judgment. The idea that AI algorithms can detect and measure seemingly intangible human qualities may lead some to be skeptical, but it is worth noting that there are plenty of scientific studies that demonstrate that humans can accurately identify personality and intellect from just thin slices of verbal and non-verbal behavior. AI algorithms simply leverage the same cues that humans do. The difference between humans and AI is that the latter can scale, and can be automated. Moreover, AI does not have an ego that needs to be managed. Currently, many organizations that use digital interviews do not leverage these types of powerful AI analytics, as their recruiters are often unwilling to accept the recommendations of the algorithm, and continue to rely on their own judgment.
Five Creative Ways to Improve Your Resume
The Enterprisers Project, May 14
Hiring managers have only a limited amount of time to spend perusing CVs when filling a role. As a result, your resume is going to get no more than about 30 seconds of review time on the initial pass, so you need to make this time count. Ensure that hiring managers or recruiters read the information on your resume that matters most for the role in question. That means IT leaders should not only carefully consider the information they include in their resume but also how they deliver that information. Smart use of options like color, typeface, shading, or graphics can catch the attention of a resume reader and get them to engage longer with the document. In short, there are some simple but effective design tips to help your resume stand out in the stack.
Injecting some color into a resume can help it stand out. One measured way to add some color to a resume is with borders or shading. IT leaders and people hiring IT leaders do not like things to be really different, but using subtle borders and shading functions for color that can help move the eye through the document more easily is recommended. A subtle use of color can make a resume pop alongside others. IT leaders might even consider using a colored font in moderation. Evidence suggests that although executives do not always like resumes with color, they actually spend about twice as long reviewing resumes that use color professionally. The key here is to be strategic and consistent about when and where the colored font is used. Finding a new font can also help, because your CV can get lost in a sea of Times New Roman. Make your resume visually distinctive by avoiding overused fonts and trying alternatives like Tahoma and Verdana.
You Do Not Have to Win the Tech Talent War
CIO Insight, April 30
At a time when talent shortages are at a 12-year high, it can be incredibly difficult for IT leaders to find the talent they need. In fact, a majority (65%) of IT leaders report that a lack of skilled IT professionals is holding back their business strategies, according to the 2018 KPMG survey of CIOs. Moreover, the introduction of new technologies and acceleration in tech capability and adoption has created a need for specifically skilled workers at a time when those workers are in short supply. With employer demand for tech talent routinely outstripping supply, CIOs are becoming smarter at how they manage their resources. A new type of on-demand IT outsourcing is increasingly being used as a skills enhancer in addition to a cost saver.
In considering on-demand solutions for IT needs, organizations should be thinking about a new type of IT service, one born out of the same economic necessity and technological capacity as consumer on-demand services such as Uber and Airbnb. These on-demand services were a response to the economic uncertainty, labor market capacity, and technological innovation that all occurred around the time of the recession. And just like transportation, food delivery, and vacation rentals, IT is ripe for an on-demand solution. Traditional outsourcing has its place, to be sure. Managed services has been called a smarter way to invest IT dollars, and for some that is absolutely true. But for many organizations, a managed services contract is too rigid, and too expensive. In contrast, this new breed of on-demand IT is a solution that, for a far lower cost than managed services, delivers just what the CIO needs.
Top Ten Things Executives Should Know About Software
ACM Queue, April 14
Many companies that do not think of themselves as software companies are finding that software is a key component of their operations. If executives and management at those companies do not understand how software is made, they will be ineffective compared with those who do. This will either limit their careers or negatively affect the performance of their company. As a result, executives should understand what is reasonable to expect software to do, how it is made, how software projects are managed, and how a web-based service is run. Overall, there are ten things that all executives and managers need to know about software.
Executives should keep in mind that software is never complete. It is an iterative process with many revisions and updates shipping over its lifetime. Your job is to create an environment that recognizes this. It would be nice if software could be finished in one release, but that is not reality. The best software inspires new ideas and new features. Seeing that the new sales management system is more efficient inspires even more efficiencies. If you do not plan on future releases that will incorporate the best ideas of your employees, you have built a system that just solves current problems, but not the problems of tomorrow. The world changes, your competitors offer new features, people have new ideas. There are always bugs to be fixed, maybe in your code, or in the underlying software frameworks and systems that it is built upon. Your software may be perfect, but over time people will find security holes in the platform it is built on.
Mindful Online Teaching and Learning
eLearn Magazine, March 2019
While mindfulness is gaining attention as a broader trend in society, it is only recently that it has gained attention as an important component of online education. As online education continues to grow in both scope and complexity, the work of the online instructor continues to evolve. The demands and expectations can add to stress and anxiety levels, reducing effectiveness and satisfaction overall. Therefore, it can be helpful to use mindfulness techniques in order to build or establish a more ideal learning environment. Simply taking time out of your busy schedule to focus on purposeful action or engage in different mindfulness exercises can help you maintain your focus and productivity throughout an academic term and make you more effective.
Online education can be overwhelming and demanding, both for the instructor and student. There is a huge shift in the demands of online teachers and learners when moving from face-to-face to online courses. It is not just about dropping existing class content into an online course. This is especially true where online presence is concerned. You need to consider what that experience is going to be, and the engagement required of you and your students for effectiveness, without everyone getting burned out in the process. Many instructors take on a heavy emotional burden associated with the expectation that everything needs to be perfect for their students, as part of a responsibility for creating the ideal learning environment and experience for success. Thus, the idea of being present, being engaged and knowing what you want to get out of an experience is important.
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