ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, June 18, 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 12, June 18, 2019
The Java programming language may date back to the 1990s, but new Java programmers are still landing some of the best-paid entry-level jobs in the U.S. According to Glassdoor Economic Research, Java Developer is the eighth highest-paid, entry-level role in America, with a median base salary of $72,000. The figures are based on wages reported by workers aged 25 and younger on the Glassdoor jobs site during 2018. It is not the first time Java has been singled out as a well-rewarded programming language. Earlier this year, Glassdoor said Java developers were enjoying some of the fastest-growing salaries in the U.S., with median pay increasing at almost twice the rate as for U.S. workers as a whole.
The positive long-term hiring prospects for Java developers are broadly the same in the UK, where Hays Recruitment found they were among the tech workers with the largest percentage increases in pay in 2018. Strong demand and high job satisfaction also helped Java developer be crowned as the 22nd best job in America in a Glassdoor report earlier in 2019. Java has a broad range of uses, serving as the language of choice for server-side business software for more than a decade and as one of the primary languages for developing Android apps. As for the nature of the roles that fall under the title Java Developer, a search on Glassdoor reveals a mix of jobs writing server-side code for web sites and enterprise services.
Software engineers straight out of college often make six-figure salaries, not counting equity compensation. Depending on seniority, some coders make millions of dollars per year. But where on that spectrum any given engineer lands often depends on a single number, known as the level. At Google, for example, entry-level engineers start at Level 3. Apple has five levels for engineers, from ICT2 up to ICT6. The Microsoft system starts at 59 for a software development engineer and goes up to 80 for a technical fellow. The higher your level is, the higher your compensation. Where things get interesting in terms of salary is when a software engineer moves to a new organization with a completely different level system.
In this new age when churn rates are very high, people are hopping around much more than they used to be. Thus, it is useful to know about levels if you are going to a new tech company. You will want to know where you are coming in and what your level is, in a way that is easy to visualize. With that in mind, the crowdsourced data on levels.fyi shows that software engineers get paid extremely well at companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Levels.fyi estimates that a Level 3 at Google, or an entry-level engineer who likely just graduated from college, should make $189,000 in total compensation, or about $124,000 in salary and $43,000 in stock compensation. At Facebook, an entry-level software engineer 3 should make $166,000 per year total, according to the levels.fyi estimate. Compensation goes up as level goes up and can even accelerate in an exponential fashion. It differs across the tech sector, but a large number of companies have converged on almost the same system where there will be about six levels.
In an increasingly digital world, data can completely change the way organizations do business and, as such, is deeply valuable to C-level executives. This has inspired a lot of change in the field, particularly in terms of the types of duties someone working in data analytics has and how they are perceived within the broader scheme of the company. For example, roles in data analytics used to be lower-level positions, and now they are perceived as strategically important to the entire organization. Data analytics is no longer thought of as an esoteric and highly technical pocket of a large company.
The traditional analytics professional was very focused on the tech part of the job, such as building the models and applying science to data. Now, people are seeing that a career in analytics is much wider. It might start in that technical domain but you have an opportunity to grow via new leadership opportunities. As such, data analytics professionals now need to have a totally different set of skills. On top of the requisite up-skilling to keep up with the breathless pace of technological advancement, your career in data analytics may very well now involve collaboration, team building and giving presentations to senior management.
What Is Driving the Extreme Turnover Rate in the Tech Sector?
Information Week, June 14
While a lot of attention gets dedicated to the talent shortage problem in the IT industry, another important issue gets considerably less attention: high turnover rates. As a result, even those companies who are winning the battle to get skilled IT professionals through the door are not necessarily winning the war for tech talent. Today, tech has the highest employee turnover of any business sector, with a churn rate of 13.2%. Even if companies do manage to attract and onboard a great candidate, chances are they will not stick around for long. Turnover is an issue found in every tech business, no matter the size. Even at the most prestigious companies in Silicon Valley, the typical tenure can be less than 24 months.
With a typical IT role paying almost double the cross-industry average in the U.S., you might be surprised that salaries are a key sore point for many tech professionals. Wages in tech are unquestionably strong, with many businesses hiking up salaries to put themselves at the front of the line for talent. But the issue is that too many companies think that once they hire a great candidate, their work is done. Like employees in any other industry, tech workers want to know they have potential to grow in their role. They want to see a clear career path. They want to know that their employer values their contributions and has plans for them in the long term. If the only way for a professional to get a pay rise is to change jobs, you can be sure they are not going to hang around. Lack of scope for career development and flat salaries are two of the biggest reasons for employee turnover in tech.
Top 5 Things to Keep Employees Happy
Tech Republic, June 11
There is more to keeping employees happy and motivated than just providing high compensation and workplace perks. Employers also need to provide some happiness for the soul as well, in the form of a mission statement that really resonates with employees, or an overall corporate culture that encourages employees to work together as a team. In addition, organizations need to think about providing the right work-life balance for their employees. A truly happy employee is more productive, and being surrounded by happy employees makes you more productive as well.
As studies on retaining tech workers show, people want to believe their work is meaningful, and that they are helping the company move towards something they believe in. In a study by Toluna Group on behalf of Udemy, 62% of employees said they would take a pay cut to work for a company that has a mission they believe in. Company culture is another key factor to keep in mind. This factor is a nebulous one to be sure, but it is fairly easy to tell when it is wrong. As a result, try to foster bonding among your team, and keep things positive.
How to Be Yourself While Job Hunting
The Enterprisers Project, June 6
Job candidates are often told to be themselves when talking with recruiters or interviewing for a position at a company. This classic advice sounds easy and is intended to put job seekers at ease. But there is a little more nuance at play here. For instance, how much personality do hiring managers want to see? Which topics should be considered off limits? Is there an optimal mix of professional background to personal information that showcases that you are not only the most qualified candidate, but also the best cultural match? With that in mind, career coaches and recruiters shared the unspoken rules on how to leave a lasting impression while letting your personality shine professionally.
Standards for how personal to get during an interview can vary by region, industry, team culture, and the specific role you are applying for. For example, a software engineering job at a technology company is going to have a different standard than a client-facing sales position in financial services. It also matters how closely teams will be working together. This could be a corporate enterprise where employees work independently in cubicles, or a startup agency where employees are working shoulder-to-shoulder in a small space. Also, if you already know the team you are interviewing with, an overly formal approach would strike an odd note. Generally speaking, when it comes to sharing information, it is best to err on the side of professional until you know more about the company and the people who work there. If you are lucky enough to be working with a recruiter who knows the organization pretty well, you can get upfront information about the culture and how to put your best foot forward.
How To Give Out Your Business Card
Fast Company, June 14
In the digital era, business cards may no longer have the same impact they once did. However, they still can play an important role in any job search. Just keep in mind that there are new protocols to follow, and if you slip up, you may come across as out of touch. For example, it used to be that business cards were important to show your rank and title. As organizations have flattened and titles are no longer the key to respect, showing your card can be perceived as a bit pretentious.
When carrying business cards, you may be tempted to give one to someone you have just met. While your intentions may be honorable, that rush to give out your card can send a message that you are insecure or overly anxious to connect. If you are at a conference or networking event and someone you have just met pulls out a business card the moment you two begin speaking, it will feel like you are being sold by someone who is desperate to sell. In the same vein, it is not going to win you any points if you pull out your card too soon when you are actually trying to sell someone a product or service. If you do that, it will appear that you are closing on a customer too soon.
10 Traits of the Very Best Managers
Inc.com, June 5
In an attempt to come up with a better workplace, Google has been studying the common behaviors and traits of their very best managers. It came up with a list of eight attributes, verified quantitatively and qualitatively in multiple ways. It then rolled out those findings in 2010 to its organization to apply and use. Since then, further analysis has added two more attributes to the list. All told, these 10 characteristics make for the best managers. By combining several of these traits into your managerial approach, you can boost your likelihood of climbing the career ladder at your organization.
According to the Google study, the best managers care about their employees and are a good coach for them. If you care, then you will invest time and energy to help your employees become better. As a manager, you will need to empower teams and that means you should not micromanage because absolutely no one likes to be micromanaged. Research shows that empowered employees have higher job satisfaction and organizational commitment, which reduces turnover and increases performance and motivation. Also, supervisors who empower are more influential and inspiring for their subordinates. Everyone wins when you create an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and the well being of employees. People derive tremendous joy from being part of a winning team. The best managers facilitate esprit de corps and interdependence.
A Design Perspective on Computational Thinking
Blog @ CACM, June 9
Computational thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating problems and their solutions so that the solutions are represented in a form that can be effectively carried out by an information-processing agent such as a computer. This is a definition that most people can agree with, and has been a foundation for discussing computational thinking over the past decade. The problem is when you use it to define curriculum. For example, what does it mean to represent a problem in a form that can be effectively solved by a computer? What do we teach to give students that ability?
In attempting to develop new frameworks for computational thinking, computer science practitioners have various options. For example, they can make computers easier to use. Human-computer interface designers and programming language designers are all about making it easier to represent problems in a computable form. A good user interface hides the complexity of computation. Another option is designing domain-specific programming languages. The empirical research is pretty strong. Domain-specific programming languages lead to greater accuracy and efficiency than use of general-purpose languages on the same tasks. The goal is to make programming languages that are easy to learn and use.
The Paradigm Shift Toward Openness in Higher Education
eLearn Magazine, May 2019
Profound changes in the theoretical and conceptual models that are commonly accepted in the field are a fact of life in higher education. Perhaps the biggest paradigm shift in education in the twenty-first century has been the move from brick and mortar spaces toward online learning. Since then, educators have experienced many sub-shifts in learning and teaching in higher education, including a broader shift to more openness in education. Higher education is increasingly becoming open. That means it is becoming very affordable (and sometimes free), easily accessible, and publicly available. Moreover, it is also opening up on a global level.
One important implication of the shift to openness in higher education is the expanding opportunity set for academic scholarship and how it is defined. Scholarship in open online networks can include teaching, learning and research activities that may not fit the practices of traditional academic communities and traditional academic roles. As professionals (or non-professionals) participate in online networks and share their experiences and knowledge on platforms like blogs, personal websites, and social networking sites, and via non-traditional tools like videos or podcasts, scholarship becomes a lot more diverse and multimodal. It also becomes a lot more transparent. With openness, learners have greater opportunities and choices for learning too. Other examples of openness are the increasing popularity of the open textbooks initiative in the U.S., and open online courses such as MOOCs and open courseware. These initiatives enable those outside of academic settings to have access to specialized disciplinary knowledge in non-conventional ways.
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