ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, August 6, 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 15, August 6, 2019
Within the technology industry, artificial intelligence will have a transformative impact on the IT workplace and the types of roles that are available in the future. If you are an IT professional, you should be prepared as traditional IT careers will likely not exist in the future. Some activities will get automated, some augmented, and others eliminated. This will mean that some jobs will be lost, some created, and others transformed. To prepare for the AI era, IT workers will need to understand how to redesign their careers.
Think of your IT job as a collection of connected activities. To start with, list the primary activities that you perform as part of your job. Critically evaluate each activity for its possibility of getting automated. Activities such as IT infrastructure scaling, maintenance, monitoring, controls, service desk, and aspects of database administration are already being intelligently automated using algorithms. Embracing change is certainly the way to keep evolving and moving forward. Whether you like it or not, AI is going to be a big part of the workplace in the future. The first step towards embracing AI would be to learn about its capabilities. Try to get an understanding of what machine learning can do for you, whether it is pattern recognition, computer vision, or natural language processing. You need not understand the inner workings of the technology, but certainly need to be aware of the applications of the technology.
Technical interviews are time-consuming and stressful, and they can make or break your chances for landing a job. The stress level of the technical interview is even higher for self-taught developers and those interviewing for the first time. But with the right preparation and practice, your next technical interview can be easy to pass, no matter your background. Non-traditional candidates are really intimidated by technical screenings and coding interviews, because they have been made to feel they are not qualified without a CS degree. More important than having a degree, though, is being able to ace the technical interview to prove you can excel in the role.
A technical interview is a chance for hiring managers to evaluate how you approach and solve real-world problems, and to benchmark the depth and breadth of your skill set and general knowledge using coding challenges, word problems, peer discussions, puzzles and brain teasers. Measuring your overall proficiency has little to do with your educational background. Instead, it is all about determining if you can get the job done. Bringing in someone who might not be a good fit is a costly, inefficient waste of time, so providing an objective platform to measure skills can help calibrate talent. Technical interviews can be a serious investment of time and money for companies, but they can help weed out unqualified candidates and highlight important skills and knowledge of others.
Given the digital skills gap that looms over nearly every industry, organizations in a range of different sectors are now looking for ways to change and update their recruitment strategy. The traditional approach is, for the most part, ingrained in outdated methods and approaches based on legacy technology. From a competitive perspective, companies willing to adapt can attract the best workers and retain the best talent. In doing so, though, they will need to avoid the most common IT talent recruitment mistakes.
In a candidate-scarce market, the power is with the professionals you are trying to attract. Beware of resumes that are massaged and embellished. In the desperate scramble to attract what scarce talent is available, it is easy to fall for that dream candidate who interviews perfectly and has a long list of skills and experience that you want. Make sure you test their technical capabilities in advance. It sounds like a basic requirement of any hiring process, but the pressure of tech recruiting causes businesses to skim over this step too frequently. There are many online tools out there to help with this during the hiring process. Having to get rid of a bad hire, or up-skilling one to the standard you require because you did not do due diligence, is an embarrassing and expensive process.
How Startups Can Compete For Top Tech Talent
Tech World, July 26
It is the dream of every startup to attract the best tech talent when scaling their business, yet it is not always an easy process for smaller enterprises. As challenging as everything from hiring to standing out from big competitors can be, attracting the right candidates for your organization is far from impossible. In some ways startups have the edge in attracting talent. For example, compared to large corporations, they could have more appealing company culture, job perks, and hands-on training.
For companies, it is important to make sure that their recruitment process is fast and easy, without a lot of confusing stages or long time periods without any form of communication. This also means choosing the right candidates for the business, not just those that share your vision but people that can add to the company culture and add a range of new skills and ideas. As a startup, productivity and diversity are critical, so ensure that candidates can add this to your organization and really widen your talent pool.
How to Get a Job as a Site Reliability Engineer
Information Week, July 31
Site reliability engineer is a relatively new position that combines software engineering with IT systems management. In fact, the role is so new that many companies have been employing site reliability engineers for three years or less. While a systems administrator might be responsible for deploying, monitoring and managing dozens or hundreds of servers, site reliability engineers keep watch over thousands or tens of thousands of systems. It is their job to maintain the reliability customers expect while helping their organizations continue to scale. With that in mind, the article takes a closer look at what qualifications and skills are needed to land a job as a site reliability engineer.
Most companies are looking for someone with an undergraduate degree in computer science or an equivalent level of expertise. They would love to have someone with previous site reliability engineer experience, but since the field is relatively new, it can be hard to find those people, particularly for junior-level positions. If you are currently working as a developer, software engineer, systems administrator, or DevOps engineer, you could probably land a site reliability engineer job if you first do some work to fill in any gaps on your current skills list.
One Factor Should Be The Driving Force in Every Career Decision You Make
Inc.com, July 29
When it comes to career decisions, IT workers are constantly faced with trade-offs between their time and money. For example, landing a higher-paying job might also mean working longer hours or accepting a much longer commute on a daily basis. Happiness research suggests that we are better off prioritizing our time, if we have the expendable income to spare. As a result, let how you spend your time drive your happiness and influence your career decisions.
A new study from Harvard Business School reinforces the notion that workers should carefully balance time and money when making career decisions. In a study involving over one thousand students, the researchers found that those who valued time were happier and more satisfied with their lives and careers after a period of two years. Before making a big career decision, ask yourself if one path is really more attractive than the other, or if you are just excited about a higher salary. While a better paycheck could mean a better quality of life, the job might be really stressful, require a lot of travel, have a long commute, or just be something you are not all that interested in doing for 40 hours a week.
Tips for Securing a Job or Advancing a Career in Rapidly Growing Fields
BOSS Magazine, July 30
While data science and machine learning experts are high in demand, landing the right job with the right employer still requires a thorough understanding of the current trends in the data science and machine learning field. For example, it is important to specialize in one specific industry rather than becoming a generalist. By doing some serious research on the industry in which you would like to work, you can hone your skills to make your CV stand apart from the crowd.
One important career strategy for rapidly growing fields is to look for new on-the-job training that can complement your previous academic background. A lot of data scientist roles require having mathematics or statistics as a primary educational background. However, it is not mandatory to specialize in these subjects. You can adopt some specific skill sets to fulfill the requirements of specific industries and you do so easily by attending a professional development course or online program. It is best to take a career-focused approach and go for certification on big data and machine learning to give a strong boost to your resume.
How to Write an Executive Resume: 3 Mistakes to Avoid
Tech Republic, August 2
Resumes remain one of the most important elements employers consider when looking to fill a new position, and are one of the best ways to quickly communicate your personal value and brand. To impress employers and compete in the current job market, you need a branded and modern resume that captures attention and communicates with clarity how you add value. It is impossible to do that without knowing and articulating your personal brand, value proposition, core benefits, and job target. In addition, you will need to avoid a number of common resume mistakes that even senior or executive-level candidates often make.
There are three common resume mistakes that those applying to executive positions need to avoid. The idea that you must fit your resume onto a single page is a common misperception, especially for mid-career professionals and executives with lots of experience. After all, there is almost no way you can cram 10 to 15 years of valuable contributions onto one page. Using a resume template is another common mistake. Executives should want their resumes to be unique, showing the value that they as an individual can offer. Using a resume template from a website will not set you apart in a group of potentially hundreds of others applying for the same job. Resume templates damage your opportunity to distinguish yourself because your resume ends up looking like thousands of other resumes that employers have seen.
The Evolution of Management: Transitioning Up the Ladder
ACM Queue, July 22
Throughout a typical IT career, employees will need to make a number of different transitions, such as moving from individual contributor to manager, or from manager to CEO in charge of hundreds of people. With each step up, the job changes, but not all of the changes are obvious. You have to shift your mindset, and focus on building new skills that are often very different from the skills that made you successful in your previous role. There are lots of great resources for first-time managers, and many books designed for CEOs or top-level executives, but there are fewer resources specifically for the people in the middle. As a result, there is a real need for practical advice for managing mid-career transitions.
Every time you move up as a leader you go through a set of changes. One of the biggest transitions occurs when you first move from an individual contributor role into a management position. Your impact becomes hard to measure. As an individual contributor, you are hands-on and doing things yourself. You have a direct line between your daily tasks and the results. You write code for a feature for your next product, and you can see the feature right before your eyes once you are finished. Every time your team reaches a milestone, you know exactly what you contributed to that success. When you move into management, you step away from that direct line. It is no longer your job to do the work yourself. Instead, your role is to mentor, motivate, and guide your team to do the work, while you maintain the connection to the big-picture vision or strategy and make it easier for your team to get things done. This can be one of the hardest parts of the job for new managers to get used to. They just want to jump in and solve problems themselves, but this actually tends to do more harm than good. Those who try to do the work themselves can end up micromanaging or becoming a bottleneck on the project.
Lessons From a First-Year Seminar in Computer Science
Blog @ CACM, July 27
There are many challenges in planning a first-year course in computer science, especially when students come from widely disparate backgrounds. Student interest in computing can vary widely, and the student experience with computing can range from none to expertise, where the expertise ranges from narrow to haphazard. The challenging is resolving all of these disparities into a harmonious program of study. To introduce first-year students to the college environment, a course will need to include a research paper, group projects, and oral presentations. Students will need to learn to distinguish peer-reviewed results from public relations, and scholarship from argumentation and opinion. In addition, they need to be able to explain AI, Internet, and general hardware and software concerns to their peers, their families, and the public.
In every CS class, no matter how introductory or advanced, students should come away with a knowledge of the basics of computer science. This often involves looking at number systems, character codes, encryption, compression, and similar topics. It is usually best for beginners to see plain source code in a text file, for the standard view of how computers are programmed. To engage students whose strengths lie in areas other than programming, it can also be helpful to review contemporary Internet issues, heavily supplemented by recent journalism articles. In fact, a list of current issues can serve as the inspiration for a group project.
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