ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 8, 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

Volume 15, Issue 19, October 8, 2019

12 Job Skills in Demand for 2020
Information Week, October 1

Within the IT employment market, there are 12 technical skills that are in much higher demand than others heading into 2020. Key technology trends are pushing employers to hire workers with very particular types of experience. For organizations seeking professionals with deep experience in emerging areas like machine learning, AI, augmented and virtual reality, and blockchain technology, the challenge is even more difficult. Those recruiting challenges are pushing employers to offer higher salaries, as well as generous benefits packages and perks like flexible scheduling. This is particularly noticeable at the top end of the pay scale, but entry-level positions are also seeing pay increases as employers find it increasingly difficult to hire the staff they need.

With cyber attacks on the rise, cybersecurity is a growing concern for organizations. Many are hoping to add to their security staff, and the chief security officer (CSO) is now the second-highest paying position in IT. Only CIOs earn more, and not even a chief technology officer earns as much. And even the lowest levels of the security team have median salaries in the six figures. In addition, artificial intelligence has been one of the hottest trends in IT, and that is driving increasing demand for AI and machine learning professionals. An experienced AI architect can earn up to $189,000. Median pay for data scientists, which also generally involves AI and machine learning, increased $3,750 over the past year, to $125,250.

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Why Millennials Should Look to Cybersecurity as a Career
Dice Insights, October 2

Millennials are transforming every industry and this is no different with the cybersecurity industry. In fact, more than 70 percent of ethical white hat hackers are under the age of 30. As with generations before, millennials think differently about business and employment. However, statistics still show that businesses are not changing their ways to attract and retain this growing segment of the workforce. The good news is that there are many parallels with what the cybersecurity industry can offer and what millennials need and want from their careers.

For millennials, a cybersecurity career can offer a mission they can believe in. With cybersecurity, you can find a mission or meaning in your work in many ways. For those who grew up technically savvy, cybersecurity allows them to take advantage of some of these inherent skills while feeding their curiosity. The chance to make an impact is also important. Every industry is touched by cybersecurity, making the opportunity to make an impact extremely far-reaching. Continuous and collaborative learning opportunities are also a big selling point. The community is one that always wants to learn and improve, and values the sharing of knowledge and teaching others. Within cybersecurity, you can connect with others and work toward the mission even from the outside of an organization, through contributing to projects or hacking on products and systems via bug bounty programs and vulnerability disclosure programs.

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Artificial Intelligence Is Driving the Next Generation of Jobs in the UK
Information Age, September 30

As artificial intelligence continues to be embraced by a range of industries, the next generation of jobs is on the horizon. In the UK alone, up to one-third of jobs will be automated or likely to change as a result of the emergence of AI, according to the latest report from global recruiter Robert Walters. As businesses become ever more reliant on AI, there is an increasing amount of demand for IT professionals trained in data capture and integration. As a result, the UK has seen an unprecedented number of roles being created with data skill sets at their core. As a result, now is the perfect time to start honing UK talent for the next generation of AI-influenced jobs.

Demand for data professionals is already high, leading to a real shortage of talent and skills. IT professionals dedicated to data management are the fastest growing area within large or global entities, with an increase in vacancies of 160% since 2015. And in general, data roles across businesses have increased by 80% since 2015, with key areas of growth including data scientists and engineers. The emergence of the data scientist as a mainstream profession is perhaps the most interesting development, with job vacancies increasing by a robust 110% year-on-year. The same trend can be seen with data engineers, averaging 86% year-on-year job growth.

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Older Workers Are Joining Coding Boot Camps to Expand Their Career Options, October 1

A growing number of older Americans are learning how to code, thanks to an assortment of coding boot camps across the country. These coding boot camps are gaining popularity with older adults who want to develop a second professional skill set and continue working. As retirees continue to live longer and leave the workforce earlier than planned, there is an increasing necessity for expanding professional expertise to include technological skills, whether it is to start a new career or earn some supplemental income in a part-time role.

There are currently more than 100 coding boot camps across the U.S and Canada, and about 23,000 coding students are expected to graduate in 2019, according to Course Report. Last year, about 10 percent of students who graduated from boot camps were over the age of 40. Because it is such a valued ability by employers, learning how to code can be a helpful option if you are someone considering a career change later in life. Right now is a good time to get your foot in the door. By 2020, there will be more open jobs in the technology sector than workers who can fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Coding boot camps cost tens of thousands of dollars less than regular graduate school programs. They also require a significantly smaller time commitment, with many running just a few months long.

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5 Ways CIOs Can Better Compete to Recruit Top Tech Talent
Information Week, October 2

As the result of a tight job market, both small tech startups and large established companies are looking for new ways of attracting and retaining the best possible candidates. In some cases, it means highlighting opportunities for career advancement within their organization or showcasing training opportunities. In other cases, it means creating a great workplace culture that appeals to young new millennial workers.

First and most importantly, companies need to ensure that open IT roles are appealing, rather than just focusing on the salary and benefits. The salary package you are offering needs to be competitive, but perhaps surprisingly, many candidates are willing to compromise salary if they feel a role elsewhere will be more meaningful and challenging. So, if yours is a large company, highlight what is interesting about the work they will be doing, particularly if it is project-based. Or, if you are a tech startup, convey to applicants that the resulting satisfaction from building an exciting new solution will make up for what your company might lack in prestige or brand recognition. Candidates are often more excited by the prospect of creating software that will have a major impact on a business than by a slightly higher salary offered for a more mundane job.

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Six Tips to Help You Nail Your Next IT Job Interview, September 30

An IT job interview is not like any other job interview simply based on the fact that you can expect a competent technology assessment from the interviewing parties. In most cases, they will test your knowledge of the chosen subject or field and make sure you possess certain tech abilities. The assessment of your IT acumen is by far the smallest part of the interview, however, and the overlap with a standard interview that you could expect from any other employer is quite broad. For that reason, it is especially important that you keep your soft skills sharp so you can draw on them when facing your next technology interview. The most beneficial thing that you can do before the interview is to prepare by understanding what the company does and how to apply your skill set to that mission.

For technology interviews, preparation goes beyond just knowing what the company does and what its products are. You need to have a strong and well-informed sense of the role that you will play and how your skills apply to that role. Do not be afraid to go through your vision for your role in the new job point-by-point with your employer. Show them how unique and valuable you are. For instance, if you have a software development job interview coming up, then do not be afraid to think of a new module you would implement. A lot of technology professionals can talk at length, especially if they are passionate, about the details of their profession or job. However, your answers to all questions should be clear and concise. Never be in a situation where you have to think of an answer on the spot. Instead, think through as many possible questions as you can beforehand.

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Fine Tuning Your Hacking Skills to Land a Top Job in Cybersecurity
IT Pro Portal, October 2

Ethical hacking is one of the fastest growing areas in the cybersecurity space. The demand for labor is high, compensation rates are rising, and the barriers to entry are relatively low. While hacking can be a difficult skill to learn and harness, the opportunity to begin learning and developing is available to anyone with basic computer skills and a high degree of curiosity, creativity and intuition. Unlike many other high paying jobs, becoming an ethical hacker does not require a university degree or decades of experience working in cybersecurity. Many hackers are completely self-taught, with research showing as little as 6 percent of current ethical hackers have learned their hacking skills in a classroom.

The cybersecurity industry is a rapidly evolving and growing space, and as a result, there is a constant focus on self-improvement. The Internet provides a rich range of resources for those in a more developed stage of their career that are looking to refine their craft, build upon their current knowledge, diversify their skill set or specialize in a particular area of the industry. According to a recent study, 81 percent of white hat hackers point to online resources and blogs as their primary source for foundational learning. So, if you are contemplating a career in hacking or cybersecurity more generally, or simply want to learn a bit more about the profession and the opportunities it provides, check out resources that provide new and experienced hackers with knowledge and education around hacking. This can help them become successful and teach them all the skills required in becoming successful in the pursuit of their new career.

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How to Find Meaning at Work, October 2

Finding meaning in the workplace can be difficult, especially if you are working long hours on complex projects for difficult bosses or equally difficult clients. In the best of all worlds, leadership would help everyone understand how their work contributes to the overall purpose of the organization. If they are not doing this, you will need to look for it yourself. This might happen, for example, by understanding how your individual role has value in the big picture of what your team or organization is attempting to accomplish. Take time to understand the organization as a whole and how you fit into it.

Finding meaning at work usually starts by learning how to manage your tasks and time in a way that makes sense for you. You probably have hundreds of tasks, some big and some small, on a weekly basis. Some of those tasks are boring and make you dread your work while other tasks bring job satisfaction. What if you changed the amount of time and energy you put into each task? In short, focus more on tasks that bring more meaning to your work. Research has shown that understanding what motivates you is a necessary first step. By focusing on tasks that align with your personal motivation, you will find rich purpose in your work.

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AI Is Not an Excuse
Communications of the ACM, October 2019

Former ACM President Vinton G. Cerf weighs in on the ways that AI is changing our notions of what it means to be a computer science professional. As Cerf points out, we should be cautious about putting too much expectation on artificial intelligence and machine learning. While these systems have produced truly remarkable results, these systems are also quite brittle and can break in ways that are not always predictable. Thus, rather than assuming that AI systems will eventually solve all the problems of the world, CS professionals should also learn to anticipate the fragile possibilities of these AI systems. While exploring the uses of machine learning and artificial intelligence is important, says Cerf, we should not use their potential to ignore crafting high-quality, reliable software that is resistant to abuse.

After surveying some of the considerable success stories with AI and ML systems, Cerf warns that is not advisable to ignore difficult computing problems on the assumption they will be solved one day by AI or ML systems. Computer scientists have huge challenges ahead with ordinary software that we cannot reasonably assume will be solved by AI. And there are many aspects of computer science, such as designing systems to be updated reliably with new software, which do not require AI or ML expertise.

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Why AI Research Is Changing
Computing Community Consortium Blog, October 2

Modern AI research, which demands enormous computational resources, large data sets, and significant human expertise, is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone outside the largest tech companies in Silicon Valley. Companies like Google and Facebook are now at the forefront of AI research, and fast becoming the most prominent recruiters of up-and-coming AI talent. University labs, which have traditionally been a wellspring of innovations that eventually power new products and services, are losing some of their cachet. As a result, some AI researchers now see a dangerous divide opening up between the haves and have-nots of the AI industry.

The emerging gap in AI research capabilities could become a major barrier in the path to the technological future. Breaking down that barrier will require new models for resources, collaboration, and funding, including the kinds of significant U.S. investments that have produced phenomenal outcomes, like the Apollo program, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Human Genome Project. Tech companies have an important role to play here, in the form of support for academic research, including access to data and computing. This would not only align with corporate self-interest, but also be in the best interests of the field of AI and its many powerful applications, which are increasingly embedded through every part of society and the economy.

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