ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 22, 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 [email protected]
Volume 15, Issue 20, October 22, 2019
Software developers remain the most in-demand tech job in Silicon Valley, according to a study of recent job postings from Burning Glass. The study ranked the top ten tech jobs in Silicon Valley right now, focusing on metrics such as the number of job postings, which is the single best indicator of employer demand. With nearly 49,000 listings this year alone, software developers outpace the nearest competitors by a wide margin. Web developer is second on the list with 9,602 job openings.
App developers (both native and web) continue to rank at the top of the available positions in Silicon Valley. To underscore that point, the combined number of job postings for those two positions in 2019 (58,437) outpaces the rest of the top ten combined. A closer view highlights just how critical software developers are to tech. There were 48,835 software developer jobs posted in Silicon Valley for all of 2019, and 51,937 for the rest of the tech jobs on this list combined. The split between software developers and everyone else in tech (at least as job openings are concerned) is nearly equal, at 50 percent each.
Employer demand continues to grow for data analysts and similar types of candidates who can analyze and interpret large amounts of data. Over the past three months, employer demand has grown more than 58% for data analysts, according to the Q3 2019 Fast 50 Report from Freelancer.com, which chronicles the fastest growing and declining jobs in the global marketplace, and analyzes posts from its more than 38 million users around the world. Employers are also boosting their demand for candidates with artificial intelligence (AI) skills, as well as candidates who can work as virtual assistants.
The top IT jobs for Q3 2019 are for those skilled in data analytics, as businesses grapple with making sense of increasing volumes of data. The data analytic market is forecast to grow to $275 billion by 2023. Currently available jobs on Freelancer include those with a number of duties and responsibilities, from developing trading strategies to understanding business trends. According to recruiters, the demand for data analytics indicates more savvy businesses are seeking highly specialized talent to help determine business decisions that increase revenue, improve operations, respond to emerging market trends and gain a competitive edge. Other roles, such as those related to data processing, help to underscore that trend. Far from just crunching data for the sake of crunching data, these IT workers are streamlining processes, creating efficiencies and delivering cost savings.
Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing career categories, making it a great option for IT professionals looking for a mid-career change. To help fill the gap of cybersecurity professionals, employers increasingly are looking for seasoned professionals from a variety of backgrounds and at different levels of their career that possess the kind of skills and expertise that could allow for a smooth transition into the cybersecurity field. Unlike new graduates, seasoned professionals arrive with the value of real-world experience from a variety of business disciplines. While there is no single, ideal career path leading to cybersecurity, there are certain backgrounds and skill sets that lend themselves well to the profession.
How to Answer Top DevOps Interview Questions
The Enterprisers Project, October 9
With DevOps playing an increasingly important role in businesses today, employers are paying much more attention to the interview process so that they hire the best candidates. The stakes are high for companies hiring new DevOps engineers. They must find candidates who not only possess the technical skills and experience using tools that can take their DevOps practice to the next level, but who can also help shape the DevOps culture, values, and mindset they are trying to create in their organization. Interviewees face the task of standing out among a wide pool of candidates eager to land a high-paying DevOps job.
As with all interviews, preparation for a DevOps interview is key. If you are a job seeker, there are a handful of qualities you should plan to highlight, regardless of the questions asked. For example, if interviewers ask you about your relationships with current team members and managers, be sure to highlight your ability to work well with others as well as your growth mindset. In addition, DevOps professionals should be excellent problem solvers, and any questions asking about systems you helped to develop from the ground up should help to showcase those skills. Finding out about the ability of someone to logically think through a project and identify prerequisites shows the discipline a good DevOps engineer needs to be successful. When candidates answer these types of questions, recruiters often look for depth and breadth of experience along with solid troubleshooting skills. Showing the mental capabilities to identify, learn, engineer, and grow a technological ecosystem is a fundamental trait.
Cloud Architects Who Earn $150,000 Are Likely Underpaid
InfoWorld, October 15
According to some estimates, cloud architects earn between $140,000 and $150,000 per year, and some outstanding cloud architects can make as much as $250,000 with proper experience and a proven track record of success. While this level of IT salary compensation is high by just about any standard, it may actually undervalue the importance of the work that these cloud architects do. In most cases, having the cream of the crop on staff could save large enterprises $10 million to $100 million dollars per year in cloud and IT investments. Good cloud architects are scarce because they wear so many hats. They need to be well versed in security and governance, expert in public and private cloud solutions, as well as very knowledgeable about traditional IT.
Increasingly, cloud architects are finding that they can maximize their annual compensation by choosing to specialize. That is why we see more architects out there who hold major public cloud certifications that typically focus on a single public cloud. They might be good at walking a business problem through an AWS, Google, or Microsoft approach, but the likelihood that the solution is optimal and best of breed is low. As a result, the very top cloud architects have a solid grasp of all the best practices and best solutions, and are able to make informed decisions about what to implement, and how. They can help to find the optimal target solutions that cost less and are able to solve a specific business problem.
Settling the Soft Skills and Technical Skills Debate
Information Week, October 16
Within the tech industry, employers have different opinions about hiring candidates who may have the soft skills but fall short on some of the technical skills required to do the job. With IT unemployment at its lowest on record, companies are desperate for tech talent, and may be willing to hire someone without all the technical skills on their checklist. Deciding whether or not to hire a candidate when they do not check every box can depend on the type of talent they are hiring. Hiring is very different for permanent and contract positions. There is an entirely different timeline with very different goals for each, and that requires using a different interview process to identify and secure the best candidates.
While the best-case scenario is to hire a candidate with both technical and soft skills, for permanent positions companies can absolutely hire for soft skills, even when all the technical expertise is not there. However, a full-time employee who lacks some technical prowess must possess certain soft skills to get the green light. These candidates must be able to listen, take direction, problem solve, and embrace constructive feedback. For example, if a candidate can listen well, they are likely able to pick up instruction and learn from managers and teammates easily. Also, they must also be able to take direction. Comprehending what is being taught and applying it are two very different things. Does the candidate understand what you want them to accomplish on the job, and are they able to take steps to make it happen? In addition, on-the-job thinking and processing are must-have soft skills. Being able to diagnose and then solve a problem is absolutely vital.
Experience Is Useless for Predicting the Performance of a New Hire
Inc.com, October 15
Simply checking for past experience on a resume will tell you next to nothing about how a candidate will perform at your company, according to a new Harvard Business School study. This is counter-intuitive, of course, because the first thing that people do when deciding to apply for a job is to determine whether they have the required experience. Most of us know that for our resume to even get a look we must demonstrate we have done similar work before. Yet, the researchers found that job seekers without relevant experience were just as likely to be successful than those with years behind them in similar roles.
After analyzing the available evidence, the researchers discovered a very weak relationship between pre-hire experience and performance, both in training and on the job. They also found zero correlation between work experience with earlier employers and retention. What little difference they did see between performance levels of experienced and inexperienced new hires was largely in the first three months. Unsurprisingly, people who had done the job before got up to speed more quickly, but they were not any better at it over the long haul. This can be explained by the fact that there is a big gap between doing a job previously and doing it well previously. Many measures of experience are pretty basic: the number of jobs you have held, tenure at your previous employers, years of total work, whether or not you have previously worked in a similar role. Those metrics tell us whether a candidate possesses experience but not about the quality or significance of that experience.
When Is the Right Time to Quit Your Job?
Fast Company, October 16
Of all the decisions that you will have to make over the course of your career, one of the biggest is deciding when is the right time to leave a job. Like many career decisions, the answer is rarely straightforward. Yet, some signs are more obvious than others. For starters, a toxic workplace is almost always never worth staying in. When a role or company no longer offers you the opportunities to grow, it might be time to look elsewhere. And when your job starts to impact other areas of your life in a negative way, you should, at minimum, assess the possibility of change. It is not an easy decision to make, and what makes sense for one person may not necessarily be the right course of action for another.
As with anything, the key with any major career decision lies in self-awareness, introspection and honesty. Start by asking yourself why you feel the need to quit. You accepted your job for a reason, so it is worth examining why you feel the need to move on. We tend to quit something when something makes us unhappy and uncomfortable, but to ensure that quitting will really make you happier, you need to look closely at your reasons. If it is pride and ego, think twice. But if you find that you want to quit because your motivations no longer align with your job, then that is a valid reason to leave.
If We Want Women to Persist in Computing, Teach Them Programming
Blog @ CACM, October 6
Recent research studies give us new insights into how to encourage women to remain in computing. These reports stress the importance of giving women technical skills, especially programming skills, at an early age. In one report, for example, programming during high school and taking the CS Advanced Placement exam were two of the best predictors of persistence in both CS and other technology-related majors. Participation in tech-related work, internships, or after-school programs was negatively associated with persistence, and involvement with computing-related fields such as game design and application development were not associated with persistence. The big takeaway here is that women persisted in CS and technology if they developed early programming skills.
Within the computing field, the rush is on to close the gender gap. Empirical results suggest that companies with more diverse teams are more creative and innovative. Thus, companies are making a real effort to encourage women to join the field. While many women report a declining interest in STEM and computing in middle school, women can find an interest in computing at any age, including higher education and workforce development. There is a benefit to starting early, because there is more time to develop important skills. However, many successful women enter computing later than middle or high school. Thus, an enormous challenge is the stereotype that computing is not for women. Many programs are designed expecting that males are the default gender of participants. Women of color face the largest barriers and are especially underrepresented with respect to population. Thus, it is important to offer diverse entryways into computing.
The CS Teacher Shortage
Communications of the ACM, October 2019
Colleges are not producing large numbers of CS majors, and many of those who graduate with a CS degree are opting to go into industry rather than academia, which can pay twice as much as what professors earn. This is causing a perfect storm: a shortage of computer science teachers is making it harder for many students majoring in the discipline to get into the classes they need to graduate. Finding enough qualified computer science teachers is also an issue in secondary education. Only 36 teachers graduated from universities with computer science degrees in 2017, compared with 11,157 math teachers and 11,905 science teachers, according to the nonprofit Code.org. As a result, at the K-12 level there is a dramatic shortage of computer science teachers.
According to a report in 2018 on the state of computer science education policy in the U.S., only 35 percent of public high schools in 24 states offer computer science courses. However, 33 U.S. states now offer teacher certification in computer science, up from 27 in 2018. Overall, states are moving in the right direction and adopting policies to increase participation in computer science in the K-12 space. The increase is also trickling up, making computer science a far more popular college major. The average number of undergraduate computer science majors per department at U.S. doctoral institutions grew from 818 in 2016 to 900 in 2017, according to the Computing Research Association (CRA). This has led to some mixed results. There is a lot of demand for students with those skills, and in that sense, increases are a good thing. However, the average number of CS majors per department has increased 368 percent from 2006 to 2017, and that puts a lot of strain on departments in terms of teaching resources and classroom space as they seek to serve students well. At some universities, demand for the CS major is rising so fast that the faculty is unable to keep pace.
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