ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 5, 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 21, November 5, 2019
While there are plenty of six-figure tech jobs in places like San Francisco and San Jose, there are also many high-paying jobs outside Silicon Valley in smaller, lesser-known tech hubs. The personal finance site GoBankingRates.com has calculated the percentage of STEM jobs and average STEM salaries over $80,000 a year in different metropolitan hubs in order to find the 20 best U.S. cities for landing a high-paying tech job outside of Northern California. The list of surprising top contenders includes Lexington Park, Maryland; Huntsville, Alabama; and Boulder, Colorado.
Lexington Park, Maryland, where the average STEM salary is $109,093, is far and away the city with the highest percentage of well-paying STEM jobs. In fact, 22.9 percent of the jobs in the city are high-paying STEM jobs. One big reason for these jobs is the presence of a major military base and a large number of defense contractors, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, located nearby. Huntsville, Alabama, with an average STEM salary of $105,533, is No. 2 on the list. Huntsville is home to employers including Raytheon, Boeing, AT&T and IBM. Boulder, Colorado, with an average STEM salary of $111,033, is No. 3 on the list. Boulder offers the second highest average STEM salary outside Silicon Valley. Only Washington D.C. has a higher average STEM salary. Just over 13 percent of the jobs in Boulder are tech jobs. Google, IBM, Medtronic, and Qualcomm are just a few of the tech employers there.
Artificial intelligence is likely to change how every job is performed, eliminating work related to repetitive tasks but increasing the need for creative thinkers, according to a new study. These findings are contained in a report released by the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab on the future of work. The study found signs that AI is beginning to slowly redefine the nature of tasks performed in certain jobs as automation gains ground. The empirical research from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab sheds new light on how tasks are reorganizing between people and machines as a result of AI and new technologies, as well the impact of these changes on society.
With the rise of AI and automation, there has been growing debate and anxiety about how these trends will disrupt current job markets. While some have argued AI and automation will be job killers, others have said the emerging technology will be a net creator of new jobs. The IBM-MIT study offers a bit of nuance to that discussion. The researchers used machine learning to analyze 170 million U.S. job postings between 2010 and 2017. They found that out of 18,500 possible tasks employees might be asked to do on average, the number had fallen by 3.7 over seven years. These disappearing tasks are moving to AI or machine learning systems that have demonstrated the efficiencies of automation. The tasks most commonly being handed over to these systems include mundane, repetitive chores like scheduling and validating credentials.
The World Bank and LinkedIn have created a searchable database of employment changes and talent movement worldwide, revealing a number of trends having far-reaching effects on the top tech talent in the United States. According to researchers, three of the four industries gaining the most international talent in the United States involve technology. Internet services, information technology and computer software jobs have drawn thousands from countries across the world. India, Venezuela, China, and the Philippines top the list of countries with the most citizens making their way to the United States for technology jobs.
According to the World Bank and LinkedIn data, American companies were looking for international candidates with skills in artificial intelligence, development tools, natural language processing, web development and software testing. The survey was limited by the fact that it only had data for countries with at least 100,000 LinkedIn members by the end of 2017, but it still showed trends in how talent or skill needs ebbed and flowed throughout more than 100 countries. Some jobs require specific skills or talent that only certain individuals can offer. With the explosion of technology and global commerce, there is greater demand for careers that may not have been around 10 years ago. According to the report, between 2016 and 2018, the United States gained the most workers in the Internet and information technology sectors. The average growth for these two industries, it said, was around 100 employees per 10,000 people.
The Soft Skills Every IT Team Needs
The Enterprisers Project, October 31
Skills like communication, collaboration, adaptability, and problem solving are now so essential to success in IT that some CIOs have started to call them core skills. And despite the demand for IT talent with technical skills, people who lack core skills will struggle to land their dream job. A study from business and technology consulting firm West Monroe found that more than three-quarters (78 percent) of HR leaders say they have become more focused on finding technology employees with strong soft skills. Sixty-seven percent say they have withheld a job offer due to a lack of soft skills. IT leaders say that a gap in soft skills on a team can lead to trouble, ranging from daily team friction to missed deadlines to poor results. As a result, businesses should actively look for technologists with interpersonal, writing, and teamwork abilities to thrive in an integrated business setting.
According to IT leaders, communication and collaboration both stand out as must-haves for any new team members. The ability to think creatively and solve problems by working with others is also really important. This implies that the ability to relay and understand complex ideas is a must-have for all IT hires. The ability to influence is needed for senior roles, such as web architects and senior developers. One common theme is that both verbal and nonverbal communication skills matter. There are two parts of verbal communication: listening and speaking. An IT professional needs to be able to actively listen to the needs of others in order to formulate the proper solution to a problem. They also need to be able to convey details of a problem and solution to both technical and non-technical audiences. Doing so will make them more approachable and help them build rapport with others. Strong written communication skills are equally important. A gap in communication skills on your team is a big deal because a team that fails to communicate will ultimately fail.
5 Job Hunting Tips for Computer Science Grads
Dice Insights, October 22
Although the unemployment rate in the tech industry remains low, recent computer science graduates still face challenges during their transition into the real world. Employers can be leery of a perceived lack of practical experience and business skills on the part of people looking for their first real job. That does not mean you should be discouraged. Instead, it just means you should be ready to approach your search with careful planning, effort and focus. Having a job search strategy in place is key, say recruiters, so that you do not just flood the market with job applications.
When coming up with a job hunting strategy, develop a profile of your ideal employer and then focus your job search on companies that meet it. For example, using a common spreadsheet, you can rank and compare key characteristics, such as size, culture and number of attainable job openings. For example, if you would like a mentor and an opportunity to learn, it might be best to target firms with 20 or more engineers. Customizing your approach is also important. For every company and job prospect on your list, create a customized cover letter that outlines why you would like to work for them. This might include personal connections to their employees, experience with their product or service or interest in their technologies.
Are You Ready To Be a CTO?
InfoWorld, October 30
If you know that you want to be CTO someday, and you know you have the intellect and the drive to get there, there is still a risk that your resume will not reflect all of the crucial building blocks to make you a top CTO candidate. According to IT recruiters, there are specific skills and experience required to be an attractive candidate for that next big CTO position. For example, you must prove you have leadership and mentorship skills. You will also need to show prospective employers and executive teams that you have the skills and the network necessary to build a world-class team. Think ahead to your dream job and seek out mentors who will help you turn that dream into a reality.
If you aspire to become the CTO at a large, multinational company, seek out jobs that will enable you to show that you have worked under mentors with a large-company pedigree and learned how to tackle complex, large-scale, global challenges. You need to show that you learned the relevant skills somewhere along the way. With this focus on building out your resume, do not try to over-title too early. Take time to build out each block you will need. It is often better to be mentored, as the number two or number three at a big company, rather than taking a high title at a small company that no one has heard of. As the big fish in a small pond, you will miss the opportunity to learn and gain valuable experience and expertise from the best of the best.
Companies Struggle to Find Skilled Cybersecurity Workers
CNBC, November 1
Despite a global spike in cyber attacks, cybersecurity firms are having trouble attracting and keeping skilled workers to help protect corporate networks. Today some 2.8 million professionals work in cybersecurity around the globe, but an additional 4 million trained workers would be needed to close the skills gap and properly defend organizations, according to the 2019 ISC2 Cyber Security Workforce Study. The data reveals that in the U.S. alone, nearly a half million workers would be needed to fill the shortage. The volume of attacks and sophistication of attacks from around the world continue to increase, and yet there continues to be less and less of the qualified people needed to repel those attacks.
The survey finds that 65 percent of organizations report a shortage of cybersecurity staff, and more than a third say that finding skilled personnel is a top concern. Talent retention is a continual issue in a tight labor market, and burnout can occur as the number and severity of cyber attacks intensify. Workers know that they can move virtually wherever they want to because somebody out there is always going to need another cybersecurity professional. Moreover, skilled and entry-level workers are needed as the workforce ages. Companies need to have skilled people right now that can do the work but they also need to be building that cadre of the next wave of people coming in to replace those that will be retiring in the not too distant future. Salaries can also be lucrative. The ISC2 data finds the average North American salary for cybersecurity professionals is $90,000 a year and those who hold security certifications can make more. Roles vary from those working in consultation, to developers creating cybersecurity programs, to risk and compliance.
Expert Tips to Help Kickstart Your Career in Data Science
Silicon Republic, October 18
When it comes to finding a new job in the data science field, specializing and narrowing your skill set is not always the best option, according to experts. Instead, bringing several disciplines together as part of one skill set is a massive advantage. A data scientist with excellent math, statistical and software engineering skills, as well as strong domain knowledge, becomes a very strong candidate. As a result, data scientists should learn as much as they can about the domain that they are trying to model. Since the answers are not always in the data, speaking to experts in the field to understand how it works and how they make decisions is hugely important.
The concept of combining different disciplines into one data science career is growing in popularity. Today, data science is mostly focused on big data and it is really a combination of two careers: technology and analytics. As a result, it helps to know about both, and how they interrelate. From the technology side, it is useful to know the well-known and well-understood big data architectures. Aspiring data scientists should then understand the technical constructs that are needed to build these big data architectures. Learning to program in Python is certainly a huge help as well.
The Winner Takes All Tech Corporation
Communications of the ACM, November 2019
The five largest U.S. corporations (Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft) are all tech companies with combined market capitalization of over four trillion dollars. Collectively, they are often referred to as Big Tech. Furthermore, a small number of corporations have come to dominate the IT industry, as within each industry segment one corporation often dominates. The phenomenon whereby corporate dominance seems to be entrenched is often referred to as winner takes all. In the context of tech, this phenomenon is now coming under scrutiny from politicians and regulators, who are considering the impact of the winner-takes-all corporation on the efficient functioning of markets and overall economic fairness.
The reality, says Moshe Vardi, is that we need laws and regulations, instead of an ethics outrage, to deal with undesired business models and conduct of tech corporations. What may have been a radical position less than a year ago has become conventional wisdom now. There are several initiatives to regulate tech, with a focus on how to deal with overly dominant corporations. Public concerns about overly dominant corporations have been aggravated by what has become dogma in the U.S. business community over the past generation, which is the shareholder-primacy principle, asserting that shareholders should be assigned a priority relative to all other corporate stakeholders, such as employees and customers. According to this view, the goal of a corporation is just to generate profits. This approach has replaced the earlier approach of corporate responsibility, which made corporations accountable to multiple stakeholders.
Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age
eLearn Magazine, October 2019
The future of higher education is one in which adult learners who continue to learn on the job will receive both credit and respect for their informal learning. This informal learning, while not gained in the traditional sense, is the primary way for adults who have been left out of the traditional higher education system to advance in their careers. According to author and academic Peter Smith, who has written a new book on what he refers to as free-range learning, there is new urgency to this issue since traditional higher education has not well served many adult learners. The good news is that e-learning tools and platforms can help to address this issue, thanks in part to disruptive new technologies being developed by education technology start-ups and the growing role of the workplace as a learning community.
Disruptive innovation is coming now to higher education. Disruption has a positive side effect, because along with alternatives for traditional practices, it also brings new resources and approaches that allow educators to reach new students. For example, there are different models now that use Skype, local libraries, or low residency programs so that learners get content and information at home online, but then meet with others every few weeks to talk through what they have learned. Disruption in higher education is moving quicker than expected. There are two groups we need to be successful with as a society: high-school graduates with no college and working adults with some or no college.
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