ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, December 3, 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 23, December 3, 2019

These Are the Skills Hiring Managers Are Looking For Now
ZDNet, November 27

The skills that hiring managers are looking for from tech workers are changing, with an increased interest in staff who can communicate and collaborate across the business. Rather than just looking for recruits who can work on difficult tech problems, teamwork and business acumen are also making the list according to research by tech industry association CompTIA. Now, beyond just technical skills, businesses are also looking for technology professionals that can communicate and collaborate with other departments.

Soft skills such as communications and teamwork are no longer reserved for those workers on a management track, but now apply at every level, said CompTIA in its 2020 outlook. When asked which skills IT managers are looking for when hiring, problem solving topped the list, but teamwork came in a close second. User experience, depth of skills and communication were the other three must-haves to round out the top five. In terms of programming languages, the most sought-after tech skills in the U.S. jobs market are SQL and Java, according to a recent analysis of job postings by recruitment firm Indeed.

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Machine Learning Skills Are Key to Future Jobs
Dice Insights, November 29

The desire for data science and machine learning skills will continue strongly into next year, according to developers surveyed by SlashData. According to the survey, 45 percent of developers want to either learn or improve their existing data science or machine learning skills. This outpaces the desire to learn UI design (33 percent of respondents), cloud native development such as containers (25 percent), project management (24 percent), and DevOps (23 percent). The analysis of very large datasets is now made possible and affordable due to the emergence of cloud computing, open-source data science frameworks and machine learning platforms. For example, companies such as Google and Microsoft have spent the past few years issuing a variety of developer tools in areas such as computer vision, natural language processing, and machine-learning models.

SlashData also found that 20 percent of machine learning developers and data scientists are working on projects that involve image classification, consumer behavior analytics, or natural language processing. An even higher percentage (26 percent) of developers are figuring out if they want to specialize in a particular area of machine learning. One thing is clear by looking at charts of which skills are necessary for a data science career: machine learning and data science have become intrinsically linked. Machine learning specializations are likewise a key stepping stone on most data science career pathways.

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Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage Continues to Grow
CPO Magazine, November 15

At a time when cyber risks are proliferating at an incredible rate, organizations around the globe are struggling to find talented professionals who can help them defend against these risks. In fact, according to the latest Cybersecurity Workforce Study from (ISC)2, a nonprofit association dedicated to IT security, there is currently a massive cybersecurity workforce shortage on a global basis. Around the world, there are currently 2.8 million cybersecurity professionals. Unfortunately, it would take a 145 percent increase in the number of these professionals in order to fill the current estimated need for 4.07 million cybersecurity professionals.

Overall, the (ISC)2 report presents a very practical look at the numbers behind the current cybersecurity workforce shortage. Despite steps taken in recent years, such as creating new security certifications and degrees, promoting the need for greater training and up-skilling, and highlighting ways that non-traditional job candidates can make an immediate contribution, very little seems to have been done to address the cybersecurity workforce shortage. In the United States, for example, a current cybersecurity workforce of more than 800,000 is still nowhere close to the number of cybersecurity jobs needed to protect government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and small and mid-sized business. The current cybersecurity workforce shortage in the United States alone is projected to be 498,480.

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Does a CIO Need a Tech Degree Anymore?
The Enterprisers Project, November 21

As part of their digital transformation work, CIOs are refashioning business processes, creating new lines of revenue, and ensuring better communication with customers. As a result, some industry leaders are questioning whether the CIO even needs a tech degree anymore. For example, some companies are hiring CIOs with finance, marketing, and supply chain backgrounds. In fact, an overwhelming majority (96 percent) of technology hiring professionals said that over the past two years it has become more acceptable to hire technology candidates with alternative qualifications. However, those CIOs without a tech education must take important steps to ensure they have sufficient technical understanding to lead the IT organization. For some, it means constant learning on the job and a brain trust of tech experts in various areas.

Many IT leaders and recruiters believe there are significant benefits to having a broader background than simply technology. In fact, one of the most important skills a CIO must possess today has nothing to do with tech. Communication is now paramount, since tech leaders must communicate the impact of IT to other departments. Critical thinking is also more important than whether one took programming classes in college. The rate of change in technology is happening so rapidly that the platforms and techniques we learned in school a decade ago may now be obsolete. Thus, when interviewing candidates, recruiters care most about their understanding of the business, how they break down problems, and how they can react and create solutions when technology is down. In order to be a successful CIO, you need to be able to create a vision, mobilize and inspire your team, and get buy-in from important stakeholders throughout the organization.

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AI Knowledge as a Career Accelerator
Emerj, November 12

Advancing your career in the era of AI requires an understanding of how businesses are leveraging artificial intelligence throughout the organization. A company rarely gains a long-term AI advantage with a single AI application. Instead, companies will gain their market advantage by building on the foundational capabilities that will enable them to use AI into the future. This foundation includes data infrastructure, team collaboration, and a culture of iteration and experimentation. Thus, when thinking about which aspects of AI are most important for future career growth, it is useful to keep this framework in mind.

As AI progresses over the coming two to three years, AI-related career and business opportunities will expand, and will be available to a relatively small group of professionals with requisite AI knowledge. Even more than they hunger for data scientists, enterprises may hunger for nontechnical professionals who understand how to apply AI. In short, a professional who learns the fundamentals of AI knowledge (what AI does, its basic use cases, what it takes to use it productively) will be most likely to be involved in early AI projects or strategy conversations at his or her company. These professionals who take an early interest and knowledge in AI will be in a position to lead the most exciting, enviable opportunities within their firm as AI becomes more and more critical.

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How Entry-Level Resumes Can Gain the Attention of Recruiters
Fast Company, November 25

It is not uncommon for sought-after entry-level roles to receive hundreds of applications, so it is important to stand out from the crowd in order to make the shortlist of any recruiter. If your resume does not grab the attention of a recruiter within 10 seconds, it may be ignored forever. To cut through the noise and make it past that initial scan, you need to ensure that your resume ticks all the boxes, and that goes far beyond showing off your academic achievements. Employers are looking for bright all-round individuals who not only have the right skills and qualifications but also show clear initiative, strong motivation to succeed, and a great attitude.

Every entry-level role requires a unique set of skills and qualities, no matter how similar the job title may be. Successful candidates take the job requirements into account and use them to inform the content of their resume for every application that they submit. A recruiter needs to see that you are suitable for the job they are trying to fill as soon as they set their eyes on your resume. That is why, as a job seeker, you need to pay attention to the job requirements, company website, and any other relevant document. Jot down a list of the core requirements and capabilities, and be sure to make them prominent in your resume from the get-go. This goes further than merely naming the skills that the employer is seeking. You can tailor your education and work experience sections as well, such as by mentioning coursework, assignments, exams, or modules that you completed at the university.

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Developing the Developer: How to Attract and Keep Top Talent
Information Week, November 27

For any organization undergoing digital transformation, one key to success is cultivating developer talent. Whether migrating services and systems to the cloud, or accelerating innovation cycles using the latest technologies and software development methodologies, there is no hiding from the fact that every business is a software business today. If organizations are to get the best from developers, they must know how to attract and retain the right talent. They must also have a clear business strategy that aligns software development to wider business objectives and have the resources to make this happen.

Understanding what motivates developers, and how their skill sets can best be utilized, is key to engaging them effectively. By and large, developers like to solve problems. Most come from a computer science, engineering or mathematics background, or studied one of these alongside a pure science degree. It is their natural state to look for ways to improve what is in front of them so it is important to challenge them accordingly. Thriving open source developer communities reflect what is a significant consideration for developers when searching for a role, which is the opportunity to learn and grow their skill sets with support from their peers and colleagues. If up-skilling is important to developers, technology that allows them to continue their learning and development is not only important to them, but also to the organization.

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Organizations can prepare for the future by understanding the top IT workplace trends that will most impact them over the next 12 months. These trends are based on hundreds of conversations with executives and workers, a series of national and global online surveys and secondary research from more than 450 different research sources, including colleges, consulting firms, non-profits, the government and trade associations. As a result, it is possible to make a number of forward-looking projections about different types of IT roles emerging, new types of employees being sought after to fill the IT skills gap, as well as changes to the traditional company-employee relationship.

Companies are collecting more data on how employees spend their time at work in order to create a more productive work environment and protect resources. While in the past, employees viewed this as obtrusive and were concerned about how their data was being collected and used, data from Gartner shows that employees are becoming more comfortable with it as long as it is used to improve their employee experience. In 2015, only 30 percent of companies were using monitoring techniques, but this is expected to grow to 80 percent in 2020. At the same time, while only 10 percent of employees were comfortable with employers monitoring their email back in 2015, that percentage is now 30 percent. Still, employees rightfully raise privacy concerns so transparency is important.

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Engaging Future Generations of ACM Leaders
Communications of the ACM, December 2019

Attracting younger, next-generation members is a challenge faced by professional societies worldwide. They must be able to appeal to a diverse membership, while also creating a pipeline of future leaders. Within ACM, for example, there are two programs that have already attracted the interest of early-career professionals: the ACM Future of Computing Academy (FCA) and the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF). Both were designed to offer young technologists and researchers the opportunity to network with peers from around the globe and to hone their leadership skills through personal interactions with more experienced leaders.

The ACM Future of Computing Academy was created in 2016 to help shape the future of the organization. It brings together talented young professionals from a broad range of computing sub-disciplines and institutions. These future leaders want to perform valuable services for the community while expanding their professional networks and leadership experience. FCA members identify and implement pilot projects that address challenging issues facing ACM and the computing field in general. They work closely with ACM leadership, bringing new ideas and perspectives and helping to integrate successful pilots into institutional practices. FCA members are selected biennially through a highly competitive process similar to those used for ACM awards. The summer 2019 recruitment cycle attracted hundreds of applications from around the globe, resulting in 36 new members. The expanded membership represents 17 countries from six different continents. It is an extremely diverse group, in terms not just of gender and geography but also type of organization and disciplinary interests.

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Are My Requirements Complete?
Blog @ CACM, November 26

Some important concepts of software engineering, established over the years, are not widely known in the community. For example, the Shortest Possible Schedule property is important to modern project management, but may be unknown to some practitioners. In the area of requirements engineering, there are also important concepts to keep in mind, some of them based on classic publications that are 40 years old. For example, it is important to be able to answer a simple question: Are my requirements complete? In order to define completeness and answer this question, it is useful to have theoretical knowledge of abstract data types.

The concept of sufficient completeness comes from the theory of abstract data types, and dates back to an article from the mid-1970s. While the theory has appeared in documents, books and articles for nearly 40 years, few people know the concepts and very few practitioners have heard of sufficient completeness. Some may not have heard at all about abstract data types. The reason why the question of determining completeness of requirements seems so challenging at first is because, in order to know that the specification is complete, we would need a more general description of all that our stakeholders want and all the environment constraints. However, this would only push the problem further: How do we know that such description itself is complete?

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