ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, January 7, 2020
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@example.com
Volume 16, Issue 1, January 7, 2020
From the rise of the gig economy to the impact of automation and AI, there is plenty of uncertainty right now about how to plan for career progression and what skills will be in demand in a changing economy. However, change is nothing new in the tech industry. Though tenures at companies may have been longer in the past, roles were always evolving, demanding new skills to keep up. Even as technology spurs the economy in radically new directions, there are steps individuals can take to shape their careers and stay relevant. Future-proofing a career does not just mean studying STEM, learning to code, or becoming a data scientist. In fact, surviving and thriving in the economy of the future may come down to many of the classic tactics that helped guide careers a generation ago.
Future-proofing a career starts with a blueprint or template that can help you navigate your career path. Responsibility is almost solely on the individual to stay relevant in the face of a shifting economy. The advantage of having a career plan is that you will have a long-term vision with clear signposts along the way. Critically, a career plan is not something set in stone. Think of it instead as a living document evolving in response to economic factors, emerging opportunities, and even personal interests and family realities. With the life cycle of job skills rapidly shrinking, regular check-ins are even more critical now. Equally important is a set of experienced eyes to steer you forward. Managers and senior leaders once filled this role, though this is increasingly rare. Today, what can be equally effective is nurturing a personal board of advisors composed of teachers, coworkers, professional mentors, and family members who can offer trusted input at key junctures. At the same time, tools like webcasts, social media sources, and online industry groups can help widen your network and provide insight into your career challenges and goals.
Based on an analysis of data from Burning Glass, which collects millions of job postings from across the country, it is clear that companies are very interested in finding people to help expand their IT infrastructure. That demand has resulted in lengthy times to fill particular positions, especially in major tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and New York. Within those tech hubs, product manager was the job with the longest time-to-fill (47 days), followed by business intelligence developer (45 days) and network engineer (41 days).
Despite some predictions from analysts that a recession might hit sometime in 2020, companies are very much in an expansionary mood, with projects to manage and infrastructure to build out, as well as business data to analyze for insight. For technologists, this is good news, since it suggests employers are not just hungry for highly specialized jobs such as machine-learning experts, but really want a full range of skilled employees to handle fundamental tasks. As you might expect, many of these in-demand jobs offer six-figure paychecks.
AI jobs are on the upswing, as are the capabilities of AI systems, according to the latest release of the AI Index, an annual data update from the Stanford University Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence Institute. The AI Index, published in partnership with McKinsey Global Institute, tracks AI growth across a range of metrics, from papers published to patents granted to employment numbers. For example, one important metric is conference attendance. Attendance at AI conferences by tech employees continues to increase significantly, with annual attendance growth around 30-40%.
The amount of AI-related jobs opening up is also on the upswing, the index shows. Looking at Indeed postings between 2015 and October 2019, the share of AI jobs in the U.S. increased five-fold since 2010, with the fraction of total jobs rising from 0.26% of total jobs posted to 1.32% in October 2019. While this is still a small fraction of total jobs, it is worth mentioning that these are only technology-related positions working directly in AI development, and there are likely an increasingly large share of jobs being enhanced or re-ordered by AI. Among AI technology positions, the leading categories includes job postings mentioning machine learning (58% of AI jobs), followed by artificial intelligence (24%), deep learning (9%), and natural language processing (8%). Deep learning is the fastest growing job category, growing 12-fold between 2015 and 2018. Artificial Intelligence grew by five-fold, machine learning grew by five-fold, machine learning by four-fold, and natural language processing two-fold.
Switching To a 4-Day Workweek May Be Hurting Career Development
Inc.com, December 2
While evidence is mounting that most employees work inefficiently and can actually achieve more when nudged to compress their work into fewer hours or days, workplace experts warn that corporations considering making the switch to a four-day workweek not to get carried away. Compressed workweeks make employees happy and productive in the short term, but they have one big downside in the medium and long term: they incentivize employees to focus on their immediate to-do list, while shortchanging much of their longer-term career development activity. Leaders need to be aware of this pitfall to avoid it.
There is more to work than just ticking through your daily to-do list. While 30 hours a week or so might be enough to get through all your most pressing tasks, there is often not enough time left over for less urgent but highly important things like training, learning, and big picture thinking. In short, employees may shortchange important but not urgent tasks if their hours are cut. Even top entrepreneurs and thought leaders say they struggle to find time for big picture thinking amid the everyday hustle and bustle. Creativity experts also warn that breakthrough ideas almost always require long hours of incubation. Big ideas also tend to arise from connecting disjointed bits of information in unexpected ways, which means somewhat aimless exploration often contributes to their development. In short, creativity suffers when everyone is busily working away on a tight schedule.
These 5 High-Paying Growing Jobs Will Be Booming Through the 2020s
NBC News, January 1
While emerging new technologies have eliminated some job functions, they have also redefined and created completely new roles in the past 10 years, including many that pay well. Overall, technological innovation has created a short supply of workers with the right skill sets to fill emerging jobs that are crucial to keeping businesses competitive. One of these jobs in high demand is data scientist, which is a relatively new job role that now pays a six-figure income and has been extensively profiled by leading tech and business publications.
Demand for data scientists is still most concentrated within the tech industry, but demand is growing across every sector: health care, finance, business, retail, media and beyond. All these companies have a need for a data scientist who can make use of the growing amount of data they have and turn it into something valuable. Because it is still a relatively new field, many data scientists have varied backgrounds in computer science, math, statistics and engineering. However, more universities have begun offering specific degrees, courses and even boot camps in data science within the past decade. Information security engineer is another fast-growing job role within the tech sector. Since 2010, data breaches have compromised over 38 billion accounts. These breaches, and the need to protect user data, has resulted in information security being one of the fastest-growing fields. Information security engineers work to safeguard computer network systems, and plan and carry out security measures to protect sensitive information from infiltration and cyber attacks.
How to Personally Brand Yourself As a Leader With Digital Transformation
The Enterprisers Project, December 23
Earning a reputation as a digital transformation leader is one way to advance your career and possibly even propel yourself into a CEO or CIO position in the future. Using this popular buzzword is not enough, of course. Before you can put the buzzword on your resume and your LinkedIn profile, it is important to have a track record of previous success. While relatively few technology leaders can point to projects that completely transformed their companies, examples of achieving significant business results with the cloud, AI or mobile can go a long way to showcasing your digital transformation potential.
For anyone who wants to be known as a digital transformation expert, it is important to find new ways to showcase your business expertise. For example, you might make digital transformation part of your tagline in your LinkedIn profile. Keep in mind that technology leaders are forever scrambling to keep up with waves of new technology, and talking about transformation makes it sound more active. You can also think about using hashtags for digital transformation on social media, as a way of bringing attention to new projects. As a positioning statement, identifying yourself with digital transformation means that you aspire to redefine your role beyond the management of servers and networks.
How To Get a New Tech Job
Techworld, January 2
The job search requires resilience, determination and a lot of administrative work to ensure that you are following up with the requirements of each new opportunity. It may be a candidate-driven market but competition for the best roles remains stiff. Hiring managers are looking for the right fit as much as candidates are, so be prepared to impress. Thus, before you look for a new job, be sure you are clear on what it is you want from your next role. Ask yourself why your last job did not work out, what elements of work you enjoy the most and what you are really good at. You also need to think about what you want from your career and what the next steps should be to get you there.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want from a tech job, you will be better equipped to explain it to a hiring manager. Look into your options. Research job specifications in different companies to get an idea of the responsibilities and requirements you can expect. Make a hit list of companies you want to target, track their updates online and be vigilant in watching out for any emerging roles. Also, use your network: Reach out to your contacts to let them know you are on the hunt and to see if they know of any upcoming opportunities. Even if they are unaware of any specific roles, they may be able to offer advice or refer you to another connection.
Artificial Intelligence Will Help Determine If You Get Your Next Job
Vox, December 12
Recruiters are increasingly using AI to make the first round of resume cuts and to determine whether a job posting is even advertised to you. Often trained on data collected about previous or similar applicants, these tools can cut down on the effort recruiters need to expend in order to make a hire. Last year, 67 percent of hiring managers and recruiters surveyed by LinkedIn said AI was saving them time. However, critics argue that such systems can introduce bias, lack accountability and transparency, and are not guaranteed to be accurate. The key point to keep in mind is that AI can pop up throughout the recruitment and hiring process, often working behind the scenes to streamline the process of filling open positions.
Recruiters can make use of artificial intelligence throughout the hiring process, from advertising and attracting potential applicants to predicting job performance. Many organizations now use LinkedIn Recruiter, a popular tool that uses artificial intelligence to rank candidates. Other recruiters use AI to match candidates with nearby jobs that are potentially good fits, based on the traits the applicants have shared with the platform and previous interactions between similar candidates and prospective employers. Some AI platforms go even further, using machine learning to find candidates based on data that might be available from an internal database, public job boards, social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, and other profiles available on the open web, like those on professional membership sites. It is even possible to predict whether an employee is likely to leave their old job and take a new one, based on the data collected about a candidate, such as their promotions, movement between previous roles and industries, and the predicted fit of a new position, as well as data about the role and industry more broadly. Another use of AI is to screen through application materials, in order to recommend which candidates that recruiters should contact first.
Computing Continues to Dominate STEM Career Opportunities
Blog @ CACM, January 4
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the five STEM jobs with the most growth will all be in computing, with the majority of those in software development. More precisely, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that each year, there will be nearly 29,000 new Jobs in software development, over 8,300 new computing support jobs, over 5,500 new systems analysts jobs, over 3,500 new information security analyst positions, and over 4,200 other computing-related jobs. No other STEM area is expected to generate even 3,000 new jobs per year. Even when retiree replacements are considered, the top five careers with the most total job opportunities are in computing: software development, computing support, systems analysts, network and systems administration, and other computing-related occupations.
For the foreseeable future of U.S. jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, more than 3 out of 4 new job openings and more than 3 out of 5 total job openings are going to be in computing. Moreover, these numbers are fairly consistent with those from two and four years ago. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that over 40% of the new STEM jobs will be in software development alone as compared to about 12% in the combined branches of traditional engineering. With respect to total jobs, there will be more openings in software development than there will be in all the branches of traditional engineering combined. Why will there be so many software development jobs? One reason is the mobile computing market. It used to be that every company wanted a website, creating demand for web developers. But today, most companies also want apps for smart-phone and tablet devices. The need to create and maintain these apps is one factor that is creating a huge demand for software developers.
What Blockchain Technology Is Good For
Queue, December 16
Despite the growing popularity of blockchain technology in the corporate sector, IT professionals considering a career in the field should understand the various nuances of this technology. For example, business executives, government leaders, innovators, and researchers frequently ask about the capabilities that blockchain provides as well as what are some good applications of this technology aside from cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The article provides a holistic overview of blockchain technology that separates hype from reality, and propose a useful lexicon for discussing the specifics of blockchain technology in the future.
Overall, there is a set of 75 interconnected concepts that define blockchain technology. These concepts are grouped into five broad categories, including technical properties, capabilities and use cases. For those considering a career in blockchain, these use cases are especially important, since they define how they will be using blockchain within organizations. Examples of use cases include cryptocurrencies, supply-chain management, and identity management. While the concepts defining blockchain technology are divided into five categories, individual concepts are highly interconnected, both inter- and intra-category. This lends credence to the notion that blockchain technology is a cohesive whole, with each of its component concepts serving a purpose in the overall technology.
Copyright 2020, ACM, Inc.