ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, February 4, 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 protected]

Volume 16, Issue 3, February 4, 2020

Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Information Week, January 14

The top U.S. cities for technology professionals include Austin, Raleigh, San Jose and Seattle. The survey evaluated metropolitan areas with 250,000 or more residents, considering the total number of job ads, the cost of living, cost of living adjusted median earnings, one-year job growth projections, five-year job growth projections, and the median IT salary. Interestingly, the Top 20 list includes four new cities that were not on the list from 2019. And the cities that remained moved around on the rankings quite a bit. While the ordering changed a bit, the Top 10 list includes many familiar names, and any one of these top 10 cities would be a great place to accept a new job.

Austin was the big winner in the CompTIA survey, surging up from its third place finish last year. It ranked No. 1 for both one-year and five-year job growth, with a 16% increase expected over the next five years. The cost of living is also relatively low (3.5% lower than the national average), and IT professionals make a median salary of $88,729. For the second year in a row, Raleigh came in at No. 2 on the CompTIA list. Its ranking was bolstered by a low cost of living, which is 4.6% lower than the national average. It came in second for the cost of living category and the cost of living adjusted median hourly earnings. Median salaries are $91,859 with 9% job growth forecast for the next five years. San Jose in Silicon Valley ranked No. 3 for IT jobs, up from fourth in 2018. It placed No. 1 in jobs per people employed and also very highly for the number of jobs and job growth.

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Top DevOps Engineer Interview Questions For 2020
The Enterprisers Project, January 20

DevOps engineer continues to be one of the hottest professions in IT. Indeed listed it as No. 10 on their list of best jobs of 2018 based on growth in number of postings (91 percent) and average base salary ($125,714). It should come as little surprise that finding a great DevOps engineer can be a challenging prospect. DevOps engineers usually come from a background in system or software engineering. They bridge a number of different skill sets from technical to interpersonal. Interview questions, then, seek to determine what makes a great DevOps engineer and how they can contribute to a DevOps team.

The top interview questions for DevOps now involve security. For example, candidates might be asked how they have helped teams develop greater security awareness, or how they factor security into the DevOps process. With the average cost of a data breach projected to hit $150 million this year, companies can ill afford to let security to take a backseat during their automation efforts. DevOps engineers must lead the charge in securing applications. They do not have to be network security experts, but they do have to operate from a mindset where security is the priority. Another key theme involves automation. For example, candidates might be asked to talk about a process that was a real challenge to automate. A great DevOps engineer wants to automate everything, but they are also cognizant of processes where it just is not possible or automation might cause more harm than good.

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The Most Affordable Cities to Find a Good-Paying Job as a Programmer
Business Insider, January 18

For programmers, developers, and software engineers, it is increasingly unnecessary to live in a major tech hub like San Francisco or Seattle. Other cities across the nation also have a very developed IT infrastructure and a much lower cost of living. A new research report from Coding Dojo ranks American cities by weighing their cost of living versus the number of open job postings for entry-level and mid-career developers within a 25-mile radius. Coding Dojo assigned a composite score to cities based on the number of open developer postings on job site Indeed, and its cost of living used the median rent of a two-bedroom apartment.

Bremerton, Washington, which is just one hour away from downtown Seattle, ranks as the most affordable city to find a high-paying job as a programmer. Coding Dojo ranks Bremerton as No. 1 in open mid-level job postings. Detroit, which is still better known for its auto industry than its tech industry, ranked No. 2 on the list. The Michigan auto industry is now embracing Silicon Valley-style innovation, including efforts by General Motors to develop an electric line of cars to rival Tesla, amid a larger focus on self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles. St. Louis, Missouri ranks as one of the most affordable places for developers to live, with a median rent of $878 per month. And it has a growing tech hub, especially for geospatial technology. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency plans to build a $1.7 billion regional headquarters in St. Louis by 2025.

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IT Pros Wooed With These Perks in Tight Job Market
Information Week, January 27

Despite a slight decline in IT hiring in December 2019, the job market looks relatively strong for workers across the board. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an overall unemployment rate of 3.5 percent for December, essentially unchanged from the previous month. IT pros are still very much in demand. On one side, the market is great for IT pros looking to get paid more in their existing positions or by moving elsewhere. But for employers, that low unemployment rate means that their organizations are having a tough time filling vacancies and attracting talent. In fact, many may be making changes to help ease their recruitment efforts.

As a sign of just how competitive IT hiring has become, 76% of technology leaders say their company is now offering extra perks or benefits to sweeten the pot for IT pros. These extra perks include remote work opportunities and sign-on bonuses. A full 60% of IT managers said that the main reasons for these changes are to gain a recruiting edge over competitors. Indeed, 33% said that it boosts staff retention. At companies that do not currently offer additional perks, 58% said that doing so could help them find talent. Recent surveys show that half of HR managers are prepared to offer or are offering flexible work or telecommuting options. In some cases, that makes a lot of sense because the company is located in an expensive market while the prospective employee is located in another part of the country.

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In the UK, uncertainty over Brexit played a major role in determining the state of the IT hiring landscape in 2019, but that could change in 2020. The UK finally has some clarity over its relationship with the EU, and the IT market in general tends to be relatively resilient to macro factors like Brexit. IT recruiters are already reporting a greater level of confidence when it comes to hiring new employees, and that could have an impact on both salary trends and the right skills to make the most of a buoyant sector.

As the well-documented digital skills gap shows no sign of closing, IT professionals in Britain can expect their salaries to continue to rise. Recent data shows that UK IT salaries continue to exceed the national average by growing 2.8 percent in the final quarter of 2019. Moreover, the number of job applications in the IT sector rose by 38 percent over the final quarter of the year. It is clear that companies in the IT sector are refusing to be held back by the recent political turbulence over Brexit. But this only means that competition for top talent will intensify. With salaries on the rise across the industry, companies might want to consider providing more than just a good wage to new employees. By offering flexible working, benefits and career development opportunities, companies will ensure that they will attract the best candidates around.

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Over the next decade, there are two industries that could see a huge boost in new STEM-related careers: space and life sciences. STEM-related principles will become an important part of these two industries and create new demand for candidates who can apply STEM thinking to solve challenges. With the influx of digital data, STEM knowledge and principles to make decisions will become even more important.

Space and aviation initiatives continue to make headlines, including the launch of a new Space Force in the U.S. Over the past few years, there has also been tremendous interest in colonizing space, especially Mars. Several well-known initiatives, such as those by NASA, SpaceX and Blue Origin, show that both interest and investment in space and its exploration is going to continue to grow. Moreover, as we move toward space exploration, advances in technologies will also yield new advances in aviation. Most recently, the X-59 supersonic research aircraft, which has been in production by NASA for three decades, was cleared for final assembly in 2019 and is scheduled to take its first flight in 2021. The X-shaped aircraft promises to be much quieter, travel at faster speeds and use fuel more efficiently. Additionally, NASA is looking to explore how to reduce fossil fuel emissions by using electrical propulsion in aircrafts, which is an important first step to creating an electric aircraft.

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Suggestions For Surviving the 2020 Cloud Job Explosion
InfoWorld, January 28

The market for public cloud services is predicted to hit $331.2 billion by 2022, which could lead to much higher demand for cloud professionals. Between October 2015 and October 2019, the share of cloud computing jobs per million increased by 55 percent. Although this seems like good news for cloud-savvy workers now on IT career paths, there are downsides to explosive growth that both enterprises and those managing their own IT career should keep in mind.

One risk from the explosion in new cloud jobs is over-hiring. Enterprises in a panic to hire cloud computing professionals can easily overestimate the number of employees they will need. For example, it may take 500 developers and architects to migrate workloads to the cloud, but once it is done, the need for these developers will diminish significantly over time. Some can be reassigned to cloud operations, but the lack of internal demand means that the cloud professionals who cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire just a few years ago now need to be let go. So companies might consider contractors. They typically cost more, but they expect that their gigs will end at some time, unlike most employees. Cloud professionals need to be aware of this as well. They need to ask questions about what occurs when the migration ends. Good cloud migration projects come with a plan for assimilating most cloud professionals within new operating models.

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How to Beat AI in Landing a Job
Big Think, January 26

Increasingly, artificial intelligence is being used in assessing job applications, and that is raising questions about how to beat AI in landing a job. In some countries that are fast adopters of this technology, about a quarter of the top corporations already utilize or plan to use AI in making personnel decisions. As a result, job candidates need to consider how AI can impact the interview process, not just the resume screening process. For example, if you were to do a video interview involving facial recognition software, you would have to think about how your face appears to the AI algorithm.

Companies may ask unexpectedly difficult questions during the interview process that involve complex business scenarios, and then use AI to analyze candidate responses. In the past, AI algorithms were not able to make sense of such free-form responses, but now they can. Moreover, AI often utilizes gamification to analyze your personality and how adaptable you are. It can get as specific as figuring out the top capabilities of the interviewee and their likelihood in fitting into the position for which they are being considered. Many games are used to understand the problem-solving approach of the candidate. In such a way, AI is now able to analyze the psychological and mental makeup of a candidate.

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Altruism Is Not a Panacea For Management Challenges
Blog @ CACM, January 17

The conventional wisdom among software leaders is that altruism is the panacea for so many ills in the business world. Yet, as one software industry insider points out, altruism is not the key to success, it is a recipe for failure. The reason, quite simply, is because employees want to get back an equal amount of benefits as they put into a project. At some level, all work is transactional in nature. And that has an immediate impact on how you should manage others around you. While modern leadership is about helping, sharing, inspiring, and nurturing, there also needs to be a calculated analysis of benefits.

Recent research is now showing that transformational laissez-faire leadership celebrated by business journals is counterproductive and produces high levels of stress and interpersonal conflicts. This research shows that some employees are more productive under transactional leadership than laissez-faire leadership. While laissez-faire leadership focuses on abstract concepts, transactional management remains centered on transactions and the clear exchange of value. Team members put hard work and skills into a project. Their boss pays them back in the form of a generous salary, a great office environment, and the appropriate kudos. As a result, employees feel well rewarded for their efforts. On the other hand, if employees are pouring in unpaid overtime and going above and beyond but not being compensated for it, they will eventually resent their employer.

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Revealing the Critical Role of Human Performance in Software
ACM Queue, January 21

People are the unique source of adaptive capacity essential to incident response in modern Internet-facing software systems. In fact, there are several different forms of human performance that make modern business-critical systems robust and resilient despite their scale and complexity. According to many top software leaders, incidents are opportunities to update and revise models of the ways organizations generate and sustain adaptive capacities to handle surprising challenges as systems grow and operate at new scales. The bottom line is that modern business-critical systems work as well as they do because of the adaptive capabilities of people. Without the cognitive work that people engage in with each other, all software systems eventually fail.

Systems are developed and operate with finite resources, and they function in a constantly changing environment. Plans, procedures, automation, and roles are inherently limited because they cannot encompass all the activities, events, and demands these systems encounter. Systems operate under multiple pressures and virtually always in degraded mode. The adaptive capacity of complex systems resides in people. It is people who adapt to meet the inevitable challenges, pressures, tradeoffs, resource scarcity, and surprises that occur. Resilient performance depends on the ability to adapt outside of standard plans, which inevitably break down. Resilience engineering enhances the adaptive capacity needed for response to surprises. A system with adaptive capacity is poised to adapt. It has some readiness to change how it currently works when it confronts anomalies and surprises.

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