ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, September 8, 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 17, September 8, 2020

Want an IT Job? Look Outside the Tech Industry
Tech Republic, August 28

According to the latest Burning Glass data, if you want a software job in 2020, your best bet is to look outside the technology industry. While two tech companies top the list in terms of hiring the most software developers, the entirety of the remaining top 10 goes to companies in the financial services, defense, or professional services industries. Overall, 89 percent of all tech job postings are from non-tech companies. In other words, the role of the software developer has never been more important, even if software companies may not be doing the hiring.

Within the broader category of IT jobs, three specific industries (professional services, manufacturing and financial services) account for roughly half of all IT openings outside tech. Even industries where there are relatively few IT jobs, the percentage of tech jobs is quite high. For example, the utilities industry accounts for a mere 1 percent of all non-tech IT jobs, but IT jobs account for 35 percent of all job postings in that industry. Overall, the percentage of non-tech tech jobs appears to be growing, as the Burning Glass data shows.

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Software Developer Jobs Are Growing Again
ZDNet, August 12

The types of tech skills now most in demand reflect the changing priorities for many businesses, with security, organizational change and cloud computing at the top of the list. As a result, skills that are in most demand from IT chiefs are cybersecurity, enterprise architecture, technical architecture, organizational change and cloud, according to tech recruiter Harvey Nash. By contrast, in the 2019 survey, IT chiefs listed big data and analytics as the skills most in demand, followed by cybersecurity and enterprise architecture. In general, sectors less affected by the coronavirus (such as pharmaceuticals, logistics, healthcare and tech) continue to create the most software developer jobs.

According to survey data, a clear majority (82 percent) of IT leaders in the UK expect their staff headcount to increase or stay the same in 2020. Generally speaking, the tech sector has been more insulated from the impact of COVID-19, as it played a key role in helping businesses with the rapid shift to remote working. As a result, the tech recruitment market has only slowed for permanent positions. But even here, things are starting to pick up again, particularly for software developers, help desk advisors, cloud architects and cybersecurity specialists. The number of companies looking to hire tech workers is increasing again, after falling sharply during the coronavirus lockdown, with job postings for web designers, programmers and software developers increasing. This was the result of companies trying to adapt to a changed market. In the IT contractor market, demand has held up better throughout the pandemic, as companies have required quick access to specialists to help deliver digital projects.

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Startup Layoffs Leveled Off Over the Summer
Dice Insights, September 3

On a global basis, the pace of startup layoffs slowed down over the summer, despite the world economy still figuring out how to most effectively navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. After shooting up rapidly in March and April, startup layoffs have leveled off throughout the summer. Indeed, many startups seemed to be using the months of June, July and August to secure new funding, even in those industries heavily impacted by the coronavirus. As might be expected, the startup industries most heavily impacted by layoffs have been those that hinge on face-to-face contact, such as transportation and retail.

Given the nature of the pandemic, it stands to reason that startups focused on creating technologies for businesses (such as a better way to track sick hospital patients via a mobile app) would continue to do better than, say, ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, which have shed thousands of jobs. Startups focused on gaming, streaming, online education, and other services have also seen a spike in activity from all the people stuck at home. When the pandemic began, San Francisco led all other areas in the amount of startup layoffs. Again, this seemed logical, since the city and the surrounding area have long been hotbeds of startup growth. Throughout the summer, though, the number of international startups laying off technologists slowly increased, eventually surpassing all U.S. tech hubs.

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Only 10 Percent of Tech Talent Have Cyber Skills to Fill Skills Gap, September 3

Only 10 percent of IT professionals have the cybersecurity skills currently required by the UK tech sector, according to a research study by recruitment firm Robert Walters and data firm Vacancysoft. The study shows that 58 percent of hiring managers put information security as their most required skill, but only a small number of tech workers have the skills these firms are looking for. In Europe, 70 percent of companies have stated they do not have appropriate cybersecurity talent, with a shortage of around 140,000 skilled workers in the region. If anything, the rapid pace of digital transformation bought on by COVID-19 has only exacerbated the cybersecurity skills gap in 2020.

Most tech jobs have been affected during lockdown, with Robert Walters and Vacancysoft finding a 40 percent drop in demand for IT roles in the first half of 2020. However, cyber skills remain in demand with positions in cybersecurity increasing 6 percent during this time. Cybersecurity vacancies now account for around 5 percent of vacant technology job roles, an increase from 3.5 percent in 2018. The top in-demand cyber roles this year are security engineer, security awareness manager, and chief information security officer (CISO). When looking for cyber talent, demand for cyber workers with Amazon Web Services (AWS) skills has increased by 62 percent since 2019, but cyber workers with these skills only make up 3 percent of the talent pool. Similarly, there has been a 50 percent year-on year increase in job postings looking for cyber workers with security information and event management (SIEM) skills, and a 30 percent year-on-year increase in searches for cyber talent with ethical hacking skills, but only 1 percent of the cyber talent pool has these skills.

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How to Build a More Diverse IT Team
The Enterprisers Project, September 2

For most IT organizations, the problem with hiring for cultural fit is that it does little to meaningfully evolve or improve the organization. It turns out that when you hire people who think, act, or perhaps even look similar to your existing team, you do not change or evolve. More importantly, you are less likely to build a diverse workforce. As a result, companies that fail to build workforce diversity may find themselves unable to attract enough new talent or keep up with their competition. Going forward, then, the goal should be to increase diversity within your IT organization.

Building a more diverse IT team starts with job descriptions. Via job postings, these are often the first level of interaction that candidates have with your organization. These job descriptions outline what you are looking for in candidates, but more importantly, they also provide a peek into your organizational culture. Avoid potentially gender-coded titles like quarterback, ninja, and rock star in your job descriptions. Such titles may appeal more to male applicants than female ones. Instead, use specific job titles like DevOps, Cloud Engineer or Developer. Also, consider deleting any reference to required degrees. There is a bias towards hiring candidates with college degrees even though many hiring managers feel recent graduates are inadequately prepared to succeed. Keep in mind that not everyone has the means and opportunity to attend college, and many of the day-to-day operations skills in IT roles are often learned on the job.

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Six Key Traits Leaders Must Develop For the Future of Work
Fast Company, September 6

If tech leaders of today want to remain leaders tomorrow, they will need to have a very intentional focus on remaining committed to a longer-term point of view. For example, leaders will need to think about how to create and leverage the new startup hubs that will emerge around the U.S. in the coming years. As more and more talented workers move out of cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, new hubs for innovation will pop up everywhere. In addition, venture capital firms that used to have a significant presence in tech hubs such as Silicon Valley will start to see the benefits that come with relocating somewhere with lower taxes and lower living expenses, and that will also create new opportunities.

Employee engagement is going to be completely redefined in the next decade, and that will require a much different perspective on the workplace. What does it look like to build meaningful relationships with co-workers over Zoom? What signals show a person has a high level of emotional intelligence? What does empathy look like in a workplace managed over Slack? These are very new questions for IT managers to answer. From a management perspective, companies are going to need to completely re-imagine what it means to build a highly productive, profitable, and diverse workforce. What do team-building exercises look like over Zoom? How can you use technology to automate your training processes, especially if in-person training is not an option? What steps can be removed, or what steps should be improved in the company’s hiring process, to ensure the right talent is being brought on board?

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Key Steps to Consider When Starting a New Cybersecurity Career, August 27

The cybersecurity skills gap has not gone away, and companies of all kinds are in need of people with knowledge in this area, making this a great time to look for a new job or switch career paths. Best of all, an increasing number of companies are offering remote options, which means location is less of an obstacle to someone with the right qualifications. If you do not have the skills to jump into a new career right away, now is an ideal time to get training. Most cybersecurity skills training and certifications are offered online, which makes these education opportunities accessible to a wider variety of people. No matter where you are in the world, there are options available for learning new skills, and for finding a high-paying and satisfying career in the security industry.

Whether you are just starting to consider a cybersecurity career or you are looking to level up your existing skills, there are a few things you can do to gain experience without already having the job you want to acquire. One of the most straightforward ways of getting credentials to show you have the knowledge you need to succeed is by getting a certification that applies to the position you are looking for. This is especially helpful for entry-level or junior security positions. Online training also plays an important role. A growing number of students say finding and being accepted to a cybersecurity or computer science degree program in person is increasingly difficult. The increased availability of online degree programs is making a huge difference in removing this bottleneck, as class sizes are not limited in the same way in-person learning is.

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The New IT Project Manager
Information Week, September 2

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the role of the project manager. On top of previous job responsibilities, they now have to grapple with reconfiguring businesses for remote work. However, there is also a beneficial side to the COVID-19 crisis for IT projects. More project management tools have surfaced that make working remotely more effective. The advances in teleconferencing and collaboration technologies have unlocked possibilities for recruiting and using IT talent that can contribute positively to projects. Remote work also enables employees to better balance life priorities with work. These workplace changes have altered the discipline of project management, and how IT project managers will operate going forward.

Project managers should start preparing now for new ways of doing business. First of all, more project work will be done remotely. The COVID-19 crisis accelerated the move to remote work, and for most companies, working remotely will not go away after the crisis abates. But working remotely demands remote project management tools that can continually assess the progress of projects that are being executed off-premises. Key to this will be cloud-based project management software that enables employees to update the progress of their own project tasks as well as collaboration software in the cloud that enables employees to communicate and exchange documentation in real time, especially during project trouble-shooting and problem resolution.

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Five Non-Obvious Remote Work Techniques
ACM Queue, August 12

There are five distinct techniques that help to make remote work successful. Best of all, these remote work techniques can be implemented even at companies where remote work is a new aspect of the workplace culture in the wake of COVID-19. To ensure that they are remote work-friendly, organizations must first deal with all the technical issues involved (such as ramping up videoconferencing capabilities for off-site workers) and then deal with all the social issues brought on by the lack of face-to-face personal interaction. For example, how do you strike up a conversation as you used to do in the office? To make remote work successful on a social level, organizations must be able to answer these types of questions.

As a general rule of thumb, if even a single employee is remote, then all employees should be considered remote. Meetings should be either 100 percent in-person, or 100 percent remote, with no mixed meetings. In the case of a single person trying to participate remotely, this means everyone who is physically present must leave the conference room and go back to their desks, so that the team can conduct the meeting using desktop videoconferencing tools. During the COVID-19 lockdown, your entire company may be remote, but this is a good policy to adopt when you return to the office. This may not be an option for companies with open floor plans, however, where participants videoconferencing from their desks may disturb their co-workers.

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Integrating Computing in School Subjects: A Conceptual Framework
Blog@CACM, August 27

There is significant promise and potential of integrating computational thinking into other school subjects. This requires, however, a conceptual framework that is robust enough to include the how, why and what of computational thinking integration. This theoretical framework can catalyze the conceptualization and the practice of CT integration, curriculum and assessment design, as well as teacher preparation. Best of all, a version of this framework can put data front and center as a crucial vehicle for integration, meaning that the overall integration context meshes well with learning goals for data science and data literacy.

When thinking about integration, educators need to consider several crucial intersections. The intersection of domain and pedagogy is of paramount importance when designing for instruction in any domain. Domain refers to an understanding of the subject, while pedagogy refers to ways of teaching specific content topics based on known misconceptions and discipline-based education research. When coming up with an integration approach, educators need to consider the vast body of CS education research, including all that we know about teaching coding and CT, including student misconceptions and insights into the pedagogy of programming. At some point, educators also need to go beyond thinking about the why of integration in order to consider what topics to integrate. It is important to remember that not every topic is ripe for integration. Educators should be looking for ways to exploit synergies, and identify overlaps of domain ideas with CT concepts and practices.

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