ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 20, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 16, Issue 20, October 20, 2020
10 Surprising Hot Spots For Software Developer Jobs in the United States
TechRepublic.com, August 27
There is a growing shortage of software developers in cities across America, giving technologists new opportunities beyond Silicon Valley or New York City. According to the Mendix Software Developer Drought Index, the gap is most significant in states located from far either the West or East Coast, such as South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska and Wisconsin. This suggests that technologists looking to make a career change consider a move to an emerging tech hub in a geographic area such as the Midwest. The index also found that 92% of job listings still list a specific location in the job description despite the recent move toward remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The areas with the highest demand for developers and the lowest supply include Cumberland County, NJ; Minnehaha County, SD; Pontotoc County, MS; Ouachita County, AK; Rock Island County, IL; Iroquois County, IL; Ector County, TX; Morgan County, UT; Roanoke County, VA; and Stearns County, MN. The researchers looked at jobs posted during July on Glassdoor, Indeed, and Monster to measure demand. At the state level, the states with the biggest gap between supply and demand for software developers are South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Alabama, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Vermont. The study also looked at commute times and average rents in the counties with the biggest talent shortages in order to take into account cost of living factors.
Finding ideal candidates for new software startups is more an art than a science, so job candidates should understand how investors and entrepreneurs think about hiring. In addition to having excellent academic backgrounds and demonstrated domain expertise, candidates who stand out must have the interpersonal skills necessary to explain complex ideas. The competition to land a role in a cutting-edge startup is high, especially in the current economic environment. An early-stage startup, for example, might receive over 500 applications for a single product design internship.
While many recent grads flock to apply to consumer software startups where they can work on a product they know and use daily, candidates can also find strong career growth with enterprise software businesses. Candidates can build lists of interesting potential employers by reviewing market maps and portfolios of top investors. Start off by keeping an accurate record of anyone involved in your job search and do not forget to close the loop with a thank you note and an update on what you ended up doing. If you spoke with anyone about your job search, whether it is at a networking event, an informational interview, or even via LinkedIn, do not forget to contact them. You may have follow-up questions down the road, or you may just want to share the good news with them that they helped you find a great position. Closing the loop with every individual involved in your search is not only the nice thing to do, but it can even open new doors, as people may offer new professional connections and resources to help you succeed in your next role.
The interdisciplinary field of data science continues to grow at a remarkable pace, creating even more employment opportunities for aspiring data scientists. Since data is the new currency of business, companies are looking to hire the right people with proven data science skills. Data scientists typically have deep knowledge and expertise in fields like machine learning, statistics, mathematics, computer science and data visualization. Along with these, a data scientist must have soft skills, such as the ability to solve business problems and engage in effective business communication.
In terms of academic backgrounds, an overwhelming majority (95%) of current data scientists have a Bachelors degree or higher. Out of those, 53% hold a Masters degree, and 26% a Ph.D. A job candidate should aim for an advanced academic degree; however, having an undergraduate degree can still serve as a prerequisite as long as the person has the technical skills and preparation required. While 19 out of 20 data scientists have a university degree, 55% of the data scientists come from one of three university backgrounds: Data Science and Analysis (21%), Computer Science (18%), and Statistics and Mathematics (16%). There are fewer representatives of Economics and Social Sciences (12%), Engineering (11%), and Natural Sciences (11%). All of these are technical courses that prepare graduates for the quantitative and analytical aspects of the job, but a Data Science, Computer Science, or Statistics and Mathematics degree offer the best chance for a data scientist career.
4 Tips for Landing the Raise You Deserve in 2021
Dice Insights, October 16
Heading into the end of the year, it is normal for technologists to start thinking about their annual reviews and their next raise. But 2020 is far from a normal year. Many companies have put performance reviews on hold, while others have given individual managers much more discretion when it comes to incentive and bonus payouts. Employers are planning modest pay increases of 2.8 percent for all employees in 2021, according to Willis Towers Watson. Contrast that with nearly half (49 percent) of tech talent expecting a minimum raise of 10 percent over the next six months. The good news is that any technologist who has managed to accomplish their goals in 2020 can potentially negotiate for a solid raise provided they take the right approach.
While some technology companies have been able to survive the COVID-19 disruption better than others, do not assume that the old rules for pay raises still apply. Company goals have changed over the past several months, and many are dealing with reduced budgets and lower revenue. According to data collected by global consulting firm Korn Ferry, 22 percent of employers plan to make significant changes to compensation programs over the next six months to two years. In fact, many companies have altered their rewards programs midstream. Unless you understand when salary freezes will end, how raise percentages and budgets are being determined, and the timeline and individual contributions that matter most, you cannot develop an effective negotiation strategy.
Computer Science Degree Unlocks Host of Technical Careers
Houston Chronicle, October 16
Even during a pandemic, the computer science degree opens the door to many high-paying careers, and CS grads still earn some of the highest starting salaries of any major. This is reflected in the abundance of computer science degrees offered at local colleges and universities, as well as the number of available job opportunities. Employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 15% by 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In terms of employment prospects, the biggest change in computer science is how interdisciplinary it has become. A computer science degree is now very relevant beyond the traditional computer science job market, which is the high tech industry. Big Data, in particular, has transformed many fields, including biology, biomedicine, physics, and the oil and gas industry. The most recent wave of artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing many fields, as AI solutions often provide more accurate predictions or classifications than those of domain experts. In sum, a computer science degree is now a passport to enter many fields and industries that were out of the reach of computer scientists decades ago. Many groundbreaking changes, such as those related to facial recognition programs, artificial intelligence and gaming technology, now have real-world business scenarios.
Unusual IT Job Interview Questions: Ask What Went Wrong
The Enterprisers Project, October 16
During the hiring process, IT professionals should prepare for any question that comes their way in an interview. For example, tech companies sometimes ask candidates to explain a time when they have done something wrong in their professional careers. They are looking to find out what the candidate has learned from this and, most importantly, how they have put this learning into practice. After all, it is very easy for people to reel off what they have done in their career and what they have achieved, but it is much harder for someone to step back, evaluate, and admit that they do not always get things right.
Asking probing questions is one way for interviewers to learn about candidates. Organizations can give someone all the training in the world but if they are not open to new ways of doing things, they will not be a good fit for some roles. Only someone who is honest with themselves will be able to have honest, non-judgmental conversations with partners and clients about where a project might have gone wrong and how it can be resolved. Remember that we all get things wrong some of the time, which is how we keep learning, so admitting mistakes will not be held against you.
Work From Home Has Kept Us Productive But It May Have Made Us Less Creative
ZDNet.com, October 16
According to a new Microsoft study, telecommuting might be hindering workplace creativity and getting in the way of innovative new ideas that businesses desperately need to succeed. The research surveyed 9,000 managers and employees across 15 European markets. While new work from home policies have been effective in terms of overall productivity and cost savings, they are also reducing the amount of collaboration and cohesiveness between teams, as well as limiting possibilities for random brainstorming. If this trend persists, it could lead to less ability to generate new ideas and approaches, as well as a loss of overall creativity.
At the start of the pandemic, many companies worried that remote working would be detrimental to productivity. However, the opposite trend has emerged: an overwhelming 82 percent of senior executives reported seeing productivity levels either hold steady or increase as a result of telecommuting. In parallel, business leaders see the economic value of extending work-from-home policies, especially in terms of reduced office costs and lower business travel expenditures. Managers' enthusiasm for telecommuting is generally matched by employees. The majority (69%) of respondents in the Microsoft study cited dressing more casually as one of the top reasons that they enjoy working remotely, along with being able to personalize their workspace, or to work with their pet by their side. Employees are also productive at home, as their days go undisturbed by casual interruptions, or overhearing colleagues on the phone in shared working spaces. Similar research carried out by Microsoft last year found that workers felt that 52% of their working day was wasted due to unnecessary disturbances.
Robotic Interviews, Machine Learning And the Future Of Workforce Recruitment
Entrepreneur.com, October 12
Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing all aspects of our lives and the future of workforce recruitment is no exception. Already, we are seeing applications of machine learning and deep learning in HR, as organizations look for better, smarter and more affordable ways to hire the best talent available. New technological developments will affect all aspects of HR, such as the way organizations on-board and hire people, and the way they train them.
Currently, companies are using AI in HR to make sure they have found the right people for particular job profiles. This means that even before you have stepped into your new office, your company already knows that you are the best person for the job thanks to such technology. They are using AI to pre-screen candidates before they invite the best candidates for interviews. This especially applies to large companies that offer thousands of new jobs each year. Companies are also using machine learning and deep learning in HR to help provide on-the-job training to employees. Just because you have landed a job and settled in it, it does not mean that you know it all. You need to get job-related training so you can keep getting better. This is where experts expect that AI would play a major role in the coming years. It will also help one generation of professionals in an organization transfer its skills to its successors.
Measuring Up: How to Properly Measure Your Programmers
Blog@CACM, October 16
Measurement is one of the touchiest subjects among programmers and managers. Often, the answer of how much measurement is effective depends on where you stand and the job title on your business card. Ask programmers and many will tell you that measurement is not effective: Measurement undermines the team spirit, or it reduces dynamic solutions into simplified numbers that can never reflect the true complexity of the project. At the same time, however, without measurement, managers must cede most, if not all, control of a project to their programmers. Thus, there is a real need to come up with metrics that can boost collaboration and overall productivity.
The wrong measurements and poorly designed performance reviews can undermine teams, and in the long run, also productivity. In an extreme case, managers will simply have to take the word of their programmers that the project is advancing successfully and that resources are being effectively put to work. In a worse case scenario, the project can devolve into anarchy. Managers are reduced to de facto administrative assistants, and programmers run the show with little oversight. No surprise, but any project can start to go off the rails, with development slowing and bugs proliferating through the code. Poorly designed measurements in incompetent hands can destroy projects, break apart teams, and ultimately overwhelm companies. Yet the right metrics and review processes can bring order to chaos, streamlining work and producing excellent results.
Agile Management of the Coronavirus Crisis in the Startup Nation
Blog@CACM, October 13
In the ongoing effort to control and even eradicate the coronavirus pandemic, there are many insightful lessons to be learned from the field of agile software development. Agile means fast and flexible, and in the context of project management, this is manifested by short response times to changes that take place in project conditions. The agile method offers many advantages that are expressed in savings in development costs and in shorter time-to-market compared with other management approaches. Organizations that implement the agile method also report better adherence to time schedules and high rates of customer satisfaction. As a result, healthcare organizations that are not primarily engaged in software development might be able to use agile methods to manage coronavirus-related projects with high uncertainty levels.
The working assumption of the agile method is that it impossible to manage projects with high levels of uncertainty, such as the project to eradicate coronavirus, by following a long-term plan. One of the main practices implemented in order to overcome this challenge is goal-setting and, based on the resources available for the project, constructing a two-week-only work plan to achieve the goals that have been set, with the understanding that this work plan will not change within those two weeks. This process repeats itself every two weeks, enabling quick reaction to any changes required in the project. Existing data and data that are gathered throughout the project duration from a variety of sources serve as the basis for the design of the action plan and for its two-week implementation during which no changes are possible.
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