ACM CareerNews for Wednesday, November 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 16, Issue 21, November 4, 2020
Big data engineer and information systems security manager are forecast to be the IT jobs with the highest median starting salaries in the United States in 2021, according to a new report from staffing company Robert Half International. As the technology salary guide points out, the global coronavirus pandemic has placed greater emphasis on the need for organizations to hire skilled technology professionals to support critical operations and strategic initiatives in areas such as big data and information security. At the same time, higher unemployment and upskilling in the workforce are expanding the IT candidate pool, thereby making the market more competitive for applicants.
Taking a look back at the past year, it is clear that the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on business operations and the types of IT roles available. With a rapid shift to remote work and increasing reliance on digital channels, IT is at the center of this new world, especially as organizations look for ways to connect employees spread across many locations, all using different networks and a variety of devices. With this in mind, job candidates looking to apply for IT roles in the coming year should be able to explain how their skills and experiences fit into this new global paradigm.
For some organizations, new IT challenges go well beyond supporting traditional office workers from home. In the new world of remote work and learning, every employee has essentially become an extension of the IT team. Self-service has become critical for organizations to effectively operate today. Individuals must take an active role in troubleshooting their own issues, whether that is successfully joining a videoconference call or connecting to a VPN, regardless of their level of technical expertise. Meanwhile, everyone is under pressure to adapt quickly. Adapting to the technology is both part of the challenge and the solution. Many companies are looking to implement self-service options that can empower employees to address problems on their own. With the right technology, help desks can quickly convert existing applications into self-service solutions that leverage AI to perform natural language processing and walk end users through automation-powered decision trees to complete common tasks independently and perform troubleshooting on their own.
While it is easy to see existing jobs being disrupted by AI technology, it is also possible to visualize many new jobs that the technology could enable. Estimates show that by 2022, AI will generate 58 million new jobs. These jobs will vary depending on the industry, type of work, and other factors. For example, jobs will be created in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, public sector, and education. With so many contradictory opinions about the impact of AI in employment, it is a necessity to understand which jobs are safe and which are not. It is also important to know what kind of jobs AI will create in emerging tech markets.
The use of AI systems in various industries has increased the need to monitor and maintain those systems. The use of AI technology will require people who can create AI systems, people who can monitor the working of AI systems, and people who can make decisions from the predictions of AI systems. There are also jobs that will not be created by the use of AI, but because of the AI. For example, as AI technology becomes more prominent, people will try to get more knowledge and information about it. Researchers and writers can provide information about this technology. Hence, the job requirement for academics may grow because of AI. The use of AI in employment services can take over smaller and time-consuming tasks, but it cannot entirely replace humans. In most of the cases, AI will play a supportive role to humans. Robots and humans will have to complement each other to get better results.
How Software Developers Can Improve Technical Skills With On-the-Job Training
ITProPortal.com, October 29
According to a new Gartner report, 86 percent of HR technology leaders emphasize that building critical skills and competencies is a top priority, making it crucial that software development teams have an in-depth understanding of technologies and be adaptable to rapid industry change. Investing in a continuous learning culture better adapts a software development team for rapid change. To overcome the skills and knowledge gap of software developers, there must be a greater emphasis upon improving problem-solving skills and applying theory in an actual workplace environment via on-the-job training solutions.
There are limits to online learning platforms and software developer courses, such as those offered by Coursera and Udemy. The software developer courses offered on these platforms utilize a blended learning technique, combining traditional classroom settings within an e-learning environment. However, these online learning platforms use traditional learning techniques that are not the most effective tools to improve software developer skills and knowledge. Developers often have to anticipate specific areas of expertise to pursue within the online learning platform. Moreover, course content is not always situational to the professional work environment. Situated learning environments are more effective because they place learners in authentic learning situations and this actively improves their problem-solving skills. Management must focus on learning methods that engage workers with problem-solving skills, if they wish to achieve tangible improvements in the skills and knowledge of their software developers.
IT Manager Salary: 5 Key Things to Know
Dice Insights, October 28
Total compensation for IT managers can vary according to a number of key factors, such as the complexity of the company network and tech stack they are overseeing, as well as the size of the IT team they are directing. Aspects of the job overlap with that of network administrators and sysadmins, although many IT managers are more focused on managing and overseeing their teams than actually tweaking the systems themselves. In exchange for such an important role, some IT managers in highly competitive geographic markets can earn six-figure salaries.
At the beginning of their careers, IT managers can earn a median of $86,000, with an overall range of between $70,000 and $100,000. That level of compensation can rise considerably with experience. According to Burning Glass, the median salary for an IT manager is $100,886 per year, although that can vary considerably depending on skillset, experience, and the company you work for. Those IT managers in the 90th percentile for salary, for instance, can make $133,435 per year. Education level does not seem to play a huge factor in how much IT managers get paid, but the degree you possess does have some effect on how much you get paid. Roughly 87.9 percent of open IT manager jobs ask for an undergraduate degree, but very few ask for any advanced degrees.
Six Key Trends to Think About If You Are Working During COVID
Silicon Republic, October 30
Whether you are an experienced professional or a graduate taking your first steps into the working world, COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of the hiring market. The good news is that new graduates are still very much in demand. A new report from the Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS) shows that despite the economic impacts of the pandemic, many sectors are still interested in and planning to take on inexperienced hires. According to AHECS, however, new employment opportunities can vary widely by geography. When applying for these new jobs, recent graduates should emphasize both their soft and technical skills.
Companies are still hiring, both for senior and junior IT roles. However, the types of skills and backgrounds they are looking for appear to be changing. While the post-COVID world will need plenty of professionals with the right technical expertise, soft skills will also be essential. According to IT recruiters, now is the time to position and prepare yourself as best as possible for the new era of work. Soft skills to emphasize include: your adaptability to change, the attitude you take to upskilling, your emotional intelligence and how effectively you communicate.
Essential Soft Skills For the Remote Work Era
The Enterprisers Project, October 8
Interpersonal skills, particularly those that foster a culture of open and honest communication, are key to the success of remote IT organizations in this time of extreme change. As a result, there are several valuable soft skills to cultivate now for anyone applying for remote work opportunities. These soft skills, such as the ability to communicate clearly to managers and co-workers, can be showcased both on the resume and during the entire interview process. The pandemic makes this set of skills and emotional intelligence more crucial than ever to organizational success.
Authenticity is one of the most highly valued soft skills. Leaders who are high in authenticity build trust and put others at ease by sharing their own emotions and experiences and revealing stories and lessons that resonate with others. A leader is able to connect with people as a human being, gain their trust as a person, and then as a leader. Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes the importance of this or does it well. One unexpected benefit of the virtual workplace is that some traditional barriers to authenticity have disappeared. Employees are catching glimpses of the human behind the leader in his or her natural environment. Flexibility of mindset is also important. This is no time for rigid adherence to any particular mindset or plan, even recently decided ones. The more you practice this mindset, the more flexible you will be as a manager and leader in any situation that arises.
Should Robots Be Conducting Job Interviews?
Slate.com, October 25
In the near future, AI hiring managers may conduct employment interviews via online interactive experiences. However, this raises questions about both the efficacy and ethics of such a process. For example, what role will your voice or appearance play in how a robot evaluates and assesses your performance? Notwithstanding these concerns, these AI job interviews could become routine for anyone applying for high-volume, low-skilled roles. A growing number of real-life recruiters are already turning to AI-led job interviews, using programs that interview and assess candidates before a human recruiter even lays eyes on them.
Most of the bots are not running the decision-making process from end-to-end. Instead, recruiters generally use AI at the top of the funnel to sort or rank candidates before they reach a still human-run stage. Like humans, these bot recruiters have their own unique styles of interviewing. Some are merely seeking logistical information, like availability and ongoing interest, while others might be looking to assess drive, initiative, team-working skills, adaptability, or even your tendency to change jobs. Some will ask everyone the same set of questions in the same order, while others will tailor their questions to you, verifying that you can really do the things you say you can. For many positions, every single applicant receives an automated interview link. Applicants are free to log into the interview on their own time, and there will often be practice questions they can try before they face the official questions. Some are text-based, while others require applicants to record themselves on video. The answers are recorded and analyzed by AI for certain traits, before human recruiters use this analysis to decide whom to invite to another interview or hire.
A Career Unfolds in Phases
Communications of the ACM, November 2020
Looking back, it is often possible to divide your computer science career into three or more distinct phases. For example, the first phase of a career typically builds on an undergraduate education, and can often lead individuals to pursue specific research interests and explore how computing can help them reach certain goals. At some point, though, most realize that a career path is not a long, straight line stretching into the future. You might have an internal yearning to do something more, and that might lead you to move to a new geographic region, or to pursue opportunities in an entirely new industry. Once you have built up sufficient expertise and expanded your personal network, it is time to move your career into its next phase, when you will often have significant managerial or executive responsibilities.
After you have established a strong track record in your career, you might even consider ways that you can participate in the future long-term growth of your industry or profession You might start out joining professional societies and learning about key policy issues affecting your profession. From there, you might begin to seek out roles at the local, state or federal levels of government. That will give you an even larger platform to advocate for your ideas, lead a program of change, and inspire others to success. One possible opportunity now for such expertise involves COVID-19. Are there ways that the computing profession could become more involved in fighting the pandemic and preventing similar ones from occurring in the future? Your ideas are just waiting to be heard.
How Instructors Learn to Teach Online: Considering the Past to Plan For the Future
eLearn Magazine, October 2020
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 had major effects on all aspects of higher education, especially with how courses are taught. As states enacted stay-at-home policies, many college and university courses moved from face-to-face instruction to online instruction. Instructors who had no experience teaching online found themselves online instructors and curriculum developers, having to first modify their face-to-face teaching materials for online use, and then teach the content that was hastily moved onto online learning platforms. As a result, instructors at colleges and universities today must be able to teach both online and face-to-face, and they must be flexible in being able to move from one medium to the other, as circumstances dictate.
As a result of COVID-19, many faculty members had unexpected starts to their online teaching careers. Most had little time to prepare and started teaching online using trial-and-error methods. While these times of COVID-19 are different for all of us, the way in which instructors transitioned to online teaching in these times was very similar to the way most online instructors moved to online teaching before COVID-19. Preparing for that first online teaching experience proved challenging for many instructors. Most felt they were unprepared for the experience and were overwhelmed at the prospect of having to teach using a method they knew little to nothing about. Almost all tried to make comparisons to what they knew, which was teaching in a traditional classroom setting, but most could not see how course content could be transferred online. Furthermore, the idea of developing a course, making sure course materials could be placed in an online platform, and uncertainties about whether students would actually learn in the class all caused respondents to feel overwhelmed at the initial prospect of teaching online.
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