ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 6, 2021
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 17, Issue 7, April 6, 2021
Top Programming Languages That Employers Want and Will Pay High Salaries For
Dice Insights, March 31
According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, the most in-demand programming languages for U.S. employers include SQL, Java and Python. Overall, there appears to be a growing list of programming languages that employers want and are willing to pay high salaries for. All of these languages are immensely popular among companies and developer teams and mastering any of them could potentially land you a developer, QA, or project management job. All of these languages also offer significant job security, since there is not only a need to constantly build new apps and services, but also maintain legacy code.
In 2021, computer science graduates can expect an average annual starting salary of $73,550, according to recent data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. This represents a more than 7% increase compared to the year prior. The wage increase is happening along with rapid job growth for computer science programs. Despite uncertainties surrounding the current pandemic, graduates are not yet seeing evidence of a job shortage. The rise of computer science graduates in the U.S. could influence corporate recruitment strategies in the future. For example, the continued influx of talent may affect how reliant companies are on foreign H-1B visa workers.
U.S. government data also suggests that U.S. computer science programs are growing rapidly. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the U.S. government reported nearly 79,600 undergraduate degrees were earned in computer and information science. The figure indicates an 11.5% increase over the year prior, when the number of computer and information science degrees topped out at 71,400. In 2007, by way of comparison, official data tracked only about 10,000 graduates, so there has been tremendous growth over the past decade. At Stanford University, computer science major declarations by year showed 87 computer science majors in the 2007-2008 academic year. In the last three academic years up to 2018-2019, however, Stanford computer science major declarations have been 381, 377 and 386, respectively.
For almost every professional, there are times when your career path will deviate from what you might have hoped, due to a layoff, reassignment, relocation, or the need to take time off for health issues or caregiving. The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, has compounded the situation. The good news is that a temporary departure from your professional goals does not mean that all is lost. It is essential and possible, even with a busy day job, to stay focused on your long-term career trajectory so you can rebound quickly and get back on a path that feels right for you.
There are a variety of ways that professionals faced with tradeoffs can begin to take back control over their career arc. One strategy, for example, is simply to reframe the situation. No one enjoys feeling like they are stalled or moving backwards professionally. Indeed, research shows that one of the most powerful indicators of employee mood and satisfaction is the feeling that they are making progress toward a meaningful goal. If you view your career decisions as part of a regression, you are almost certainly going to feel frustrated, angry, or ashamed. Also, strive to identify learning opportunities. If a job is not what you are looking for, it is easy to write it off as something you are doing just for the money. But even suboptimal situations can become powerful opportunities to develop your skills, if you recognize them and leverage them as a chance to learn. Similarly, you might uncover hidden opportunities to develop new aspects of the job that align better with your interests (for instance, research into new technology) or that enable you to build your network.
Why Re-Skilling IT Workers is Important Amid the Pandemic
Computerworld (UK), March 29
Although the UK has long been a tech hub, an ever-widening skills gap among workers has always been a concern in the IT industry, even as it continues too grow. Despite job losses that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, research has shown the gap could be set to narrow. Re-skilling IT workers could play an important role here, since more than half of non-tech workers are contemplating a career change and eyeing tech-based careers. However, traditional routes into work for those entering the labor market are starting to lose their appeal, especially for workers who are already established in their careers, so organizations will need to be creative in how they attract and retain this talent.
With IT vacancies on the rise, retraining and re-skilling is not just the preserve of those looking to enter the technology industry. The HP 2020 Workplace Evolution Study found that a key theme in the UK has been the rise of the empowered employee. Research showed that around 60% of UK office workers want to learn new skills, but more than a third (37%) found that their employers have de-prioritized training. The report also found that, compared to other markets, British office workers believe the most strongly (70%) that it is the responsibility of the employer to provide workers with the training they need to adapt to workplace changes. While not every employee has the capacity to become a software developer, there will be individuals in every organization with the potential to re-skill from existing legacy tech, or switch to tech for the first time.
IT Career: 5 Salary Negotiation Tips For Remote Jobs
The Enterprisers Project, April 1
Salary has always been a difficult topic to bring up during the recruiting and hiring process, and the new era of remote work has only made the task more difficult. Of course, remote work is not new, but the numbers of IT professionals now working from home or another location outside of the traditional corporation setting have skyrocketed over the last year because of the pandemic. And many employers and managers seem to be signaling that they expect remote or hybrid work models to remain commonplace going forward, primarily because many IT roles lend themselves well to remote operations. And companies that have struggled to hire tech talent in their local area can now more easily recruit on a much wider geographic basis. With that in mind, the article provides five salary negotiation tips to land your next remote job offer.
Whether you are passively looking around for your next role or about to launch an active search focused on remote positions, it is worth considering new variables that may impact salary expectations and negotiations. Start by doing your research early and often. Worrying too much about salary too early in a job hunt might seem premature. But if you are on the job market today or will be soon, it is crucial to begin researching company pay structures (and your own value) early in the process. This is worth doing for any new IT role, but especially for remote roles. Companies are currently reevaluating and revising their compensation strategies for remote and WFH positions for various reasons, including larger talent pools and geographic diversity. While companies are not approaching this hiring shift in a uniform manner, some of your existing assumptions or data about a particular employer, industry, location, role, or another variable may need to be refreshed.
6 Tips for IT Pros Aspiring To Be a Modern-Day CIO
Information Week, March 17
The role of chief information officer is one of the most sought-after jobs by many in tech and is one that has been in the spotlight over the last 12 months. In 2020, COVID-19 lockdowns and remote working precautions demanded CIOs to take the reins of their organization and accelerate digital operations. The modern-day CIO is no longer just a great technologist. CIOs are increasingly steering their organization and achieving business goals in new ways not just due to the pandemic. Because of this, the job responsibilities and requirements of a CIO are not what they once were. As a role that is constantly expanding and evolving, it can be an incredibly challenging and fulfilling opportunity, but there is no longer one single skill or expertise that can elevate you to the role of a modern CIO.
There are several key ideas that IT professionals should keep top of mind when considering how to evolve in their career and prepare to be the next transformational CIO. For example, they should strengthen their communication skills. Long gone are the days where CIOs could remain behind the scenes of an organization. Just as they are expected to be proficient in their technology skills, modern IT leaders must be strong communicators and story tellers. The best CIOs can use illustrative analogies to describe even the most complex technical initiatives to their stakeholders, business leaders and customers. Compelling stories help drive people to act, and aspiring CIOs should dust off their communication skills, so they are ready when their moment comes.
7 Expert Tips on Recruiting Cybersecurity Pros
Tech Republic, March 22
According to the most recent Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the global cybersecurity skills gap decreased for the first time ever in 2020, from 4 million to 3.1 million, despite the economic challenges presented by COVID-19. Even though more cybersecurity positions are being filled than in previous years, a large gap still exists. Several factors are contributing to the talent gap, including how the industry seeks to fill jobs, and external developments such as increased exposure to threats such as ransomware and phishing and the emergence of new privacy regulations that put a new emphasis on information security. With that in mind, recruiters and hiring managers highlight best practices for recruiting cybersecurity professionals in this new hiring environment.
In terms of building a top cybersecurity team, look beyond the usual places to find talent. Employers should break away from recruitment patterns targeting graduates from a select set of schools having what would traditionally be considered appropriate degrees. They should also spend more time looking at in-house talent. After all, there are employees not currently working in cybersecurity that have applicable skill sets. If a hiring manager wants to find high-performing cybersecurity candidates, skills-based events (such as bug bounty programs) are excellent places to look. In terms of in-house training, apprenticeship programs can become a valuable source of talent.
The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Jobs Will Be Nuanced
Forbes, March 31
Current fears about AI leading to mass unemployment for technologists are unlikely to be realized. Instead, like all previous labor-saving technologies, AI will enable new industries to emerge, creating more new jobs than are lost to the technology. However, there will be significant need for governments and other parts of society to help smooth this transition, especially for the individuals whose old jobs are disrupted and who cannot easily find new ones. The important point to keep in mind is that the net number of jobs lost or gained is an artificially simple metric to gauge the impact of artificial intelligence. In many areas, technologies will improve the quality of work that humans do by allowing them to focus on more strategic, value-creating, and personally rewarding tasks.
The good news for now is that AI cannot master the soft skills essential to business growth, such as initiative, intuition, passion, and the ability to sell ideas and concepts. In many sectors, severe shortages of skilled workers will mean that growth in demand for talent will be unmet. This is particularly true for computer-related occupations and jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math, since technology is fueling the rise of automation across all industries. At the same time, there will also be increasing demand for jobs requiring compassionate human contact, such as health care, social services, and teaching. In addition, AI cannot yet replicate the entrepreneurial skills that will be pulling together technology solutions and platforms to connect to the needs of markets. Humans are the innovators here, not computers. With that in mind, people should take charge of their professional development through lifelong learning. They should also pay attention to sources of information and update skills accordingly, either by searching out high-quality providers of education or by charting their own course amid the vast amount of online learning.
Software Development in Disruptive Times
ACM Queue, March 24
The current pandemic has made the process of software development even more challenging. Given the novelty of the situation, one might be tempted to think that this is a unique situation that will soon be overcome, returning eventually to the stability that existed previously. However, the reality indicates that this view is, at best, illusory and that we live in an age in which societal fragilities and instabilities will be increasingly evident. As history has so often demonstrated, difficult times enhance the ability of society to adapt, and will eventually lead to the search for better solutions. In order to create a fully functional software product in as limited a time period as possible, software developers should take into consideration several state-of-the-art practices and tools, such as agile project management and extreme low-code software-development technology.
In many software development projects, the challenge is to deploy software at an extremely rapid pace. In a project with such characteristics, several factors can influence success, but some clearly stand out: top management support, agility (in decision and management), understanding and commitment of the project team, and the technology used. Conventional development approaches and technologies may simply not be able to meet the requirements promptly. There are many demands placed on companies in terms of decision and action capacity. They must combine market vision and rapid decision-making capacity with action. A company must identify an opportunity, define a project, and decide to move forward, structuring and organizing a team by adopting a different approach to project management and adopting a proactive marketing posture.
Misnomer and Malgorithm
Blog@CACM, March 27
In a world in which technology is more embedded than ever before in nearly every aspect of society, it is time to consider what exactly an algorithm is and what it is not. Now that the term algorithm has gone mainstream, many people are misusing the word. One common modern use of that word now implies an agent that makes bad judgments, giving rise to claims that that technology is not value-neutral. The concern is valid but the connotation hangs on context, and the implications of the literal assertion are dangerous. The article attempts to clear up some of the misconceptions that continue to swirl around the term algorithm.
Computer science knows the algorithm as an objective computational object. In this sense, the algorithm is simply an abstract imperative structure, deterministic and independent of context. It is a mechanism that performs calculations under a decision structure, and can be referred to as the i-algorithm. However, the public knows the algorithm as a mysterious agent making dubious decisions, a source of judgments, supposed to be reasonable, on complex issues in real life. This subjective procedure can be referred to as the j-algorithm. These are homonyms but not synonyms. Computer scientists, told that an i-algorithm is political, simply code-switch to the homonym j-algorithm, the thing that assesses parole requests and loan applications, in order to continue the communication. The problem with algorithm is that the two senses of the word are, in a way, contradictory, and in exactly the way that matters.
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