ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 20, 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@example.com
Volume 17, Issue 8, April 20, 2021
While California remains the top technology hub in the U.S. in terms of job openings, there is significant job growth and related employment opportunities for people with tech skills in other states including Texas, New York and Florida. A new report from CompTIA looks at the states with the most job postings in the tech sector and also ranks states by the change in job postings from the previous month. The report considered jobs at technology companies (both tech occupations and non-tech jobs like sales, marketing and HR), as well as tech jobs at non-technology businesses and organizations. The report also identifies the top 10 metro areas for tech job postings in March and the top 10 states for remote and work-from-home tech job postings.
California, not surprisingly, led all states with 43,042 tech job postings in March. However, that is 1,349 fewer than in February, making the Golden State one of the few states in which tech job postings declined month to month. Given the recent high-visibility announcements from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Oracle that they are moving their headquarters from California to Texas, one has to wonder if this is a trend. In terms of tech job postings in metro areas, Los Angeles was No. 4 with 12,760, up 450 from February. But No. 5 metro area San Francisco had 11,654 tech job postings in March, 1,006 fewer than in February, while No. 9 metro area San Jose had 8,971 job postings, 63 fewer job postings than in February. California led all states in remote and work-from-home tech job postings with 12,372, an increase of 816 from February.
The post-COVID world could see the emergence of new technological hubs in previously overlooked parts of the world, including locations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. With that in mind, a new report from IT services firm Cognizant attempts to predict where the future of work will be. Local government, quality of local education and private capital availability formed the core criteria. Additional criteria that carry slightly less weight include physical infrastructure, environment, lifestyle and diversity, culture, talent pools, cost of living and more. One of the criteria that many chosen locations had is an anchor around one key technology or concept, such as financial services technology or cybersecurity.
There are several surprising locations that Cognizant featured in its report, such as Nairobi, Kenya and Da Nang, Vietnam. In addition, the report cited upstart hubs in familiar tech locations. In India, for example, the tech hub of Bangalore is reaching its saturation point, and the tech industry is looking for new hubs to expand into. Kochi (located in the coastal state of Kerala) could be poised to be a big one. Like the cities in the U.S. that are beginning to supplant Silicon Valley, Kochi is forward-looking, with robust green tech investments, human-focused growth metrics like literacy rate and life expectancy in place of GDP to drive its growth and a new special economic zone designed to retain local talent and attract outside investments.
A growing number of technology jobs will soon require artificial intelligence and machine learning skills, making it increasingly important for IT workers to understand how their roles and functions will change as a result. Some roles, such as data scientist, are increasingly reliant on machine learning, meaning you will have to know at least some of the underlying concepts in order to access the full range of opportunities out there. According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, machine learning jobs will grow an astounding 39.3 percent over the next decade.
If you are interested in a role as a data scientist or data engineer, chances are high that your desired jobs will soon request machine learning skills. For software developers and engineers, the percentage of jobs requesting these skills will rise significantly over the next decade, as well. Machine learning could greatly impact other jobs. It is relatively clear at this juncture, for example, that managers and executives will also need to become familiar with these concepts and skills. Artificial intelligence is not going to replace managers but managers that use artificial intelligence will replace those that do not. For positions that heavily leverage AI and machine learning, the median salary currently stands at $107,000. The good news is that you do not necessarily need advanced degrees to land a machine learning job, with the vast majority of postings asking for an undergraduate degree.
4 Signs of a Superstar
The Enterprisers Project, April 14
When it comes to online social networking profiles, it can sometimes be difficult to know what a digital transformation superstar really looks like. Simply listing skills and experiences might not help you stand out from the competition, and may not fully convey how you helped to transform a company or organization. Moreover, too much technical jargon might actually obfuscate, not clarify, what you have done as a digital transformation leader. With that in mind, there are several key steps you can take to make your online profile stand out to recruiters.
Most importantly, a budding superstar should be able to highlight how he or she has brought in new talent, developed it, and then exported it to the rest of the organization. One hallmark of actual digital transformation superstars is that they are importers and exporters of talent. Digital transformation superstars often bring critical talent into their orbit. But bringing the right talent in is only half the equation. What makes these folks superstars is their willingness to export talent, imparting digital capability to parts of the organization far beyond their purview. It takes a confident, unselfish leader to serially give away the people that make them look good. Just keep in mind that the alleged superstars of digital transformation you often see in the press and on social media are pretty noisy. They make extravagant claims and spend an inordinate amount of time burnishing their image, fluttering from keynote to keynote. Think of these folks as glorified Instagram influencers. The real superstars of digital transformation are far more humble and quite modest in their claims. They spend time behind the scenes hard at work to make things actually happen. In the end, these superstars build exponential results through learning and persistence.
A New Job is Emerging From the Pandemic: Director of Remote Work
Seattle Times, April 15
As remote work evolves from a stopgap measure during the pandemic into an ongoing way of life, a new job is emerging in the corporate ranks: director of remote work. Tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Quora are among the first and best-known companies to carve out a new position dedicated to remote work, tapping executives with backgrounds in finance, law, land acquisition and consulting. However, this trend is also happening informally inside many companies, with HR professionals taking on expanded roles to address issues related to remote work.
Advocates of having a person or team dedicated to remote work say it can help businesses make the transition into a fully remote or hybrid workforce in a strategic, methodical way, without sacrificing culture. Experts advise that organizations begin to apply some best practices to the remote working world, and that starts with having someone dedicated to remote work issues. The role is especially important for companies where having a remote workforce is a big departure from the old ways of working. It is an organizational transformation, so one good first step is to find or designate someone to be head of remote.
What IT Professionals Wish They Knew Earlier in Their Careers
Information Week, April 6
IT is an incredibly dynamic career path because business models and technology paradigms are changing constantly. At the start of their careers, many young graduates flock to companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google because doing so can result in higher paying jobs and resumes that stand out from the competition. Working for an established tech company in a well-known tech hub can help to solidify your resume. However, assumptions about what you are going to learn, experience or accomplish could miss the mark. With that in mind, seasoned IT professionals look back at what they wished they knew earlier in their careers.
Rampant disruption is the way of the modern world and the pace of it has accelerated over the years. Even the disrupters are not safe from disruption themselves, which is why some tech companies are constantly disrupting themselves. Disruptive technologies are building momentum all the time, but it is not always obvious, and people do not always take it seriously. Read up, stay on top of developments because what you are doing today is not what you will be doing tomorrow. The more proactive one is in the industry, the easier it is to see the changes coming and adjust the choice of technologies accordingly.
What Are the Different Roles Within Cybersecurity?
The Hacker News, April 17
There are a number of different roles within cybersecurity, depending not only on your skill level and experience but also according to tasks, knowledge and skills. In fact, Cybercrime Magazine came up with a list of 50 cybersecurity job titles, while CyberSN, a recruiting organization, came up with its own list of 45 cybersecurity job categories. Similarly, OnGig.com, a company that helps firms write their job ads, analyzed 150 cybersecurity job titles and came up with its own top 30 list. The complicated part is that these titles and roles generally are not standardized, plus they constantly change as the industry itself evolves.
At the entry level, there are several common cybersecurity job roles, such as cybersecurity analyst. These entry-level positions typically require a certification. The cybersecurity analyst is responsible for protecting both company networks and data. In addition to managing all ongoing security measures, the analyst is also responsible for responding to security breaches and protecting company hardware, such as employee computers. Another popular role is security engineer. Security engineers are tasked with planning and executing the information security strategy of a company and maintaining all security solutions. They can also be responsible for documenting the security posture of their company and any issues or measures taken under their watch. Security engineers tend to be more defensive than their analyst peers.
How To Launch Your Career Change
Built In, April 16
Career changes can happen at any juncture, and that is especially the case for mid-career professionals now looking to transition into the IT industry. Most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of thousands of people into career changes as lockdowns took their toll on many industries. Those people went somewhere, many to careers in tech. Switching careers is not easy, however. When plotting your next career move, it is helpful to have reasonable expectations about the learning curve required to enter the IT industry, as well as the level of perseverance required to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
In order to launch your career change, be willing to embrace your background. Even job seekers with non-traditional backgrounds should do this. That is something most career changers do not realize: your background could be the extra spice that makes you stand out. Regardless of your background or training, you can highlight the determination, the discipline, the passion, and the hard work that you can bring to your new tech job. Just remember that it is not always easy for non-techies making a mid-career switch.
From Remote Work to Working From Anywhere
Communications of the ACM, April 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic made remote working a sudden necessity for many employers and employees in 2020, resulting in 35% to 50% of all U.S. employees working entirely or partly from home by May 2020. Information technology played a central role in making the transition to remote work remarkably seamless for most people. However, over the past 12 months, surveys carried out to enquire about how individuals view remote work demonstrate that its impact can be a double-edged sword, with its share of both advantages and disadvantages. Going forward, the institutionalization of remote work as working from anywhere will require deep changes in organizational life.
Remote working is not an entirely new phenomenon. The COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerated changes already under way, and pushed things to a tipping point. However, challenges remain for workers, including those in the IT and software industry, not least because of the sudden and unplanned way in which this happened, alongside the furloughing of jobs and the closure of schools. The relationship between technology and work has been subject to change for a long time, dating all the way back to the first industrial revolution. By the 1980s, remote office work was considered an extension of flexible work arrangements alongside part-time work, which enabled workers to balance work and childcare. With the Internet enabling connectivity since the 1990s, remote work morphed into offshoring to low-cost global locations. This remote work included office work at call centers and software engineering centers, but also freelancing in design, data entry, programming, and translation using popular online platforms.
Fail-Fast Is Failing Fast!
ACM Queue, March 21
As their careers progress, computer science professionals should be aware of changing paradigms in their industry. For example, for more than 40 years, fail-fast has been the dominant way of achieving fault tolerance. In this approach, some mechanism is responsible for ensuring that each component is up, functioning, and responding to work. As long as it is still alive and healthy, you continue forward. When something goes awry with the component, it is removed from the system and the remaining components reorganize themselves to continue. For many systems, this is how you ensure the system remains alive when pieces fail. As the industry moves to leverage cloud computing, however, this approach is getting more challenging and could lead to the rise of new paradigms.
Given the rise of cloud computing, the way computer industry professionals create solutions is under pressure as the individual components experience emerging challenges called gray failures. In a gray failure, a server or part of the network does not fail fast but instead starts running slow. The problem is that running slow is much worse than failing fast. The slow component, sometimes running at less than one percent of its normal speed, will eventually clog up all the work. This makes fail-fast schemes vulnerable. Contrast this scenario to the one that existed before, in which hardware for your servers was in your data center in tightly controlled environments rather than in the cloud. Connecting those servers meant you had a local network supporting only your network traffic, and you could ensure that the traffic running in your local network was not too crowded.
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