ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 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 protected]
Volume 17, Issue 14, July 20, 2021
Companies everywhere are pouring resources into artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives. But which industries are actually hiring AI specialists? The latest CompTIA Tech Jobs Report offers a comprehensive breakdown of AI hiring based on data from Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. Manufacturing, healthcare and banking top the list of industries hiring for AI roles. These companies have been steadily automating their processes for years, so it stands to reason that they would turn to AI and ML to streamline operations further.
According to many scenarios, AI will help organizations do everything from reducing downtime to improving supply chains, although it may take some time to get the models right. The fact that industries such as healthcare, banking, and public administration are embracing AI seems logical. These three industries have the money to invest in AI and ML right now and have the greatest opportunity to see the investment pay off quickly. Yet, compared to overall tech hiring, the number of AI-related job postings is still relatively small. Right now, mastering and deploying AI and machine learning is something of a specialist industry. However, as these technologies become more commodified, and companies develop tools that allow more employees to integrate AI and ML into their projects, the number of job postings for AI and ML positions could increase over the next several years.
In the era of coding bootcamps and streamlined online learning, deep knowledge of programming theory could be the key to your ability to land a dream coding job. A lot of big tech companies still base hiring decisions around an understanding of programming fundamentals, much to the chagrin of developers who have learned to code but do not hold a computer science degree. Online coding courses and bootcamps, which have exploded in popularity in recent years among those looking for a fast track into software development, usually focus on a specific programming language or platform, which students will be taught to use over the course of several weeks. While they might be a convenient choice for someone looking for a mid-career shift, or for someone who does not have the time or money for a traditional computer science degree, online courses rarely leave students with a deep understanding of programming fundamentals.
The realization that one lacks a deep understanding of programming fundamentals can come as quite a surprise when it shows up in the interview process. If a person has spent their career learning programming in practice, these theoretical questions can be extremely difficult to answer, giving a feeling that these questions are ineffective and even unfair to a point. While the traditional tech companies have continued with their view of programming as a generic concept, newer companies have more practical and focused platform needs, which is exactly the type of job that bootcamp-style courses are designed to fill. In short, the interview process of these companies is considerably different from the average one, with the former being more focused on theory and the latter being focused more on practical concepts. A lot of the resentment about the demand for an understanding of computer science stems from the fact that it is largely seen as unnecessary for the types of tasks a coder will actually be expected to perform as part of their job. Of course, the importance of this knowledge also depends on where or for whom an aspiring developer wants to work.
With so many IT workers actively looking for jobs right now, job candidates should use every advantage they have in order to stand out versus other candidates. This past spring, ResumeLab surveyed over 1,000 people on their resume and LinkedIn habits to see what worked best for them while trying to find work. Those who reported the most success in getting multiple offers said they had taken sometimes unconventional steps to update their resumes, such as by including data in the form of charts, graphs, or diagrams.
While tactics such as including data charts on a resume might not be commonly employed, they may be ones you might want to add to other strategies, such as tailoring your resume for each job application, adding keywords to it, optimizing formatting for applicant-tracking systems, and having others who know your industry review your resume. While all of this is practically a full-time job in itself, it is also important not to ignore LinkedIn. Of those surveyed, just under 60 percent said their profiles on the site were fully representative of them. LinkedIn is a crucial tool for many, particularly those who earn the most. While income is not a result of the frequency of updates, adopting the habits of high earners can be of benefit.
How to Change Your Career To Cloud Computing
InfoWorld, July 13
In the IT world, the new norm is a dispersed workforce model. This means career opportunities will likely be dispersed also, and those looking to get into cloud computing from anywhere in the world have new opportunities to launch a career in cloud computing. The way we learn has changed as well. On-demand training is not just for augmenting classroom training anymore. It is the new norm at colleges and private training companies. With in-person classes now delivered over the Internet, it is easier than ever to change your career to cloud computing.
Most companies offer educational reimbursement but limit it to accredited colleges and universities. Just a few years ago, this was the much less preferred option for cloud training, but most colleges and universities have seen the writing on the wall and now have cloud computing programs, both in class and online. Many companies who sponsor training also use private training companies, such as LinkedIn Learning and Cloud Guru. They may even have relationships already established where the training can be had for free or at deep discounts. Although you would think that most employees would know about these benefits, most do not. Companies typically mention them during orientation but do not actively promote resources for the self-learners, instead focusing on mandatory training such as compliance. The sequence of courses you should take is really an exercise in obtaining the right mix of skills. Some opt for certifications, such as public cloud-specific skills such as engineer or architect. Most also want generalized knowledge such as security, governance, operations, and migration. These are not specific to a particular cloud service provider. The key is to find the intersection of what you are interested in and what pays the best.
These Are the Most In-Demand Cybersecurity Careers For the Next Five Years
Digital Information World, July 18
Some cybersecurity fields are growing faster than others, and the field that is looking to grow the most over the course of the next five years would be application development security. Application security ensures that an application does not have any flaws in it that could be taken advantage of, and it is expected to grow by a massive 160 percent over the next have decade or so. If you are thinking of changing jobs, looking into becoming an application security professional might be quite worthwhile. There currently appears to be a great deal of scope in this role, which means that you would have a high likelihood of obtaining a high-paying job.
Cloud security, risk management and threat intelligence are all highly valuable roles as well, seeing a 115%, 60% and 41% bump over the next five years, respectively. This seems to indicate that for the most part people that want to get into IT these days should try their best to specialize in fields that are related to security. Cybersecurity is a very hot button issue right now, which means that careers in this field are going to end up becoming ever more valuable as time goes by. Moreover, fields such as risk management and threat intelligence are likely to widen further, opening up new opportunities for cybersecurity professionals.
Six IT Talent Retention Strategies
The Enterprisers Project, July 14
In the aftermath of the pandemic, organizations may be facing an unprecedented IT talent retention crisis. With expanding work from anywhere policies, location may no longer play a role in talent retention, and that could lead to extremely high turnover rates in the near-term future. As a result, business and IT leaders should take a proactive approach to ensure their best talent has plenty of reasons to stick around. From creating an inclusive culture, to getting to know people on an individual level, to focusing on fairness in a hybrid work environment, companies are taking different steps to ensure their best talent feels compelled to stay.
As part of their long-term retention strategies, organizations should attempt to create a culture of inclusion. This culture of inclusion is really all about diversity: diversity from different industries, life experiences and cultures. Organizations should encourage vigorous respectful debate, and celebrate ideas that fail as much as those that succeed. Organizations should also strive to connect on a personal level. The IT field is facing a not-so-quiet crisis: the war for talent is fierce, but only a third of people in STEM fields are women, and less than 15 percent are Hispanic or Black. Collectively, CIOs can ease this crisis by working with internship organizations to attract diverse talent to STEM fields, recruit them to companies, and retain them with a culture of inclusion.
Return to Work Meets Hybrid Office
ZDNet, July 18
Employees are finally heading back to work after 18 months of working from home. This large-scale office migration is expected to result in a new normal of hybrid work. However, there are still a large number of questions to ponder as this grand experiment kicks off. Hybrid work is expected to be the new normal, but there are still firms in many industries that expect everyone back in the office every day. On the other end of the hybrid work spectrum are companies that plan to use an entirely remote work model to poach top IT talent. Most companies, though, are falling somewhere in the middle with a hybrid approach.
In many ways, the second half of 2021 will be one giant experiment about hybrid work and worker productivity. A TinyPulse survey of HR leaders found that 62.8% saw hybrid work as the most productive approach for their companies. But that does not mean that employees are standing still. Microsoft Research found that more than 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer in 2021. The TinyPulse survey found that more than 68% of respondents expected attrition would be as high as 9% once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Moreover, Global Workplace Analytics projects that 25% to 30% of the workforce will work from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
How to Game and Win the Interview
Forbes, July 18
When you are interviewing for a job, hiring managers are taking into account more than just your background and experience. Of course, the interviewer and hiring manager care about your skills, responsibilities, expertise and knowledge. However, while these factors are important, you must also demonstrate some intangibles to win over the hiring manager during the interview. You have to realize that you could be met with indifference and rejection in any interview and that there could be anywhere from three to ten interviews conducted over a period of six months. Going on a number of interviews without an end in sight and little to no feedback could be exhausting. However, once you get how the game is played, you will be prepared and ready to overcome all the obstacles and hurdles in your way.
Interviewers are watching and listening for clues. You can be the best, most qualified candidate, but if you have a bad attitude, it could be a deal-killer. Temperament, communication style, social and interpersonal skills are crucially important. A manager does not want to hire someone who will alienate his or her staff members, appears unwilling to be coached, is not a team player or is difficult to work with. If you lost your job, it’ is understandable that you are a little bitter and angry. A common occurrence is that job seekers cannot hide their inner feelings. In the interview, their emotions bubble up to the surface. The candidate will say something disparaging about their former boss and coworkers. This never ends well. It is a big waving red flag. For many managers, it is easier to take a pass and see other applicants.
The 2021 Software Developer Shortage Is Coming
Communications of the ACM, July 2021
While global economies have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, information technology companies have managed to survive much of the economic downturn. This is due in large part to their past success in distributed IT development, remote IT operations, and remote maintenance. IT companies have required their staff to essentially do at home what they had been doing in the office years before. Moreover, to meet the constraints of working from home, the demand for IT services has increased across many other market sectors, including retail, entertainment, education, and healthcare, leading to a more profitable IT market.
While rising demand is largely positive for IT companies, the pandemic is also taking its toll on the upstream supply of IT labor, and software developers in particular. These effects could constrain hiring and innovation over the next two to three years. Due in part to travel embargoes, limited access to educational loans, and delays in student visa processing, U.S. colleges and universities are observing significant declines in graduate-level enrollments in computer and information science this year. These declines are translating into one-year enrollment deferrals, meaning a temporary, but significant reduction in expected 2021 graduation rates. Two years ago, in 2019, U.S. colleges and universities awarded more than 136,000 degrees in computer and information science (CIS). Among which, 35,200 of these degrees were awarded to nonresident aliens, among whom 27,200 (77%) earned an advanced degree, placing these graduates in a higher skilled technology category. Recently, the American Council on Education (ACE) reported a 43% decline in pandemic-era enrollments for international students based on recent surveys. This decline will reduce CIS post-graduates by 11,700 students in 2021, and would disproportionately affect higher-skilled graduates with more than two years of industry experience.
Why Computing Students Should Contribute to Open Source Software Projects
Communications of the ACM, July 2021
Learning to program is a rite of passage in nearly all computer science, informatics, software engineering, and computer engineering courses. For many decades, this skill reliably set computing graduates apart from their peers in other disciplines. However, in the modern era, programming proficiency on its own is neither representative of the skills that the marketplace requires from computing graduates, nor does it offer the strong vocational qualifications it once did. Thus, computing students should be encouraged to contribute code to open source software projects through their curricular activities. The ability to make such contributions can improve coding skills acquisition and boost the overall learning experience. In many ways, then, contributing to open source is the new coding.
Programming skills nowadays are only a part of what a software developer should know. This is the case for two reasons. First, practices have advanced well beyond the model popularized in the 1970s, to include work on orders of magnitude larger systems, advanced tooling, pervasive process automation, as well as sophisticated teamwork, workflows, and management. Second, industrial best practices have homogenized with those followed by large and successful open source software projects. Businesses have assimilated and contributed many open source development practices. This has made the corresponding knowledge and skills portable between volunteer projects and enterprise ones. Consequently, instruction must move from an educational laboratory setting to an organizational setting.
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