ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, August 24, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 17, Issue 16, August 24, 2021
Postings for open IT jobs are at their highest level since 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Software and application developers, IT support specialists, systems engineers and architects, IT project managers and systems analysts are among the positions in highest demand. Popular job titles such as software developer and product manager continue to offer high compensation as well as steady projected growth for the foreseeable future. According to the CTIA, jobs related to emerging technologies and skills accounted for more than one-quarter of open IT positions.
Programming skills are always important to have, regardless of IT role. Recruiters say they are seeing more roles currently requiring software development skill regardless of the primary job descriptions. That includes data scientists, web developers, network engineers, computer programmers, database administrators, and many more titles. Organizations used to think of software development as a primary skill, and it still is. However, it is rapidly becoming the basis for all IT jobs. In addition, the demand for talented product managers is still strong in the technology sector, especially those with business acumen. They are critical for being able to sit astride technology, business, and product direction discussions. Great product managers can integrate well and deliver functionality and value to their users.
Over the past year, the shift to remote working and distance education has led to the creation of entirely new technology career paths. At the same time, continual technological change over the past decade has opened up new career opportunities in fields ranging from social media to data science and blockchain at the biggest technology companies in Silicon Valley. Top job opportunities include those related to software development, cloud infrastructure management, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Developers and IT Pros Are In Demand, But How Long Will the Hiring Wave Last?
Tech Republic, August 12
After a year of layoffs and hiring freezes, a number of tech companies are ramping up hiring efforts. In July alone, the U.S. economy added 943,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Amid a tight labor market and remote work at scale, a number of tech positions are in high demand, but how long will these trends last? According to experts, the underlying data tells a growth story of diverse hiring across tech occupation categories, industry sectors, employer types and locations. It is not just one overriding factor, but a combination of factors contributing to tech employment growth.
In terms of tech sector hiring trends, California is the top state for tech sector job postings followed by Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. During the period from June to July, though, Texas took the top spot, adding 4,173 tech job postings during this time. Tech job postings increased 2,588 in California, followed by Massachusetts (1,639), Illinois (1,523) and New Jersey (1,004). At the metro level, New York topped the list with 21,858 tech job posts as of July, representing a 2,058 increase since June. Runner-up Dallas listed 17,453 tech job posts as of July followed by Washington, D.C. (16,391). Los Angeles and Chicago round out the top metro areas for tech job posts.
Job Titles Do Matter
Fast Company, August 21
While the conventional wisdom might be that job titles do not really matter, the reality is that job titles now matter more than ever, especially in the tech startup world. Without the right job title, you might end up putting in work well beyond your title. You might also realize that the work you are doing could actually fit into another title completely. At a large company, there might be a structured career growth framework that follows the appropriate standards of job titling, but at a startup, that is almost definitely not going to exist.
To understand why job titles matter, imagine that you are currently a social media coordinator at a startup. You engage with the audience of your company via various social media channels, and you plan and publish consistent posts. Over time, you start wearing more hats. Soon you find yourself working on broader marketing strategies, helping with copy as needs arise, contributing to broader communications tasks, and more. Does the title of social media coordinator still fit? Not really. And that matters. For one, according to Glassdoor, the national average salary of a social media coordinator is about $43,000, but you are now filling the role of a marketing specialist, which is on average about $62,000. So you are being dramatically underpaid. You could take it a step further and imagine you are ready to move on from your current company. You revamp your resume and LinkedIn and highlight everything you did as a social media coordinator. You read job descriptions at various companies and notice that your job experience closely aligns with marketing specialist roles. So you begin to apply to those and you might not get any interviews. The problem could be your current title. If recruiters or business owners are getting enough applications, they might only have time to scan your application and resume. They are likely to notice the titles that closely match what they are looking for. So, even if you have done the work of a marketing specialist, your social media coordinator title is what is sticking out to them.
5 Ways to Evolve Your IT Hiring Strategy
The Enterprisers Project, August 4
COVID-19 has prompted a reboot of how organizations recruit and onboard new employees. The struggles of the past year have also prompted many workers to rethink their career priorities. As workers quit their jobs in extraordinary numbers, this has created a higher-than-usual demand for workers and has resulted in employers scrambling to find adequate talent to fill the many job openings. CIOs in particular are struggling to accelerate digital transformation and ensure the latest technologies are available. While some organizations are eager to bring workers back into the office full-time, many others are exploring the flexibility that a hybrid work model can bring to recruiting and hiring.
As organizations move into a post-COVID-19 world, they should consider new ways to advance their recruiting and onboarding strategies and processes and help their talent acquisition team stay competitive in this dynamic environment. Being able to hit the reset button is key. A tried-and-true approach to recruiting may have worked well in the past, but the current reality is different. Rather than simply homing in on candidates who possess the ideal training and experience for a particular position, firms should consider those who may possess skills and accomplishments from other roles or industries that could be built upon. There is no perfect candidate, so consider those with attributes that can signal success rather than focusing exclusively on those who match the job description exactly.
The Cybersecurity Jobs Crisis Is Getting Worse
ZDNet.com, August 2
According to a recent global study of cybersecurity professionals, the lack of investment in new cybersecurity measures, combined with the challenge of additional workloads, is resulting in a skills shortage that is leading to unfilled jobs and high burnout among information security staff. Based on a survey of 500 cybersecurity professionals, 57 percent say a shortage of cybersecurity skills has impacted the effectiveness of their organization. The effect is an increased workload for information security staff, according to 62 percent of respondents. As a result, 38 percent say they have experienced burnout as a result of extra work pressures during what was already a difficult year.
One of the reasons many cybersecurity staff have struggled is because of the sudden rise of remote working as a result of the global pandemic. Approximately one-half of respondents say this has led to an increase in stress. Greater prevalence of remote working has made some aspects of enterprise network security more difficult, as cybersecurity staff have needed to help employees, many of whom may not have worked from home before, stay safe. More remote working means greater usage of cloud applications, which has led to increased demand for cybersecurity professionals with skills in cloud computing security . A significant number of organizations are struggling to find the people to fill these gaps. Almost four in ten (39%) of cybersecurity professionals say their organization is struggling to fill cloud computing security roles. Meanwhile, 30 percent are finding it difficult to fill vacancies in application security, and there is a similar story when it comes to security analysis and investigation.
Can You Pass the Elevator Test? The Importance of Being Likable
CIO Insight, August 13
Passing the elevator test could be the key to improving the range and scope of your career opportunities. Imagine you walk into an elevator with a stranger and they ask you about yourself, or a product or service that you provide. As you ride the elevator up several floors toward your destination, do you have the time to clearly explain who you are and what you do? The elevator test is a business concept that venture capitalists and investors have used for many years to judge a pitch for a new product or business idea. When applied to the hiring process, the elevator test can be used to market yourself more effectively to potential hiring managers.
The version of the elevator test that most people have heard of is also known as an elevator pitch. Elevator pitches are typically used to advertise a product or service that you offer, but they can also be used to concisely describe who you are and what you do. Interviewers and applicants alike should practice a personal elevator pitch that covers their most important features in a manner that is quick and memorable. Interviewers are looking at many candidates at a time and applicants are applying to several different tech roles and firms, so what can you do to make the other person feel connected to what you are saying?
How to Make the Hybrid Workplace a Success
Computerworld, August 9
Many organizations are busy making plans for their employees to return to the office. What was normal for the office 18 months ago, however, is unlikely to be the reality most workers will return to. Office workers have had a taste of the benefits of remote working, and many are not keen to return to a daily commute, though most would like to spend part of their workweek in the office. Some organizations have already taken the drastic step of closing all their offices and making their employees permanent home workers. Many more are planning to adopt a hybrid workplace model, where some employees may be fully remote and some may work in the office full-time, and most will split their work time between the office and home.
For many organizations, it is now time to get serious about hybrid workplace models. What tech workers have experienced over the past year does not equate to intentional remote work. Quarantine-induced work from home is definitely not the same as intentionally designed remote work, but many companies are conflating them as exactly the same thing. When you are intentional about it, collaboration is easier, team building is easier, culture building is easier. Much of the change in how people work during the last year or so has been tactical and localized, with organizations sorting everything out ad hoc and individual teams often finding their own way. But now it is important to try to build in some structure, consistency, and predictability, to ensure the whole business is working in rhythm through strong and progressive leadership. Company leaders need to realize that hybrid working is not just about having some people in the office and some people working from home. It has huge consequences for the way people will work independently, how they work collaboratively, how the company culture will develop, how you think about workplace technology and the employee experience, and for the policies that you need to ensure a fair, inclusive, and healthy work environment.
E-Learning During a Time of Pandemic
eLearn Magazine, August 2021
The speed of change accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the urgency to provide an expanded collection of learning experiences, offering opportunities for flexible, self-directed, on-demand, micro-learning as well as extended online learning experiences. At many organizations, there is now growing interest in offering unique online experiences and expanding access to online content. In addition, many learning and development professionals, teachers and trainers, and human resources professionals are under increasing pressure to produce and manage distance and online learning. Training virtually has now become a necessity, raising the stakes for organizations looking to rebound from the pandemic.
One of the major barriers to implementing effective technology-supported education among adult learners is the lack of digital skills combined with lack of access to their own computer and internet services at home. A possible way to overcome one of these barriers is by using a smartphone to access educational content. Eighty-five percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone and many of them access the internet with their phones, which makes having high-speed internet less critical to access online content. Another common barrier is the lack of instructor experience in developing materials specifically aimed at the online learner. This inexperience can lead to an ineffective use of learning technologies, with instructors treating online spaces as simple repositories for presentation slides and video recordings of in-person trainings, providing little to no value to the learner. Most novice instructors experience some level of apprehension when it comes to delivering content online. For most educators, the shift to digital delivery can be overwhelming.
The Role of Computer Science in Elite Higher Education
Blog @ CACM, August 18
While computer science instructors have a responsibility to improve access to education and increase diversity, they also have a responsibility to provide the best-prepared students with an elite education. There are students who come to campus with a strong prior background, with enormous interest and self-efficacy, who want to succeed in the existing social systems. They expect higher education to prepare them to do things in computer science that have never been done before, to invent and innovate, and to change the world. The challenge, though, is how to do this without permeating inequality in higher education and without diverting too many resources only to the highest achievers.
In order to determine the role of computer science in higher education, it is important to consider who is best positioned to teach elite scientists, engineers, and mathematicians about computation. Domain experts and top computer scientists can play a role here, of course, but there is no guarantee that they will be able to teach others. A huge challenge to learning and teaching in higher education is that faculty often have an expert blind spot. The foundational knowledge is so ingrained and so tacit that faculty do not even see it to teach it. Faculty often do not even know what they need to teach, because it is obvious to them. The expert blind spot is most significantly a problem when teaching the foundational concepts. If you use computation every day for decades, you stop seeing it. You think about what you can do with it, but you actually forget what you did not know and what was hard to learn. Upper-level courses are about how to be a good computational scientist, engineer, or mathematician. Those classes ought to be taught by the domain experts since they are the ones who know best the practices, skills, and knowledge of computational science, engineering, and mathematics. But they are not best suited to teaching the foundational courses.
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