ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 5, 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 19, October 5, 2021
As IT jobs grow increasingly complex, there is more ambiguity surrounding how job titles are defined by any given company and how employers can compensate candidates in the same role with varying skillsets. Pay premiums help employers track the value of specific skills, so they know how competitive the market is for candidates with those skills and how much to offer on top of the base salary. By tracking pay data on IT skills, it is possible to see which skills and certifications give the biggest boost at any given time. On average, market value for 621 non-certified tech skills rose just slightly in the second quarter of 2021, with an average pay premium equivalent to just under 10% of reported base salary for a single non-certified skill.
Several factors impact the fluctuations in pay premiums for non-certified IT skills, including new technology, economic conditions, mergers and acquisitions, employment needs, budget cycles, and changes in recruitment and hiring. As a rule of thumb, if a skill is in high demand but the supply does not increase to match at the same rate of growth, there will be an increase in pay premium for that specific skill. For example, demand for risk analytics and assessment skills has outpaced market supply. As a result, the market value of risk analytics and assessment skills grew by nearly 12% during the first six months of the year. Risk analytics and assessment skills are important for businesses looking to secure their services and systems and to identify future potential risks that need to be mitigated, especially in industries such as finance, banking, technology and government.
Computer science degrees qualify you for some of the most in-demand tech careers in programming, design and development, analysis, and management. As many of the largest industries integrate more complex technologies, the number of jobs for computer science majors continues to increase. Graduates can find computer science careers not only in technology, but also in healthcare, manufacturing and the government sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 13% growth in computer occupations over the next decade, resulting from rising demand for technologies related to security, cloud computing infrastructure, and big data applications.
After deciding to enter the computer science industry, there are many ways to advance your career. Aspiring computer science professionals can pursue degrees, industry certifications, and specialized training in areas like coding and data analytics. Additionally, candidates can pick up new soft skills and improve the ones they already have. In the computer science field, soft skills can help professionals find new ways to tackle problems, as well as stand out from their peers during the job search. The list of top computer science jobs currently includes cloud engineer, AI research scientist, data scientist, mobile app designer and computer systems analyst.
Data engineers continue to be in high demand, so organizations should be prepared to move quickly in their hiring process and offer competitive salaries for top talent. Based on a new survey of more than 300 data engineers in the United States, this job title encompasses a growing number of roles and responsibilities. Data engineers are responsible for building and managing the data and IT infrastructure that sits between the data sources and the data analytics. They can report into the IT department, the data science department, or both. Typically, they can be segmented into four different categories, based on level of experience and overall leadership responsibility.
The median salary for senior-level management positions for data engineers is $228,000. A full 96% of these managers were also eligible for bonuses with the mean bonus sitting at $64,218. For junior-level managers, the median salary level is $170,000. A total of 95% of these pros were eligible for bonuses with the mean bonus sitting at $32,803. In terms of non-management roles, salaries are typically in the six-figure range, from $106,000 to $150,000. Organizations can expect these salaries to continue to climb next year. Those increases will be driven by a strong economy and optimism in the market, the ongoing work-from-home trend, pent-up hiring demand, and preemptive salary increases from hiring managers who are looking to stem attrition. Candidates changing jobs are often fielding multiple officers and are able to negotiate higher salaries as a result.
4 Tips for Better Networking in an Era of Hybrid and Remote Work
Dice Insights, September 29
Whether it is virtual or in-person, networking remains a critical component in not only landing your first job, but also for nearly every job after that. Like anything else, networking is a skill that can be learned and perfected over time. In career growth opportunities alone, few skills can serve you more effectively the long term. It all starts with getting involved online. This goes for everyone, but especially those seeking their first job. Build up your online profiles, and then interact with online groups devoted to your interests, especially on social media.
Blogging and posting on social media about technologies that interest you will help to boost your visibility with recruiters. Hackathons are likewise a good place to create tight bonds with potential hiring managers. While it can be intimidating to reach out and request to connect with experienced technologists and leaders in the organizations and industries you are most interested in, you should do it nonetheless. Many of these experts are only too happy to help, as they had the same leg up on their way to their current roles. Explain that you are just starting out and could use some information. Never follow up an introduction with a request for a job: the goal here is simply to learn as much as possible.
Will Nomad Hubs Become the Next Startup Cities?
The Next Web, September 22
Startup hubs around the world are taking notice of what has transformed Silicon Valley into an innovation giant and are now developing the next set of game-changing ideas for creating innovative startup ecosystems. It could be the case, though, that the next great startup hub is no longer a single place. It could be a constantly evolving collection of so-called nomad hubs, supported by the global layer of the internet. Digital nomads may be the group best-placed to lead the charge. Wherever digital nomads go, they bring their new, borderless values with them. Those values will be the foundation for new opportunities, strategies, practices, networks, policies, and everything else in the years ahead.
Nearly a decade ago, early adopters of remote work began to experiment with borderless living. They built their careers and businesses as they traveled from place to place, creating a fringe movement that became known as digital nomadism. As nomads moved between locations, a network of startup cities rose to meet their needs. These nomad hubs were often smaller and lesser-known destinations, but they had intimate business ecosystems, higher living standards, and affordability compared to major global cities. The best place in the world for remote workers to be right now changes according to factors like the weather, lifestyle choices, and cost of short-term rentals at different times of the year. Over the past decade, popular nomad hubs have included Bali, Barbados, Kuala Lumpur and Lisbon. Nomads value the same features that help connect cities and their populations to global business: WiFi speed, workspace, meetups, and other startup and maker infrastructure.
Robots Are Coming For Your Job But You Might Like the New One More
Tech Republic, September 30
Advances in AI are ushering in a new era of automation. AI-powered technology is now augmenting traditional human roles across all industries, including skilled portions of the labor force. Understandably, this has stirred debate about the role of humans in the labor force, as well as the overall impact on innovation and business performance A recent report from Reign, for example, highlights sentiment regarding AI and the impacts of these new capabilities on the workforce. The findings detail robust growth in AI jobs as well as surging salaries for these workers. At the same time, 54% of respondents were very or moderately concerned about AI negatively disrupting their job.
Across all industries, 36% of respondents to the Reign survey believe AI will decrease the total number of IT positions over time. Interestingly, there may be educational factors at play within these automation fears. For example, those with at least an undergraduate degree were more than twice as likely to believe that AI will create more, not less, jobs in the future. This divide in perception is very telling for how education level leads to knowledge and perception of AI. In other words, higher education levels may lead to stronger personal beliefs in the ability to learn new skills amid an evolving labor market. Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum predicted that automation, contrary to popular fears about job losses, would result in a net increase of 58 million jobs. Among the jobs automation will transform, the organization projected two-thirds will become higher-skilled, and the remaining one-third being lower-skilled.
Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid According to HR Professionals
Silicon Republic, September 30
No matter how good your CV is, if your cover letter fails to make an impression on your prospective employer, you more than likely will not get the position. The tech jobs market is competitive, especially for freshly minted graduates looking to climb the first rung on the career ladder. Careers advice website ResumeLab asked 205 US HR professionals for their opinions on how cover letters influence the hiring process. The key takeaway is that cover letters do influence the hiring process. The vast majority (87%) of those surveyed said they preferred it when a candidate sent in a cover letter with their job application.
An overwhelming majority (81 percent) of recruiters said they read cover letters compared to just 19 percent who said they did not or only read them sometimes. As a rule, HR professionals are on the lookout for red flags when reading candidate cover letters. Informal greetings, typos and spelling mistakes are frowned upon. More than three-quarters said they would instantly reject somebody if their cover letter had typos, while 26 percent said informal greetings were a serious problem. Unsurprisingly, recruiters favor candidates who simply tell the truth, without trying to stretch their credentials or outright lie. A last important tip for writing an impactful cover letter is do not just copy everything you already said in your CV. The letter is the space for you to really sell yourself as the ideal candidate.
IT Jobs: Tricky Situations Facing Job Hunters Now
The Enterprisers Project, September 20
Technology professionals are more in-demand than ever as organizations continue to double down on digital transformation and other technology-enabled business initiatives. But a red-hot job market comes with its own challenges for job seekers. Tech professionals on the hunt for new roles, for example, are facing uncertainty about the role of remote work. Many organizations are in the midst of determining the right mix of in-person and remote work to suit their teams, with many opting for a hybrid approach that combines both onsite and remote work.
The last year and a half has been a stressful time for technology professionals, with team members within corporations often working double time to respond to the pandemic. The result, inevitably, has been a persistent feeling of burnout. With the ability to work from home, or anywhere, recruiters are seeing greater burnout among security and IT professionals since it is more difficult to separate personal time from work. The burnout is then causing people to reevaluate their career or job, thinking the grass is greener somewhere else where maybe the burnout will not be as bad. It is important, then, to take some time to separate from the stress to determine whether a job change will be the answer, or whether the answer is just creating more balance in a current role.
A Tale of a Non-Traditional Software Engineer
Blog@CACM, September 27
As more and more jobs in computing and information technology become available in the economy, it is opening up new opportunities for engineers without a traditional computer science background. In some cases, these engineers may already have a background in some of the knowledge that is typically included as part of a computer science program, such as data structures, algorithms, and operating systems. However, they typically have limited experience in programming and software design, making it harder for them to find a traditional coding job. With that in mind, job candidates looking to make the switch to a computer science career should be aware of which knowledge and skills, either from their undergraduate degree or from their current job, are potentially most valuable to future employers.
Certain characteristics of the professional workplace can contribute to accelerated growth in junior engineers. Not every workplace is the same, and some cultures and teams foster the success of young developers while others may actually stagnate it, discouraging them from continuing on in the software field. A growth-friendly environment typically includes role models, mentors and empathetic managers. There is no standardized formula for a good development workplace, and certainly every new engineer has unique needs, but there are aspects of the workplace that can be beneficial for new graduates with very little experience. For example, if co-workers place an emphasis on learning, this can help to make the adjustment to a new career less intimidating. Weekly opportunities to give a short demo on a new technology, for example, can expand your specific knowledge, open yourself to new ideas and ways of thinking, and help to make learning an important component of your future career.
The Software Industry Is Still the Problem
ACM Queue, September 29
The time is overdue for professional liability within the software industry. For decades, software engineering gurus have been warning that coders and programmers need to take more responsibility for the quality of programs they write. And science fiction authors have always warned of what might happen if software development is not taken seriously. Now that software is so deeply embedded in just about every business in the world, it is finally time to consider the various impacts that poorly written code can have on those organizations. Security loopholes, for example, could eventually lead to million-dollar ransomware demands, or even worse. Simply following industry best practices is not going to cut it, given the size and scope of the overall problem facing many organizations today.
Currently hundreds of corporations, including many retail chains, have inoperative IT because hackers found a hole in some niche, third-party software product. And hundreds of corporations are enough to argue that they all followed industry best practice. It is no longer case that there are only a few corporations with weak policies and procedures in place; rather, it is the case that nearly every organization faces some sort of external threat due to a systemic failure to hold developers and programmers responsible for their software. In this regard, software should follow the example of physical goods, which have to adhere to strict product liability standards.
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