ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 16, 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 22, November 16, 2021
These 11 Cities Are Hiring the Most Artificial Intelligence Talent Right Now
Dice Insights, November 10
Some of the biggest tech hubs in the nation also have the highest demand for AI and machine learning talent. As might be expected, tech hubs such as New York City, Silicon Valley, Boston and Seattle are all leading the way in hiring AI talent right now. This makes sense, given the high number of local tech companies and startups in those cities that are attempting to integrate AI into their product offerings. What is surprising, though, is how Texas appears to be emerging as the top AI hiring hub in the nation. Within the state, Austin, Dallas and Houston are now posing hiring rates for AI talent that are among the highest in the nation.
The emergence of Texas as a potential AI and machine learning hub is perhaps no surprise when you consider how many companies have recently set down roots in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, attracted by the growing tech scene and favorable taxes of those metro areas. For example, Tesla recently announced that it would move its corporate headquarters to Austin. According to one survey in 2020, 29 percent of technology professionals said that Texas was the next Silicon Valley and that they planned to move, versus the 36 percent who said that Silicon Valley will always be the tech hub (and that they are staying). Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Oracle, and dozens of other tech companies large and small have opened new facilities and factories in cities across the state. All of them are presumably looking for AI talent.
While the United States still ranks as the top country in the world to start a coding or programming career, it is getting plenty of competition from other nations that are attempting to replicate the same type of success. Around the globe, countries such as China, India, and Ukraine are among the new hotspots for programming talent. Big tech companies in these countries are hiring skilled professionals on a global scale to boost growth, while local organizations are taking steps to create the right mix of culture, incentives and opportunities to attract new talent. For programmers and coders looking to jump-start their careers, it could be time to look globally for new opportunities.
The United States still attracts students, technology professionals, innovators, entrepreneurs, and business leaders from around the world. The companies in the U.S. are always a step ahead in hiring talented tech professionals from every country. The jobs also offer great financial rewards to tech professionals. That being said, however, China is now home to some of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world, producing 4.7 million tech graduates every year. Chinese coding and programming opportunities provide great resources for professionals to boost their careers. Elsewhere in Asia, India also ranks favorably as a coding hotspot. Coders and programmers are in demand across several IT and non-IT sectors in India. Until mid-2019, it was mostly IT and e-commerce companies that were hiring developers, but now with growing technological development in the country, aspiring skilled coders are in demand everywhere.
As remote work environments become increasingly common and technology becomes further intertwined with other business functions, it is more important than ever that IT professionals have skills that extend well beyond technical expertise. With that in mind, hiring managers are now looking for IT prospects with comprehensive soft skills to add greater value to their organizations. Unlike technical skills gained through study, training, and real-world experience, soft skills are how IT professionals maintain and foster strong relationships at work, with a focus on collaboration and communication. Being able to demonstrate soft skills in the workplace could make or break your chance of landing that dream IT job.
Communication and collaboration skills are now essential for any IT professional. For example, the ability to discuss projects with teammates is crucial for maintaining productivity and keeping work on track. Whether in a meeting or while giving a presentation, IT professionals need to speak clearly, take time to listen to feedback, field questions, and provide thoughtful responses. When they work with non-technical colleagues in different departments, it is essential to clearly explain project requirements and expectations. Remember that many of your colleagues do not share your level of technical knowledge, so be patient and take the time to answer questions about IT processes. This ensures successful collaboration between departments and promotes positive relationships at work.
Demand for AI and Emerging Tech Skills Stand Out in IT Talent Shortage
HRDive.com, November 8
After a pause last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, companies are back on track to advance digital transformation initiatives, many of which will require skills in emerging tech fields such as automation or AI. In fact, one-third of technology positions posted by employers in October 2021 were for emerging tech related roles, according to a recent review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Employers posted 360,065 tech role openings during October, the highest monthly total since September 2019, which represents an increase of almost 76,000 roles from September numbers. The 2.1% October unemployment rate in tech is less than half the national unemployment rate, which fell to 4.6%.
Emerging technologies are seeping into different types of roles, driving the demand for these skills across the board. For example, it is now more common to have a software development job or a data scientist job that requires some level of competency with machine learning. The rise in emerging tech hiring indicates companies are aiming to expand or resume their activities in areas such as AI, automation, robotics and the internet of things.
Putting Common Career Advice to the Test
Harvard Business Review, October 27
There is no shortage of advice on how to thrive in a tech career today, especially during this time of transition to new ways of working. Whether you are beginning your career or wondering if it is time to make a move to a new company or industry, how can you know which advice is actually worth taking? After decades of research on how to be successful in contemporary careers, researchers have identified the four most common pieces of advice people consider necessary to have a successful career. To figure out how worthwhile each piece of advice actually is, Harvard conducted a meta-analysis of all field studies since 2006 related to various career outcomes. This allowed the researchers to spot population-level patterns for each piece of advice and determine which are likely to be the most rewarding and which should be approached with caution.
One of the most common pieces of advice is that you should take your career into your own hands. This piece of advice requires a self-directed mindset, which means a person assumes full responsibility for their own career path and development, rather than relying primarily on their employer. Compared to other career advice, this one has the most positive effect overall. People who hold a self-directed mindset are more likely to experience both greater objective and subjective career success compared to those who do not. Additionally, people who take full ownership of their own careers are more likely to have greater morale and higher job performance ratings in their current job. The best recommendation is that you take control of your own development by proactively finding training opportunities to increase and strengthen your repertoire of knowledge, skills, and abilities. You could do so by attending training courses related to your career. Additionally, given the increases to employee morale, performance, and lower withdrawal that this mindset brings, you could mention how it is in the best interests of your company to promote your growth. The key is to be proactive about your ongoing learning and professional development.
The IT Talent Crisis: Best Ways to Hire and Retain
Information Week, November 10
IT organizations are now re-thinking how they can attract and retain their valuable technology talent. The labor market for IT talent, particularly in cybersecurity and emerging technology, is increasingly tight. At the same time, masses of workers are voluntarily leaving their jobs as part of the Great Resignation. This is making it difficult for organizations to push forward their digital transformation initiatives and digital leaders are now unable to keep pace with change because they can not hire the talent they need. So how can CIOs and other digital leaders attract talent and get existing talent to stay? The quick answer is to pay them more and give them better opportunities.
A recent survey of 2,000 technology professionals who were either actively job hunting or passively looking revealed that 58% were leaving for better salary or benefits and 54% were leaving for better career options or long-term opportunities. This lines up with what IT workers typically give as a reason for why they left a job. In a majority of cases, they say they want higher compensation or a better job title. In order to work through this talent shortage and meet employee needs, organizations should consider more training and cross training, particularly when it comes to expanding the skills and capabilities of the organization. This adds to the overall skill base of the company, of course, but there are other benefits, too. It shows employees that their organizations want to invest in them.
Stop Ghosting Job and Client Candidates
Tech Republic, November 12
Ghosting, which refers to ending all communication suddenly and without explanation, appears to be on the rise in the professional domain. For example, some candidates might go through the initial steps of the job interview process, only to ghost their potential employer once it is time to accept the final offer. Or, employers might pull the same move, telling candidates they are perfect for the role, only to ghost them, with no contact or acknowledgment of emails and calls sent to express interest in the position. The problem, quite simply, is that there is no excuse for bad behavior, and the continual ghosting of employers and clients will only derail your career at a future date.
It is impossible to have a conversation with anyone trying to hire these days without hearing about the impact of talent shortages and difficulties in finding talent. However, it is possible that many good candidates were simply ghosted. When organizations view hiring as just business as usual, they might assume that courtesy is neither expected nor required. However, ghosting during the hiring process could be indicative of broader cultural flaws at the company. It is simple human nature not to bring your best to an abusive relationship, and ghosting sours professional interactions just as it does personal relationships. No one expects to get an offer from every job interview or a lucrative contract with every pitch. However, the basic professional courtesy of an email saying that the job is no longer available or that another vendor was selected is not only baseline professional courtesy, it is also a reflection on your organization and its values. A rejection delivered promptly and frankly, and perhaps even including a bit of feedback, shows that your organization is a team of professionals that values the current and future relationship.
Study Compares Coding Bootcamps With Universities
GovTech.com, October 18
When it comes to job placement rates, the best tech bootcamps are more successful than even the most prestigious university computer science programs, according to a new study of top coding programs. As a recent study from Optimal points out, the current rise of tech bootcamp training courses has coincided with the largest college enrollment decline in a decade, as students look to cost-effective alternatives to gain IT credentials outside of traditional four-year degree programs. If anything, demand for bootcamp training programs for tech-related careers is only going to increase in coming years, as some colleges and universities struggle to prove a similar return on investment.
Based on in-field employment data from Burning Glass Technologies, the top two camps were Codesmith and Devmountain, which recorded in-field employment rates of 92 and 87 percent, respectively. In fact, in-field employment rates of these top bootcamps often surpassed or remained even with prestigious computer science departments found at schools like Stanford, MIT or CalTech, based on a recent Optimal study examining higher-ed programs. For example, the University of Pennsylvania recorded an 84 percent job placement rate, 8 percent less than CodeSmith, despite being ranked as the top computer science program for job placement. Many of the tech bootcamp programs found today began gaining popularity about five years ago. Students now view them as a faster and more cost-effective alternative to traditional four-year university computer science degree programs.
Reinforcing Computer Science Education
Blog@CACM, November 1
Given that technology is constantly changing, computer science students should be prepared for a lifetime of learning if they would like to be successful in industry. While the number of technical topics and complexity of those topics keeps increasing, one thing remains constant: the need to reinforce basic computer science education. While programming languages can go in and out of favor, the fundamentals do not generally change, so students should ensure they understand both core concepts and implementations of those concepts across as much of the technology stack as is feasible to squeeze into a degree, from operating systems to networks to data stores to compilers to programming languages and data structures and software engineering and beyond.
Open source projects are a great opportunity to see software development in action and to reinforce core computer science skills. When selecting an open source project to follow, pick something of personal interest. There are always hot projects at any point in time, but the most appropriate project should be something that you want to spend a lot of time on and, ideally, use. Sometimes the technical complexity of projects can be overwhelming, so be patient and take things one day at a time. Also, keep in mind that not all projects are equally welcoming and supportive of new members. Use your own judgement for overall fit. Working with an open source project can be a tremendous learning experience, in terms of how to organize sizable codebases, how to document projects, and how the community behaves and organizes itself.
Safe AI in Education Needs You
Blog@CACM, November 8
On a global basis, AI is coming to computer science education and will raise challenging issues on topics related to bias, fairness and data security. While the issue of AI within industries such as healthcare is already being addressed, not much has been done in the education field. Yet, as AI and machine learning is increasingly used in education to personalize student assignments, in early warning systems, to grade essays, and more, there will be a need for top policy experts to get involved on how AI for education is actually deployed and evaluated. These experts should decide factors such as how new policies can increase equitable access to AI tools and curricula across U.S. schools and how these policies can bolster AI literacy in educators and leaders.
Limited AI knowledge from management, customer-facing personnel, and others in a company can also pose a threat to creating ethical AI products for educators. As products are used within the educational space, low AI knowledge can contribute to poor instructional tool selection, misuse in implementation, and overlooking student needs for AI education. This has clear implications for the overall educational experience. For example, what happens when AI recommends decisions that are consequential for future educational growth? Also, the best policies should encourage clearer explanations of AI tools. Without clarity, educators may be confused about their roles in making decisions for their students, may dissociate themselves from end impacts, and tools could be misused and marketed incorrectly.
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