ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 22, 2022
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 18, Issue 6, March 22, 2022
As interest in crypto and blockchain increases, companies from a variety of different sectors are looking for ways to capitalize on this new technological trend by boosting their hiring. Established companies are recruiting at an accelerating rate to help build out existing branches of their business, or create new ones altogether, in order to harness the growing power of blockchain-based technologies. This hiring trend is particularly strong in sectors such as tech, finance, social media, consulting and media. Based on job listings over the past six months, it appears that some of the biggest companies getting into crypto include PayPal, Coinbase, Square, J.P. Morgan and IBM.
The past year saw a major push into crypto by PayPal, which is the company looking to fill the most crypto-related jobs. The platform began letting its users checkout with Bitcoin, Ether, and other cryptocurrencies in March 2021, and soon after let users of its social payment app Venmo buy and sell crypto as well. A PayPal competitor in the crypto space, Square, which is led by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, also earned a spot on the list of companies most in search of crypto workers. Other notable names on the list include J.P. Morgan, Amazon and Reddit. Since Reddit is one of the most viewed sites on the web, any move it makes could be influential. Reddit posted job listings for iOS and Android engineers to work on its NFT platform, among others. The site recently tested letting users set an NFT as their profile picture, in a similar move to Twitter. Companies are not only looking for engineers to build out their crypto products. While engineering and software jobs are most prominent, job listings for managers, development leads, and security engineers are also common.
In order to land your new dream IT job, you may need to relocate to a different city. This is particularly true in the current hiring environment, in which companies are more open than ever before to the idea of hiring candidates from far-flung geographic locales. There are a few considerations to keep in mind, however, when relocating from one tech job to another. For example, you should ensure that there is sufficient demand for your job role or function within the new geographic locale. You should also take into account potential factors that might impact your work-life balance, such as the cost of living in the new geographic locale.
The first step in a job relocation is to learn more about how your desired career is tied to a different location. This enables you to examine the fit with your desired lifestyle and career objectives. You will be able to make better selections and plan properly. Some tech professions are centralized in a single area. Thus, you should take into account the need for specific job titles. For example, data scientists are in high demand in New York and San Francisco right now. Or you might want to look for jobs that provide you greater flexibility in terms of choosing a city. Most large companies now require chief technology officers as specialists in integrating technological tools and protocols into their operations. This usually indicates that you have a large wide range of target companies and places from which to choose. However, keep in mind that businesses are typically drawn to large cities. Doing some additional study on the cities where companies are headquartered should be part of your employment hunt.
While the immersive digital world of the metaverse may still be in its infancy in both development and understanding, companies of every size have already considered how it could potentially impact employee engagement, retention, and attraction. Given that the pandemic era has accelerated the adoption of virtual recruiting through tools such as Zoom, it is only natural to assume the metaverse will simply be the next evolution of virtual methods to find, assess, and onboard talent. With that in mind, the article analyzes what can job seekers do to best prepare themselves for this new frontier of recruiting and interviewing.
Even in a virtual environment, communicating experience, qualifications, and skill sets clearly and presenting yourself articulately will continue to be paramount. In fact, in a space where you will no longer be physically in front of a hiring manager and avatars are not advanced enough to depict complex, subtle body language, there may be even more room for ambiguity or miscommunication. You are your own biggest advocate, so if something is unclear, ask for clarification. This starts by approaching any interview with extensive research on the business, the specific role you are applying for, and even the representative you are speaking with. Bring tailored questions that touch on salary and compensation, work culture, direct reports, daily responsibilities, short-term performance indicators, and anything else that will help you make an informed decision.
Return to Office? Leaders and Workers Do Not See Eye to Eye
CIO.com, March 16
There are signs of a growing divide between business leaders and workers on the issue of hybrid and remote work, according to a new study commissioned by Microsoft. In short, employees all around the world are redefining what they want from work and what they are willing to give up in return. As a result, leaders of organizations are being called on to help deliver communication tools that give remote workers an in-office experience, while at the same time providing a digital workplace that makes the commute worth it.
According to the study, there is a clear difference in perception about the consequences of remote work for the enterprise. For example, a majority (81%) of workers said they are as productive or more so compared to a year ago. However, more than half (54%) of business leaders surveyed feared productivity had been negatively impacted since the shift to remote or hybrid work. Another finding was that over half of remote and hybrid workers feel lonelier and have fewer workplace relationships since leaving the office, and other research has shown that loneliness at work reduces productivity. While videoconferencing platform developers are seeking to make the online environment more entertaining and interactive, 66% of survey respondents said informal online chats feel like more of a chore than in-person gatherings. The challenge for CIOs, then, is not just deploying the latest in conferencing tools, but also in developing a team culture that enables employees to communicate at a deeper level and making time for employees to connect with one another and build online relationships.
5 Traits of Good Leaders Worth Emulating to Advance Your Career
Dice Insights, March 15
Observing and modeling the behaviors, traits and managerial styles of leaders who are successfully leading organizations is a great way to build your own competencies and advance your career. The most effective leaders have adapted to the disruptive events of recent years, and know how to blend technical, business and soft skills to guide their organizations to new ways of thinking. The key traits of successful leaders include adaptability, the ability to innovate, and the ability to communicate effectively.
Adaptability ranks at the top of the list of desired traits for anyone looking to advance their career. Highly competent and effective tech leaders are masters of adaptation. They find opportunities in disruption and have helped their companies shift their business model. With industries seeing even more disruption over the next three to five years, it is important to find and understand examples of leaders who have successfully managed the digital transformation process. Tech leaders who hesitate or lack the courage to change or reinvent their roles will struggle. Those who are able to adapt to changing circumstances will continue to survive and prosper.
Overworked and Underpaid: Why People Are Quitting Their Jobs En Masse
Protocol, March 9
Resignation rates in the U.S. reached an all-time high in November 2021, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. As a result, organizations everywhere are attempting to understand why people are quitting their jobs en masse. The majority of workers who quit their jobs in 2021 cited dissatisfaction with pay, lack of advancement opportunities and feeling disrespected as the top reasons for quitting, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Secondary reasons for quitting included child care issues, limited flexibility of working hours, poor benefits and the desire to relocate.
Worker sentiment is based on more than just anecdotal evidence. There appears to be statistical support, for example, for the perception that pay is not keeping up with rising costs. Despite the fact that wage growth is high, record inflation is negating any pay raises U.S. employees are seeing, with overall wages falling 2.4% on average for all workers last year. There is a silver lining. The Pew Research Center survey also found that those who quit are more likely to say that their current job has better pay, more opportunities for advancement and better work-life balance and flexibility than their previous job. Despite rumors that burned-out workers were opting out of the workforce entirely, most of the Pew respondents are employed now, especially those with an undergraduate degree. Not only were they able to find new jobs, they were able to find jobs that pay more and give them more opportunities.
Remote Work Has Opened the Door to a New Approach to Hiring
Harvard Business Review, March 11
The experiment with remote work over the past two years has shown some organizations the upside of approaches to work they would never have otherwise considered. Hybrid and remote work are not the end of the story, however. The new capabilities organizations have for remote work have opened up new possibilities, and now is the time for leaders to assess how other changes to the employment model could work for them. A flexible or open talent model is particularly worth considering. Flexible and open talent are broad terms, covering scenarios from local freelancers coming on-premises to globally distributed online contractors to innovation sourcing through tournaments or contests. If done correctly, these ways of working can help organizations access skilled talent while providing the flexibility that many workers increasingly crave.
Just like with remote work prior to COVID-19, companies have been slow to adopt flexible or open talent models. For example, there was only a slow uptick in enterprise use of open talent in the years prior to the pandemic. But now, as remote work has become normalized, organizations are seeing a rapid change. Flexible models have traditionally served three purposes. First, flexibility allows organizations to scale staffing up and down, accommodating labor demand variability. Second, flexible models allow small-task outsourcing for situations where hiring a full-time equivalent would not be justified and where the overhead requirements of traditional temporary staffing solutions would slow the project or be cost-prohibitive. Third, flexible talent strategies provide access to innovative or diverse skillsets beyond traditional recruiting pipelines.
Massive Red Flags in Developer Job Interviews
The Next Web, March 10
Even if the job posting looks great and the company sounds interesting, you might get an entirely different impression when you get to the first interview. It is important not to miss all kinds of red flags and end up working somewhere truly miserable. Some interview red flags are applicable to anyone in any career: an interviewer who is rude to you, for example, or a company who forgets to book a space to interview you in. But there are also some specific warning signs for developers on the hunt for a new role, such as vague job descriptions, too many buzzwords used to describe the work you will be doing, and incomplete answers about the everyday workload you will be facing.
According to hiring experts, watch out for companies which seem to imply that constant overtime is just part of the job. Some companies will expect developers to put in more hours than is fair, and even the dream job might not be so dreamy if you are working 60+ or even 80+ hour work weeks. Aim to get a clear, satisfying answer about how many hours are typical. Another potential red flag is that the job sounds simple but people at the company insist it will be challenging. For example, what if the role looks incredibly straightforward, and yet your interviewer keeps emphasizing what a challenging place this is to work? Of course, a challenge at work can be a great thing, but if the interview emphasizes how challenging the role is, and the job description does not seem very challenging to you, it might be a danger sign down the road. Maybe it is not your role that is challenging, but the management style of the company.
Your Job Can Be Done Better By My Algorithm
Blog@CACM, March 9
Algorithms, powered by big data and artificial intelligence, are becoming smarter and are able to do an increasing number of work roles that humans have traditionally done. Thus, it is perhaps no surprise that a growing number of jobs can be replaced by algorithms and by robots running on algorithms. However, not all jobs can be replaced by algorithms. In general, there are three different categories of jobs. There are roles that are highly likely to be taken over in large measure by algorithms, roles that are highly unlikely to be subsumed, and roles for which the jury is still out. Of course, none of these three categories is black-and-white. For example, even for roles where algorithms are unlikely to take over, they may reduce the amount of manual effort and thus reduce the demand. For job candidates, it is important to understand which skills are needed to stay one step ahead of the algorithms, as well as the types of role and functions that provided the greatest safety against job replacement.
There are several primary characteristics of jobs that seem most vulnerable to algorithms. These are roles where patterns are static and easy to find, patterns in the media being analyzed are not that nuanced, or where the patterns that appear are not that context-dependent. Of course, this is a shifting landscape. What was considered outside the reach of algorithms yesterday is not any more today. Even software developers today are now concerned about the growing power of algorithms. So what can workers do to respond to the might of big data algorithms? They can attempt to elevate their roles by looking for patterns that are more dynamic, more context-dependent, more subtle, and use these patterns to enable them to do their current roles better.
Why Is It Difficult For Developers to Learn Another Programming Language?
Communications of the ACM, March 2022
The conventional wisdom is that once a programmer knows one language, they can leverage concepts and knowledge already learned, and easily pick up another programming language. However, that is not always the case. In fact, it could be the case that previous knowledge actually interferes with learning a new programming language. Based on interview data, it appears increasingly likely that programmers will often make failed attempts to relate a new programming language with what they already know. This has important implications for hiring organizations, which might assume a much easier transition process when hiring new programmers. One important takeaway is that organizations should spend more time and effort designing documentation and automated tools that reduce interference.
Even for experienced programmers, there are confusing aspects to learning new languages. Old habits die hard, meaning that programmers have to constantly suppress old habits acquired from previous languages. Programmers are able to resolve small differences, but it still causes interference at the onset of learning a new language. Moreover, some language transitions require fundamental shifts in mindsets, or "mind shifts." In short, learning a language is difficult when there is little to no mapping with previous languages. Programmers have a harder time learning a new language when this is the case.
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