ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 5, 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 7, April 5, 2022
When building a career in technology, it is important to plan not just for the next year but also for the next decade. In other words, what skills will prove the most useful in the long term and which jobs will see continued growth over the next 10 years? The new CompTIA State of the Tech Workforce report explains which tech jobs will grow significantly over the next decade. Overall, CompTIA believes that tech employment will grow at roughly twice the rate of overall employment, with a replacement rate of around seven percent annually.
A number of specific tech jobs will enjoy extraordinary growth during the next decade. According to CompTIA, the highest growth rates will include the following occupations: data scientists (268%), cybersecurity specialists (253%), software developers (215%), computer and information research scientists (155%) and web developers (93%). Other tech occupations that should easily eclipse the national growth rate include: IT project managers, database administrators and architects, IT directors and IT support specialists.
In terms of the need for tech talent, the pandemic has compressed 10 years of growth into just two. Every company is now a tech business, and that means every company is hiring tech workers. If you check out any job board or online company job site, listings for software engineers and tech talent dominate. With that in mind, Hired recently released its annual report, the 2022 State of Software Engineers, which analyzes key software engineering trends around demand, salaries, skills, and preferences.
Remote software engineering salaries increased all markets in 2021. The most notable increases were for candidates in markets such as Toronto, Los Angeles, Austin and Denver, which saw salary increases for average remote salaries between 7% and 14% year-over-year. Interestingly, companies appear to be hiring more remote software engineers from smaller markets and not just from the biggest tech hubs. For example, software engineers who are open to remote work received 20% more interview requests overall versus candidates who are not. While the San Francisco Bay Area continues to offer the highest salaries on average across all regions at $168,000 per year, smaller markets, including Austin, Seattle and Chicago, have seen higher salary growth last year versus the traditional tech hubs. This has reinforced the shift towards hiring remote talent in smaller regions.
Within the cloud computing sector, evaluating the best and most efficient career path involves taking into account several key variables. While it is important to find the best-paying job, it is also important to find the best-paying job that brings job satisfaction. When it comes to careers in cloud computing, you can either get a job that is good enough and pays market rate for your skills, or you can find a job that provides opportunities for what you want to do now and into the future and pays what you want to make. For people looking to improve their existing cloud computing positions, it is important to know how to prioritize each of the key factors involved in cloud career optimization.
In terms of overall job satisfaction, the feeling of being valued by the business is one of the most important considerations. Value is almost never measured solely by monetary compensation, such as yearly bonuses, although money obviously factors into career decisions. The simple recognition and appreciation of the value that an employee brings to the company can be priceless. After all, people too often quit right after a major raise or generous bonus, simply because they do not feel like their participation in the business is of any true value. In the world of cloud computing, employee value should be connected to major milestones such as migrating a group of applications and data to the cloud, or other accomplishments that deserve acknowledgment.
Tech Job Recruitment is Broken and Adding to Developer Burnout
ZDNet.com, March 24
In the current hiring market, recruiters are under more pressure than ever to identify talent that can help companies overcome shortfalls in digital skills and remain competitive. And with software developers increasingly fielding multiple job offers at once, employers are starting to realize that they no longer hold all the power. They are having to work much harder to woo the tech staff they desperately need. Many employers are focusing on reviewing perks, benefits and salaries in their efforts to gain an edge. But comparatively few are examining whether the reason they are struggling to get the talent they need is due to shortcomings in their own hiring processes.
Making good hiring decisions in tech not only needs a well-understood set of job requirements, but also an interview process that involves people from within the company who understand the role and can, therefore, help identify the best candidates. According to a 2021 report by developer hiring marketplace Terminal, 56% of software engineers feel less enthusiastic about a job role after going through a poorly managed interview. Likewise, 49% of developers say they are more likely to pass on a job after being interviewed by someone who does not seem to understand the job, or the underlying technology requirements. This is potentially devastating for smaller companies that lack the resources to involve technical staff in the hiring process, or those that attempt to use a one-size-fits-all approach to their hiring process that fails to account for the unique set of skills and requirements needed for technical roles.
How Interview Questions Are Changing in 2022
Fast Company, March 29
Over the past two years, companies have had to adapt to new ways of recruiting in order to find the best talent. When the pandemic hit and many knowledge workers went home to work, organizations still needed to hire new employees and shifted to remote recruiting and onboarding. Now, things are changing again and companies need to be sure they have the right talent to navigate that shift. As a result, interviewers will emphasize new types of competencies and questions over the next 12 months. In 2021, it was all about how comfortable candidates were with working independently; in 2022, it will be about how well you are at communicating across a wide variety of platforms.
As roles shift from remote to in-office or hybrid, prospective employers will want to know that you are an agile communicator across different platforms. Whether your colleagues are in the office or in another time zone, the ability to ensure that everyone is getting the message is essential. As a result, you may get asked about a time when you had to communicate the same information to several different audiences in several different ways. Or you might get asked to the interviewer about a time you were communicating both with some people in person and some people participating online.
How to Cope With a Shrinking Tech Talent Pool
Protocol, March 29
According to the latest findings from the Datapeople 2022 hiring report, the available labor pool within the tech sector has contracted significantly over the past 12 months. While it is now commonly accepted that companies have been having a hard time finding talent, the situation is actually more drastic than many might suppose. For example, while the available applicant pool shrunk by nearly 25% in 2021, the number of posted jobs nearly doubled over the same period. This is raising significant questions about how companies can cope with a shrinking tech talent pool.
Much of the growth in new jobs is coming from outside the biggest tech hubs. The percentage of tech jobs based in the Bay Area and Seattle fell by about 25% relative to other metropolitan areas. In contrast, Salt Lake City and other smaller tech hubs saw significant increases, with Miami experiencing a 45% jump. At the same time, jobs are often requiring fewer or no degrees. If a company previously asked for a graduate degree, an undergraduate degree will likely suffice, and so forth. This does not apply as much to the largest tech companies, however, which have not changed their behaviors compared to the rest of the industry. The big takeaway, say recruiters, is that managers need to be significantly more patient and flexible than in the past. Degree requirements, location and remote work are still massive differentiators for applicants, because not every company is flexible on all of those issues, which means that those willing to change policy have more success.
IT Hiring: 7 Tips to Retain High-Performing Talent
The Enterprisers Project, March 18
According to the U.S. Labor Department, there were 11.3 million job openings at the end of January 2022. This reflects the fact that there is an enormous demand for talent across all industries. Tech leaders must continuously find new ways to retain and attract the best talent to compete. With that in mind, the article provides seven tips to help organizations find and retain high-performing talent.
One way to retain high-performing talent is by helping technologists future-proof their skills. Companies in nearly every industry are undergoing broad transformation. While knowledge of cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and other technologies is essential, it is also important for your team to understand some of the legacy technologies in use. Armed with an understanding of both, employees can think strategically about how to connect the dots and employ smart solutions. That said, organizations should not overlook potential employees who may not have experience in new or legacy tech. Instead, they should ensure they have programs in place for continued learning and upskilling. Above all, they should seek out candidates who have the drive, attitude, and interest to make an impact.
Overcoming Self-Doubt in the Face of a Big Promotion
Harvard Business Review, March 29
Ahead of significant job transitions that require new skills, such as a new high-profile promotion, it is only natural that self-doubt begins to creep in. In far too many cases, this self-doubt could diminish our enthusiasm to stretch ourselves and limit our career aspirations. As we diminish our own agency, we risk withdrawing from the new role before fully taking it on. In short, our fear of failure makes us hesitate to embrace the opportunity properly. That being said, there are several common barriers that are prevalent among successful professionals facing their next big career step. Since we cannot fulfill our dreams if our own fears and false expectations hold us back, being able to recognize these barriers for what they are is vital.
According to career experts, fear frequently greets us on the threshold of a new opportunity. New rules and expectations, an unknown future, and ambiguous goals all jar our sense of safety. Our past challenges resurface, and we might project them onto a gloomy prediction for the future. Sometimes these past experiences and actions can trigger an auto-response, even in high achievers. They might assume, for example, that people will not like their decisions, or that their new co-workers will not like them. At the end of the day, everyone battles fears that cast shadows larger than reality. Our fears arise from various needs like wanting to be liked by others, never being wrong, or wanting to be seen as the smartest person in the room.
Software Developers: Exploring Cognitive Bias In the Wild
Communications of the ACM, April 2022
The nature of decision-making under pressure is highly relevant in a domain such as software engineering, in which developers often make sudden or unexpected decisions to make a deadline under competing demands. As a result, there has been increasing interest in cognitive bias in software engineering. It is the nature of our cognitive systems that we alternate between heuristics and deliberative reasoning. Heuristics are reasoning shortcuts based on patterns that help speed up decision making in familiar circumstances. Deliberation takes more attention and energy, but it can go beyond immediately available information and enables complex computations, comparisons, planning, and choice. To understand how biases creep into the decision-making process, it is important to consider real-world examples of how software developers balance the two approaches within a work context.
In the real world, developers, whether consciously or not, often use tools and practices to avoid or mitigate cognitive biases. There are many different ways in which cognitive biases can disrupt software development. Fixation biases (anchoring problem-solving on initial assumptions) and convenience biases (choosing seemingly quicker or simpler routes to solution) are the most-frequently observed. According to researchers, fixation and convenience biases are associated with the most-frequently observed reversal actions, with the implication that persistent bias requires persistent correction, until the bias is addressed. It is worth pointing out that a reliance on heuristics need not lead to bias. In contrast to the widely held view that less complex processing necessarily reduces accuracy, the analytical and empirical analyses of fast and frugal heuristics demonstrate that less information and computation can in fact improve accuracy.
Profession of IT: Systems Abstractions
Communications of the ACM, April 2022
Abstractions, the mental constructs that organize thinking to expedite the design and construction of reliable computations, are often heralded as bedrock principles of computational thinking. Yet, most introductory computer science courses give few hints at the kinds of abstraction that computing professionals use in their work. By ignoring these abstractions, though, you could impede your own career success. With this in mind, the article goes into extensive detail into the types of advanced systems abstractions invented by computer science professionals to deal with large systems that are too big for lone programmers.
Systems abstractions are one of the most important abstractions for computer science professionals to master. Systems abstractions are essential for building large complex systems with large numbers of processes, users, devices, and network connections. Every major domain of computing systems has its own characteristic abstractions. The Internet, for example, has the IP protocol for addressing hosts, the TCP protocol for overcoming noisy transmissions, domain naming, URLs, Web pages, markup languages, and more. The cloud has universal unlimited name space, unforgeable pointers to stored files, redundancy to prevent data loss, and more. Database systems have records, fields, tables, projections, joins, queries, atomic transactions, persistent storage, permanent commitment of files to the storage, and more. As can be seen, system abstractions simplify the complexity in any computing system with a large number of digital objects.
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