ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, May 10, 2022
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Volume 18, Issue 9, May 10, 2022
According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IT job market continues to expand even as the hiring of IT professionals is now being hindered by a lack of qualified individuals. Over the past year, more than 11,000 new IT positions have been added each month, suggesting that IT hiring has finally returned to pre-pandemic levels. For example, the tech industry added 12,300 jobs from February to March 2022. Software developers, systems engineers and software architects led the way in terms of new positions available.
Software developers and engineers are far and away the most sought-after positions companies need to fill, with more than 115,000 job postings across the U.S., according to some estimates. IT support specialists, IT project managers, systems engineers and architects, and network engineers and architects are also in high demand. Thus far, it has been a very strong start to the year for tech employment. The unemployment rate for tech occupations fell to a near-record low, as tech firms added workers for the 16th consecutive month and employer job postings for tech positions surpassed 400,000 in March. The already tight labor market just became even tighter as competition for tech talent reaches near-record levels.
While having a university degree in a technology-related field can certainly help you get a new job offer from a big tech company like Apple or Microsoft, top educational qualifications are no longer always required. Simply stated, due to the imbalance in supply and demand for top tech talent, it is increasingly the case that you can land a job with just your skills and hands-on experience. At companies such as Oracle, 90 percent of job postings still require a degree. But at Google and Apple, the percentage of those jobs requiring an undergraduate degree or higher has dipped over the past few years.
A number of high-profile tech companies appear to be leading the way when it comes to degree requirements. At Apple, for example, the percentage of postings requiring at least an undergraduate degree declined from 88 percent to 72 percent between 2017 and 2021. At Google, it is down from 93 percent to 77 percent during the same period. Meanwhile, IBM says it has removed undergraduate degree requirements from more than half of its job openings. Other tech giants, including Intel and Microsoft, have announced a relaxing of degree requirements. There appears to be a significant opportunity for more companies in the technology sector to follow through on implementing broad policy changes that revise the requirements for specific positions.
The growing popularity of hybrid and remote working means that the rules of work have changed, as have the tools and software employees interact with on a daily basis. To make it big in tech, then, you need a new skillset. To remain productive while working remotely with their colleagues, employees need a certain degree of technical aptitude, not to mention good problem-solving, organization and time management skills. Across every industry, employers are eager to hire professionals who can modernize their IT infrastructure, build new apps, and keep them protected against an ever-growing range of cybersecurity threats.
While technical skills are paramount for employers, they are not the only skills businesses need. Increasingly, employers are looking for candidates with the qualities and attributes that can bring teams together, make them more productive, and help companies navigate a work landscape that can change at any moment. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for these qualities and attributes. According to recruitment specialist Robert Half, the soft skills that are in most demand by CIOs are resilience, communication, adaptability, project management and business acumen. Tech workers, particularly at middle and senior levels, are now expected to be business partners, and as such they need to be able to clearly communicate their strategies, activities and the impact of those on the wider business. This means good communication skills and interpersonal skills are more valuable than ever.
Why Data Jobs Are Hot and How to Get One
The New Stack, April 22
Data jobs are among the most high-profile and high-paying roles in tech, but there is still some confusion about the differences between the new job titles and functions that are now available. Three of the most popular roles include data scientist, data engineer and data analyst. LinkedIn, for example, lists more than 150,000 open positions for data scientists and more than 230,000 for data engineers. Moreover, Glassdoor now ranks data scientist and data engineer as two of the Top 10 best jobs in America for 2022. So what is the difference between these different titles, and more importantly, what skills does someone need to get hired for one of those positions?
There is some overlap among the three primary job titles (data scientist, data engineer, data analyst), but they are distinct roles and the terms should not be viewed or used as interchangeable. Of the three main data job titles, data scientists are probably the one whose role most often overlaps with the other two. But they are distinguished by how they use a combination of mathematical and programming skills to work with data. Data scientists may do some level of data engineering and data analysis, but they will typically be more focused on statistical interpretation of data. On most artificial intelligence or machine learning teams, the data scientist is also focused on developing data models based on deep learning, or natural language processing techniques. A true data scientist understands the algorithms, creates a scientific approach, and goes about answering a question and verifying that the answer makes sense.
Stack Overflow Study Shows What Makes Tech Workers Happy
Forbes, April 12
Stack Overflow recently released data on what technologists look for in an employer when they are considering new opportunities. The results show that software developers highly prioritize flexibility and opportunities to learn new technologies. About 75% of developers are either actively looking for a job or open to new opportunities. For those who are receptive to new jobs, about 65% reported that salary was one of the main reasons for being open-minded. Around 39% of respondents want to work with new and innovative technologies. About 36% desire a better work-life balance and 35% seek growth or leadership opportunities.
According to Stack Overflow, it is a turnoff for jobseekers when companies do not offer flexibility and resources are limited. Nearly 60% of job hunters would be discouraged if they were blocked from accessing important online tools and 54% find companies unappealing when they lack the necessary resources for them to feel confident that they can succeed in their new role. In terms of flexibility, 56% of developers said they would be disappointed if they were told to work specific hours or ordered to return to an office setting. The primary reason developers pull out of an interview process is because they did not like the tech stack (32%). Other top reasons for abandoning a search include a disorganized interview process (24%), odd interview questions (24%), poor employer reviews (24%), not being able to find enough information about what it is like to work at the company (22%) and receiving another offer (36%).
The Right Way to Use LinkedIn To Get Noticed By Recruiters
Fast Company, May 5
During the job search, there are a variety of highly effective ways to use LinkedIn in order to get noticed by recruiters. First, though, you must know how to frame your candidacy on LinkedIn so that recruiters know whether you are a passive or active job seeker. Many recruiters and hiring managers view passive candidates as highly qualified and desirable, especially for more senior roles. Passive candidates are usually employed by a competitor or other known entity in the space and have passed through any number of LinkedIn Recruiter filters, so their keywords and experience are likely quite strong. Given the fact that some recruiters prioritize passive job seekers over active job seekers, you should be thoughtful about how to signal that you are on the market.
Posting an article on LinkedIn can be a great way to draw attention to your candidacy. On LinkedIn, there are all sorts of posts, like status updates, pictures and videos, events, notices for work anniversaries or new jobs, endorsements for others, and original long-form content. Of these, long-form content offers the greatest potential upside. Writing and posting articles is sort of like blogging, only with a built-in platform for distribution. This is the only social media share that actually matters for job seekers on LinkedIn. It is, quite simply, an opportunity to show that you have an original thought and can think critically, as opposed to merely re-sharing other posts. Your written posts are attached to your profile and remain viewable for anyone who is skimming it, including prospective employers or connections. This is especially valuable for career switchers. In essence, you are putting yourself out there for the industry or function you want to be in, and demonstrating skill and competency even without the relevant job experience.
Making IT Talent Hires a Business Priority
Information Week, May 3
Hiring and retention of IT talent should now be a priority for every business, especially given the intense competition for talent and the ongoing IT skills gap. According to recent figures from consulting firm Korn Ferry, the U.S. tech industry is projected to face a shortage of at least 1.2 million tech workers by 2030. To win top tech talent in the current market, companies must offer increasingly competitive salaries and flexibility beyond remote work. They must also extend their talent pipelines outside of traditional technology hubs to other regions globally.
For most companies, top managers and leaders should be involved in crafting and refining the hiring and retention strategy. When it comes to tech hiring, IT managers should pay particular attention. They can help identify talent gaps, convey their hiring needs, and uncover potential areas for improvement within their existing teams to improve retention rates. As they are most involved with the day-to-day operations, they can also best identify opportunities for upskilling and help talent managers isolate specific skill sets and experiences that are most needed for a given role. As part of their retention strategy, companies should also invest in employee career development. Given it costs companies, on average, between 30% and 50% of an entry-level employee salary to replace them, providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities are an important and more cost-efficient way to bridge skill gaps and reduce employee turnover.
Preparing to Tell Your Boss That You Quit
Harvard Business Review, May 6
Like many professionals these days, you might be planning to leave your company. One recent study reveals a full 44% of workers are looking for a new job. Making the decision to quit is challenging, but what often feels even harder is actually telling your boss. What should you say when you are sitting there face to face with them? Generally speaking, there are five common emotionally loaded reactions that managers may have when an employee announces that they are leaving. The good new is that you can prepare yourself in advance to help ensure you do not leave on a bad note.
Depending on their emotional state at the time of your conversation, your manager may become immediately upset, or even furious that you are resigning. They may feel a sense of betrayal, as well as anxiety about how they will manage the workload without you. Those who do not know how to manage their temper may feel triggered by your news and lash out at you. Oftentimes, this is a temporary stress reaction, and with a little time, they will cool down. You want to be gracious and give them space to process the new development and reassure them that you are not leaving them in the lurch. The important point here is not to escalate the in-person meeting into a confrontation.
Software Architecture Decisions
Blog@CACM, April 11
In order to progress in a career as a software developer, there are several important skills and competencies to master. One of these is software architecture. When creating a software architecture plan, it is important to keep in mind the non-technical and cultural implications of the technology, including receptivity, speed to market, and long-term maintenance. These implications will be carried forward in the company for years, impacting developers, managers, product owners, users, and maybe even executives. In a way, they represent your own personal legacy within the company. Making these types of decisions is an incredibly difficult task, but if you are going to achieve success, it is imperative to keep in mind the overarching culture and context.
Software architecture decisions can have effects on the company and its culture that go beyond just the soundness of the technology, and when the stakes are so high, it is important to consider any non-technical aspects of these decisions. One good question to ask about any new technology choice is whether the development team will be receptive to it. To answer this, it is important to consider a number of factors related to receptivity, including the context of the current tech stack, difficulty, and external attractiveness (how this skill set will be perceived on a resume). These three factors will come into play both for retaining developers currently working at the company and for hiring new talent in the future.
Outsourced Professional Development For Online Instructors
eLearn Magazine, April 2022
When designing a professional development program for online instructors, course designers must first take a step back and analyze how future university faculty will actually experience an outsourced professional development program. Doing so will maximize the impact of the learning experience and help to avoid some of the pitfalls of these programs. The article takes a close look at a recent partnership between the University of Idaho College of Education, Health & Human Sciences and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies to offer a formal certificate program to faculty.
In this case study, the stimulus for the new professional development program was a strategic plan to transform educational impact. The goal was to encourage faculty exploration of new technologies to enhance teaching skills. Faculty had a variety of skills in online learning and the goal was to grow more interest in online learning. There was not a deficit in skills, but rather an opportunity for further professional development. Although the conventional wisdom is that faculty teach the way they were taught, the study found faculty also use these experiences as non-examples of practices or behaviors to avoid.
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