ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 05, 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

Volume 18, Issue 13, July 5, 2022

Chip Companies Are Scrambling to Hire College Students Dazzled by Software Dollars
Protocol, June 28

As part of a new national strategy to bring chip manufacturing back to the U.S., chip fabricating plants will need tens of thousands of skilled workers who do not currently exist. Hiring them, though, means persuading young graduates to pass up jobs at big tech companies like Google, Apple and Facebook. After all, jobs at tech companies in Silicon Valley symbolize prestige for graduates in a way that careers with chipmakers may not. The task is clear for U.S. chipmakers: they must find ways to make their jobs and career opportunities just as attractive and enticing. Otherwise, they will be unable to staff the massive new facilities they have promised to build.

Nationwide expansion plans and related jobs could create as many as 27,000 new positions in the semiconductor industry over the next decade. If the first of these new fabrication plants open on schedule beginning in 2024, chip companies will not be able to rely on U.S.-born students to fill the tens of thousands of available jobs in the first few years. As a result, semiconductor companies need a makeover. Companies such as Google and Apple are household names, yet most semiconductor companies are not. The lack of name recognition creates obstacles to attracting and hiring the best students directly out of university.

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On a global basis, 40 percent of key decision-makers say that the IT skills shortage is one of their top three challenges today. The most acute skill gaps are related to cognitive, technical, process, and framework skills. For example, the cognitive skill capability includes analytical capabilities, quantitative and statistical knowledge, statistics, data modeling, and knowledge in artificial intelligence and machine learning. These are all essential skills for digital transformation and digital business growth. Yet, at the same time, organizations still face barriers to skill development in these areas.

Even amidst signs of a weakening economy, several top IT roles remain popular heading into the second half of 2022. For example, demand for IT operations engineers and developers shows no signs of abating. Sixty percent of survey respondents said they are recruiting for IT operations engineering, and 48 percent are looking for a developer in an Ops role. DevOps engineer (34 percent) is still the most popular job title being hired. The next most popular title is software engineer (34 percent), followed by site reliability engineer (31 percent).

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Building Your Tech Career: Networking, Advanced Soft Skills and More
Dice Insights, June 28

When thinking about taking your first steps into management, showing mastery of technical skills is just one factor. When you are dealing with people, you need also to demonstrate key soft skills such as empathy, teamwork and communication. In general, you should always be looking for ways to grow your long-term network and to boost your management skills. Doing so will improve your ability to leverage new career opportunities.

In your tech career, it is never a bad time to give your network a soft audit. During your tech career, your list of contacts has likely swelled to include everyone from former bosses to current side-gig clients. Some of these may prove more valuable than others with regard to your long-term career. Prioritize those, and make a point of keeping in touch (via email, in-person meetups, calls or whatever other methods work best for you) and offering your help when needed. At the same time, it is important to stay open to new contacts. Whether you are actively pursuing a tech management track or focused on becoming a master of your specialization, you should refine your soft skills to reflect your evolving position in the tech industry. Examples of these soft skills include strategic delegation, coaching, and communication.

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Boomerang Employees Could Be Your Best Bet For Fighting the Talent Shortage
ZDNet, June 30

Employers are increasingly discovering the value in re-hiring employees who have previously quit their jobs before deciding to return. According to data from LinkedIn, boomerang employees accounted for 4.5% of company hires in 2021, up from 3.9% in 2019. There are numerous benefits to hiring these so-called boomerang employees, particularly those who possess scarce technical skills and valuable business acumen. As a result, boomerang employees could be a great option for addressing the tech talent shortage.

Hiring former employees can make a lot of sense from a financial perspective. Depending on how long they have been away from the business, boomerangs cost less in onboarding and training than a new hire. On top of that, they already have established relationships within the company and with clients, meaning time and effort that would normally be spent getting a new hire up to speed can be spent on more important company and strategic goals. Many companies are very open to bringing back previous employees, because they know them, they know the benchmarks, they know the work ethic of the company and they do not have to retrain them as much. While staff attrition has always been a problem for companies, the issue has become more acute over the past two years, with more employees than ever leaving their roles in pursuit of more flexible, more fulfilling or better-paying opportunities. This loss of talent has forced many companies to double-down on hiring efforts, as well as prompted them to take an introspective look at what they could be doing to stem the stream of resignations.

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Why Data Scientist Careers Are Evolving
ITPro Today, June 25

Data scientist is still one of the more desirable careers in the United States, according to Glassdoor. After taking into consideration earning potential, overall job satisfaction, and number of job openings, Glassdoor found data scientist to be the third-best job in America. However, when it comes to data science careers, it can sometimes be difficult to make sense of the sheer variety of titles, roles and responsibilities. According to career experts, data science is perhaps second only to artificial intelligence (AI) in terms of its nebulousness and the amount of new career opportunities, many of which did not exist even 12 months ago. With that in mind, the article explores the evolving data scientist job title.

Now that organizations have the right data tools, it is perhaps no surprise that the number of job openings for data scientists has skyrocketed. It is no exaggeration that every fast-growing organization needs more data scientists. They are the crucial ingredient for turning raw data into innovative new products and services, as well as spearheading data-driven business transformation. With so many companies competing for data science talent, taking an inclusive strategy to data science is not just good for business, it is a necessity.

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The Great Job Hunt: Top Job Search Apps Hit All-Time Highs
Computerworld, June 27

As a sign of continued strength in the IT jobs market, the top seven job search apps have been posting new highs for monthly use rates since March. Year-to-date, the top three apps by both downloads and daily active users are Indeed, LinkedIn, and ZipRecruiter. Most impressively, numbers for all of the top seven job search apps have been climbing steadily for the past year, suggesting that employees are still quitting their jobs at a record pace and looking for new job opportunities. ZipRecruiter is growing the fastest with its daily active users up 37% this year, while LinkedIn recently hit an all-time high for users in the U.S.

The tight labor market, coupled with the ongoing effects of the Great Resignation and the rising risk of recession, is likely fueling the job search surge. Candidates may be looking for a more stable company to work for as insurance against possibly troubling financial times. Another explanation for the spike in job searches could be that some companies are insisting employees return to the office, and rather than fight the edict, workers simply look for more suitable accommodations where they can continue to work remotely. According to some estimates, the number of reviews posted in top job apps for remote-related jobs has increased 900% in 2022 compared with all of 2019. Many of these reviews are asking the app publishers to be able to sort open jobs by levels of remoteness: partially remote, local but remote, or fully remote.

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Are Former Startup Founders Less Likely to Be Hired?
Harvard Business Review, June 28

Most companies claim that they want to hire employees who are entrepreneurial and innovative. However, when presented with job candidates who have real-world entrepreneurship experience, many employers may actually be hesitant to hire them. After all, it can be difficult for a hiring firm to validate their skills and experience since track records of entrepreneurs are often largely self-reported and can not be verified as easily as for employees leaving an established firm. In addition, recruiters focused on determining cultural fit and commitment to the firm may see founder experience as a red flag, since they may assume entrepreneurs will be more likely to leave the firm quickly to start another company.

When applying to traditional jobs, former founders should proactively address the concerns of recruiters. Of course, this does not mean that experience as a founder makes you unemployable. While founders may be a lot less likely to receive an interview than candidates without founder experience, they still get interviews 10 to 15% of the time. However, research does suggest that former founders can anticipate and address potential concerns by highlighting how they see themselves fitting into the company and how committed they would be to it. Former founders can also leverage referrals to help alleviate concerns of hiring managers. And finally, former founders should tailor their applications to the specific firm to which they are applying. In particular, research suggests that younger firms are more likely to value entrepreneurial experience and be less concerned about the fit and commitment of a former founder.

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How to Write the Ultimate Cover Letter
Fast Company, June 7

Even more than the carefully-crafted resume or the carefully curated LinkedIn profile, a good cover letter can go a long way toward impressing hiring decision-makers. One survey by ResumeLab found that 83% of respondents claimed that a great cover letter can land an interview even if your resume is not good enough. When you write a cover letter, the goal is to connect and find a common link. A resume is an overview of your job history and skills, while the cover letter brings out your personality. One important detail of what makes a good cover letter is length. According to 82% of experts, the ideal cover letter length is about a single page.

Your cover letter, like your resume, should be tailored to the job description rather than falling into the trap of pitching to the company in general. It is better to show your enthusiasm for the specifics of the role, rather than the organization. After all, if you just wrote your cover letter with the company in mind, you are making the recruiter and hiring manager do all the work. By tailoring your pitch to the role, you can sell yourself more effectively. According to branding and content consultants, you should also work to get the tone right. Skip the effusive thanks and demonstrate genuine interest by writing a cover letter that connects the dots between your experience and the requirements of the position. Telling the reader what you have accomplished and how it directly translates to meeting the needs of the company is always a better use of space than gushing.

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The Future of Information Work
Communications of the ACM, July 2022

As a result of COVID-19, approximately one-third of U.S. workers shifted abruptly from working in offices to working from home. Early evidence suggested short-term output of knowledge workers did not drop and might have increased slightly. Furthermore, working from home has advantages such as time saved by not commuting and, for some, the flexibility and autonomy to set work schedules around home-life responsibilities such as child care. As a result, many technology companies announced remote-work policies to enable some or all employees to work remotely after the pandemic. Few think work will go back to how it was pre-pandemic, but research now suggests remote work also presents challenges that should be addressed going forward. One way to do this is by improving the ability of remote workers to connect with each other when not in the office.

It can benefit companies and organizations to keep a close eye on their internal networks as work changes. This will allow them to intervene quickly when problems emerge, rather than years down the line when potential larger-scale effects become apparent. There are a number of strategies that can be used to bolster weak and cross-group network connections. One approach teams can try is virtual drop-in spaces. Employees could enter this virtual space when they are working and are willing to engage with colleagues. Colleagues could then ask questions or initiate conversations with others in the virtual space via video or chat. The shared virtual space gives colleagues a sense of togetherness even though they are working remotely from one another and lowers the overhead of starting a conversation with someone, analogous to being able to stop by an office to ask a quick question. Since many impromptu office conversations happen in spaces outside meeting rooms, designing virtual environments for small talk before and after remote meetings could further facilitate spontaneous connection.

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The Impact of Work and Life Experience on Learning
eLearn Magazine, May 2022

In order to improve the overall educational experience for mid-career learners, those involved in creating new e-learning initiatives need to have a better understanding of the situations of adult learners and the struggles they might encounter. Only by doing so can higher educational institutions assist learners in gaining access to the education they need. Unfortunately, the standard higher education experience has failed many, forcing these individuals to look for non-traditional ways to overcome the many roadblocks they encountered along the way. Going forward, more needs to be done to increase inclusivity for mid-career learners.

One reason cited for the lack of success of some e-learning initiatives is the bootstrap fallacy, which assumes that all learners need to be successful is to put in more hard work or have more grit. It shifts the blame for higher education failure to the individual. However, the real problem may be quite different. It could be the case that these e-learning initiatives fail to recognize the experiences and skills of adult learners. As a result, they can not create the right program options to maximize the chances of success. Higher education institutions frequently do not serve the 35% that do not graduate. If we want a society that can become all it can be, then we need to think differently about the current structure of higher education.

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