ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 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 22, November 22, 2022
When it comes to the programming language skills employers want most, Java, Python, and SQL top the list. Demand for other programming language skills, such as Go and TypeScript, is growing but trails far behind demand for the leaders, according to the 2023 HackerRank Developer Skills Report. The report ranks the most in-demand software engineering skills and programming languages among employers and developers, based on the number of language-specific skills assessments the company conducted in the past year.
Many technology professionals are understandably concerned about the layoffs and hiring freezes going on at large tech companies. Yet, this uncertainty about the workplace is not impacting their decision to look for other career options. According to the latest Sentiment Report from Dice, which includes sentiment data from 950 technologists, a majority of technologists feel comfortable enough about their skills and market prospects to consider jumping employers, with 52 percent of respondents indicating they are likely to switch jobs in the next year, up from 44 percent last year.
There is significant demand for technologists across multiple industries, from retail to manufacturing and finance. Fully remote work remains important to most technologists, surpassing interest in a hybrid working model. Many companies are doing their best to bring technologists back to the office, but preference for fully remote work is only increasing, rising from 53 percent in 2021 to 60 percent in 2022. Given the continuing demand for tech skills, technologists may find they have the leverage to negotiate with employers for the flexibility they want, including custom working hours and a fully remote or hybrid working model.
For job seekers rebounding from a layoff, there are three big mistakes to avoid. For example, one mistake that you can make is saying you can do everything, in the hopes of attracting as many potential employers as possible. However, nobody needs a generalist. Organizations today are looking for specialists who have knowledge of a key technology or software solution. With that in mind, the article reviews some of the best advice for getting a job quickly after a layoff.
As you are updating your LinkedIn status or polishing your resume, you might feel compelled to list every task you have perfected or every skill you have picked up. From a hiring perspective, this is a mistake. An executive summary or resume with a laundry list of everything you have ever done does not give the reader a good idea of your unique expertise. So take some time to reflect on exactly what you are uniquely suited to do and what you want to do next, based on a mix of your interests, talents and what the job market is calling for. As you start applying to jobs, make sure your resume and cover letter are tailored to each company. Be specific about how your skills fit into what the organization needs and then emphasize your super strengths.
Top Execs Share the Hardest Tech Jobs to Hire For Right Now
CIO Dive, November 10
In October, companies were hiring for 317,000 open technology positions, up 10,000 from the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, IT organizations are increasingly facing a more competitive labor market for qualified workers. The right mix of hard and soft skills means a technology worker today can have their pick of position and company. Some positions are harder to fill than others, depending on the novelty of a specific technology, the general availability of those skills, and even outside factors, such as how many certifications a role requires.
According to recruiters, the hardest part about hiring in tech today is not just finding people with the right technical skills, it has to do with finding the right mindset. Organizations need people who are grounded in critical thinking and can think in multiple dimensions. That is a scarce resource right now. Increasingly, organizations are looking for candidates who can answer common sense questions in a way that helps them think critically and practically about the business outcomes they want to drive, not just the technology that will fix the immediate problem.
IT Hiring: Top 5 Tech Roles For Non-Techies
The Enterprisers Project, November 18
Historically, trying to work in the tech industry without a background in tech was close to impossible. With the growing impact of technology in the day-to-day functions of our lives, however, this has changed. The need for tech workers is growing as all industries and businesses evaluate its implications for innovation and business growth. That means that workers with non-tech backgrounds are becoming increasingly valuable to the overall success of tech companies. If you lack a traditional technology background, roles such as product marketer and sales representative could be a good fit.
The product marketer role can be a good fit for job candidates without deep technical skills. A marketing role at a tech company requires a deep understanding of the company and the product to properly target potential customers, but it does not require a tech background. Marketing skills are extremely valuable to companies as they look to expand customer bases and boost growth. Creating a strategic and creative marketing campaign that successfully taps into the target audience accelerates business growth and informs business decisions that drive innovation. For example, marketers can often identify key value-adds that customers are searching for, enabling product teams to update the tech accordingly. Furthermore, a growing competitive landscape requires tech companies to stand out in a crowded market, making a strong marketing team even more essential.
Tech Jobs Are Changing: Here is How to Get Promoted
ZDNet, November 10
Young IT professionals can hone a range of potential skillsets to help them get to the top, but a few top skills should be at the top of the list if you plan to climb the tech career ladder. Soft skills are crucial for professionals looking to climb the career ladder successfully, especially those who want to move into senior management positions. Anyone looking to work in IT will need to be technically proficient, but by far the most important skills are the right attitude and an ability to connect with people. This will enable you to exploit your technological know-how and convince organizations that you have the right skills to do the job.
Right now, being a pure technical specialist is not enough. Being able to take people with you, being a good leader, and being able to motivate and encourage people is really key. From the perspective of hiring managers, someone who has steered clear of honing their softer skills will not necessarily see the value of creating a strong culture within teams and the importance of developing a compelling mission for change. Moreover, the increased responsibility for elements of the technology stack by non-IT lines means business communication skills are critical for what remains of the core tech team. As a result, the IT leadership role is becoming much broader. Soft skills are key because you have to be a really good influencer in order to lead teams.
Using Simulations to Upskill Employees
Harvard Business Review, November 15
According to a new LinkedIn report, training employees tops the agenda in many organizations. In large part, this is because organizations realize that training and re-skilling employees is the only way to address the current talent gap. Despite a massive industry-wide investment in training, though, 70% of employees feel they lack the skills required to do their jobs. This could be due to an over-reliance on classroom training rather than the on-the-job behavioral practice required by most jobs. With that in mind, simulation training may be the best way to train current employees, given that most adults learn best by watching how the best of their peers perform key tasks.
Approaches based on proven learning techniques and new technology can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of skills training. One approach is simulation training. This means putting people in immersive, true-to-life scenarios where they practice skills acquisition in situations that replicate job conditions. These immersive scenarios often incorporate gaming elements that increase motivation, attention, and learning. This approach has long been part of skills training in certain sectors. Simulation training can help improve core skills in two critical components of management development: decision-making and change management.
What Roles Will Gen Z Play in Gov Tech and How Soon?
GovTech.com, November 17
Gen Z is starting to play a more prominent role within the gov tech industry, and their preferences will soon enough help influence how state and local governments deploy technology. While Gen Z currently comprises no more than 13 percent of the U.S. workforce, that is not stopping some gov tech vendors from starting the process of adjusting workplaces for the needs and concerns of younger workers. The big takeaway is that gov tech suppliers should at least heighten their interest in the younger generation that is coming up and begin to consider the generational complexities inherent in gov tech.
Increasingly, gov tech is attracting Gen Z workers with a civic and tech mindset. It can be hard to estimate how quickly state and local government tech workforces are getting younger, and how much direct or indirect influence that Gen Z has right now. But their role is clearly growing, due in part to COVID-related departures, private sector competition and job cuts in the private sector. As older employees seek opportunities elsewhere, that is creating an opening for members of Gen Z to demonstrate their skills. About 8.1 percent of the federal workforce is younger than 30, according to one analysis. That compares to 23 percent in the private sector. Over the next decade, the percentage of younger workers in the federal workforce is going to increase.
Applying the Metaverse
Communications of the ACM, November 2022
If you are looking to land a metaverse-related job, it is important to understand some of the core technologies that go into building new metaverse worlds. For now, nobody is certain what the metaverse will look like a decade from now. The metaverse has been described as a network of virtual worlds, where augmented reality, virtual reality, and the Internet come together to provide a fully immersive, three-dimensional experience to users. Indeed, augmented reality, virtual reality, holographic technology, and high-speed, low-latency communication networks are typically described as the foundational elements of the metaverse. Yet the specifics of which use cases, applications, and companies will drive the development of the metaverse and thrive in its new ecosystems remains an open question.
The development and rollout of 5G and 6G communications networks will serve as the backbone for the metaverse, which will require fast, always-on, and rich data exchange among users, virtual worlds or environments, and applications. In particular, graphics-intensive technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and holograms will not function optimally without robust, reliable communications networks. The metaverse also will require platforms that allow content creators to develop the virtual worlds in which users will interact, as well as supporting the technologies that bring these digital worlds to life. Several large tech companies (which have vast amounts of cloud-based computing, memory, networking, and storage resources) likely will support the initial infrastructure needed to support metaverse applications.
Split Your Overwhelmed Teams
ACM Queue, November 10
With many tech teams being overworked and overwhelmed, organizations are re-thinking how to right-size their workforces. The obvious solution, of course, is simply to hire more staff. Understandably, some companies face budgetary or other constraints, and may not be able to hire more people. Another solution is to split up these large, overwhelmed teams into small teams. This could help to address some of the key problems currently facing organizations: low moral, high attrition rates, and high stress levels. As the article explains, by restating the problem as one of morale and stress rather than a lack of workers, it is possible to find many possible solutions.
Once team managers have isolated the source of the problem, it is time to look for ways to split that team. The best methodology is to find a natural seam that allows the system to be split easily into two or more parts. These typically fall along lines of business domains, regulatory compliance, team location, risk isolation, types of technology, or user personas. In some cases, for example, there will be an obvious natural seam along business functions: application versus the platform on which the application runs. Basically, this is splitting a team along architectural layers. This split can have several benefits, including fewer communication paths. Instead of 10 people trying to communicate with 10 people, most communication would happen within each five-person team, with the tech leads of each team bridging the two.
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