ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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Volume 19, Issue 8, April 18, 2023

Tech Hiring Rebounds as Employers Added More Positions in March
CIO Dive, April 7

Employers across the U.S. economy added 197,000 tech positions in March, a sign of potential recovery for IT hiring in 2023. Unemployment for tech positions remained unchanged from last month at 2.2%, well below the general unemployment rate of 3.5%. Job postings for tech positions rose to nearly 316,000 in March, up 38% from February. Administrative, manufacturing, finance, and insurance companies led the surge for tech job postings. However, tech sector employment declined slightly by more than 800 positions last month, marking the third straight month of losses.

Recent gains in tech hiring are a welcome relief after a wave of layoffs roiled the technology sector in recent months. Ongoing demand for tech talent across a wide range of industries shows the resilience of the tech labor market. While job cuts in tech have slowed, they have not stopped. Layoffs in 2023 have already surpassed the levels of 2022, with nearly 168,000 workers laid off at more than 500 tech companies.

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ChatGPT Is the Hottest New Job Skill That Can Help You Get Hired
CNBC, April 5

ChatGPT is the latest in-demand job skill companies are hiring for, according to recent research from the career site Resume Builder. Since its public unveiling in late 2022, ChatGPT has been quickly adopted by companies. Some are now incorporating the chatbot into their products or using it to work more efficiently. When assessing candidates to hire, 90% of U.S. business leaders say having ChatGPT experience is a plus for jobseekers. In many ways, ChatGPT is no different from other in-demand technical skills, say recruiters and hiring managers. Candidates who are familiar with and comfortable using the latest technological tools, including ChatGPT, will always have a competitive advantage in the job market.

Mentions of ChatGPT are rapidly finding their way into job postings. On ZipRecruiter, for example, hundreds of descriptions for open roles specifically mention ChatGPT, and approximately half of these postings are for technical AI engineering roles. The rise of generative AI tools has elicited increased demand for prompt engineers, who test prompts and build user guides to improve chatbot responses. Some of these jobs, which do not require an engineering or coding background, can pay as much as $335,000. Hiring managers are looking for people who are willing to learn and adapt to new technologies, and who have experience reaching out to online communities with new technological tools.

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The Fastest Growing US Tech Hubs For IT Talent, April 7

Thanks to rising salaries nationwide for top tech talent, you no longer need to live in Silicon Valley to earn a six-figure tech salary. There are several other cities that are considered growing tech hubs where technologists can earn higher than average salaries, often with a lower cost of living. These growing tech hubs are typically cities with universities and colleges to recruit from, venture funding opportunities, a strong social scene for networking, and existing companies looking to hire talent. The Top 10 tech hubs for IT talent include: Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Portland, and Charlotte.

Phoenix is quickly becoming a hot spot for the tech industry, with a focus on telecommunications, electronics manufacturing, and aerospace. Operational costs in Phoenix are 36% less than in California, making it an appealing spot for tech companies looking for a less expensive home base for headquarters. It is also the fifth-largest data center market in the nation, with inexpensive power, and a competitive colocation and cloud market. The average tech salary in Phoenix is $120,731 per year, which represents a 26.2% increase from 2021.

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What Is the Best Way to Show Off Your Skills to Employers?
Dice Insights, April 12

If you are a developer or programmer, it can be helpful to have a way to show off your IT skills to prospective employers. According to a recent report from HackerEarth, social media is now the preferred channel for doing so. Based on a survey of thousands of tech professionals, the following ranked as the best ways to showcase IT skills: social media influence (30.3%), open source contributions (23.6%), blogging about coding (20.6%), and hackathon victories (20.0%).

There are a variety of ways to showcase IT skills. Some developers are more comfortable with demonstrating their expertise via the social media channels of their choice, but others might prefer contributing to open-source projects or contributing to a blog in which they break down how they built an app. Whenever you are applying for a new job, make a point of including any links to social media handles or GitHub contributions on your application in order to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. From the perspective of hiring managers, open-source contributions rank at the top of the list, followed by hackathon victories or other evidence of real-world tech skills.

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How To Become A VR Designer: Careers in the Metaverse
XR Today, March 14

Increasingly, companies are searching for designers versed in metaverse and virtual reality technologies to help them construct their own immersive worlds. As a result, virtual reality has transformed from a novel concept connected to the gaming and entertainment space to a crucial business tool. Businesses are leveraging VR for everything from training and education to collaboration, product development, and even customer service. VR designer opportunities are starting to proliferate in nearly every industry.

In the past, the role of VR designer may have seemed like a relatively niche position for someone with creative skills. Now, not only are companies looking for professionals to help them create their own virtual reality experiences, but they are also providing other professionals with VR design training too. Many product development and design teams in the automotive, engineering, and construction industries are all beginning to experiment with VR design using the latest software and tools. In the U.S. alone, the average salary for a VR designer can range from $60,000 to $90,000 per year, depending on experience and skills. As VR solutions continue to evolve, the demand for specialist designers will only increase.

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How To Write And Design Your Resume To Impress Key People In The Hiring Process
Forbes, April 12

Often when people are applying for jobs, they wrongly assume only the hiring manager cares about their resume and job experience. In fact, there are multiple people you are engaging with during the hiring process. The various people involved in hiring for a position are looking at different parts of your resume and overall job experience so it is important to be prepared to speak directly to what it is that each person is looking for in order to excel at the job interview.

The first person to impress with your resume is the human resources (HR) manager. After you apply for a job, someone in the HR department or a recruiter will decide if you should move along to the next step, which is normally a screening call. At this point, they could easily be dealing with hundreds of applicants and more if they are hiring for multiple roles. This is why they can not read every word on your resume or your LinkedIn profile and only have a few seconds to skim and scan your resume. Though they will be familiar with what you do and key terminology related to your field or role, it is likely they have not worked in your position or industry. This is why it is crucial to use key phrases and key words that relate to the job you are applying for. Refer to the job description to identify exact things the company is looking for and work those things into your resume.

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How to Recruit Top Talent Outside the Tech Hubs
Fast Company, April 4

As remote work becomes more commonplace and quality of life becomes a powerful tool to lure people to fast-growing tech hubs, it is becoming easier to recruit skilled individuals beyond Silicon Valley. One of the biggest advantages of working outside the major tech hubs is the wider range of growth opportunities. In the case of many of the most competitive positions at companies in Silicon Valley, even the most highly skilled employees can end up stuck in one spot for a long time. Recruiters in other tech hubs can use this fact to attract ambitious and talented employees.

Every company wants to appear attractive to potential employees. But what does an attractive company really look like? A great way for companies to broadcast their success and draw in skilled individuals is to leverage growth numbers. Being able to demonstrate a large revenue increase within a short period of time demonstrates to prospective employees that a company can compete with the giants in Silicon Valley and that big companies are being built away from the coast. Company culture also matters. Something that often speaks even louder than growth numbers is employee testimony. If people hear from their peers that working at a certain company is not a pleasant experience, then why would they want to seek employment there? Building a strong company culture is essential to generating an enjoyable and satisfying work environment. When employees feel like they belong and have a voice inside the organization, they will be more likely to speak highly of the company to others. As a matter of fact, happy employees are often some of the best brand ambassadors.

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The Importance of Mentors in Tech
Information Week, April 7

Mentors with the ability to give career advice and guidance can take a variety of forms. They can be more senior, or they can be peers. Mentorship is incredibly important, especially for women, people of color, and other minority groups. Having someone who wants to help you succeed is incredibly powerful and helpful. Mentors can guide you in navigating tricky job situations and offer unique insights you when you are facing entirely new situations. It is very helpful to have access to other people who are aware of the context, the environment, and have more experience navigating those, so they can make your path easier.

Sometimes, finding a mentor in the tech industry happens organically. Some firms will actually assign mentors and sponsors. Other times, it is who you naturally gravitate toward. Finding a mentor can also be as simple as finding someone who has a similar background to you because, chances are, they can relate to your experience better. Also, do not be afraid to just ask for a mentor, especially if you are at a larger firm. If you want a mentor on a formal basis, talk to your manager or someone in HR, and ask them for a mentor. Once you find a mentor, you have to maintain that relationship. It is not the responsibility of the mentor to seek you out and give you guidance. The best ones will do that, but they are often very busy. Just remember that it is up to you to stay in touch with your mentor and be proactive in managing that relationship.

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Is There Ever a Time When Learning Is Not of Value For Its Own Sake?
ACM Queue, April 5

Tech workers considering going back to school and earning a Ph.D. degree should keep in mind certain key factors. First and most importantly, you should not view a Ph.D. degree as simply a path to a better job title and a higher salary. It is meant to give you the skills and the time to really dig into a problem you think is worth the effort. And you should also realize that earning a Ph.D. degree is a lot more work than you could possibly imagine, so it is not something that should be considered lightly. The greater the risk, the greater the reward, however. An advanced degree can propel you on your future career journey.

First and foremost, you should enter any sort of graduate program with the understanding that knowledge is its own reward. This might sound idealistic, but it is the key to a successful journey in pursuing an advanced degree. Most people who have success acquiring an advanced degree are, at some level, deeply curious about the world and the problems they are solving. Undertaking a successful path of study also requires you to consider a few practicalities, including how to finance such a program. If your goal is riches, there are faster ways to make them than joining an advanced degree program. The other things you will need include a good advisor, the support of your program or department, some ability to write clear prose, and an ability to receive and integrate criticism.

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A Year Embedded in the Crypto NFT Space
Blog@CACM, April 6

Before looking for job opportunities in the crypto industry, it is helpful to have a firm handle on the key concepts and frameworks that practitioners use. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. The easiest method, of course, is simply following accounts on social media. But at some point, you will need to dig into the practical applications of theoretical concepts. For example, the simple act of creating a digital crypto wallet can teach you a lot about cryptography. And learning how to buy and sell NFTs can go a long way in understanding how blockchains actually work.

Before getting started in the crypto and blockchain space, it can be helpful to have some theoretical knowledge of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These are different from traditional, fungible cryptocurrency tokens. A distributed ledger, implemented by a blockchain, can easily support registers that hold unique NFTs. Each NFT is associated with some metadata (such as a small image or some text). The transfer mechanism for the blockchain can be tweaked to keep track of the initial owner (the one initially minting the NFT) and process changes of ownership among wallets, mimicking the trade of physical objects. In some way, this tries to provide a mechanism for providing some form of ownership of digital assets. However, owning NFTs is not as obvious as it might seem, especially when one takes into account copyright law and certain licensing agreements. Even simple actions like printing them, or displaying them in an exhibition, should not be taken for granted.

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