ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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 [email protected]

Volume 19, Issue 9, May 9, 2023

Need a Job? Tech Remains a Good Bet Despite Layoffs in Silicon Valley
NPR, April 26

While high-profile layoffs have become a reality in Silicon Valley over the past several months, tech jobs remain plentiful in the U.S., opening doors to stable and potentially lucrative careers even for those without college degrees. There were 316,000 tech job openings in March, but approximately half of these openings are actually at non-tech companies. An estimated 51% of technology workers are now employed by companies outside the tech industry. As a result, job seekers should not be worried about layoffs in Silicon Valley because there are plenty of other companies across various sectors that still need this talent.

In the U.S, economists are now predicting tech labor shortages over the next decade, even as more jobs become automated. That is because new technologies continue to emerge. As a result, over the next ten years, there is going to be strong demand for IT workers with skills in these areas. In the very short run, there is just less demand for tech, and that is why companies are right-sizing their labor forces. The growing consensus among young graduates seems to be the following: technology is integrated into everything we do, so there will always be growth in the tech field.

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How ChatGPT Could Change Hiring As We Know It
BBC, April 24

ChatGPT can create convincing cover letters on demand, or synthesize a few career details into a competent, bullet-pointed CV. With just basic prompts, ChatGPT can complete complex, written tasks in moments, and work as a creative tool to quickly produce efficient content. If you would like to send an email to a hiring manager, for example, you can prompt the chatbot, then copy and paste the AI-generated text straight into the message. But hiring managers are aware that candidates are already leaning on generative AI to assist them in the job search. This could create a shift in job applications as we know them, moving recruiters away from the traditional modes of evaluating candidates.

Not all recruiters report the use of generative AI as a hiring red flag, or even a worrying development at all. In fact, hiring managers short on time may be unlikely to distinguish between a cover letter written by a candidate and one generated by AI. The language generated by ChatGPT reads clean, if formulaic. While there are no idiosyncrasies or sparks of personality, there are also no red flags. Recruiters increasingly view ChatGPT as simply helping those who are not the best at writing and editing in producing a neat summary of career highlights, similar to asking a friend to review your CV. Recruiters have already been relying less on traditional modes of evaluating candidates. The cover letter has been on its way out for years and hiring managers typically skim a resume for less than 10 seconds anyway.

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Nearly Four in Five Employers Struggle to Fill Job Roles
Computerworld, April 11

According to a new report from ManpowerGroup, 77% of employers worldwide are finding it difficult to fill open job roles. This represents a 17-year-high for the global talent shortage. The annual survey of 39,000 employers across 41 countries showed a 2% year-over-year increase in employers who said they are struggling to fill roles. Unmet demand for talent is highest in IT-related fields, with 78% of employers in IT reporting challenges in hiring. This suggests that tech workers who have been laid off recently will soon be reabsorbed into the market.

The large number of job openings and scarcity in available talent make an odd juxtaposition with the numerous high-profile layoffs in the technology industry during the past six months. Industry experts have said many organizations over-hired during the COVID-19 pandemic and are now having to trim their workforces. Even with the layoffs, recruiters are continuing to see organizations struggle to find talent with the skills they need to fill specific roles. In the IT sector, 76% of employers say they are having a difficult time finding the right people with the right skills. The survey also reports that many IT companies still plan to hire. Nearly one-third (34%) of organizations in the IT industry have high intentions to hire, followed by communication services (30%) and financial services and real estate (29%), according to the survey.

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Startup Job Market Shows Signs of Stabilization Following Sharp Decrease Last Year
GeekWire, April 28

The startup job market is bouncing back, showing signs of stability after a sharp decrease in listings throughout last year. Last year, startups faced challenges including a slowdown in venture capital funding and pressure to minimize costs in response to the broader market downturn. However, a new report from a California VC firm shows startup hiring activity is slowly rebounding. Startup job postings declined by 52% year-over-year, with listings falling from 19,000 in April 2022 to 9,000 in March 2023. But over the past three months, there have been consistently more than 9,000 startup job openings, indicating the total number of listings may have stabilized at this new level.

Venture-backed startups raised a total of $209 billion last year, down 36% from the previous year. With the slower investment pace, many startups reduced their hiring plans, or trimmed existing headcount. Some startups that have been able to hire are taking advantage of the larger hiring pool. Early-stage companies posted 190,000 job ads between January 2022 and March 2023, with more than 50% of the total openings originating from the Bay Area and New York City. Those two metros saw significant year-over-year declines last year, with job openings in those metros dropping by 49% and 55%, respectively. Meanwhile, startup hiring activity in Seattle remained steady during that same period, with only a 4% decline from the first quarter of 2022. Early-stage companies in the region advertised more than 8,350 job openings, representing around 4% of the U.S. startup job market.

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5 High-Paying IT Jobs That Do Not Require a Degree, April 13

There are now a growing number high-paying IT jobs that do not require a degree. There are various factors behind this trend, such as the recent focus by employers on practical skills and experience, and the significant demand for talent in the field. Employers often value candidates who can demonstrate their skills through real-world projects and specialized certifications, rather than solely relying on formal education. Furthermore, with the availability of online resources, coding boot camps and specialized training programs, individuals can develop their skills and gain practical experience without pursuing a traditional degree. As a result, having a strong portfolio of work and relevant experience can often qualify individuals for high-paying IT jobs, regardless of their educational background.

Software developer is one of the highest-paying IT jobs that does not require a degree. Many programmers are self-taught, have gone through coding boot camps or have taken online courses. Software developer jobs have become more accessible to those without a degree due to several factors. First off, many firms in the sector place a higher priority on abilities and practical experience than on formal education. This implies that candidates without a degree who have a solid body of work or real-world projects can still be evaluated for employment as software developers. Moreover, a lot of people who work as software engineers are self-taught and acquire their knowledge from tutorials online, coding boot camps or mentorships. As a result, there is now a more convenient and accessible way to enter the field without the time or financial commitment of a conventional degree program. Additionally, the growing demand for software developers has led to a wider range of job opportunities, which can accommodate different levels of education and experience.

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Avoid These 6 Common Phrases When Looking For a New Job
Fast Company, April 7

When looking for a job, beware of using common phrases that might indicate to employers that you are less confident than you should be. This includes language that you might use in elevator pitches, resumes, and cover letters. And, when meeting in person, it also pertains to answers to interview questions. So look closely at the words you use to make sure you come across as a confident candidate. The article includes examples of expressions and phrases that you might you want to remove from your job search correspondence.

Some of the phrases encountered during the job search are so common that they might not even seem out-of-place. Most importantly, be careful about how you describe yourself as a manager. Saying you are a manager is weaker than saying what you have actually done in that role. This holds true for any role. Do not talk about the role you were given. Instead, talk about what you accomplished in that role. Use verbs instead of nouns when ever possible, and make sure those verbs are as vivid as possible. You should also try to include numbers, data, or other supporting proof in order to describe the impact that you had in your role.

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Generative AI Is Changing Your Technology Career Path, April 17

At least 80% of all jobs, especially those requiring a college education, will be influenced or augmented by generative AI, according to a prediction in a recent paper by a team of researchers from OpenAI, OpenResearch, and the University of Pennsylvania. This growing influence of AI will have a dramatic impact on people engaged in or pursuing careers in IT development or operations. As a tool, AI will boost productivity and capabilities. At a business level, there will be increased demand for AI-specific skills to design, build, and maintain systems.

The increased use of generative AI in technology jobs dovetails with the rise of the low- and no-code movement. With generative AI, developers can leverage, customize, and train algorithms to create new code and solutions, which can save time and effort compared to writing AI and ML code from scratch. Generative AI is also certainly making it easier to create low-code and no-code environments, which allow non-technical users to build and deploy apps without having to necessarily learn how to write code, although it is still an important skill to have. The risk of this low-code technology is that the developers, designers and users lose transparency into how the models work and how they are able to generate answers to requests. Importantly, the tools of automation should not be seen as a replacement for talented IT professionals. Generative AI, for example, will not usurp the functions of skilled developers. While generative AI can automate certain aspects of app development, responsible AI development still requires developers to oversee and refine the output of these algorithms.

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Some Remote Jobs Will Still Be Hot Years From Now and Others Might Not Exist
CNBC, May 5

At the height of the pandemic, nearly half of all Americans worked from home full-time, a significant jump from about 2% pre-pandemic. Now, less than 10% of workers in the U.S. have a fully remote job. While some business leaders embraced the shift to remote work as an opportunity to reimagine how we do our jobs and run our companies, others saw flexible work accommodations offered at the start of the pandemic as emergency measures that are not sustainable for the long-term. By the end of 2022, for example, remote jobs made up less than 14% of postings advertised on LinkedIn, down from a high of 20.6% in March 2022.

Companies are hiring fewer people for remote roles in the U.S., given that many of these jobs can be outsourced to cheaper workers overseas or replaced with AI. In the U.S., wages are often double or triple those of overseas workers in countries like Mexico, India, and the Philippines, and those workers can be just as good as a fully remote employee in the U.S., so it is more cost-efficient and effective for companies to move those jobs there. As for AI, the World Economic Forum has estimated that AI technologies will replace some 85 million jobs by 2025. Many of these jobs will be remote roles that are repetitive and can be easily automated, like customer service representatives. The industries with the least remote work opportunities that will continue to limit flexibility for employees are the ones that require in-person interactions, like retail and manufacturing.

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A Career Built on Using Technology to Help Others
Communications of the ACM, May 2023

Tech careers can be informed by a strong desire to help others lead a good and fulfilling life. Technologies can only contribute toward this goal, however, when they are designed from an understanding of what makes a life good for the people concerned. When exploring career opportunities in computer science, this might lead to an emphasis on academic specialties such as human-computer interaction (HCI), or to jobs in fields such as digital health. As one computer science practitioner explains, once you have settled on your specialty, then it is time to start building practical applications to help others, such as a mobile phone app that tracks daily activity levels and changes in key biomedical data.

Given how entrenched technology now is within every industry, there are plenty of potential career paths beyond just the tech industry. Thus, while many recent graduates start out in the tech industry, they may later opt to work within another industry. This can sometimes mean transitioning to a nonprofit organization in order to fulfill certain goals, or pursuing a career in an industry that is far removed from tech. Often, career paths can appear out of seemingly nowhere. As long as you are willing to pursue your passion and goals, these opportunities can be easier to spot than might be thought. In the current hiring environment, taking a multidisciplinary approach to computer science can also pay off. It can enable you to apply thinking, research, and solutions across different disciplines and become attractive to a wider range of employers.

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Best Practices For Open Source Ecosystems Researchers
ACM Queue, May 4

Open source is a complex ecosystem of human contributors who collaboratively cooperate in many capacities to accomplish a shared creative endeavor. Consequently, when studying open source ecosystems, numerous interacting parts must be considered to understand the dynamics of the whole. Research on open source ecosystems is ultimately research about a socio-technical ecosystem. Researchers should take care to retain the socio- element in research and understand how both their methods and results may impact entire open source ecosystems. Best practices for open source ecosystems research should integrate multiple overarching best practices.

Open source projects and ecosystems have evolved into a critical socio-technical system underpinning much of modern society. As a significant component of STEM fields, open source itself is studied under many disciplines, including economics, data ethics, computer science, psychology, sociology, and more. Open source ecosystems benefit from comprehensive and scientifically sound examination. For example, this helps to set expectations for mutually beneficial best practices for critical vulnerability disclosure and remediation.

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