ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, June 20, 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 12, June 20, 2023
The demand for skilled IT workers has not slowed down, judging by the rising average salaries for certain job titles in the tech sector. As companies vie for talented tech workers to meet skills gaps in their organizations, the demand for high-end tech talent has increased. There is a strong need for workers with expertise in helping companies make sense of data, launch cloud strategies, build applications, and improve the overall user experience. This demand has driven up salaries for IT roles, especially those around development, engineering, and support.
One of the hottest IT jobs continues to be DevOps engineer. In fact, the average salary for a DevOps engineer has increased by 14% since 2021. These DevOps engineers are tasked with bridging the gap between software development and operations, typically working alongside software developers, systems administrators, and testers to maintain efficient workflows. It is a role that has grown in demand as companies push to implement new tools, technologies, and programs to manage day-to-day operations. Relevant skills for DevOps engineers include automation, software development, system administration skills, and cloud computing.
In May, the overall number of tech jobs increased by 45,000. This good news was counterbalanced by the news that the tech sector lost 4,725 jobs. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for technologists remained low in May at just 2.0%, below the national unemployment rate of 3.7% across all occupations. The tech unemployment rate last month dipped slightly from 2.1% in April.
The May tech jobs numbers reversed the trend from April, when the economy shed nearly 100,000 tech positions and the tech sector added nearly 19,000 jobs. The important point here is that monthly numbers and periodic reports of layoffs in the tech sector can obscure a broader movement toward workforce growth. Overall, tech sector employment and technology jobs across the economy have risen steadily in the last two years. As a percentage of the overall tech workforce, monthly fluctuations remain relatively small, both on the upside with tech occupation gains and the downside with tech sector employment losses. The consistently low tech unemployment rate is an indication that displaced workers continue to be rehired and reabsorbed back into the tech workforce fairly quickly.
Although more companies are resisting the idea of remote work, there are plenty of opportunities out there for tech professionals who want to work full-time from the comfort of their home desks. Software developers, IT project managers, data analysts, and those specializing in emerging tech have a wide variety of remote jobs to choose from. There is also a significant number of remote jobs for systems analysts, data scientists, IT support specialists, and cybersecurity analysts and engineers.
During the pandemic, many companies suggested that remote work was the way of the future, and either closed down their existing office space or reconfigured it for workers who would only work on-site occasionally. However, executives at some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley now fear that remote work is eroding team solidarity and company culture. They have cited the benefits of in-person collaboration as justification for ordering employees back to the office for at least a few days per week. As they point out, people tend to be more productive when they are working in person and not virtually. Yet, there continue to be many remote work opportunities, and not all organizations have imposed return-to-office mandates.
The Top Jobs in the Cryptocurrency Industry
Make Use Of, June 9
Despite recent volatility in the crypto market, there are numerous jobs available in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector. The top roles now include software developer, UI and UX designer, project manager, and cybersecurity engineer. Software development constitutes a significant portion of the new opportunities. Whether you are creating an app, perfecting a new feature, or looking for code bugs, there is plenty you can do in the software development field. Exchanges, lending platforms, and software wallets need to be programmed, developed upon, and vetted for issues.
If you have the expertise, qualifications or experience and want to enter the crypto space, there are plenty of startups looking for talent. One job title that has taken off, for example, is UX Designer. Both UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) design are incredibly important in the crypto space. Nobody wants to use a crypto platform that is confusing, lackluster, or dysfunctional, and this is where UI and UX designers come into play. UI and UX designers essentially determine how enjoyable an app or website is to use. The former is more focused on aesthetics, while the latter tends to be functional. Crypto exchanges, wallet providers, blockchain news apps, and other platforms require UX and UI design to offer customers a streamlined experience that is easy on the eye.
How to Show Your Skills With Quantifiable Results
Silicon Republic, June 14
Most jobseekers understand the importance of showcasing quantifiable evidence of their skills and competencies on their CV. Stating the percentage increase in new sales, clients or website visitors that you were personally responsible for, for example, serves to demonstrate to a potential new employer your expertise and the value you could bring to their organization. Such outcomes are easy to measure over time, and thus equally as easy to assign an impressive numerical figure to. However, some roles just do not lend themselves to this type of measurement, and you will need to be more flexible and creative in thinking about how to share metrics and quantifiable results.
Even if your current job does not appear to have measurable numbers to highlight on your resume, there are often powerful metrics you can share. These are quantifiable in their own way, and will help you to demonstrate the positive impact you have made in all your roles to date and the value you can bring to the next. For example, when it comes to project management, you can choose to highlight the number of projects or accounts managed, the number of programs or products you have successfully delivered, the percentage of projects delivered on time or ahead of schedule, and the percentage of customers retained. You can also mention the number of new accounts or projects you took on over time, the budgets managed, or the dollar value of contracts you negotiated.
Cloud Specialists Get the Big Bucks But There Is Still a Role for Generalists
ZDNet, May 16
As the world continues to move to the cloud, there is going to be an increasing need for engineers, AI specialists, and operations people who can keep things connected, secure, and running. While there is less of a requirement for the cloud generalist, who handles everything from purchase to configuration and onto data uploading, organizations still need big-picture thinking. Just as IT itself has traditionally been a broad discipline requiring numerous specialties, so now is the world of cloud computing.
Just a few years ago, a cloud certification focusing on a single, popular cloud provider was enough to get you a cloud job. These days, the focus is on very specific skills in the narrow versus general skills in the wide. The good news is that an upward trajectory in rates is clear, even for generalists. In 2010, a cloud computing specialist or an experienced consultant cost about $80,000 per year if salaried. If you are a cloud computing generalist in 2023, you will likely make about $140,000 per year in salary. Importantly, specialized cloud skills carry even bigger premiums. If you are a specialist and focus on specific technologies, such as data analytics in the cloud, AI, or machine learning, or if you are a cloud computing architect, then the salaries and hourly rates carry huge premiums. It is not unusual for a cloud technology specialist with specialized certifications to command salaries well over $275,000 on the top end.
Half of IT Employers Are Upskilling Workers to Address Staffing Challenges
HR Dive, June 13
About 78% of IT organizations are reporting difficulty finding talent with the right skills, and half are now training and upskilling their current workforce to address their challenges. Companies are also adopting or planning to adopt the use of emerging technologies in their recruiting processes, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The integration of AI, machine learning, VR/AR, and other emerging technologies is rapidly transforming industries and driving the need for an adaptable workforce. As a result, companies are now seeking to hire or upskill existing talent.
New technologies have also shifted the hiring priorities for IT employers. The top five staffing priorities are cybersecurity, technical support, customer or user experience, database management and customer relationship management systems. In response, employers said they are training and upskilling their current workers, hiring new workers with the required skills, investing more in automation, reskilling workers and transitioning them into IT roles, and hiring short-term staff such as freelancers and contract workers to fill skills gaps. About 58% of employers said they believe AI and VR will create jobs rather than eliminate workers. More than a third plan to use tools such as AI and VR in recruitment and retention. Generative AI can be expected to mostly automate tasks and skills within jobs rather than entire jobs. The focus will be on how organizations can leverage these tools to augment and upgrade uniquely human skills.
Would You Rather Be a Thought Leader or an Influencer?
Inc.com, June 9
When looking to advance in your career, becoming a thought leader or influencer can be one way to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. But is it better to be a thought leader or an influencer? An influencer is a person on social media who, because of their apparent expertise or demonstrated popularity, has the power to change the buying behavior of their followers. A thought leader is someone who is regarded by their peers as authoritative in their chosen field. A thought leader is an individual who has become the go-to source for information, insight, and expertise about a particular subject.
It can be difficult to differentiate among these experts. That is because market leaders and influencers typically use different platforms. Influencers hold most sway on image- and video-focused social media platforms while thought leaders are more likely to focus on LinkedIn, Twitter, publications, and their own website. In both cases, however, they are investing in a top-down approach to information sharing and product marketing. When influencers are talking to their audience, the ultimate goal is usually sales and profit. Thought leaders, in contrast, are committed to talking with their peers. Thought leadership conversations are about sharing information with no expectation of reciprocity. Thought leaders freely offer their expertise to their equals. They are sharing their hard-won insights and they are championing their causes. Their presence online is marked by its generosity.
AI Does Not Help Programmers
Blog@CACM, June 3
While new AI-based software programs like ChatGPT are certainly impressive, it is still too early to say that they will result in the end of programming jobs. If the idea is only to write some sort of program from scratch, then it is possible to use AI-powered programs to beat a professional programmer for a from-scratch development of a Minimum Viable Product program. People who know next to nothing about programming can get a useful program prototype by just typing in a general specification. However, it is still not possible for a professional programmer using an AI assistant to do a better job.
Researchers are still in the early days of AI technology and it is easy to mistake early problems for fundamental limitations. This has been the case with many recent innovations. Moreover, it could be the case that rival tools to ChatGPT may perform better, so simply comparing programming results from ChatGPT is short-sighted. That being said, initial experiences using ChatGPT as a programming assistant have been mixed at best. For programmers, it would be helpful to have an assistant. This assistant would alert you to pitfalls and correct you when you make an error. But that is not what we get right now with ChatGPT. Instead, we have the equivalent of an overconfident graduate student, smart and widely read, also polite and quick to apologize, but thoroughly, invariably, sloppy and unreliable.
ChatGPT Is Not a Technological Singularity
Blog@CACM, June 5
ChatGPT took the world by storm in 2022 as a genuine technological breakthrough. ChatGPT can already pass advanced courses in theoretical computer science. More broadly, generative artificial intelligence is able to create movies, pictures, animations, stories and even entire software applications, seemingly from scratch. Over time, it might be able to create entirely new products and services. And it will likely have a huge impact on technological employment, and what we think of as tech occupations. But ChatGPT is not a technological singularity and, due to constant change happening in the software industry, will not make us obsolete.
The important point to keep in mind is that the tech industry invents new jobs all the time, and constantly needs people to fill these new positions. It is nothing new. For example, 60 percent of current occupational specialties did not exist 80 years ago. In the same way, many of the jobs people will be doing in 20 years do not exist yet. Just like data scientist, mobile app developer, YouTube creator, and Instagram influencer did not exist 20 years ago, and just like Web designer, front-end engineer, and back-end engineer did not exist 40 years ago. Thus, in the same way, generative AI could result in the same kind of job creation process.
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