ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 25, 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 14, July 25, 2023

The Hottest New Job Is Head of AI and Nobody Knows What They Do
Vox, July 19

As AI becomes increasingly commonplace in the workplace, and as tech workers scramble to rebrand themselves as AI experts, the hottest new job title is head of AI. Outside of the tech industry, the head of AI position was mostly nonexistent a few years ago, but now people are taking on that title at some of the most high-profile companies in the nation. In the U.S., the number of people in AI leadership roles has grown threefold in the past five years, according to data from LinkedIn. And while the head of AI job description varies widely by company, tech leaders in this new role do everything from incorporating AI into products to getting employees up to speed on how to use AI in their jobs.

Artificial intelligence is one of the few areas where companies are actively spending money, since they see it as the inevitable future and as a way to improve their bottom line. At the same time, the parameters of the head of AI job are not very clear, and the pivot to the position can seem opportunistic. While everyone seems to agree that companies need AI stewards, the nature of new technology means many are uncertain as to what that stewardship means in practice. Furthermore, it is not clear who exactly should become the new stewards: the people who have been working on AI for years or those who have been introduced to it by products such as ChatGPT.

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Non-Tech Companies Have a Unique Opportunity to Attract Tech Workers Right Now
Fast Company, July 14

In the war for IT talent, companies in non-tech industries have historically had a difficult time competing with companies within the tech industry. But that dynamic appears to be changing, due in part to the number of layoffs at top tech companies. Job growth in non-tech industries has remained strong, and the demand for tech workers continues to rise. Thus, many tech workers are more open than ever to taking a role in an industry they might not have otherwise considered.

Top talent will always have opportunities, and after working at some of the best employers in the country, many are savvy job seekers with high expectations. That is why this is the time for non-tech companies to focus on fine-tuning their talent brand and recruiting processes in order to capitalize on this moment. Most workers want to feel like they are making an impact and are helping their company move toward a well-defined goal, so the first step in recruiting in-demand tech talent is to help them understand how they would be a part of something bigger by working at your organization. For example, this could mean elaborating on the mission of the company, and how the role in question contributes to it. For engineers and other product roles, organizations may want to consider spinning off a separate innovation unit in order to attract talent who might not want otherwise to work at a large corporation.

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Human Skills Remain in Demand in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
HR Dive, July 18

As artificial intelligence and automation continue to transform workplaces worldwide, certain cognitive skills considered to be uniquely human will remain in demand. In a survey of HR managers, 64% said the rise of AI is changing the workplace and impacting which types of worker skills are in high demand. About 65% said the most crucial skills for success in the AI era will be digital, interpersonal, and cognitive skills. Researchers said that the top in-demand cognitive skills are problem solving, creativity, originality, imagination, and the ability to learn.

To bridge the learning and development gap, 58% of HR managers said their company will use upskilling and reskilling initiatives. The same amount will also invest in AI training tools, and 41% will hire new employees to overcome the gap. HR managers noted the current effects of the AI revolution on employee well-being. More than half of employees agree that the AI-driven necessity of developing new skills is contributing to employee stress. In addition, 58% expressed concerns that AI is leading to job insecurity among employees and less confidence among older generations at work. In response, 45% of HR managers believe companies need to establish clear AI policies, including ethics guidelines.

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The Most Lucrative Jobs in Blockchain Development in 2023
Baseline, June 28

With the rapid adoption of blockchain technology across various industries, countless new career opportunities have emerged. From smart contract developers to cryptocurrency analysts, these positions offer aspiring professionals the unique opportunity to propel their careers forward. For now, there are eight blockchain jobs that are considered the most lucrative, and all of them will likely play an important role in the future buildout of the blockchain and crypto industry.

Smart contract developer is one of the most important roles in the world of blockchain development, primarily because smart contracts are the key to everything from non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to decentralized finance. As a smart contract developer, your ability to understand cryptographic principles and design contracts that meet the business goals of the organization will bolster your career prospects and place you at the forefront of this domain. In the world of blockchain development, mastering smart contracts is a must. By learning languages like Solidity, you will be able to design and implement secure digital agreements for different blockchain platforms.

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A Confidence Gap is Holding Workers Back from Tech Careers
Dice Insights, July 14

Despite growing uncertainty in the IT jobs market, many tech workers seem optimistic about their chances of landing another position. Moreover, many of these workers still want to work within the tech industry, despite the highly-publicized layoffs at top Silicon Valley companies. In fact, according to the latest survey data, approximately 40 percent of those looking for work characterized the overall job market as strong or very strong, while only 26 percent thought it was weak or very weak. Overall, the picture is one of a very resilient IT employment market.

Among those survey respondents who wanted to jump into a tech career, some 57 percent indicated a confidence gap as a barrier. Many worry about potential failure or a lack of math and science skills. Still others are concerned that the absence of a four-year degree will prevent them from landing the tech job of their dreams. Technology consistently ranks as a top five career choice, but many are hesitant about taking the next step. Barriers such as the confidence gap, unnecessary four-year-degree requirements, and inadequate career on-ramps require a full commitment on many fronts to overcome.

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9 Tips For Recruiting High-End IT Talent, July 13

Recruiting and hiring high-end IT talent is among the most challenging tasks IT leaders face today. The IT skills shortage is critical, with CIOs losing talented employees faster than they can hire them. IT leaders should expect increased competition in many talent pools. Moreover, the cost of IT talent will continue to rise. IT leaders will need to be creative about finding new talent, as well as more willing to take steps that they might not taken in the past, such as branding their workplace as a place for new tech hires.

In order to attract the best job applicants, organizations should think about ways to market themselves as a workplace that attracts top technical talent. A lot of companies make the mistake of relying on job posts, but technical people are not necessarily looking online for a job. So organizations need to create a brand and reputation to attract this kind of talent. That could be LinkedIn content or articles you post on your company site. It could be stories in the news about your company or what personnel and clients say about the company in social media. High-talent IT pros want to work for a company that aligns with their values, to do work that is meaningful, and to have greater flexibility than ever before. So, if you are updating your recruitment marketing strategy, add a storytelling element that incorporates narratives from IT employees who speak to the values and culture of your organization.

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Cybersecurity Remains a Top IT Hiring Priority For Employers
Silicon Republic, July 20

Talent shortages continue to exist for cybersecurity professionals. While the IT industry already has trouble filling vacancies in general, the challenge becomes more acute in cybersecurity, which has been the number one staffing priority in the past year. For example, according to the latest survey data from Ireland, more than three-quarters of tech employers are struggling to find the right talent.

The top cybersecurity employers include technology companies such as Dell Technologies and financial services providers such as Fidelity Investments. There is a pronounced split in terms of the gender distribution of men and women in cybersecurity. According to the report from Ireland, just 22 percent of the those working in the industry are women, while 78 percent are men. According to the data, there was also a slight decrease in tech talent in Ireland over the past 12 months, and that has made the search for top cybersecurity talent even more difficult.

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Can Generative AI Be Used To Apply For a Job?
Tech Republic, July 18

Given the popularity of ChatGPT, some job seekers are now exploring the use of generative AI to produce resumes and other forms of written communication in the job search. Whether you are using ChatGPT, Bard, or a handful of other competitors, it is certainly possible to use AI to write a cover letter or a resume for a job application. You will probably want to tweak the results, but it could be a useful resource. When it comes to generating a template, for example, generative AI can provide conventional, effective templates. Just be aware, though, that much of the advice that these programs can provide might seem basic, and may need adjustment.

New AI tools can make recommendations for mid-career professionals. For example, ChatGPT might suggest replacing the objective section with a professional summary, emphasizing work experience more than education, or removing a section about relevant coursework. However, AI does not always follow its own conversation perfectly, and this can lead to mixed messages. For instance, it might recommend adding a certifications section when one already exists. If you input information about recent jobs, ChatGPT can write an objective section for your resume and add a skills section. However, just remember that ChatGPT is only as good as the information provided. With some tweaks, it can provide a good basic template that saves time.

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There Is No Money in Tools
ACM Queue, July 18

Writing code in a difficult environment, such as directly on top of hardware for an operating system, can definitely improve your coding skills. It will certainly make you more careful because a failure in your code can have dire side effects like crashing the whole computer. The difficulties of programming an operating system come from, in part, a lack of good tooling. If you look at the software tooling landscape, the majority of developers work with either open-source tools or tools from companies with proprietary software platforms. In specialized markets, such as military and aerospace, there are other proprietary tools.

Systems could be built so that they were more amenable to good tooling, and better tooling could be built. However, this would require pausing long enough to think about what that might mean. The problem is that, in systems software, the pressure is always on to just make the machine work. This means taking immediate steps to make the box work, even if the resulting performance is sub-optimal. People are so pleased that the OS works and that the applications do not crash, that they never go back to consider whether the design of the system they are using is amenable to the application or the hardware. Making a system work does not mean the design was the right design, just that you actually made the machine work without any immediately noticeable adverse effects.

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Why They Are Worried About the Future of AI
Blog@CACM, July 17

The Future of Life Institute (FLI) recently published an open letter calling for a six-month pause on the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. Concerned by the existential risks of AI, it highlighted dangers specifically associated with large, opaque generative models. The letter was quickly signed by over 50,000 individuals and sparked passionate discourse. This public interest was not only sparked by the compelling argument put forth but also fueled by endorsements from hundreds of leading researchers and industry stakeholders. The article takes a closer look at what brought these experts to sign the letter, what most concerns them about the field, and what they believe needs to change.

Though most interviewees aligned with the spirit of the letter, many neither anticipated nor advocated for a pause, nor were they primarily concerned about the existential risks posed by AI. However, all interviewees agreed that the rapid development and deployment of advanced AI systems is inappropriate and potentially very dangerous. Their concern for the current pace of advanced AI deployment was great enough to sign the letter. They hoped it might help mitigate various anticipated risks. Many, technologists themselves, empathized with developers and attributed the AI race to industry competition and market forces. By publicly advocating for a slowdown, some hoped the letter could offer evidence for companies who wanted to exercise caution.

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