ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 10, 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 19, October 10, 2023

Generative AI Jobs Will Continue to Cluster in the Same Big Tech Hubs
Brookings Institution, October 2

According to the latest research from the Brookings Institution, half of all job postings in generative AI have clustered in just 10 metro areas. Moreover, many of these metro areas are the same large coastal hubs that currently dominate the tech sector. So, rather than democratizing tech, generative AI could well further concentrate AI activity in the absence of deliberate intervention. The article takes a closer look at whether small and geographically diverse firms and startups can compete with Big Tech and the tech hubs located on both coasts.

Technological innovation tends to concentrate in key geographic hubs, and AI is following the same path. There are a number of specific reasons for this, including the innovation benefits of local clusters, the need for deep pools of specialized talent, and the impact of network effects playing out across huge platforms. Two years ago, Brookings research showed that the Bay Area and 13 early adopter metro areas accounted for over one-half of activity in federal contracting, conference papers, patents, job postings, job profiles, and startups. More recently, a Brookings report in summer 2023 found that nearly half of job postings for generative AI positions over the prior 11 months were concentrated in just six large coastal metro areas: San Francisco, San Jose, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Seattle.

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Why All IT Talent Should Be Irreplaceable, October 3

Within the tech sector, there is growing debate over whether or not employers should focus on hiring irreplaceable talent. On one hand, it is hard to deny the potential impact of a truly one-of-a-kind employee with hard-to-find tech skills. These employees can develop new products or launch new strategic initiatives. On the other hand, these employees might not work well as part of a team, and may be difficult to both hire and retain. Despite these potential pitfalls, making one or two great hires could be the most critical step in turning around an underperforming organization.

The conventional wisdom in the business world is that good employees who work together as a team outperform great employees who do not, and that good employees with great processes outperform great employees with bad processes. However, that no longer seems to be the case in the tech sector. Great employees can and do overcome bad processes. Great employees can and do overcome lousy managers. Great employees can and do pull along mediocre teams. In fact, the best IT employees are at least 10 times more effective than average ones, even though their paychecks are nowhere near 10 times what average employees receive.

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Indeed Says Generative AI Will Affect All Jobs
CIO Dive, September 29

According to Indeed, generative AI will continue to have an impact on the types of tech jobs available in the marketplace, as well as the skills that employers will be looking for when they hire. In fact, Indeed says that all jobs posted on its platform likely have skills that can be done or augmented by generative AI. The good news is that only 1 in 5 of these jobs is currently considered at high risk to generative AI. However, software development jobs have the highest potential exposure, with generative AI good or excellent at performing 95% of the skills found in a typical job posting.

Research consistently finds the human element required in many critical job skills remains irreplaceable. Generative AI, while adept at processing data and executing specific tasks, lacks the innate human qualities that define various roles, especially those centered around manual work, human interactions, and decision-making based on nuanced understanding. For software developers, it means that generative AI can write a line of code, but can not place it within the broader, complex software architecture envisioned by a human developer.

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Employers Have 44 Days to Convince New Hires to Stay
HR Dive, September 22

Seventy percent of new hires decide if a new job is the right fit for them within the first month, and 29% know within the first week. In fact, employers have only 44 days on average to convince a new hire to stay. Approximately one-half of new employees say they have regrets or second thoughts about their new job within the first week. The takeaway for hiring organizations is that recruiting top talent does not end with an offer letter. Just as much attention needs to be paid to the onboarding and retention process.

Onboarding and personal relationships play a key role in making a good impression. New hires said they value workplace friendships more than meeting the CEO, with 87% hoping to make a friend at work and 93% wanting to shadow a colleague. During onboarding, top frustrations of employees include a lack of clarity about who can answer questions (65%), inadequate training on company products and services (62%) and technology issues (51%). As a result, smart organizations recognize that onboarding is much more than a welcome email and a tech checklist. Those critical first 44 days need to create new hire confidence by continuing to advocate for the mission and values of the company, the importance of the role they fill and the plans for growth and success a new employee can anticipate. In fact, a positive onboarding experience could influence whether new hires refer colleagues and friends, become brand advocates and purchase or recommend the products and services of the company.

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5 Emerging Tech Job Titles For 2023 and Beyond
VentureBeat, September 5

In the current job market, opportunities abound for those with experience in AI, machine learning, and blockchain technology. Moreover, many of the most popular job titles (such as prompt engineer) did not even exist two years ago. Thus, it is important to pay close attention to changing trends in the tech industry, in order to spot new opportunities before they go fully mainstream. With that in mind, there are five emerging job titles of the future that appear to be gaining momentum, including Chief Automation Officer and Metaverse Research Scientist.

With IT automation expected to impact every industry, it should come as no surprise that the need for Chief Automation Officers will be created. This new role will be responsible for new automation initiatives across an organization. The need for this role is a reflection of the fact hat automation is becoming an integral part of business strategy and productivity. Recent data has found that 89% of employees who used automation tools reported an improvement in their productivity, which had a positive overall effect on work-life balance.

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How to Optimize Your Answers to Tech Job Interview Questions
Dice Insights, October 5

If you are currently interviewing for a new tech job, it always pays to rehearse your potential answers ahead of time. In a best-case scenario, you should be able to answer any question in a clear, concise way. If you ramble, your interviewer might think you have problems with organizing your thoughts or communicating with others. Fortunately, there are a number of established formats and templates for answering even the trickiest of interview questions.

When going into a tech interview, it is important to recognize that there are specific interview answer formats that work best for certain types of questions. One example of a popular framework for structuring responses to various types of questions during an interview is STAR, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Using STAR, interviewees can frame a situation and then talk about their actions to handle it, along with the result. Another interview answer format is SOAR, which stands for Situation, Obstacle, Action, and Results. This is similar to STAR, in that enables you to break down the situation and context before describing how you solved it. DIGS is another interview format that asks you to dramatize the situation, indicate the alternatives, go through what you did, and summarize your impact. This answering methodology is an opportunity to tell exciting stories of how you overcame previous challenges and handled big projects.

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How to Upskill Workers Who Are Not Coming Back to the Office
Silicon Republic, October 6

While many employers say they are still dedicated to providing remote and hybrid-working options for their staff, others are clearly prioritizing more in-person days at the office. This is complicating the task of how to upskill workers who do not plan to return to the office. After all, there is often a noticeable difference between the kinds of upskilling options employees have access to based on whether they are in the office full-time or not. The article explores various options for providing training options to remote and hybrid staff.

Hybrid or remote work does provide challenges, so it is important to provide inclusive opportunities that are accessible regardless of where employers are. This is all about priorities, policies and culture as it relates to training and upskilling. Ultimately, whether there is a noticeable difference in upskilling opportunities between office-based and remote employees will depend on the specific practices and priorities of the organization. It is increasingly important for companies to ensure that all employees, regardless of their work arrangement, have access to the tools and resources they need to develop their skills and advance their careers. Interactive video software is one of these tools, but other resources include Coursera, podcasts, YouTube and even offsite training days.

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The Great Hiring Mismatch
Fast Company, October 6

Despite improving economic data and a brighter outlook for the U.S. jobs market, many job seekers are still having difficulties finding work. According to a recent survey, 53.8% of job seekers say that current economic conditions and the job market are the most significant barrier or challenge in their current job search. So why are tech workers having trouble finding a new position? The article suggests a number of possible reasons why an improving economic outlook is not leading to new tech hiring.

One reason for the discrepancy may be that the economic data is something of a mirage, as many job openings may not be what job seekers are looking for. For job seekers, an elevated number of job openings does not always equate to an elevated number of real opportunities. There could also be a misalignment between those looking for work, the jobs available, and what work they are willing to accept. All of these factors have made it harder than ever for companies and talent to match with each other. Moreover, there is an argument to be made that inflation has changed the way job candidates think about salary and total compensation. In a recent survey, 86% of respondents said that pay was an important motivator in their job search, and yet, almost 71% of them said they did not receive a pay raise based on inflation over the past year. Workers may simply be unwilling to take a new role that does not equate to an adequate boost in earnings.

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Knowing What You Need To Know
ACM Queue, September 21

Knowing what information you need before you begin a task, and then having that information at the right time, is key to productivity. On an individual level, it could be the difference between one employee completing a task quickly and another requiring multiple days. On a team level, it allows a team to start on a project or task right away, and not be delayed by many round trips of clarifying questions. In short, gathering the right information and performing preflight checks can save hours of wasted time later.

There is enormous value in gathering everything required to do a task upfront. This includes gathering both information and resources. This is a far superior approach to getting information on-demand, or as you get to each new step of the process. The problem, though, is that it can feel more productive to dive in and begin right away. If you are looking for a way of boosting personal productivity, then, you should pause at the start of a task to think through the entire process. Be pessimistic and always ask yourself what could go wrong at each step. Then, verify that needed access to resources is available, including potential usernames or passwords. Also, verify that the information required to do the task is complete. This can save you time and energy in tracking down other employees within the organization.

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Six Ideas For Building a Vibrant Online Professional Community
eLearn Magazine, October 2023

Online teaching experiences are often lacking the networking and collaborative interactions readily available in a face-to-face, campus environment. As such, it is important for online programs to design dedicated opportunities for faculty to connect and engage outside of their individual courses. Online faculty need community engagement through professional learning communities, non-course related message boards, and interactive communication systems. It is essential that institutions build vibrant, collaborative communities to assist online faculty so they can collectively grow in their profession.

Institutions should seek to prioritize relationships and community as a way of bringing together educators. Community occurs when people feel a part of something bigger than themselves, and when they have shared goals, challenges, and commitments. In an online teaching setting, faculty may feel disconnected. As such, institutions need to design programming and structure that ensures online participants feel like valued, contributing members. A successful professional learning community must have a primary focus to connect faculty on an individual, personal level. There should be opportunities for faculty to engage, get to know each other, make personal connections, and find common ground that helps to create an environment that is safe and supportive.

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