ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 7, 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 21, November 7, 2023

Need For Skilled AI Talent Is Driving Up Salaries
CIO Dive, October 31

Interest in generative AI has caused companies to seek out workers with related skills, but attracting and then hiring in-demand talent will require competitive salaries as the market heats up. Currently, the average listed salary is around $188,000 for AI engineers, which is 21% higher than for non-AI software engineers. This figure is up 12% on a quarter-over-quarter basis. In addition, the number of AI-related job postings rose 22% in the past three months compared to the previous quarter.

Over the past three months, 579 technology companies have listed nearly 2,000 AI-related job postings, according to the data. The most common titles include machine learning engineer, AI engineer, machine learning scientist and computer vision engineer. Emerging technologies accounted for more than one-quarter of all tech job postings in September, with more than one-third of those positions requiring AI skills.

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Currently, over one-half of American workers say they are looking for a new job or are planning to do so soon. Yet, one-third of workers who are on the job hunt want to stay within their same company, just in a different role. In part, this is due to uncertain economic times and, in part, due to the career growth opportunities that are available internally. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the article provides three tips to switch jobs within your employer.

If you want a new job at your current company, there are three key steps to keep in mind when thinking about switching roles. First of all, do your research. Many companies already offer programs where employees can explore new opportunities on different teams, making it significantly easier for workers to jump jobs. These programs can take the form of apprenticeships or being paired with a mentor on another team to learn more about their work. A lot of employers want to retain talent, especially in this tight labor market. These programs exist and people do not even know about them, so it is really important to research and ask.

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TikTok Is the Career Coach of Choice For Gen Z
Fast Company, October 30

According to a new survey of workers between the ages of 21 and 40, nearly one-half are now getting career advice from TikTok. Moreover, two in three users surveyed say they are very trusting or somewhat trusting of the advice they receive. When it comes to career advice, TikTok users are posting about everything from the interview process to how they answer questions to how they have networked or written their LinkedIn profiles.

TikTok has already spawned or helped popularize a number of career trends, including quiet quitting and bare minimum Mondays. Members of Generation Z are now more likely to make decisions based on suggestions from TikTok creators. About 41% of those who use TikTok have made career decisions based on information they have seen on the app. At least 88% of people who took TikTok advice said it had a positive impact on their lives, 10% said it was neutral, and just 2% said those decisions panned out negatively.

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What Tech Recruiters Really Want You to Know This Year, October 20

If you are not hearing back from recruiters or hiring managers, you might be making some minor mistakes during the application process. These mistakes, in turn, could be having a major impact on your ability to secure an interview. At the same time, job seeker growth is outpacing the number of open positions being advertised by nearly 20%, meaning competition is stiff. With that in mind, tech recruiters share what they are looking for in prospective hires and provide insider tips on how to navigate the application process more effectively.

As a general rule of thumb, job candidates should plan to use ChatGPT sparingly. While generative AI is incredibly helpful when it comes to crafting the perfect CV, it can also be too perfect. Recruiters point out that they can really tell when somebody has done their CV with the help of AI. Candidates are being pushed to use AI to come across as more professional, but what you end up with is people with minimal experience using AI to bulk up their CVs. It is probably working for them in terms of getting interviews, but then you get to the interview and they are not as good as they say they are.

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Developers and the AI Job Wars
Information Week, October 18

The stakes continue to rise in the ongoing competition between AI and software developers. For example, the newest versions of ChatGPT now have voice and image capabilities, and that is enabling AI to write full code from nothing more than a basic idea scribbled on a napkin. But it still does not mean developers will lose to AI-powered machines. Right now, AI is only replacing one skill: coding. However, the job of a software engineer requires so many other skills, whether hard skills, such as systems thinking, architecture and debugging, or soft skills, such as verbal and textual communication.

It is not just the skill set requirements that are changing in software development, it is also the nature of the work. The unique ability of generative AI to understand language opens up an opportunity to finally migrate the enormous tech legacy that has been piling up for 40 years. Many of these old applications are not properly documented and hard to properly gauge. Generative AI can help provide a report on the logic of these applications and accelerate the modernization and migration of them into more modern systems. However, shifts of that magnitude will also create some job casualties if developers are not fast enough to upgrade their skills. In short, AI will consume software developer jobs that focus on the lower end of programming tasks. Anything repetitive and predictable is a candidate for automation, which also lends itself to AI tasking. That is why AI models are heavily focused on writing code.

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Is It Ever a Mistake to Ask For a Raise?
Dice Insights, November 1

Making a significant career mistake can potentially slow your rise or even force you to scramble for a new job. As a result, job seekers need to be prepared before asking for a raise, which is typically one time when these career mistakes can occur. While it is common to ask for salary increases and other perks, there are important nuances involved. Your manager is more likely to push for your raise with their higher-ups if you can show how much you benefit the company in the long run.

The good news is that there are few wrong moments to kick off a salary discussion. Use data to analyze the market rate for your role, which will give you a better idea of an appropriate raise amount. Put your request in writing before any meeting and then use that document to outline your value to the organization. It is best not to start with an extreme amount. Always aim for what is appropriate. And, most importantly, focus on your value and worth to the company, not your personal reasons for a raise.

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As the Cybersecurity Workforce Grows So Does Need
Government Technology, November 1

While the cybersecurity workforce is growing, it is doing so at a slower pace than the need for cybersecurity workers. This trend is particularly pronounced in the U.S., where the cybersecurity workforce grew 11% year over year in 2023, adding roughly 1.3 million cyber professionals. At the same time, the cybersecurity workforce gap grew 17.6% year over year, or by about 480,000 positions. This cybersecurity workforce gap represents the difference between available cybersecurity hires and the number of professionals that organizations need.

Globally, the cyber workforce increased by nearly 9% year-over-year, while the global gap grew 12.6% in that period. Looking at the global picture, cyber staffing shortages are also particularly likely to impact governments, with 78% of respondents from this sector reporting shortages, compared to 67% of respondents overall. And all this comes at a time when the risks are high. According to 78% of government respondents (and 75% overall), the current cyber threat landscape is the most challenging seen since 2018. Organizations are most keenly feeling skill gaps in three key areas: cloud computing security, AI and machine learning, and zero-trust implementation. As a result, experts are encouraging organizations to invest in training, especially to help compensate for cyber staff shortages.

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Why Young Workers Do Not Want to Become Managers, October 13

Climbing the corporate ladder has traditionally meant starting at the entry level for a few years and then hopping from rung to rung into more senior managerial roles. But that is increasingly no longer the case because the average person has no interest in being a manager anymore. In a recent survey of 1,000 full-time employees across the U.S. who are not already in a managerial position, only 38% said they were interested in becoming a people manager at their current company. This problem crosses industries and borders. The result is that companies in all industries are now struggling to fill frontline management positions.

There was a time when the job title of manager meant prestige, respect, maybe even admiration. It implied a chance to lead, a pathway to the top. But that dynamic has been shifting for decades and can now feel out-of-touch and out-of-date. This management backlash has roots in several places. For one, trust in leadership has eroded sharply. Only 21% of workers strongly agree that they trust the leadership in their company, and the figure has been on the decline since the pandemic. At the same time, the individual contributor has enjoyed increasing status in many circles, especially in the tech community. A talented developer, for instance, can rise through the ranks of a company without managing people. Ultimately, their pay and perks may end up being comparable with senior people leaders, without ever having to wrestle with the challenges that go along with management.

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On Being a Computer Science Communicator
Communications of the ACM, November 2023

Communicating what it means for you to work in the field of computer science could be critical in expanding your career growth possibilities. This means having several elevator pitches ready at any time. An elevator pitch is a 30-second, nontechnical summary of what you do. Most non-computer science people are not interested in the finer details of compilers, programming languages, databases, and algorithms. What they want to know about is something that they are familiar with and touches their lives. Elevator pitches are all about communication and reaching a broader potential audience of people who might be able to advance your career.

Elevator pitches can be used in many different ways. For example, you can use elements from them when speaking with journalists, reporters, and congressional staff so that ideas and insights on issues of national interest get reported and heard. It may be giving radio and television interviews that provide avenues to demonstrate the wide benefits of the computer science field that impact society. It may involve writing essays and opinion articles that showcase how expertise from computer science can address current events. The breadth of societal issues about which computer scientists can provide expert commentary and evaluation is almost unlimited. What it requires is standing back from our day-to-day activities and thinking more broadly of how our knowledge and expertise can shed light on societal issues that demand sensible computer science thinking and insights. Consider the COVID pandemic, which generated large amounts of data that required appropriate analysis and interpretation.

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What Is Old Is New Again
Communications of the ACM, November 2023

While it is natural to be skeptical of the term analog in a digital world, analog computing is making a comeback. This is not because of nostalgia but because of utility. As the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution kicks off, companies and technologists increasingly are looking for energy-efficient, information-dense devices that can circumvent the limitations of current semiconductor chips. Because of their peculiar benefits, analog computers might provide the solution they are seeking. These analog computers, unlike digital models, do not function by representing values as zeros or ones. Instead, analog computers, which had their heyday from about 1935 to 1980, represent values in various physical metrics, such as voltage or fluid dynamics.

A big reason some are turning to analog has to do with Dennard scaling. Dennard scaling is a scaling law in the world of semiconductors that states that as transistors get smaller, they consume less power but provide the same amount of computational ability. For decades since the law was formulated in 1974, Dennard scaling has held true. Since the number of transistors that can fit on a chip doubles about every two years, practitioners have become very good at building smaller chips packed with more and more transistors, each of which (thanks to Dennard scaling) had the same amount of computing power as its larger counterpart. Hence, our chips got a lot more powerful over time. However, in 2005, Dennard scaling began to break down as we began to build transistors at the nanometer scale.

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