ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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 20, Issue 4, February 20, 2024

Tech Job Postings and Sector Hiring Rebound in January
CIO Dive, February 2

Tech sector employers added 18,000 jobs in January in the second consecutive month of recovery, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Employers across the economy logged 392,000 active job postings for tech occupations, nearly 34,000 above the count from the previous month. The growth spurt marks the biggest month-to-month increase in a year. Despite the increase in postings, tech positions across industries declined again in January, down 117,000 positions since December.

Executives and industry watchers expect tech talent gaps to persist in 2024. The mismatch between qualified, available talent and open technology roles across industries is unlikely to close in the near term. Two factors continue to push up demand. Projects deferred from 2023 hit budget lines this year and rising AI initiatives call for specialized roles. Despite layoff announcements at large tech providers, unemployment among IT occupations remained at 2.3% in January, unchanged from last year and far behind the national average. The three IT job roles projected for faster growth in 2024 are data science and data analytics, cybersecurity and software development.

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The Top 10 Highest Paying IT Jobs In 2024, February 1

Even in a job market filled with headlines about layoffs, there is still no shortage of good-paying IT jobs in the U.S. While tech companies are at times struggling to attract and retain talent, technology professionals with in-demand skills and experience have many options in a relatively competitive job market. In fact, 62 percent of technology companies said they are increasing salaries to attract these in-demand professionals and keep their most valued team members from leaving the company.

A majority of managers are resorting to increasing starting salaries and offering flexible work arrangements to attract and retain employees. In some cases, managers are giving signing bonuses and improving perks and benefits. Several skills are especially in demand. Cybersecurity is at the top of the list, followed by cloud computing. AI and machine learning, software development and data science and database management rounded out the other in-demand skills that managers are seeking. The highest-paying IT jobs have an average annual salary of about $95,000 as a data security analyst to more than $200,000 as an IT director.

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Tech Jobs With the Biggest Increases in Postings
Dice Insights, February 7

In January, software developers and software engineers saw the biggest month-over-month gains in job postings, followed by project managers, data analysts, and IT support specialists. In the tech industry, while companies everywhere are on the hunt for ultra-specialized talent such as artificial intelligence experts, those tech professionals with a solid grasp of fundamental skills can have their pick of positions across the whole industry.

Software developers, IT project managers, data analysts, and data scientists enjoyed a notable rise in the number of available all-remote positions, despite a broad push by many companies to bring their employees back to the office. Overall, tech employment grew by an estimated 17,833 jobs in January. The tech unemployment rate remained unchanged from December, at 2.3 percent, which is lower than the national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. That is despite much-publicized layoffs at prominent tech companies.

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How to Get Your Dream Remote Job in 2024, February 7

In order to land the perfect work-from-home position, the first step is updating your CV to make yourself more appealing to remote employers. When you are looking for a remote position, your resume or CV needs to make you look like the right candidate for that job. This often means leaning into remote-friendly skills. Expertise in relevant software is a big plus. In addition, soft skills also fit the remote worker profile. Find which jobs highlight these skills, and put them at the forefront.

Being able to highlight past work-from-home experience will show that you have already gained the experience you need to go remote. If you do not have a full-time remote position in your work history, a part-time job or some freelance work will do just fine. The job search can be a little counterintuitive. For instance, it is not always recommended to filter your job-site searches only for remote positions, since many workplaces are open to it but will not mention it front and center in their job positions. Instead, filter for positions that fit your skillset and advance the career you want, and apply to any of those openings that seem to have the potential for remote work.

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Want to Work in AI? How to Pivot Your Career in 5 Steps, February 7

Given the new boom in AI-related job openings, IT professionals are increasingly looking for entry into this highly-completive field. While it is possible to become a prompt engineer with a six-figure income, the reality is that most candidates need to do more than just take a single course to impress a potential employer. The big takeaway lesson is that you have to be willing to do the work, and you also have to be able to bring something to the job.

Being able to identify your current skills is important if you want to switch careers. For example, if you are a product manager, you likely have good planning and communication skills. Product managers have often been described as CEOs without the authority or the pay. That is because they need to manage and cajole people from multiple disciplines and departments. Generally speaking, an experienced product manager probably also has strong project management skills, strong organization skills, and some level of product knowledge. The next step is to identify skills that might transfer. In fact, some skills might be particularly well-suited to the world of AI. Prompt engineering (the writing of instructions for generative AI tools) is much more about structuring requests in natural language than it is about writing code.

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Whether you are just starting out on your journey or a seasoned tech professional, the job search can be a daunting prospect. There always seem to be new ways to find your dream role. And there are always new ways to freshen up a CV. As a result, job seekers should focus on skills, not job titles: One of the most important things to bear in mind, is that due to the constantly changing tech landscape, the job title you currently have might not still exist in the same form by the time you start your job search.

Be thoughtful about your applications, given that it has become incredibly easy to apply for jobs. With many platforms, a simple click of a button labelled apply could send your standardized cover letter and CV off to several recruiters at once. However, this in itself has become a pitfall for many jobseekers. If you are really generic in your application, then that is going to be received as generalist and so therefore, you might not get a response. When possible, it is best to connect on LinkedIn or reach out to the individual directly, whether it is a recruitment agency or the hiring manager to make them aware that you have applied.

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$100K Starting Salary For Emerging Tech Roles?, February 6

Jobs in fields like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and blockchain are in high demand, and they are paying well. The salary for a machine learning engineer, whose job it is to develop, troubleshoot and maintain generative AI models, is about $170,000 on the low end, and can start as high as $350,000. In addition, the mid-range salary of an augmented or virtual reality engineer is about $287,000.

Pivoting to future tech can be worth it, especially when you take into account starting salaries For example, a title like metaverse event manager can start around $100,000. Some of these positions may come and go, but a willingness to evolve and adapt as technology changes will keep you valuable in the industry. Keep in mind, too, that many so-called emerging roles that seem entirely new are based on existing skills, often in the areas of design, engineering and operations. Some other emerging roles, and their mid-range salaries in 2024, include prompt engineer ($145,000), data engineer ($156,000), language model product manager ($183,000), and UX researcher for immersive ($170,000). Most of these kinds of jobs are with tech companies, game studios or early adopters in other industries.

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How and Why to Upskill Your Employees
Computerworld, February 6

Instead of focusing solely on hiring new workers, more and more organizations are prioritizing expanding the technical skills of their existing employees. This is a practice known as upskilling, and it is to a certain degree a direct result of the current IT skills gap. Employers have to upskill their employees so they can do the work that needs to be done and ensure their organizations can adapt to all the current changes in technology.

Upskilling benefits both employee and employer. Learning new skills helps tech employees build expertise, improves their job satisfaction, and increases their earning potential and future career opportunities. Employees who learn new skills and new technologies will become more marketable to other departments within their organizations. They will also become marketable to other organizations in the event they decide to change jobs. For employers, upskilling reduces the costs of hiring new workers who have the skills they need. These savings more than offset the costs of upskilling existing employees.

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AI Powers the Digital Economy
Ubiquity, December 2023

With careers in AI becoming ever more popular, it is worthwhile to stand back and assess how the digital economy is evolving. Right now, the new digital economy and the old traditional economy have become intertwined, and businesses that have hitherto operated only in the traditional economy must adapt to the digital economy, or risk being left behind. In the near term we will see more, if not most, businesses incorporate AI technologies into their regular operations, including more extensive use of robots and autonomous vehicles, leading to productivity gains due to the automation of routine tasks.

The recent availability of vast amounts of data collected by big tech companies, as well as financial and healthcare-related institutions, along with the increase in computing power and speed over the past few decades, have enabled artificial intelligence (AI) to make a powerful impact on the digital economy. The rapid adoption of AI over the past decade or so has realized significant benefits in many areas of the digital economy, including, but not limited to, e-commerce, the financial sector, manufacturing, transport (particularly the supply chain and logistics), health, education, and security. AI has quickly become an important tool, if not industry, for many countries. Processes and tasks that hitherto took people days or longer to complete are now done in minutes by machines. Governments have taken notice and are taking steps to harness these new technologies.

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Understanding Learning Experience Design: Three Learning Leader Perspectives
eLearn Magazine, February 2024

The notion that learning can be enhanced by designing engaging, meaningful, and impactful experiences has been an ideal for many education and training professionals for decades. The evolving field of learning design and technology, which is the ability to create engaging and immersive learning experiences, has risen to greater prominence and lies at the heart of what is referred to as learning experience design. Since its inception in the early 2000s, learning experience design as a concept has continued to grow. But it is still in a formative stage of development currently lacking an agreed-upon definition and a common core set of practices.

Learning experience design must become more than a buzzword. One potential problem is the overhyping of emerging technology approaches. To counter this, practitioners should bring a much-needed reality check perspective to learning experience design. Learning professionals should pause and recognize that much work is needed to bring learning experience design into actualization. Right now, learning experience design is a term whose usage has spread faster than its understanding. At this stage, it is more of an ideal than a skill set. It is more of a visionary idea of where we could take things in the future than anything that is practical.

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