ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 5, 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 5, March 5, 2024

Beyond Programming: AI Spawns a New Generation of Job Roles
ZDNet, February 28

Job roles featuring generative AI were unheard of even a year ago, but they are likely to become the norm in the AI era. While everyone wants to land a job in AI, it is going to take more than software development or data science skills. There are now two levels of AI positions. The first is an AI specialist, someone who is broadly trained in AI from machine learning to neural nets, large language models, and more. The second category of AI jobs is more closely fused to broad-based business and managerial roles.

Prompt engineering is currently a hot new job opportunity in the AI era. However, its long-term future as a professional pursuit is uncertain. Organizations view it as a skill and expertise that is valuable and distinct, but it remains to be seen whether it will remain a standalone AI position several years from now. While prompt engineering skills are in demand now, the future might look different. Looking deep into the future, new roles focused on AI application adoption and management are likely to come to the fore. These roles include positions such as AI trainers, AI auditors and AI ethicists. These roles focus on the core mission of AI, while helping ensure the ethical use of the technology.

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Tech Boom Has Slowed But There Are Still More Silicon Valley Jobs Than Before the Pandemic
Cal Matters, February 28

In Silicon Valley, a tech boom of hiring and investment has now slowed, and an exodus from the region has now reversed. Last year, the 20 biggest tech companies in the Bay Area laid off 7% of their workforces, or about 18,800 employees. However, the region actually had a net gain in jobs, according to a new report. Even with layoffs, companies in the area still have 37,000 more tech jobs than at the end of 2019, which was during the pandemic.

The combined market capitalization of publicly traded companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco climbed to a record-high $14 trillion in early 2024. However, the biggest tech companies over-hired during the pandemic so they have been pulling back and laying off workers. Despite this, there are still more Silicon Valley jobs than before the pandemic. For example, while Google and Amazon laid off Bay Area workers last year, their combined workforce at the end of 2023 was more than 17,000 employees above what it was in 2020. Right now, tech job levels are rebalancing. The good news is that the region saw job growth in other sectors, as well as encouraging signs in venture capital funding of technology such as artificial intelligence.

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Only 3 in 10 Workers Aspire to C-Suite Roles
CIO Dive, February 29

As workplace priorities continue to shift, just 3 in 10 Americans say they aspire to become a C-suite leader. Millennials showed the highest interest in becoming a top executive, at 39%. Generally speaking, money remains the main driver of job satisfaction. People said they derived more work satisfaction from a higher salary than loyalty or longevity at a company, job recognition, being an inspiring leader, or taking on challenging projects.

Tech workers appear to be re-thinking which types of leadership roles they are willing to take. In short, they might not be willing to take on leadership roles if their salaries are not increasing fast enough. According to the latest survey data, 38% of workers (and 55% of Generation Z) said they believe they do not get paid enough to go above and beyond their current job description. At the same time, about a quarter of survey respondents said they are not working at full capacity. However, 23% of workers (and 37% of Generation Z) noted that nothing will motivate them to work harder. In fact, 31% of respondents said they do not want their job description to change, even if it means sacrificing a promotion or raise. Workers appear to be less focused on job progression and more focused on other priorities. As part of their career decisions, employees are emphasizing work-life balance, flexibility, and gaining new skills.

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Tech Resume Myths You Should Ignore
Dice Insights, February 16

During the job search, a well-written tech resume continues to play a crucial role in impressing potential employers and landing interviews. However, there are a multitude of myths and wrongheaded beliefs about what a good resume should include, as well as the best techniques for getting it past screening software and into human hands. Blindly following even some of these misconceptions can hinder your job search. To keep your job hunt moving forward, you should understand the most common myths about the content of tech resumes, as well as the resume review process used by hiring managers.

The conventional wisdom is that resumes should tell the employer about your experiences, skills and work history. However, your resume should show, and not just tell, what you can do for an employer. There is a big difference, say recruiters. Showing paints a picture of your capabilities in the mind of the reviewer by explaining how you have applied your technical and soft skills in a way that made a positive impact on costs, effectiveness, user adoption rates, and so forth. Telling simply states what you did or the tasks you have completed. It fails to answer the key question of whether you can actually do the job that you are now seeking. When hiring managers review your resume, they need to see evidence of this.

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How to Negotiate Your Salary in a New Job
Silicon Republic, February 28

When it comes to getting a final job offer, being able to navigate a conversation about salary is often critical. A lot of roles will offer a salary range, leaving the candidate to figure out where they should pitch themselves within that bracket, while other job ads leave the salary out entirely. With that in mind, jobseekers need to ensure they do not undersell themselves or pick a figure that is way beyond the budget of the company.

It is important to be honest and upfront about what your salary expectations are. It is really important for all parties involved, to have an open, honest, upfront conversation from the outset of the process so that there is that clarity there. You do not want it to be a dream job and then they can not afford you. This might sound obvious, but salaries are not always disclosed. A salary range, even a wide one, will usually help you cross off those jobs that are lower than your expectations, but not all jobs have ranges, with some simply listing the salary as competitive or not mentioning it at all. There could be a number of reasons why a company may not disclose the salary. For example, it might be that the salary band that they have got on offer is not aligned with the market. They know they are not going to get the quality candidate and so therefore, they put it as competitive because they are keen to see what the salary expectations of the candidate are.

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Best Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out to Employers, February 28

Approximately 72% of recruiters turn to LinkedIn when hiring new talent, making it among the top sites for landing a job in the U.S. Yet, with the site attracting millions of job seekers, standing out among the competition is not always easy, especially as the labor market continues to cool amid widespread layoffs and the growing use of AI. There are lots of tangible steps you can take to boost your profile to recruiters and employers on LinkedIn, from securing a professional headshot to using the job seeking features of the platform to your advantage.

If your LinkedIn banner image is your business card, think of your summary as your cover letter. You should use this space to give readers a quick overview of yourself, what you do, and what you can offer professionally. Summaries help recruiters assess your eligibility at a glance, without having to rife through years of work experience. They also give them insight into your personality and aspirations. This is something that is hard to decipher through the rest of your profile. A well-crafted summary can also improve your visibility on the platform. Specifically, seamlessly integrating keywords relating to your position or field of work into your summary will increase your chances of getting your profile viewed by the right people.

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Here Is How to Showcase Your Value in the Workplace Without Bragging
Hackernoon, February 22

In the workplace, it can be difficult to showcase your skills and experiences if you are not used to being the center of attention. Generally speaking, loud employees get the attention and opportunities even though they may not have the skills. Quiet ones keep adding value behind the scenes silently but never get the appreciation and recognition they deserve. Often, they worry too much that promoting themselves and speaking about their accomplishments will make them come across as bragging. The article provides advice on how to proactively take the steps to showcase your value and strengths without appearing boastful.

If you share your knowledge and experience only when asked, you may never get the right chance. Others will not know that you have something valuable to add because you will not be able to share your ideas and opinions. The less you speak, the less others will know about your skills and strengths. The less they know about you, the less they will be inclined to seek your opinion. If you want to be seen and want your suggestions to be heard, speak up without being asked. But be careful. No one likes unsolicited advice or a person who acts like a know-it-all. It is also hard to trust advice from an unknown person. When starting out, resist the temptation to tell others what to do. Even if you know the solution or have a better idea of how to do something, do not share it just yet. Instead, take the time to connect, build meaningful relationships, and try to earn their trust. Introduce yourself, share your background, and give them the necessary details to get to know you better. Only when they seem comfortable, ask if they will be willing to hear your opinion. Seeking permission is a great way to showcase your value without appearing boastful.

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Do I Really Need to Send a Thank-You Note After an Interview?
Fast Company, February 28

After an interview, you do not need to send a thank-you note, but you absolutely should do so if you are serious about landing the job. In the digital era, you do not need to worry about mailing a handwritten note on a fancy card. You can just send a brief follow-up email. If you took the time and effort to write a cover letter, craft your resume, and prepare for the interview, then the thank-you note is likely your final chance to set a good impression before the hiring manager makes their decision. If forced to choose between candidates, a thoughtful thank-you note could tip the scales in your favor.

Aside from keeping it brief (a few sentences will do) and sending it within 24 hours of the interview, there are a few things to keep in mind. It might sound obvious, but start with a simple thank you at the very beginning of the note. Thank the interviewer for their time and for telling you about the role and company. The time of everyone is valuable and limited and hopefully they will return the courtesy and thank you for your time, too. Even if you decide that the role you interviewed for is not a fit, a thank you note is still a good idea as it will keep you in mind for other opportunities.

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A Guide to Operational Excellence for Software Managers
Communications of the ACM, February 21

To be a good software leader, you must give your teams as much autonomy as possible. However, you also must be ultimately responsible, especially when things go wrong. One of the most difficult things about being the manager is owning responsibility for everything but having no direct control. The way great managers solve this is by setting up processes, tools, or mechanisms that provide insights. These allow them to ask the right questions at the right time, and gently steer the team in the right direction.

Software engineering managers, or any senior technical leaders, have many responsibilities, such as looking after team members, delivering on business outcomes, and keeping the product, system, or application up and running and in good order. Each of these areas can benefit from a systematic approach. This often requites setting up checks and balances for the operational excellence of the team. In this regard, operational excellence refers to the ability to consistently deliver high-quality products and services to customers. It is essential for software engineering managers because it helps them ensure their teams can meet the needs of their customers. There are many benefits to operational excellence, including increased customer satisfaction, reduced costs, improved efficiency, increased innovation, and improved employee morale.

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Sensibles of Software Engineering
Blog@CACM, February 16

Within the software engineering profession, down-to-earth rules for doing your work can be just as important as sophisticated concepts learned in the classroom. Yet, many instructors tend to ignore these sensibles when teaching software engineering. The sensibles are not sophisticated. Instead, they are good, practical injunctions, as exist in all disciplines. While they may be rooted in common sense, they are often violated again and again.

One good rule of thumb is to be cautious when replacing an old system with something new. Things can go wrong and often do. In fact, the replacement system seldom works quite right the first time. So, when you switch, be prepared to switch back. Do not retire the old system. Instead, keep it active. Only after a suitable period of smooth operation of the new version can you give the old version its well-deserved rest. Somehow this sensible advice is frequently disregarded. No matter how talented workers are, and no matter how great their new system might appear to be, they are still unlikely to have gotten everything right the first time around.

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