ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 23, 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 8, April 23, 2024

10 Highest-Paying IT Skills For 2024, April 12

Within the IT job market, demand for certain technical skills has accelerated in recent months. These include AI-related skills related to generative AI, deep learning, and computer vision, as well as knowledge of specific programming languages. Even against the backdrop of layoffs in Silicon Valley, a range of roles have maintained their resiliency and even grown in demand. These roles include data scientist, machine learning engineer, software engineer, research scientist, full-stack developer, deep learning engineer, and software architect.

Hard-to-acquire skills around AI and machine learning are at the top of the list of in-demand skills. Generative AI is a hot topic in the tech industry, and not surprisingly, businesses are eagerly adopting the technology to create services and products that make the most of it. Chat applications such as ChatGPT have made strong headway, as have AI-powered image-generators. Combined, these AI-powered applications have captured the imagination of businesses everywhere. Such technologies are being harnessed to create better customer service platforms, automate processes, and even drive business decision-making.

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IT Hiring Swings Upward After 4-Month Slump
CIO Dive, April 5

Employers added more than 200,000 IT employees to the payroll in March, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The hiring boom followed a significant dip in February, when the economy lost 133,000 tech positions and IT unemployment increased to 3.5%. The recovery is a sign of new stability in the tech sector as well as the broader economy. Prior to March, the number of IT positions declined for four consecutive months, dating back to October, when the economy added nearly half a million tech jobs.

When analyzing IT employment figures, it is important to differentiate between month-to-month hiring fluctuations and long-term trends. When all the monthly numbers are tallied, the tech workforce is expected to add 300,000 net new positions this year, increasing 3.1% year over year. Thus, despite periods of sharp fluctuations, the core tech employment story remains positive. IT unemployment nearly matched the rate for all professions last month but fell below the 3.8% national rate in March, despite ongoing tech sector layoffs. Collectively, 235 tech companies have laid off 58,000 employees since the start of the year, including some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley.

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Which Cities are Seeing the Fastest Tech Job Gains?
Dice Insights, April 17

Although New York City and Silicon Valley continue to dominate the outlook for tech hiring, vibrant tech scenes have sprung up across the country. This is making it a bit easier for tech professionals to find opportunities no matter where they go. That being said, roughly one in three tech professionals still live in one of just ten metropolitan areas. The top metro areas for tech employment include Silicon Valley, New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Currently more than 700,000 tech professionals live and work in Silicon Valley, but we no longer live in a world where that tech hub dominates the national scene to the exclusion of all others. Cities such as Boston, Seattle, New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Denver boast sizable tech workforces and notable job gain rates. Moreover, even smaller tech cities such as Austin, Raleigh, Charlotte, Phoenix, Detroit, and Orlando are reporting job gains. Some of the strongest net tech job gains are coming from Texas, which now boasts tech hubs in Dallas, Austin, and Houston.

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Want To Be a Data Scientist? Do These 4 Things
ZDNet, February 16

In an age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, data scientists who can help businesses collect, analyze, and interpret data are in huge demand. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is expecting 35% growth in data scientist jobs through 2032. In order to attract the attention of companies looking to hire data scientists, you will need to have several key attributes beyond just a core knowledge of data science. These include a curiosity about new technologies, a flexible attitude, and an ability to work across a wide range of technological areas.

One of the key characteristics that defines a successful data scientist is curiosity, especially for emerging technologies related to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). As a result, you should not hesitate to use generative AI to help you complete your job. Be willing to explore new use cases for AI as they arise. Moreover, it is important to take a hands-on approach to computer code. It is important if you want to get ahead that you understand what you are doing, as well as how to apply mathematics and data science so that you can build your own models.

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Despite the growing prevalence of AI in the workplace, companies are struggling to find the necessary talent to fill roles and ensure their workforce remains competitive. According to a survey from General Assembly, leaders reported that it is difficult to hire people with AI-related skills, so they are paying more to hire the talent they need and using alternative methods to find candidates. Keeping up and staying ahead of new developments in AI requires new, adaptable methods for hiring, retaining, and re-skilling workers. The companies that succeed in this changing world of work will be the ones that embrace the potential of new approaches to training and talent development to navigate the age of AI.

Of the 1,000 HR leaders surveyed, 69% said it is more challenging to hire people with adequate AI skills compared to those in traditionally hard-to-hire roles in data analytics, data sciences, software engineering and UX design. In addition, companies are now in a position where they have to pay more to acquire the talent they need, according to the survey. In fact, 66% of the time, companies are agreeing to pay what job candidates ask for during the hiring process, and 52% of survey participants said they are spending at least $10,000 to fill roles that require AI skills. Beyond that, companies are using alternative routes to find and hire the talent they need. According to the survey, 53% are reducing traditional educational requirements for their open positions, and 52% are hiring additional HR staff to acquire talent.

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The Cost of Poaching Talent Just Hit a Record High, April 16

More U.S. workers are looking for jobs than at any time in the past decade, but the cost of hiring them appears to be going up. The lowest wage that job seekers are willing to accept to switch jobs spiked to $81,822 in March, up from $73,391 in November 2023, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This is the highest reading since the Federal Reserve Bank of New York started reporting the measure a decade ago, with men, younger workers, and workers with an annual household income of more than $60,000 leading the charge.

The proportion of workers searching for a job in the past four weeks, more than 25 percent, also reached a decade-high, up two points from November. Men, again, drove the increase, along with respondents over the age of 45 and those without a college degree. It is clear from the report that workers are not happy with some key aspects of their current jobs. For example, satisfaction with wage compensation dropped 3.1 percentage points while satisfaction with non-wage benefits (such as flexible work hours ) fell 3.7 percentage points. That being said, Americans are not quitting their jobs en masse like they did in 2021. In fact, the quit rate has now remained at the lowest level since 2020 for the past four months, according to the recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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7 Reasons To Leave a Job You Love
Silicon Republic, April 8

Leaving a job can be very difficult, but it is not always for the reasons you might expect. Usually, people leave jobs because they do not like them or they are not feeling fulfilled. But not always. You do not have to hate your job to leave it; you can really enjoy your work but also realize that it is the right time for you to go. In many ways, leaving a job that you love is harder than leaving a job you do not love. The most common reasons to leave a job, beyond just a better salary offer elsewhere, are to explore new career challenges or to gain new workplace experiences.

Some people leave their jobs in order to explore new challenges. Maybe you do not feel like your current job challenges you like it once did. That can be a sign that you need to move on out of your comfort zone. Feeling as if you are stuck in a rut is a sure sign that you need to explore something new. People also leave their jobs to learn other skills. Often people change jobs because they find another role that will provide them with a specific skillset that they need to further their careers. That is a strategic move, and it requires a leap of faith in the new employer to replicate the positive experiences from the old job while providing ample opportunities to learn and improve skills.

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Let AI Bring the Jobs to You
Fast Company, April 16

Using AI, job platforms are helping job seekers represent their qualifications and preferences in a way that ensures more relevant recommendations and more timely outreach from potential employers. In some cases, AI is able to identify relevant job opportunities and apply directly for you. The shift to AI is important because the majority of jobseekers still feel frustrated by their job search experience. Roughly 80% of workers have experienced applying for a job and never hearing back. And 40% of workers say they have been contacted by a company for a job that was just not right for them.

The vast majority of people say they are open to being contacted about job opportunities that match their skills and experiences. This creates a real opportunity for artificial intelligence, especially if AI-powered platforms can aggregate all job openings in one place along with authentic company reviews, career guides, salary insights, and engaged employers who want to connect with you. In order to attract the most relevant hiring organizations, the most important step is creating a profile with your experience, skills, and work preferences. AI then can help recommend great fit jobs to you, while also recommending you to potential employers. In this way, AI can shift the job-hunting paradigm. With a personalized profile, job seekers get matched with both relevant roles and relevant employers faster. Job seekers who receive an outreach after being recommended to the employer are 17 times more likely to apply to that job than if they look at a job on their own.

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How Generative AI Fits Into Knowledge Work
Communications of the ACM, March 6

Generative AI is likely to have a substantial impact on the future of knowledge work carried out by professionals. Compared to earlier types of AI, generative AI gets closer to the core activities of professionals, namely making diagnoses, giving advice, and presenting solutions to clients. And yet, how AI will change the future of work is not well understood. While many are willing to accept the unintended consequences of the AI revolution, tech professionals do have the ability to influence how generative AI will become embedded in the work they do.

Generative AI is affecting all parts of professional work. To understand the full scope of what this impact might be in the future, it is first important to understand what professionals do. Knowledge workers create value with their expertise and critical thinking. A subset of them, professionals, tend to work in different fields with three common modalities: diagnosis, inference, and treatment. And that is exactly where one can expect to see the greatest impact from AI. From here, it is possible to hone in on generative AI and emerging use cases in professional work, with a view to raising key questions that begin to address when machines do better than human professionals, and in what ways machines complement humans.

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Resistance Is Your Friend
Communications of the ACM, April 17

Innovation often attracts resistance, which is why proposing something new in the workplace can be so difficult. You work hard to propose something of demonstrable benefit to your clients or community and their first inclination is to resist it. The most strenuous resistance arrives as you implement the innovation rather when you merely propose it. Implementation asks people to commit to the new practice whereas proposals only ask them to consider it. With that in mind, the article takes a closer look at how to overcome resistance in the workplace and possibly even turn it to your advantage.

Resistance to adoption is a social issue, not a management or production failure. Thus, overcoming resistance is best viewed as a social skill. The key to navigating resistance is to frame it as the negative reaction of people to the proposed or imposed change. They perceive the change as a threat that destabilizes their comfort, identity, or power. Their resistance may be passive, such as by indifference, or active, such as by aggressive use of power to derail your initiative. Your leadership task is to explore the value in the new practices and help your community see how the proposed change might address their concerns.

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