ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, May 7, 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 9, May 7, 2024

The 10 Highest-Paying Industries For IT Talent, April 26

As the demand for tech talent grows in industries beyond tech, salaries are on the rise in fields such as consulting, finance, aerospace and defense. According to the 2024 Dice Tech Salary Report, nearly a dozen industries have seen demand and salaries grow since 2022. While Silicon Valley still pays top dollar for IT professionals, the war for talent has moved beyond the technology industry, with other verticals vying for talented IT workers who have the skills to enable digital transformation, process improvement, change management, and the development of apps and services. As a result, the tech industry is not the only hot spot for IT jobs.

The software industry is a natural fit for IT jobs, and there is always demand for IT pros who can help software vendors design, develop, implement, and maintain their products and services. A broad range of IT roles help power the software industry, the most obvious being software developers and engineers. However, there is also demand for quality assurance, DevOps, technical support, and software sales engineers. Project managers, product managers, cybersecurity professionals, data scientists, database administrators, and software architects are also in high demand in the software sector.

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AI Adoption Will Drive Both Hiring and Layoffs in 2024
HR Dive, May 1

More than one-half of U.S. business leaders in the tech industry anticipate a combination of both layoffs and hiring during the next six months as a direct result of AI adoption. At the same time, 61% of leaders said emerging technology has made it more challenging to find top tech talent. As a result, companies can anticipate a continuous cycle of strategic workforce realignment, characterized by simultaneous layoffs and hiring, and not necessarily in equal volumes. The good news is that employees and companies alike continue to show enthusiasm around AI, specifically when it comes to opportunities to scale and compete more effectively in the marketplace.

A majority (72%) of business leaders say their employees are using AI at least daily at work, particularly in coding and software development, data analysis, and internal and external communication. Despite ongoing concerns about AI, most leaders said they believe the emerging tech has positively affected their workplace culture. Even so, these leaders had specific questions related to AI. About half supported the idea of more AI regulation, including a focus on minimizing bias, protecting user privacy and safeguarding intellectual property. In the next year, 82% of poll respondents said they plan to increase their AI investment. When it comes to hiring, they are looking for specific roles, such as cybersecurity analysts, data scientists and AI engineers.

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These 3 Reasons Explain Why Finding a New Job Has Gotten Harder
Fast Company, April 30

It took new workers hired in the first quarter longer to find jobs than those hired in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to a new ZipRecruiter survey. Thus, if you are struggling to find a new job, you are not alone. Even highly qualified job seekers say that it is harder to get an offer these days. It typically took nine-and-a-half weeks for unemployed job seekers to land a new gig in March. Although that is longer than the eight weeks it took two years ago, it is historically relatively short and near pre-pandemic levels. But the rate at which people are voluntarily leaving their jobs is down, which suggests it might be taking them longer to find a job.

There are three specific factors elongating the job search cycle. For one, there is still spillover from layoffs over the past 18 months at companies that over-hired during the pandemic. While layoffs are actually historically low, their lingering effects leave a lot of competitive talent on the market. Moreover, AI has leveled the playing field for many candidates. Nearly half of job seekers are using AI to boost their resumes, and research shows that they are more likely to be hired. That everyone can have a really strong resume now is making competition more difficult. Post-COVID-19 hiring processes have also changed some as the labor market shifts back from an employee-led market to an employer-led market. Before, employers felt like they had to just snag whatever talent they could. With the abundance of talent out there, they feel that they can be a little bit pickier.

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The Class of 2024 Actually Wants to Work in the Office, May 2

The remote working trend appears to be coming to an end, especially for younger workers starting new entry-level jobs. New research suggests that full-time salaried employees between the ages of 20 and 24 are less likely to work fully remotely than other age groups. These recent graduates are 27 percent less likely to be fully remote than workers in their 30s. For recently graduated members of the Class of 2024, this suggests that they may have to wait a few years before they can land a fully remote work opportunity.

In general, senior or tenured workers may get more remote work opportunities than recent graduates. But the magnitude of the difference suggests many college grads are choosing to start their careers in person. That is because they are likely looking for face-to-face time with bosses, networking, mentorship, and in-person collaboration. These are all factors that might be more difficult to achieve in a remote environment. Indeed, it is clear that some workers in this younger age range are already sensing the downsides of being fully remote. Deloitte, for example, has documented a potential proximity bias. Others said remote and hybrid work could make it more difficult to find mentors or forge connections with colleagues.

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How to Land a New Dev or IT Job: Advice From HR Professionals
The New Stack, April 29

Finding a new role in a competitive job market can be difficult, but there are several tips that IT workers can use to improve their chances. Even though the job market is more difficult right now than it was two years ago, there are still many people getting good jobs. Getting a new job might have taken 3 months a year ago, and it may now take 6 to 9 months or longer. The best advice, say tech recruiters, is to stay positive, work your network of contacts, and look for new ways to enhance your resume.

The best advice for a developer looking for a new role is to prioritize keeping their portfolio, resume, and online profiles up-to-date with their latest projects, skills, and achievements. This gives the potential new employer a glimpse into your most recent skills, projects, and achievements, demonstrating that the individual is actively engaged and knowledgeable about the latest developments. Another suggestion is to focus on quality versus quantity when it comes to the jobs you are applying for. You should be selective about the roles you are applying for, and then tailor your resume and application for each opportunity, which can help applicants stand out amongst a sea of AI-generated resumes and cover letters.

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Why Networking Is More Important Than Ever Before
Dice Insights, April 29

Networking has become vital to building and sustaining a successful career in technology. Gone are the days when professional networking was limited to occasional tech conferences or specific job-hunting activities. The role, purpose and structure of professional networks has evolved to a higher level, thanks to the growth of online professional networking sites and changes in the way we connect, communicate and conduct business. Today, successful networkers set out to create a fabric of peer collaborators, technical experts, friends and senior advisors who help them solve problems and find emerging career opportunities.

Networking gives you better chances of scoring interviews and offers. Data shows that 87 percent to 92 percent of jobs are filled through introductions or referrals from your network. While posting your resume is essential, it will not necessarily get you an interview. You need someone to share your story or specific examples that demonstrate how you have made positive contributions in prior roles to grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. Data also shows that being referred increases your chances of landing an offer more quickly and choosing the right employer. Referrals reduce the time to hire by up to 31 percent; even better, 50 percent of referred employees stay in their position for at least three years. However, before you can ask for referrals or reap other benefits, you must first focus on expanding the depth of your networking relationships.

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The Transferable Skills You Did Not Know You Have
Silicon Republic, April 29

Transferable skills are the foundational talents that make for a well-rounded, desirable job applicant. Yet, many applicants may not realize or appreciate how many skills they have gained from day-to-day activities, volunteering or early jobs. And these are exactly the types of base skills that you can put on your CV when applying for new positions, thereby boosting the chances that you will land your dream job.

IT skills are at the top of the list of transferable skills. Widespread internet availability and computers that can be held in the palm of your hand have made IT experts of us all. For many of us, our lives exist online. It is where we work, shop, organize trips and communicate with others. Through school and work, most people are proficient in using documentation software, spreadsheets and presentation tools. Additionally, if you did not utilize messaging and video apps such as Slack, WhatsApp, and Zoom before the pandemic, it is likely that this is a skill you have mastered since. Having a grasp of the basics, alongside product, troubleshooting and software knowledge is a sure-fire way to ensure that you have base talents applicable to virtually every working environment.

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Noncompetes Are Dead and Tech Workers Are Free to Roam
Wired, April 23

More U.S. workers will soon be free to leave their employers to work for rivals, thanks to a new federal rule that will block the long-standing practice of locking in workers with noncompete agreements. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued a final rule that bans most noncompetes nationwide. The agency estimated that by allowing people more freedom, the change would lead to the creation of 8,500 new businesses annually, and an average annual pay increase of $524 for workers. The FTC says about one in five U.S. workers are bound by noncompete contract clauses that prevent them from taking new jobs from a competitor.

The problem with noncompete agreements is that they can trap workers and slow career advancement and wage increases. These are two things workers often achieve by hopping jobs. The agreements also disproportionately affect workers in tech and certain other roles: 36 percent of engineers and architects work under noncompetes, as do 35 percent of workers in computer and math fields, according to research from university researchers at Maryland and Michigan. Under the new FTC rule, tech workers will probably experience a rise in the outside opportunities that they face. They will have more freedom to work where they want and they will be more likely to be paid higher wages. Opponents of noncompetes say they hurt workers by keeping them in lower-waged jobs and also stifle innovation, preventing people from starting their own businesses or putting innovative ideas into practice. Noncompete supporters argue that the arrangements encourage investment in staff and protect trade secrets.

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A Brief History of Embodied Artificial Intelligence and Its Future Outlook
Blog@CACM, April 29

One of the fastest growing areas of artificial intelligence is known as Embodied Artificial Intelligence (EAI), which refers to the integration of artificial intelligence into physical entities like robots. EAI endows these robots with the ability to perceive, learn from, and dynamically interact with their environment. This is obviously important when thinking about the future of the IT workplace, and how humans will interact with robots and other AI-powered entities. With that in mind, the article includes a brief review of the history of EAI, its current developments, as well as a discussion of its future outlook.

Recent advancements in foundation models, such as large language models (LLMs), vision language models (VLMs), and the application of technologies such as ChatGPT have led to a common but incorrect belief that EAI is solely about having these foundation models performing inference tasks in robots to enhance their cognitive capabilities. Foundation models enhance the ability of robots to interpret both visual and textual information, significantly improving their perception. These models allow robots to perform complex tasks by understanding context, objects, and instructions more akin to human interaction. Also, these foundation models do satisfy principle one of EAI systems design, such that the inferences of these foundation models do not rely on predefined logic to manage specific scenarios. However, these foundation models alone do not encapsulate the full spectrum of EAI system requirements. These models must be integrated with evolutionary learning frameworks to learn effectively from their physical interactions with open environments.

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Reflecting on Research Practices
Communications of the ACM, March 27

There are growing concerns about the quality, reliability, and repeatability of research results across the computing community. This highlights the need and value of studying research practices themselves (also called meta-research) to address those concerns. Meta-research contributes to improving the research process and supporting researchers in preserving the soundness and validity of their research. The cybersecurity research community has already made good progress in engaging in such introspection, especially regarding its methods. The goal should be greater confidence that scientific findings are both reliable and reproducible.

Across all scientific disciplines, researchers are questioning whether current scientific practices can produce trustworthy research findings. For example, the replication crisis emphasizes how studies may be difficult or even impossible to reproduce, which threatens the validity of their results. This has even led to statements that most published research findings are untrustworthy. The security research community is not immune to such concerns. A recent study gave insight into potential shortcomings of the peer review process at top-tier security conferences, such as subjective evaluation metrics and perceived randomness in decisions. As critics see it, there are two major flaws with current security research. One, it is not conducted scientifically, failing to adopt practices that others have implemented over time. And, secondly, security inherently does not lend itself to the scientific method. Proponents refute these obstacles, finding that they rely on outdated views on science.

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