ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 13, Issue 20, October 17, 2017
A study released by Globoforce and IBM ranks countries around the world according to quality of working life. The figures were based on results from 43 countries and territories across a number of industries. The employee experience index (EEI) derived from the survey results measured five elements that contribute to workplace satisfaction: belonging, purpose, achievement, happiness and vigor. In general, countries from Asia-Pacific and the Middle East turned in some of the highest scores, with India ranking as the best country to work in the world.
The five countries that reported the highest quality of employee experience were spread across Asia-Pacific, Middle East/Africa and North America. The average employee experience index (EEI) of all surveyed countries and territories was 69%. Employee experience scores were the highest in India (84%, ranked first globally) and the lowest in Hungary (49%, ranked 25th globally). Following India, the Philippines ranked second globally with an EEI rating of 83% Saudi Arabia came in third (80%), Mexico fourth (79%) and the UAE fifth (78%). Japan, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong and Greece all joined Hungary in the lowest-reported countries grouping. Each country reported an EEI of between 10 and 20 points below the global average.
Technical interviews require programmers to demonstrate a number of skills to land a lucrative job. The good news is that most can be practiced and honed over time. The skills needed are going to vary wildly based on the type of role, industry, and the company you're interviewing at, but there are some common themes. For example, programmers should have a working understanding of data structures and common algorithms. Along with that, they should be as comfortable as possible in at least one major programming language and be able to demonstrate soft skills, such as the ability to integrate into development teams.
The ability to demonstrate problem solving skills is often more important than proving technical expertise in other areas. Companies want to see how a programmer thinks about solving a problem. The reason is simple: if programmers don't have good problem-solving skills and are not constantly trying to improve, then they will end up hurting your project. While the technical questions asked will vary by position, all programmers must know how to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and experience, with the interviewer. It's invaluable, for example, to be able to talk your way through a problem, rather than to just get the optimal solution.
When building your CV, you need to be aware that you are not just addressing another developer or CTO but also a number of HR professionals who will have different reasons to select you as a candidate. In general, an online profile or portfolio with links to your recent projects is the most efficient means of showcasing your experience and potential. The layout should be clean and engaging but don’t get too caught up in making your CV look artistic. The content should be the priority, not the aesthetics.
During the application process, it is vital to optimize your CV by including keywords. Most tech companies use an applicant tracking system to filter their candidates and effectively measure them against job descriptions and specifications. Keywords are also used in talent management software to organize and pipeline talent. Hard skills are the most searched in the early stages of recruitment so focus on quantifiable or technical skills rather than soft skills or personal attributes.
How AI Can Enhance Careers
Baseline, September 25
While artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to disrupt the IT workforce, there is also another side to the argument about AI in the workplace that most people are not taking into consideration. For example, a recent survey of top executives conveys a more encouraging and collaborative picture of the near future. It suggests that organizations that excel at deriving business value from AI will take advantage of the technology to allow employees to spend more time on complex activities. These leading companies also anticipate that their staffers will be comfortable working with these machines. The key factor to keep in mind is the potential of human and artificial intelligence to create combined systems and ways of collaboration that are smarter than either one alone.
A clear majority (82%) of the global senior executives surveyed said their organization plans to implement artificial intelligence (AI) technology within the next three years. Top anticipated benefits of AI include: reduced costs (45%), improved processes and efficiencies (35%), and better customer experiences and services (29%). There is now a gap between “AI leader” and “AI laggard” companies. For example, 96% of executives at "AI leader" companies expect this technology to transform the role of the workforce in their organization within three years, compared to only 36% of those at "laggard" companies who agree. 89% of those at AI leaders anticipate that AI will transform their organization's corporate culture, but just 31% of those at laggards predict this.
Filling Cyber-Security Jobs in Government Is Vital
CIO Insight, October 6
Given the new cyber vulnerabilities made possible by innovations such as the Internet of Things, organizations are taking a closer look at their cyber-security staffing needs. Despite increased cyber-security spending in recent years, the disparity between current investments in technology, people and processes and what’s needed to mitigate evolving cyber-threats continues to widen. One of the main challenges for public sector agencies is ensuring that they have skilled security professionals in place who understand the importance of developing and deploying new digital technologies securely, as well as the need to protect their organizational data and infrastructure from security threats and breaches.
A recent Accenture study into the state of cyber-security across the public and private sectors found that 42% of security professionals believe they have inadequate budgets or resources to hire or train the right security talent. Moreover, 31% see this lack of training or staffing budget as their single biggest inhibitor to cyber-security readiness. Without a doubt, finding, inspiring and hiring the right security professionals is challenging for government agencies. In a separate Accenture research study, 51% of the public sector agencies surveyed said they look to hire talent from the private sector when deploying technologies across their organizations. However, they face competition from a wide range of organizations for an extremely limited pool of skilled candidates. The Center for Strategic and International Studies recently reported that there could be as many as two million unfilled cyber-security roles globally by 2019.
5 Quick Tips for Finding a Nonacademic Job
Inside Higher Ed, October 9
If you are a graduate student contemplating careers outside of academia, you can take several steps before graduation to prepare for that transition. You should match your interests and experiences with potential careers, learn to translate academic skills into the commonly used terms of your target field and start to look for opportunities to build your résumé while you are in school. It all starts by determining what you like best about academic work and then searching out opportunities where you will be able to leverage your academic strengths.
After identifying your interests and preferred work styles, start to imagine the day-to-day activities and long-term goals that fit your strengths and preferences. Discover how your experiences align with nonacademic positions. For example, you can generate a list of prospective job titles by searching for general terms that describe your interests and skills. Job listings will also indicate which skills you may need to become a more competitive career candidate. Finally, network with alumni, colleagues, friends and family members who might already be working in similar fields to further identify your career goals and find unadvertised job openings.
Remote Work: A Productive Perk Worth Keeping
CIO.com, October 4
The ability to offer remote work options can position you as an employer of choice for elite IT talent, yet companies continue to roll back remote work polices, spurring talented IT pros to reconsider whether they want to work there. The key question, of course, is whether true innovation and collaboration can happen in the workplace if employees are not physically sitting next to each other. The consensus appears to be that a flexible work environment is a productive perk and one of the biggest draws for employees in the modern age. For companies that value their employees, want increased engagement and productivity and want to retain workers, taking away remote working options could be a mistake.
One key factor to keep in mind about remote work is retention. Getting rid of remote work opportunities may get your workforce physically together, but which members of your workforce are staying, and which are now frustrated, disengaged and looking for a new opportunity? You’re severely diminishing the quality of your existing workforce by revoking remote work capabilities, as well as impeding your ability to attract, hire and retain new talent. Moreover, one big advantage to supporting remote work is that it expands your talent pool beyond commuting distance around the office. Particularly for niche and highly technical roles, it helps to be able to recruit for these positions almost completely regardless of geography. Plus, when employers can expand beyond those who would be able to physically work in their office, they’re able to be more selective when it comes to hiring qualified employees.
Next Gen Women Engineers Forge a New Path in Tech
CNET, October 7
At this year's Grace Hopper Celebration in Florida, one of the most popular topics of discussion was the lack of diversity in the workplace, especially for women technology professionals. In keynote presentations and in conversations taking place on the sidelines of the event, participants highlighted the apparent lack of progress for women in the workplace, even after so many steps have been taken in recent years to make the tech workplace more welcoming for female computer science professionals. In short, prejudice is still happening across the industry, despite efforts to make mentoring and networking opportunities more widely available.
Over three days at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, women at all career stages gathered to listen to speakers, attend sessions, network and look for jobs. They were also looking for reassurance that, even if they're the only women on their team at work, they're definitely not the only women in the industry. This is particularly important because women today account for a smaller percentage of graduating computer science majors than 30 years ago. Back in the 1980s, women accounted for about 37% of graduating computer science majors. For many different reasons, including the marketing of early personal computers to boys and the rise of the typically male, super genius geek in popular culture, the percentage has fallen to around 18%.
Gamification, Education and E-Learning
eLearn Magazine, September 2017
An expert on gamification and game-based solutions weighs in on the various ways that principles of gamification can be used in the design of new educational experiences. Gamification is not the creation of new games – it is about the use of game design metaphors to create more game-like and engaging experiences. In other words, gamification is the process of improving systems and people's experiences using lessons, techniques, and elements taken from games.
Gamification has significant potential to impact e-learning. Games are about learning, whether it is learning new skills, learning the patterns of enemy soldiers, or learning how two chemicals will react when combined. They challenge you to learn and recognize patterns and the most appropriate ways to respond to them. That is what education is all about. As a result, gamification is a natural fit for any learning, but especially e-learning where you can really experiment with the game aspects in a digital environment. Be it full 3-D experiences or simple text based adventures, they can really enhance the experience and lower the barriers for students.
In Your Career Should You Go Wide or Deep?
ACM Queue, September 6
While career experts typically recommend that tech professionals learn new tools and languages in order to advance, they are not always clear about whether they should focus entirely on a single technology or, instead, try to become adept at a number of different technologies. In short, for your career, is it better to go wide and learn a lot of different things, or is it better to go deep and learn a few things really well? The article weighs the pros and cons of both approaches, focusing on the need to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies.
There is a strong case to be made for having very deep expertise in a single area. For many organizations, in fact, it is preferable to hire people who have a solid depth of experience in the tools and technology they are using. Really good software engineers for a particular language or technology will be productive and produce an amount of work that is above average. In short, they are able to get things done. This means they know how to use the tools of their trade well and aren't slowed down by not understanding something. They use their brainpower for harder problems, not learning how to do the basics. They make smart tradeoffs. They are able to understand the risks of their decisions. They have failed before and so can avoid mistakes. If there is a library or prebuilt code somewhere, they are probably aware of it—they may even have contributed to it or used it in past projects.
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