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What’s New In IT Careers?

No cats allowed: How to use social media to advance your career

By: Alaina G. Levine (April 2014)
President, Quantum Success Solutions: Speaker, Consultant, Writer, Comedian; Author, Networking for Nerds (Wiley, 2014)

Every week through Facebook, I receive at least 10 pictures of cats wearing glasses and holding test tubes. Cats are cute, and cats wearing spectacles are even more wonderful. But we should all know better: When it comes to using social media platforms for networking and career advancement, cats are just not welcome.

We know networking is a necessity for career advancement in science. And social media networking is no different. Your online presence—via websites, your blog, and personal profiles on channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter—serves as a way for interested parties to get to know you and your brand, or promise of value. And it is becoming more and more critical for you to maintain a presence on social media in order to amplify your reputation and reach decision makers in your field.

When you apply for a job or fellowship, or send a cold email to someone, one of the first actions that the other party takes is to google you. And the second action they take is increasingly becoming the norm—they will check your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one, the perception might be that you are not a contributing member of your community. In fact, some recruiters have told me that they envision that the LinkedIn profile will soon supplant the resumé as the standard for identifying qualified applicants for job openings.

Developing a social media networking strategy involves planning and preparation, execution, and monitoring and maintenance. You can’t simply send one tweet and expect to reap the rewards. You have to consistently engage and interact with others, and you have to develop a plan that optimizes your time while you seek to achieve your career goals.

You also have to understand which social media channels are the right ones to utilize in the professional ecosystems in which you dwell. Facebook can be used for both fun (see “The Jean Luc Picard Facepalm” page) and professional activities. (Many companies including my own have a Facebook page to communicate with fans.) LinkedIn, on the other hand, is meant to be a purely professional communication channel. On Facebook with your friends, you may share pictures of felines in compromising poses, but on LinkedIn you should share only information, ideas, and connections that are related to your industry and that demonstrate your professionalism or seriousness about your craft. Think of LinkedIn as a professional marketplace for exchanging information of value. And again, although cats are adorable, there is no professional value in sharing their picture with a scientist.

Ahead, warp factor one!

To launch your social media networking plan, begin by creating a LinkedIn profile. It’s free and easy to do. The website will prompt you to fill out the various fields. And be sure to upload a photograph of yourself—not so much to show people what you look like, but to demonstrate that you take LinkedIn seriously. The profile serves as a “living resumé” that describes your current goals and professional interests, current and previous jobs, skills, education, projects, publications, and other relevant information.

Once you establish a profile on LinkedIn, consider these two important components: connections and groups. “Connections” on LinkedIn are similar to “Friends” on Facebook—they serve as a list of your contacts, and you can use those LinkedIn connections as a kind of Rolodex to keep track of your professional acquaintances. LinkedIn is based on the concept of six degrees of separation, whereby you are connected to every other person on the planet through no more than six other people. So you can leverage that connectivity to reach even more people and organizations in which you are interested.

There is an art to inviting people to “connect” on LinkedIn, however: Don’t invite strangers or people with whom you have never interacted. Part of the reason is because then they are connected to all of your connections too. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you are vouching for someone you don’t know. You wouldn’t want to give a stranger access to all of your colleagues’ information. So be careful with accepting invitations to connect. I tend to invite, or accept invitations from, only people with whom I have had a “meaningful engagement”—at the very least a conversation or an email exchange.

It is also important to join groups on LinkedIn that relate to your interests and career goals and that can provide you access to new spheres of influence. At the very least join the Computer Society group. There are other groups as well: Almost every science and engineering society, alumni association, and institution has its own group. And there are groups that relate to subfields, regions, and even particular segments of society, such as the National Postdoctoral Association. You can join up to 50 such groups. Your activity in LinkedIn groups will serve as a cornerstone of your public profile.

But before you post anything, consider these five principal pillars of social media networking:

1. Be professional: Social networking has a specific purpose and part of that is to increase your connectedness to other professionals. It is critical that you are perceived as a professional, so make sure all of your activities—your postings, comments, pictures, and videos—reflect your professionalism and dedication to science. That means using appropriate language and not posting things that reflect poorly on your reputation and brand such as offensive or divisive comments, or inappropriate or silly pictures of you and cats. On your personal Facebook page, you may choose to post items unrelated to your profession, but beware: There really is no such thing as “privacy” on any social media platform.

2. Be dynamic: While seeking to engage the members of your community with content that is relevant to them, be both proactive and reactive. Be proactive by posting new content to your social media groups, starting new discussions, and contacting community members whom you find interesting. Be reactive by commenting on what others post or by contacting people who post things of interest to you to continue the conversation via an informational interview.

3. Be valuable: Everything you post, whether it is reactive or proactive, should be construed as a value-addition to the community. By adding value and not wasting people’s time with information you accomplish two tasks: You elevate your brand and reputation in the minds of those around you, and you are perceived as a credible leader and expert. And therefore, more people will be interested to hear what you have to say. Furthermore, once you are established as a thought leader, others will seek you out to establish potential partnerships. It is all about delivering a return on investment for those who take the time to read your contributions: Make sure that every time someone sees that you have posted something, they know it will be incredibly worth their while to read it.

4. Be seen: The more you engage others with professional, dynamic, and valuable content, the more you will be seen as being professional, dynamic and valuable. Every action on social media contributes to the public’s perception of your brand, attitude, and reputation, so post often. Build a buzz around your reputation so much so that those around you can’t help but think of you for that next great (often hidden) career opportunity.

5. Be consistent: Your brand is your promise of value, and more specifically, your promise to deliver excellence, dependability, and expertise in whatever you do. Make sure that your interactions in social media are as consistent as your brand.

Remember that everything you post online will be there forever, and there is always a chance that your current boss or PI, future managers, and colleagues will view it. So think strategically, and for every comment you make, ask yourself, “How will this post contribute to my community and to my advancement?” And above all, refrain from posting those feline photos.

Cloud Computing Creates New Roles in IT

Integration will be important in hybrid world

By PEGGY ALBRIGHT (May 7, 2012)

More and more businesses are becoming comfortable with cloud computing. While it’s still early in the evolution to this new computing paradigm, adoption is proceeding at a rapid pace. The market has reached the tipping point that affirms a new technology’s market viability and validates expectations of continued momentum.

Corporations turn to cloud computing for more agile and responsive IT functions at a cost savings. Cloud computing also helps companies avoid procuring their own components or building their own infrastructure. Now they can consider new solutions when it’s time to upgrade or renew legacy software.

The recent acceptance of cloud indicates that cloud-based solutions are thought of as reliable, secure, easily accessed, and responsive to social media and mobile applications.

The IT industry recognizes that the transformation to cloud computing will have a broad and substantial impact on jobs, either by creating new roles or changing or replacing others. While some jobs will be impacted, cloud experts view the trend overall as positive.

“It’s going to be a very exciting time to be in IT,” said Andrew Greenway, cloud computing program lead at Accenture.

Technical roles will remain essential

Greenway believes that computing professionals will find many opportunities to provide technical services within their organizations. Companies will need people who can use development tools for the specific cloud solutions a company might adopt. Companies will also have a particularly important need for people who can perform integration work.

Greenway stressed that corporations cannot simply swap out their legacy systems for new cloud approaches. Companies will need to manage their new cloud services along with legacy IT systems, and the process will require staff that can provide security, data management, and data analytics, among other skills. He added that companies are finding it quite complicated to manage both new and legacy systems and they will need to find ways to make them work together.
“I think we’re going to live in a hybrid world for a long time,” he said. “The skills people have built over the years will be very valuable for many years to come, so you shouldn’t panic.”

IT professionals will find new business roles

The cloud technologies that are coming to market make it possible to develop new applications in days and weeks rather than years–and companies will expect those working on their cloud applications to implement the new applications quickly. Gone are the days when the IT department could put a business executive’s project quest into a queue of projects. That bureaucratic approach “just won’t cut it” anymore, Greenway said.

For IT staff to excel in this environment, individuals will need to understand the overall business context for a new application, what the business needs to get from it, and how to use the relevant cloud-based tools and capabilities to quickly create the IT solution to support the business strategy.

Management will expect their staff to have type of understanding to facilitate rapid and effective use of the technology. While this will require a change in thinking and how they approach projects, IT professionals will find a “tremendous” number of new opportunities to use their IT skills to support business functions, Greenway said.
“There is going to be a lot closer relationship between business and IT in the future,” he said.

DevOps

Another way in which jobs will evolve is represented by a new type of role, called DevOps. The term refers to a role that blends or coordinates functions previously conducted separately by developers and operations personnel. In a conventional business, the two entities often do not collaborate, let alone communicate with each other, but with cloud computing, some of these roles can be merged.

“Not everybody is ready for this, but those who are, are seeing huge benefits in how quickly they can develop apps and put them in production and deploy them,” said Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems, one of the first private cloud companies, which provides a platform for IaaS clouds.

Mickos said that those performing DevOps roles will use many traditional systems and administrative tools as well as new tools that are coming up in the cloud. The cloud management tool offered by Eucalyptus’ partner RightScale, for example, illustrates how these tools can be used to create a common structure for development and operators. The RightScale cloud management tool can be used not only to spin up a cloud, but to manage it, assign resources, and authorize users, among many other functions.

Cloud + social + mobile

Salesforce.com, another cloud pioneer and a company to pay attention to for trends in PaaS and SaaS, is striving to pioneer a next step in the cloud evolution that incorporates social and mobile technologies into enterprise software.
Woodson Martin, senior vice president for recruiting at Salesforce.com, said that many key skills that are needed now, and will be needed in the future, are skills that address the convergence of cloud computing, mobile applications, and social networking and other trends that are originating in consumer technologies. These concurrent trends are revolutionizing enterprise IT and creating an “enormous opportunity for people with the right skills to build careers,” he said.

Martin acknowledged that many of the most valuable engineers in his company built their careers working with more traditional technologies but they’ve proven their ability to work with new platforms and technologies and are highly valued in the company because of this. The ability to adapt, work collaboratively in tight-knit teams, integrate quickly, and deliver results quickly are just as important as so-called hard computing skills and will differentiate a computing expert in similar, new business environments, he said.

“You need to be constantly learning,” he advised.

Martin said there are plentiful numbers of roles at Salesforce.com for software engineers, performance engineers, user experience designers, sales engineers, and software architects. And there are plentiful numbers of roles in companies that use its cloud platforms for people who can build, test and implement applications and manage projects.

Jobs at cloud firms

The shift toward cloud computing is prompting so much innovation that new companies are emerging all the time. Byron Deeter, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, said that hundreds of cloud companies have been created in the SaaS, PaaS and IaaS categories, even though the cloud industry is still very early in its evolution and represents just a fraction of the larger software and computing industries. Many of the new cloud firms are growing rapidly, Deeter said, and many are hiring. Most jobs can be found in firms that provide SaaS, which is by far the largest cloud sector compared to PaaS and IaaS.

Deeter listed a number of companies he’s aware of that have been in hiring mode lately. These include firms in the human resources field, such as the recent cloud IPOs LinkedIn and Cornerstone OnDemand, and the pre-IPO firm, Workday. Content management startups that have been hiring include Box.net and Dropbox. Jobs can be found in the startup enterprise social media firms such as Jive, and the marketing demand generation company Eloqua. He added that VMWare, the well-established virtualization firm, also continues to hire, he said. And it should be noted that Eucalyptus also has a number of jobs listed on its website.

Source: IEEE Career News

IT Workers’ Salaries Register 6.2 Percent Gain
April 26, 2012

The average salary for IT workers registered a 6.2-percent gain in Global Knowledge and TechRepublic’s fifth annual IT Skills and Salary Survey–the highest increase in the survey’s history.

The survey also found that job satisfaction among IT professionals is rebounding from its low point in 2010. Sixty percent of respondents reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their positions, compared to 43 percent in 2011 and 40 percent in 2010.

Individuals who trained in the prior year earned an average of 8.6 percent more than those who did not train. Additionally, 65 percent of respondents reported earning a certification in the past five years. The impact of new skills and certifications was also echoed by managers. The percentage of managers reporting that their staff was more effective or significantly more effective on the job after receiving a certification rose to 50 percent, up from 35 percent in 2011.

As it relates to specific job functions, all areas reported at least modest salary growth. Salaries grew the most for those involved in security, database, data center, and servers and storage, while those working in communications and applications/programming experienced the least amount of growth.

Adding to the good news of this year’s higher average salary is the fact that 63 percent of respondents received a raise. The bad news is that the likelihood of receiving a raise varied greatly by salary range. Individuals earning $60,000 or less were much less likely to receive a raise than their colleagues in higher earning brackets.

Average salary varied widely across the country. There was a variance of more than $9,000 between the top paying (Northeast) and the lowest paying (Midwest) regions. When looking at pay by state, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, DC, had the highest average salaries. New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming were the lowest-paying states.

Source: IEEE Career News

More Growth for IT Employment

June 10, 2011

Though the rate of growth slowed in May, IT employment continued its pattern of month-over-month growth by adding 1,100 jobs. According to TechServe Alliance’s monthly index, the number of IT jobs grew by 0.03 percent in May to 4 million, and is up more than 100,000 jobs from May.

“May marks the 17th consecutive month that the number of IT jobs has increased,” observed Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance. “While the rate of growth moderated last month, the long-term trajectory of IT employment remains decidedly positive.”

The number of jobs in the computer systems and design services realm increased to 1.5 million, up 0.55 percent from the previous month and 4.52 percent since May 2010. The number of data processing and hosting jobs rose to 240,500, up 0.29 percent sequentially, but down by 0.74 percent in the year-over-year timeframe. The number of telecom jobs shrank to 867,600, down 0.39 percent from April and 3.71 percent from May 2010.

Source: IEEE Career News

IT Certifications Bigger Part of Hiring Process

February 16, 2011

Employers are inclined to rely more heavily on professional certifications when hiring information technology workers, but are challenged by credential evaluation and validation issues, according to research from CompTIA.

Source: IEEE Career News

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How to use social media to advance your career

We know networking is a necessity for career advancement in science. And social media networking is no different. Your online presence—via websites, your blog, and personal profiles on channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter—serves as a way for interested parties to get to know you and your brand, or promise of value. And it is becoming more and more critical for you to maintain a presence on social media in order to amplify your reputation and reach decision makers in your field.

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