Wednesday, August 4, 2010

IEEE vs. ACM Jobs Death Match

In order to keep my ear to the ground on what's happening outside the ebony tower, I subscribe to several career newsletters from both ACM and IEEE. In case you're unfamiliar, these are the two primary professional organizations for both academic and industrial computer scientists and engineers.
Photo by Kevin Steele

Today I received two "career alert" emails from each. Here are the headlines from the ACM one:
  1. "After Pay Cuts, IT Workers May Seek Payback in New Job"
  2. "Tips to Recharge Your Job Search"
  3. "Five Mistakes Online Job Hunters Make"
  4. "Five Questions to Ask Before Taking That Telecommuting Job"
  5. "How to Decode a Job Posting"
  6. "Why Personal Branding is So Misunderstood"
  7. "Befriend the Intern to Fire Up Your Career"
  8. "Much More Than Office Space"
  9. "Are Female IT Graduates Still Underrepresented?"
  10. "U.S. Congressman Introduces Measure to Address Crisis in K-12 Computer Science Education"
Ok, so 10% "You're hosed", 70% "You're hosed, here's help", and 20% non-sequitur. Now let's look at IEEE:
  1. "Employers Getting More Picky Hiring Engineers"
  2. "Learning to Think Small"
  3. "The Big Deal About Details"
  4. "Cure for Joblessness: Go East?"
#2 is basically a "You're hosed, here's help" article. #3 is a "The job market sucks so much right now that if you say "Um" or have sweaty palms YOU'RE OUT."  #4 is "Honestly, things are so bad you may as well pack your bags and move to India."

#1 is the most depressing of all. The article implies recruiters are simply keyword matching for niches instead of hiring people who can actually reason and think. This is terribly stupid. In an economy like this, you want people who are versatile, not people who have X years of experience on some particular chip set or programming language that probably won't even be used anymore come next year. 

Technology changes very quickly. Companies who are clever will hire people who are good at learning and adapting, not people who have mastered one particular niche trade. If you understand the fundamentals of how a computer works, it doesn't matter what shape or size it is, or what brand is stamped on it. It doesn't matter if it's Gopher or bittorrent. If you know how to solve problems and learn new things, you can figure it out. 

Anyway, I feel like it's more useful to read the ACM alerts only because they seem to actually list constructive things you can do if you're unemployed. Instead of just moving to India. 

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