March 2016

Monthly Archives

  • Prepping for a Do-or-Die Job Interview

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    Job interviews are nerve-racking experiences, even for seasoned professionals. As with so many things in life, however, even a little bit of prep work can make a huge difference, both for your nerves and your chances of success.

    When it comes to technology jobs, preparation is especially important, as you may find yourself answering mathematical riddles or dealing with complex white-board questions in addition to the “standard” interview queries.

    With all that in mind, here are some key tips for prepping for your next big job interview:

    Research the Company’s Interview Setup

    Every organization conducts its job interviews differently. Some take a more traditional approach, focusing on hiring-manager interviews supplemented (perhaps) by a white-boarding session or two. Others attempt to gauge candidates’ skills and experience by subjecting them to batteries of weird interview questions, impromptu programming sessions, or other unusual tests.

    Fifteen or twenty years ago, you wouldn’t have known what to expect when you walked into a prospective employer’s office. But thanks to the Internet (as well as any colleagues or acquaintances who have interviewed with that company before), you can often find out what’s waiting for you, days or weeks before you settle into the interviewee chair. Do that research into the company’s interviewing style, and prepare accordingly.

    Next: Figure Out Everything the Company Does (click here or below)

    The post Prepping for a Do-or-Die Job Interview appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Tech Unemployment Hit 2.5 Percent in February

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    The country’s tech unemployment rate hit 2.5 percent last month, a slight uptick over the 2.4 percent reported in February 2015, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

    The technology segments monitored by the BLS experienced a mix of job losses and gains. For example, technology consulting added 4,400 positions in February, down from 4,600 in January. Data processing, hosting, and related services gained 900 jobs, a notable bounce-back after losing 500 in January.

    Computer and electronic product manufacturing lost 400 positions, a considerable reversal after gaining 4,000 jobs in January. Manufacturing has long been a soft spot in the overall technology-jobs outlook, thanks in large part to a combination of manufacturing automation and outsourcing.

    Overall, the technology industry continues to enjoy higher employment than the broader economy, where the unemployment rate stands at a (still historically low) 4.9 percent. While some pundits have expressed concern over recent layoffs at large tech firms such as Yahoo, and some smaller startups’ newfound inability to land lots of venture capital, the overall economy clearly still needs skilled technologists to help keep it running.

    The post Tech Unemployment Hit 2.5 Percent in February appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Breaking into a Data Science Career

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    Data science has lost none of its cachet in recent years; companies all over the world very much need data scientists to crunch enormous datasets and provide insights. Job opportunities abound. But does that demand actually make it harder for a tech pro to land a data-science job?

    Hilary Mason, a data scientist and founding CEO of New York City-based Fast Forward Labs, sees “a ton of people asking for data scientists.” Her company’s newsletter has likewise experienced an increase in job postings.

    Large corporations such as Ford Motor Co. have also “increased the number of data scientists we hire,” according to Laura Kurtz, the auto-giant’s manager of recruiting. “We recently created a new data analytics group to understand and make better use of them.” Ford relies on data scientists for everything from human resources (to develop better strategic workforce plans) to manufacturing (to study process efficiencies and throughput). The company is hiring data workers from across the whole experience spectrum, including recent college graduates.

    But not every company is hungry for more data scientists. Kaggle.com, which organizes data-science competitions and jobs, recently cut seven of its approximately 20 jobs. (Despite its shrinking staff, the firm still runs dozens of contests, some with pretty significant payouts; that’s in addition to posting newsworthy datasets such as Hillary Clinton’s email collection, stored in a SQL database.)

    Kaggle isn’t alone in the data-competition department: DrivenData currently runs seven different data science contests, most of which focus on improving conditions in far-flung parts of the globe. Texata.com offers an annual Big Data business-world championship, specifically designed for college students. Numerous hackathons make use of data-science techniques, as well.

    If you want to enter this still-vibrant field and land a job, here are a few suggestions from the pros:

    Understand What You’re Getting Into

    Not all data science jobs are alike, and not all positions carry equal prominence at all companies. Dave Holtz, writing a post for online-learning site Udacity, has put together a great list of suggestions on how you can evaluate different job openings and company types.

    His post also suggests eight different skills that you should have in your tool-kit, such as statistics, data visualization, and basic software engineering. Also on the list: advanced calculus and linear algebra.

    Online Tutorials

    Mason feels the hiring market has matured to the point where “companies are a bit more aware of what skills they actually need, rather than asking for the kitchen sink. Over the last few years, companies have gotten better at hiring data scientists, both in defining the skills they actually need and in interviewing and supporting data scientists once they join a team.”

    If you’re interested in brushing up on your day-to-day data skills, look at some of the online tutorials at Datacamp.com, where you can find more practical exercises such as how to use R and Python scripting for large datasets.

    Participate in a Contest

    Another way to hone your skills is by participating in a data-science contest. Kaggle’s CTO has put together a list of suggestions on how to win such competitions. These include entering alone (rather than as part of a team), using some kind of data visualization tool, and doing frequent iterations on whatever solution you come up with. If you’re interested, take a look at the next GlobalHack contest, held in the fall in St. Louis, with a total purse of a million dollars in various prizes.

    Look Inside

    Look inside your own company to see if you can spearhead a data-science approach to some of your thorniest issues. “A number of companies get to the point where they have a lot of traffic (and an increasingly large amount of data),” said Udacity’s Holtz, “and they’re looking for someone to set up a lot of the data infrastructure that the company will need moving forward.” This could be the best opportunity; after all, you should already know your own business.

    The post Breaking into a Data Science Career appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Competition for Cloud Pros Fiercer Than Ever

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    Competition for tech pros skilled in cloud technologies is fiercer than ever, according to a new report in The New York Times.

    In Silicon Valley, six-figure salaries are common for those with backgrounds in cloud infrastructure; data from the Times suggests that anyone with five years of experience can earn an annual salary of $300,000 (if not more), sweetened with stock options and other perks. Workers with the right combination of skills, meanwhile, face a near-constant barrage of recruiting phone-calls and emails.

    As Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and Google build out their respective cloud platforms, the demand for those skilled in building and maintaining cloud-system architecture may only increase. That makes things more difficult for smaller tech firms, which may not have the capital to offer highly skilled workers a competitive salary. (One startup co-founder, speaking to the Times, referred to stratospheric compensation as a “Facebook tax.”)

    According to Dice’s most recent salary survey, the highest-paying tech skills (by average annual salary) that relate to cloud include:

    • PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service): $140,894
    • OpenStack (used with IaaS deployments): $138,579
    • CloudStack: $138,095
    • Chef: $136,850

    In a highly competitive environment such as the Bay Area, however, salaries only go higher. Over the past year, other tech hubs such as Boston have undergone similar hiring binges, as companies large and small seek the cloud professionals who can help them build out next-generation services.

    The post Competition for Cloud Pros Fiercer Than Ever appeared first on Dice Insights.