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AI is Changing the Way Clients and Staffing Agencies Recruit (and you need to pay attention)

AI is Changing the Way Clients and Staffing Agencies Recruit (and you need to pay attention)Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming our world every day and regularly changing the way we live our lives. Whether you’re listening to music, ordering fast food, or interacting with an online customer service agent, AI lets you work faster, be more efficient and get what you need.

There are many implications of AI to an IT contractor. First, as implied above, AI is bringing new opportunities to companies across all industries, and that results in more IT projects across the board. More specifically, you should take time to understand how AI is affecting the ways clients and staffing agencies hire, so you can better adjust the way you search for jobs.

Clients are Re-Evaluating their Job Opportunities

There is an ongoing debate of whether or not robots will steal all of our jobs, leaving more people unemployed. According to this recent article from Entrepreneur, though, companies are not using AI to replace skilled professionals but are using it to fill talent gaps. This is especially true in the IT industry.

The article references research by Korn Ferry that predicts a talent shortage of 1.1 million in the US technology, media and telecom industries by 2020, and a 4.3 million shortage by 2030. To fill that gap, AI will be used for some coding tasks, as it can identify an objective, autonomously develop a framework, generate code and find the ideal mixture of APIs and SDKs.

Of course, companies know that artificial intelligence cannot replace the critical thinking and human element that a real person brings to the table. So, instead, they’re using new tactics, combining multiple job roles into one and recruiting skilled talent that work with the AI. Hiring managers are analyzing specific job postings and determining which tasks from a job can be handed off to a computer, thus allowing one person to do more value-added work. In theory, your work should become more interesting with fewer monotonous, “housekeeping” tasks.

Recruiters are Looking at Your Resume Differently (if at all)

This Fast Company article is written around the fact that staffing agencies, clients and employers are mostly using some form of artificial intelligence within their recruiting processes, and that changes how you should write your resume. Sometimes tools are used to screen your resume against a specific job after you apply, and other times it helps a recruiter search a database of thousands of people for the right matching candidates. In all cases, it means a human is not going to evaluate your resume unless you first make it past that AI gate keeper. The article offers three suggestions for your resume:

  1. Focus on Your Skills: This is the most important tip. The article stresses not to bother with fluff in your resume like metaphors and weird titles like “Coding Ninja”. It even goes so far as to suggest that soft skills are not relevant to get past an AI. What really matters is to include specific skills you use in a project, and known titles to match those skills. It is also wise to include common seniority terms, such as “Lead” or “Senior” before your title.
  2. Skip the Personal Statement: The personal statement is similar to the soft skills — computers don’t care. Of course, if your resume does get into the hands of a human, a brief elevator pitch to sell yourself might benefit you.
  3. Customize Your Resume, But Not Too Much: The article says not to waste too much time customizing every resume to every specific job. Instead, as long as you weave the proper skills throughout the resume, the AI should be smart enough to recognize you are a fit for a job.

How else has AI affected the way you search for jobs? Leave your experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear more and share our advice to overcome obstacles you may be facing.

Will Artificial Intelligence Bring More IT Job Opportunities by 2030?

Will Artificial Intelligence Bring More IT Job Opportunities by 2030?This past December, the Pew Research Centre released a report that set out to get the opinions of 979 technology pioneers, innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists. Specifically, they asked these individuals their thoughts on Artificial Intelligence and where it would take us by 2030.  It turns out, 63% of the experts agreed that although there will be some challenges, we will be better off.

Not surprisingly, the article was widely read and commented on. This Inc article went so far as to review all comments and provide their 27 favourite quotes from the experts, including some thoughts on the future of work. While it seems there are many benefits and potential for happiness to come from AI, certainly there are also concerns for the future of many workers. This insight from Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute and professor of strategic foresight at New York University, is perhaps the most detailed and sums it up well:

“We will need new hybrid-skilled knowledge workers who can operate in jobs that have never needed to exist before. We’ll need farmers who know how to work with big data sets. Oncologists trained as robotocists. Biologists trained as electrical engineers. We won’t need to prepare our workforce just once, with a few changes to the curriculum. As A.I. matures, we will need a responsive workforce, capable of adapting to new processes, systems, and tools every few years. The need for these fields will arise faster than our labor departments, schools, and universities are acknowledging. … We need to address a difficult truth that few are willing to utter aloud: A.I. will eventually cause a large number of people to be permanently out of work.”:

McKinsey also weighed in on the topic last December in this statistic-driven article explaining the future of jobs due to automation. While some believe AI and automation will destroy jobs, McKinsey predicts there is plenty of opportunity, as long as the proper investments happen. They also remind us that, at least in the near future, not everything can be automated. Jobs would have to be done in predictable and structured environments and based on routine. Not only that, but the cost-benefit analysis has to make sense. Companies are not going to automate just because they can. Finally, McKinsey claims that while 30% of time spent in most occupations could be automated, only 5% of occupations can be completely automated.

By 2030, McKinsey predicts that India could create up to 1.2 million incremental jobs for tech professionals due to automation. They also expect higher global spending on technology products and services by consumers and businesses — $1.7 trillion to $2 trillion. That means a demand for 20 million to 46 million incremental tech workers globally-from software engineers and electrical engineers to web developers and non-technology support staff, with the largest share being in China and India.

While it all sounds great, the article cautions that these benefits can’t be realized unless we take the proper actions. “Policymakers will have to work with the private sector to stimulate investment, through strategies tailored for various sectors of the economy,” they warn. In addition, the workforce will need to be equipped with more digital literacy. Afterall, workers will need to know how to effectively operate automation and applications.

So, is it all doom and gloom or are IT contractors and technology professionals in for a bright future? According to this video we shared last October, economists are not concerned, saying that if history predicts anything, there will only be more opportunities. The comments on the YouTube page, though, would argue otherwise. It seems the only way we’ll know for sure is to wait 10 years and see what happens. What do you think?

AI Assistants for the Independent Contractor

AI Assistants for the Independent ContractorIt’s no surprise to any IT professional that Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is growing at a crazy pace. Companies are investing heavily in it and creating more and more job opportunities for those who specialize in it. But new jobs are not the only way AI can benefit you, as an IT contractor. There are a number of tools out there that you may not be taking advantage of to help you navigate your job search and manage your business. Some are common and right in front of you (ex. Siri, Alexa, Google, Cortana) and you may need to dig a bit more for others. Here are just a few ways your AI Assistant can help you today:

General Organization

Knowing what’s in your calendar, and more importantly making sure everything is actually in that calendar, is one of the most valuable things your personal assistant can do for you. With the proper settings, Google or Siri will even add information into your calendar for you based on emails. All you need to do is ask your assistant at the start of the day what’s happening when and where, or what tasks are due soon.

Job Hunting and other Research

It’s also common to use the big-name personal assistants for research. You can win an argument with a group of friends or seek directions, but on a professional level, you can also research jobs. With the Canadian launch of Google for Jobs, their assistant is a sure bet to find what you need. In addition, there are AI assistants designed specifically for your job hunt. For example, tools like Mosaic and LinkedIn’s MS Word tool can help you build resumes, and newer AI assistants like Wade, Newton and Woo are helping job seekers find new opportunities every day (Canadian content is minimal at this point, but the technology is out there).

Collaboration

AI assistants are also willing and ready to help you collaborate and work with team members. Tools like x.ai provide assistants who just need to be copied on emails and given an order like “schedule an update meeting with Bob”. With access to your calendar, they will continue talking with Bob to finalize the plans.  And that’s just one example. Howdy, Yva.ai and Collaboration.ai all provide similar but varying collaboration abilities like tracking skills and performance, organizing tasks and sending reminders, and working in Slack.

Working with Job Boards and other Online Tools

Being aware of AI assistants is another important step to using them to your advantage. There are many job boards and other online tools who use chatbots to qualify sales leads or candidates and decide how to proceed. Their technology is advanced with the ability to recognize phrases and patterns, but they do not read minds or always understand nuances as a human does. That means you could be talking yourself out of a job if you’re short with the chatbot or forget to mention certain keywords.

There are so many AI tools helpful for IT contractors and their clients in all specialty areas — just check out this article from Nudge and this older one from Medium. Both demonstrate how whether you’re working in Data, Finance, Development, Cybersecurity or nearly any industry, AI is coming into your life, if it isn’t already. You just need to be prepared.

Artificial Intelligence: The Opportunities and Threats are Up to You

For years, we’ve been hearing that advancements in technology will steal our jobs. Innovations like robots, automation and artificial intelligence will all apparently be equipped to perform the tasks of humans and we’ll all find ourselves on the side of the road with no money.

This discussion frequently divides people into two schools of thought. The first states that continued technology and innovation will only create more opportunities as people will have to teach the robots and a more efficient economy will lead to more jobs. Vice-versa, some experts will tell you that while that may have been true 100 years ago, our current generation’s technology revolution is a different story that will hurt workers. Since reality is yet to be proven, like many other debates, it comes down to how you choose to perceive the situation.

Just One Opportunity from AI and Automation

There is no shortage of articles and case studies showing how artificial intelligence has changed the way we do nearly everything. As far as technology roles go, many can be complemented. Simple Programmer provides a fantastic example of how software testers and quality assurance professionals can benefit from AI’s influence in a number of ways:

  • Faster and More Stable UI Tests
  • Reducing Maintenance and Eliminating Flaky Tests
  • Continuous Learning from Production Data
  • Removing Dependencies
  • Ease of Authoring and Executing Tests
  • Releasing at the Speed of Development

Tech Jobs at Risk Due to Automation and AI

Last month, Dice published an article about the 4 tech jobs most at risk from automation and artificial intelligence. They say that while automation might help tech pros, it won’t be great for everyone, with these for jobs being most at risk:

  • Data Centre Administrators – “Backups, provisioning virtual machines, and security are just three core processes that companies can leave largely up to software.”
  • Help Desk Staff – “Talk of “responsibility” aside, it stands to reason that if Google (or any other tech firm, such as IBM) can create an automated assistant with human-like speech, companies will use that to eliminate call-center staff.”
  • Programmers – “The rise of no- and low-code application builders is just one facet of this evolution; in theory, future software platforms will be able to assemble relatively simple programs with just a few mouse-clicks.”
  • Data Analysts – “Instead of having a dedicated person to analyze in-house data, businesses could rely on this software in conjunction with employees who receive some training in data analysis.”

To be fair, this article referenced from Dice did explain which predictions were a stretch and provides advice to IT professionals on how they can remain competitive; however, the base embraces the negative side of AI.

The way you interpret unknown situations and debates is your choice. You can choose to focus on the positive or get stuck on the negativity and fear. What do you think AI and automation will do to the future of your job? Will it complement your profession like the example given by Simple Programmer, or is your job at risk and you’ll have to strategize how to keep it as described by Dice?

The Ongoing Debate Around the Future of Work

Last week’s video sparked a bit of debate around the actual need for everybody to learn to code when we shared a video arguing that the movement where all kids need to learn to code is misguided. Today, we’re sharing another video on a topic with varying opinions between economists and futurists — the future of work and whether or not there will still be a place for humans.

As automation continues to grow, so do fears that jobs will fade. Take self-checkouts at stores as an example. These raise controversy as some consumers believe the machines are taking jobs from humans, where the other side will argue they’re creating different types of jobs and the economy will grow. The latter concept is explained further in this video by Vox. It looks at historical data, talks to economists, and provides theories as to why the future of work is only looking bright, even with more and more robots coming in. That said, a scroll through the comments shows equally valid arguments as to why the outlook is looking grim.

What do you think the real future of work will be?

A Look at Google Duplex — The A.I. Personal Assistant

Independent contractors are busy people. After dealing with the bulk of your work, fitting in tasks like scheduling a hair appointment, making dinner reservations or booking interviews can be the extra nuisance that makes you wish you could stay in bed. In a perfect world, you’d have a personal assistant to handle these tedious phone calls for you, but who has money for that? Google has heard your pain and help is on the way!

This past Spring, Google brought personal assistants to a new level with its artificial intelligence called Duplex. Duplex has an ability (inspiring or terrifying) to make phone calls, book appointments, and have live conversations with people. This video from ColdFusion will tell you all about it along with a couple demos. If you haven’t already seen this, take a few minutes to watch the video (first demo is at 2:04). You’ll be floored, not only how it answers questions, but also the way it sounds human by throwing in a couple “ums” and handling interruptions.

More Tech Trends to Expect Before the Year’s Through

Regardless of how intrenched you are in technology during your everyday life, somehow, technological advances continue to surprise and awe all of us as the innovations are announced. It’s exciting (and sometimes scary) to think about where we’ll be in 10, 20 or even 50 years and looking back, it’s crazy to think about where we were just 10 years ago. Have you ever taken a look back to see where we were 1 year ago?

The amount that can happen within just a year is unreal and 2018 is not expected to be any different. Already headlines have been filled with Blockchain and AI breakthroughs, and companies keep releasing new devices that change the way we live. Back in January, Interquest Group published an infographic that predicted trends for 2018. While some are starting to take shape, others still aren’t quite here yet.

Are you the geeky tech type who likes to be on top of all trends as they come? If so, how do you think we’re doing on these predictions and will they all come true by December?

Top 10 Strategic Tech Trends 2018 - #infographic

A Look at How Developers Think (thanks to Stack Overflow)

Early last month we shared some results from the 2018 Stack Overflow Survey that showed trends in the most used technologies and what jobs bring in the most money for developers. That’s all great, but you see those trends all the time. Fortunately Stack Overflow also asks its respondents some more unique questions which results in interesting findings about the way developers think. Here are a few of our favourite highlights:

Belonging and Career Satisfaction

Apparently, life as a developer is like a fine wine: it gets better with time. The survey asked respondents about their kinship or connection with other developers, the competition they feel at work and if they feel their peers are better than them. The results are clear. As developers get more experience, life becomes better at work, with less competition. This is in line with some additional findings in the survey, that showed career satisfaction is more prevalent among older developers (ages 50+) who have more than 20 years of professional experience.

Belonging and Career Satisfaction

Ethics

Stack Overflow also took a dive into the topic of ethics this year and the good news is, most developers say they are ethical professionals when considering what projects to take on. More than half of developers surveyed say they would refuse to write code for unethical purposes and another 36.6% said they would carefully consider what it is before agreeing to do so. Unfortunately, there are still 4.8% of developers out there who would have no problems writing code for unethical purposes.

If developers were to discover unethical code, nearly half would report it and about 75% of them would keep it within the company. Most of the rest say it would depend on the situation, but there remain that 5% who would will look the other way.

While few developers believe that they would be ultimately responsible for code that accomplishes something unethical, the good news is that about 80% of developers do agree that they have an obligation to consider the ethical implications of their code

The Future of AI

Finally, Stack Overflow took an interesting look at where developers believe Artificial Intelligence is going and what effects it will have on our future. While many are excited about the potential, such as increasing automation of jobs and algorithms to make important decisions, others are concerned about those very same things and believe it to be dangerous. In general, more than 70% of developers are more excited about AI’s possibilities than its dangers.

What Developers Think About AI

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what you’ll find in the 2018 Stack Overflow survey. Check out their website for more information, such as how developers are looking for jobs, demographics of developers around the world, and career-specific information.

How the Mining Industry is Creating New Opportunities for IT Contractors In Canada

How the Mining Industry is Creating New Opportunities for IT Contractors In CanadaMining in Canada generates $35.6 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, with approximately 320,000 people operating within the mining industry. With mining being such a crucial part of Canada’s economy, it’s important that they make mining as efficient and easy as possible. Manually, miners will use large drills and rock tools to extract their minerals. But, with several technological advances taking the world by storm, Canada have jumped on the computing technology bandwagon to make their lives easier and extract more minerals than ever before. In fact, there are several computing technology solutions that continue to help hundreds of thousands of workers in Canada perform their job better. With this in mind, a huge number of new opportunities are opening up for IT Contractors in Canada within the mining industry, and here, we’re taking a closer look at a few of the areas that are impacting the industry the most.

Cloud Computing

Before technology became our most reliable source, a mining company would have to manually send a worker into the mining field in order to inspect on how the day-to-day running was. But, with cloud computing solutions weaving their way into the Canadian mining industry, that is a thing of the past! Beforehand, the person sent to check on the site had to compile a detailed report addressing the recent mining operations, which would usually take a week or even months to be seen by executives in the headquarters. By using cloud computing, though, business leaders can learn about on-site conditions in real time, allowing those within the Canadian mining industry to make any necessary changes to their mining procedures.

The Use of Robotics/AI

Mining is a very laborious job, with tasks such as extracting, drilling and blasting requiring a lot of time and effort from workers. Robotics has been tested in a range of different industries across the world, as with the right programming, they can perform these laborious tasks more efficiently than the average worker. This is ideal for miners, as not only do robots not feel pain (we are jealous), but they are also able to get jobs done quicker, thanks to high advanced technology. This isn’t the only advantage of using AI within the mining site though, as Canada still suffers with situations of miners being trapper underground, or restricted from reaching highly-valued areas. ANDROS Wolverine was the first mine rescue robot, and whilst he was unsuccessful during the Sago mine explosion in 2006, it certainly showed the potential for using robots in places that even humans can’t enter. Plus, we have had 11 years since the explosion to develop our technology, so who knows what we’re capable of now?

Airborne Gravity Gradiometer Technology

It sounds very confusing and complex, but it can prove as extremely helpful for Canadian miners. The ability to access mineral bodies is very time-consuming for miner, not to mention massively expensive. This type of mining technology is very impressive, as it measures subtle changes in the Earth’s gravity field, helping it to determine where ore bodies can be found within the mines. In addition, improvements have been made to the airborne gravity gradiometer technology in recent years, meaning that we can expect even more precise detections in the future. In fact, we have seen this technology prevail in Canada within the Ekati diamond mine, so it’s clear to see the benefits that it holds for the Canadian mining industry.

Plasma Technology

Canada is already makes huge amounts of money from the minerals that they extract in mines, but with plasma technology thrown into the mix, they could make even more! Plasma technology can boost the yield of precious metals, including the likes of gold, silver and platinum, by over 1,000 per cent compared to the standard metallurgical process. In fact, new radio frequency plasma technology has been developed in recent years, which heats complex ores such as zinc and nickel to extremely high temperatures in order to break down the structure of the ore. With such innovative technology, Canada can definitely expect to see a rise in their gross domestic product due to the new easy and efficient methods that technology provides to Canadian miners.

With traditional industries beginning to implement technologies in order to ensure that their processes are efficient and more eco-friendly, the implementation of cloud computing, AI and more are proving that IT contractors are more in demand than ever.