Google Adds New Search Feature to Help Veterans Find Jobs

Google on Monday introduced a feature in its job search functionality specifically geared toward helping veterans find jobs. Matthew Hudson, a program manager for Google Cloud who previously served in the US Air Force as a civil engineer, announced the news in a blog post:

Starting today, service members can search ‘jobs for veterans’ on Google and then enter their specific military job codes (MOS, AFSC, NEC, etc.) to see relevant civilian jobs that require similar skills to those used in their military roles. We’re also making this capability available to any employer or job board to use on their own property through our Cloud Talent Solution. As of today, service members can enter their military job codes on any career site using Talent Solution, including FedEx Careers, Encompass Health Careers, Siemens Careers, CareerBuilder and Getting Hired.

This is just one of several steps the search giant is taking to support veterans. To help those who start their own businesses, Google will now allow establishments to identify themselves as veteran-owned or led when they pop up on Google Maps or in Google search mobile listings. Additionally, Google.org is giving a $2.5 million grant to the United Service Organizations (USO) to incorporate the Google IT support certificate into their programming. Google first made the certification available outside the company earlier this year through a partnership with Coursera.

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STEM Talent May Have a Bright Future in Sales

STEM Talent May Have a Bright Future in Sales

“With more informed buyers to contend with and data as their most powerful sales weapon, sales teams are incorporating more STEM backgrounds within their ranks,” Jared Lindzon writes at Fast Company, in a piece exploring how data and technology skills are becoming as important as interpersonal skills for sales professionals, if not more so:

According to a 2017 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seventh most popular career for STEM graduates in the United States and most popular noncomputer related role is in sales. … “We are seeing thousands of jobs across the United States in which sales teams are looking for people with STEM related skill sets,” says Glassdoor community expert Scott Dobroski. According to Dobroski the job listing and recruiting website has seen a huge spike in postings for positions that blend sales with STEM skills. …

The demand for STEM skills within sales teams is representative of a seismic shift in sales strategy. This transition has been enabled by technology and the availability of information, both on behalf of the buyer and seller. While the salesperson used to be the primary source of information for their products or services, buyers increasingly have access to specs, samples, and independent reviews. At the same time sellers are able to access information and insights about prospective buyers that would have previously been only accessible through personal interactions.

The nature of the sales role has indeed changed in today’s business environment, especially in B2B sales, where the typical buyer is now most of the way through their decision-making process before engaging with a supplier. This means salespeople need to be comfortable wielding more facts and figures, but also must be adept at managing relationships.

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Google, Coursera Launch Machine Learning Course Series

Google, Coursera Launch Machine Learning Course Series

Google and the online learning platform Coursera are launching a five-course machine learning specialization to teach developers how to build machine learning models using the TensorFlow framework, Frederic Lardinois reports at TechCrunch:

The new specialization, called “Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform,” has students build real-world machine learning models. It takes them from setting up their environment to learning how to create and sanitize datasets to writing distributed models in TensorFlow, improving the accuracy of those models and tuning them to find the right parameters.

As Google’s Big Data and Machine Learning Tech Lead Lak Lakshmanan told me, his team heard that students and companies really liked the original machine learning course but wanted an option to dig deeper into the material. Students wanted to know not just how to build a basic model but also how to then use it in production in the cloud, for example, or how to build the data pipeline for it and figure out how to tune the parameters to get better results. …

It’s worth noting that these courses expect that you are already a somewhat competent programmer. While it has gotten much easier to start with machine learning thanks to new frameworks like TensorFlow, this is still an advanced skill.

The new series is a continuation of Google’s longstanding partnership with Coursera, through which the tech giant went public with its internal IT support training curriculum earlier this year.

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Salesforce Releases its Online Learning Platform to Public

Salesforce Releases its Online Learning Platform to Public

Salesforce, the San Francisco cloud computing company known for its widely adopted customer relationship management software, is going public with its internal online learning platform. Conceived in 2014 and launched internally in 2016, the Trailhead program has allowed numerous employees at Salesforce to develop tangible digital skills and make stark career shifts. In a recent profile by Elizabeth Woyke at the MIT Technology Review, one employee shared how he moved from recruiting to engineering after getting certified in two programming languages through the self-guided, interactive platform:

[Greg] Wasowski’s chances of making such a transition seemed unlikely—until he began spending several hours a week (in the office and on nights and weekends) on Salesforce’s online learning platform, Trailhead. Within a year, he learned two programming languages, earned certification as a Salesforce application developer, and got a job configuring Salesforce software for customers.

The occasion for this profile was Salesforce’s announcement that it will soon release a version of the platform called myTrailhead, which will allow clients to customize it to train their own employees in the specific skills they need. Trailhead, which uses micro-learning, gamification, and a system of points and virtual badges to make its short, consumable training programs engaging and effective, already contains a range of tutorials geared toward Salesforce users, including on how to master, administer, and program for the Salesforce software itself.

In addition to allowing the tech giant’s own 26,000 employees to upskill for career shifts, the platform has also allowed them to get up to speed on technology changes after coming back from leave, thus mitigating the career risks of having a child or taking other extended career breaks due to family obligations or illness. Woyke also interviews a mother at Salesforce who used the system that way:

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Employees Know They Need Upskilling, but Many Don’t Pursue It

Employees Know They Need Upskilling, but Many Don’t Pursue It

Randstad’s Workmonitor survey for Q3, 2017 finds that 90 percent of employees worldwide believe that regularly updating their skills and competencies is essential to enhancing their employability, and 91 percent consider it their own responsibility to do so. However, Randstad highlights another, more troubling finding from the US, where many employees and employers “are not taking action for upskilling opportunities in the workplace”:

In fact, over a third of U.S. employees report they have done nothing to upskill in the past 12 months, where upskilling is defined as attending workshops, completing online courses, receiving consultation from a specialist, participating in personal coaching sessions or pursuing further education. … When asked to consider a variety of types of upskilling opportunities over the last 12 months, survey respondents revealed:

  • 67 percent of U.S. employees say they feel they need more training and skills to stay up-to-date.
  • Nearly 40 percent of U.S. employees say their employers have not offered and paid for anything related to upskilling.
  • 40 percent of U.S. employees say they wouldn’t arrange for and pay out of their own pockets to upskill themselves.

These survey findings highlight the fundamental challenges in raising the skill level of the American workforce, as well as the debate over who is responsible for doing so.

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Is the Tech Skills Gap a Product of Outdated Hiring Practices?

Is the Tech Skills Gap a Product of Outdated Hiring Practices?

At a time when their skills are needed in organizations of all shapes, sizes, and industries, data scientists are in short supply, representing one of the most significant skills gaps in today’s labor market. But what if recruiters are coming up short not because there aren’t enough qualified candidates, but rather because their definition of “qualified” is too constrained? Vin Vashishta, founder and chief data scientist at V-Squared Data Strategy Consulting, makes the case at Fast Company that employers are chasing unrealistic qualifications for their data talent:

I honestly feel for recruiters who are tasked with filing data-science and machine-learning job openings. The list of requirements that employers draw up for those roles is pure bravado with a side of madness: “10 years of data science with at least five years in natural-language processing and either a Master’s or PhD” (never mind that I can count on one hand the number of data scientists who were building for production back in 2007). Others ask for experience with three different programming languages, 10 platforms, a niche algorithm set, leadership skills—and by this point I’m typically only halfway through reading the job qualifications.

Ask any tech recruiter and they’ll tell you about the stack of job openings like these that they’ve been unable to fill for the past six months to a year. Every couple of weeks, the client calls and berates them for not being able to send them quality candidates. After awhile everyone involved throws up their hands and calls it a “skills gap.” It isn’t.

Google doesn’t require a PhD to be a machine-learning engineer. A recent survey found that only one in four data scientists has a PhD. Yet I still see advanced-degree requirements on the vast majority of data-science and machine-learning job descriptions. Most companies just throw it in unthinkingly. But unless they’re investing heavily in advanced research, it’s pointless.

Over-reliance on educational qualifications and experience for emerging roles is a something employers will have to get over if they want to fill talent shortages in data science and other valuable technical roles. Many organizations seek out computer science majors to fill these roles, but many talented computer programmers and software developers didn’t study computer science in college, or don’t have traditional college educations at all.

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The Value of Veterans

The Value of Veterans

Today marks Veterans Day in the United States. Veteran unemployment fell to its lowest level in seven years last year, thanks in part to a strengthening labor market and in part to the success of special programs aimed at recruiting veterans. Not only does a career go a long way in helping a vet reintegrate into civilian life, contrary to some common misperceptions, this cohort has a lot to offer employers that recruiters would be remiss to overlook.

Hilton’s Operation: Opportunity program aimed to recruit 10,000 veterans by 2018 and announced last week that it had achieved its goal two years ahead of schedule. Writing at LinkedIn, Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta discusses what Hilton has learned from the program:

We’ve found that veterans don’t always think of a post-military career in hospitality, so we’ve been very proactive in terms of reaching out to them about opportunities in our company. But while a career in hospitality may not always be top-of-mind for veterans, there is significant overlap between our two “industries” – operating a hotel is very similar to operating a battleship or a base. Just like in those military environments, a hotel is a self-contained “village” in many ways, where everything from food to electricity can be produced onsite. By explaining how our business overlaps with their military experience, we’ve been able to help veterans understand that ours is not just an industry worth considering, but one in which they can thrive. …

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