Weekly Word on the Street: How to Prepare for a Job in Big Data

by Jim Staats | Nov 02, 2012

Takeaway of the week is, and I can't help it, that Halloween may have come and gone for another year, but it remains scary out there on the IT job market. Make it easier on yourself by using the tools at your disposal and the resources most likely to help you get noticed. Things are still good for IT folks who know how to take advantage.

Report: Tech Job Boost First Half of Year

The first half of this year saw good, but not great, high-tech job growth, according to recent data from analysts.

The nearly 100,000 new industry jobs added between January and June of this year actually represents a decline from the same time frame last year, TechAmerica Foundation noted in a recent article for Network World.

The non-profit, which analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, found upticks in software services, engineering and tech services and technology manufacturing. The only sector found to have lost jobs during the first six-month period was communication services, which lost nearly 11,000 jobs.

The 99,300 jobs added during this time period increased the technical industry job count by 1.7 percent whereas the January-to-June 2011 increase of 118,900 gave a 2.1 percent boost to the industry, TechAmerica Foundation analysts noted.

"While the growth has been modest, it is up and fairly consistent," said a foundation executive. "With job growth in three of the four sectors, we remain optimistic about continued growth into the future."

Big Data, Big Job Growth

The onslaught of data available out of every virtual pore of consumer and enterprise activity makes for an unending job source for the near future.

That's the recent prediction of Gartner, which estimated Big Data will generate nearly 2 million U.S. jobs through 2015, discussed in a recent Computerworld article.

For those considering future employment in this sector following their college careers, the advice is to go beyond math, statistics and computer science prerequisites into linear and matrix algebra and additional coursework in areas including statistical programming.

Advice in the article is provided by Michael Rappa, who at North Carolina State University created the first program devoted to data analytics.

Rappa's advice for current tech professionals interested in pursuing Big Data jobs on the horizon included professional certification programs, online learning opportunities and intensive training programs, for those who can take that time.

Since Big Data jobs on the horizon will stretch across organizations, so will the core skills considered integral. Depending on the role, valued skills could include statistical programming, data management, data cleaning, data visualization and interpretation.

Wanna Work? Network

The power of social networking has created a seismic shift when it comes to the key components of a successful job search.

You can have the most amazing resume, keen interviewing skills, but often it's the ability to connect with peers online that gets that virtual "foot in the door."

For those still getting their feet wet in the new world of online networking, an article this week in TheGrindStone.com offers helpful tips to gain some traction.

Here are a few:

  • Make Use of Social Networking Sites: Simple suggestions include regular updates of your LinkedIn profile and reading up on the latest features for the sites where you have accounts to make sure you are using tools at your disposal to connect with others.
  • Professional Stalking: Use the information available on these same sites to research the people you plan to connect with so you'll be informed and prepared prior to a conversation, either online or in person.
  • Increase Your Online Interactions: Think of this as taking "baby steps" as you enter the online networking world, whether it's a comment on an industry blog or recommendation of a former colleague. It's a start and often leads to reciprocated feedback.

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