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Government Tech Recruiting Still Overshadowed by HealthCare.gov Blunder

By Jack Moore // November 20, 2014

Todd Park, former chief technology officer of the US, prepares to testify on Capitol Hill
Todd Park, former chief technology officer of the US, prepares to testify on Capitol Hill // J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Todd Park left his role as White House chief technology officer nearly three months ago to help the government recruit top tech talent from Silicon Valley.

But his return to Washington this week for a grilling by the House Science and Technology Committee on his role in last year’s disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov certainly couldn’t have been a boon to those efforts.

And that has Democrats on the committee concerned.

“I know people personally who have been contacted by Mr. Park, who he's trying to recruit – bright, young innovative stars from the IT world – to take a break from the multimillion contracts that they have in Silicon Valley and come out to Washington, D.C., and try to solve problems,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif, during the hearing Wednesday. “I cannot imagine that this [hearing] helps him make that case. In fact, this probably makes it much harder.”

Rep. Scott Peters, also a California Democrat, concurred, lamenting the sight of Congress “pulling people out of the bureaucracy and beating them up.”

Addressing Park directly, Peters said: “We have to be very sensitive about how we treat people like you and like those folks who can be ...

Developers, Want to Earn More Money? Learn Ruby on Rails

By Max Nisen // Quartz // November 20, 2014

ADE2013/Shutterstock.com

This post has been corrected

If you want to provoke an argument among computer programmers, ask them to pick their favorite coding language. But even more contentious in an environment where engineers literally have agents, is which is the most lucrative.

Quora threads on the subject have inspired dozens of essay-length answers debating the merits of C, Javascript, Python, and Ruby on Rails.

We looked at data, compiled by Burning Glass with Brookings Institution economist Jonathan Rothwell in July, from thousands of American job ads. We separated out programming languages from a broader list of tech skills we looked at in an earlier piece.

The dataset isn’t perfect, it’s missing newer but increasingly popular languages like Erlang and Haskell, likely because they don’t turn up all that frequently on job ads and resumes. A large number of the ads also don’t list salary. But this gives a good sense of what employers are paying for different languages:

There’s some pretty prescient advice on Quora for aspiring or early career computer scientists. Though a language currently in high demand like Ruby might get you the best salary, it might not be the best way to make ...

In the Workplace of the Future, Say Farewell to Your Desk

By Max Nisen // Quartz // November 18, 2014

Naphat Rojanarangsiman/Shutterstock.com

First they came for the offices, replacing four-walls-and-a-door situations with desks in cubicles, even for workers of considerable stature (paywall).

Now they’re coming for the desks themselves.

On both sides of the Atlantic, big companies are moving toward more flexible setups that do away with assigned workstations. The financial motivation to make the most of premium office space is primary. But another big driver now, and going forward, is mobility.

More people are working remotely now, creating workstation vacancies that irk the people paying the rent. But there’s more to it than that, according to Jennifer Busch, vice president of architecture and design at office furniture maker Teknion.

“It used to be that when you referred to the mobile worker you were talking about a person who works outside the office,” Busch tells Quartz. “Now you’re just as likely to be referring to someone that’s in the office environment, but they’re mobile because their technology has untethered them from their desk.”

Meanwhile, companies are becoming more conscious of the needs of different employees, according to Busch. Some people thrive on the energy of the open office (and it very likely is an open office) while ...

The Three Essential Skills for the Next Generation of Tech Workers

By Jessica Lawrence // Quartz // November 17, 2014

Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com

Twenty or thirty years ago, you couldn’t start your own business anywhere in the world with just a couple clicks of a mouse.

To work, you had to show up at an office because that was where your typewriter or giant desktop computer was, where your important documents were kept in file cabinets, and where your business phone was tethered to the wall. You were still likely to stay at job for 20 or 30 years and get a pension and a gold watch when you retired.

The way that work looks, feels and functions is in the midst of a dramatic shift. Every time we have gone through a major shift in work in the past, we have had to learn new skills to support it. We had to learn the work of agriculture. We had to learn how to work on an assembly line. We had to learn to use typewriters and fax machines.

So the question now becomes, what do we need to learn that will help us thrive in this new world of work today and 10, 20, 30 years from now? From my experience, I see three of the main categories of skills as ...

The Complete Guide to Networking for Introverts

By Max Nisen // Quartz // November 13, 2014

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Most people find networking to be a somewhat uncomfortable endeavor. But the task of meeting and greeting strangers en masse—and ultimately asking them for business—can be far more painful for introverts, according to research.

But extroverts, who tend to excel at building contacts outside their organization, shouldn’t be the only ones using the skill to earn more and advance in their careers.

For introverts who feel taxed by large groups and long, awkward conversations, experts say the right approach is to carefully manage interactions and play to their strengths: small group settings, targeted meetings, and selling oneself with a light touch. Here are some rules of the road to networking for shy types:

Emails work better than cold calls.

Not only are cold calls and big events the hardest ways for introverts to network—they’re also the least effective. Cold calls can feel aggressive, intrusive, and unpleasant for both the networker and the networked. And big events usually result in talking to too many people superficially for too little time.

By contrast, networking via emails and small meetings involves the kind of interactions introverts excel in: research, thoughtful writing, and personal interactions. Introverts may also find ...