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  • Two recent employee-based surveys indicate that professionals are feeling more empowered these days, and confidence about employment stability and strong job prospects is motivating many U.S. workers to ask for a raise this year. A significant number of them are also willing to leave their current job if they sense a lack of career growth opportunities or believe the leadership is weak at their current company. The two surveys, which were released by Robert Half and Randstad US, cover a variety of topics that affect employee satisfaction and career needs. A significant share said that work/life balance and a competitive salary will greatly encourage them to stay with their current companies. The majority are crosschecking their compensation with the going market rate for their position—even if just to gain an edge during negotiations. If they don't feel that any of their perceived shortcomings are being addressed by their current employer, they're happy to look for another job on social media. (Surprisingly, they're more likely to look on Facebook than on LinkedIn.) More than 1,000 U.S. office workers took part in the Robert Half research, and more than 10,875 U.S. workers or potential workers took part in the Randstad research.

  • An overwhelming majority of IT professionals and leaders reported that their organization does not have all the required technology skills in-house to address organizational needs, according to a recent survey from TEKsystems. A significant share of IT leaders said many candidates lack preferred tech skills and/or "soft" skills, and that the job pool is often too small to find the right fit for an open position. As a result, team members are often less efficient, deliver lower quality work or experience greater stress, among other consequences. "The IT skills gap is real and is [affecting] organizations' abilities to be successful, and it can lead to a vicious cycle of lower employee morale, inefficiency and attrition," says Jason Hayman, research manager for TEKsystems. "The cycle can only be broken by deliberate, careful analysis of the skills needed to achieve organizational goals. A well-defined workforce strategy is by far the most effective weapon organizations can deploy to combat the IT skills gap." The findings also shed light on why some tech pros are having a difficult time finding a job. More than 1,300 IT leaders and professionals took part in the research.

  • There are many ways for workers to avoid doing work, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder. Given our total independence on all things digital, many productivity-draining distractions are technology-driven, including the use mobile devices, social media and the Web. Others are "unplugged" interactions that date back to the beginnings of office culture: gossiping, taking smoke breaks and marathon meetings. The consequences can be severe in terms of compromised work quality, missed deadlines and even lost revenue. To avoid falling into these traps, CareerBuilder recommends surrounding yourself with productive people because watching others do their jobs well can be a positive influence. Another suggestion: Schedule breaks as a formal part of your routine, as well as a time to reward yourself after you've accomplished something worthwhile. "Between the Internet, cell phones and co-workers, there are so many stimulants in today's workplace that it's easy to see how employees get sidetracked," says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. "The good news is, taking breaks from work throughout the day can actually be good for productivity, enabling the mind to take a break from the job at hand and re-energize. The trick is finding the right [work-appropriate] activities that promote—rather than deplete—energy." As a special bonus, we're including a list of highly unusual ways employees have wasted time, also courtesy of CareerBuilder's survey. A total of 2,175 hiring and HR managers took part in the research.   

  • The majority of employees consider themselves engaged with their work, according to a recent Aon Hewitt report, "2015 Trends in Global Employee Engagement." Most of them envision a long-term future with their employers and said they seek to do their best at work every day. These employees are also more likely to think highly of their organization's senior leadership than they did in the recent past. While the findings are generally upbeat, there are some potential trouble areas, as overall satisfaction is on the decline with respect to key engagement drivers such as career opportunities and their employer's "people focus." Such developments should serve as a warning sign to managers. "As GDP growth continues, we expect to see organizations make greater investments in people, which could result in an increase in employee engagement," says Ken Oehler, Aon Hewitt's global engagement practice leader. "However … employees who are engaged but not empowered are more likely to be frustrated, burned out and become disengaged, which puts organizations at risk of having suboptimal productivity and higher-than-average employee turnover." The data in this report comes from Aon Hewitt’s global employee research database, which consists of more than 8 million employee records from 2010 to 2014, representing companies from 68 industries operating in 164 countries. (Note: Increases and decreases in engagement factors are noted here only when the numbers changed by at least 3 percent.)

  • It's important for IT professionals to know which skills are most in demand, so they can determine which certifications are likely to be most valuable to them.

  • A résumé has to impress a potential employer, and it has to do so quickly. Recruiters spend, on average, only five to seven seconds initially reviewing a résumé, according to industry research. And while no one expects an IT professional to command extraordinary written communications skills, you should use your résumé to present a compelling case for yourself as a job candidate. That means every word matters. With this in mind, here are 10 résumé dos and don'ts. These guidelines were compiled from several articles posted by Glassdoor, the jobs and company review site. They address the need to emphasize career accomplishments that illustrate the tangible impact you made on company goals, as opposed to providing fuzzy descriptions about being a "hard worker." Glassdoor also advises you to avoid fancy visuals and meaningless buzzwords, which only serve to cloud the actual value you can bring to an organization. In addition, the guidelines underscore the need to establish complete transparency with respect to your work history: Attempts to misrepresent a bad job experience usually backfire.

  • A partnership between Women in Technology and online course-provider Cybrary provides access to free technology training for WIT's members and protégés.