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Hunting for the rare beast


Recruiters at HPC facilities face a huge challenge due to the shortage of qualified applicants. They are turning to social media and increased support for academia, as


Paul Schreier found out E


ven in today’s economy, anyone with HPC experience is in high demand and will have little


trouble finding work. Companies and institutions, in turn, are turning to new and creative ways of finding the right people and of making their workplaces look interesting and attractive. Given that HPC engineers are so tech savvy, it’s no surprise that these recruiters are increasingly turning to social media, which


has dramatically changed how companies advertise their vacancies and how scientists and engineers find out about jobs.


Quantifying the need In last year’s September/October issue, Scientific Computing World published some findings from a study that the market research company IDC had conducted with the US Department of Energy. Although the results are a year old, IDC says that discussions since


34 SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING WORLD


then have, if anything, confirmed the results. To refresh, here are some key findings. First, almost all (93 per


cent) of HPC centres say it is ‘somewhat hard’ or ‘very hard’ to hire staff with the required skills. Te hardest categories to fill are scientists with HPC capabilities, parallel programmers, algorithm developers and system administrators with high-end computing experience. Te main reason is a shortage is the industry’s shiſt to systems based on large numbers of multicore processors – systems that pose enormous challenges for existing algorithms and applications. Te most fruitful source of qualified candidates (cited by 63 per cent of respondents) consisted of university graduates in maths, engineering, or the physical


sciences; somewhat fewer (48 per cent) pointed to graduates in computer science. Te most productive non-academic source of qualified HPC candidates (again 48 per cent) was employees of other HPC data centres.


Social media In recruiting, most staffing professionals have abandoned the ‘post and pray’ approach of placing classified ads in print media. Instead, they are turning increasingly to social media. Tis is exemplified by Jeff Todd, a senior recruiter at Berkeley Lab, whose email signature includes links for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and a company blog. ‘Social media is our number one source for finding people, and I’m using other methods less and less and am even cancelling some job


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