For years tech talent has flocked to the coasts, most notably Silicon Valley, Seattle and New York City. These places are known for having “the best and the brightest in tech” where life-changing products are made, and young professionals make six figures straight out of college. However, a tech backlash is emerging. As the technology industry realizes the coasts aren’t the only places to “make it,” can companies inland take advantage of this shifting tech energy that was held captive on the coasts for so long?
There are success stories of companies between the coasts winning the tech talent they need, and I’ve seen them do it when they understand how quickly the recruiting process must run and what candidates value the most.
Quality of life
Non-coastal companies that are winning the talent war are getting creative. Many of these companies located inland are willing to offer more flex time and remote work benefits to entice and secure the tech talent they need. Quality of life is a huge selling point. Unfortunately, we are still seeing companies resist flexible work options. Offering and embracing these types of benefits must start from the top down. Once executive leadership buys in, it then permeates the rest of the company culture. Companies don’t have to offer every flex arrangement possible but being open to the idea has allowed some of our clients to snag the in-demand talent over those that don’t.
Beyond a work/life balance, companies can also tout great public (or private) schools and affordable housing to entice tech professionals. Leverage the benefits your city brings to the table when recruiting. The median home in San Jose exceeds $1,000,000, compared to $189,700 in central Ohio. That’s an affordability edge worth showcasing.
Company culture can have a tremendous impact on quality of life. Powderkeg, a community of 10,000+ tech entrepreneurs focused on technology between the coasts, issues a tech census each year for regions throughout the heartland. In Tennessee, Denver, and Cincinnati, technology professionals ranked company culture the No. 1 reason they chose their job. Your culture is more important than ever for your tech teams, so make sure you give it the attention it needs and give prospective candidates insight into how that culture fuels success, comradery and an engaging workplace.
As backlash over the tech industry’s 24/7 reputation continues to escalate, overall quality of life speaks loudly to the tech community.
Despite a huge disparity in costs of living between the coasts and the heartland, compensation in the tech industry is becoming more market blind. While San Jose is 187.6% more expensive than Columbus, Ohio, our Ohio clients are paying just as much as our clients on the West Coast, in the neighborhood of $120 per hour for hardware and software engineers. In Minnesota, our clients’ hourly rates for tech contractors are within $10 of those in San Jose.
While our company’s focus is on filling senior contract technology positions, we are also seeing similar compensation trends apply to full-time employees. Average salaries for hardware and software engineers in all our regions exceed $100K, and last year we saw salaries for the Midwest and South regions increase quarter-over-quarter. The market is demanding these rates, and the companies that offer this competitive compensation are more successful in securing the talent they need.
Too many companies are still stuck in a three-round and four-round interview mentality. It’s got to be faster. When bringing on contractors, we have seen businesses drag out the recruiting process to three weeks or more, and they lose the candidate. On the flip side, our clients who move quickly win the talent. One of our clients in Minnesota conducts a phone interview and makes an offer the same day or next day. This company’s fill rate is 80%, compared to those companies with longer recruiting cycles that struggle with a fill rate below 30%.
For full-time employees, the hiring process typically takes longer than that for contractors, but we still advise our clients to move as quickly as possible. One client of ours hired many employees in the first quarter of this year. We advised them to expedite the hiring process, and it worked. They were intentional about moving quickly, and each permanent placement took only 3-4 days. The client conducted a phone screen the same day they received the resume, then invited the person onsite the following day. Immediately following the meeting, they discussed internally and shared their feedback. They made the offer within the next 1-2 days. The tech talent they hired wouldn’t have been around had they waited several weeks to decide. It’s the reality of the talent pool we are all working with today.
A shift is happening. Tech talent is warming up to jobs across America, but they’re not sold quite yet. The companies that realize tech compensation is becoming market agnostic, are willing to offer benefits and a culture that contributes to candidates’ quality of life, and those who act quickest will get the talent they’ve so desperately been seeking.
Sabatino Guerriero is co-founder of Triple Crown Consulting. He has worked in the technology staffing industry for 25 years, advising clients and recruiting tech talent. Reach him at [email protected].