The War For Tech Talent Heats Up

As the economy slowly pulls out of first gear, one sector that is clearly in fifth gear is IT. From Silicon Valley to Detroit to New York, a war for tech talent is now being played out as companies struggle to find – and hold on to – skilled engineers and developers.

The War For Tech Talent Heats UpIn Silicon Valley, the talent war has been going on for some time as major start-ups Twitter, Facebook, Groupon, Skype, smaller start ups and established tech companies have been aggressively hiring. Facebook has been gobbling up talent in the region and has freely poached Google employees, with an estimated 15 percent of Facebook’s staff ex-Googlers.

The atmosphere has become so desperate that some companies are looking to recruit at area mixers and social events, said an employee of a Silicon Valley start-up I recently spoke with. Start-ups are also aggresively wooing people from area colleges Stanford and U.C. Berkeley

The talent war is a boon for tech professionals who can take advantage of higher salaries and signing bonuses. Silicon Valley companies like Zynga, Twitter and Facebook are offering salary-and-bonus offers of $100,000 to $150,000 a year for new college grads. Google, who’s looking to hire more than 6,000 workers this year, recently gave a 10 percent pay bonus to all its employees. Google often offers new computer-science college grads more than $100,000 salaries – and more if there’s a competing offer from rivals Facebook or Twitter.

Engineers are a hot commodity in the Valley, especially those skilled in mobile app development and quality engineers. A recent search on Dice for engineers in the region yielded 4211 job postings, while mobile returned 484 results.

“There is definitely a strain on engineering and developer hiring, especially mobile developers,” said Gowalla founder Josh Williams. “The boom in app development has left a big need here all around,” he says. “Those positions still take us the longest to fill.”

In the hot startup New York scene, startups like Gilt Group, Etsy, Foursquare, Tumblr, Intent Media and Rent-the-Runway, are also fighting for the best talent. Also, media companies like NBC Universal, News Corp., Time Warner and AOL are looking to hire tech pros. The three main areas of labor shortage in the New York startup scene are engineers and programmers, online marketing people who “really understand marketing analytics,” and product developers, according to an article in Wired.

“Right now in New York City every technology company is hiring engineers, programmers, Java developers or PHP/Perl developers,” said Dave Carvajal, founder and CEO of Dave Partners, a staffing firm that hires for tech startups in New York. “I haven’t seen it this hot since 1997,” he told Wired.

And as Detroit has become a hot area for tech jobs, automakers Ford and General Motors are having trouble finding specialists in cloud computing, mobile software applications and energy management. Detroit automakers are rapidly hiring graduates from local universities, but can’t find enough tech talent to fill all the available positions.

“There’s a war for talent out there, and it’s only going to get worse,” said Jim Bazner, VP of human capital solutions at recruiting firm MSX International.