San Francisco Faces Huge Time-to-Hire Tech Crunch

San Francisco (and its immediate environs) is one of the nation’s premier tech hubs, home to any number of great companies—and great technologists. However, that primacy comes at a price: the cost of living is astronomical, the commutes are a beast, and the collapse of a startup can take all of an employee’s equity (and dreams) with it.

All of those issues have reportedly sparked a bit of an exodus from San Francisco, with technologists deciding to move to other tech hubs where the living is a bit easier (and the median-priced home isn’t an eye-watering $940,000). From Raleigh, NC, to Portland, OR, other cities are welcoming tech firms and employees with open arms; and tools such as Slack and Teams have made it easier than ever for remote workers to join a company hundreds or even thousands of miles away. (Plus, remote workers make quite a bit of money, on average—all the more reason to think about logging in from your couch instead of going to an office.) 

While all those forces are vacuuming technologists out of the Bay Area—there’s data suggesting that thousands of people are fleeing, despite a net gain over the past eight years thanks to international immigration—that hasn’t curbed San Francisco’s hunger for talent. We relied on Burning Glass, which analyzes millions of job postings via its NOVA platform, to see which technology jobs are particularly in demand in San Francisco over the past 30 days. Here’s the list, which includes the time typically needed to fill a given position, as well as salary:

Given the speed at which the tech industry moves (spoiler alert: lightning fast), taking roughly 50 days to fill a position is astronomically slow. Imagine being a project manager and asking for a web developer—and being told it’ll take 47 days for one to be hired and onboarded. For companies hunting technologists with highly specialized skillsets, such as an aptitude with machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.) platforms, the time to find and onboard a suitable employee is no doubt much longer; no wonder that such experts can command handsome salaries—especially if they’re willing to start immediately. (The alternative, of course, is short-term contactors, which comes with its own share of issues.)

Not helping things: the lengthy interview process that companies throw in front of candidates. Yes, companies want to secure the right talent (especially given the money involved), but multiple rounds of interviews, whiteboarding tests, and other “hoops” to jump through will inevitably slow the proceedings to a crawl.

For technologists with the right skills, this demand can mean a plethora of opportunities—and fat paychecks. For example, Google pays its entry-level software engineersan average of $115,000, combined with a $44,000 signing bonus, stock options worth $139,000, and an annual bonus of $22,000 (according to levels.fyi). Apple’s ICT2 roles (i.e., the lowest rung of the software engineering ladder) pay an average of $118,810 in base salary, along with annual stock options worth roughly $27,119, and a bonus of $14,619. In San Francisco, six-figure salaries are likewise the norm from the largest to smallest firms. 

Those kind of salary numbers obviously rise with seniority and skills. And it all boils down to one thing: for technologists in San Francisco (as well as the broader Bay Area), the salary and perks can prove enormous—but you have to put up with a ridiculous cost of living and other insanities. Is it worth it? 

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