hunt-for-tech-talent

If you’re a software developer, you probably can write your own ticket at any number of employers in Austin, TX. Why? Because the demand greatly exceeds the supply.

Austin tech businesses—including SpareFoot—likely will need to fill 1,200 new jobs in software development between now and 2017, according to the Austin Technology Council. A recent report from Silicon Valley Bank found that 94 percent of tech startups in Austin and the rest of Texas had faced challenges in finding workers with the right skills—the highest percentage of any state.

“We simply aren’t graduating people at the rate fast enough to fill these roles,” said Julie Huls, president and CEO of the nonprofit Austin Technology Council.

Given that gap, Austin tech employers seeking to fill software development positions and other jobs are looking to the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Seattle and other regions to find talent. Among other things, Huls said it’ll take “aggressive out-of-market recruiting” to bridge the talent gap.

Here at SpareFoot, one of the talent needs we’re addressing all the time is front-end development, said our recruiter, Rachel Morse.

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“We are constantly looking outside Austin for tech talent. I hear from other recruiters constantly that it is a ‘candidates’ market’ here in Austin, and that is absolutely true,” Morse said. “You can’t just post a position and wait for qualified candidates to roll in. You have to go out and create partnerships and join groups in order to find those who are passively looking.”

(To learn more about tech positions and other career opportunities at SpareFoot, visit our jobs page at www.sparefoot.com/jobs.html.)

Growing Pains
The hunt for tech talent in Austin probably won’t get easier anytime soon. One of every five new tech jobs in Texas during 2012-17 is expected to be created in Austin, according to the technology council. In Austin, that means more than 10,000 new tech jobs in a five-year span.

One of the offshoots of this situation: Something you might call career cannibalism.

“Many of the companies in Austin end up poaching talent from each other, because there just aren’t enough people to meet the needs,” said Jaime Thomas, a recruiter at Austin tech startup Mass Relevance, which helps businesses boost their social media efforts.

Furthermore, Thomas said, some Austin companies “still have heartburn about relocating people.” To make matters worse, it’s hard to convince candidates to relocate from areas like San Francisco and New York City, she said.

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A $21 Billion Sector
Despite the obstacles, Austin’s tech sector is sustaining growth. As it stands now, that sector pumps $21 billion a year into the Austin economy, according to the technology council.

“That remarkable growth is a testament to the ingenuity of the companies that already call Austin home. They established a precedent that brings companies like Google, Apple and Facebook,” Huls said. “These tech CEOs also understand that there is an issue in the talent pipeline, and together are we are working to find practical solutions.”

Thomas supports practical solutions—just not ones that have been tried over and over and over again.

“There needs to be more marketing about the high-tech software and web-based industry in Austin,” Thomas said. “I think many outsiders still consider our high-tech community to be focused on hardware and semiconductors. Additionally, local educational institutions need to teach more classes on the latest technologies. The students coming out of school rarely have exposure to them unless they have done side projects or have gone out on their own to learn them.”

Huls said stronger, more flexible technical training programs for underemployed residents of the Austin area combined with beefed-up support for STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) will help meet immediate and future needs for tech talent.

“Tech must invest in aggressive recruiting and training methods,” said tech entrepreneur and investor Joel Trammell, chairman of the Austin Technology Council.

Bottom image courtesy of Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau

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