Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Pulse of Boston’s Tech Industry: What Job Seekers Need to Know

By: Richard Gately – Recruiter Manager – Alexander Technology Group

Boston has emerged as one of the country’s hottest spots for up and coming tech companies. The start-up scene, with its innovative ideas and unique energy, is attracting top talent from all over the country. Expansion is happening. Budget dollars are being dedicated to recruiting in an industry that is arguably the most competitive in recent times. If you’re passionate about tech, it’s an exciting time to see these companies taking the leap in innovation.   

With new attraction comes new traffic. Like a new roller coaster at an amusement park, the Boston tech hub is drawing people in droves—and the line to get in is brutally long. IT pros are coming here in hopes of being part of something never done before. The spotlight on the local IT market brings an ever higher demand for talent; exciting from a recruiting standpoint for sure, but it comes with difficulties as well.  While the local market is saturated with great talent we can’t forget how tight this space truly is.

IT pros are getting pickier than ever

Technical variety is slowly fizzling as the “bait” companies are using to bring in new talent. Tech companies are changing their recruiting focus to showcase work environment versus the work itself. As a recruiter, I have more and more candidates telling me they want unlimited PTO, flex hours, remote capability, top-line benefits, and a “cool office” to work in. 

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg in the “tech environment” branding that’s taking place. It’s common to see catering, beer on tap, and even expansive desk spaces with a treadmills. Don’t believe me? Google Hubspot’s beer garden and their dog-friendly offices.

What has all of this done? It’s made candidates a lot pickier in their job searches and it’s starting to diminish the exploratory conversations that employers used to rely on with potential employees. Companies are scrambling to get people in the door, and offers are being made left and right to the people who actually show up. Candidates are playing the field and most end up with multiple offers on the table. Even worse, companies are sucking their employees back in with counter-offers of special benefits and perks that this generation of tech pros has come to expect. 

Technology itself is partly to blame

On top of being pickier, the convenience of using technology in job searches has made us all too impatient. Information moves lightning fast and it’s getting faster. You can find the answer to just about any question within a few seconds, not just from a computer, but from your phone. There’s an application for just about everything—even day-to-day errands get done quicker and more efficiently.  It’s a beautiful thing, but we expect the same for everything else and it’s now part of the job search process. 

In an ideal world, you could scroll through jobs on your phone, apply, send your resume, and have a handsome job offer in your inbox by the end of the day. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. 

The thirst for convenience is rushing us and shaping the market to be extremely chaotic. Candidates expect the interview process to be fast, and it’s caused recruiting companies to spam people with messages in an effort to be the first to grab a candidate’s attention. It’s created an abundance of negative experiences with staffing agencies that have unprofessionally marketed candidates too soon, without accurate information, or even worse, without permission. 

My advice to tech job seekers? Take a deep breath and be open to all types of opportunities. Are you really searching for a new job because you want beer on tap or a whiskey room? Are you really eager to jump ship just to get food catering on the job?  Nine out of 10 times the real reason people start looking for new opportunities has to do with personal career goals and a desire to be inspired and challenged.  Have as many professional conversations as you can; you never know where you might “click” with a manager or team.

Finally, slow down a little bit. Meet a local recruiter who knows the market pulse and take time to invest in a professional relationship with someone will have your back as you look for your next challenge. Taking the easy route and agreeing to have some person you don’t know blast your resume off may be convenient, but usually doesn’t end with positive results. Technology helps, but establishing a long-term rapport with an IT staffing pro is what will make the magic happen.

The good news here is that all these changes are part of positive growth in the Boston IT market and if you take the time to educate yourself on local staffing trends and stay open to a variety of opportunities, you’ll find the right place for your next move.

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