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  • Are we in the midst of another tech bubble?

    Written by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager at Jobspring Silicon Valley

    The NASDAQ, traditionally a strong representation of how the market generally values tech companies, eclipsed the 5,000 mark for the first time since 2000 just last month. Thus, it’s logical to ask the question: are we in the midst of another tech bubble? As someone who does technical recruiting for a living, I sure hope not! Since I started with Jobspring in 2010, the demand for engineering talent has increased year over year. In fact, we set several company wide records in terms of performance just last month. The economy and unemployment rates have clearly bounced back from the most recent recession. We’ve seen angel investors and venture capital firms shelling out billions of dollars as well as a wave of tech IPOs over the last couple of years. On the surface, we should be optimistic for the future and hopefully there is more growth and prosperity to come. However, I think there is a general sense of cautious optimism as it was just 15 years ago that the tech bubble burst. So, the real question we should ask is: what happened in 2000 and how is it similar or dissimilar from what we are experiencing now?

    The climate in the late 90’s was one in which investors were willing to overlook traditional metrics, such as P/E ratio and instead focus on things like technological advancements with a hope that companies would turn future profits. Things began to unravel in 1999 when the Fed raised interest rates, which slowed the economy and halted growth for Internet startups. The big players such as Microsoft were slashing financial targets, which led to investors becoming weary of these new Internet companies. Shares fell in 2000 as earnings and sales expectations became too high for a lot of the dot-coms to meet. According to the University of Maryland and the University of California San Diego, “by the end of 2004, 52% of dot-com startups that sought venture capital were no longer in existence.” The 90’s were a time in which many investors neglected to really look at companies on an individual basis and got caught up in the whirlwind of the new Internet age. Simply having a dot-com in your name meant you could expect a big IPO because of the excitement around all tech companies at the time.

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    Fast forward 15 years and things have definitely changed in 2015. According to data compiled by Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida, “while median valuations have been rising since 2008, firms are coming to market at a fraction of the levels seen during the dot-com period. IPOs were priced at a median of 30 times sales in 2000, compared with 5.2 times last year.” Valuations during the last bubble were abstract, as companies didn’t have significant revenue and earnings. Companies going IPO today are more established and have a track record of revenue and earnings reports that allow banks to make more accurate fact-based valuations. According to Ritter’s research, “businesses backed by venture capital or private-equity firms were on average 12 years old in 2013 when they went public, compared with four years during the dot-com era. The median revenue for companies going public in 2000 was $17 million compared with $109 million in 2013, adjusted for inflation. The average number of IPOs of small companies – those with less than $50 million in annual revenue – declined 83% in the period between 2001 and 2012.” What we are seeing is that startups these days are able to delay IPO by receiving additional funding from investors. “You want to make sure you have a company of reasonable scale before you go public, which ensures much more certainty in the planned financial results,” said Doug Leone, who is a managing partner at venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.

    So what do those in Silicon Valley have to say? In an October 2014 article, several folks who made Fortune’s 40 Under 40 List weighed in on the matter Here are some of the responses I found interesting:

    ·         “It’s not a tech bubble. It’s the biggest wave of innovation in the history of the world. It’s a combining of unbelievable forces of cloud, social networks, mobility plus connected products.” - Marc Benioff - CEO,

    ·         “It’s all cyclical, right? Just take a look at the stock market over the last 60 years. There’s a cycle involved. But we’re not in a tech bubble because companies are making revenues. And I think that was a major difference between what’s happening right now and what’s happening 14 years ago. Companies today are making real money.” - Joe Gebbia - Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder, Airbnb

    ·         “I do think we’re in a bubble. There are too many companies with no business model or no sustainable business model. I’m proud that we have one, but I think there’s going to be some kind of correction.” - Jess Lee - CEO & Co-Founder, Polyvore

    ·         “I believe there’s a lot of optimism in the market right now. Whether there’s a bubble or not a bubble, I believe people are just optimistic. Look at the fact that the PE [price-earnings] ratio is the highest it’s been since 1940 with the exception of 2000.” - Jay Simons - President, Atlassian

    So are we in the midst of another tech bubble? It’s hard to say. There are experts in tech, finance, economics, etc. on both sides of the fence. Personally, I think there is a ceiling that we may be encroaching on and I do agree with Joe Gebbia of Airbnb that the market is cyclical. About every 10 years you can count on an economic downturn. Surely, there are some companies right now that are grossly overvalued. Snapchat’s $15 billion dollar valuation comes to mind, but hopefully I’m wrong. I think there will be some sort of market correction in the near future, but probably for not at least a couple of more years. I also don’t think we will see the level of implosion we did back in 2000. It seems companies and investors have learned a lot from the dot-com bubble and are doing their best to avoid making the same mistakes as before.

  • 2015 UI/UX Design Trends

    Article by Daniel Urbaniak, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley

    Running a sales and recruiting team comes with many challenges; keeping up on technology trends typically falls on the back burner for most. However, those who keep up with the ‘latest and greatest’ trends have the upper hand in educating those you are assisting with their search. The UI/UX design world is no exception, with 88% of young adults being connected to a smartphone it has become imperative to deliver the best user experience to compete. (Creativeblog)


    2014 brought us design trends like: The hamburger menu, pushing the limited when it comes to resolution, and the expansion of in-house design teams. With the end of the first quarter on the horizon, I thought it would be a great time to discuss a few of the design trends we will be seeing in 2015.

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    Lean design has been leading the way in recent design trends. This will continue, but as companies and designers continue to hone lean design and how it lends itself to mobile applications, they also need to set themselves apart. In 2015, we will see (and we have already started to) skeuomorphic cues in lean design. Keep an eye out for additional physical presences; transparency and layers will become more common, apps will continue to look flat and conform to strict grids. The focus of design will revolve around movable objects within the screen. In the summer of 2014, Google transposed this design trend on Material Design.

    Slippy UX

    I am definitely guilty of (over) using the term sticky or stickiness when talking about design. I like the idea of creating applications that not only engage a user on their first use, but also ones that keeps the user interested over extended periods of times or uses. The more our devices become connected to our everyday lives, i.e. thermostats, home security, or digital experience with our cars, the greater the need is for efficient and effective delivery of information. Slippy UX is giving the user an application designed for “glance-ability”. Coined by Jake Zukowski, Assistant Creative Director at Frog Design, "slippy UX is intended to be invisible-enough and non-distracting enough for the user while still delivering and absorbing information".


    There are two emerging trends in connectivity, the first being something more apparent every day, even if we are not aware of it. The ability to send information to many devices, syncing with the cloud, and allowing users to maneuver their information has already started to be a driving force in design. Forrester Research found that 90% of users who own multiple devices start a task on one device and finish it on another. In 2015, we will see user experience that functions across all platforms seamlessly, regardless of device or screen size. The second connectivity trend will be an extension of what some of our mobile apps already do: accessing GPS and Bluetooth to respond better to user needs. The combination of these integrations, wearable technology, and the Internet of Things will result in apps that collect data on the user to deliver advice and infer when the device should be delivered.  The term to look for here is Ambient Intelligence.


    With worldwide IT on track to spend a total of 3.8 trillion in 2015, we will see the above trends and many more, become apparent in our every day lives.( What trends are you excited about in UI/UX Design for 2015? 

  • Silicon Valley Through The Years: From Hardware to Software & Back Again

    Article by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.

    The term Silicon Valley dates back to the 1970’s and gained popularity in the 1980’s. Initially, it referred to the large concentration of chip companies in the area because silicon is used to create most commercial semiconductors. It has since come to refer to all of the high-tech innovation in the Bay Area. Today, there is still a plethora of prominent chip companies in Silicon Valley. However, the Silicon Valley became just as, if not more, well known for web-based software companies at the turn of the millennium. As someone who manages a recruiting team that specializes in embedded systems, I’ve found the ups and downs of hardware-based ventures in the valley very interesting.

    Companies like Intel, HP, Apple, and IBM were early innovators and were instrumental in the rise of the personal computer. Having a computer in your home wasn’t a foreign concept in the 70’s and 80’s, but it really didn’t become mainstream until the 90’s and the Internet boom. Once people realized the value of email, chat rooms, online shopping, etc., we saw greater adoption as well as a surge of financial investments in Internet startups. Some of them, such as Google, Amazon, and Yahoo still exist and thrive today. However, there were plenty of .coms that generated little to no revenue, were grossly overvalued, and ultimately failed, which resulted in a recession when the bubble burst. 

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    Slowly but surely, the market bounced back and venture capital firms began to invest in Silicon Valley and technology startups again. Seemingly, Silicon Valley has transitioned away from innovation in hardware over the years with a stronger focus on software and the web. There continues to be many examples of success in this area with IPOs of companies like Facebook, Yelp, and Salesforce, to name a few. I think from an investment standpoint, it made a lot of sense to put your money into software companies. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to build a website or a SAAS platform than it is to create an entirely new piece of hardware. You could rent a small office in Palo Alto with 10 engineers and create a site that attracts millions of users the way Pinterest did just a few years ago. The same couldn’t be said for many hardware-based startups…until recently.

    With the introduction of smartphones about 6 years ago, people began to see the value and need to be more connected and have the power of a computer in their pocket. The price of hardware has drastically decreased since, and we are now seeing more and more demand for other forms of mobile devices. GoPro and Nest are both great examples of hardware startups to have successful exits. Whether it be IoT, automotive, fitness trackers, smart watches, augmented reality glasses, home automation, or drones, we are currently seeing the resurgence of hardware in Silicon Valley. It’s a great time to be a firmware or electrical engineer as the demand for such skills hasn’t been this high in years, and we are just at the beginning. Many of these products are still in their early stages and there is plenty of room for continued innovation. Grab your soldering iron and join the hardware renaissance!

  • Silicon Valley Talent Wars: Is broadcasting $250k salaries the right move for anyone?

    Article by Scott Purcell, Division Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.

    Salary in Silicon Valley has always been a hot topic. Way back in the old days of 2013, I wrote what became a popular blog post about at 175k offer generated for a Big Data candidate that was turned down for an opportunity at pre-IPO twitter. Since then, things have only heated up here in Silicon Valley with companies ranging from Facebook and Google to the brand name pre-IPO companies like Box and Palantir to the next generation of startup hopefuls, all competing for the best talent.

    Companies have tried varied tactics to attract talent ranging from salary, equity, sign on bonuses, fun perks, to good old fashion selling their opportunity. But what is the best way to attract talent? Recently, there was an article with wide circulation that discussed a local startup offering $250k per year and $1 Million dollars in four years to any engineer that essentially meets their expectation. This article kind of got me thinking; should companies be going out of their way to use this tactic to attract talent? I’m not suggesting there’s a right or wrong answer and I also don’t think $250k is as much as it sounds in Silicon Valley, but I thought I’d share my pros and cons of advertising what is still an explosive salary these days in Silicon Valley:

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    Pro Argument:

    The main pro here is, who isn’t attracted to making a million bucks or 200k + a year to do their job if that’s above the normal salary? Most would like the idea. Ultimately, the software engineers are the ones that build the product, so why not pay them what executives and some sales people are making at companies? This seems pretty logical. Being transparent about this also creates a somewhat level playing field and avoids issues that can arise when you have people making different amounts.

    As a recruiter that has worked with over 500 companies during my career, I often hear companies talk about why someone should take their job for less money because of the potential equity, career opportunity, or many other factors that can’t really be guaranteed. It is refreshing that a company would reward the employee up front vs. the promise of something in the future that may or may not happen.  

    Cons Argument:

    On the flip side, to me, it would seem there are some definite risks to attracting the right employees by putting out what is essentially an advertisement to come to a place because of salary. As I mentioned in the pros, who wouldn’t be attracted to that type of offer? Why is that a problem? Well, I would imagine that any engineer would want to apply for that potential offer. It may be difficult to determine who really is passionate about the opportunity. If that doesn’t matter to you and you just want the talent, then that doesn’t matter as much. But most startups I've dealt with care about company culture and that’s exactly the reason companies like Amazon and Google have unique and intricate hiring committees. You run the risk of hiring people that know how to interview well and are really just after the money. It may be difficult, even impossible to know who really is passionate about the opportunity and, in an industry where the best people seem to value employees who do their job out of a passion and not just as a job, this could definitely be a slippery slope.

    I would sum up this topic by asking another question, is $250k that crazy of a salary these days in Silicon Valley? In a place where getting a house for a family in a good school district can cost a minimum of $1 Million - $2 Million dollars, that may be an interesting topic or question to ponder moving forward!

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  • Evolving Trends and Competitive Advantages According to Silicon Valley

    Article by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.

    With a record number of IPOs and companies like Beats By Dre and WhatsApp being acquired in the billions, venture capital firms continue to dump more and more money into technology-driven startups, hoping to hit on the next big thing. Thus, it’s no surprise that the demand for engineering talent is approaching an all-time high. Job-seekers and companies are always looking for those things that can give them a competitive advantage in the hiring process. 

    Silicon Valley is at the forefront of it all, and is a good place to look at trends in the market. A couple of months back, I was approached by David Ramel, a technical editor of MSDN Magazine, and asked about the use of social media sites, open source contributions, and general themes we are seeing out here in San Jose. What follows is a Q and A of that interaction.

    Q: Have you seen evidence of recruiters/hiring managers paying more attention to participation in tech-oriented social media sites such as Stack Overflow, Quora, and Slashdot when evaluating job candidates?

    A: At this point, I think recruiters are making use of sites like Stack Overflow and Quora more so than hiring managers. I think this is due to the fact that there are more open positions than qualified job-seekers. So recruiters are constantly trying to find new ways to source and connect with potential job-seekers. There is no doubt that these sites are becoming a more popular place for engineers to showcase their skills and knowledge of technology trends. However, I think the evaluation of job-seekers (both technical and cultural) still primarily takes place during the interview(s).

    Q: If so, are these becoming more important than traditional evaluation methods such as resumes, CVs, screening interviews, and so on?

    A: I still think that interviews are the most effective way to evaluate potential candidates. Resumes are a helpful tool, but they often don’t tell the whole story. That’s why I meet my job-seekers in-person and go through their background in detail. I’ve been able to schedule interviews for some job-seekers with nothing more than a quick pitch of their background over the phone. Contributions to these types of sites can help set you apart, but it’s not as if a talented engineer will be penalized by a client for not doing so. Again, I do think that participation on these sites is a way for engineers to get noticed, leading to more opportunities being presented to them.

    Q: Do you foresee these new evaluation techniques surpassing those traditional methods in importance/usage?

    A: The modern day job search has greatly evolved over the last several years. As recruiters and hiring managers try to streamline the interview process and find more efficient ways to hire quickly, I think it’s entirely possible that these new evaluation techniques will play a greater role in the decision making process.

    Q: Have you found that open source project contributions/participation are becoming more important?

    A: I think open source contributions say a lot about an engineer. As a recruiter, it tells me that someone is passionate about what they do and plays an active role in the tech community. Again, there are plenty of great engineers that aren’t going to have open source contributions to point to, and that’s fine. However, if someone is very active in the Linux community or is an Apache committer for example, it surely will capture the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.

    Q: Are hirers using specific big data analytics techniques in their evaluations with respect to the aforementioned trends? If so, any specifics as to the techniques/strategies or software packages being used?

    A: I suppose that this could be happening, but I’m not aware of it yet. However, it seems like a natural progression as many companies look to leverage big data analytics in a variety of ways.

    Q: What would be your advice to software developers/engineers looking to advance their careers with respect to these trends? What specific things can they do to enhance their job prospects in the new age of social media and big data?

    A: I think you want to make sure that what you are putting online and sharing in the open source community is something you are proud of and can stand behind. If you are going to share links to your code/projects on your resume or LinkedIn profile, you want to make sure it highlights your strengths. I think the site that’s getting the most attention, especially from hiring managers, is GitHub. For someone looking to enhance their job prospects, that would be the first place I would start.

    Q: With respect to the previous question, how does your advice vary for new developers seeking initial employment versus experienced developers seeking to advance their careers?

    A: The entry-level engineer out of a top computer science program will have no problem landing a job. They really don’t need to do much to attract the attention of potential employers. The Facebook’s and Google’s of the world will snatch these folks up quickly, and often before they even graduate. However, for those engineers not coming out of high profile schools, I think contributions to sites like Stack Overflow, GitHub, etc. become much more important. Without real world career experience, this is a fantastic way for them to showcase their knowledge and skills.  

    Q: Beyond the aforementioned trends, are you seeing other ways that software development/engineering recruiting/hiring is changing?

    A: In recent years, top tier software engineers have become almost like blue chip recruits in collegiate sports. It’s a candidate-driven market and they often have their pick from a handful of job offers. Thus, companies are constantly altering their interview process, sales pitch, compensation packages, and perks to be more attractive than the competition. In 2009, companies could retain and recruit engineers because the majority of them were happy just to have jobs. Now, recruiters and hiring managers really need to sell their opportunity to potential candidates from the get-go, and throughout the interview process if they have any hope of capturing their attention.

    Q: On the flip side, are you seeing other ways that job-seekers are amending their strategies?

    A: Most analysts predict the demand for engineering talent to continually increase over the next 10-15 years. Provided this trend continues, which I think it will, I see sites like Dice, Monster, and CareerBuilder becoming much less relevant. The job-seekers I know who publically post their resume online can get anywhere from 10-50 calls and/or emails a day. The internet is a great way to advertise that you're looking for a job, but it results in a lot of “noise” with very little filter. Many of the good engineers out there will choose to be more selective in their job search. They may turn to their friends or former colleagues for referrals to specialized agency recruiters or introductions to the hiring manager at their current company. Trust me, if you have a detailed profile on LinkedIn, the good companies and recruiters will find you. You can sit back and choose which ones you respond to and there is no need to subject yourself to the endless calls and emails that come with posting your resume on these sites. It’s gotten to the point where some of the job-seekers I represent no longer have a conventional resume. They simply use their LinkedIn profile in lieu of one, and many clients could care less. It’s about what they can do from a programming standpoint, not about their ability to write a resume.

    Q: What skills are most in demand, in terms of areas of expertise and/or specifics such as experience with programming languages/tools?

    A: Unless you are coding in antiquated languages like VB.Net or ActionScript, chances are your skillset is needed somewhere. However, there are several areas that I think are growing faster than others. I have seen a tremendous amount of demand for engineers with experience building mobile applications for iOS and Android. I see a lot of companies looking for exceptional JavaScript engineers, especially those who have experience with Node.js. Also, there continues to be high demand for people with Hadoop experience as well as data scientists.


    In closing, the modern day job search is definitely evolving. The standard resume and job board account is no longer the way to get noticed. While social media and open source community projects make it easier to find and connect with potential candidates, people still hire people. There will always be a place for talented recruiters as it’s a relationship-based business. No matter how many questions you answer on Quora, or how great your resume or GitHub account looks, there is always going to be a personality/cultural component to hiring that I don’t think technology will be able to account for.

  • Tips and Insight from Generation Y

    Article by Daniel Urbaniak, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.

    Recently, Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley hosted the largest event in its history, featuring four members of this years’ Forbes 30 under 30 at the Microsoft building in Mountain View. With over 300 attendees, the house was packed to see Robert Scoble, American blogger, technology evangelist, and published author and Perri Gorman, CEO of moderate four young success stories of Silicon Valley: Morgan Knutson, Chief Product Designer at Dropbox, Lisa Falzone, CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems, Steven Eidelman, Co-founder of Whistle, and AJ Forsythe, Co-founder and CEO of iCracked.

    The night opened with a few crowd-sourced questions to warm up the panel and engage the audience. Topics ranged from, “how did you go about raising money when you first started” to “what was it like making your first real hire”. Many of the answers left the crowd inspired while providing them with a humbling look into the successes and failures of a group no older than 29. Throughout the presentation, there were three moments during the meetup that really stuck with me.

    The first was a conversation that started backstage – Generation Y, and what it's like running a company in the age of entitlement. Being in that generation and having complained about my generation (I’m sure someone has complained about me at some point, as well) I was very curious about what the group would have to say. There was definitely agreement across the board, entitlement is something that they deal with while running their respective companies. However, the conversation turned from a generalization of Generation Y to finding people who are inspired. The group talked about what it was like starting their companies and how there were many times when they could have walked away. The desire to take nothing and make it into something was what kept them motivated. AJ even made the joke that every night he goes to bed pulling out his hair but every morning he wakes up and can’t wait to get to work. He’s 26, by the way, and has over 300 full time employees and twice that working as contractors.

    “Fake it till you make it” was a phrase that was enjoyed by the crowd, you could tell because it was tweeted on our rolling twitter feed 10+ times. The message boiled down to the idea that when you're new at something and you've never experienced certain situations in the business world, it's important to keep working until the unfamiliar becomes familiar. The panel all shared their personal anecdotes on times in their careers where they needed to project an air of confidence while going through specific experiences for the first time. Lisa even shared that she started selling her product before it was even fully created.

    The final piece was actually the last question that was asked by a member of the audience. It was so spot-on, that if I wasn't involved with the organizing of the event, I would have thought it was planted. Erik Finman, who cashed in $100,000 in Bitcoins to launch his own education startup called Botangled, stood up and asked what kind of advice you would give a fifteen year old programmer and entrepreneur who just moved from Idaho to try and get his first company off the ground. Fifteen!!! The group shared some words of wisdom, but the two common themes were to have as much fun as possible with the company, and to learn as much as possible. There was even a joke or two thrown in there that he needed to sit on the stage with the rest of the group.

    After the presentation, many of the audience members stuck around to network. The overwhelming theme when discussing the panel was inspiration. Whether you want to start your own company, take the first or next step in your career, or learn to better manage your team, there was something for everyone to take home and implement in their everyday lives.

  • Instant Gratification is Holding You Back: It’s Okay to Smell the Roses

    Written by Daniel Urbaniak, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley

    Type, type, dial, hang up, voicemail… email, email, dial, “Hello, how are you?” “Let’s make it happen”, type, dial, email, “How can you help me right now?” Repeat.

    Sound familiar?

    As a culture we’ve grown ever more reliant on instant gratification. Understandably so, with a constant race to see who can get there first and how you can help me this second. Work and life is becoming progressively faster-paced, and details begin to blur together. Magnify that by 10 if you are in sales, and you have a recipe for missing important details.

    As a Sales Manager, I fall into this trap way too often, as I’m sure most of you do as well. Sure, moving quickly, delivering on due dates, hitting numbers and constant hustle are the name of the game. However, it becomes necessary to look at the big picture before you become the hamster who is addicted to running on its wheel. Once in a while, we need to slow down, take a look around and see where we can add value, even if it doesn’t directly impact our bottom lines.

    In February, I received an email from an Afi Bryant, Career Service Advisor at The Art Institute of California- Silicon Valley. What caught my eye was Afi’s title, Career Service Advisor for a local Art Institute. I knew Afi was reaching out on behalf of her students; there would be no purple unicorn resume here.

    In Silicon Valley, our services are not typically used for entry-level candidates and at the time I knew I wouldn’t be much help to Afi for finding open positions for her students. Then I remembered how daunting it was for me to graduate college and think, “What in the world am I going to do now?” So I stopped, asked the office if anyone knew of any entry-level positions, and as I imagined, crickets ensued. I decided to just give Afi a call.

    The conversation was immediately better than expected. Afi was a native of the same area I relocated from roughly a year before, and we ended up talking at length about a quarterly event that they hold, where local tech companies stop by for two or three hours to sit down with soon-to-be graduates to discuss interviewing best practices, job search techniques, and general feedback on their portfolios. It sounded like a great way to give back to the community, so I volunteered us right away. After the event, we realized that not only was this something that we’d like to continue to do as an organization, but that the Art Institute had a great space for events.

    One month later, the Art Institute was host to the largest Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley event in its history. 320 attendees packed the Art Institute for the ‘Women in Tech Panel’ event which featured Perri GormanKimber LockhartSophia PerlLisa FalzoneMarissa Louie, and Ewa Ding. Not only was this very rewarding for all 320 attendees and the technical individuals on campus, but it also allowed the culinary students to display their talents. (Thanks for the food, guys!)

    The relationship with the Art Institute has continued to grow, and in fact, this post was inspired by Afi calling in yesterday, three months after our initial interaction. An email which ordinarily may have been overlooked will add to the success of a growing event series, and a rewarding experience for both our staff and those students that attend the Art Institute.

    The next time that you find yourself calling and emailing away, focusing on instant gratification, don’t forget to look at the big picture.

  • The Talent Crunch in Silicon Valley- Why Is It Happening and How Do We Fix It?

    Written by Scott Purcell, Division Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley

    Lately there has been much discussion about the skyrocketing salaries and cost of living in the Bay Area. As seen here and here, it seems to be one of Silicon Valley’s biggest issues.

    However, the very important topic that isn’t getting nearly as much press is why salaries are soaring, and why is it becoming so difficult to hire and retain good talent? While this is a complicated issue with many of factors, such as the market and rising need for software in all industries, there is one reason that clearly supersedes them all; while there are more than enough people in Silicon Valley for all of the open jobs, there simply aren’t enough US Citizens, permanent residents, or Visa holders to come close to filling all the positions.

    Why don’t we have a sufficient amount of qualified Software Engineering candidates to take these jobs?

    Through tech recruiting in Silicon Valley, it becomes apparent that over the past few decades, the United States’ focus on math and science diminished. Where previous generations put a large focus on these areas, many students learned the bare minimums to get into a decent college and study other subjects of greater interest.

    Conversely, other countries around the world have seen the rise of software as an opportunity to pick up where the US has slacked off, and have put a much bigger emphasis then before on math and science. This has directly given rise to outsourcing, and an influx of people from countries like India, China, and Russia coming to the US and working computer science jobs that in previous generations would have gone to qualified engineers born and educated in the US.

    Do we have any solutions?

    I was recently asked to give a short interview on the talent crunch in Silicon Valley for KTVU FOX 2. I spoke about how our biggest challenges are finding talent born and trained both here in the US and abroad. One solution discussed in this article is specialized schools, which is a wonderful idea. I think the key take away from KTVU’s story is that we need to refocus education from a young age. While we are a generation that has shield away from math and science, we need to refocus, not just in specialized schools, but in public schools as well. Math, science, and basic programming should be taught from kindergarten on, and there should be an emphasis on the excitement that goes along with working in these fields. This is how we can prevent outsourcing abroad and get local candidates to take advantage of the plethora of high-paying IT jobs.

    We should be encouraging computer science education and promoting the opportunities that having these skills will bring. There are great resources like Coursera and Standford Online where people can go online and develop all kinds of IT proficiencies. Although it takes time and effort to learn how to program, we are a nation of entrepreneurs. Anyone who can really master these areas and show passion will have an abundance of opportunities to enter the industry.

    Lastly, the technology fields would greatly benefit from immigration reform. As it stands in the US right now, not only are there not enough Americans here who are ready to take on these jobs, but there are also a lack of Visas to bring over the best talent to keep more jobs in the US. We need to put an emphasis on a system that will allow the US to find the best global candidates. If we can make it easier for these people to work in America, (which will again cut down on outsourcing) we can continue to be the pioneering country that led the way in Computer Science, and continue to show the power of innovation that exists in Silicon Valley! 

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