Article by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager for Jobspring Silicon Valley
I moved to San Jose in January of 2012 having spent the previous year and a half working in our Orange County office. My task: open up a brand new recruiting practice specialized in placing mobile engineers. I was excited to jump head first into a new emerging market, and take on the challenge. Working in the heart of technology and in a time where everyone seemingly owns a smart phone, I didn’t think there would be much of a problem carving out a place in this new frontier. What follows is a series of common themes I’ve encountered in my time here:
The Senior Candidate?
One of the first things I noticed was that the majority of companies are looking for senior engineers with plenty of experience building mobile applications. Of course everyone would love to hire someone with a wealth of experience in the domain. That line of thought makes a bit more sense to me with well-established technologies like PHP, Java, or C#. However, I thought to myself, what constitutes a senior mobile engineer? How can you ask for senior candidates, when the technology itself is so new? Everyone wants people with 2+ years of experience, but there simply aren’t enough of those people to go around. What I encountered were plenty of engineers who fall into the category of what I like to call the “weekend hobbyist.” These people have day jobs in software development, but not working in mobile full-time. They write an app here and there on their own to experiment with the technology and gain experience in the field. Many of these people struggle to find mobile jobs because companies want someone who has been doing it with a team in a production environment. The companies that hold out for the perfect candidate often spend a long time looking. The companies that are most successful in filling their positions are the ones that are open to hiring candidates with good computer science fundamentals, the right attitude, some relevant experience, and a hunger to transition their career into a full-fledged mobile role.
Native vs. HTML5 vs. Hybrid
Do you actually have a business need?
As a recruiter, you always want to work with clients that express some level of urgency in filling their position. I am happy to spend the time finding and recruiting candidates, scheduling interviews, getting feedback, etc. if the client is serious about filling their position. However, there are many hiring managers that seem to be “window shopping” when it comes to hiring mobile engineers. Why does this does happen? I suspect one of the primary reasons is because some companies simply don’t have much of an actual business need to hire mobile software engineers. There just isn’t a huge return on investment for them. If the company’s core product is a mobile application then sure there is a legitimate reason for them to invest in the technology. They stand to make money and attract users from it. However, many companies don’t stand to make a profit from their mobile applications. They are looking to build applications merely to have a presence, keep up with their competitors, and retain non-paying users like in the case of banks or insurance companies. Mobile is such a new space that many companies just don’t yet have the pressing need to hire quickly. On the flip side, hiring Java, Python, or Ruby engineers to work on scaling and adding new functionality to an existing product that generates revenue for the company creates a higher level of urgency to hire.
Salaries and perks in a competitive marketplace
It’s simple economics; when demand outweighs supply, the price goes up. For iOS and Android engineers that are active in their job search, it is not uncommon for them to generate several offers. With so much competition for talent, the salaries for mobile software engineers have steadily increased in the last year and a half. For those that wish to hire engineers with top 50 CS degrees, the price can be quite high. I have seen recent Stanford and Berkeley grads with mostly academic experience get offers north of $110K. I have seen companies going above and beyond to hire the best senior mobile engineers on the market. They may offer the ability to work from home, extra vacation days, free health benefits, cell phone plans, and sign on bonuses. Silicon Valley already boasts the highest salaries in the country and I anticipate they will continue to increase, as growth in the technology sector shows no signs of slowing down. For iOS and Android engineers in Silicon Valley these are the salary ranges (will depend on experience, education, etc.) one can expect if they were to test the market:
- Entry-Junior Level: $80,000-$110,000
- Mid Level: $110,000-$125,000
- Senior Level: $125,000-$160,000
- Architect - Hands on Manager: $160,000-$180,000
What do you think? Share your insight below!
On Thursday, March 14th, Tech In Motion Silicon Valley held a UX Meetup in our Jobspring Silicon Valley office. It was a great night, bringing the UX and tech community of Silicon Valley together with lots of networking and lively discussion.
We hosted guest speaker, Wendy Johansson. Wendy is the Sr. Director of User Experience at Tout, a video social networking start-up and considers herself to be a UX generalist.
Before joining Tout, she was the User Experience Manager at Oolaya. When she joined Oolaya at just 20 employees, she grew UX not only to be a team, but a user-centered design strategy for the company when she left at 350 people. She spoke to our crowd about "Making UX Matter to Your Company" and her thoughts on making UX a strategy within your company and not just a deliverable.
The energy in the crowd was infectious! UX professionals and tech enthusiasts came together and everyone seemed to agree that UX should matter to any company. The presentation became more of a discussion amongst the audience and Wendy, which was great!
We were able to ask Wendy a few questions about User Experience after the event. Check out what she had to say!
JS: A lot of Silicon Valley companies are building out in house design teams from scratch. I know that you were the first designer at Ooyala and helped build that team out. What is some advice you can give these companies when building out a team from the ground up?
WJ: Don't just hire a bunch of UX folks and expect great UX to be the result! You need to have every team in the company understand what value UX will bring to the success of your product and be inviting and inquisitive in integrating UX into the company. Without everyone on board, you'll have a frustrated UX team that focuses more energy on fighting for their voice to be heard, instead of fighting for the user's voice to be heard. Second key is to stop seeking a unicorn - you want a UX designer that also front end codes? That's like asking your hairdresser to also design your wardrobe because they both concern outward appearance. It's not the same thing!
JS: When and how should companies incorporate UX researchers into their team?
WJ: At Ooyala, we didn't have a dedicated UX research team until we were ready to start building brand new products based on discovery and exploration of the industry. So we hired a really smart UX researcher to join the team and she started working directly with the Account Management team to set up a Customer Database to define what customers we talk to and when. This really helped us as a Product team to build trust with customers by not overloading them with research requests, and by ensuring we work with the same customers through the life-cycle of a product (from exploration to beta to release).
JS: How have you seen UX design evolve in the last 5 years?
WJ: The definition of "UX" varies wildly among different sized companies, different regions, different teams. However, I'm seeing UX becoming more of a "catch-all" term that incorporates user research, usability, information architecture, interaction design and visual design. So to a lot of people, UX is a generalist who can do all of those things.
JS: What are some qualities you feel are essential to have to be a great UX leader?
WJ: A great UX leader needs to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture - not just the business case for a product, but the business case of the company. Not just the best user experience for a given product, but the best user experience that will scale as the product evolves. And a great UX leader sees the people.
JS: What do you do to motivate your team and foster creativity?
WJ: I think of my team as people, not as designers. People need to be challenged, need to have room to breathe and do what they're passionate about, and need to have work/life balance. So I'm incredibly concerned about how my team members are feeling as people and like to have very open communication with them about what's exciting or demotivating them. I also want each team member to feel accountable and proud of the quality of the user experience they're creating, so I enjoy "show and tell" of work to other designers (or the entire company!). This gets feedback from your peers and colleagues that you respect and pushes you to always do your best.
By: Scott Purcell, Division Manager of Jobspring Silicon Valley
Anyone who has lived in Silicon Valley for a while and works in the high tech world, particularly in software, can attest to a market where the competition for solid talent has continued to grow more competitive by the year. As a high tech recruiter managing an office focused on placing software engineers I have seen both the competition for talent grow as well as that very same competition drive salaries into a realm that we have never seen before.
To be fair, salaries for software engineers in Silicon Valley have always been, on average, probably the highest in the United States. I personally came up from LA in March of 2007 and noticed right away the differences in salary ranges in Silicon Valley. For example, very top tier software engineers or architects in Los Angeles would on average be making somewhere in the 110k-125k range give or take. Entry-level grads with a BS in CS from top Universities like UCLA would start out making 50k-70k. These numbers all sounded pretty reasonable to me when you take into account averages for other professions and cost of living. Coming to Silicon Valley definitely was eye opening. Recent grads were getting 70k-80k. Senior Engineers were on average getting anywhere from 120k-140k. These average numbers really blew me away.
Fast forward to 2010. We’ve just come out of a pretty nasty recession and the rest of the country is still hurting economically. Silicon Valley however is on the rebound. After a few years of radio silence in the venture capital world the money is flowing again. Software engineers that have put in a solid 3-5 years with their current companies and have waited out the recession are beginning to sense that there’s a new boom on the rise. Companies begin to use those funds to hire top talent. At first, salaries seem to stay the same on average. But as 2011 begins trends start to emerge. Facebook and Google begin competing fiercely for the very best young software talent and willing to pay 100k+ for entry-level software engineers. Other companies like Yahoo follow suite forcing venture-funded start-ups to also raise their salaries. Those engineers that had been making 125k-140k are looking for new jobs and, with the demand for their skills, are not willing to consider lateral moves. This drives the salaries up and now 150k base salaries for Senior Software Engineers has become the average. New trends in the market like Big Data and HTML5 drive the salaries up even more.
For the first time since I’ve been recruiting I’m placing Senior Engineers at base salaries of 165k. You would think that these would be big, profitable companies, but the companies paying those salaries range from Series A funded startups to 300 person profitable startups. Gone are the days of paying someone a lower salary with the promise of equity unless that equity is something extremely unique; as in 1% of the company and you can still expect a relatively competitive base salary.
Today, in 2013, the salaries in Silicon Valley are drastically different then even six years ago when I moved to Silicon Valley. This year alone I’ve placed entry-level grads starting at 80k and generated an offer for a Java Hadoop candidate with only three years of experience at 175k. Salaries for Senior Java Engineers that my team is placing range from 140k on the very low end to 165k. Candidates with 3-5 years of experience are easily being offered 110k-130k base salaries with significant equity and / or bonuses. This presents challenges to many companies from both a budgeting and internal equity standpoint but that’s Silicon Valley!
So what will future salaries look like in 2013?
This is an intriguing question. We’ve come to a really interesting place regarding compensation in Silicon Valley. Right now top engineering talent is getting 165k and above. With some C-Level executives and lower-management in the same range it can make things challenging from an internal-equity standpoint. Do companies stick to their guns and lose out on candidates or do they look to adjust their entire structure?
My personal opinion is that there are going to be some serious growing pains in 2013 and it will take until Q3 or Q4 until some companies begin to catch up to the market. Many companies will think that salaries are inflated and not want to pay the top salaries when those candidates may not be as skilled as the engineers already at the company. They also won’t want to up the salaries of the current employees. However, as word gets about what the market is paying and there are more companies paying those salary ranges we will start see more candidates making moves based partly on salary. Some companies will successfully counteroffer those candidates and others may lose talent.
By the end of the year most companies will be paying that market rate for top talent and will have to adjust their internal salary structure. This all hinges on the continued economic growth that we have seen the past couple years. Fingers crossed!
If my predictions are right, the good news is there will be some exciting growth in the tech world and more than enough money to go around for both talent and budding companies to continue the explosive innovation that makes Silicon Valley the high tech mecca of the world! As the war for talent continues I’m excited and interested to see how this will continue to evolve the high tech market in Silicon Valley and the impact it has on other tech meccas across the nation.
As you may have read, Jobspring Silicon Valley got to welcome Daniel Urbaniak from Jobspring Philadelphia to their growing team at the start of the New Year! Dan was promoted to Practice Manager to open up a brand new team at Jobspring Silicon Valley specializing in placing DevOps, Python, and Linux System Administrator engineers.
Dan was born and raised in New Jersey and joined the Jobspring Philadelphia team shortly after graduating from Rowan University. This is his first time on the West Coast and he is quickly getting settled in Silicon Valley! He has not only been busy finding a place to live and getting to know the area but has been very focused on building strong relationships with clients and job seekers in Silicon Valley.
We're so happy to have him on our Silicon Valley team!
If you're looking for a DevOps, Python or Linux Sys Admin position or just want to welcome Dan to Silicon Valley, give him a call!
How to Contact Dan:
Phone: (408) 418-1520
Last week Heather Huggins was able to find Franklin the job he had been waiting for to get his career back on track!
Heather, who works on our Mobile and Embedded Software team at Jobspring Silicon Valley, starting working with Franklin back in August. The opportunity that she had in mind for him at the time didn't quite work out and Franklin took a contract opportunity on the East Coast. Franklin soon realized that the contract role wasn't something he was passionate about and decided to start his job search again two months later.
He reached out to Heather to see if she had any opportunities that would be more beneficial to his career. Heather told him about an opportunity with a company she was working with in the 3D graphics medical device space that matched perfectly with Franklin's engineering skill set!
Franklin spoke with the company over the phone and they wanted to proceed with an onsite interview. Franklin, Heather, and the manager were working nonstop to find Franklin a flight to California. Once the flight was found, Franklin flew out the next day, had the interview, and flew back East the day after. A week after that onsite interview, the company offered him the position!
Franklin was very relieved to be moving back to California for a full time opportunity to do exactly the type of work he had been wanting to do!
Congratulations Franklin! We're so glad Heather was able to find you a great job!
That owl on Heather's shoulder is our new affectionately named "Placement Owl". We were able to strategically steal the owl in a heated game of White Elephant during our holiday party. He will now signify each job seeker we place at a company by residing on the recruiters desk. Heather got to be the first to break in our Placement Owl.
How to Contact Heather:
Phone: (408) 418-1520
Meet Viet Nguyen, Practice Manager for Jobspring Silicon Valley's web development team that specializes in placing UI/UX and front-end developers.
Viet was actually the first hire when Jobspring Silicon Valley opened its doors in Downtown San Jose in January 2011. He worked his way up from starting out as an Assistant Recruiter, becoming a Lead Recruiter, and now running the team that he helped start!
Viet says that the most rewarding thing about being Practice Manager is, "I am now able to help others the same way my managers helped me."
Viet was born and raised in the Bay Area of California and graduated from San Jose State University where he studied Business Management. Since joining Jobspring Silicon Valley, he has broken company records and has found many job seekers new homes at both budding and established Silicon Valley companies.
In his spare time you can find Viet DJing around the bay area, playing football and basketball, and hitting the dance floor. Seriously, this guy can bust a move or two!
How to Contact Viet:
Phone: (408) 418-1520
Last night Tech In Motion Silicon Valley had their 5th event with guest speaker Chris Anderson, Mobile Architect and one of the co-founders of Couchbase! "Why NoSQL?" was a great night of networking, pizza, drinks, and learning about NoSQL.
Pizza is always a hit with Tech In Motion members!
Jobspring Silicon Valley's Division Manager, Scott Purcell, introducing Chris to the audience before his presentation
Chris tweeted out this picture of the audience before the presentation got underway!
Chris gave a great presentation about NoSQL databases and Couchbase's server and client libraries. It was very informative and a great introduction to NoSQL for both technical and non-technical members of the audience. Chris even broke out into a Couchbase rap during his presentation which was a huge hit with our audience!
Chris was even nice enough to bring enough Couchbase shirts for all #TechInMotion attendees. We love ours!
Thanks again to Chris, Couchbase, and everyone who was able to make it out! Can't wait for our next #TechInMotion event in Silicon Valley!
Last week before winding down for the holiday weekend, Jobspring Silicon Valley and our sister company got together for a holiday potluck in the office.
We had quite the array of food, drinks, and yummy desserts (including puppy chow!)
Filling up our plates with the goods!
It didn't take long for a ping pong tournament to heat up during the feast!
We also decided to see how the region was shaping up for the Movember competition...
Lookin' good guys!
All of us in Silicon Valley hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday weekend!