Austin has enough technical talent, no doubt about that

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Image courtesy Andy http://bit.ly/h2M5La

About a month ago an Austin’s newspaper ran an article with the following title “Austin companies head to California to recruit talent“, after I read it I was in disagreement and as a software developer from Austin, TX I felt a little offended by it to tell you the truth. The article states that the main reason some Austin companies are looking for engineering talent in California is because local business leaders are “worried that an increasingly tight job market for tech workers with critical skills could slow the industry’s growth here”.

In the article, it is mentioned that 30 Austin high-tech CEOs were heading to California in search for talent. Here is what the article said about where the idea of the trip came from:

The idea for the trip came from a CEO Summit sponsored by the technology council in May. At the conference, business leaders worried that an increasingly tight job market for tech workers with critical skills could slow the industry’s growth here. Skilled engineers and experienced product marketers are hardest to find, they said.

Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron, who is taking part in the trip, said that Austin “has fallen into a trap of fighting over existing talent, especially in engineering, programming and software development roles. The zero-sum-game hurts the overall tech community, so we’ve decided to come together to seek out new additions to Austin to help us all grow.”

This group of CEOs is targeting California engineers with experience in the following programming languages: Java, Ruby on Rails and Python… really? Austin has many meetups and user groups where many bright Austin techies with the same skills these CEOs are looking for get together at least every month. Any Austin company looking for this talent should at least consider contacting some of these local groups, meetups, bloggers, etc and work together to make sure the right people are matched to the right companies instead of planning trips to California. Austin has a lot of experienced technical talent, and new talent is being created by the local universities and colleges, it is just a matter of looking in the right places and asking the right people.

How many experienced tech professionals did this group of Austin companies attracted in the two recruiting events they organized? let’s see, of the 65 job candidates that registered in San Francisco only 18 showed up, plus one walk-in according to the group’s spokeswoman, Laura Beck. And from the event in Sunnyvale, the group had better luck since 45 out of the 70 registered job candidates did show. “Thank goodness for Sunnyvale” Laura Beck said.

The low turnout only proves what we all already know, Silicon Valley has its own problems trying to find experienced techies and the idea of Austin CEOs trying to recruit technical talent from the valley seems a little silly to me. If there was the need to recruit techies from out of the state, perhaps looking in places and cities where competition for talent isn’t as fierce as it is in the Valley might be a better idea… Midwest sounds like the right place for this, not Silicon Valley.

If you want to learn more details about this recruiting trip to California read this article titled “Austin invades Silicon Valley, a postmortem“.

What is really interesting about this is that many of the Austin user groups and meetups mentioned above gather a lot more people in each one of their meetings than this group of Austin CEOs was able to gathered on the two recruiting events in California. Austin local groups are filled with skilled people, many of them have the same skills these local companies are looking for, and they are already here. Let’s help local techies find and get these jobs and at the same time help these local tech companies find the talent they need!

Do you have a different opinion? Do you think Austin has enough human resources with the needed skills? you can comment and/or answer the poll below.

Comments on "Austin has enough technical talent, no doubt about that"

7 comments

  1. philosophermouseofthehedge

    Odd. Could it be some people just wanted a company paid trip to CA? Or did someone in the CEO Summit group/ technology council get in there and lobby / do a great sales job for hiring in CA? (Anyone make money by “organizing” the CA job fairs?) Did the CEOs expect to hire cheaper people in CA who are desperate for a job? (look at turn out for those fairs) Would be interesting to know what is really going on here. Austin has the talent. Apparently some companies aren’t savvy enough to know how to find them. Odd.

    Reply
  2. OlderInAustin

    How can those of us with plenty of technical skill train in the “hot” areas? Seems like there’s opportunity for hiring companies, workers with “older” skill sets, and possibly course developers/teachers….

    Reply
  3. fernandozamoraj (@fernandozamoraj)

    One thing that I get tired of hearing is that someone is looking for programmers with skill x y or z. Take a talented programmer in any language that has experience in any language with skills in different language types like procedural, object oriented, or dynamic and he can easily learn language x y or z.

    If I need a C# programmer and a C++ programmer applies with solid OO skills he’s hired. I’ve seen programmers come from C into C# and kick butt. The same can be said about going from VB.net to C#.

    On the other hand I think part of the problem in Austin is that the demand is quite high and no one wants to invest in rookie programmers. The companies that do invest in rookies don’t know how to keep them, so in order for those guys to move on to higher salaries they have to move on to the other companies.

    Which leads me to my final point, all companies want the cream of the crop but are unwilling to build that cream so instead they look to acquire to the hiring process which in many cases is much more expensive. Because those cream of the crop programmers find their new place of work inadequate at best and leave.

    Bit of advice to the hiring powers: Hire bright individuals and stop focusing on their skill sets. There is plenty of those in Austin.

    Reply
  4. fernandozamoraj (@fernandozamoraj)

    One thing that I get tired of hearing is that someone is looking for programmers with skill x y or z. Take a talented programmer in any language that has experience in any language with skills in different language types like procedural, object oriented, or dynamic and he can easily learn language x y or z.

    If I need a C# programmer and a C++ programmer applies with solid OO skills he’s hired. I’ve seen programmers come from C into C# and kick butt. The same can be said about going from VB.net to C#.

    On the other hand I think part of the problem in Austin is that the demand is quite high and no one wants to invest in rookie programmers. The companies that do invest in rookies don’t know how to keep them, so in order for those guys to move on to higher salaries they have to move on to the other companies.

    Which leads me to my final point, all companies want the cream of the crop but are unwilling to build that cream so instead they look to acquire to the hiring process which in many cases is much more expensive. Because those cream of the crop programmers find their new place of work inadequate at best and leave.

    Bit of advice to the hiring powers: Hire bright individuals and stop focusing on their skill sets. There is plenty of those in Austin.

    Reply
  5. Ryan

    I agree, from my experience at smaller places, greenhorn’s are sort of stuck unless someone else quits. Their training is always on the job, as (smaller companies at least) don’t really invest in much training even for the senior people. What’s left for the entry level programmer is trolling through tech books left lying around by others. It’s definitely a self-defeating cycle. One issue with people looking for someone who knows x y z language is they expect productivity in a month, often less. It doesn’t give them much time to learn a new language, although I’ve seen it happen twice at my current place – once with a C programmer and another a VB.net one, and they learned java quickly.

    Reply
  6. Ryan

    I agree, from my experience at smaller places, greenhorn’s are sort of stuck unless someone else quits. Their training is always on the job, as (smaller companies at least) don’t really invest in much training even for the senior people. What’s left for the entry level programmer is trolling through tech books left lying around by others. It’s definitely a self-defeating cycle. One issue with people looking for someone who knows x y z language is they expect productivity in a month, often less. It doesn’t give them much time to learn a new language, although I’ve seen it happen twice at my current place – once with a C programmer and another a VB.net one, and they learned java quickly.

    Reply

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