Tag Archives: silicon valley

Where The Jobs Are

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

So something strange has been happening to me and some friends in the job market. People are reaching out to us with great positions. In other states.

Now we’re in Silicon Valley, technical professionals. Sure Silicon Valley has its problems, but reaching out to us to see if, hey, y’now maybe you’d like to leave, seems weird. Like why do recruiters assume we might want to pick up and move cross country?

So I decided a little analysis is in order for you careerists as I’m betting you’re seeing this too.

The Valley Paradox

First up, there’s a bit of a paradox about Silicon Valley. It’s harder to get employed here if you live away, but much easier when you’re here. I know someone who looked for work for months in the Valley, but when they moved here they had a partial offer in two weeks, a contract in four weeks, and an offer at that same company two weeks later. When you’re in the Valley it’s a bit easier to stay in the valley job-wise.

So I’m not sure if anyone is up to leave because coming back would probably be a wee bit harder. Besides I get the impression if anyone is leaving, it’s permanent, and that means giving up a lot.

But people are certainly reaching the hell out to here, which makes sense. If you’ve got time at one of the big names, or experience in the right industries, you’re valuable. I mean who’s going to turn down hiring someone who was at Apple or Google – even as a contractor.

Which leads to one of my first realizations of these Valley Raiders:

A Silicon Valley Hire Is Valuable

For all those recruiters wondering if I’d like to swap Sunny California for, say, Colorado, what have they got to loose?

Getting someone from Silicon Valley is pure gold for a recruiter. Who’s going to turn them down? Who’s going to say no? Who’s not going to offer them a lot of money? Not only is it assumed such a hire is good, much like hiring someone with a useful certification, hiring someone from Silicon Valley insulates a recruiter from blame because everyone assumes that hire was probably a good idea.

(Or in short, if the Silicon Valley hire fails, no one blames the HR person).

So it’s probably worth spamming people with leads.

Next, are people trying to leave the Valley? Apparently, yes.

Yeah, Some Of Us Are Trying To Go

Silicon Valley has its problems. I won’t lie, I’ve written about the paradoxes before. Its crowded, its pricey, and if you’re not up to ply the career game here it’s not for you.  You have to have a plan to live here.

So it won’t surprise people that Silicon Valley is showing more “outbound” job searches lately.  More people here are at least exploring options, so if you’re a recruiter, why wouldn’t you take a few seconds to send a Valley candidate something else?  You might hit gold – and that gold is looking to mine itself.

OK, that metaphor sucked, so let’s distract from that by looking where recruiters are trying to send we Valley folk.

Where The Leads Are

Here’s the states I and my friend keep getting opportunities in – and why.

New Jersey

Yeah, I’m not exactly up for moving to New Jersey, but it’s a pretty decent place and it doesn’t deserve a lot of the jokes aimed at it. It has bad areas but also great ones, is conveniently located, and produced John Stewart. It’ll be better when they get rid of Chris CHristie, though he’s working hard to get rid of himself.

The unemployment rate is about 4.8%,kind of middling. (thanks BLS – http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm). I can see that putting a bit of pressure on recruiting, because . . .

It’s the 8th largest state economy in the US. Yes, little New Jersey has a GDP the size of Sweden. Suddenyl not a state to laugh at anymore is it? (Thanks Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP)

I also noticed that the pay rates I get offered are competitive with Silicon Valley.  Yeah people are willing to pay Silicon Valley rates in New Jersey.

So short form here, I think recruiters trying to staff in NJ are smart hitting up the Valley. There’s probably a need for talent, its got a big economy, and some smart people are willing to toss around a lot of cash to make it work.

(That also means that NJ might be a good target if, say, you want to move and find work but Silicon Valley and other spots aren’t your bag)

Colorado

Colorado isn’t exactly a state I’ve considered moving to. I mean I’m sure it’s nice and all, but it’s not my thing. But I and friends keep hearing from them, and when you look at the numbers it makes sense.

First, Colorado has a 3.5 unemployment rate. That’s tight, they need people.

Second, it’s the 18th largest economy of the states. Not huge, but hey it’s Algeria.

Third, it’s a nice state in general. There’s cities like Denver, lovely areas, natural resources.  Colorado’s advantages remind me of some pitches I heard from Scottish recruiting companies – you get lovely land and great urban areas.  I can see the appeal.

Fourth, it sounds like it’s economy has gotten diversified and is expanding its footprint.  Colorado had its technical players once, and it sounds like they want to do it again.

When you analyze it Colorado is probably a pretty nice place to go if you want nature, a good economy, and tech and culture without the crowding.

I’m starting to notice.

Texas

Well when you get leads from Texas that’s pretty damned obvious. Texas is working to grow it’s tech sector, has decent employment, is the second largest economy after California, and you don’t get snow. Plenty of companies have offices or are starting them there, a few companies are moving there.

Now I’m not one that buys the Texas economic miracle – from infrastructure issues to dependency on fossil fuels, I’ll stick with California, thanks. I don’t trust the politics nor the long-term potential.  But I get why people think I may want to move there – growth, space, and of course a hell of a lot cheaper.

It’s also got medium-level unemployment, and the second largest economy in the US – roughly equal to one Canada.  I suspect Texas politicians may know the fossil fuel industry has problems and want to diversify.

So yeah, I think we have a picture of the recruiters bugging me and my friends.

Why People Are Targeting Silicon Valley Recruits

What did I find just traipsing through these offers? That some of these recruiters know what they’re doing. They’re figuring “why not” and targeting jobs with areas that have appeal – the pay and opportunities of NJ, the many options of Colorado, the growth in Texas. When I started this analysis I sort of wondered – now I don’t.

As you can see, some of these folks aren’t random – they know what they’re appealing to. It doesn’t hurt to wing off a few options to Silicon Valley people in case

But this also means something more for you, my geeky job seeker.

A lot of us love the Valley. A lot of us are’t leaving – though that’s not a mindset everyone shares. But if any of these places appeal to you, if some of the other geek areas aren’t your bag, go take a look.

Ask your friends what recruiters are approaching them, draw up a picture – like the one above – and see if anything comes out. You might just find your next job and a great new place to live.

And you can always sell the recruiter on the fact that hey, you’re willing to move.

Oh, but you still want that insane pay rate.

  • Steve

 

Technology, Humanity: Values And What We Value

OK let me wade into the Paul Graham clusterbumble.  For those who haven’t kept up, Graham made a rather bizarre post about economic inequality that pretty much got him roasted like nuts by various people.  Though I think he sort of meant well, it was a bizarre case of self-aggrandizement, ignoring actual inequality issues, and defending some wealth inequality in a way that amplified the other problems of his “position”.  It was, to be charitable, a piece by someone wanting to sound smart and informed and revealing the opposite.

One of the place where his walnuts got toasted was over at Medium, where “Holly Wood” noted his defense’s problems, and this quote stood out, as noted by my good friend Serdar.  In a nutshell it caught everything wrong with the elitist ideas in Silicon Valley (not I don’t say “of” Silicon Valley since it’s a lot more diverse here than people realize).:

You end up going to absurd lengths to rationalize mediocre ideas because they happen to make tons of money instead of questioning the legitimacy of a system that confers so much value on to stupid things. To stay consistent, you have to defend the logic that the creepy women who founded Peeple contribute more value to society than literally thousands of 4th grade teachers.

 

Serdar rightly notes that this leads us to the uncomfortable position of having to evaluate our values.  Some of our values may not just be bad ideas, they may be actively harmful.

Ultimately our values dictate what we value.  What we think is important affects what we seek out, do, and create.

And, right now, too much tech – too much of society – is based around the idea of the almighty dollar as the arbiter of value over all else.  It doesn’t take much effort to realize that if you ultimately value ‘someone making a ton of money, hopefully me’ it says that your values . . . really aren’t that valuable.  It’s just numbers and pieces of paper being pushed around and biggest pile wins.  It’s trite, meaningless, and damned dangerous when we have other issues to solve and more important things to pursue.

It’s time for technologists – including myself – to ask what our values are and take action to keep, expand, and enhance what is truly of value.

Know what?  The whole pile-of-money-is-best idea is a bad idea.  All it leads to is less  and less people with more and more money, stabbing each other in the back to get to the top of the mountain while everything buns.  You can pretty it up anyway you want, but that’s what money-is-all – an all-to-common value held by people – leads to.  A deathmatch where nothing is left.

Not particularly valuable is it?

As Anil Dash notes in his own essay, it’s time to make our technologies, companies, and what we do with them more humane.  He’s damned right on this.  If technology is only about the biggest pile of money, then it’s worthless, valueless.  It’s just a way station among meltdowns and moneygrabs.

And you know the whole idea that Silicon Valley is a bunch of bloodsucking neo-libertarian asses?  Not true.  Not even some of the people we think are that way.  All of us here are people, and a lot of us are trying.

But I think we need to consider our values. And that should be humanity first, because we’re all human, and it’s better to be human together than inhuman rushing to be last man standing on the then-worthless pile of benjamins.

– Steve

 

 

 

The Dotcom Bubble 2.0 – And Not Quite

So over at Rawstory there’s an article asking if “The dotcom bubble is about to burst again.”

I’ve been wondering about this for awhile since the first one was pretty damn awful – and now that I live in Silicon Valley, a bit closer to my heart and wallet.

Over time however, I’ve come to a different theory.  I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of the previous bubble – we’ll see something else.

Yes, there’s plenty of money going around startups.  Yes there’s some truly lame ideas people sink money into.  Yes, I’m sure there will be some very dumb investments and purchases.

But there’s also a sense going on that people know they’re gambling.  There’s balancing the odds.  Startups have been running leaner and smarter (easy when you have so much infrastructure).  We have large, stable players providing some anchors to IT.

In short, most people know what they’re in for, and I think enough awareness is built into the system to avoid a large bubble.  Small ones of course are entirely possible.  In fact, I think we’ve had mini-bubbles for quite some time.  Little areas that burst and fail early.  Regional ones.  You’re always hearing little stories, seeing stock drops and spikes/etc.

So I’m not that worried about a big bubble.

What I am worried about is a kind of weardown of the system.

Right now we have lots of people chasing startups and basically placing bets.  But if things go sour for a lot of them, investors may slowly dry up or move on – not right away, but over time.

Right now we have skill issues.  IT creates more senior jobs than junior.  Junior people may be worn out or when their startup fails not have the skillset to take other jobs.  Wages are very distorted by external pressures.

Right now we have constantly raising stakes – at some point people may not want to invest.  Maybe after awhile they go for something more stable and less erratic.

Right now we have people looking to “disrupt” the economy – but how much disruption can you do, and how much may damage the economy or cannibalize others in your space?

Also out here in Silicon Valley the insane living prices don’t exactly help.  It’s a great place, a wonderful place, but let’s just say I’m glad I have a roommate.

So my concern is not so much a bubble, but that the “frothiness” of the whole IT and dotcom world gradually goes flat from structural issues.  More financial caution.  Skill issues.  People and investors just getting worn out.  Economic changes going faster and faster until a lot of the foundation is changed or gone.  Financial challenges limiting those who can benefit – and limiting those that can make a contribution.

I’m not worried about a bubble.  I’m worried about the dotcom world and IT going kind of flat and tepid.  That, though it could go on for years, or over a decade, going “flat” is a lot harder to recover from.

  • Steven