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!
Article by Lindsey Jefferson, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring Chicago
I’ve been a recruiter with Jobspring Partners for over two years, and in my time here, I’ve seen that the tech wave has brought on some pretty significant changes to the workforce; and I don’t mean the endless lists of open positions on company career pages. The influx has brought women to the table in a big way.
It used to be the status quo for women to stay home and care for their children and husbands. “Working women” usually played the role as doting assistant to the CEO or Director. Obviously, women are now encouraged to choose whichever life path seems right for them, instead of blindly embracing societal expectations. The state of affairs has thankfully changed, but to what extent?
It is pretty widely accepted for women to be in the working world these days, but there have also been changes in other wonderful ways. At present, it is not uncommon for women to be at the director level of any company, small or large. Furthermore, when it comes to salaries for women in specific industries, there is absolutely no gender gap in wages, according to a recent article posted by Cynthia Than. In her article, referenced here, she outlines that new research has shown that statistically, there is no difference in earnings when it comes to males and females that have made the same career choices and exhibit the same qualifications. Engineers, nurses, administrative assistants, social services professionals, life sciences and TECH (!) employees can all expect equal earnings. See the happy news illustrated on the chart below:
This is something that I’ve been able to see firsthand in Chicago. Within the tech sector, salaries remain consistent across genders. According to the article, “Despite strong evidence suggesting gender pay equality, there is still a general perception that women earn less than men do, and this perception is just one more factor discouraging women from entering the tech space.” As a tech recruiter, I hope we can do something to change this perception and we do start seeing more women entering the field.
At a Tech in Motion event last month, a tech event series that Jobspring sponsors, we invited a panel of C-level executives to speak about taking their organizations out of the startup phase and into the success phase. Women were majorly represented on this panel. To be specific, three out of the five speakers were women, and this included the moderator. The ladies in the spotlight were the CEOs of popular Chicago companies JellyVision, GiveForward, and BuiltInChicago. Without even trying, we nearly held a “women in tech” panel and had our largest event to date, with almost 350 people in attendance. It was fascinating and inspiring to see passionate women in these leadership roles.
Ultimately, ladies have come a long way since the days of only seeing aprons and feather dusters in their futures. The fact that women are now in the position to compete for high-level roles with men in the tech space is just the cherry on top. Hopefully, the promise of equal pay and available positions will continue to attract talented women to the tech industry.
Written by Summer Ramsey, Technical Recruiter in Jobspring San Francisco
Although QA is not the most popular route explored by tech professionals, it plays a critical role within any company. The quality of a product or software is key to a company’s success. In order to move through any product/software’s life cycle, and ensure that it is successful, it must be free of bugs and defects. This is where QA engineers come into play.
When you dig into QA you can break it down into mainly two types: Manual testers and Automation testers. Both are very important; however, the recent tech market has brought an increased need for automation QA engineers. If you are a QA engineer and looking to strengthen and evolve your career, (especially if you’re entry-level) I highly suggest taking the road into QA automation. Every automation tool and technical skill that you know will put you one step closer to your dream QA job.
You might be wondering, “Where do I start with automation and how can I get to the next level?” Here are some crucial automation tools that I have been seeing in the San Francisco QA market:
- Selenium WebDriver
- SOAP UI
- Knowledge of: Java, Ruby, Python, etc.
Now, that’s certainly not an exhaustive list of all of the automation tools in the QA family, just those that are extremely popular in the San Fran QA market. Becoming an expert with Selenium WebDriver and being able to use that with Java is a definite plus, and nearly becoming a must-have. The programming environment the company is using will inform the languages you will use, but being a QA engineer who has coding experience will put you at the front of the line. If you can go in and fix the code yourself you will make yourself huge asset.
One way to go about learning these skills is to enroll in online or in-person classes. There are many different organizations that provide an intensive 8-10 week classes that will enable you to jumpstart your knowledge of Selenium WebDriver in conjunction with Java. If you are unable to enroll in a class, you always have the option to get involved through internships or Meetup groups.
Another great opportunity to develop some QA skills is Summer QAmp. Here at Jobspring Partners, we are working together with CampInteractive, a non-profit organization that helps provide individuals with QA and Web-development internships. Summer QAmp is a 10-week internship that trains individuals in the QA field. The Interns that are chosen will complete a training program created by CK-12, which is a web-based education platform. If you are interested in enrolling or being a host company, you can find out more information here. This is an amazing opportunity to get field experience and learn about automation at the same time. In the past, interns have been placed at companies like Twitter, Airbnb, and GroupMe.
If this sounds like something that could interest you, I hope you look into one (or more!) of these resources. With a bit of effort, a gratifying and lucrative QA career could be in your imminent future!
Article By Spencer Moody, Recuiter at Jobspring San Francisco
Open Source Software (OSS) development is an incredibly popular and evolving approach to creating innovative apps, products and services that are vastly improving our everyday lives. From free apps on our smartphones to internet browsers like Firefox or Chrome, there’s a lot that OSS has created that we take for granted. And who can blame us? We live in an era where we find ourselves saying, “there’s an app for that” or “just Google it” whenever we run into a problem. Most of us will never take a minute out of our days to stop and appreciate what OSS has done for us, so here’s a helpful reminder about why it’s so awesome.
The basic distinction between OSS and Closed Source Software (CSS) is that any potential user has access to the source code of OSS and can openly use and alter this source code in the pursuit of making it better. CSS, on the other hand, is far more restricted and users must pay for access to the source code- meaning that they essentially must pay for the right to learn and use the software.
For example, let’s compare PHP (OSS) to Java (CSS). Anyone who would like to use PHP can go to PHP.net, or any number of other websites, to gain access to the source code, a how-to guide, and will be able to start programming right away. If suddenly you realize that there are certain limitations to the code that you have figured out how to resolve, you’re free to do that. Meanwhile, anyone who would like to learn Java must pay for some service to learn and ultimately use it. Furthermore, once you’ve become a Java Wizard, you are not allowed to change the source code and make that available to the public. This doesn’t mean that OSS programming languages are better than those on the CSS platform- each is simply just a different approach, but OSS is my preference.
So why do we care? Here’s what’s amazing about the open source approach to development. The goal is to make this information available to the public in the effort to incorporating a wide-array of perspectives and ideas into tech development. This is very important. When you use an app on your phone, or access some form of tech on your computer, you’d like it to do exactly what you want- not do what someone else might want.
When software is being developed from a narrow perspective, with restrictions on how the code can be manipulated, is it really serving us in the best way possible? As our demands for what our technology can handle increases, it is necessary for a broader audience to be participating in its development. For example, if you are an aspiring lawyer looking for an app, you probably want current, former, or other aspiring lawyers to have contributed to its creation. I can think of infinite examples just like this one. The point is, OSS gives anyone, from all walks of life, an amazing opportunity to gain access and contribute to an increasingly significant part of our lives.
Article by Scott Purcell, Dan Urbaniack and Jason Cooper, Division Manager and Practice Managers in Jobspring Silicon Valley
If you were to ask the average American what they picture when they hear Silicon Valley, they’d probably say the big names like Google in Mountain View, Apple in Cupertino, and the Stanford/Palo Alto lifestyle they saw in The Social Network. While these may be the landmarks people outside of California have come to know as the epicenter of technology, Silicon Valley has become a sprawling and growing landscape represented across the bay area. With Google and Apple buying up office space left and right in their respective cities, and companies like Palantir seemingly doing the same in Palo Alto, tech startups are often forced to find other cities to call home.
But let’s say you want to move to the Silicon Valley; where do you start? Which areas were popular in the past and where is it hot spot now? Where will you be most profitable? Where are the startups and the big name companies located? Being in the tech recruiting space, we have all had ample experience in this market. Hopefully, with our knowledge, you’ll be able to find your perfect location to get the most out of Silicon Valley.
Many people consider the Silicon Valley to be the technologically-savvy region ranging from San Mateo, California to San Jose. As Scott stated in a previous post, the area is booming and salaries are higher than ever. However, there is a serious concern throughout the Valley-- where do people live? How does anyone outside of the top dog execs or the plain lucky afford to live a comfortable life when an average one bedroom apartment goes for $2,100 a month? Where do the folks working the lower-salary tech jobs go?
Since the recession in 2010 things have slowly begun to change. A blazing hot startup and IPO market pushed salaries to record level highs, and with that market, housing prices have also risen. It has become incredibly difficult to purchase a home in the region. The local real estate market is selling faster than ever, thus driving rental prices higher and making it difficult for those not making the top bucks to live comfortably within their means.
Surprisingly, Downtown San Jose housing seems to be plateauing at a reasonable price through this real estate resurgence. There are multiple new apartments, offices, and entertainment spaces being built in the area, and there seems to be a lot of room to expand; which begs the question, how will all of this growth affect the cost of living and the economy of the region as a whole?
The Palo Alto area has had the largest growth in the Bay Area between the Summer of 2012 to Summer of 2013; while over the last three years, Santa Clara County has become the second fastest-growing county in California. One of the major reasons for the rapid population growth is the above average regional job growth.
Let’s look at some of the local players within 5 miles of Palo Alto:
- Apple, located in Cupertino: whose stock over the last three years has grown from $422/share to $580/share, while hitting a high of +$700/share during that time period
- Google, Mountain View: 2010 – $610/share, 2013 - $1105/share (high-water mark)
- Tesla, Palo Alto: 2010 - $22/share, 2013 -$150/share, with a high +/- $200/share
- HortonWorks, Palo Alto: Founded in 2011 and still pre-IPO has received almost $100 million in funding.
So why are those numbers so important? They are directly correlated with opportunity. The common dominator for the candidates that we speak to everyday are: stability, cutting-edge technology, and an opportunity for growth. Silicon Valley is the 21st century’s American Dream- the combination of professional growth, premier technology companies, mild winters and gorgeous summers makes the region, and specifically Palo Alto, an ideal place to begin or jump start your career. Not to mention salaries that are reminiscent of the “.Com Era”.
However, this rapid expansion has created a predictable but not-so-easy to solve problem: where can we put everyone? Forget about office space or commercial real estate issues for a minute and let’s just look at living situations. On November 5th, the voters of Palo Alto overturned a council approval for the development of 60 apartments and 12 single-family homes. The approved plan allowed housing developers to exceed zoning regulations for public benefit. The constituents of Palo Alto don’t see it this way. They think the area is overpopulated, extremely dense, and parking is a nightmare. Check out this quote from a commenter on a recent article about Measure D, the aforementioned Palo Alto proposal-
“The damage is done and maneuvering downtown with wall-to-wall people and cars is disgusting. I’m so disappointed in this city and walk around frustrated every day I walk out my front door. I can’t drive down my street to get to my house between 3pm – 6pm, we can’t park in front of our house because all of the downtown employees, I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and riding our bikes through all of this traffic is getting more dangerous…
-Downtown Palo Alto Resident - Link
The Peninsula has become an attractive place to set up shop. Available homes and office spaces in areas like Redwood City, San Mateo, Belmont, and San Bruno are popular choices. The rent in this region of the Bay Area is comparable and cheaper than many of the other surrounding areas. It’s no secret that there is a shortage of qualified engineering talent out there. By living in the Peninsula, more transportation options, including public, becomes a possibility. The location is fairly central to people commuting from all directions. For example, the growing populace of tech work in Redwood City and San Francisco is just a short Cal-Train ride away. Want to go south? Taking the 280 to San Mateo or San Jose is a much more attractive option to avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic found on one the most highly congested freeways in America.
For many of the same reasons, in addition to the number of bridges, certain cities in the east bay, like Fremont, are also becoming more popular. Granted, Palo Alto does have a certain associated appeal, but there are many so many advantages to moving 7-10 miles up the Peninsula that they just cannot be ignored.
Which Bay Area location sparked your interest? Did you find any insight to the area where you already live? Leave your comments and questions below!
Article by Casey Popkins and Matt Sottile, recruiters in Jobspring Boston
In the world of startups and software engineering, there are a slew of programing languages to choose from for cool, new software. How many IT pros are choosing COBOL? Better yet, how many of them have ever even seen COBOL?
COBOL, which was developed in 1959, is an acronym for Common Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments. This language is still responsible for more than 70 percent of the world’s business transactions, according to a report in FCW, despite the growing prevalence of modern programming languages such as C++, .NET and Java. If the rest of the world is adopting newer languages, why is COBOL still hanging around?
With new and more exciting ways to control and understand finances, one would assume that the language would evolve just as greatly as the technologies that are being used today. There is of course the concern of safety-- despite the defects that occur in the older code, it actually performs faster and is more secure compared to the other modern languages, such as Java. The growing concern however, is that the language is just not as popular, and as a result, only 20% of schools are requiring this language for their degree. While one would assume that with lack of developers for the code, there would eventually be a necessity to evolve with those who are in the field, instead, there is a concern for how these companies will be run without having the knowledge of this seemingly “uncool” language.
The shortage of developers without the knowledge of this code could affect many companies, the US government being one of the biggest examples. The coming shortage of COBOL programmers will affect the government’s legacy IT systems and core databases, which suck up approximately 70 percent of the government’s $82 billion IT budget, leaving only 30 percent to spend on innovative technologies.
So what does the future hold for COBOL? Well, at the moment, it could be sticking around for some time. As agencies begin to try to modernize their IT systems, the decision to keep or repurpose the code can be a difficult one to make. The longer organizations continue to use COBOL it becomes harder and more costly to switch to a modern language.
There could possibly be incentives given to colleges to reintroduce more COBOL training to their students in order to prepare the workforce that we’ll need. COBOL is like Latin, it provides the building blocks for the “newer” romance languages, and we know there are better ways to communicate. What COBOL-reliant companies will do to continue to find solid engineers remains a mystery. One thing this does accomplish is ensure that anyone using COBOL will more than likely have a job in that “niche” market for years to come.
The question that remains about this code and other older codes, is at what point does a system become outdated? Is it possible to create something that is timeless, or is it better to keep changing along with the newer, more innovative technologies that are being created every day?
Article by Edward Heinrich, Recruiter at Jobspring San Francisco
User interfaces have become more and more important in terms of consumer expectations, especially since touch screen smart phones became the mainstream. The touch screen amped up the level of engagement we humans have with our technology, replacing controllers and buttons with more sensory-direct taps and gestures. By striving for minimal but highly functional hardware and software, we’ve created a more intimate way to use our devices – a way that feels more natural. This minimalist wave of the future is arguably led by Apple with their sleek, simple products, and directly contrasted with Blackberry, a successful company famous for its full-keyboard phones but currently facing hard times.
Aside from machine exteriors, tech software has simplified as well. Programmers are employed frequently and in high numbers (and even higher salaries) to make our apps and programs faster and easier to use. Designers are then responsible for ensuring that our interactive experience feels natural and intuitive and that interfaces are clean and simple. In fact, as recruiters, we are seeing a boom in the UX/UI market as tasks become more specialized and more designers are needed to keep up with the fast pace of the industry. This implies that design and interfaces in general are gaining more importance to everyone from the creators to the consumers. The impact user interfaces have is huge when considering that people check their phones 150 times a day and spend two hours a day on their phones and tablets according to Business Insider.
The world of user experience is boundless, especially when considering other technologies that have little to nothing to do with interface. For instance, emerging wearable technologies, device GPS tracking, and AI such as Siri can monitor our bodies, memorize our behavior, listen to us, and then all interact with one another through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to give us what we want the moment we need it. Your iPhone can tell your car to play music as soon as you get in after work, your car can tell your Nest when you’re close to home and warm it up before you get there, and everything on your cloud can automatically sync to all your devices so that you’re never without your calendars and information. All of these things contribute to our experience as users with technology, but can do so in a way that eliminates interfaces. On the other hand, interfaces will never completely disappear, so those that are eternally necessary are being improved by designers constantly.
We are entering a world of extremely seamless and natural-feeling user experiences, a world that is no longer limited by older generations who are slow to adapt. Much of the population, including myself, can hardly remember a time without PCs and cell phones. And those that are a bit older can’t imagine going back to a time without them. High Tech feels as natural to us as eating, and just like food, we strive to consume more and more. As our dependence grows, and as long as the economy stays healthy, we may see a future of tech much like the movie Minority Report before we know it.
Article by Matt Sottile, Recruiter in Jobspring Boston
Bitcoin has been all over the news recently with its fluctuating value, increased acceptance by online marketplaces, and moneymaking opportunities. This cryptocurrency became popular in the underground online market because it cannot be duplicated and can be exchanged between parties safely and anonymously without the use of a third party like Paypal. The Bitcoin network is a public ledger that includes the history of every Bitcoin transaction, adding new ones to the end of what is called the “block chain”. The block chain is maintained and supported by the power of a globally distributed computing network made up of all Bitcoin participants. Transactions are added through hashes within nodes and verified to be legitimate by hashing pre-existing nodes. This action is called a “proof-of-work”, and once enough transactions have been proofed, they are grouped together and added to the chain, completing a block. As blocks are completed, new ones are discovered, rewarding the finder(s) with newly minted Bitcoin in return for the use of their computing power. Unlike Paypal, who charges a fee for its verification and transactional services, the Bitcoin network incentives its members, as they are required for it to opperate. It is important to note that Bitcoin itself is backed only by supply and demand and that there is a finite amount of Bitcoin that can eventually be minted. The rest of this article will be about how ANYONE can get started mining for free, so if you are interested in learning more about the system, check out Bitcoin.org and the original spec document by the creator.
A Bitcoin “miner” is simply a device connected to the Bitcoin network that is contributing computing power. To access the network, simply click this LINK and download the client for your appropriate operating system. Make sure you have enough memory (12-14K MB) and time (~24 hours based on your bandwidth) because the client will download the entire history of the block chain to your computer. Once you are caught up to the end of the chain, the client will let you set up a new “wallet”. Your wallet is an encrypted account within the network obtainable and recognized by a character address. For example, mine is: 1B2tNjrB78siE6D9kVi6zhguStiFrrcodR (feel free to send me Bitcoin!). To receive/send Bitcoin, a user simply exchanges this number with another user, setting up a transaction allowing for anonymity with one another if they choose. All of this is done within the client, which is simple and easy to use. From the client, you can view your current balance, transaction history, and even save addresses of other users’ accounts for reference.
Once your wallet is created and you have your address number, it is time to contribute to the network! This is done through a separate minting application linked to your wallet. Bitcoin itself is open-source, so developers have written their own applications for computing additions to the block chain. (Personally I use the application BitMinter for Mac which I will explain in the next paragraph). Mining is based entirely on computing power. The more power a miner has, the quicker it can complete blocks and be rewarded with Bitcoin. As an individual miner accessing the network through your PC or laptop for the first time, computing power is delivered by your graphics card. To increase power, you can purchase an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) designed for Bitcoin mining or build your own. These devices are pieces of hardware sold in a variety of shapes and sizes advertised by a numerical representation of how quickly they can process hashes and validate transactions. Price correlates to speed, but other factors to consider are the electricity needed to run the device, cooling, and noise.
Unless you have a massive Bitcoin mining hardware farm already put together, chances are you won’t find any Bitcoin by letting your mining application run solo. You are competing with all other participants, so a good way to increase your chances is by joining a mining pool. Here, a group of participants link up to combine computing power into one focal point. When a block is discovered, the rewarded Bitcoin is divided up by the amount of computing power each member individually generated. Members are typically rallied around one central mining application developed by the creator(s) of the pool who sometimes take a small cut of the rewarded Bitcoin for putting everything together. The application I mentioned above, BitMinter, is part of a pool and I’d definitely suggest it to anyone curious about getting started mining for free. The website and associated client are very informative and kept up-to-date with real time data on the amount of power being generated by all members, the time and difficulty of the last block discovered, the percentages paid out, and historical information of the pool.
Now that you know the basics of Bitcoin, how to access the ledger, and contribute to the block chain, it’s up to you to determine your method moving forward. This is a way to get started for free, but it takes money to make more money through the purchase of hardware or buying space in cloud-based Bitcoin mining operations. Also, stay current with news on Bitcoin. Each day, new companies form around mining, opinions are shared on the future of Bitcoin, and innovators discover a new way to use this awesome currency.