Austin has enough technical talent, no doubt about that

Image courtesy Andy

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.