Rachael King, Bloomberg Businessweek 08/03/11
Michael De Frenza scans the crowd of 50 or so well-dressed professionals mingling near a bar at the W Hotel in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. De Frenza, a recent transplant to the Bay Area, is here looking not for a date, but for a job. Yet he’s far from desperate.
In five weeks, De Frenza, 34, has received five offers. “I’m taking my time trying to find the right fit,” he says.
I Love Rewards, which provides companies with services to motivate employees, arranges cocktail parties like this one every other week at the W Hotel to help recruit 40 people by Sept. 30 for a new West Coast sales office.
“Just in time for us arriving in San Francisco, the market has gotten extremely hot,” says CEO Razor Suleman. “San Francisco is coming back to the days when candidates have two or three job offers,” he says.
Competition for cloud computing engineers, security experts and mobile developers as well as sales professionals in the technology industry has gotten so fierce in the past six months that companies are going to greater lengths to woo prospective employees. They’re throwing lavish parties, handing out free food at conferences, doling out $50,000 signing bonuses, and offering perks such as free haircuts and medical care at the office.
Nearly full employment
The tech sector is fueling a job boom that stands in stark contrast to the malaise of the general job market. The nationwide unemployment rate ticked up to 9.2 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, the unemployment rate for tech professionals dropped to 3.3 percent, from 5.3 percent in January. “That’s pretty close to full employment,” says Alice Hill, managing director of technology career website Dice.com.
“It’s such a thin market, it feels like everybody is employed already,” says Adam Pisoni, co-founder and chief technology officer of Yammer, which sells software and services for social networking in the workplace. “Engineers have 10 recruiters calling them.”
The San Francisco company would like to hire between 50 and 100 engineers this year, Pisoni says.