Thursday, September 15, 2016
Indeed Prime On Why Los Angeles Is A Hot Technology Jobs Market
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Most of the insiders and hiring executives in Los Angeles know how hard it is to find technical talent in Los Angeles—but not all realize it's not because of lack of talent, but because of very high demand. Last week, job search service Indeed launched a new service in Los Angeles, called Indeed Prime, hoping to jump into the market for finding talent here to address that issue. We spoke with VP of Indeed Prime, Terence Chiu, about the new service—and more importantly, why the company decided that it needed to be in Los Angeles, as one of the growing tech hubs in the U.S., because it's been such a hot job market.
Briefly tell us about your new service?
Terence Chiu: Indeed Prime is a new product Indeed is building, to attract top software engineers, and connect them with the best, attractive companies hiring software engineers. We have already had a lot of people apply to join Indeed Prime, however, we only accept around 5 percent of the best candidates, and try to put them in touch with great companies hiring, like Uber, Hulu, and a few dozen other companies in LA, even though we've just launched.
Why did you pick Los Angeles for the new job service?
Terence Chiu: We see LA as one of the growing tech hubs in the U.S., based on research that Indeed Prime has done. In fact, it's one of the top five tech hubs, according to technology workers looking for job opportunities. We see it as a place with lots of technology companies hiring talent, lots of job seekers looking for opportunities, plus the cost of living in Los Angeles is actually a bit lower than other markets, such as the Bay Area. There's a high average salary, and slightly lower cost of living, and lots of job opportunities. That's why it's a great tech market for Indeed Prime to expand into.
Are those job seekers already in Los Angeles, or are they looking to move into the area?
Terence Chiu: We see both. There are definitely lots of people from the LA area, looking for tech opportunities, but we are also seeing that it's easy to get people to move to Los Angeles, and people who are willing to relocate to Los Angeles. We're definitely seeing interest from people in the Bay Area, and from other cities in the country, who are open to great opportunities in LA.
Are there specific kinds of technical jobs you have found that Los Angeles companies have difficulty filling?
Terence Chiu: There are a couple of roles that come to mind. Those that are specifically in high demand are data scientists and DevOps engineers. These are both roles that are relatively new, and rapidly increasing in demand. But, there are not many job seekers with that kind of skill set. With Indeed Prime, we have companies actively looking for people with those skills, and in particularly for those top five percent of engineers who have those specialized skills.
Can you elaborate a little bit more on the screening aspect of your service?
Terence Chiu: We screen people for Indeed Prime in a few different ways. One, is we ask our job seekers to take a coding challenge. We use those coding challenges to separate out the beset candidates from those who are not as qualified. We also look at typical things from a resume, such as work background, what companies they came from, what schools, what their majors were, and also we screen candidates by phone to get a sense of their preferences and what they are looking for—whether that's a startup environment or a Fortune 500 company. We use a mix of quantitative results from those coding challenges, to more traditional resume screens, and look at their employment and background pedigree, plus the human screening, by talking to them and getting to know them.
How does the Los Angeles job market compare to Silicon Valley, in what you've seen so far?
Terence Chiu: I think the kinds of jobs that people are looking for are fairly similar. Definitely, basic software engineering is the most popular role. Within that, there's increased demand for mobile developers. Beyond that, it's definitely data scientists and DevOps, which are really hot roles in many different markets. IT security is also up and coming, which, not is not just from demand being high, but from our research, where the average salary tends to be the highest.
Employers often tell us it's hard to find technical talent in Los Angeles—is that the case?
Terence Chiu: That's a good question. I think one of the reasons is hard, is that employers are always looking for people who have some specific kind of qualification which is obvious on their resumes. That is, they have worked for similar companies, for other startups they recognize. The challenge is, you aren't able to find candidates that way who might be qualified, if their resume doesn't show that. That's one thing that Indeed Prime does well, which is to help surface those hidden gems, those who might have graduated from school recent and don't have much on their resume, and so on. Because we use these coding challenges, we can find people who are especially qualified, and demonstrate that to employers on why we're presenting that candidate to you, even though they might not have a long history of working for similar companies. They might be young, they might be a new grad, but we give them a way to demonstrate their qualification, through coding challenges and in-person interviews.
Any advice for job seekers?
Terence Chiu: I think the one piece of advice I'd give, is be open to things like coding challenges. We find that the best software engineers are the one interested in solving tough problems, even on their own time. Signing up for a service like Indeed Prime and others, and taking those coding challenges, really give you a leg up on other people, compared with maybe someone who has just graduated and just has a degree on their resume and not much else. Another piece of advice I'd give, is internships. If a candidate can demonstrate that they have real life work experience, with real projects at a company, and especially show their quantitative impact at a business, show that they build something, increased revenue, and improved performance of a website, those are things that employers really look for beyond the basic resume screen. They can not just say they know data science, but can say they've built a model using their data science skills, and accomplished some business metrics.