San Diego Tech Companies Sing Recruiting Woes

Susan Hall
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A piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune laments that local employers can't fill positions because San Diego's considered more of a beach town "than Silicon Valley South." Like being a beach town is a bad thing.


A survey of local businesses by the San Diego Software Industry Council found around 6,000 information technology job openings in the county. Plus another survey found 2,000 job openings in mechanical and electrical engineering.


But the area truly faces hurdles in recruiting because of the high cost of living. It notes that the local median salary for a high-tech worker is $93,250, just $10 different from that in Austin, Texas, but San Diego's median home price is $333,000, compared with Austin's median of $222,450, according to Sperling's Best Places. A worker earning the median salary in North Carolina's high-tech center of Durham would need $40,000 more to have the same purchasing power in San Diego. Someone from Denver would need $27,000 more. But the San Diego worker's salary compares well with more expensive cities such as San Francisco or Boston. (The article has a nifty chart of comparison cities.)


And though local universities have strong programs, students tend to either go back to where they came from or to be lured away to Silicon Valley. Bob Slapin, executive director of the Software Industry Council, said that San Diego companies also worry about the perception that the area has limited "second job" opportunities for applicants who take their first job there.


He's quoted as saying:

Part of the challenge of attracting talent from outside the area is that when people look at San Diego, they don't realize how big our technology clusters are. They think of San Diego as a tourist town, and they're afraid that if their job doesn't work out or if their company gets sold, they might not be able to find another job here and they'll have to move again. Or if they're married, they worry that if they come here, their spouses might not be able to find a job. Cities like San Francisco and Boston have a reputation for having much larger tech clusters.

But some of the Silicon Valley companies are hiring there, too. It quotes Intuit's recruiting director Chris Galy, whom I interviewed a few weeks ago, and Google is hiring there, too, though this piece seems to have the numbers wildly inflated. But there are many other jobs there, too, such as at Jack in the Box, WD-40 and Chinese wireless firm Huawei, which is trying to get a foothold in the United States.


If you ask me, these companies need to play up that beach-town reputation and take some pointers from this post on recruiting engineers to Amarillo, Texas.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 21, 2011 8:20 AM Renee Davies Renee Davies  says:

The IT recruiters I work with in San Diego also state that local employers are slow to offer relocation services in addition to not providing assistance to spouses. The location a huge draw, however, most decisions to relocate are made on a more pragmatic basis. Jobs may be plentiful, but employment decisions still are based on compensation packages and the services provided to the families. A source for more recruiting information is


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