Finding the Best Untapped Talent Might Be Easier Than Many Entrepreneurs Think Silicon Valley has been a magnet for tech talent for so long that many entrepreneurs believe they can't compete against Silicon Valley companies. They couldn't be more wrong.
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As every entrepreneur in Silicon Valley knows, finding a decently priced place to live is almost as difficult as running a company. The median home price in Silicon Valley hovers above $1 million -- twice as much as Seattle's and three times as much as Denver's and Austin's. After being bludgeoned by these high prices over the past few years, residents have finally had enough. For the first time since 2011, tech rock stars are moving out at a faster rate than they're moving in.
Many entrepreneurs, however, seem stuck on the idea that tech startups can't find the talent and resources needed for success anywhere outside this area. And this simply isn't true. Talent is available all over the nation, not just one section of California. Entrepreneurs who learn how to attract that talent to other destinations will not only save big on operational costs, they'll also save their employees from diving into a world of startup uncertainty where monthly rent costs as much as the price of a car.
How to lure talent to your city
If you want to bring in the best tech talent, you'll have to convince young graduates that your company and city justify turning down the allure of Silicon Valley. To do that, you'll need to communicate a few things:
1. Warn them about the bubble.
No tech boom lasts forever; the combination of inflated housing prices and inflated salaries has created a bubble in California that will burst sooner rather than later. When the dot-com bubble collapsed, many of those riding the wave found themselves suddenly unemployed and trapped in rental contracts they couldn't afford.
That's why, when we speak with potential candidates, we make stability one of our selling points, reflecting the fact that 70 percent of respondents in a recent survey named stability in a job a higher priority than "passion."
2. Appeal to local pride
We operate in Tampa, Florida, where there's a very homegrown feel to many of the local companies. Building a presence at local universities has also allowed us to get our name in front of upcoming talent early and appeal to their love for our city's local flavor.
Market your own openings at those job fairs in your state which attract the hottest and brightest stars. If you can, do some research on the counselors working with students on job prospects and placements, and consider reaching out to them regarding your company.
Engage with smaller local universities and community colleges, as well. For many young adults, the ability to stay near their parents is a big factor when choosing a job. You would be amazed at the talent that can come from homegrown roots.
3. Break down the cost of living.
Pay attention to where the jobs are and what their salaries are; then find the similarities with your market so your discussions can be numerically enticing.
Showing prospective employees the localized value of their salary can be persuasive -- especially if you live in a state like Florida that has no state taxes. A single person in California, in contrast, has to pay a state tax bill of nearly 10 percent of income between $51,531 and $263,222, not to mention federal taxes on top of that. Someone at the top of that range would take home almost $25,000 more per year in Florida than in California.
When comparing salaries, don't forget the purchasing power that money has. The average two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs about $55,000 per year, while here in Tampa, the same-size apartment goes for just over $15,000 per year. Combining rent costs and state taxes, someone making $263,000 in Florida could actually take home $65,000 more annually than someone in California.
4. Let them see for themselves.
Pay for prospects to have a two- or three-day visit with your business if they are from out of state and haven't been to the area. Try to schedule these trips around events that frame the local culture. For example, we try to bring in recruits when Tampa is hosting major sporting events or a cultural event such as the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.
You want recruits to feel like they could see themselves living, working and playing in your city. In our case, it doesn't hurt to have a beautiful beach just a short drive away!
Overall, you want the best candidates, and the best candidates want to work in the best places. Show them that that's with you, by highlighting the savings advantage when your conversation moves toward finances. Many very intelligent people are shocked at learning how much of their promised Silicon Valley paychecks they'll never get to see.
Combine that with an appealing local culture and a strong presence in the community, and your company will be snagging top recruits in no time.