The competition for engineering talent around the country has become very stiff and one of the most competitive places to find good engineers is New York City. Here in NYC, the tech hub is growing rapidly and even starting to rival Silicon Valley. “Silicon Alley” is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Between 2009 and 2013, venture capital invested in the New York metro area was up 76% and the fourth quarter of 2013 was the first since 2001 to attract more than $1 billion.
With all of this money going into startups, companies are looking to hire the best engineers on the market. Often the first couple of tech hires are crucial for the company’s growth and success down the line. When it comes time to hire the first couple of engineers and developers, whether you are looking for a PHP Developer or .Net Developer, it has become no secret that both are very hard to find. Why is that?
As a Technical Recruiter who has been working the New York market for the past five years, I have seen a lot of changes from the 2009-2010 market compared to 2014 and have come up with four theories about why it is so hard to hire a .NET Engineer.
The term “.NET Engineer” is used too broadly
.Net is a framework created by Microsoft that developers can use to create applications more easily. A framework is essentially a bunch of code that the programmer can call without having to write it explicitly. Therefore .NET Engineers (and .NET Developers) are best defined as a type of web programmer with a strong understanding of the .NET framework.
Saying you need a .NET Engineer/Developer is an extremely general statement and without giving any more information, you most likely won’t get exactly what you’re looking for.
So, in other words, it isn’t .NET Engineers in general that are hard to find; it is the specific skill sets and areas of expertise that are a challenge to find.
There are many .Net Engineers out there, but their skill set doesn’t always match what companies think they need
Speaking in terms of numbers, there may not be a lack of .NET Engineers but rather a lack of understanding about what skills would make a good fit.
Most employers are currently looking for five plus years of .NET development experience even though the .NET framework has only become widespread within the last few years. A possible solution to this dilemma is for employers to start considering more entry level developers who have the passion, desire and potential to learn and grow into the role.
Also, if hiring managers set their expectations or requirements too tightly, they can lose sight of solid developers. For example, say a company was ideally looking for someone with Java experience but come across an amazing C++ developer. It’s important to determine which skill sets and languages are “must have” versus “nice to have” at the beginning of the hiring process so as not to miss out on great developers with a lot of potential and flexible skill sets.
Companies want an experienced and highly skilled employee, but aren’t willing to train to get that person
A lot of highly qualified candidates are already employed and may, at most, be passively looking for new positions. The unemployment rate for technology professionals fell to 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the total U.S. Unemployment Rate of 6.3 percent.
.NET changes very frequently, so it can often be hard for developers and engineers to keep up with every update. Realistically, it’s almost impossible for someone to know all of .NET, therefore, either engineers need to be constantly learning in order to stay up to date on what’s current or companies need to help them.
A big part of my job is helping hiring managers set realistic expectations around skills and what they need in a candidate versus what they would really like to have. I also like to advise my candidates on what hiring managers are looking for and what training could make them even more competitive within the industry.
Often, managers are looking for people who are experts in many aspects of technology. They spend months searching for these individuals and not find anyone because it is so hard to find candidates in this market who can hit every category on the hiring manager’s wish list. I always suggest that my clients hire people who are eager to learn and passionate about the role— the company can always train for the unmet points on the wish list.
Companies hiring processes may take too long for “hot” candidates
Lastly (and specifically on the .NET side) a lot of large corporations in New York City use .NET but, because of their size, the hiring process can be a timely ordeal with many different steps. This often results in hot candidates taking jobs at smaller to mid-size companies because they can move quicker.
Overall, there may be a large number of .NET Engineers in New York City but finding the perfect candidate for you company can be very challenging. By determining exactly what skills you need in an employee, searching for someone who is willing to learn and train on new technologies, and is passionate about the opportunity you have to offer will help you speed up your hiring process in order to find the hottest available candidates for your company.