×

Tech recruiters try new tactics

Recruiting
Dimitri Otis | Getty Images

Pity Silicon Valley job recruits.

In the battle for top talent in the technology sector, the allure of perks such as free massages and unlimited vacation has lost some of its luster, by some accounts.

Job sweeteners have become almost a necessity, even in an uncertain economy, as top talent is no longer seeing the value of switching jobs.

"They've seen too many of their friends take jobs at companies that fail, or sign on with entrepreneurs who don't know how to manage," Ryan Armbrust, managing director at ff Venture Capital, told CNBC recently. That means job seekers are looking for benefits that are both quantitative and qualitative, he said.

"When options don't seem to have present value and every company looks the same at face value, companies are forced to resort to incentives, like offering SoulCycle classes and Warby Parker sunglasses," Ambrust added.

When perks become 'common'

According to Silicon Valley watchers, the list of possible perks are virtually endless. Future tech pioneers can expect activities like ping pong, personal trainers, afternoon meditation sessions, group fitness, and beverages on tap. For veterans, trips to Puerto Rico are no foreign concept, and some of the more adventurous firms let employees bring their pets to work — or even let you sleep on the job.

Still, some argue that on-the-job bonuses don't necessarily move the pendulum for many workers.

"The perks typically play a marginal influence on the decision making process because most companies are offering the same benefits," said David Saad, co-founder of SingleSprout, a New York-based recruiting firm. "The main factors that engineers consider now include depth of technical challenge, caliber of the team, personal interest in product, compensation, and more recently, if the company offers a social good element."

Firms are also more open to accepting engineers from "bootcamp" programs, instead of candidates with years of industry experience. "The cost of lost productivity from not having enough engineers heavily outweighs the cost of any barriers to getting engineers on-board," Saad said.

According to the firm, more influential factors are a company's willingness to relocate potential recruits, or sponsor them for foreign visas. According to data from SingleSprout, they've seen a 30 percent increase in relocation offers to bring people to New York City.

Back rubs, out-of-town trips and other things "are nice to haves, but they are not swaying people anymore," Natan Fisher, SingleSprout's other co-founder added.

Diversity is key

Yet in the war for talent, tech companies like Google, Apple and Facebook, have a separate battle to wage. Silicon Valley giants have repeatedly come under fire for the anemic ranks of women and people of color among their work force. In 2015, female engineers made up an average of just 7 percent of tech teams they've worked with, a small increase from 5 percent in the previous year.

SingleSprout's founders told CNBC they are more frequently asked to dedicate more resources for targeting programs and companies that employ minority engineers, as the tech industry scrambles to improve its diversity.

Armbrust, of ff Venture Capital, noted more coding schools are attracting more and more women, who will now be entering the work force.

While he expects to see this growth continue, he cautioned it will take time.

"Educators are doing a better and better job supporting women within these fields, but we will need continued focus here in the future to create a balanced workforce," Armbrust said.

Correction: In certain instances of an earlier version of this article, the name of SingleSprout was incorrectly spelled.