Chicago Implores Top Tech Talent To Come Home. But Will Enough Of Them Return?

We’ve often focused on the movement of tech talent back and forth, including migration from Silicon Valley to new cities for remote work (just don’t expect to be paid precisely the same in your new town if you do make that move). Interestingly, there’s been a campaign taking the angle of bringing the very best tech talent with ties to Chicago back to the city.

It’s a little different than attracting all kinds of people to a new area they’ve never lived or worked in. It’s an ambitious effort to lure back thousands and thousands of “homegrown” technical professionals over the next few years who already have a connection to Chicago, thereby deepening our talent pool in a variety of categories.

Is this part of The Great Reshuffle going to work?

In theory, this “lifestyle” play approach may make sense, but the real world may say something much different. Namely, if you’re going to pick up and leave one employer for another across town, that’s easier to do. But if you’re going to uproot your life for a new job, it had better be to work for someone offering a fantastic opportunity you can’t stop thinking about.

It’s not abundantly clear at this point that “The Great Reshuffle,” as it’s referred to, would occur in this way.

Instead, it’s more realistic to picture a scenario such as this in another year or two: Bob is doing well working for Google – a top performer, in fact. Bob has also performed well working remotely and hasn’t missed a beat. It’s just like he’s in the office when he’s not. He communicates exceptionally well with his team and superiors.

After some time working from a remote location, Bob is promoted and takes on a more prominent role. We know he can do well working outside of the office and from home. Then, one day, Bob approaches the management team at Google and expresses a desire to work for the company but in the place he grew up – Chicago.

See, Bob doesn’t want to leave his company for a lifestyle change. That’s not enough. He likes working for Google and there’s no guarantee that he’s going to find something inherently better and more satisfying simply because he’s where he wants to live, even if it’s with the same company! Yes, there’s a Google office in Chicago, but what if he can’t have the same career path there once he moves as he does now? Once Bob is assured that he can stay on that career path, he must potentially make some trade-offs. His salary will likely change, but the cost of living may be better and quality of life being around family and friends may be better too. So, in Bob’s case, because he has an employer he likes and already works remotely for, the transition feels smoother. But not every technical talent will be a Bob who works remotely and not every employer is going to be a Google.


Talman Advantage #6: The Technical Expertise Clients Highly Respect

How many account managers within a recruiting firm have technical PhDs and MSs? Not many. Yet, you’ll find several of them at Roy Talman & Associates, which our clients in the technological space have come to highly respect over the course of 30+ years. No wonder they respond quickly in real time. And when we suggest the creation of a new position just for you, they seriously consider our suggestion at a minimum and frequently call us to discuss further.

See yourself represented from a higher place right from the very beginning. Talk to Talman first.


The proof as to whether a “boomerang” approach to recruiting back top tech talent is going to work depends on how much remote workers find they are giving up in terms of their career or personal life. The less they’re giving up, the more working remotely will be desirable – and the farther the remote location they may travel to, across several states and thousands of miles.

Yes, in Chicago, you may know what you’re getting as a former and returning “homegrown” talent. But the key will be whether or not you can effectively work for a top-tier company without physically being at your former location consistently, other than flying back to headquarters once a quarter.

To be successful in luring back Chicago tech talent that grew up here, that talent must be able to see that they are not making above-and-beyond sacrifices that would compromise their professional growth or impact their personal well-being.

When more tech talent discovers how they can enjoy the same or better advantages of the remote work they’re doing right now for their current employer, only in a new location, then “The Great Reshuffling” will really pick up steam.

Will 10,000 or more of those types return to Chicago over the next couple of years? Maybe, maybe not. One thing we’re confident of is considering we’re talking about top-tier talent, it won’t be anywhere near as simple as expecting all of them at that ultra-high level to return home just because they miss the area.

At Roy Talman & Associates, we find the “best of the best” talent requires a high degree of sophistication and all the correct elements to align if they are to confidently agree to transition from one location to another, even if it is with the same employer. Being curious about making a change is one thing. Being assured long before the moving truck shows up that it will be a change for the better – in all the right ways – is quite another. 

Luring best-in-class talent is a multi-layered approach that requires a partner who understands what you are looking for in talent as well as one who can convey what your culture, management style, opportunities for growth and more are all about. Priorities and values can look different for every single candidate. That’s why it’s vital to Talk To Talman First.

For over 40 years, Roy Talman & Associates has helped a wide variety of companies from Chicago to New York identify, attract and onboard talent of many shapes and sizes. The homegrown talent that wants to return to the area. The adventurous talent that has never lived here before but craves the challenges your company can provide. We strive harder to be on the same wavelength for what they need in their next employer, valuing the cultural, personality and work style fit as much as the skills they fulfill in a job description. If you want to source outside your area for the most impactful hire possible, you’ve found a place where you’ll never have to settle.