From Amazon To Google: West Coast Outposts May Shift Chicago’s Hiring Strategies

A few months ago, Facebook signed a new lease in the Loop comprising a whopping 263,000 square feet – a space that many speculate can hold 2,000 employees or more. Around the same time, we learned that Google was planning on adding 100,000 square feet of office space. Pinterest leased 30,000 square feet in the West Loop. Salesforce is in talks to lease 500,000 square feet and add 5,000 jobs.

Which company from the west coast is going to be next to expand in Chicago in a big way?

Perhaps the one with the biggest implications for investment and hiring of them all: News broke recently that search committee members for Amazon’s HQ2 paid a second trip to Chicago, creating a buzz that the city is very much in the running for a second headquarters location that may bring as many as 50,000 jobs over a decade’s time. For the moment, Amazon has already selected Chicago on a smaller scale by leasing space in the Willis Tower and Ogilvie Transportation Center, representing the first Amazon Go cashier-less convenience stores outside of Seattle.

One thing is for certain – companies such as these don’t make investments in real estate of this magnitude merely to “test the waters” and see if an expansion is going to be a success. Yes, Chicago still has more to prove to Silicon Valley companies in the way of providing a fertile ground for strong candidates to recruit. However, if such candidates can rise to the occasion and complete essential projects, then ever more complex projects from these companies may arrive in Chicago as opposed to the west coast. At that point, we will see a monumental development in terms of where tech companies devote their resources.

 Chicago beam

How might this impact the strategies of hiring managers in Chicago?

It won’t happen necessarily overnight. Many tech companies are not aiming to hire thousands upon thousands of candidates in short order as Facebook might. Rather, they may be more focused on hiring the top 1% of the top 1%.

That said, with the potential surge of companies from Silicon Valley coming to Chicago to strengthen their outposts, the level of competitiveness for these top candidates may increase significantly. Companies that once thought they could afford to wait for the very best of the best candidate to surface may feel at least some greater urgency to move faster toward attracting top talent.

At Roy Talman & Associates, we’ve always found it to be smart to dial up the intelligence on where the best talent on the market is located and establish long-term relationships with them. It’s also good to have our “antennae” up and stay abreast of the type of skill sets that companies will demand in the near future. In a new era in which Silicon Valley companies muscle into the local landscape to compete for talent, companies may not need to be “always on” when it comes to hiring, but their recruitment intelligence certainly should be always on.

To use an analogy, imagine if the CIA – our nation’s intelligence agency – decided to take a day off and get around to listening to chatter at a later date. That would be completely irresponsible and dangerous, right? It’s the agency’s mission to know what is going on at all times so they can take proactive measures instead of being purely reactive, when it might be too late to act altogether.


Talman Advantage #4: Better Positioning For Your Best Opportunity


The reality is that, in so many situations, that “perfect job opportunity” may not be formally listed by a company. In that instance, where some may simply fire your resume off to an HR person’s email and hope for the best, Roy Talman & Associates takes a more creative and purposeful approach.



ABR: Always Be Recruiting


Similarly, several Chicago-based companies may be more compelled than ever before to continually be in search mode, even if they are not in hiring mode, in order to know where top candidates can be found when the opportunity presents itself.

That opportunity may come in the form of your own company growth but it may also come from a high-impact individual leaving the company, creating the need for you to move quicker toward a hire that hopefully possesses many of the former employee’s specialized set of skills. Let’s face it – even before companies from Silicon Valley landed in Chicago to buy up office space, we were already seeing employee tenures at companies continue to shrink. Where it was once unheard of that an employee would only be at a company for two or three years, it is rapidly becoming the norm in the technology space. Now add a range of well-known tech companies from Silicon Valley to the mix, which may aim to entice the talent within your company to at least explore the possibility of working in one of those environments.

Simply put, hiring managers have to err on the side of thinking that the high quality talent they hire today will not stay at the company forever, especially in this ever-more competitive climate we are witnessing. If you make that assumption and do not wait until the day when someone leaves the company in order to start recruiting, you will have hopefully already hit the ground running with your outreach to new candidates.

What we’re looking at is a bit of a shift in strategy for companies and it’s an important one: A more constant, steady stream of communication with candidates across a spectrum of many different departments and skills. This does not mean that your company is going to make a hire, but it does mean that you can send a clear message that through your consistent recruitment efforts, you want to know the best of the best talent at all times.

As a key partner in that initiative, Roy Talman & Associates frequently talks with top performers in the technology arena to understand what they value today and what goals they may have for tomorrow. In turn, they also approach us for insights on the industries, company cultures and technologies they may want to familiarize themselves with. Whether yours is a company from the west coast joining those expanding to Chicago or one that has been established in the city for decades, count on the 30+ years of experience and resources from Roy Talman. We can help you move forward on a solid recruitment strategy and keep your company very much in the running for the best quality talent, even if companies expanding from Silicon Valley increase the level of competition for that talent to its highest levels too.