“Home Grown” Talent Versus Importing It

Many times, we’re preconditioned to think of hiring for talent that’s right in our own backyard. It’s convenient and let’s face it – there’s less to consider in the way of relocation expenses if it’s local and “home grown.” However, if we’re going to always be looking not only for the next great candidate but also the “next Silicon Valley,” maybe we should take a closer look at how places like Silicon Valley have actually obtained its talent.

The reason Silicon Valley has been successful over the last 20-30 years is that it’s been very effective at sucking in brainpower, first from all over the U.S. and then worldwide. Its greatest brains haven’t necessarily been right around the corner. In order to continually do this over as many years as Silicon Valley has, you have to create an environment where you have winning companies and a lot of very rich people.

Once you have the momentum going continually attracting the most capable people on Earth, you will create a very wealthy environment. Not only is Silicon Valley very wealthy but also very demanding. I’ve referred to this race as “The Lottery” where some people wind up hitting it really big, others still do really well and others basically say, “Well, this is a rat race and I don’t want to run myself into the ground on Startup #7 seeing as my prior six didn’t work out.”

So what does this have to do with the rest of the population of a given area like Silicon Valley? The “Silicon Valley”-like environment creates an extremely high cost of living. People who lived there for a long time have difficulty deciding to move. In reality, what they do is they give up their lifestyle. You have people living in much smaller older homes and commuting much further out because, somehow, in their mind, that’s what they’ve always done. The cost of living is really determined mostly in those areas by the cost of real estate.

For people who are in the “Haves” category, the restriction of new construction or any kind of other real estate restrictions doesn’t hurt them because they already own their houses or condos. As such, there is really no push in these areas thus far to lower the cost of real estate. The only way to lower the cost of real estate is to build more. The only way to build more is to create an environment where it makes sense to build more. And that is not the case in a lot of these areas.A

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At Roy Talman & Associates, we don’t just see you as a resume or even a candidate to fill an open job. Instead, we’ll ask to meet you because we want to get to know you on a deeper level – that includes your current skills, your knowledge of certain subjects, your special expertise, your work style and the environments in which you believe you thrive.

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“Have-Nots” On The Move

The net result is likely to be that the “Have-Nots” will progressively find that they’re getting pushed out. To some degree, we’re seeing such a trend even in Chicago – perhaps on a lesser scale, but nonetheless you have areas where the values of real estate have gone up, which results in people who can’t afford to stay there getting pushed out. We will likely see this in quite a few areas – not just Silicon Valley or Manhattan.

The solution for this is for the “Have-Nots” to say, “OK, we’re going to go to places where we can have more.” So as you look at the cost of living, the question is, where can you make a living? If you go to Toledo, Ohio, your $60,000 a year gets you a very nice lifestyle. This may be the opportunity that companies in certain markets are looking for to attract ever more capable people. It’s only when it reaches a point where the cost of living gets to be so high and the density is so unbearable that the companies say, “Well, maybe we can still manage to be as productive or somewhat productive in much lower cost of living situations.”

It’s then that you see Manhattan investment banks moving their operations to Arizona or companies moving their headquarters to Dallas where the cost of living is much lower. Or you begin to see a slightly different version of Silicon Valley being created in Austin, Texas, where people are working on very similar challenges from a technology standpoint.

It’s also why Amazon now will have a second headquarters (even though they won’t be in New York for it anymore). Most people think that when Amazon goes to northern Virginia, it’s because they’ll expect to find all of the talent they’ll need in that area. In reality, a vast majority of the talent that Amazon found in Seattle…was talent they brought to Seattle. History will likely repeat itself here. It’s not that the talent is already there and free for the taking. The move is more to diversify their collection points for talent.

Similarly, for all that has been written about the influx and expansion of Silicon Valley companies into the Chicago market, it is due to a variety of factors – not purely that all of the talent these companies are aiming to attract is already “home grown.” In fact, just as the case is in many other markets, trying to obtain very specialized talent often calls for widening the scope beyond a local view. Even companies such as Google and Facebook are discovering that this talent needs to be imported from other places – which, in fact, is not any more unusual than many other growth-oriented markets.

What this calls for is an eye for recruiting the very best talent locally and outside of the given market, so that companies aren’t limited in their growth. They can focus on connecting with the highest quality candidate that fits the role, their culture, their values and their goals. That’s the unrestricted position that a firm with over 30 years of experience, such as Roy Talman & Associates, can put your company in. To experience what having that advantage feels like, talk to Talman first.