Southern California Technology Jobs Surge

Anyone looking for signs that the economy is turning around, might want to look at what appears to be happening in Southern California's technology jobs market. According to numerous local CEOs, startup executives, and recruiters, the number of open positions for technical--and other-- talent at local companies has surged in recent months, and there's a wild scramble to find the right employees.

"It's been tough to shake people loose from companies," Stuart Macfarlane, CEO of El Segundo-based iChange, explains, saying that the firm is actively looking to hire two to three web developers. Macfarlane said the experience at the startup, which is developing online communities focused on life changes, contrasts with his experience a few years ago recruiting in the Bay Area for InsiderPages, where he was CEO. At that time, he said he was able to post an ad on Craiglist and "had more resumes than we knew what to do with." This time, Macfarlane says the firm has only gotten a few qualified applicants for the firm's positions, although he has not been aggressively recruiting.

"We're getting more aggressive in recruitment," explains says Kirsten Mangers, CEO of Irvine-based Webvisible. The firm recently opened up a new office in Playa Del Rey, looking to tap into the market of Los Angeles area technical talent, and is also hiring in Irvine, on the heels of a venture funding round. Mangers explains, "Finding employees is getting tougher," saying that the talent that it out there is being offered more jobs, and that there are more jobs to choose from. Mangers said that it appears that for companies that have survived the storm of 2009 and the economy, things are looking up. Mangers said Webvisible today has slightly under 300 employees, and hopes to have slightly under 500 employees by the end of the year.

"The LA market is going insane," says Janine Davis, a recruiter at Technical Connections in Los Angeles, saying she is seeing the most demand in all software engineering areas, ERP/CRM, quality assurance, and even for DBAs, administrators, and network engineers. Cathy Ashbaugh who runs Pacific Shore Resources, a recruiting firm in Yorba Linda, agrees, saying that her firm has found that most technology companies she speaks to are hiring, or planning to hire. However, she confirms that potential employees are harder to find.

Why the disconnect? "Employed candidates are still laying low," explains Ashbaugh, saying that employees are still nervous about making a job change, and because there is still a lot of negative press about the unemployment rate. Davis says that for the most part, good hands on technologists are working, explaining that they are "still reticent to make a move in this market -- and there is still a perception and lots of talk of a down market."

Melissa Hooven, a technical recruiter in-house at MindJolt, a casual gaming firm which is active building out its team in Los Angeles and San Francisco, says "Candidates are being more thorough in their diligence on the companies they are considering," continuing, "What used to be merely an economic decision is now much more balanced with understanding the company's business model and management team's track-record, before making the decision to move."

In any case, it's good sign for the local economy--and for a few good technical folks willing to make a move to a new company--that the sluggish economy over the last year is finally turning around.