Available technology jobs in the Detroit area are requiring companies to be creative in their recruiting techniques to woo candidates away from California.
Currently Ford has been trying to lure engineers to the automaker to design software. They want to make Silicon Valley engineers feel at home in Detroit. They have also been going after recruits from Stanford University and Internet companies. Recruiting from local universities has also been a tactic; however, there are nowhere near enough graduates to meet the need. Detroit may be a hard win when compared to the pleasant location and climate of the Silicon Valley, which boasts itself as the technology mecca for the country. As Ford and General Motors participates in the war for talent they wine and dine their applicants and show a relaxed work atmosphere with options of telecommuting or working in jeans verses the Silicon Valley companies where suits are familiar work attire. The automakers are also challenged to get qualified candidates with their offers of salary, which are lower than California, but are quick to make clear the benefits of lower home costs and living expenses. Expertise in cloud computing, Michigan SEO, mobile software applications and energy management are in demand in the Motor City as automakers replace car stereos with Internet radio and gasoline engines with motors powered by lithium-ion batteries. Technology job postings in the Detroit area doubled last year, making it the fastest-expanding region in the country. Companies that work with automakers on in-car entertainment systems, such as online streaming music providers Pandora Media Inc. and Mog Inc., have opened offices in the Detroit area. Google Inc., based in Mountain View, California, has an office in Birmingham, Michigan, where it’s looking for sales associates to work with the auto industry. With the onset of job and technology expansion in Michigan, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced in December that it will open its first satellite office in Detroit. The decision was made due to the region’s high percentage of scientists and engineers, as well as its patent output. Due to its 4,000 patents, Michigan was ranked the seventh highest patent-receiving state in 2010. The new office is likely to create about 100 new jobs to review patent filings. Michigan lost about 413,000 jobs from December 2007 through December 2009, including 83,200 jobs in the Detroit area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Things picked up last year, as jobs in the Detroit SEO field and Detroit area professional and business-services sector, which include many of the tech jobs, rose almost twice as fast in December as the overall Michigan job market, according to the bureau. An auto transport company may also be looking to expand with all the anticipated moves. Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans Inc., stated that he plans on adding more jobs as well. Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, moved 1,700 of Quicken Loans’ employees into Compuware Corp. headquarters in Detroit’s Campus Martius Park area, the center of the city’s tech industry, where he plans to add 2,000 more workers. In the building, graffiti from local artists decorate many of the walls and floors, and mini kitchens on every floor offer free slushies and snacks. When the space is fully finished, Quicken also will have a basketball court for employees. Gilbert’s venture capital firm’s goal is to fund social media, cloud computing and other software companies in Detroit. So far, Detroit Venture Partners has received more than 200 proposals for investments and has term sheets under consideration for six that may be signed in the next 30 days. Gilbert also helped fund a planned light-rail project for downtown, formed a venture capital firm to invest in startups, and purchased a historic theater with plans to renovate it as an incubator space for budding technology companies. His objective was to improve Detroit’s downtown to draw people to move back to the area which helps both recruiters and candidates.