Talent Firm Flags Best US Cities for Hiring Remote Tech Workers

"There is no question that fully remote is what the majority of the market wants,”

Deidre Diamond, CEO CyberSN


John P. Mello, Jr. - December 28, 2021 - Originally published at ECT News Network

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With remote work here to stay, a conundrum for many firms is where to tap into the stay-at-home workforce. Karat, a maker of a talent platform for developers, has an answer to that riddle.

The company has identified what it considers the 10 best cities -- outside major tech hubs like the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and New York -- for hiring remote software engineers.

Breaking out of the traditional tech hubs to find the next best cities for software engineers to hire remote developers isn't a new idea, Karat explained in a company blog. Distributed engineering teams can deliver financial savings by hiring in lower-cost markets, and diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities by tapping into more diverse populations.

But for years, it continued, organizations have hesitated to embrace remote work, pointing to productivity and collaboration tradeoffs.

The Covid-19 pandemic radically changed the way the world works, it explained. As more organizations consider making the shift to remote work permanent, many engineering leaders are turning to remote developer hiring as a core growth strategy for the next few years.

Pittsburgh Leads Pack

Karat's city choices are based on how job candidates from those locales perform during an hour-long technical questioning with the company's interview engineers, which score candidates based on project discussions, coding performance, computer science knowledge, system design, cloud architectures, and other relevant skills.

Based on the percentage of candidates that passed the technical interviews, the top city for hiring remote workers was Pittsburgh, followed by Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Austin, San Diego, Boston, Dallas and Chicago.

Karat noted that Pittsburgh has a great pipeline for engineers with two universities -- Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh -- with computer science programs in the top 50 in the United States.

In addition, demand for developers in the locale isn't as competitive as it would be in a tech hub. Within 50 miles of the city, Indeed.com showed only 800 software engineer job postings, compared to 10,000 for the Bay Area.

Karat added that three cities in the top 10 -- Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago --have some unique software engineering expertise that some hiring authorities might find attractive.

Houston, for instance, has benefited from technology and automation development in the oil and gas industry and is the home of Rice University.

Los Angeles is in the middle of a tech boom fueled by entertainment and streaming services, and UCLA and USC both support top 20 computer science programs.

Meanwhile, Chicago's tech sector has seen strong growth during the pandemic, and the city has become a tech hub for the Midwest.

Remote Work in High Demand

Those cities can expect to see headhunters combing their environs in the coming months as more and more workers demand remote work as a condition of employment.

"We estimate that 80 percent of our job candidates want 100 percent remote," observed Deidre Diamond, founder and CEO of CyberSN, a cybersecurity recruiting and career resources firm in Framingham, Mass.

"There are still organizations trying to make people come into the office," she told TechNewsWorld. "It takes us three times as much time to fill those roles -- if we can fill them at all."

She noted that her firm may have to increase its recruiting rates for companies demanding in-office work only.

"We're seeing organizations fighting remote work, then after two or three months, they see it isn't going to happen and they hire a remote worker," she said. "That increases the cost significantly for everybody."

Interest in remote work isn't limited to technology occupations, either. In its bi-annual Job Optimism report released last week, Robert Half, a global staffing company, found that 54 percent of the professionals surveyed for the report are interested in fully remote positions at companies based in a different city or state.

The report also revealed that the ability to work remotely permanently (34 percent) was among the top three reasons for quitting a job, following an increase in pay (54 percent) and better benefits and perks (34 percent).

Workers in Driver's Seat

"Employee priorities have changed since the start of the pandemic," observed Robert Half Vice President and Director of Permanent Placement Services Rob Harding.

"Salaries have gone up, but flexibility is definitely a big key now, too, with candidates wanting remote work either fully or hybrid," he told TechNewsWorld.

"Benefits have also changed," he added. "Mental health coverage has been a big one throughout the pandemic."

Overall, the Robert Half report found worker optimism high. Four in 10 workers (41 percent) plan to look for a new job in the first half of 2022, it noted, up from 32 percent six months ago.

"Employees have leverage because of the talent shortage that we have," Harding explained. "They're able to use it to their advantage in search of new opportunities with better pay, benefits and flexibility options."

"What you're going to see a lot more of is the Great Reshuffle," he continued. "Workers will be leaving their jobs to find a better opportunity in the job market."

"The Great Resignation refers to workers leaving jobs and not reentering the workforce. For the most part, we're past that. But the great reshuffle is just starting its surge," he added.

Remote Here to Stay

The report also revealed that many workers -- more than one out of four (28 percent) -- feel so confident about their job prospects that they're willing to leave their current job without the safety net of a new job waiting for them.

"Employees are realizing that they're the driver of the market right now," Harding said. "They have more confidence to leave their job without a job waiting for them because they feel there are multiple opportunities for them out there. That's much different than pre-pandemic."

Stephen Ezell, director of global innovation policy at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a science and technology think tank in Washington, D.C. maintained that remote work will continue to be quite prevalent in 2022.

"It's been estimated that in the summer of 2019, two-thirds of America's GDP was produced inside America's households. The power of information technology now to fully facilitate remote work makes it likely we will see a great deal of remote work in the year ahead," he told TechNewsWorld.

"Dynamics like that will make workers ever more attuned to finding the most attractive work environment possible for their lifestyle," he said. "So the Great Resignation may well continue as workers see a tight labor market and become more demanding of a work/life balance situation and are looking for employers who are willing to provide that."

"I don't think we'll ever go back to what the work environment was like pre-Covid-19," he added. 

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the Boston PhoenixMegapixel.Net and Government Security NewsEmail John.

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