How Geography Affects Tech Recruitment: A Case Study on Amazon HQ2
The world of employment has become a more digital marketplace. It’s because of this that many overlook the physical location of major employers in the tech industry. Amazon is one of these employers, and there has been a significant amount of interest in the placement of the company’s HQ2 (secondary headquarters). The company presented their list of possibilities to the public to gather input and invited bids from the potential cities as part of its decision process.
In the end, Amazon chose to split its headquarters over two locations: Long Island in New York City and Northern Virginia near Washington D.C. This has major implications for tech workers in the industry.
The latest news on Amazon’s HQ2 decision
Amazon’s choice of location for its HQ2 is going to bring an entirely new level of competitiveness to the area, driving up the current market, altering the availability of technical positions, and even changing the way companies recruit and attract new talent.
The announcement of the HQ2 location is also an announcement that 50,000 jobs or more are expected to open up—25,000 new jobs to Northern Virginia’s Crystal City area and another 25,000 to New York’s Long Island locale. This transition won’t be happening all at once, however. The company plans on a very slow integration of the HQ2 into the surrounding communities in an effort to avoid overwhelming local communities with an influx of hopeful techies.
These jobs will range from entry-level labor positions to some of the most advanced technical opportunities anywhere. It’s the technical positions that are reliant on local talent and that may cause the most problems for the tech giant.
Criticisms of the new HQ2
Regardless of Amazon’s announcement that they will make the move slowly, there has been a renewed interest in real estate in the surrounding areas, but only time will tell if real estate investments will pay off. Because while Amazon intends to hire 400 new employees in the VA location, and 700 in NY over the next year, it won’t complete its 25,000 jobs goal in either location until 2028.
Even with a long-term plan in place, other companies have been critical of the HQ2 “bidding war.” It’s been considered everything from an unethical publicity stunt meant to draw attention to Amazon, to a poorly planned release of information that’s put the tech community on edge.
Understanding the ties between Amazon’s HQ2 and broader tech recruitment
There’s a nationwide shortage of available recruits for technical positions. It’s a highly specialized field, and one that can be difficult to break into if you’re not located near the right companies. So when places like Amazon (and more recently, Apple) announce the growth of their physical presence, it represents a gold rush for tech candidates.
Unfortunately, relocating isn’t very popular. Only New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto generated interest in more than 5 percent of respondents, carving out a rather slim recruiting pool for Amazon.
Examining how the tech community reacted to Amazon’s HQ2 process can tell us a lot about the way that local tech talent reacts to new opportunities. It seems many potential recruits are less than enthusiastic about relocating to further their careers, and that the shortage of developer candidates is making location-related decisions difficult—even in the sought-after areas that are attractive to tech workers.
“If Amazon chooses to locate HQ2 in one of the most competitive regions for tech talent, hiring will be more challenging and it will have a larger negative impact on existing businesses in the region. That will be emphasized further if it is also in a region that is a less attractive place for tech workers to relocate since Amazon will need to rely more heavily on hiring local talent.” - Natalia Panowicz, COO of Codility
Geography is absolutely a factor in the hiring process for technical positions and it plays a large part in the success for businesses looking to grow their engineering teams. With the Washington D.C. area (including Northern Virginia) ranked as the nation’s third-best market for tech talent, it is obvious that Amazon took their geographical decision seriously and considered the hard facts about workers' unwillingness to relocate outside of the most favored cities. Even then, with a nationwide shortage of tech recruits, emploeyrs may have a hard time finding the right people.
Now, it’s in the hands of careful recruiting techniques
The potential consequences and benefits of Amazon’s HQ2 move have been discussed by many. The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that the geographic location will change the availability of recruits over an extended period.
Online tech recruiting platforms are a great way of measuring the qualifications of potential recruits in new areas. These platforms enable hiring teams to test the skills of local talent without needing to import tech-savvy hiring managers, speeding up the entire process. If you are looking to hire remote workers as a part of your battle against geographical recruiting problems, an online platform to screen candidates makes it much easier.
Codility provides tools to help tech hiring teams find, screen, interview, and hire top developers. Download our ebook to better understand the best tech hiring practices.