Silicon Valley Spotlight 2018

Around the world, Silicon Valley is known as the engine of innovation and growth in the tech industry. What happens in Vegas may very well stay in Vegas, but that certainly isn’t the case here: innovations that start in the Bay Area lead to social change, business disruption, new economic opportunities and, of course, endless headlines in the media.  

And with a 2016 GDP of $781 billion (that’s larger than the economy of the Netherlands) and more than 14% of the nation’s total venture capital, the Bay Area is unquestionably the country’s primary tech hub.

But nothing stands still in this world, and least of all in Silicon Valley. In 2017 we saw some of the area’s leading tech disruptors being disrupted, with Uber naming a new CEO and the industry’s diversity problems coming to a head.

Meanwhile, the cost of living is so high that one Houston firm found it more cost-effective to regularly fly employees out to the area on a private jet rather than hire Silicon Valley based professionals.

With all these variables in play, 2018 should be an even more interesting year to watch. What’s in store? We examined Indeed’s data to identify the noteworthy jobs, trends and innovations for the year ahead. Here’s what we found.

Job growth is slowing down

So what about job growth? It turns out that job postings in Silicon Valley are down. In fact, between September of 2015 and September of 2017, there was an 18.14% decrease in the share of tech job postings on Indeed.

That said, this downward trend was much less dramatic in 2017 than in the previous year. Almost 16 percentage points of the decline occurred between September 2015 and September 2016, with the remaining 3 percentage points occurring between September 2016 and September 2017.

Recent research from Indeed shines some light on what could be fueling thisAccording to our data, Seattle is the big winner when it comes to tech job growth, with close to a 11% change in its share of the nation’s tech job postings between 2016 and 2017. The D.C. and Baltimore areas also had impressive rates of growth, with increases of about 3-5% each.

By contrast, San Jose’s share of tech job postings dropped by about 6%, while San Francisco’s fell by nearly 8%. But even with these decreases, the two areas still collectively account for about 30% of the nation’s tech job postings, and Silicon Valley remains an ideal location in the eyes of techs’ big players. Firms such as Apple, Google, Salesforce and Facebook have recently built new campuses or signed new leases.

With these industry leaders continuing to expand and invest in the area, tech professionals can feel confident that Silicon Valley will remain the top location for their skill sets for the foreseeable future—although job growth is something we’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on in 2018.

Show us the money

The most frequently cited culprit for the slowdown in job growth in Silicon Valley is the high cost of living. Some of the most colorful media reports feature tales of tech workers living in closets, garages or even a truck parked in the Google lot.  We took a look at Indeed salary data to find out just how well (or badly) tech workers’ pay packets are faring as we enter 2018.

Product development engineer and director of product management ranked highest in our yearly salary data, earning an average of $173, 570 and $173,556 respectively. And alongside some well established roles, we also saw the trending career of machine learning engineer entering the top 20 at number 13. This may be a relatively new field, but it’s also a healthy one with a future. It is estimated that globally, large tech companies spent $20 billion to $30 billion on AI in 2016 alone, with 90% of this spent on R&D and deployment, and 10% on AI acquisitions. VC  financing, grants, and seed investments also grew rapidly from $6 billion to $9 billion.  

Machine learning is not the only emerging role paying high salaries. DevOps manager entered the list at #4 and cloud engineer at #7. Both positions have seen significant growth in the last few years as DevOps practices continue to develop their reputation for delivering software faster, more reliably and fewer errors—making it possible to pull ahead of the competition. Meanwhile, firms continue to invest in cloud technologies.

These salaries are unadjusted and so do not go as far in the Bay Area as they would in competing markets with lower costs of living. Even so, research from the Indeed Hiring Lab shows that Silicon Valley still gives tech employees relatively good bang for their buck, with the Bay Area placing fourth (behind Charlotte, Atlanta and Austin) in our rankings of cities where tech salaries go the furthest.  

Silicon Valley’s plethora of career opportunities is another strong draw, of course. But that’s not all: The fact that non-compete agreements are void in California also makes it fertile ground for tech professionals looking to build their careers.

Which tech roles are most in demand in Silicon Valley ?

To identify which positions are most in demand at the start of 2018 we compiled a list of titles that account for the biggest share of tech job postings listed on Indeed.

Software engineering is the unrivaled leader, accounting for nearly a quarter of the tech jobs in 2017: it’s safe to say that these types of positions will continue to be in demand. Front end developers and full stack developers place a distant second and third, accounting for 6% and 4.6% of positions, respectively.

As for which positions we should keep an eye on in 2018: with Gartner projecting the growth of worldwide public cloud services by more than 18%, we think cloud engineers (20) are a solid bet, and even more so when you consider that Amazon, Google, Cisco, SAP and other big public cloud providers and cloud computing vendors are in the Bay Area.

Automation engineer (17) is another interesting position to watch, especially as automation technology is poised to become more of a regular presence in our everyday business and personal interactions, whether through driverless cars, self-service kiosks, or robots in the workforce.

Machine learning—currently cresting at the top of Gartner’s latest hype cycle for emerging technologies—also cracked the top 20, coming in at number 18.  So we’ll be keeping an eye on the growth of machine learning engineers in 2018.

As for the top trending skills in the Bay Area? Java, Python and agile development are the top three most in demand.

Who’s doing the most hiring in Silicon Valley?

We also analyzed which tech firms are doing the most hiring in Silicon Valley.

Although the buzz may frequently be about the latest unicorn or the hottest new tech startups, it turns some of the more established behemoths of tech—such as Apple (founded in 1976), Cisco (founded in 1984) and Oracle (founded in 1977)—continue to dominate much of the hiring in Silicon Valley.

While Apple’s brand retains its allure, these other larger, older companies are making a serious play to appeal to talent over the hotter names in the tech industry or exciting startups. For instance, GE’s recent “What’s the Matter with Owen” ad campaign features a recent college grad who’s taking a job at GE and challenging the perception his family and friends have about the company. Meanwhile, Walmart eCommerce had more job postings in the Bay Area than (for instance) Tesla, PayPal or eBay during the time period we analyzed. This coincides with the retail behemoth’s heavy investment in artificial intelligence, which it is using to support the rapid growth of its online sales.

But while established tech companies may be doing much of the hiring in Silicon Valley, newer innovative companies like Tesla also make the top 20 and can be considerably more proactive when it comes to directly reaching out to talent. For instance, in 2017 Tesla contacted 804% more tech candidates than Cisco on Indeed Prime, Indeed’s talent platform that matches employers to a pre-vetted pool of highly qualified tech talent who are actively looking for new roles.

There is also lot of cross-over between this list and Indeed’s list of 25 best places to work for in the Bay Area: six of the top ten companies on the best places list are tech companies, with Salesforce at #1, Apple at #2, Google at #5, Facebook at #7, Intuit at #8 and Adobe at #10.

Some other companies such as Uber and Netflix landed just outside the top 20. (Uber of course touts its lean workforce as part of what sets it apart, so we would not expect to see it hiring in the same volume as some of the other firms on the list.)

As for the top hirers in specific metro areas? In San Jose, Cisco, PayPal, eBay hold the top three spots. In Oakland, Pandora and Oracle come first and second respectively. While in San Francisco, we see Salesforce, Square, Amazon, Uber and Twitter having the most tech job postings.

The year ahead

With shake ups in industry practices, burgeoning tech hubs around the country and emerging trends in technology, 2018 promises to be a notable and perhaps even pivotal year for Silicon Valley.

Over the next twelve months, we’ll continue to track and analyze these new developments and share our insights with you.

Raj Mukherjee is Senior Vice President of Product at Indeed

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