A recent study by the Austin Technology Council underscored the hiring mindset held by many local tech companies.
Although 70 percent of those surveyed said they were having difficulties filling technical positions, 42 percent said they require applicants to have at least five years of work experience to even get consideration.
Only 12 percent of respondents said they hire recent college graduates or don’t require previous work experience.
At Indeed.com, company leaders are taking a different tack. The Internet job search company is focused on hiring engineering students directly out of college and providing extensive training to prepare them for their first job.
Indeed, which has grown to 500 employees in Austin, is one of the region’s fastest-growing Internet companies
Indeed has grown from 90 employees in Austin four years ago to more than 500 today. The company, which has been one of the more aggressive recruiters of engineering talent, is also hiring experienced developers.
This year, the company hired 54 graduates from 25 schools, including University of Texas, Carnegie Mellon University, Rice University, Georgia Tech, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and MIT.
The new recruits have spent the past 12 weeks at Indeed’s offices in Northwest Austin, where they learned about the company, got to know company executives and broke into teams to come up with new Indeed products that they’ll pitch at an upcoming Shark Tank-style competition.
“There’s a huge benefit to bringing in people who don’t have experience,” said Chris Hyams, Indeed senior vice president of product. “Sometimes as companies get bigger they fall down in terms of new innovation. When you bring in people who are fresh out of college they are unburdened by the experience of what can’t work, and they are full of creativity about approaching problems from a new way that we might not have thought about.”
Indeed’s website aggregates job listings from thousands of websites, including job boards, newspapers, associations and company career pages. Job seekers search for listings on Indeed’s home page and can post their resumes for recruiters. The website, which is available in 55 countries and 28 languages, has 180 million monthly unique visitors worldwide.
In January, Indeed will move into a new 220,000-square-foot space at the Champion Office Park on North Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360). The new offices can accommodate 1,500 employees, and Hyams said Indeed plans to fill them.
Founded in 2004, Indeed was acquired by Japan’s largest recruitment firm, Recruit Co., in 2012 for an undisclosed price. Under the deal, Indeed retained its name and operates an independent unit of Recruit.
According to financial reports filed by Recruit, Indeed posted revenue of $434 million in fiscal 2014, up 71 percent from the year before.
In addition to its Austin office, Indeed has operations in Seattle, San Francisco and Tokyo, and college hires have the option of working at those offices.
This year’s recruits spent the summer creating new apps and websites that could eventually become part of Indeed’s offerings. The teams developed 11 products, including a site that lets people post and respond to one-time job listings, such as language translation or logo design; and another that helps workers map out new career paths based on their work experience.
Shumeng Gu, who graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May, said she chose Indeed over other job offers because the company gives new hires big responsibilities.
“If you go to Facebook or another big company, you will likely spend your time just fixing bugs. At Indeed, you have ownership over what you’re working on,” Gu said. “The first week I got hired I put code into production, which is almost unheard of for someone at my level.”
Although it costs more to hire and train new workers, building your own talent has advantages, Hyams said.
“In Austin, we’re all trying to hire those same people with three to five years experience,” he said. “We decided this is a long-term plan for us, it’s not a short-term gain. We want to have sustainable growth, and the best way to get people with three years experience is to hire them at zero years experience. We now have a bunch of people with three years experience that we hired three years ago. Soon we’re going to have 54 more.”