Exploring Chicago’s Evolving Tech Industry

Posted: June 25, 2018

Chicagoland is one of America’s most exciting metropolitan areas to be a part of, and a chief reason is the area’s thriving IT sector. Whether it’s the growth of startups, an influx of job opportunities, or shifting professional demographics, the region continues to be a beacon for IT talent and companies in the Midwest. Here’s what Chicago’s evolving tech industry means for both technology professionals and businesses.


For regional insights and compensation figures, download your 2018 Midwest IT Salary Guide here.


From Windy City to Startup City


The Chicago region is currently enjoying a low unemployment rate of 3.6%, due in large part to an influx of tech startups. In fact, Chicago is the #1 startup city in the entire Midwest, with 357 startups founded in the last three years alone. Better yet, these technology startups are thriving instead of folding, with one startup recently acquired by Kroger in a deal valued at $700 million.


This paints an exciting picture for Chicago IT professionals. Contributing to innovative companies that have huge potential to shape the future of both the industry and the world is a coveted job perk. On the other hand, employers are experiencing increased competition and are grappling with changing market salaries. Chicago is now one of the top 10 U.S. cities with jobs of $100,000 or more for this very reason. Candidate databases are stretched to their limit as elusive tech pros see more options at their fingertips.


Job Growth Spikes


Job growth in Chicago’s tech industry is so strong that it now rivals that of Silicon Valley. Backed by companies like Google, Salesforce, CareerBuilder, Motorola, and Redbox opening offices in the area, the number of people employed by Chicago’s top 100 tech companies is increasing by 15% each year. The significance of this isn’t lost on the area’s tech talent and hiring managers.


For IT job seekers, this adds to the scene and provides opportunities for career advancement. Startups can provide a level of excitement, but working for a behemoth like Google right from the comfort of Chicago is a dream for many tech pros. For employers, this unfortunately does mean competition is increasing and more roles are going unfilled. Certain staffing strategies such as utilizing a VMS are falling flatter in this evolving environment as the difficulty of recruiting in technology rises.


Millennials Provide Relief


The good news for employers is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Individuals aged 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree are relocating to Chicago faster than any other city, making the metropolitan area the #1 city in America for educated Millennials. Given that information, it’s no wonder the city ranks as one of the top 10 future global tech hubs.


Tech professionals may encounter added competition for roles but can take comfort in knowing open IT positions still vastly outnumber available talent to fill them. Additionally, working on soft skills that can complement a technical skill set is the surefire way to stay on top of a hiring manager’s candidate list. Finally, this surge of young professionals into the area simply makes it a vibrant and attractive location for the foreseeable future. The city feels electrified with young talent, ready to take on the world.


Fresh talent is exactly what IT hiring managers are in dire need of, so this is welcomed news. However, in order to capture the interest of Millennials, recruiting efforts must be tailored accordingly. These young professionals have different values from those of other generations. They look to make a positive impact in society, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and grow their careers strategically. Provide these things to tech pros, and tech pros will provide you with their skill set.


Exploring Chicago’s Evolving Tech Industry


Of course, a full exploration of the Chicago tech industry fills volumes. Things like changing in-demand IT skills, the growth of other Midwest tech hubs, and fluctuating market salary rates make a big difference to hiring managers and tech pros alike. By keeping up with these factors and more, Chicagoans can find success and goal fulfillment regardless of their role in the industry.


For more on the region’s tech sector including up-to-date salary figures, download your free 2018 Midwest IT Salary Guide here.


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