East Coast Vs West Coast Hiring: Mixing It Up

Things in this country are often split up on the lines of ‘East Coast vs. West Coast.’ Some classic sports rivalries go that way such as Lakers vs. Celtics. Another clear delineation between east and west is in the business world: Wall Street bankers and blue collar company moguls typically occupy east coast cities like New York and Boston, whereas Hollywood movie producers and Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs hold fast in the west.

However, this clear business delineation (or the perception of one) may be breaking down. West Coast venture capital firms have been steadily investing more money in the bio-tech and pharmaceutical sectors, which are traditionally ruled by East Coast giants like Genzyme and Merck. A previously insulated Hollywood is starting to cross-pollinate with not only with the tech industry up the California coast, but also with video game collaborators on the east coast and across the middle of the country. Essentially, normally insular industries are opening up through hiring as business opportunities present themselves both economically and geographically.

One great example of the breaking down of geo-economic lines in hiring is with Wall Street. Prototypical New York bankers and traders are known to distinguish themselves with Armani suits and thousand dollar bottles of scotch. Now, however, Wall Street appears to be getting an influx of tech geeks that pride themselves on shorts and sandals and bottles of mountain dew.

From Forbes: “What Wall Street is going to need to stay rich are a few good tech geeks. The department where Wall Street recruiters and hiring managers say they’re going to add the most employees next year is technology. 2010 was already a big year for technology jobs on Wall Street- since the first quarter, tech postings are up 75% from a year ago, according to eFinancialCareers.”

Although many of these ‘east coast techies’ won’t be working on glamorous Web 2.0 projects like they would be in Silicon Valley, they will be migrating due to a high demand for better technology within the banking, trading and investing sectors. East Coast banks and investment firms are looking for support for their ‘complex technology infrastructures’ as well as new and innovative ways that technology can help save capital.

One important question will be how these West Coast techies will take to the hiring strategies of the East Coast. Silicon Valley does work in a very specific way: Bay Area companies (especially startups) are known for their laid-back demeanor, flexible hours, work-at-home encouragement, high level of creative support as well as great equity options. Wall Street is not known for many of these things. In order to hire the best tech talent out there, east coast hiring managers and recruiters will need to change their strategy a bit to accommodate for a different kind of hire.

Wall Street needs to realize that tech hires don’t work on the same schedule as wall street bankers – they aren’t 9-5 type of people and often get their best work done at random hours of the night fueled by liters of Mountain Dew. East Coast Hiring Managers need to communicate an understanding of this work attitude in order to attract the best talent out there.

East Coast recruiters can also make use of some technology of their own to land potential tech talent. West Coast companies have long been using the best in applicant tracking software to post jobs, find applicants and communicate throughout the hiring process. If Wall Street wants to jump right into the tech hiring mix they’ll need some firepower to get the best.