158 people move to Austin each day, and 400,000 into Texas each year. Numerous publications have marveled at the growth and economic strength of our Lone Star State in the past year – such as Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg and Kiplingers to name a few. Two recent reports caught our attention and prompted our legal recruiters to ask what these trends mean for both employers seeking top talent for highly skilled jobs and job seekers in a competitive, educated workforce. As legal recruiters based in Texas and with extensive experience here, we see firsthand the impact of these factors at play as well as some significant secondary consequences that we thought our clients and candidates would find helpful.
The Milken Institute recently published a report that names Austin the “Best Performing Large City” in the US for 2013. They explained the top ranking was determined by the high level of short and long-term job growth, a diverse and expanding technology industry, strong entrepreneurial success, high-quality jobs and wages, a favorable business climate, a high quality, educated workforce and savvy recruiting efforts by the city. The report notes wages in Austin total $9.9 billion per year and that the next five years will see gains in eight industries: clean technology, data centers, digital media, HQ/regional offices, medical device/biosciences, semiconductors, software, and wireless.
The Milken report notes that the City of Austin has done an excellent job of recruiting companies to start or relocate in Austin due to its business climate, workforce, the University of Texas, and the presence of similar companies. So far, employers have had a relatively easy time convincing top talent of the quality of life Austin provides. As recruiters, we have found this to be a huge benefit as well – Austin’s quality of life makes attracting top talent an easier sell.
There is also a ripple effect of all the influx – many of those employees moving to Austin or Texas for a job have a spouse, and many times that spouse is in the legal industry and eager to find a new job here. Sometimes a parent wants to move closer to a child who lives here and is attracted to the quality of life and lower cost of living Austin offers. We’ve also seen a tremendous increase in the quantity and quality of candidates actively seeking us out to express an interest in Austin. These are highly qualified attorneys, paralegals and compliance professionals with outstanding credentials wanting or committed to moving. It seems that a growing number of people are seeking a better quality of life for themselves and their families, and are often willing to accept a decrease in compensation in order to make it happen.
An “infographic” published by Complete Web Resources is a great visual of Austin and what makes it a strong base for employers and employees. This link includes the legal industry as an employment category, and indicates that it comprises 11.8 % of the total Austin economy. Like the financial services, construction, and retail sectors, the legal industry is bolstered indirectly by the direct growth in other industries: growing companies have growing legal needs.
While this presents an opportunity, it also presents a challenge for employers – how best to access all this new, highly qualified talent that often has highly desirable skills and/or training from other areas of the country. Finding and screening potential employees at a distance is a more time-consuming and expensive task when the candidates are out-of-state. And sorting the wheat from the chaff is also more time-consuming when there are so many applicants responding to every position posted. This is why both internal and external recruiters are invaluable for both employers and candidates. They can streamline the process by screening and staying on top of the onslaught of online applicants, plus add to the quality of the candidate pool by sourcing on-point candidates who aren’t actively reviewing postings.
For candidates moving to Austin or Texas, a recruiter can help identify potential employers, provide critical market information, and be a source of job leads within one place instead of individually researching and contacting potential employers one at a time. From the company’s perspective, recruiters source inactive candidates who might not be actively looking and reviewing postings, but who would be interested in a position in Austin if contacted about it. A good Austin recruiter will have personal knowledge of all of Austin’s strengths and be able to convince candidates to apply to positions in Austin to which they’d be a good fit.
The Milken report rated other Texas cities in the top 25 “Best Performing Large Cities.” These include Dallas at #7, Houston #8, San Antonio #12, Ft. Worth-Arlington #16, Corpus Christi #17 and Laredo #22. Among their Top Ten “Best Performing Small Cities” Texas had three: Midland #5, Longview #7 and San Angelo #8.
 The Milken Institute is an independent economic think tank based in Santa Monica, California that publishes research and hosts conferences that apply market-based principles and financial innovations to a variety of societal issues in the US and internationally. http://www.milkeninstitute.org/