Recruiting for Tech in Chicago. Part 1.

I thought I’d share a little bit about my experience recruiting in Chicago. Most of this is taken from a presentation I gave to budding entrepreneurs at 1871 and I’ve decided to split it up into a four part series for greater ease. 

The Chicago Tech Scene is…


The Chicago Tech Scene is incredibly dispersed throughout many industries and everyone’s hiring. In fact, according to the Silicon Valley Bank, 90% of Software companies nationwide say they will be hiring for developers in 2013. A few other points include:

So how do you stand apart and recruit top technical talent with all of this competition? First, let me just guess who you’re looking for without the buzz words for second.

  • Someone young and works hard.
  • Someone who is incredibly smart and can adapt easily to new situations.
  • Someone who can relate to business users as well as technical people.
  • Someone who is passionate about technology and is proactively involved in the tech community.
  • Someone who would does this for fun and happens to get paid for it.
  • Someone who is motivated to be a part of a team.
  • Someone who wants to build something cool and challenging.

Now let’s throw in those buzz words that you’re looking for as well. 


If you’re PHP you want:

  • Drupal 7, Zend, Object-Orientated Javascript, HTML5, CSS3

If you’re RoR you want:

  • Object orientated coding experience, Rails 3.2, Cucumber, Rspec, Shoulda, CouchDB, MongoDB , Reddis, Git

If you’re .NET you want:

  • C#, ASP.NET MVC ¾, Telerik controls, jQuery, Javascript, JSON, LINQ, SSIS, SQL2K8 R2

If you’re Java you want:

  • J2EE, Spring MVC, Lucene, Hadoop, Groovy on Grails, JSP, Javascript, jQuery

If you’re Mobile you want:

  • Object orientated coding experience, iOS AND Android background, Windows Mobile. 

Now let’s talk money, because after all, you may offer a cool collaborative environment but if you aren’t competitive with the market you’re asking people to hold out on the hope of making it big. Basically the same thing every broke entrepreneur is telling the same developers. Let’s start out with the basic developer salaries without all of the latest and greatest technology.


 PHP Developer Salaries

  • 1 – 3 years of experience: $60K – $80K
  • 3 – 5 years of experience: $80K – $110K
  • 5+ years (with an O.O. background): $115K – $130K

Front End Developer Salaries

  • 1 – 3 years of experience: $50K – $70K
  • 3 – 5 years of experience: $65K – $85K
  • 5+ years: $80K – $110K

Ruby on Rails Developer Salaries

  • 1 – 3 years of experience with stability: $65K – $80K
  • 3+ years experience with stability: $70K – $110K

Java Developer Salaries

  • 1 -3 years of experience: $60K – $80K
  • 3 -5 years of experience: $85K – $95K
  • 5years plus: $90K – 110K
  • 7+ years (Architect level): $105K – $135K

.NET Developer Salaries

  • 1 -3 years of experience: $60K – $75K
  • 3 -5 years of experience:$70K – $95K
  • 5 years plus: $90K – 110K
  • 7+ years (Architect level): $105K – $135K

Mobile Developer Salaries

  • 1 -3 years of experience: $60K – $80K
  • 3 -5 years of experience: $85K – $95K
  • 5 years plus: $90K – 125K

Let’s talk about what the latest technology will cost you.

The average salary for a junior / entry level (0-2 years) developer with an above average CS degree (think a Big Ten school) is: $55K – $65K. If you get someone with an elite education than they can pretty much write their own ticket.

  • Add in modern development languages such as object orientated PHP, RoR, Java or C# you can add $5K
  • Add modern web development frameworks we spoke about (Drupal, Cake PHP, MVC) you can add another $5K
  • For every 2 years of experience you add $5K
  • Now add someone with the soft skills you’re looking for and you can bump another $5K on top
  • If you add “bonus points” for Mobile experience (iOS and/or Android) you’re looking at 10K-15K for a jump.
  • That’s now $70K – $80K for a 0-2 year person and $85K – $95K for a 6-8 year developer with a decent degree

This is starting to add up, right? Especially for entrepreneurs that are trying to bootstrap their start up and make things happen. Well, before you give up hope, I think you’re in great shape because the way you should always hire is to hire with an eye for potential. Yes, that’s right, hire someone without the skills. I will explain in Part 2 of this series. 

Author: Tim Yandel

I'm Tim. I live in Cole Valley, San Francisco with my wife, Julie, and two daughters Addie and Audra. I tend to write a bunch about leading Sales teams, since that's what I've been doing since 2006. I'm particularly drawn to the psychology of selling, whether that be how people buy things or sell things, it's fascinating how decision-making is centered into the core of who you are as a person. I enjoy cultivating a culture centered around mastery of your craft and a genuine passion for winning together. Outside of professional learnings, I enjoy listening to epic sci-fi and fantasy books while I run long distances to decompress and obsessed with watching my two girls grow. For a good ice breaker, ask me about my Golden Retriever and my Bernese Mountain Dog.

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