RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Zoe Chace went looking for people who are hiring and may have found the best job market in the country.
ZOE CHACE: Its opposite day, where undergrads have their pick of jobs and companies are desperate to hire. Take Microsoft, Ederlyn Lacson was an intern there last summer.
EDERLYN LACSON: Last year, they had a private screening of Cirque du Soleil for the interns.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
CHACE: Lacson is graduating this year from the University of Maryland's Computer Science Program. She had her pick of jobs in the tech sector. Startups were courting her, big companies were flexing their muscle, hoping to impress.
LACSON: It was ridiculous. There were people walking by with like, you know, shrimp cocktails - like, the unending stream of shrimp cocktails.
CHACE: Lacson starts at Microsoft this fall. Her classmates got the same treatment. Ray Douglas will be working at the University of Maryland next year. The school offered him a salary in the '50s. He just happened to mention to his boss the offers he'd gotten from other firms, which were starting in the '70s and '80s.
RAY DOUGLAS: And he said, okay, we'll beat that.
CHACE: He's 22 years old.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
DOUGLAS: I was just asking him. I didn't think he was going to do it.
CHACE: Tech companies, both large and small, can't find enough people to fill their open jobs. The unemployment rate for tech workers is about a third less than the national average.
JEFF WINTER: I hired three new people last week.
CHACE: Jeff Winter is a recruiter in Silicon Valley. He finds people to fill these openings. It's Sisyphean; for every job the man fills, there is a need for 10 more programmers. So he hired some people to help him hire some people.
WINTERS: I have, right now on my desk, 12 clients with anywhere between, you know, six to 10 jobs a piece, it seems.
CHACE: Winter says it hasn't been like this since 1999 when the dot com bubble created a similar labor shortage. Startup companies were desperate to hire web developers. Today's companies are desperate to hire APP developers. Like Unity Technologies in San Francisco. They have more than ten openings. I asked CEO David Helgason for a pitch.
DAVID HELGASON: Unity Technologies is a company that's sort of an engineering-driven company and products-driven company.
CHACE: I played the pitch for the students. Ray Douglas was candid.
DOUGLAS: It sounded pretty much like every pitch that a software company has given me. They're always like, oh, we do all these fantastic things, everyone in the world wants to use it.
CHACE: Ouch. So what's a tech company to do? One thing: drop the whole years of experience requirement. That makes these jobs harder to fill. And also, you might just be embarrassing yourself, says Ederlan Lacson.
EDERLAN LACSON: They'll demand a skill set that, you know, for example, 10 years of experience with this programming language. I'm like, this programming language hasn't existed for 10 years.
CHACE: The only thing holding back computer science majors in the job market, Lacson tells me, might be their social skills. Silicon Valley recruiter Jeff Winter says be nice. And he could make you the next Mark Zuckerberg.
WINTERS: The ones that aren't nice though, they don't get their Zuck. You know Zuck, right?
CHACE: Uh, yeah? Zuck founded Facebook.
WINTERS: No Zuck for you.
CHACE: Zoe Chace, NPR News.
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