Editor’s note: As of March 2020, Seen by Indeed is part of Indeed Hire, our full-service recruiting solution.

For a long time now, employers have noticed a persistent talent shortage in the tech world. As a result, tech workers can command high salaries and have a lot of freedom in where they are going to work.

In fact, according to a new survey of high-demand tech professionals conducted by Indeed’s elite tech recruitment service Seen by Indeed, 88% of tech workers currently intend to leave their present employer for another job opportunity in the future.

But where are they going to work? And what type of company are they going to work for? Do hot startups hold all the appeal, or prestigious Silicon Valley brands? Understanding the answers to these questions can help employers and job seekers make better matches.

How important is working in Silicon Valley?

For decades Silicon Valley has served as a tech mecca, and blue chip firms such as Facebook, Apple and Google headquartered there are constantly in the news.

However while tech worker interest in Silicon Valley is strong, it’s hardly the only place tech workers see opportunity — not by a long shot.

Pie chart showing that 68.3% of tech workers consider working in Silicon Valley “not important.”
This pie chart shows the importance of living and working in Silicon Valley while pursuing a career in technology among US tech workers aged 18 to 65. The data shows us that 46.1% find working in Silicon Valley as “not at all important.” 22.2% find it as “not that important” and 19.4% find it “important.” Lastly, 12.4% find working in Silicon Valley “very important.”

In fact, over two-thirds of tech workers think it is either “not that important” or “not at all important” to live and work in Silicon Valley while pursuing a career in technology — compared to 31.8% of tech workers who do.

Here, however, age makes a big difference.

Pie chart showing the attitudes to importance of Silicon Valley among millennials, Gen X and baby boomers.
This pie chart shows the attitudes to importance of Silicon Valley among millennials (18 to 34), Gen X (35 to 49) and boomers (50 to 65). 31.2% of millennials find Silicon Valley “not at all important” while 23.2% find it “not that important.” 26.5% of millennials find it “important” and 19.0% find it “very important.” From the Gen X population, 40.5% find Silicon Valley “not at all important” and 27% find it “not that important,” while 22.2% find it “important” and 10.3% find it “very important.” Boomers find the importance of Silicon Valley “not at all important” at a whopping rate of 76.4%.  13.4% find it “not that important,” while 4.7% find it “important” and 5.5% find it “very important.”

Strikingly, almost half of millennial tech workers think it’s important (26.5%) or very important (19%) to live and work in Silicon Valley. However, the number drops to 32.5% among Generation X and a mere 10.2% among baby boomers. In other words, while fresh talent is more often interested in the tech mecca, seasoned talent is often searching for opportunity elsewhere.

Of course, given the notoriously sky-high rents in the Bay Area, it is easy to understand why experienced workers, many of whom have families, aren't sold on the importance of Silicon Valley. In fact, Indeed data shows that interest from tech job seekers aged 31-40 in jobs outside of Silicon Valley increased 12 percentage points over the course of 2015.

By contrast, millennials — who are at the start of their careers and may have fewer attachments — are more likely to view the higher costs of living as an acceptable trade-off during a phase in their careers when they are establishing their reputations and developing experience.

How important are prestigious tech brands?

We also asked our respondents what type of company they wanted to work for as their next choice. After all, you don’t need to be based in Silicon Valley to work for a tech leader.

Pie chart showing the preferred future employer type among US tech workers aged 18 to 65.
This pie chart shows the preferred future employer type among US tech workers aged 18 to 65. The data collected shows that 41.0% of tech workers would prefer their future employer be “well-established, reputed tech company.” 32.7% say “highly innovative top Silicon Valley brand,” 12.0% state “company in a different industry,” 10.9% report “start-up” and 3.4% say “other.”

However, while prestigious Silicon Valley brands performed well, with 33% of respondents stating that is who they would like to work for next, they weren’t the first choice. A greater percentage of respondents (41%) opted for an established and reputed tech company for their next job opportunity.

Employers in other industries face an uphill battle however as only 12% of respondents expressed interest in applying their skills at a non-tech firm. Meanwhile, despite all the media hype about “unicorns” and 20-something billionaires an even lower number (10.9%) want to work for a start-up, strongly suggesting that the overwhelming majority of tech workers take a pragmatic, risk-averse view of their careers.

Once again, however, the results change once broken down by the generations.

Pie chart highlighting that 37.4% of millennials want to work for a Silicon Valley brand.
This chart shows the preferred future employer type among millennials (18-34), Gen X (35-49), and baby boomers (50-65). The data shows that 37.4% of millennials, 47.1% of Gen Xers and 37.1% of boomers say they prefer a “well-established, reputed tech company.” 40.1% of millennials, 30.0% of Gen Xers and 22.5% of boomers report they prefer a “highly innovative, top Silicon Valley brand.” 8.8% of millennials, 11.8% of Gen X and 19.1% of boomers say they prefer a “company in a different industry.” 12.6% of millennials, 7.6% of Gen Xers and 13.5% of boomers would like to be in a “start-up” environment and 1.1% of millennials, 3.5% of Gen Xers and 7.9% of boomers responded “other.”

Silicon Valley brands have the strongest appeal among millennials, 40.1% of whom selected this type of company as their next choice. By contrast, only 30% of respondents in Generation X and 22.5% of baby boomers intend to work for them.

Boomers, meanwhile, show the strongest interest in applying their tech skills in a different industry — with 19.1% saying that this is what they want to do next. This is good news for employers outside tech, as it means they attract the strongest interest from the most seasoned professionals.

Strikingly, boomers also express the most interest in working for a startup (13.5%), edging out millennials (12.6%) while Gen X shows the least interest (7.6%). For Gen Xers, this is again likely a question of stability, as startups often pay less in return for the promise of a significant payout if the company becomes successful.

With many millennials yet to start families and boomers at the stage in their life where their children are in college or already working, members of both demographics are more easily able to entertain the risks of a new venture.

Which cities do tech workers think have the most opportunities?

While the majority of tech workers may not think it is “important” to work in Silicon Valley, the cities of the Bay Area nevertheless ranked highest when respondents were asked to list U.S. cities from best to worst for job opportunities.

Table highlighting the top cities that have the most tech opportunities, as perceived by US tech workers.
This table highlights where the tech opportunities are, as perceived by US tech workers aged 18-65, ranked from best to worst for job opportunities: 1) Silicon Valley (San Jose/Bay Area), 2) Seattle, 3) New York, 4) Boston, 5) Los Angeles, 6) Austin, 7) Washington, 8) Atlanta, 9) Denver

Here, however, tech worker perception differs slightly from what Indeed data shows us. For while it supports the idea that San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle are top talent hubs, Austin actually places fourth for tech job seeker interest. Thus the capital of the Lone Star State beats out New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

Even so, perception is often reality — and so this ranking can give employers in non tech-hubs an idea of those based in Silicon Valley and Seattle. For instance, a non-tech employer based in Denver is going to have a considerably harder time recruiting top talent than a tech firm in Seattle — even though Denver regularly scores highly on quality of living lists.

Armed with this knowledge, employers can design competitive packages more likely to attract the top talent they need. Or they can consider offering tech talent greater flexibility regarding hours and remote working, which is something else that this group of workers values highly. Alternatively, a service such as Seen by Indeed can help match elite talent to top firms. To learn more about how Seen can help you, click here.