Goldman Adds Pay, Perks in Silicon Valley War for Tech Talent

  • Investment bank hires Square executive for new recruiting post
  • Looser dress code, flashier monitors also await engineers

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recently boosted pay for programmers fresh from college to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook Inc. Bloomberg's Dakin Campbell has more on 'Bloomberg Markets.' (Source: Bloomberg)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is upping its game to lure top technology talent.

The Wall Street firm recently boosted pay for programmers fresh from college to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook Inc. And it’s enlisting a Silicon Valley fixer, Andrew Trout from Square Inc., for a new post leading engineering recruitment.

The moves are the work of Elisha Wiesel, who took over as chief information officer this year as his predecessor, Marty Chavez, became head of the firm’s finances. Wiesel polled employees on what the bank could do to make them happier. He soon relaxed the dress code for engineers and began ordering them the type of larger, curved computer monitors that topped many employee wishlists.

Now he’s hunting talent, seeking to lure programmers who may not have considered working on Wall Street, where the pay sometimes lags Silicon Valley’s, the work environment is relatively rigid and -- and among those who came of age after the financial crisis -- it’s just less cool.

Read more: A young coder says Goldman may be ‘as competitive’ as Google

Trout, who helped oversee recruiting at Square, is joining as a managing director and will handle campus and lateral hiring, according to a memo sent last week to Goldman’s staff and obtained by Bloomberg News. He will move to New York from the West Coast.

“We very consciously wanted to diversify and bring in folks who brought experience from recruiting in the engineering space outside the financial industry,” Wiesel said in an interview Monday. 

Trout’s someone “who could help us crack the code a bit, in terms of not only what does it take to reach out to this talent base -- which campuses do we need to go to, how do we engage with them” -- but also to think about the experience of those already at the bank, he said.

Raising Pay

The bank began offering the higher pay packages this month, aiming to put them in line with those of the biggest technology firms. While Wiesel declined to provide specifics, job-search site Glassdoor gives some idea.

Prior to the changes, a beginning engineer in New York could expect to make a base salary of about $83,000, with a bonus of about $12,000, the website’s figures show. That would probably climb to more than $100,000, with a larger bonus under the new policy.

“Our intent is to be competitive for the best talent,” Wiesel said. “If we have to change our package, we’ll change our package.”

With higher pay comes greater selectivity. The bank has been introducing measures to create a more stringent interviewing process, Wiesel said. It’s using HackerRank, a web platform that trains and grades people on writing computer code, and CoderPad, which interviews candidates in a live programming scenario. It’s redesigning its jobs page to elicit more information about students’ interests and skills, as opposed to giving them a byzantine list of jobs.

Read more: Wall Street coders wanted, elite college degrees not necessary

All of this feeds into Wiesel’s vision for the engineering department, which employs more than a quarter of Goldman Sachs’s 34,000 workers. He wants to infuse a sense of culture, emphasizing strong technical rigor while ensuring engineers and programmers work hand-in-hand with colleagues in the business units.

“We’re injecting this kind of expertise into so many different pockets of the firm,” he said. “So we have a strong demand, not only for quality, but also for volume. And that makes the recruiting game all the more important.”

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