Staples' newest office space, located in downtown Seattle, is decked out with graffiti-covered walls, large windows overlooking the Puget Sound and a ping-pong table. The spacious loft is fit for a Silicon Valley startup. And for good reason: it is home to Staples e-commerce team and is designed to lure engineers and other in-demand talent to the company.
More and more retailers are in Seattle to access the crop of engineering talent at companies like Amazon and Microsoft. The city's relatively close proximity to Silicon Valley is also a big draw. Alibaba set up shop within poaching distance of Amazon last year, as did Staples. Nordstrom, Costco and Zulily have too staked their claims in the Seattle market, which has become an alternative to the overrun and expensive San Francisco Bay Area.
Now, as more marketers move to the area -- including big tech players like Facebook, Google and Dropbox -- the competition is fierce for top-tier talent. Amazon alone hired 1,700 engineers in Seattle last year, using its team of more than 500 tech recruiters, said Albert Squiers, director of technology recruiting at Fuel Talent, a Seattle-based recruiting firm that has worked with Zulily, Nordstrom and Amazon. Amazon did not reply to a request for comment.
"The war for talent is full-on right now," said Mr. Squiers. "Companies have to be creative in attracting the right talent."
The most in-demand positions include software engineers, developers and user-experience specialists. To seduce them, companies are touting fun and rewarding work cultures, paying a premium and offering creative perks, recruiters say. Popular benefits include unlimited vacation, flexibility to work from home, pet-friendly offices, signing bonuses and other equity incentives.
"Companies are now finding that the tables have turned," said Nicole Browning of Wimmer Solutions, a technical staffing firm in Seattle. "They are now sitting in the 'interviewee' seat where they must vie for the best technical talent by offering higher pay, more flexibility and creative benefits."