Who's Winning the Battle for the Top Talent in Big Tech?

Talent is always tough to hold onto. But when that talent also has some of the most in-demand skills for the 21st-century digital world, they're never short of job offers or new opportunities.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the merry-go-round of big tech job hunting, where everyone knows everyone and everyone has also worked for everyone else.

But which big tech companies 'steal' the most talent from their rivals?

That's the big question that kicks off this latest study from Switch On Business. Using data collected from LinkedIn employee profiles, it calculated the number of employees who've moved from one big tech rival to another.

Here's a look at the results.

The biggest big tech talent poachers

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, is the biggest talent poacher in the big tech space. Over 25% of its workforce (26.51%, to be exact) were headhunted or moved to Meta after working for one of its big tech rivals.

IBM likes to do things a little differently. Less than 3 out of every 100 staff members have previously worked for an industry rival. IBM prioritises a corporate culture that is very different from the startup vibes of other big tech firms. New hires without big tech backgrounds can adapt more easily to IBM's values and working style.

The largest talent poacher

Meta might be the biggest talent poacher per capita. However, when it comes down to the sheer number of employees who used to work for big tech firms, Google is the king.

Almost 40,000 current Google employees quit their jobs at rival firms before joining the search engine giant.

So why does so much tech talent end up at Google? The pay and benefits are a big draw. The entry-level salary for a Google software engineer is close to $200k.

But tech talent can earn big money anywhere. The real attraction for working at Google comes down to innovation and impact. Google is renowned for encouraging creativity, experimentation, and the development of new software/tech used by billions of people worldwide.

Tech talent headhunted by Amazon

Amazon employs over 1.5 million people to keep its global operations running smoothly.

Surprisingly, only 3.2% of those have a background working for a big tech rival. Out of those, the majority came from Microsoft (6,089) and IBM (3,745).

When it comes to staff leaving to pursue other opportunities in tech, you can pretty much guess where most Amazon veterans are ending up. Yes, it's Google.

Going to work for Apple

Apple snapped up lots of its experienced big tech talent from computing rivals Intel (4,773) and Microsoft (2,811).

Apple has its fair share of former Google employees. Over 2,000 moved across after Apple began headhunting Google map developers to build its own version of the app.

The recruitment drive was considered highly aggressive, even by big tech standards. There are rumours from inside sources that Apple offered huge salaries, add-on bonuses, and additional funds to cover relocation costs.

It wasn't the only time Apple had publicly prized away top Google staff. In 2021, elite hacker and vulnerability tester Brandon Azad announced on Twitter he was leaving Google to join Apple.

Ditching Microsoft for Google

Nobody likes seeing their rivals get one over them. So spare a thought for the recruiters and HR employers at Microsoft. And whatever you do, don't mention the word Google around them; they're sick of hearing it.

Over 12,000 former Microsoft employees handed in notice letters because they received a better offer from Google.

But some do move the other way, although we have to emphasise the 'some' part of that sentence. The Switch On Business report showed that just over 2,000 tech specialists moved from Google to Microsoft.

Talent swapping at Meta

Meta brings in a lot of its tech talent from big-name rivals, including Microsoft (4,296), Google (3,363), and Amazon (3,348).

When it comes to employees moving in the other way, the biggest tech talent magnet is, once again, Google.

However, the number of tech specialists leaving Meta for tech rivals is relatively low. In fact, there's a noticeable trend of former Meta employees ditching the industry forever in favour of jobs in education, healthcare, and finance.

Is Zuckerberg really that awful to work for? He might be. According to one leaked report, an internal survey at Meta revealed that 70% of the company's employees were dissatisfied with Mark Zuckerberg's leadership.

Microsoft farming IBM talent

IBM is one of the biggest talent pools for Microsoft headhunters. Nearly 8,000 of Microsoft's current staff used to work for this big-tech rival.

But, like almost every other player in the space, Microsoft is still losing more people to Google. More than 12,000 left Microsoft after receiving an offer to work for the world's largest search engine provider.

Google dominates in overall numbers, hiring nearly 40,000 from rivals, focusing on innovation and high pay.

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