Upfront rent and relocation services - how tech companies are winning talent as rents keep rising

Ireland’s recruitment and tech experts weigh in on how to attract the best staff to Dublin.

By Laura Roddy Reporter, Fora

IF YOU’RE NOT offering added support, then you could lose out – it’s an issue that tech companies based in Dublin are dealing with as they fight for the top talent against the backdrop of the housing crisis. 

As a recruiter at top tech agency Harvey Nash, Patrick Lynn is on the frontline of the battle to recruit the best staff and has seen the affect that rising rents can have on getting candidates to accept jobs. 

“If you were to offer a single person coming over to Dublin one month’s rent and their flights, it might cost the company €1500. That’s a small outlay to get someone to actually commit to a job,” Lynn told Fora.

With Dublin rents heading in one direction – up 6.8% in the first quarter of this year compared to last, according to the latest Daft.ie Rental Report – some tech companies in the capital are offering packages to candidates to make the move. 

For high-skilled roles like test automation engineers, Lynn said it is common to have candidates from abroad interviewing with four or five companies here straight away. 

“It’s not just the salary, it’s what (the tech companies) are offering the person to get them on board and make them comfortable when they come over,” he said. 

According to Lynn, larger tech companies can offer attractive relocation packages which puts pressure on Irish companies to compete. 

Lynn said he has heard of some bigger companies offering two or three months rent up front, alongside travel expenses.  

Competitive landscape

John Doran, the director of engineering at Dublin tech company Phorest, told Fora it is quite difficult to hire in Dublin because of the rental market.  

The company allows employees to work remotely, with half of its engineering staff based in its Dublin office and the other half around the country or based abroad. 

On five occasions, Doran said employees have moved to Ireland from abroad and decided to return to their European home countries because of the high cost of living here. They now work with the company on a remote contract basis. 

When asked if anyone has ever refused a job because of the high rental market in Ireland, he said there have been cases where people didn’t take the job because they had higher counter offers. 

“The big difference for Phorest is we are not the big Silicon Valley experience, we are an Irish company and we try to not even compete with those guys in those ways,” Doran said. 

Doran said because the company is smaller, when someone joins they have a big impact and employees are attracted to that.

Orla Moran, the director of sales EMEA at network intelligence platform ThousandEyes, told Fora the company has not yet relocated anyone from abroad but had a strong candidate based in Wexford who was unwilling to relocate to the capital because of the cost of living. Instead, the candidate chose a job which enabled him to work from home five days a week instead. 

Moran, who also started the New Relic EMEA office in Dublin back in 2013 and grew the team quickly there, said that the landscape has changed in the past six years.

“Fast forward six years to 2019 and I am surprised how things have changed … I have never experienced it as competitive in 2019,” she said.  

According to Katie Burke, HubSpot’s chief of people, as Dublin becomes a destination for tech companies there will be growing pains – and the housing issue is one that “every emerging city goes through”. 

Since opening its office in Dublin in 2012 the company has over 34 nationalities in its Irish office. HubSpot lends immediate support to its employees before setting their foot in the office.  

Burke said the company has “both formal and informal support” which range from relocation assistance to a Slack channel for “helping employees identify housing opportunities”. 

While housing might be frequently in the headlines, LinkedIn replied to a Fora request for comment to say that “attracting staff has not proven to be an issue for LinkedIn, having added 300 people to our team in our EMEA HQ in Dublin over the past year” and “housing has not been a deterrent”. 

The company said it is also focused on recruiting “untapped talent” in Dublin that has led to its recently launched ReturnIn programme, aimed at helping people return to the workforce following a career break to care for children or other family members.

Money speaks

Cian Crosse, the managing director of technology recruitment firm nineDots, told Fora that some companies are becoming more creative with benefits – such as offering remote working and health insurance for whole families to offset the cost of rent.

For people willing to make the move, money speaks too. Crosse – who mainly recruits for SMEs – said in the past six years salaries have grown. He used the example of senior engineers who would have been receiving €55,000 per year in 2013 and are now receiving salaries up to €100,000 and over.

“Companies are having to throw more money at people,” he said. 

Trayc Keevans, the global FDI director at Morgan McKinley, said that some larger multinational companies may offer a few months accommodation up front but the model doesn’t work particularly well, with people spending it before rent is paid. 

According to her, either the HR department or relocation services are used to take the new employee “by the hand” and walk them through the rental market here. 

In other countries prospective tenants have a chance to go away and decide on their property. In Dublin that’s not the case and the new employee needs to have their documentation ready to make the decision on the spot, she said. 

Tommy Courtney – founder of Prelo, a property tech company based in Dublin that relocates employees for companies – said 80% of workers that are moving country for a job want relocation services as part of their offer. 

When asked by Fora if new recruits were surprised by the Dublin rental market when they first arrived, he said it depends. They are prepped as part of its service but sometimes the employers don’t provide them with the expectations of what the market is like here.

Note: Journal Media Ltd has shareholders in common with Daft.ie publisher Distilled Media Group.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that half of Phorest’s employees work remotely. This has been corrected to say that half of its engineering employees work remotely.

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