Chicago: Top Ranked Employer Brands by Job Seekers

Knowledge workers share the most appealing companies to work for

For Employers

Hiring strategies for your city

It’s true: companies are only as successful as their people. And in order to attract the best and brightest, today’s innovative companies need a strong employer brand. A positive brand reputation can mean the difference between a company maintaining an all-star team and consistently losing dream candidates to a competitor.

  • Insight 1

    64% of tech workers would not consider commuting more than 45 minutes each way for a job

  • Insight 2

    65% of candidates are interested in working 100% remotely

  • Insight 3

    62% of tech workers would engage with a company that reaches out if they have a recognizable company name

Emerging Trends in Employer Branding

How to invest your resources in 2020

Local Leaders in Chicago

Top 20 Employer Brands

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  1. Grubhub
  2. Braintree
  3. Groupon
  4. United Airlines
  5. Discover Financial Services
  6. Orbitz
  7. Peapod
  8. MorningStar
  10. Vivid Seats
  11. Citadel
  12. Trunk Club
  13. Thoughtworks
  14. Sprout Social
  15. Relativity
  16. Uptake
  17. Civis Analytics
  18. Enova
  19. Jellyvision
  20. Yello

Read full insights: Brand Health Report

Getting to know knowledge workers in Chicago

What talent looks for in a company
  1. Compensation (i.e. base salary)
  2. Opportunity to learn new skills
  3. Company culture
What turns talent off from a company
  1. Not knowing enough about the company
  2. Poor reputation
  3. Not interested in the product

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Wage Gap: Pay Trends in Chicago

TL;DR Chicago tech workers

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Distribution of the Wage Gap

60% of the time men are offered higher salaries than women for the same job at the same company and companies offer women 3% less on average than men for the same roles.

  • Job offers made to women that were less than job offers made to men
  • Job offers made to women that more or equal less than job offers made to men

Wage Gap in Chicago

In 2019, our data shows that women working in Chicago asked for 10% less and were offered 10% less than their male counterparts in a similar role

  • Expectation Gap
  • Wage Gap

Read full insights: Wage inequality Report

Knowledge is power

Strategies to ensure you're paid fairly

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Strategies for equitable tech hiring

How companies can battle wage inequality

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Podcast: Talk Talent to Me

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Real conversations from top talent acquisition leaders

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Bianca McCann VP of HR


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“We call it our cheat code. To find qualified talent, and qualified talent that’s looking...half the battle is already won. Simply put, our ROI on Hired absolutely makes sense and is why we’ve been a continued customer since 2015. Our decision to continue using the platform is easily answered.”
Kyle Barbato Recruiting Manager
“Hiring managers can spend 15 minutes on Hired and get a high yield and feel engaged in the process. This gives sourcers more time to find passive candidates for critical roles, and increases their ability to collaborate effectively with hiring managers about what candidates are good.”
Harry Dannenbaum Senior Manager of Technical Recruiting


Chicago Salary Trends for Software Engineers

Salaries for software engineers in Chicago have been on a steady rise. Between 2015 and 2017, the average paycheck for tech workers grew by 4.6%, rising from $106,000 to $112,000. It recorded a 1% growth in 2018, driven in part by the increased demand for skilled engineers and data experts. Viewed across four years, the average paycheck in Chicago has increased by 6.5%. At the end of 2018, tech workers such as product designers, software engineers, product managers, and data scientists were earning an average salary of $114,000—more than twice the average 2017 national income ($48,150) and more than the Chicago median family income ($83,890) for 2017. Salaries weren’t the only appealing factor behind job decisions. Workers were more likely to work for innovative companies that offered opportunities to learn new skill Local candidates also considered additional factors such as the distance to work and the company reputation. 6 out of 10 tech workers would not consider commuting more than 45 minutes each way for a job, while 7 out of 10 candidates preferred job offers that allowed them to work 100% remotely.

Top Brands Hiring Software Engineers in Chicago

When asked to rank the top employers in the city, Chicago tech workers chose Grubhub, the food ordering, and delivery marketplace, as the company they’d most like to work for. Braintree, a division of PayPal was ranked second, while Groupon was placed third. Headquartered in Chicago, United Airlines ranked fourth ahead of Discover Financial Services, Orbitz and Peapod. Also in the top 10, Morningstar Inc, a global financial services firm, was ranked eight ahead of and Vivid Seats. Citadel LLC another financial institution was ranked 11th, while the clothing service company Trunk Club, was ranked 12th ahead of Thoughworks, Sprout Social and Relativity. Uptake, the AI software company, was ranked 16th, followed by Civis Analytics and Enova. Rounding out the top 20 list were Jellyvision, a software company, and Yellow. Although compensation still remains an important factor when choosing jobs, Chicago tech workers also highlighted a detailed roadmap and strong company culture as important factors to consider during a job search. Companies with weak or poor reputations faced a harder task of attracting local talent.

Most In-Demand Software Engineering Skills in Chicago

Home to a growing mix of startups, incubators, accelerators and major tech corporations, Chicago’s tech hub offers a lot of employment opportunities for software engineers with the right qualifications. Topping the list of in-demand jobs for the year were local openings calling for full-stack engineers. Employers also searched for skilled backend engineers with proficient knowledge of server-side frameworks applications. Experienced frontend engineers ranked third on the trending list, followed by a pressing demand for skilled data engineers. And with more companies seeking to leverage mobile solutions to improve their market drive and productivity, mobile engineers ranked fifth on the trending list. Beyond job roles, employers searched for software engineers capable of writing clean code in multiple languages. A large percentage of jobs called for software developers proficient in Kotlin, a general-purpose programming language often used for developing applications on Google’s mobile OS, Android. Ruby ranked second on trending skills, followed by Go, another language associated with Google. C# ranked fourth on trending sills, just ahead of Scala. With the high demand for software engineers, employers faced stiff competition retaining local tech talent. Although a higher base salary was still a strong draw, tech workers were likely to switch jobs if they received job offers from a company with a larger team and more resources.

Chicago Pay Gap Trends

Driven in part by an increase in skilled female tech workers, the wage gap in Chicago has narrowed over the years. The tech industry recorded several positive trends. In 2019, companies offered women salaries that were equal or higher than salaries offered to male tech workers at the same company 40% of the time—rising from levels recorded for the previous decade. And women were quicker to react when they learned of pay discrepancies, compared to men. However, available data also shows that on average, female tech workers in Chicago asked for 10% less than male counterparts*. The wage gap was wide in certain fields. Women working in DevOps, design and data analytics earned less than female tech workers working in Product management and software engineering.

*Tech workers can help close the gap by referencing high-quality salary data to know their worth and ask for it.