Google’s results have exceeded analysts’ expectations every quarter since their IPO on the NASDAQ exchange. In their most recent results their success was linked to the increase in brand profile,despite 50% less marketing spend than their competitors. This was in turn linked to the consistent release of new technology, and this was directly linked to their recruitment activity. Put simply, Google’s management understand that their success is linked to their recruitment. Google’s recruitment activity is some of the most creative in corporate society. It is clearly one of the reasons for their success, but arguably also their ‘Achilles heel’ toward potential failure.

Google recruits into an environment that has consciously been modelled around the best years of the lives of the people it employs. Their corporate campus called Googleplex is as close to college campus society as possible. Food in the canteen is free, prepared by their own chef but is the type of food that you would expect a student to enjoy. Dress code is casual, right down to being a ‘shoes optional’ environment. Animals, including dogs roam the halls and mingle with staff. There are regular lunchtime street hockey tournaments on site to complement the fooz-ball in the canteen. This is geek heaven!
In order to attract the type of talent they want, Google has used some creative methods. Amongst these is the sponsoring of competitions that are focused on solving the types of technical problems encountered by the Google team on a daily basis.
One of the most creative and attractive campaigns was run in Los Angeles in the July last year. The star of the campaign was a plain white billboard with the following message on it: {first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com. The answer was a website with the following message: ‚Congratulations. You’ve made it to level 2‛. Thereafter, instructions followed to go to an open source website and enter ‘Bobsyouruncle’ as the user name. The person was then given another maths puzzle to solve. Up to this point there had been no mention of Google or recruitment � it was simply a puzzle trail that the curious were following. When the second maths puzzle was solved correctly the individual was then taken to a Google recruiting page.
Another smart way Google has attracted talent is by using their own technology and sponsoring recruitment advertisements that are linked to certain keyword searches in So when a Google search was executed on ‘Udi Manber’, the head of’s search technology unit, a job advertisement for Google accompanied the search.
The heart of all of Google’s recruiting is that they are looking for the type of person who would immediately notice the maths puzzle on the billboard and be enough of a geek to be irritated by its existence. At the same time they are targeting people who are maths savvy and smart enough to be able to solve the problem.
With these types of campaigns it is easy to understand why Google has been able to effectively recruit the type of people to whom the organisation’s continued success can be credited.
The first thing to be learned from the Google process is that they had a very clear picture of the type of person they wanted to hire. There is a clear picture in the organisation of what makes a Google Guy or Gal. Second, they use this understanding to actively target that demographic. There is nothing accidental about working for Google. The people who are in the organisation are there because they were identified as a fit before they even applied for the job. This has allowed Google to support their growth and development strategy with a focussed, disciplined and cohesive employee base.
At this point it sounds like Google has got a winning formula that the rest of the world should copy. But, the flip side is that this activity may actually be unconsciously sowing the seeds of Google’s ultimate demise. For all of the creativity and different-ness of the recruitment activity discussed above the problem is that they are recruiting only one type of person � the maths genius techno geek. Google’s homogeneity is its weak and exposed underbelly. It has also been noted that Google largely hires Stanford graduates � the alma mater of Sergey Brin and Larry Page. This may be a factor of geography, but it reinforces the sameness of the employee base. By recruiting lots of the same type of people and creating an environment where they feel like they are at home (some Google employees recently had to be evicted from the office because they had actually begun to live there) they have removed one vital component of the creativity process � Diversity. Google have effectively created the technology age equivalent of Ford’s white male protestant 2� child industrial age production line environment.
Google’s great new technologies are the product of having smart individuals working for them and not the product of smart creative diverse teams of people. Diversity stimulates creativity by stimulating difference, disagreement, and ultimately solutions.
So, is Google’s recruitment the way of the future?
In the global battle for talent, more companies will need to decide who they want to recruit and then creatively go about attracting them. Organisations need to make themselves the honey that draws their talented bees. However, in the midst of this creativity we need to ensure diversity. Companies that successfully embrace the paradox of focus and diversity will be the ones that Google will reference in the future to obtain their diversity balance.

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