What a difference two years can make. In January 2009, hiring at Google had reached such a slowdown that the company laid off 100 recruiters and canceled nearly all contracts with vendors providing recruiting services. "Given the state of the economy," read a blog post from January 14, 2009, "we recognized that we needed fewer people focused on hiring."
This morning, Google SVP of engineering and research Alan Eustace used Google's blog to post an open letter to potential employees that sounds more like a college basketball recruiter trying to lure a high school prodigy.
This year "will be our biggest hiring year in company history," he wrote, "We’re looking for top talent - across the board and around the globe - and we’ll hire as many smart, creative people as we can to tackle some of the toughest challenges in computer science."
Nowhere is that truer than in Google's advertising department. A search through Google's job site reveals more than 300 openings in ad-related jobs alone, including 112 in New York and 160 in Mountain View, CA. Vacancies run the gamut from technical operations to account executives to strategic partnerships.
Of course, Google's workforce has experienced explosive growth since its 2004 IPO, with 2009 less an indication of a trend than a momentary downward blip. In 2007, its biggest hiring year to date, Google added over 6,000 people, according to Eustace. Last year was its second biggest with 4,500 new recruits. Eustace expects Google to break that record in 2011.
Google employed 24,400 full-time employees as of December 31, 2010, up from 23,331 full-time employees as of September 30, 2010, the company reported last week.
Much of the current hiring explosion can be traced to the sheer number of projects that Google is taking on. Eustace mentions needing people for the company's initiatives to build a Web-based operating system from scratch and to develop cars that drive themselves.
But even amid all that growth, Google has traditionally taken a much more coy approach to recruiting. After all, this is the company that in 2004 anonymously posted a complex number-theory problem on a billboard that, once solved, revealed the URL of a recruiting site. That's a far cry from posting an open letter to all job seekers of the world on its blog. Of course - no disrespect to advertising executives - it's hard to imagine 300 ad people who know the first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits for e.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014