Silicon Valley's most venerable recruiting setup is operating in one of the most competitive hiring climates ever. It just brought on a record number of new employees. Here's how.By Anne VanderMey, reporter
FORTUNE -- In the hot war for talent being fought in Silicon Valley, no company has an arsenal quite like Google's. Named Fortune's Best Company to Work For in 2012, the search giant made a record 8,067 hires last year -- boosting total headcount by a third. The thirteen-year-old firm's recruiting has an almost mythical quality about it, particularly for the two million candidates applying to work there each year. In terms of elite American institutions, getting a job at Google ranks with being admitted to Stanford Graduate School of Business or becoming a Navy Seal. Behind the glitz there are a few Googley basics at work: data, money (lots of it), sophisticated programming, and an army of young, eager recruiters.
Google (GOOG) does not release its recruiter headcount. It is likely huge. In 2009, the company revealed that there were about 400 internal recruiters. John Sullivan, a San Francisco State University professor who has studied Google and advises companies on hiring, estimates that the number across all departments and countries is closer to 1,000, with about 300 full-time recruiters in the U.S. and more than 600 contractors. More conservative estimates put the tally at 500. Even if the lower figure was correct, Google would have one recruiter for every 64 employees. That's a far higher ratio than the 577-to-1 average for most large companies, according to the Corporate Executive Board.
Who are Google's recruiters? They're young, highly paid and, often, on a six month contract. "They're probably the company that I've seen that uses the most [contractors]," says Michael A. Morell, co-founder and managing partner of Silicon Valley recruiting firm Riviera Partners. "There's a lot to be said for new people trying to prove themselves in the first six to 12 months." It's difficult to find an accurate or exact employee-to-recruiter ratio at the company, the number of recruiters varies dramatically. At any given time, Sullivan says, 70% of the recruiting staff might be on contract. That changes, though, as Google feels the need to gear up or cut back on hiring. "We want the best of the best to come to Google," says Todd Carlisle, its director of staffing. "We budget what it takes to find the best of the best."
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