Google’s recruiting magnet attracts top talent like magic

by Jobbatical August 17, 2016


This search engine finds great hires

Search engines rock. From who snagged Olympic gold in 1976, to how to rebuild your carburetor, to Pokémon Go (Google’s highest trending Games category search for July 2016) there’s a global library of everything you could possibly want to know, right at your fingertips.

But Google drills one step deeper, using search to attract its own top candidates. This secret sauce is known as Foo.bar. And it is “foo’s gold” for both candidates and hiring managers. Here’s why:

Will recruiters become redundant?

Google Foo.bar cuts to the chase. Instead of spending big bucks on advertising, or having recruiters sift through LinkedIn Groups or individual profiles for potential candidates, Google tracks search terms that identify their ideal buyer persona — in this case, high caliber hires. This ingenious inbound recruitment practice doesn’t eliminate the need for recruiters; it just makes their jobs a whole lot easier.

When someone searches on a word or phrase that ticks the boxes for an engineer or developer, such as “python lambda syntax” (Python being the most searched software technology, named after the celebrated British comedy group, Monty Python), the results reveal something intriguing. In addition to the usual blue links to pages matching the search request, a box appears that reads, “You’re speaking our language. Up for a challenge?” The response choices are: “I want to play”, “No thanks”, and “Don’t show me this page again.”

One developer accepted the challenge, expecting some kind of elaborate prank. After he solved a series of increasingly complex coding problems, a Google recruiter got in touch — and two weeks later, the surprised software engineer received (and accepted) a job offer.

Why Google’s creative recruiting method works

This unusual process is brilliantly simple and simply successful, because it:

  • Identifies potential candidates before they may even be job-hunting;
  • Gives Google a head start on top-flight hires by locating them before other companies do;
  • Bypasses the typical recruiting process while enabling a candidate to demonstrate his or her ability;
  • Offers the cachet of exclusivity: potential candidates can only access http://google.com/foobar via a personal invitation, which is based on their interest and programming expertise;
  • Creates a positive experience by rewarding the potential candidate for solving increasingly complex puzzles;
  • Respects privacy: at any point, if the candidate chooses not to play, it’s game over: a recruiter will not reach out.
  • Is fast and efficient. Even other tried, true, non-invasive and inexpensive inbound marketing channels such as social media, blogs, viral video and thought leadership posts can’t connect with and hire qualified talent this quickly and easily. It’s organic search to the tenth power.

As Basecamp founder David Heinemeier Hansson points out, the best people aren’t typical. And you’ll never identify them from a resume. So before the interview is a gleam in a recruiter’s eye, Google’s clever inbound recruitment tool narrows the field to those who love a challenge — and demonstrate the chops that prove it. From there, both hiring managers and job seekers are halfway home.

What Foo.bar means for you

Of course, Google’s unusual talent attraction process is unique to Google, since it’s a one-way paradigm originating from the company. Unfortunately, you can’t tap Foo.bar to let the search engine find talent for your team.

However, you can tap into Google Foo.bar’s core message, which is, “find the good fits from your user base — even if they’re not looking for a job”. You can begin today to build your own “Foo.bar” into your product in order to attract top talent.


Originally published at jobbatical.com on August 17, 2016.

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