Yahoo CEO endures criticism over hiring practices

Is the Yahoo CEO being too harsh when it comes down to hiring new staff?
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
marissa mayer yahoo hiring practice criticism

Is Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer missing out on top talent due to rigorous hiring practices?

According to Reuters, several weeks ago, Mayer was asked within a staff meeting whether her recruiting methods were causing the firm -- already in the midst of upheaval as the new CEO seeks to establish the brand's place within the online industry -- to lose out on talented staff who may not meet Yahoo's now exacting standards.

Within the meeting, Mayer received complaints about a number of issues, including the idea that good candidates were refused because they did not possess degrees from the top universities that the Yahoo CEO was personally willing to accept. In addition, as the new CEO insists on individually reviewing each new candidate, it may be that Mayer's high standards are hampering the firm's attempts to push through a company turnaround as well as slowing the process down.

According to an anonymous employee who was present at the meeting, Mayer dismissed these complaints, and instead instructed her employees to be smarter when it comes down to recruitment.

Combined with the view that Yahoo is a "back-up" option, as one recruitment consultant told the publication, Mayer's tightening of recruitment procedures may be doing more harm than good. You can understand why the CEO would want the cream of the crop, but with fierce competition from other tech giants and promising startups, Yahoo's brand may not be the most attractive prospect for tech talents.

The Yahoo CEO's ban on working from home -- even if she has taken a leaf out of Google's book and is offering employees free food and gadgets -- caused controversy, and may also become a factor in enticing Generation Y recruits who prefer flexible working, something often on offer by rivals.

Hiring top talent in such a competitive marketplace, especially as the West's appetite for gadgets, mobile technology and the latest, thinnest, best tablets and laptops continues to grow, can be a difficult and arduous process for companies. However, it is not only a matter of finding such talent -- but keeping it. Google runs a department called People Operations -- "POPS" -- which runs "dozens of experiments on employees" to determine how to keep them happy and productive, going beyond gourmet food and on-site gyms, but the battle to retain talented staff goes beyond facilities and paychecks.

In January, internal emails between executives at top firms including Google and Apple revealed that the company representatives believed an agreement not to poach each others' staff would be financially beneficial. As a consequence, Judge Lucy Koh -- who has also presided over the long battle between Apple and Samsung -- authorized the interrogations of both Apple's Tim Cook and Google's Eric Schmidt over the anti-poaching agreement. Whereas this may make financial sense for the firms, for individual tech employees, such pacts have the potential to eliminate staff competition and make for worse deals when employees are looking to move on.

If Mayer is to both recruit and keep talent to assist in revamping Yahoo's image, it is not only a matter of offering conditions that today's workforce wants, but also being realistic. Requiring the best degrees and top talent is not necessarily unreasonable, but also taking into consideration how long people are willing, and able, to wait for an offer is something that may be crippling Yahoo's recruitment.

One executive who recently left the tech giant commented that applicants often go through the demanding process, often to "wait and wait" to hear from the firm. In the meantime, of course, applicants are scrabbling to find a position. "One person we wanted waited eight weeks, then they inevitably got another offer," the executive noted. Yahoo's CEO may wish to keep a tight reign on everything which moves within the company, but unless these types of procedures are altered, the company may find itself losing out on the future's stars due to unrealistic demands and a recruitment process so slow that tech professionals are not willing to wait -- and only Yahoo will suffer for it. 

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