In just about every survey of the best place to work, Google ranks at the top. Its epic list of perks, great pay, stock price, moonshot projects all make it so.
When reporting its fourth quarter earnings on Thursday, (which missed EPS and revenue expectations a bit), CFO Patrick Pichette emphasized that the company was looking for growth in all areas.
Although it grew its workforce by over 5,800 people over the year, an analyst on the quarterly conference call asked why it wasn't hiring at an even faster rate:
Carlos Kirjner of Bernstein Research (who famously set a $1,000 target for Google's stock in 2013) asked:
You hired 2,000 people this quarter versus 1,700 in the same quarter last year, which is a 22% increase, but Google management talks a lot opportunities in front of the business. If that's the case, why aren't you hiring more people? Can you tell us the specific constraints that you put on yourself that prevents you from hiring 3,000 people this quarter instead of 2,000?
Short answer: Google can't find that many people that meets its tough requirements, particularly leaders. And, even if it did, it doesn't want to dilute the culture by adding too many at once.
Google's big hiring quarter tends to be the third quarter, not the fourth, Pichette says, because that's when it gets an influx of college grads. "So we actually decelerated from the third quarter as well. We just have a very high bar for hiring. If you can pass the bar, we hire you," he says.
But there's more to it than that. "We also have capacity constraints on leadership," Pichette explained. "There's a natural kind of number that you kind of can absorb within the culture of Google. It's really important not to lose that culture. There's no sense bringing in 5,000 people that we couldn't bring into the teams and really make them 'perform-ant.'"
So, he says Google has a plan for hiring, a target number of people that it hires for each business in the company.
"And from there, the next hurdle is really, can we find these people? And making sure we keep a balance of bringing in [new hires] at a reasonable pace so we can absorb them into the culture. It’s actually a really complex puzzle. It's never perfect but we're managing it the best we can,” he says.
What that really means is that getting a job offer from Google takes two things: exceptionalism and timing.
Here's what Google said about its headcount in its last two fourth-quarter earnings reports:
From 2014: On a worldwide basis, we employed 53,600 full-time employees as of December 31, 2014, compared to 51,564 full-time employees as of September 30, 2014.
From 2013: On a worldwide basis, we employed 47,756 full-time employees (43,862 in Google and 3,894 in Motorola Mobile) as of December 31, 2013, compared to 46,421 full-time employees (42,162 in Google and 4,259 in Motorola Mobile) as of September 30, 2013.