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Why do People Want to Work at Google?

As an industry, we have a growing issue connecting with talent.

Put simply, top candidates aren’t responding to traditional recruiting tactics, and companies are left to compete for top talent.

Technology titan Google doesn’t seem to have this issue. The company gets over 3 million high quality applicants each year. Only 7000 are hired, which gives candidates a 0.2% chance of receiving an offer...

Getting a job at Google is reportedly harder than being accepted at institutions like Harvard or Yale. Why do the world’s best and brightest apply in droves every year?

Google has a distinct set of attributes that consistently attracts top candidates. These are all qualities that you can learn from — adding a few into your melting pot of company culture could have a dramatic effect on your company’s hiring success.

Below are the six reasons why people want to work at Google (see what you can reuse or recycle!)

1. Money

Candidates that tell you they don't care about money are (probably) lying.

This has a biological basis: research suggests that money can have a similar effect on the human brain as many drugs — it clouds judgment and plays a significant role in our decision making process.

It should come as no surprise that Google pays pretty well. The company has some of the highest salaries around.

A Google engineer turned down a $500,000 salary at a startup, not because it wasn’t a great opportunity, but because the ‘programmer’ was being paid a yearly wage of $3m at Google. It would be very difficult for a startup to compete with that.

How can you learn from this?

If you think a candidate is worth it, don’t shy away from offering them significant compensation to get them through the door. Don’t despair if you're not in a position to offer the big bucks. There are a number of other factors that can help you attract top talent.

2. Mission and Values

In an age of bland corporate messaging, it's important not to underestimate the importance of an inspiring company mission.

This is particularly important to millennials and Generation Z, which are segments that some hiring teams struggle to connect with.

Generation Z’s default setting is suspicion. They want their work to matter, and they’re interested in an environment where they have development opportunities and a good work-life balance. They are also concerned with their employer’s values on societal issues like sustainability and inclusion. As a result, they’re a harder sell for hiring teams.

Google’s values include: focus on the end user and everything else will follow; you can make money without doing evil; and you can be serious without wearing a suit. These values neatly cover the motivations of young professionals — who wouldn’t want to do cool things at work that actually matter?

How can you learn from this?

Make sure that your company mission statement and core values are clearly relayed by your website and recruiters. This will help you attract the right candidates for your business.

3. Creative license

Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, encourages a healthy ‘disregard for the impossible.’

Google is famous for its “20% rule”, which allows staff to spend as much as 20% of their time working on personal projects. That’s right: employees can take a full day out every week to work on projects that they believe are important.

This initiative has proven to be of great value — some of Google’s most well-known products, such as AdSense, Google Maps, and Gmail, have been born as a result of this time.

How can you learn from this?

Creative ideas can get drowned out pretty easily — most companies’ main priority is the bottom line. Assure candidates that this isn’t the case at your company. Let them know that each employee has a voice to raise new ideas. You could even think about establishing a monthly forum where you brainstorm ideas and develop creative plans that will power your company forward.

4. An awesome team

The world’s smartest people want to work with each other.

Given Google’s large application flow, the company can afford to be very selective with who they hire. They’ve put together an all-star team, which plays a major role in continued talent attraction.

This can have its downsides, as an ex-Googler pointed out on Quora.

Everyone is awesome, so it’s tough to stand out and get promoted quickly — especially when a lot of the initial work that people are tasked with isn’t particularly tough or stimulating.

How can you learn from this?

Never forget the recruiting value of employing thought leaders or well respected industry figures. Simply having these respected ‘A players’ on your team can encourage candidates to apply.

It’s critical that you have the right individuals on your team, because even just one bad hire can act as a poison within your organization.

5. Free food

Google isn’t the only company that offers free food as a perk, but it’s still a big deal. The way to an employee’s heart is sometimes through their stomach! The company provides a wide range of fresh, organic food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You might not be surprised that with everything free of charge, many employees go a little overboard. There’s even a term for this at Google, “the Google 15.” It refers to the 15 pounds new employees tend to put on when they start taking advantage of the free meals.

How can you learn from this?

We’re not suggesting that you offer your team free food. The main lesson here is that anything you can do to make your team’s work life easier, is very much appreciated, and makes your team feel valued.

A low-cost example could be implementing a hybrid work policy — a perk that would make the world of difference to many people’s lives, and could be a deciding factor for candidates considering your company.

6. Weird and wonderful perks

Let’s be honest, we all like perks. This is one of the areas where Google really comes into its own. Glassdoor has ranked Google the #7 best place to work in the United States.

From futuristic bathrooms, to outdoor mini pools and company slides, it’s safe to say that if you want to take a break at Google, there’s plenty to do. The company even has its own bowling lane for employees!

google slide

Google doesn’t restrict itself to the wild and wacky — the company can be pretty thoughtful as well. For example, if an employee dies, their surviving spouse or domestic partner receives a check for 50% of the deceased’s salary for a decade. Surprisingly, there is no tenure requirement for this benefit.

If you’re interested in learning more about Google's perks, here’s an interesting Quora piece listing the benefits that Google employees value the most.

How can you learn from this?

If you’re in a position to offer cool or interesting perks, you should consider it. You could always think about moving your office space somewhere like WeWork, where perks are bundled into the deal.

The main lesson is that candidates want a fun and positive working environment. You don’t need perks to set this up: it’s more of a company-wide attitude and culture.

Attracting and retaining top talent starts with being a great employer. Learn how to step up your recruitment marketing and employer branding game.