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Hiring in Silicon Valley

Colleen McCreary, former Chief People Officer at Zynga, talks about hiring in Silicon Valley

ZYNGA hires about 200 graduates a year. However the marketplace is unbelievably competitive. All the applicants come from similar backgrounds and are on the same recruitment circuit. Most software engineer candidates would also have offers from Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft. Pay is not the differentiator. So how does ZYNGA encourage the candidates to accept their offer not those of their opposition?

Colleen McCreary at the time of this being filmed was Chief People Officer at Zynga. In this film she talks about how Zynga are successful recruiters within Silicon Valley because they essentially executive recruit at all levels. They need to be great at realising what is important and motivating to each individual. Then they need to know the exact right person within Zynga to sell that to them. Zynga is helped with this by having an extremely engaged executive team who will always be available to talk to candidates. Additionally they need to know everything about their competition so they can sell against it.

Such a competitive market also means Colleen feels she must constantly re-recruit her existing employees as well. Companies such as LinkedIn allow rival companies to try to poach her employees. Colleen refers to this as “Bird-dogging” and statistics show it happens four times as often to Zynga employees as to any other company.

In Colleen’s opinion there are various things that make Zynga stand out from other companies. Firstly she points out that it is not the superficial things such as meals and snacks and coffees etc. This in fact is the base-line for Silicon Valley so is expected though it can be a perk in Zynga offices in other parts of the world.

The main attraction is the number of new products which leads to large scope for early responsibility and leadership opportunities within employee’s careers.

Secondly they have guidelines not rules as Colleen believes rules inhibit creativity and leave people stagnant.

Thirdly they run an internal marketplace system. They frequently move people from team to team reacting to spikes in success of certain areas of business. Guidelines say employees should spend about six months per job but they publish a list every week of all the posts that are available so if anyone wants to move at any point they are welcome to apply. This leads to a transparent system of which teams people want to work in and which leaders they want to work for. They also rate all their businesses and give the most successful ones recruitment priority meaning it is in leaders’ interests to be as good as possible – the most successful teams get the most help, the ones at the bottom have to help themselves.

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