Imagine working to solve a problem for your current project, and the process helps you get a new job. This is what has happened for at least one new Googler, Max Rosett. Rosett was working on a project for his Master's Degree in Computer Science at Georgia Tech when he Googled "python lambda function list comprehension" and he was startled by an invitation to a challenge. The challenge led to a job at Google.
The surprising thing is that Rosett didn't immediately assume it was malware (you can check out a picture of the invitation here). The usual Google search results split open to reveal a black bar that said, "You're speaking our language. Up for a challenge?" It is a wonder it didn't ask if he wanted to play a game of thermonuclear war.
Rosett clicked on it and it took him to a site called foo.bar which somewhat reassuringly has a Google address. Foo.bar put Rosett through a series of challenges. He had 48 hours to solve each set of challenges. For two weeks Rosett solved the challenges without any promise of a job offer or without knowing anything about what was happening to him. He enjoyed the exercises. After two weeks of solving the challenges, Rosett received an email from a recruiter asking for a resume. After that, a slightly more normal recruiting process happened and Rosett is looking forward to his new job.
In many ways this is nothing new for the tech industry. Such companies have been hiring people who can solve puzzles and challenges for quite some time. What is new, and a bit strange, was that Google reached out rather anonymously via search results. On one level, it's a random way to get people to try the challenges. It's as if the New York Yankees recruited employees by targeting those who searched "Infield fly rule" or an accounting firm recruited workers from a pool of people who searched for "amortized deductions."
[ Finding the right job involves more than playing with keywords. Read 10 IT Job Search Habits To Nail A New Gig. ]
It's not only about getting the search terms right. You have to find a person who is willing to click on an unexpected pop-up, is in a position to drop whatever else they're working on to check out the pop-up, has 48 hours starting that very minute to work on a challenge, and has two weeks more to keep trying new challenges, all to finally get to the resume stage.
It's certainly a way to attract people with an in-born curiosity and willingness to investigate unusual things (and no fear of malware). Google has a reputation for liking those kinds of people. So maybe it is the right way to attract Google's kind of person.
What do you think? Would you have clicked on such an invitation? Is Google is smart to recruit this way? Do you plan on running to Foo.bar to see if you are the next Googler? Don't bother. You need to be invited. But search away and you might receive an invitation of your own.