Facebook’s Focus: Smart Talent Practices (the Smarter, the Better)

Second of four parts

Yesterday, I covered the first 11 of the smart talent management practices at Facebook. Today in Part 2, I’ll cover 12 more best practices that you can learn a lot from.

A focus on excellence in recruiting

12.  It is ranked as the No. 1 employer brand – Facebook excels at spreading its “best place to work” employer brand image. In 2013 Facebook was listed as the No. 1 employer brand by Glassdoor for having the most satisfied employees. It was No. 1 because its employees are “Challenged every day to do your best work” and “The company’s leadership truly believes in Facebook’s mission to make the world more open and connected.”

My research reveals that “doing the best work of your life” and “changing the world” are the top two factors that attract and retain innovators and top performers at any organization. They received an amazing 4.7 rating out of 5, where the next closest employer is rated a 4.5 and talent competitor Google received a 4.3.

13.  Acqui-hiring is a unique corporate practice – I haven’t found a single firm that can match Facebook’s signature recruiting practice of acqui-hiring.

Acqui-hiring is where you acquire (usually smaller firms) primarily for their talent, rather than for their products or customers. Until its recent Instagram purchase, almost all of Facebook’s acquisitions had as a primary goal to acquire technical talent.

The added advantage of this practice is that you get a whole “intact team” that if integrated correctly, can be productive almost immediately. “Acquiring the firm” may be the only way to capture “startup/hacker mentality” talent that wouldn’t on their own ever consider applying for a job at a large corporation, even one as exciting as Facebook.

14.  Obviously it can’t require a college degree – Because its obviously successful CEO (Mark Zuckerberg) is a college dropout, it would be glaringly inconsistent and perhaps a little embarrassing to require a new hire to have a college degree. As one of the recruiters put it, “It would be weird for us to require a college degree.” So instead, its recruiting focus is “If you can build awesome stuff and have big impact, that’s all we’re really looking for.”

Not requiring a completed degree gives it a chance to land top talent long before other firms, which must wait until after they graduate.

15.  Contest-based recruiting reveals what a prospect can build – Facebook, like many other Silicon Valley firms, relies heavily on Internet-based technical contests to find hidden or “non-obvious” talent from around the world. These relatively inexpensive contests have simple names like “The Facebook Hacker Cup” but they allow the firm to find people based on the problems they can solve, and what you can build is a major corporate focus.

Because contestants are initially anonymous, the winners who are targeted for recruiting are selected because of their work and not as a result of their degrees, experience, gender, or where they reside. Facebook also recruits at algorithm coding contests sponsored by others including TopCoder and Kaggle.

16.  Hackathon college recruiting – Each year Facebook visits more than a dozen college campuses and while there, challenges self-selected teams to come up with solutions to real technical problems. The finalists are brought to the Facebook headquarters for “Camp Hackathon,” where their solutions are judged and the winners get a small prize and an offer of a summer internship. The students get to keep their ideas in case they want to develop their own startup around it.

17.  Its CEO as its chief recruiter — Most organizations dream of having its CEO occasionally involved in recruiting, but Mark Zuckerberg takes it to the next level. He assumes the role of chief recruiter by periodically speaking publicly about the firm and by visiting college campuses in order to directly attract potential recruits from among faculty and students.

18.  Employee referral “Ninja Hunts” — Facebook, like most other Silicon Valley firms, relies heavily on employee referrals to identify top recruits. One of its creative approaches for generating names are called “Ninja Hunts,” where recruiters typically ask a gathered group of employees to think about all their friends to see if some of them would be great engineers for Facebook (where Ninja is their name for an exceptional engineer).

19.  Overall recruiting and retention success – Overall, Facebook seems to excel at recruiting as a result of a combination of its powerful product and employer brands. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that “We’re doing really well against the hiring goals that we have.” My sources also tell me that Facebook has been able to largely protect its staff from raiding, resulting in a single-digit turnover rate.

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Economic rewards and employee benefits

20.  Facebook offers unlimited sick days – Most firms would never even consider offering unlimited sick days, but if your work is truly exciting, your teammates count on you, and you are rewarded for performance, there are few who want to miss much work for frivolous reasons.

There are also few better ways to demonstrate your trust in your employees than to offer them unlimited sick days. Facebook also offers 21 days of paid time off each year (essentially a month off) for even new employees.

21.  Amazing benefits for new parents – Facebook, like most tech firms, struggles to hire and keep women engineers. So it offers close-in reserved parking spaces for those who are pregnant.

It also offers “four months paid parental leave for both spouses, reimbursement for some daycare and adoption fees, and $4,000 “baby cash” for a new arrival.

22.  An opportunity for wealth — Although the firm appears to offer competitive salaries, the prime economic incentive are Restricted Stock Units, which keep employees focused on producing business results. And that business results focus also encourages cooperation and sharing with among employees.

Everyone seems to agree that employees get generous RSUs as part of their regular pay package and as bonuses. Obviously many employees got rich as a result of the IPO; however, the opportunity for wealth still exists because the stock now exceeds the IPO level and its value has been growing at a rapid rate.

23.  It encouraged workers to drop by at any time — One of the most compelling work-increasing “benefits” that I have ever come across occurred at Facebook in its early years (2008 – 2009).

Facebook paid its employees $600 each month extra for living within a mile of Facebook headquarters. The goal was to subtly encourage employees to live close by so that it was easy for them to casually drop in for free food but also for extra work and collaboration. The unintended impact on dramatically raising rents around its Palo Alto headquarters was one reason for eliminating this practice in 2009.

Did you miss Part 1? Then check out Facebook’s Talent Management Practices? They’e Simply Amazing

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

 

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