Google reveals it isn’t immune to coronavirus

In an internal memo to staff, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said the firm will slow down hiring for the rest of 2020 but will honour any offers made to new employees.

Obtained by Bloomberg, the memo states Google will slow down its recruitment mission, focusing more on strategic units and onboarding new employees who have already been offered a contract.

“We’ll be slowing down the pace of hiring, while maintaining momentum in a small number of strategic areas and onboarding the many people who’ve been hired but haven’t started yet,” a Google spokesperson said.

Year Total headcount Year-on-year change
2019-end 118,899 +20.3%
2018-end 98,771 +23.3%
2017-end 80,110 +11.1%
2016-end 72,053 +16.5%
2015-end 61,814 +15.3%

Numbers taken from Alphabet Quarterly Results

Google has been scaling its business in recent years, thanks to more companies venturing into the digital economy but also expanding its horizons beyond digital advertising. The core business still accounts for the majority of revenues, but Google is much more than just a search engine nowadays.

The Cloud business unit is the most obvious place to look for a surge in employees. Revenues in this business unit grew from $4.056 billion across 2017 to $5.838 billion in 2018 and $8.918 billion in 2019. This is a rapidly growing sector with huge potential for growth and will encourage Google to continue hiring. Elsewhere, ideas like Loon, Verily and Sidewalk Labs are growing after graduation from the Moonshot labs.

Looking at its Moonshot labs, where the weird and wonderful ideas are concocted, expenses increased 16.1% ($4.599 billion) year-on-year to $26.018 billion. The majority of this jump has been attributed to a 23% increase in headcount. This is where Google is most likely to be slowing down its recruitment to ensure core operations, and revenue which can be secured today, is prioritised.

In the memo, Pichai states:

We believe now is the time to significantly slow down the pace of hiring, while maintaining momentum in a small number of strategic areas where users and businesses rely on Google for ongoing support, and where our growth is critical to their success. By dialling back our plans in other areas, we can ensure Google emerges from this year at a more appropriate size and scale than we would otherwise. That means we need to carefully prioritize hiring employees who will address our greatest user and business needs

Google is not alone in making adjustments to its recruitment policies during the coronavirus outbreak, Microsoft is reportedly doing the same. However, it does demonstrate Silicon Valley is not immune to the impacts of the pandemic.

Candor crowdsources the recruitment landscape

Candor, a salary negotiating tool, has been crowdsourcing the recruitment landscape to help jobseekers understand who is hiring, freezing and firing.

The website traditionally crowdsources and validates salary data to help jobseekers negotiate salaries with new employers but has re-focused its efforts to build an in-depth picture of the recruitment landscape at a time where livelihoods are under threat from the coronavirus outbreak.

Co-founder of Candor David Chouinard is encouraging employees and jobseekers to write into hello@candor.co with updates to the hiring practices of firms around the world. With economies being shaken violently, this information could prove to be incredibly valuable to some.

The list itself is very extensive, though we have taken a snapshot of the technology, telecoms and media industry below:

Company Status Additional information
Accenture Hiring Hiring for high-need roles, but final stage interviews which require face-to-face have been postponed
Adobe Freezing Hiring freeze in place for three months from March 27
ADP Hiring Confirmed by Candor
Akamai Tech Hiring
Amazon Hiring Announced large hiring spree. Suggested business model more resilient to slowdown than ad-supported FANG companies
American Express Freezing
ASOS Freezing Offers have been rescinded
Booking.com Freezing Company wide recruitment freeze, but Candor suggests there are internal rumours about layoffs
Capgemini Hiring Both full-time employees and interns
Cisco Unknown Mixed reports suggesting hiring, freezing and layoffs
Dell Tech Freezing Recruitment freeze went into place w/b March 10
eBay Hiring Multiple reports of the company still hiring
Facebook Hiring Announced in recent internal Q&A that the company plans to continue hiring
Google Hiring More than 20 reports confirming Google is still actively recruiting
HBO Hiring Reports of the company hiring ‘aggressively’
HERE Tech Freezing Unconfirmed reports of global recruitment freeze
HPE Freezing Recruitment of non-critical roles on hold
Infinera Hiring
JustEat Freezing Confirmation from internal recruiter that the company is on a recruitment freeze
KPMG Unknown Hiring in 20+ departments, but contractors are being scaled back and laid off
LinkedIn Freezing Hold on recruitment for non-critical roles
Microsoft Hiring Some restrictions in place, though actively hiring for cloud business units
NBCUniversal Freezing
Netflix Freezing
NVIDIA Freezing
Oracle Freezing Appears to be some hires in areas, but majority of interviews have been postponed until May
PWC Freezing Announced during internal townhall that all recruitment is now on hold
Salesforce Hiring Head of Talent has confirmed to Candor that the team is continuing to hire across the business
Snap Unknown Mixed reports – some suggest offers have been postponed
Spotify Hiring Leadership suggest only hiring for essential roles, though other reports suggest these are mainly R&D functions
Tinder Hiring
Twitter Freeing
Uber Freezing Roles can be filled if an employee left prior to March 16, but freezing recruitment for all other positions
Visa Freezing Candidate for role told all recruitment is on pause in feedback email
VMWare Freezing Currently in recruitment freeze, but not related to COVID-19, ends in May. Reports that interviews are currently taking place
Warner Media Freezing