Would Yahoo's Marissa Mayer hire you?

The CEO is taking heat for her rigorous recruiting standards. To make the cut, you'd better have stellar grades from a top school.

By Aimee Picchi Mar 12, 2013 11:51AM

Marissa Mayer on NBC News' 'Today' show on Feb. 20, 2013 (© Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)Just weeks after sparking a furious debate by banning telecommuting, Yahoo (YHOO) Chief Executive Marissa Mayer is catching flak for another human resources issue. 

The problem, critics say, is that Mayer's rigorous hiring standards are causing the company to miss out on talented prospects in Silicon Valley's uber-competitive labor market. 

She was asked at a recent staff meeting if she's using overly high standards for hiring, Reuters reports. Mayer countered with an argument that cited a line from 1989's "Say Anything," asking, "Why can't we just be good at hiring?" 

Mayer personally interviews every potential new recruit, which critics say hampers the company's ability to fill open positions by slowing down the process. One would-be employee waited for eight weeks to hear back and eventually accepted an offer from another company, Reuters notes. 

Yahoo's dilemma is whether it can afford to have such strict standards, given it's racing to remain relevant in an industry dominated by Google (GOOG). Complicating the issue is that Yahoo is still considered a "back-up" option among many of the engineers and scientists it would like to hire, Rick Girard at Stride Professional Search told Reuters.

Yahoo currently has 900 jobs open, or about 8% of its workforce. By comparison, Mayer's former employer, Google, has 1,000 open jobs, but that's only 2% of its employee base. 

Mayer is taking a page from Google by insisting new hires have some cred backing them up: Stellar grades from top-ranked schools like MIT or Stanford are essential, the story says. 

But great, creative employees and entrepreneurs often come from unlikely places. Take Michael Dell, the founder of Dell (DELL) who dropped out of the University of Texas, or Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs, who dropped out of the counterculture-oriented Reed College. 

Mayer is also putting pressure on existing staff. Some administrative assistants were recently told they had to take a version of the law school admissions test, although it wasn't clear why, Reuters notes. The company later rescinded the requirement. 

Focusing on academic credentials doesn't always lead to the best hires, said Brad Garlinghouse, a former Yahoo executive known for writing a 2006 memo that criticized the company's lack of vision. 

He told Reuters: "Some of the best people I've ever worked with didn't necessarily get the best GPA or go to Stanford."

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Mar 12, 2013 1:48PM
Consider for a moment that Einstein would likely not have even gotten to the interview stage at Yahoo; he dropped out of high school and after going back to get the equivalent of a high-end GED, went to college where he graduated with mediocre grades; he found the curriculum dull and uninspiring. Post graduation, he had trouble finding a job until the patent office gig came up. His success in physics was largely due to his independent studies and motivation for knowledge instead of money or power; self made men, even if geniuses, are discounted by modern society. It's sad to think how many truly great minds are stifled by the status quo of modern education.
Mar 12, 2013 4:08PM
Google must be happy at this point to have gotten rid of her. 
Mar 12, 2013 2:27PM
Wow, what a micro-manager.  If I am a recent graduate with a choice of companies there would be no way I would work for Yahoo with her recent trend of behavior.  They wonder why they are falling behind everyone else, what a horrible hire Mayer has turned out to be.  Did she just forget everything she did at Google?
Mar 12, 2013 1:12PM

Micro-manager. If she has that much time on her hands, tell her to put an email support number on the website. Wife's cousin got locked out of account and I had to go to EHOW to get the damn number.


Mar 12, 2013 2:20PM
Major Moron Micromanager.  First further destroying work/life balance by ending telecommuting...for a tech company?  Way to show confidence in the ability of your product to replace expensive business travel!  Now demonstrating the snot factor.  The stereotype of booksmart street dumb exists for good reason.  Time to accelerate my departure from Yahoo services altogether.
Mar 13, 2013 7:04AM
It says "Mayer personally interviews every potential new recruit".  That's not true.  I interviewed with Yahoo and the senior engineers approved my as a hire, the director approved me, and the 2 VPs approved me.  And when it came to Marissa, she just based it on the superficial resume and declined the hire.  She never met me, never talked to me, never sent me email.  Maybe what she did was to look me up on the Internet, which can be confusing because there are people with the same name.  And maybe she didn't like my photo, if I am not photogenic enough.  Whatever it is, I feel like it is in the China Dynasties, where the king can just spend 20 seconds to say a YES or NO, and that's it.  It is the final decision for the whole empire.

Mar 12, 2013 2:53PM

I for one have an MBA of which the value is questionable and from a solid school that was full of GE people being groomed at the time.  I have found that ordinary workers have the greatest ideals on how to make things work the smoothest.  But then if your nose is aimed to high you will not see the ideas at your feet. 

Yahoo is a soon to be memory.  I go on their site only to remind myself of how irrating it is with all the pop ups and this message will end in 15 seconds.  Generally I never make it past 5 seconds and I am off to find my interest somewhere else.

American know how is born every day in the basements of the burbs far from Stanford or MIT (my last boss had a degree from both what a waste).  My grades were common my life well it has been anything but common. 

What a shallow person she is with a fear of hiring someone she can not control.

Mar 13, 2013 7:15AM
by the way, before the decline to hire, I waited for 10 weeks.  So 10 weeks wasted, and I wasn't given any compensation whatsoever.  I think Marissa mentioned earlier that her priorities are "God, family, Yahoo, in that order", but wasting 10 weeks of somebody's life, and she herself earning a total of US$25 million per year.  Does Yahoo or she have any conscience at all, and to even mention God?

Mar 12, 2013 4:56PM
what a twat. really?

in an economy where it's already ridiculously hard for many people to get a job, you tack on some completely pointless requirement from when you were an adolescent still?

sorry to break it to you marissa....but yahoo is obsolete and no one cares about it anymore.

maybe YOU should find a new job with your perfect grades and attendance.
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