A Look at the Retention and Attraction Competition Between 7 Tech Companies

Dublin atriumHeadhunting from your competitors is a great place to start recruiting, and a strategy that everyone employs. So this must also be the case when companies are looking to recruit recruiters.

Our analysts at Careerify were hungry to learn more about this by observing one of the few honest things we have left in this world: numbers. To make this a more manageable task, we focused on seven of the larger tech companies in the world: Oracle, IBM, SAP, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple. By aggregating data available via social networks, and data collected by Careerify over the years, the objective was to learn more about HR/recruiters who are either currently working, or have at some point in their careers worked at one the seven companies to depict their journey to and from the companies.

We’ve broken down the findings into four main categories: Retention, Attraction, Executive Development, and Surprise Findings. Below is an infograph as a summary of our findings. Click on it to enlarge it.


Objective: See which organization has held on to most of their HR/recruiters.

Winner: Google

Granted that Google is one of the younger of its six competitors, of the 6,873 HR/recruiters who have identified themselves as “Googlers” at some point in their career, 2,614 currently identify themselves as employees of Google in HR/recruitment. This implies a retention of just over 38 percent. Honorable mention goes to Amazon who fell just short at 37.5 percent.


Objective: See which organization has attracted the most HR/recruiters from one of the other companies.

Winner: Google

No big surprise here; the ever-growing internet giant has attracted 174 HR/recruiters from the other companies, and only lost eight HR/recruiters to the other companies. Another honorable mention goes to Amazon which again falls just shy with 146 HR/recruiters attracted from one of the six other companies, but have not lost any to the six other companies.

Article Continues Below

Executive Development

Objective: See which organization has trained the most HR executives in the industry today. An HR executive is defined as holding one of the following titles: CHRO, VP/SVP/EVP HR, and VP/SVP/EVP Talent Acquisition.

Winner: SAP

Although based on just numbers, IBM has trained 626 HR/recruiters to become HR executives at any company today, the highest number of the other companies, SAP boasts the highest percentage. With a total of 7,554 HR/recruiters identifying themselves as employees of SAP at some point in their career, 2 percent of them are in HR executive roles.

Surprise Findings

Oracle and Apple are the only two companies to attract/headhunt less than 2 percent of their HR/recruiters from one of the other six companies.

More’s here on the methodology


15 Comments on “A Look at the Retention and Attraction Competition Between 7 Tech Companies

  1. Excellent post although you really ought to describe your methodology so someone can replicate it rather than speculate your method as a nicely filtered set of Linkedin searches. Hopefully you spent some time cleaning up the outliers.

    Anyway, I really enjoy the exercise and suggest that any firm might want to research the prior company source of any of their core job families as well as their competitors to see where gaps might be identified as opportunities.

  2. Thanks Harpaul and yes, I would like some elaboration. “..aggregated from social networks…and collected over the years” doesn’t quite cut it as methodology.

    I’m liking your results and want to save time on some ideas you stimulated so the techniques you used to search which sites by what parameters, boolean or otherwise, would be what I’m looking for. If not, that’s ok and we’ll figure it out for ourselves.

  3. Thanks Harpaul.
    I would think that this might tend to create a loose and informal homogenization of recruiting among the companies- while the formal methods might differ greatly, the fact that a sizable number of the recruiters are from similar backgrounds (and are presumably hired in some degree for that) might tend toward a somewhat similar recruiter culture.


  4. Thanks, Mitch. Inbreeding, “me-tooism”, bloatocracy, process- orientation, GAFI- they may not have bright futures, but they sure do have staying power and attractiveness to lots of recruiting organizations… I wonder how these above-mentioned organizations have avoided all these things?


    Keith “Is He Serious or Ironic?” Halperin

  5. No one is stating the obvious thing that I see here: Recruiters, in general for the big tech companies, seem to be highly “headhuntable”. To know the actual attrition rate, we’d need to know the span of years the data was collected instead of “over the years”. Even when I’m hiring more my TA team (albeit much much smaller), the instability on the resumes is a problem.

  6. @ Scott: Well-said. Also, does this apply to only FT or also to contractors, as at least one of these (Google) uses lots of contract recruiters…


  7. @Scott: Exactly!!!

    @Harpaul:Overall, this is a great post. In business people often get promotions for reasons other than preparedness. How do you know that companies “trained HR executives”??

    Also, as Scott points out, moving from company to company is not necessarily a “good” thing. Whenever I see a corporate recruiter with many jobs on the resume it’s a big red flag.

    Moving from competitor to competitor is also not necessarily a good thing. I’ll never forget a very successful rep with one of the original database vendors telling me many years ago that he wouldn’t go to a competitor. How would he be able to explain to his clients that what he had professed to be the best DB solution was no longer the company he was with, but was now his new employer?

  8. Thank you everyone for your comments and feedback.

    @General – our intention for this post was to be impartial and look at the data that was given to us through Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus (those were our three sources). Our thought was, since we see companies like Google pay a premium on developers, it might be the same case for a recruiter at Apple, who has built strong relationships with his/her hires over the years. We are seeing this more often where companies are bring agency recruiters in-house to a) build a similar practice internally and b) leverage the existing connections.

    @Carol. In terms of the section of developing for Today and Tomorrow, we looked at today’s executives (VP, EVP, SVP, CHRO in both HR and TA capacities) and did a both present and past based search on their companies. We noticed that amongst these companies, today’s executives came through SAP more than the others. The majority had extended stays in their mid-careers, than arriving at SAP when they had previous executive experience. Hopefully this sheds light, and apologies if the word “train” was misleading.

    @Keith – it can apply to both, F/T and P/T. I appreciate your thoughts, and hopefully you are both serious and ironic. With regards to your earlier posts, I too am curious if recruiter cultures are brought over from company to company. I have seen a few members stick together from company to company, but I also see the overall culture to vastly impact the department sub-culture. Take the microcosm of Seattle, whereby you have two large tech companies (Amazon, Microsoft), and Starbucks as the three large players. All three have vastly different recruitment cultures (different systems, approach in recruitment) though we see recruiters move around between each company. It would be fascinating to peel into it more.

    @Scott – the “over the years” reference applies to historical data on these networks. Moreover, since FB data is not public in certain cases, we had to use our analyze our internal users for the past 3 years. I agree that a recruiter (generally) is more “headhuntable” than, in this scenario, high-tech companies. I appreciate the comment.

  9. @Harpaul – So you pulled from LI, FB, and Google+ over the period of 3 yrs? I really appreciate the infograph as the main point is still there, but its really though to trust some of those numbers. You said its taken over a 3 yr time period, but the first stat mentioned states “identified themselves as “Googlers” at some point in their career”. Again, I don’t mean to be a pain about it – just stating what I’m seeing because I love finding data that I can utilize.

    Not too long ago, I made the case to modify our TA strategy to include an entire branding campaign (not yet released) and I presented the data for the highly decreasing amount of applies we have through traditional resources amongst other stats. My execs took me to task because I didn’t weight those stats in line with the struggling economy over the same period of time. Lesson learned.

    Still a good topic and infograph, however. Thanks for sharing.

  10. @ Harpaul:
    Thank you. I AM both serious and ironic, and the fun is to figure out what I am at a given time… Non-ironically, I’m currently recruiting for a company with a branch in Seattle, and in looking at candidates’ backgrounds from there, it “feels” more like a “Big Company Town” than here in the Bay Area, i.e., the largest firms seem to have a more dominating presence than they do here.

    @ Carol:
    “Whenever I see a corporate recruiter with many jobs on the resume it’s a big red flag.”
    Things may be different where you are. Here, we’re more likely to say:
    “When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The smart left a long time ago.”

    Happy Friday, ‘Cruitaz!

  11. thanks a lot for this great and insightful article. But gotta ask a qusestion here. Does the first chart mean that all those number of HR from the other 6 companies used to or still work for Microsoft? then it doesn’t match the table in your methodology post. Please kindly clarify. Thanks

  12. @Elle: Thanks for your question, I would be happy to clarify. The chart in the infographic above shows the breakdown of today’s Microsoft employees and where they have come from. So for example, 71 of Microsoft’s current employees had worked at Oracle in the past. The table in the methodology shows net movement. Where it says current Microsoft, past Oracle, 14 is the net movement between Microsoft and Oracle (Microsoft gained 71, but also lost 57 to Oracle). Hope that makes it a little more clear.

  13. @Harpaul thanks for the clarification. that makes sense now.
    BTW, I notice a trend of the talent movement here is like this: IBM(hardware)—>Microsoft/Oracle/SAP(software)—>Amazon/Google/Apple(internet)—>?
    so what’s next? could it be cloud computing? or something else?

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