Is Yahoo Limiting Its Job Candidates?
March 29, 2013

Is Yahoo Limiting Its Job Candidates?

Last week, news circulated that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who at 37 years old is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and was ranked by Fortune as one of the most powerful women in business, is now personally vetting new employees.

eWeek reported that Mayer’s policies may mirror those of her former bosses at Google, and could actually be slowing down the hiring process.

In the highly competitive Silicon Valley market, where engineers are reportedly aggressively courted, this isn’t the normal way to do business. It was also noted that Yahoo had acquired Silicon Valley start-up Jybe as a way to bring back its five employees — who just happened be former Yahoo engineers. That certainly seems to be a novel way of keeping talent.

This of course follows last month’s highly questioned policy by Mayer that called on workers to actually show up at the offices instead of working from home.

What is interesting about Mayer’s new policies, and for that matter those of Google, is that it reportedly involves a little discussed criteria that new hires must hail from an Ivy League school. It isn’t known for sure if this is in fact an actual policy. It is known that Mayer believes strongly that strong companies have strong cultures. But is this move really the right one to make to create a strong culture?

For one thing shouldn’t the CEO have other duties besides vetting employee hires?

“With a company the size of Yahoo’s, it’s a challenge to meet every hire—there’s only so much time in a day, and she knows that,” Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite, a job recruitment and applicant tracking platform told eWeek. “So clearly, she’s decided that the downside risk is worth the upside benefit of changing the culture into something she thinks is more competitive and likely to win. No big decision is going to influence culture without risks.”

Moving back to the point of Ivy League grads; it would seem like that would narrow the field considerably, even it just involved the hiring of engineers and software developers. Given that both Yahoo and Google have their respective headquarters in California it does seem like this one is hard to believe. While no doubt an Ivy League degree might impress many an employer, is that enough for those without to be weeded out?

As news watchdog site Newsbusters noted, “As to the alleged Ivy League requirement for new hires, even after granting that the article may really only relate to technical and management positions, if we’re really to believe that Yahoo and Google limit eligible candidates to those who have attended the eight official Ivy League schools, that would mean that they’re excluding alums from the top four schools in computer science according to worldwide rankings in US News: MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and University of California-Berkeley. The Ivy League rankings at US News are as follows: Harvard (5), Princeton (10), Cornell (14), Columbia (16), Yale (25), Penn (32), Brown (46). Dartmouth isn’t even on the list.”

Finnigan suggested in his eWeek interview that Mayer, “By making these clear and blunt policy changes she’s trying to shock the system.”

Whether it pays off for the company, which has had its fair share of troubles in the past year, might just be the most shocking part of all this.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on,,, and Peter is a regular writer for

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