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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

February 24, 2011 at 3:11 PM

On hiring spree, Google expands in Seattle and Kirkland

To accommodate new employees that it expects to hire this year, Google is expanding its offices in Seattle and Kirkland.

The company’s been talking up its growth plan over the past month, saying it expects to add more than 6,000 employees this year globally.

After that news came out, Google received a record 75,000 resumes in a single week. Locally, applications to the Seattle and Kirkland offices jumped 62 percent above the weekly average.

Google’s hiring talk comes as tech companies large and small ramp up their hiring after running lean through the downturn. The situation is exacerbated in Seattle by Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Zynga and Salesforce.com setting up new engineering offices here.

Competition for top talent is leading to dot-commish hiring gimmicks, including referral bounties of $10,000 to $12,000 being offered by Seattle startups SEOmoz and EnergySavvy.

Seattle and Kirkland Google managers wouldn’t talk about competing for talent with any particular company, but in a meeting today they emphasized the thoroughness and responsiveness of Google’s hiring practices.

Google is expanding its Fremont campus by leasing 30,000 square feet formerly occuped by Getty Images, adjacent to Google’s building just north of the Fremont Bridge.

In Kirkland, Google began moving employees into the third building on the campus it opened in 2009.

Combined employment at the two sites grew 50 percent last year, to about 800 people, according to site managers Brian Bershad and Scott Silver.

Google’s likely to hire more than 100 this year,but the managers wouldn’t provide specific forecasts. However, they offered plenty of clues and hints to inform speculation about what to expect.

“I do expect, given what we’re seeing in terms of resumes and the amount of resources we’re putting into the hiring process, that we will grow substantially in 2011,” Bershad said.

Google is expecting 2011 to be the biggest hiring year in its history, and the “Sea-Kirk” facilities should get their share.

“In this area we’ve always grown faster than the rest of Google, always, every year,” said Silver. “It’s mostly a testament to the talent that are here.”

Google is working on a number of projects in the local offices, including search, messaging, maps, ad systems and the Chrome browser and operating system. Bershad said a particular emphasis in recruting this year will be for user-experience experts, to improve the design of Google products.

Unlike most of Google’s regional offices, the Seattle and Kirkland facilities are almost entirely filled with engineers, with more than 90 percent of the staff involved in research and development, as opposed to sales and administration.

Google’s engineering presence in Seattle began in 2004 with three employees in Kirkland.

The company leased the three-building Kirkland campus while it was under construction in 2007 and moved into two of the buildings in 2009. Silver said Google will eventually fill the third building, which has about 75,000 square feet of space.

Among the occupants may be former employees of Widevine, a Seattle digital-rights management software company that Google acquired in December. At the time, plans were to move the 60 Widevine employees to the Kirkland campus.

Comments | Topics: Google, Microsoft, Startups

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