Fri, Jan 16, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Google Taiwan to go on hiring despite downturn

SEEK KNOWLEDGE Google boss Chien Lee-feng advised laid-off tech workers to use the time to expand their knowledge and prepare themselves better for the future

By Sylvia Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Google Taiwan is continuing to recruit staff despite the ongoing economic downturn, but will take a more cautious approach to hiring, a Google Taiwan official said, which signifies that the Internet search giant will raise its recruitment standards in Taiwan.

Mountain View, California-based Google said in late November that it was significantly reducing the number of contract workers it uses, but had no plans at that time to lay off employees, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Despite this, Chien Lee-feng (簡立峰), director of Google Taiwan Engineering Research Center, who also concurrently serves as general manager of Google Taiwan after Zhang Chengxiu (張成秀) tendered her resignation for health reasons last year, did not seem worried about the announcement from headquarters.

“Google Taiwan does not have any contract workers and has no plans to streamline its workforce,” Chien said.

Google Taiwan’s office, located in the Taipei 101 building, is a dream workplace for local engineers because of the great benefits. The office is never short of snacks and the fridge is packed with Perrier mineral water, juice and ice cream. Chien emphasized that the company’s benefits had not shrunk and that the firm had recently offered massages in the workplace as a way to reward employees.

Google Taiwan’s benefits are in stark contrast to the rest of the nation’s high-tech industry, where many firms are reducing staff levels or asking their workers to take unpaid leave in a bid to reduce costs amid falling demand.

Commenting on the current predicament facing Taiwan’s information technology workers, Chien shared his unique point of view.

“If a company is set to cut staff, I would suggest quitting rather than waiting for the company to lay you off. This way, you will have a better chance of getting another job,” Chien said.

Reminiscing about the dot.com bubble in 2000, Chien recalled a student that he rather admired was unexpectedly laid off by a well-known US company in Taiwan late in the downturn. It took the student almost two years to land another job, as many of the suitable positions had already been filled.

However, Chien noted that the economy is cyclical and the downturn would not last forever. He advised workers who were being laid off to use the time to expand their knowledge and prepare themselves for better job opportunities when the economy recovers.

Meanwhile, the economic slump has also affected the Internet advertising market, but Google Taiwan’s sales bucked the trend by posting a 59 percent growth last year from a year ago, far exceeding the market average.

Nonetheless, Chien admitted that this year would still be a difficult one, as advertisers would inevitably cut their marketing budgets and concentrate on advertisements whose effectiveness was easier to measure.

Relatively cheap keyword advertising, which is charged by the number of clicks an ad receives, helps advertisers better control their budgets and measure the effectiveness of their ads, may benefit during the economic downturn, Chien said.

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