Apple Company and how it recruits talent, how it selects and trains talent, and why it has become the most successful and most visible technology company in the world.
Description of Apple
The Apple Company (Apple Inc.) was first incorporated on the 3rd of January 1977. Apple is known for its excellence in "…designing, manufacturing and marketing mobile communication and media devices," according to the Apple profile written by Reuters. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak worked together to invent the Apple computers (Apple I and Apple II), and Apple II was the first successful computer designed for home computing using a mouse-driven graphical device.
Meanwhile, today, the devices that Apple designs and manufacturers include personal computers, portable digital music players, iPhones, iPads, Macintosh products, apple TV among other electronic devices.
In addition to these products, Apple sells many peripherals, a variety of software programs, networking solutions and "…third-party digital content and applications," Reuters explains. One of Apple's most popular portals is iTunes, and it also offers the "App store, iBookstore and Mac App Store" (Reuters). Apple is all over the world, manufacturing and marketing its products in Japan, Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific (including Australia and other Asian countries except Japan), and it provides mobile learning products and products for educational settings.
Apple's Recruiting Efforts
Dr. John Sullivan writes in ERE, a recruitment portal, that one of the key recruitment tools Apple has going for it is its glowing reputation. Apple is the world's "most admired firm," according to Sullivan, who claims Apple has received that notoriety for years in a row. In many instances the glossy reputation Apple has earned lures potential employees to Apple without Apple having to go out and seek talent, Sullivan explains. The categories that are used to rank most admired firms include: "factors that impress potential applicants"; "people management"; "quality of management team"; "innovativeness"; and "social responsibility" (Sullivan, p. 3). Apple is very adept at making good impressions on the media and business executives, which helps it continue to craft a "most admired" image.
As to direct recruiting, Apple has a "pirate-raiding mentality" which means it has a "long history of recruiting away top talent from other firms," Sullivan continues (p. 3). When Steve Jobs was alive, he got directly involved in recruiting top talent; in fact Sullivan asserts that the hugely popular iPod might not have been developed if Jobs hadn't imported specific talent to help in the iPod's development (p. 3).
The former Human Resources VP at Apple, Jay Elliot, cites a core principle that Apple believed in: "Always… hire the best 'A' people. As soon as you hire a 'B' they start bringing in Bs and Cs" (Sullivan, p. 3). Recently Apple has recruited a skilled team of recruiting talent from Electronic Arts, but prior to that Apple's recruiting methods were, as Sullivan describes, "pedestrian." Apple used "job boards" and paid up to $5,000 to employees who referred talent to Apple that Apple ended up hiring, Sullivan continues (p. 4).
Obviously Apple has been successful at recruiting, but there are some recommendations for improvement that could be presented. For example, now that Steve Jobs is no longer the living symbol of Apple success (and it is not really known whether his successor, Tim Cook, can be as successful and visible as an Apple icon), the Apple Company should spend less time raiding other technology companies and more time training its own employees from the lower ranks. It is clear that talented people want to work for a highly successful company (a company that has in fact changed the way people live and communicate), and there are no doubt many highly innovative and talented people in Europe, Asia, and the Americas that would love to work for Apple.
The Selection Process at Apple
As to Apple's interview process as it selects talent for its ongoing growth and development, "Glassdoor users rate Apple interviews 3.0 out of 5.0 with regard to difficulty," Sullivan explains (p. 4). Many applicants and existing employees in the retail end of Apple are perfectly willing to work for fairly low wages and endure the "…relative drudgery of retail work" just for the opportunity to one day be described as a "genius" at Apple. When these employees were selected, part of the attraction for the Apple HR department was their enthusiasm for the Apple brand. The company selects people who are willing to bust their tails to be awarded the "genius" label.
Also, current employees carry around with them a card that serves as a referral, and when an Apple retail employee is in a Best Buy or Radio Shack store, for example, if that Apple employee receives stellar service he or she gives the referral card to that Best Buy retail employee, in an attempt to recruit that person over to Apple. The card reads (on the front): "You're amazing. We should talk." And on the back it reads, "…Your customer service just now was exceptional. I work for Apple store and you're exactly the kind of person we'd like to talk to. If you're happy where you are, I'd never ask you to leave. But if you're thinking about a change, give me a call. This could be the start of something great" (Sullivan, p. 4).
Recommendations for improvement: In other words, Apple is smart enough to use its own employees to recruit new people by selecting talent from other companies. Is there any assurance that Apple will find technologically brilliant people at Best Buy, talent that will end up developing the next generation of the iPad? Not likely. But nevertheless, involving retail employees in this way is smart and successful. To improve this system would be difficult, to say the least. The retail end of Apple is managed by highly trained staff and any customer walking in to any official Apple Store can tell immediately that these retail employees are smart and alert and very well trained.
Human Resource Planning at Apple
Writing in Computerworld, blogger Jonny Evans explains that Apple's biggest challenge isn't "…imagination, the road map for change, or the capacity to predict the future. Apple's biggest challenge is finding the right people to help it build that future" (Evans, 2010, p. 1). Evans asserts that being a "stereotypical brainbox" is not the best route to a job with Apple; you need smarts but you "…also need the right personality… it's attitude as much as aptitude" that gets the applicant far in the HR process of hiring.
Writing in HR Magazine, Jane Sunley suggests that Apple had a process for succession planning in place, which is not unique but is important because 42% of businesses in the United Kingdom do not have a process in place in their Human Relations departments for "…identifying future leaders" (Sunley, 2011, p. 1). The HR department can play a "critical role in supporting or facilitating the process" of succession, Sunley explains, and because Apple's HR planning embraced "…a strategic and robust succession plan" when Jobs left the company Cook was already groomed and in place to succeed the iconic Jobs.
HR planning entails asking the right questions of a company's executives, which Apple has apparently accomplished. Sunley says those questions include: "What attributes and skills does our leader of the future possess?" Or "What do my people want and need?" Sunley adds a question that Apple surely gives thought to: "Are there any ambitious 'diamonds in the rough'?" Apple's performance management systems are broken down into several components by Dr. Sullivan with ERE. a) Apple has the "agility" to allow for "…innovation into completely new areas"; b) Apple's "lean talent management approach" allows for "extraordinary productivity"; c) Apple is adept at building and reinforcing a "performance culture"; and d) Apple makes a point of telling applicants…