Posted on 7 January 2013

Domo Recruiting Billboard: Offensive? or Just (Really) Bad Taste?

A recruiting billboard from Domo along I-15 in Utah County is either offensive or just really (really) bad taste.

North-bound travelers on I-15 through Lindon, Utah will find a recruiting billboard from local tech startup Domo that many will find either shocking, offensive, oddly funny or just downright lame.

Odd billboards from Domo’s chief, Josh James aren’t a new thing. It’s kindof his schtick, hailing from days back at Omniture (now Adobe) and even using secretive billboards to attract people to his newest, then-stealthy gig, which turned out to be Domo.*

Designed to read like a classified ad (in the personals section), the ad reads:

Sexy young startup seeks hot engineers
4 a good time, go 2

Initially, this ad is clearly trying to play a joke on the idea that Domo is putting out ad after ad to hire engineers, something akin to putting a personal ad out or joining an online dating site (insert golf clap here). This is something that’s not lost on me or the recruiting industry in-general, but I have always felt this conversation that “recruiting is like dating” just lends itself to the wrong kinds of allusions.  The last thing we need in the world today are more hiring managers going about hiring staff like they would try to find a date for Friday night.

However, thinking just barely beyond the initial impression, it becomes clear that this billboard is, at a minimum fairly tasteless, but in the extreme, highly offensive to both women as well as any self-respecting professional looking for work.

  • Are Domo engineers hotter than other engineers? I mean, if this is what’s being recruited for, they should have an unusually attractive workforce…
  • Are candidates measured by hotness? Is there a technical term for that? What programming language(s) do hot people write in?
  • If your hotness quotient should diminish over time, are you passed up for promotions or does your percentage in the bonus pool shrink? As an analytics/dashboard company, are these rankings published (with photos, of course) on the internal intranet?
  • I’m not sure – Is this an ad for a long-term relationship or more of a one-night-stand type thing?  Would you want to work for a company that just wants to NCMO?
  • How would you feel after being hired to find out that the next engineer hired is actually getting all the attention? Would you be jealous? Is this a precursor to an episode of Sister Wives?

All jokes aside, while the billboard isn’t technically sexist (It doesn’t specify that the sexy startup is masculine or feminine or that said sexy startup is seeking a preference of males or females), it does lend itself to a pretty cheap kind of relationship between the employer and the employee.  If being hired is like being selected for a date, what kind of experience should a candidate–or employee–expect to have in that environment? I’m not going to lie, I am pretty shocked that Human Resources didn’t step in and squash this billboard pretty fast.

Look, if an employee in a company I worked with put up a sign outside their office saying exactly this when they began hiring for a specific job to fill, it would be taken down pretty fast by either request or by force. Even if there’s, perhaps, nothing immediately harassing about what this sign says, it sure smacks of it and that’s pretty plain to see. I wouldn’t recruit on a job being advertised this way.  If the company is just looking “4 a good time”, then what does that make the recruiter??

* Disclosure: I used to work for JJ at OMTR. Have no idea if this matters, but since there’s a connection here that might not be readily apparent, I figured I should say something.

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