Google executives say the company needs to aggressively recruit the smartest computer engineers and the most persuasive sales representatives to maintain its lead in online search and advertising. They also stress the need to diversify into other services in computing, telecommunications and the media.
The company outlined its hiring plans Tuesday without providing many specifics beyond its pledge to hire more people than it did in 2007, when it added 6,131 workers. Google hired nearly 4,600 people last year, a 23 percent growth, to end 2010 with 24,400 employees.
The expansion was announced on the same day Yahoo Inc. cut 100 to 150 workers, or about 1 percent, of its payroll amid pressures from falling revenue.
Google's commitment to increase its work force by at least 25 percent this year means Google's payroll might grow faster than its revenue.
Analysts polled by FactSet expect Google's revenue to increase 22 percent this year, after subtracting commissions it pays advertising partners.
Google wouldn't say how many of the new jobs will be based in the United States, where most of its current workers are located. In a speech Tuesday, CEO Eric Schmidt said Google will hire more than 1,000 workers in Europe this year. Google has more than 60 offices in 30 countries.
"At this stage, the number of opportunities just vastly exceeds the number of people we have at the company," said Alan Eustace, Google's senior vice president of engineering and research.
Even if it surpasses 31,000 employees this year, Google will still have far fewer people than Microsoft Corp., among its fiercest rivals. Microsoft employed about 88,400 people through September, the most recent value available.
Managing a company with the population of a small city will pose another challenge for Google co-founder Larry Page as he prepares to take over as the company's CEO on April 4.
Page, 37, served as CEO in Google's early days when the company was far smaller. Google had fewer than 300 employees when Schmidt replaced Page as CEO a decade ago.
Google has become a coveted place to work, largely because Page and fellow co-founder Sergey Brin have always insisted on making the company's offices seem like a home away from home in an effort to make people more productive. All meals, snacks and drinks are free at Google, and employees can commute on free shuttles equipped with Internet access to San Francisco and other cities.