Hey Genius: Wooing Young, Hip Microserfs

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-09-05 Print this article Print

As part of an update to its college information and application site, Microsoft announced today via its JobsBlog that it has created "an AWESOME interactive site to go along with it" titled "Hey Genius."

Using terms like "hip," "hidden gems" and "cool," not once but twice, the site unabashedly aspires to get Microsoft in with the cool kids, perhaps the ones it fears are leaving it for the Apples and the Web 2.0 startups of the world.

But does it work? The http://hey-genius.com url brings users to a landing page that gives them "high brainwidth" and "low brainwidth" options, requesting that those with IQs over 140 only head through the more ambitious door. All-too-aware of my lot in life, I headed in the opposite direction.

The low brainwidth door leads to a page that looks like it could have been made on, well, a very early Microsoft computer. In a MySpace-worthy hodge-podge of fonts and letter-styles, Hey Genius assures me that it is speaking "very very s l o w" when it says that I should "stop trying to be so smart for a second and enjoy the simple life." Not needing to be asked twice, I click on the "Dumb Videos & Games" button, a mix of not-worth-mentioning "games" and short videos that show Microsoft employees performing Jackass-like stunts, like trying to play a keyboard with their forehead or dancing with boxes on their feet. LOL!

To get back to the low-IQ area one came from, users have to push a button that says "Back to Mainframe," and now my interest is tapped. Mainframes are for people lacking in smarts? Ouch, Microsoft, I know some readers who might beg to differ.

Moving over to the "High Brainwidth" site, users land on a page filled with pencil drawings of brains with stick legs, robot cats, rocks spewing hearts and clouds raining binary code. It appears to be a sort of video game where users can network, attend live meetings or "visit our job site, whatever."

It could be the point, but Microsoft's college recruiting site makes me feel old. However, it also makes me feel talked down to, which I am certain is not the point. If I were interested in working at Microsoft, it wouldn't take robot cats and low-IQ jokes to get me in the door.

Judging by the comments, I am not the only one who has had this reaction.

"... I doubt the website is actually going to be effective at getting the types of talent you're looking for. If you want to recruit people who truly love code, a flash based animation with very little real *content* is a poor way of doing it," writes a commenter named D.J. Capelis.

It also didn't appear well to the high-IQ coder types it aimed to recruit, one of whom writes, " it is crashing left and right ... was this tested before?" Others criticized it for bugginess, error code and not using Microsoft's latest technology.

Microsoft assures in the comments the technical issues will be resolved ASAP, but what of potential recruits that might be repelled by the suggestion that a goofy site will make the difference in where they choose to work?

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