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Apple culture hinders recruitment and talent retention efforts, report says

A one-sided report on Thursday claims Apple's secretive, rigid culture, compounded by a failure to introduce ground-breaking products, is shifting sentiment in Silicon Valley, supposedly prompting developers and engineers to look elsewhere when applying for jobs.

According to The Guardian, Apple is quickly losing its luster as potential talent looks to Silicon Valley stalwarts Alphabet and Facebook, or fresh startups like Uber and Airbnb, that offer a more complete employment package. From the article's tone it seems like Apple is struggling not only to retain current employees, but to attract young recruits as well.

Freelance developer James Knight, whose company builds iOS apps, describes Apple's work environment as "hostile," citing long inflexible working hours and constant pressure from upper management. For these reasons Knight didn't even consider applying to Apple after recently leaving Google.

"At Apple, you're gonna be working 60-80 hours a week and some VP will come yell at you at any moment?" Knight said. "Other than the fact that we have to work with them because we're delivering apps to their app store, I don't really want anything to do with them."

Knight's view of Apple, assumedly from sources in the know, is consistent with sentiment expressed by Silicon Valley recruiters, the report said. Troy Sultan, founder of recruiting startup IDK Labs, said Apple's secrecy poses a separate issue for developers and engineers.

"A pain point for a lot of people with Apple is they can't talk about what they're working on, which hinders your social status in a way," Sultan said. "You want to put on your LinkedIn that you're working on the latest iPhone, but you absolutely can't. It's interesting Apple can retain top talent at all. I don't know how. They keep you sort of locked up."

Apple also fails to offer free lunches, phones and other perks widely associated with working at a modern tech company.

Another "talent manager," Michael Solomon, said engineers want to work on the bleeding edge of technology, not the next iteration of a well-established product like iPhone. Apple's most recent contribution to the tech scene was Apple Watch, which in Solomon's estimates "was not a giant hit."

Taken as a whole, the Guardian report characterizes Apple as part of the unbending old guard, a company that failed to keep up with prevailing Silicon Valley culture and is now paying the price. A sampling of negative portrayals is hardly sufficient proof of an overarching trend.

It does, however, highlight the constant internal struggle Apple must face in balancing corporate policy with recruitment, all while keeping existing product lines fresh and the public waiting for the next big thing. The same culture that attracted the best and brightest ten years ago might now, in a time when Apple must protect its place as the largest company in the world, be a repellent.