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RealTime IT News

Microsoft on Hiring Spree

Microsoft is looking for new blood this year to fill its lot of empty seats, executives said.

In fiscal year 2004, which ended June 30, Microsoft expected to hire 4,000 to 5,000 people worldwide, including filling jobs vacated by attrition and hiring for new positions. But its worldwide head count at fiscal year's end of approximately 57,000 exceeded that projection.

And Redmond needs still more hands on deck. For the coming fiscal year, it's looking for between 6,000 and 7,000 hires worldwide, again combining replacements and new positions.

Not all those new hires will be enjoying salt air and great coffee, however. Reading between the lines, Microsoft watchers estimate that around 3,000 of those hires will be located in Washington.

"Last year, approximately two-thirds of our total worldwide growth occurred in Puget Sound," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement, "and with more than 28,000 of our 57,000 worldwide employees working at locations throughout Puget Sound, we remain very committed to the region."

"This is great news for the Puget Sound region and for Microsoft," Washington State Governor Gary Locke said in a statement. "These are good-paying jobs that will also support other businesses in the area, as employees shop in malls, eat in restaurants and remodel their homes."

"I'm excited about it," said Microsoft developer evangelist Mark Hammond, who was just hearing the news. Hammond said he didn't yet know what his message to developers about new opportunities at the company would be.

New-minted Microsofties will get at least a nibble of the $2.5 billion Microsoft will shell out in stock-based compensation next year.

Beefing up the bench is just one sign of Redmond's loosening purse strings. The company has been criticized for hoarding its $56 billion war chest. Now, having settled many of its lawsuits, and paid the $613 million fine imposed by the European Union, it's become forthcoming with the lucre.

Last week, Microsoft announced the largest cash dividend in U.S. history, a plan to share about $75 billion with shareholders over the next four years, via a one-time $3 dividend and increasing its annual dividend to 32 cents a share.