Joe Gebbia (Co-Founder of Airbnb) – “You use it yourself; you eat your own dog food. Every time we do that, we discover something that we can improve”
I want to be clear from the start that “dogfooding” is a metaphor and I won’t be held liable for any recruiters who, after reading this article, use dog food as a new source of protein. OK, now that I’ve legally covered myself, let’s get into a definition.
According to Techopedia, “the term “dogfooding” is…slang for the use of one’s own products”. There are two possible origins for this concept. The first starts back “in the 1970s, in television advertisements for Alpo Dog Food, Lorne Greene pointed out that he fed Alpo to his own dogs”. The second is that “the president of Kal Kan Pet Food…was said to eat a can of his dog food at shareholders’ meetings”. But it was in 1988 that the term started to become popular in software development when a manager at Microsoft (Paul Maritz) sent an email to employees titled “Eating Our Own Dogfood” encouraging the internal use of their own products.
You can apply this concept to make you a better recruiter. By being a user of your company’s products you will better understand the company you recruit for.
When I worked in recruitment agencies I would try and be a user of my clients products as much as possible, even at times shamelessly asking for free samples. When I started recruiting for Sainsbury’s I registered for a Nectar card and started shopping there instead. When working at Hudl, I joined a 5-a-side football (soccer) team and we filmed our games so we could use the app to analyse our footage.
The power of dogfooding is huge and can apply not just to recruiters but all employees. It encourages product feedback and empathy for the work of others. This is why Uber offers employees free rides, Airbnb provide employees credit to use their site and EA gives out free games.
I’m very lucky that I love using the products my company creates but then that’s the reason I spent 13 months trying to get into the games industry. It turns out the rumours are true, if you’re passionate about your work it can make you really happy. And I can claim playing video games is research for work (my wife still doesn’t buy it). In discussions with hiring managers, leadership and teams I can give a personal opinion on EA’s products as well as other products from across the industry. I also have a deep appreciation for the incredible work that EA employees do because these are the people who create the games that I love. That added level of knowledge comes only from being immersed in our products.