My first book is out! It’s on recruiting young talent and it’s in bookstores everywhere

Ramit Sethi · August 8th, 2007

The short version: My first book, Recruit or Die: How Any Business Can Beat the Big Guys in the War for Young Talent, is out in bookstores everywhere! The book advises companies how to recruit top young talent.
Recruit or Die in Borders SF

When I was a senior in college, my friends started recruiting at companies to lock down a job before graduation. Stanford makes it easy — you basically pick from a list of companies you want to interview with, show up, and talk about yourself. What could be more fun?

I noticed something troubling, though. Most of my friends were recruiting with the same companies: investment banks and consulting firms. These jobs are high-paying (between $75,000 and $120,000 your year out of college, with steep increases) and very prestigious. They’re also dreadfully boring and make me want to take a dull thimble and cause 646 puncture wounds on my own body, then bathe in a delightful medley of lemon juice, salt, and bees.

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To be honest, seeing so many of my friends go to work at these companies made me mad. Why go work somewhere and be an Excel monkey for two years? Was it really about the money and prestige? I thought there had to be more to a career than those superficial things. And yet, these companies kept recruiting the best of the best, year after year.

I started investigating by interviewing my friends and asking them what they really wanted. I found some fascinating surprises, like the surprising number of friends who felt guilty about how much their parents had paid for their education, so they “had” to go get a high-paying jobs. Others measured their worth by the amount of money they made relative to their peers. Still others had their goals set on prestigious corporate careers and used these jobs as accelerated stepping stones.

Then I started interviewing the companies. How did the same few companies manage to attract talent every single year? Why did my 22-year-old friends rabidly want to go work for companies like McKinsey, Microsoft, and Google? It wasn’t just about the money. These companies spend an immense amount of time understanding young people, appealing to what motivates us (hint: We don’t care about retirement right now), and they’re constantly getting feedback.

I teamed up with Chris Resto (founder of MIT’s largest internship program) and Ian Ybarra to write Recruit or Die: How Any Business Can Beat the Big Guys in the War for Young Talent. We researched over 1,000 students at 180+ schools to advise companies how to recruit top young talent.

I don’t ask much of readers on this site, but if you work in a company, please buy this book and give it to the head of your HR department. Not only would I love you (and you’ll look good giving such a useful gift), but the book is chock-full of insights about strategies and tactics to recruit young talent.

As Penelope Trunk wrote,

As a candidate, this book is a peek into the secret world of your suitors. You should understand the range of ways that forward-thinking companies recruit so you know how to judge the company you’re talking to. This will help you to match your strengths properly with a company’s.

Read the introduction:
Buy the book:


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  1. Moneymonk

    Congrats Ramit ! One more accomplishment to put under your belt.

    I only wish a book was out when I graduated college.

  2. Jonathan

    Whoa! Your own book in stores. That is awesome! I’ll be on the lookout for it in my local Barnes & Noble.

    Congrats on your success, Ramit! 😀

  3. Congratulations Ramit!

    I’m sure it was a lot of hard work getting the book completed. It’s gotta feel good knowing that the book is finally out there. I hope the book does very well. Congrats again!

  4. Love the cover design. Who did that for you? It’s perfect.

  5. Jared Goralnick

    Just bought a copy. And hope to buy some more soon…maybe recommend it to some book clubs.

    Keep up the fantastic work and motivation, Ramit!

  6. Congratulations Ramit, on having your own book. I will look for it at local B&N bookstore.

  7. Alexandra Levit

    Congratulations, Ramit! I didn’t know you were working on this, and it looks fantastic! Any way I can get a review copy?

  8. Matt Wolfe

    Looking forward to picking this one up, Both as a fan of your writting and the manager of a small business…

  9. Pamela Slim

    Woo hoo! Congrats Ramit!

    I love the picture of the book in the bookstore, especially juxtaposed against Good to Great by Jim Collins.

    I HAVE a copy and really need to review and write about it … sorry for slacking on that!

    Thanks for always motivating us to not just do more, but create more meaning. I agree – more young, smart Excel junkies is not what this world needs.

  10. Yay, Ramit! That’s so exciting. As a loyal reader for a couple years now, I feel so proud.

  11. Raj Patel

    Good stuff Ramit. I wil help spread the word.

    Did you look at scenarios of compaines going international to recruit young talent?

  12. jeffkuo

    Wow, I had no idea when this was coming out. I’m getting one.

  13. hey, nice! good for you dude. 🙂

  14. The Feed Bag - I Haz A Morgidj

    […] Rambi Sethi has a book just out and it’s likely worth a peek. My first book is out! It’s on recruiting young talent and it’s in bookstores everywhere […]

  15. Wow!
    I can’t wait to see the look on my HR manager’s face when I hand him a copy…

  16. coooooool… i’ll get a copy and/or i’ll get my boss to get a copy hahah. i work in government and i’m in a high turnover position. four of eight people in my position just left this summer. i dunno how much this book covers on retention (to me recruitment/retention kinda go hand in hand), but i’ll check it out.

  17. Zachary


  18. Kevin Cherrick

    I just got done previewing your book at B&N. It is great! Per your suggestion, I’m going to buy two copies and have lunch with the head of HR at my campus locally, and then ask for the same with the head of HR at our national HQ when I fly out there later this month. Through the whole book I was able to connect what MY COMPANY could do to better attract valuable new hires, not only on campus, but afterwards as well. I believe that a big advantage is having connections with those graduate school programs as you suggest, so that they can feed the company, while the company is promoting it’s own talent into the front door for a win-win.

    I haven’t been with my company for too long, but I look at this as an opportunity to help my company get the best hires AND spread my personal brand wider in house, a benefit I’m sure that a lot of people could take advantage of while driving your book sales higher.

    Congratulations on the book, I know it’ll do well.

  19. Jonathan B.

    So this is where you’ve disappeared for the past few weeks. Anyway, yeah I saw Penelope Trunk’s post about your book and I tried to order it on Amazon Japan (I fully plan to give it to HR…after I read it…) Got an email back about how they’re having trouble placing my order and that I might have to cancel it…hmmm, guess I’ll have to find another way to get it…

    In any case, congratulations on the book, I’m looking forward to reading it, when and if I get it…;p

  20. Ramit Sethi

    Wow! These comments are amazing. I can’t believe how supportive everyone is.

    Jonathan, I’ve sent a note to my publishers about the Amazon issue. Another place to order it is

    I also love the comments about buying a few copies and sharing them with your HR director. What better way to make a name for yourself by taking something interesting to them, making a proposal, and being proactive?

    Thanks so much, everyone.

    PS–Just went to the Barnes and Noble and Borders in Boulder, Colorado, and the books were there! I signed the copies.

  21. Congrats! Let me know if you’re swinging by NYC to promote it.

  22. Congrats on your first book! Must have been quite a ride … But here’s a less than supportive comment *about your website*:

    You’ve got a loyal reader base, and I used to read your site on an every-other-day basis. With the recent lack of new posts appearing, my interest has died down. PLEASE pump out some new, interesting, posts!

  23. Hiring young people - reasons for them to be after money at Entrepreneur Geek

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  24. That’s so cool! Congrats!

    If I was in the corporate world, I would read it ( maybe I still will). They didn’t recruit much on my campus so I just started my own business. Oh well…

    Very exciting, Ramit!

  25. jack stahl

    Congrats on the book. I’m sure you have good things to say, and it’s never easy to get a book published.

    That having been said though, I’m not super convinced by your thesis. All your anecdotal evidence is in favor of why people want to go to big companies, regardless of how well they recruit. Google managed to be the number one destination for top [Stanford] students over the last couple of years despite a disaster of a recruiting department (though facebook seems to have overtaken them for the forseeable future).

    People go to GS, McKinsey, D.E. Shaw, Google and such year after year for lots of obvious reasons:
    — they’re big companies that hire lots of people every year, so you’re bound to know people who go there
    — due to past/current success, they can afford to offer high salaries and great benefits
    — they have the best of the best and so
    — they’re prestigious
    — they’re attractive places to work (beside other smart people)

    Granted, you may argue that it’s strong college recruiting that got these places to the point where they had the best of the best in the first place, and to a degree I’m sure that’s true. But I think, for public companies, people have perceptions of the company, what it has to offer, and the people who work there independent of recruiting. And Google’s continued success demonstrates that poor recruiting won’t deter top students from wanting to join.

  26. Way to go, Ramit. Like Jonathan, I ordered on Amazon. No problems for me, though…was shipped today!

  27. Minimum Wage

    I know quite a few underemployed college graduates. There are three where I work, all earning our state minimum wage.

    Have employers ever considered hiring cheap some of the underemployed, and retraining them for whatever the employer wants or needs? We’re very easy to please and we’ll work cheap and be happy.

  28. Recruit or Die

    […] Can Beat the Big Guys in the War for Young Talent which I’m looking forward to reading. In his blog, Ramit gives a little of the inspiration behind that led him and Chris Resto writing it: “To […]

  29. I have always loved your website, and I’m sure your book is great. I will have to either buy it, or read it at the bookstore.

    I look very forward to reading it!

  30. Tushar Wadekar


  31. stargell

    Another book to teach corporate America how to tap the riches of Gen-Y– woo, hoo! I thought Bruce Tulgan had milked the subject to death with Gen-X, but along comes another opportunist with enough moxy to make a mint by telling corporate America with it wants to hear about younger workers.

    These talent war books are pure bullshit. The only thing that matters about recruiting is pedigree, and the brand of an applicant’s sheepskin. Rugrats who went to ivy schools on mommy and daddy’s dime are automatically labeled talented commodities, and companies will pay absurd premiums to hire them. Experience be damned!

  32. Ramit Sethi

    Stargell, thanks for the thoughtful comment indicating that you have not read even part of my new book. If you pick up a copy and still think it’s “bullshit,” I will personally refund your money. Before advocating your absurd ideas like “These talent war books are pure bullshit” and “The only thing that matters…is pedigree,” perhaps you should try talking to companies and young people. And perhaps hiring some of them.

    I’ve hired a fulltime employee as recently as this week, and I outweighed experience over pedigree every single time.

    Again, please read the book and tell me what you think afterwards. I do believe we included enough new advice, case studies, and useful tactics to change your mind.

  33. styleosophy

    I have been (feeding) reading your blog for a couple of monthes, and I just wanted to drop you a little note to say congratulations on the article in Entreprenuer Mag. I think it’s great to get that recognition! (And for the record, McKinsey is an interesting place to work for. I worked in Graphics, in the Chicago Office, and I am always glad I took off those ‘golden handcuffs’.)

    I will be purchasing the book for myself and then passing it along to my boss. Although we work in government, I am anxious to see how the book’s premise is directly translatable to (overall) lower-paying jobs offered by the public sector.

  34. Hey Ramit,
    Your book really interesting. I live in Mumbai, and would love to purchase it. Do you know if it’s available in Indian bookstores?

  35. Eva Holtz

    Hey Ramit. Friend of Ramana’s and dweekly’s here. Saw your book at a bookstore while in Boston for my sister’s college graduation and thought of you. So exciting! Congrats on your continued successes.

  36. “I’ve hired a fulltime employee as recently as this week, and I outweighed experience over pedigree every single time.”

    Actually, I agree with stargell. The reality is that people will say “experience matters most” but they then go and behave in way that shows that it really doesn’t. In my own experience, being hired and knowing people who do hiring, the number of people who will recruit based on pedigree and ‘brand loyalty’ outweighs the number of people who seek out experienced people – most especially for fresh out of college, new hires.

    Here’s more or less how it works: the upper class send their children to “good” schools, the “good” universities pull students from those “good” schools, the foot in the door at the “good” company goes to the student from the “good” universities, the student from the “good” university gains essential “good” experience at the “good” company, the “good” experience gets the student other “good” opportunities at other “good” companies.

    Replace the words “good” with “bad”, “upper class” with “lower class” and you have a full working model of the US system.

    It’s something everyone knows, they just can’t bring themselves to admit it – like spending more money than they are truly able to afford. Interesting site, I’ll look into your book.