People appreciate of corporate flexibility in a recession. Fire people, hire them back, God bless you. But keep firing and hiring in an endless cycle, and people are liable to think you're as sadistic as Yahoo.

The company is becoming infamous for its bingeing on and purging of personnel. Winter before last, Yahoo laid off around 1,000 employees, then immediately announced 459 new openings. In the spring came more layoffs, followed soon after by billboards like the above, snapped by Flickr user "nfarmer" next to U.S. Highway 101: "We're hiring!"

Now the back-and-forth has reportedly reached the level of self parody as Yahoo toys with its recruiters, the very people who are supposed to facilitate the Web portal's hiring cycles. We hear Yahoo has been trying to hire fresh blood into its recruiting office, including some from Fox Interactive, where recruiting honcho Elaine Fortier used to work.

Fair enough, right? Except that Yahoo has laid off dozens of recruiters over the past eight months, telling them (says a tipster) they are eligible for re-hire and promising they would be notified of new opportunities at the company. None, apparently, were contacted for the latest round of hiring.

This leaves a good number of people out in the cold, since Yahoo has, we hear, reduced the size of its recruiting organization to roughly 40 at the Sunnyvale headquarters from 220 spread throughout the U.S. (including Southern California and New York) in December. Apparently some of these people even left jobs as lawyers to become recruiters. D'oh.

As tough as it is on workers, maybe this will turn out to be a wise strategy for Yahoo; once everyone in Silicon Valley has put in a stint at the company, they're bound to end up using some Yahoo product or another, if only to figure out how much their shares are worth.