Thomas L. Friedman recently wrote a fluff piece in The New York Times called, “How To Get A Job At Google,” paraphrasing an interview from last year with Laszlo Bock, Goggle’s senior vice president on human operations. The takeaway point is that your G.P.A. doesn’t matter (never mind that Google recruiters still ask for it), it’s what you know and how you use it. In short, a college degree alone won’t get you far as a knowledge worker in the tech industry. Despite the article title, he doesn’t actually explain HOW to get a job at Google.
Google, like most Fortune 500 corporations, hires only engineers and managers as direct employees. Any position that doesn’t involve sensitive business operations gets outsourced to other companies—also known as vendors—to provide support services (i.e., custodians, desktop, help desk, inventory, landscaping, package delivery, technicians, etc.). These services get written off as routine business expenses, permitting the corporation to reduce the number of direct employees who are eligible for bonuses, stock options and other compensation.
If you ever wanted to work your way up from the mailroom to CEO like the poor schmuck did in “How to Succeed in Business Without Trying,” forget about it. You would have to work through three or four vendors before reaching the corporate ladder. The days of corporations employing everyone from top to bottom and cradle to grave are long gone.
If you’re looking for a job as an engineer or manager, you need to submit your resume directly to Google and go through the process of proving your worth. Things can get crazy if you get past the initial phone interview. I’ve read somewhere that the average direct hire goes through 24 interviews over the course of a year before the final decision gets made. If you don’t have infinite amount of patience and persistence, you won’t get hired.
If you really want to get a job at Google without going through the rubber chicken circuit, get hired through a vendor. The job search websites have numerous listings for positions in Mountain View. Most are for Google, but some are for LinkedIn and a few other companies that are surrounded by Google buildings. Some listings will explicitly state that the position is for Google, others will mention “world leading search engine” or something similar.
The hiring process is much simpler, usually a phone screening and/or face-to-face interview. After you get hired, you report to the security office at Building 43 to get your badge and go to whatever building the vendor is working at. You may or may not need to go through the orientation process. I did that when I worked for help desk, but not when I worked at one of the data centers. But be careful about the free food at cafeterias, as the average Googler will gain 26 pounds.
Working for a vendor is really no different from working for any other company. The only complication may come from dealing with recruiters who are not familiar with the vendor system, especially if you worked for a vendor to the vendor. My resume has several jobs like that (i.e., hired by secondary vendor to work for primary vendor at a Fortune 500 corporation). Explaining this to some recruiters requires an infinite amount of patience and persistence.