How NOT To Get A Job At Google

googleThomas 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.

Goodbye, Old HP Campus / Hello, New Apple Campus

Photo by Ron Cervi
Photo by Ron Cervi

An aerial photo of the old Hewlett-Packard (HP) campus at Wolfe Road and Homestead Road in Cupertino shows that it is no more after being demolished and scraped off the earth to make way for the new Apple campus. I don’t know if this was the same campus that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak worked at from 1973 to 1977, designing HP calculators during the day and the Apple I computer at night. If so, besides being the largest parcel of land available in Cupertino, this could be why Apple co-founder Steve Jobs chose this location.

I never worked for HP, but I did have a job interview there in March 2011 (made memorable by a shooting near my apartment). The HP campus was a ghost town after being purchased by Apple in 2010. The surrounding parking lots were vacant at mid-day. The 1970’s interiors had gone to seed many years before: multiple shades of brown, worn carpets and bad lighting. A very depressing environment for the few people still worked there. As desperate as I was for a job back then, I’m glad someone else got that desktop support job.

When my friend and I recently drove over to Vallco Shopping Mall to see a movie at the AMC Cupertino 16, we noticed a new sign in the parking garage that Vallco was now a Westfield shopping mall. A curious development. Vallco had a string of owners in the last two decades who didn’t know what to do with the empty shopping center. I found no mention on the Internet as to why Westfield would own another shopping mall a few miles down the street from their more successful Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose.

The one thing that Westfield does extremely well is revitalizing old malls. With two-thirds of the mall vacant and blocked off from foot traffic, and limited parking space surrounding the outside of the mall, Westfield can’t double the size of the mall by building a parallel wing as it did with Valley Fair Mall and Oakridge Mall. With Apple’s new campus down the street, and a mixed development building with small stores on the ground floor and apartments on top being built across the street, the right selection of stores could draw in future foot traffic.

The Hunt For Discounted Holiday M&M’s Candies

Holiday-themed M&M CandyAfter a major candy holiday—Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas—I cruise the local CVS stores to pick up bags of holiday milk M&M’s at a steep discount. The first week discount is 50%, the second week discount is 75%, and, if any bags are still available after two weeks, the final discount is 90%. I scored six bags of Halloween-themed M&M’s for $0.42 USD each a few months ago. That’s the best deal I ever gotten. But the hunt for discounted M&M’s may be coming to an end by the way CVS is stocking holiday candies.

The Christmas-themed M&M’s were put out after Thanksgiving Day, disappeared by mid-December, and weren’t available before Christmas. In fact, regular bags of M&M’s were on sale for 50% off since mid-December. I don’t buy holiday M&M’s at regular price as the bags are slightly smaller than regular bags by a few ounces, which makes waiting until after the holiday for the discounted prices worthwhile. Alas, I lucked out on getting any Christmas-themed M&M’s last year.

The Valentine’s Day-themed M&M’s were put out after Christmas and disappeared by New Year’s Day. I’ve never seen holiday M&M’s come out this early. I mourned the prospects of being candy-less after Valentine’s Day for the last month. Checking out the local CVS stores over the last few days, a limited quantity of Valentine’s Day-themed M&M’s were available. A slim-to-none chance that I may score some discounted bags after Valentine’s Day.

As for the Easter-themed M&M’s, CVS stocked the shelves a week before Valentine’s Day. Never mind that Valentine’s Day is around the corner and Easter isn’t until April. You could pick up bags of two different holiday M&M’s at full price for a short while. Mind-boggling. I’m expecting the Easter M&M’s to sell out in a few weeks and a limited quantity available before the holiday. The chances of picking up any discounted bags will probably be non-existent.

Since I was near a See’s Candies store the other day, I braved the pre-Valentine’s Day candy traffic to pick up a box of milk chocolate peppermints. This special treat I usually pick up while shopping for Christmas presents. Although I’m ready to cruise the CVS stores after Valentine’s Day and expecting disappointment, I may have to get another box of milk chocolate peppermints since I already ate the box that I just got.

Sony Exits The eBook Market

Sony eBook ReaderI wasn’t surprised by the announcement that Sony is leaving the ebook market that it pioneered. Their main problem has always been the premium price that they demanded for their brand name. When I got hired for a six-week contract as a quality assurance test lead in 2005 to work on what would become the Sony Reader in the United States, my manager informed me that the initial price would be $600 USD. That was more than a Sony PlayStation 2. If I couldn’t afford a video game console, I wasn’t getting a dedicated ebook reader.

I was leading a group of ten testers in a conference room to review 300+ English ebooks on Japanese hardware with kanji characters. The engineers in India converted the PDF files from the publishers into HTML files. My group skimmed the ebooks and report any issues. (We weren’t supposed to read the ebooks, but I read every Star Trek novel that came my way and let the testers read if they met their quota for the day.) The engineers in Japan would refine the process. The cycle continued until we ran out of ebooks. I then summarized all our findings in a report on my last day.

I didn’t rush out to get a Sony Reader when it first came out the following year. For the price of a dedicated ebook reader, I got a Mac mini that was far more useful. Almost a decade later I still don’t own a dedicated ebook reader. I read Kindle ebooks on my iPad 2. My next ebook reader could be an iPhone 5C since my cellphone is due for an upgrade and I need a replacement for my first generation iPod Touch that has a battery will no longer hold a charge.

While Sony rested on their brand name, the rest of the industry innovated on technology and price. When I think of dedicated ebook readers, I think of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Sony doesn’t even make it on my list as a distant third. Sony is the perfect example that being first to market isn’t an advantage, especially if the first mover isn’t motivated to maintain a leadership position.

As an ebook publisher, I’ll be removing the Sony links from my author website in the near future. As Smashword’s Mark Coker mentioned in his blog post, ebook sales to Sony was flat for the last four years while other ebook retailers had significant growth. I had a few ebook sales during the same time period. Since Sony is transitioning their readers to Kobo, my Smashwords ebooks will still be available. With Sony out of the way, the drumbeat for Barnes & Noble to get out of the business will get louder.