As our own Jon Rettinger pointed out in a recent CNBC interview, recruitment at tech companies is experiencing a resurgence. And one of the biggest players in this space is Google. Over the past several years, employment at the search giant has reached legendary status among job seekers, so with the tide of employment turning, the spotlight seems to be on the company once again.
Regardless of what platform you fancy, it’s hard to deny the lure of life at the Googleplex. Not only does it offer a huge platform for creative and innovative project development — with the company urging staffers to devote 20 percent of their work time to individual special projects — but who hasn’t heard about the perks at the Mountain View, CA, campus? Chances are, you’ve heard about the free gourmet cafeteria, climbing wall and even free laundry, or maybe you’ve seen pics of people riding around the grounds on segways. Even non-techies are fascinated by this work environment, thanks to TV spots on Food Network and other coverage.
Then there’s the caché of working for one of the most successful technology companies in the world. Financially, 2010 was a good year for the tech giant, with revenue being up over 20 percent. And frankly, rumors of benefits slashing may have been greatly exaggerated: While others instituted hiring freezes or laid people off, this company shared the wealth by giving every employee a 10 percent pay increase. And it allows staffers to award each another peer spot bonuses of $175, which over two-thirds of them did last year.
No wonder Google has hovered near the top of Fortune‘s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For since it nabbed the #1 spot in 2007. It led the pack again in 2008 before settling into the #4 spot for three years in a row, including this one, consistently beating out the likes of Microsoft, Apple, and HP. In fact, the only one of these competitors who even makes the list is Microsoft, which is at #72 this year. Another report from Universum also singles out Google as the #1 employer that college grads most want to work for.
So what does it take to join the 24,400+ team? Many have been asking that, since the news broke that the company would hire as many as 6,000 new staffers this year. (It has already hired 1,900 in the first quarter of 2011.)
Former CEO Eric Schmidt talked about the company’s employment philosophy at a McKinsey conference in March, and pointed out the qualities that Google looked for: intelligence, creativity and individual responsibility. As for personality, well not so much. (In other words, it really is the geek’s paradise.) For more, check out these tips gleaned from the conversation:
• Have intelligence, excellence & creativity — and the proof to back that up. Word has it, a 3.7 GPA and on-the-spot brain twisters are part of Google’s recruitment process. (And you thought college prep was hard.) But is it just urban myth? Not exactly, says Schmidt. He says that the company “spent more time — and pretty ruthlessly — on academic qualifications, intelligence, intellectual creativity, passion and commitment.” So if you’re still in school now and want a gig at Google someday, be sure to hit the books.
• Be proactive and confident. The company likes employees who are inspired and passionate, thought-leaders who can take a ball and run with it. But if you need a lot of handholding or micro-managing, then Google may not be the right environment for you: “People are going to do what they are going to do, and you’re there to assist them… we give the impression of not managing the company because we don’t really. It sort of has its own borg-like quality if you will. It sort of just moves forward.”
• Don’t worry about personality. “You are going to have to deal with the odd people. Not every single one of these incredibly smart people is a team player… even if people don’t want them around, we still need them.” So even though the company values team players and collaborative personalities, social awkwardness isn’t a dealbreaker. In other words, if your work style identifies with Bobby Fisher, Temple Grandin or John Nash, this could still be right up your alley.
• Be patient. Once upon a time, Google was known for interview overkill, calling in candidates more than a dozen times. Some even suffered through 16 separate interviews. Then Google analyzed its recruitment process (probably through a series of complex computational algorithms) and mercifully figured out that five interviews is enough to make a hiring decision. Sure, it’s still more than your average employment protocols, but at least you wouldn’t need to request immediate vacation time to recover from it.
And think of it this way — it will all be worth it once you’re in the cafeteria, waiting for your free grilled salmon among the geniuses who came up with Android and Google Voice and dreaming up the next innovation to take the world by storm. If it doesn’t hit you over lunch, maybe inspiration will strike while you’re on the climbing wall.
Are you applying to Google or another tech company? What characteristics make for your ideal employer? Let us know by dropping a comment below.
For more on Eric Schmidt’s insights into Google, click on the story by McKinsey here.