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Ex-Googler Reveals Strategies to Land Interview with Google

Walking through the halls at Google, one can feel the allure. Free food and drinks. Onsite luxury gyms. Adorable pups seated next to their owner’s desk. Walls painted with splashes of Google’s iconic red, blue, yellow and green. Geeks and non-geeks alike crave this culture – to say nothing of the financial perks.

Getting through the doors, unfortunately, seems insurmountable. Hoards of candidates submit resumes each year, with only a small fraction getting an interview. The online application system – or, as it’s more appropriately nicknamed, “The Black Hole,” – is littered with so many resumes that even a top candidate would struggle to stand out.

So how do you get a company to even notice your resume? Here are a few suggestions of how anyone can reach One Microsoft Way, One Infinite Loop, or wherever they’d like to go.

GETTING THE INTERNAL REFERRAL

An internal referral is immensely powerful in landing an interview, but you don’t need to actually know someone on the inside. In fact, most candidates land their jobs through second or third degree connections rather than first. But what do you do when you reach a dead-end there? You find people at the company.

  • Finding Internal People: While recruiters may be sent resumes every day, other employees see them much less frequently. Track down an employee who might be interested in a specific skill you possess. If they think you’re a good fit for their team, they’ll connect you with an appropriate recruiter. Conference websites, LinkedIn profiles, blog posts and Twitter feeds are all good places to search.
  • Finding Recruiters: Here’s a dirty little trick. It turns out that many recruiters have their email addresses publicly exposed somewhere on the web. Doing a web search like can often turn up recruiters at your dream company.

MAKING YOURSELF DISCOVERABLE

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I answered my cell phone one day at Google to a recruiter trying to sell me on a new job. Such calls came frequently, though let’s just say this position was a uniquely good fit. I explained to the recruiter that I would unfortunately have to decline her invitation. “See, there’s just one little issue,” I told her, “I already work for your company.”

Despite the frequency that I was contacted, some other teammates of mine rarely received such calls. Was I smarter or more talented? Not exactly. I was simply more discoverable.

It turns out that recruiters are almost as eager to talk to you as you are to talk to them, so you just need to make yourself discoverable. These strategies below will work well:

  • Online Portfolio / Website: Starting a website to showcase your experience can be a fantastic way to get on a company’s radar as recruiters crawl the web looking for candidates. And, when you do finally land an interview, your online portfolio will add greater depth and dimensions to the points on your resume.
  • Related Forums, Websites and Conferences: If a website, blog or conference attracts those in your field, it will also attract recruiters. Get active there: comment on relevant items, post new content and engage other users. If you leave a trail back to your website, you’ll make it easy for recruiters to reach out. And the best part? They’ll know that you’re good from what you’ve posted.

FINDING THE “SIDE DOOR”

If the above avenues don’t work, it may be that you lack the appropriate skills or background to land an interview. In this case, you may need to find what we call the “side door.” This is explained in the below excerpt from The Google Resume:

“How do you get into Google? Work for Microsoft,” Jason, a Microsoft Program Manager, jokes. As much as this comment may have been said in jest, it has some truth to it. The best way into company or role may be an indirect path.

In addition to joining one company so that you can eventually transfer to another, you may want to consider joining your dream company a less-than-dream job. Technical recruiter Barry Kwok points out that a role like an Office Manager at a start-up can be an easier avenue into the tech world for those who lack specific qualifications. “At a start-up, office managers do everything under the sun,” Kwok explains. “As the company grows, you can begin to specialize in an area like HR. Couple that with an addition night course or two in HR, and all of a sudden you’re the perfect candidate for a full-time HR position.”

Contract roles can transition into full time roles, program managers can move into marketing, and start-ups employees can pivot to major companies. Being flexible with what jobs you’ll take, and being creative in pursuing them, is the key to landing jobs with the major tech companies.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell is the author of The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any Top Tech Company. McDowell previously worked for Google, Microsoft and Apple, and is the CEO of CareerCup.com, a site which helps prepare job seekers for positions with top tech companies. She blogs at technologywoman.com and tweets at @gayle.

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