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Want a job? Facebook is hiring

What it takes to work with Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

If you're interested in working at Facebook, opportunity is knocking.

Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this month that one of Facebook's top priorities will be investing heavily in luring top talent in 2017. In particular, the company will expand its technical, engineering and recruiting teams.

When one of tech's hottest companies is hiring, it can reveal the pulse of what's important in the industry, said Jason Cooper, division manager and tech recruiter at Jobspring Partners. And given the shortage of cutting-edge talent, there's likely other big companies working on the same thing — and fighting for the same people.

"Most of the people getting jobs in those areas are Ph.D.s — they take 10 years to get a degree," Cooper said. "There' s not a lot of those people out there. A handful of schools really sort of teach that. You see it at Stanford, Berkeley, CMU, but at a state school, there might not be those programs. I think technology just moves so quickly that people are trying to keep up with the next thing, evolution or shift in skill set. The market sort of has to correct itself."

An expansion for Facebook means a whole lot of bodies, considering the company already raised its headcount 31 percent year over year last quarter. Facebook hired 1,200 people and ended the quarter with approximately 15,700 employees, David Wehner, Facebook's chief financial officer, told investors on a quarterly earnings call. It has also expanded to new geographies, with data centers in Texas, Ireland and New Mexico, Wehner said.

What they're looking for could play a big role in the future of technology, Cooper said.

"My team and I do a ton of work in augmented and virtual reality — Facebook is expanding in that way," Cooper said. "These staple, pillar technology companies like Facebook, they do a lot more than what they're known for. Facebook will continue to evolve and be more than a social network. The vast majority of Facebook hires will be web developer types. ... Those are always going to exist. But computer vision, deep learning, neural networks, we're seeing a lot of demand there."

What Facebook is looking for

Some of the areas where Facebook hopes to grow include messaging and connectivity, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and infrastructure to spread faster internet service across the world, the company's chief technology officer said in a recent interview.

To that end, one of Facebook's more interesting postings include a position for Wit.ai, a "next generation AI platform." There are also openings at "Building 8," a so-called Skunkworks hardware initiative. Though he doesn't work with Facebook, Cooper said he knew of an engineer interviewing for a "stealthy robots project."

Over the past month, the company has had hundreds of positions posted in recruiting, sales and marketing, data and analytics, infrastructure, virtual reality and software engineering, with some overlap.

Top categories include:

  • 144 positions posted in recruiting
  • 234 positions in sales and marketing
  • 124 positions in data and analytics
  • 170 positions in infrastructure
  • 138 positions at virtual reality company Oculus
  • 199 software engineering positions.

Though Facebook is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, the company will be recruiting top talent "both in the Bay Area and beyond," Wehner said. Postings included New York, Seattle, Tel Aviv, London, Singapore, Boston, Buenos Aires and Paris, for instance.

Unlike a start-up, where an engineer must be an expert in a niche field, big tech companies tend to screen for raw talent, Cooper said, using hacking challenges.

"They can take them in and train them and show them the ropes. That's kind of my larger general take," Cooper said.

Those challenges can also help tech giants like Facebook to filter down the huge number of applicants, said Rishon Blumberg, founder of freelance technology talent agency 10x Management. He's seen success among candidates who can think beyond the task they're given to anticipate the company's needs, which often requires a fair bit of experience and a well-rounded background, Blumberg said.

Blumberg said that to be exceptional at any given career, it's "important to specialize but also have a variety of knowledge."

Of course, one challenge to Facebook's plans will be President-elect Donald Trump's decisions around H1-B visa reform. Trump has been critical of the program, as part of his push against foreign workers.

Cooper said that he has a client, currently working for Apple, who has a great offer on the table that includes a $25,000 salary increase and more responsibility. But he's currently on an H1-B visa, in the process of applying for a green card, and he'd have to start that process over at a new company, Cooper said.

"There's a lot of uncertainty around changing jobs," Cooper said. "He wants to wait at least a couple of months, to see the new agenda of the administration. There is a lot of concern."

Working at Facebook

Blumberg said one of the biggest thing he looks for in a candidate is specific personality traits.

"Communication skills, business acumen: We're not looking to represent people for the coding and drooling in the corner," Blumberg said. "[We are looking for] real problem solvers, who not just follow directions but really influence decisions."

Each big tech company has its own culture, and Facebook's is definitely known to be unique, inspiring a "cult"-like following, Blumberg said. Facebook's careers website lists its pillars as "be bold," "focus on impact," "move fast," "be open" and "build social value." Prior job postings have touted qualities like "slightly impatient" and "comfortable with uncertainty."

Indeed, the workplace there has served as inspirations for several manifestos on the nature of work, including Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In," and Antonio García Martinez's "Chaos Monkeys." Both portray working long hours, with Sandberg saying "there has never been a 24-hour period in five years when I have not responded to e-mail at Facebook." Garcia Martinez describes letting many of his relationships "rot away" for the glory of Facebook.

Perks like shuttles between campuses and the city helps coders dedicate long hours showing their "devotion to the brand," Blumberg said.

Still, Facebook has a 4.5-star review on employment website Glassdoor, where it is number five on the 2016 "best places to work." Zuckerberg is ranked fourth on Glassdoor's highest-rated CEO list. He's been known to meet with interns in person to review their summer projects, and even invite them to his home.

Despite his portrayal as headstrong in the film "The Social Network," Zuckerberg has worked to limit the effects of centralized power and promote collaboration within Facebook, Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, told the "Harvard Business Review."

Unsurprisingly, salaries at Facebook are high. Technical recruiters make about $121,800 a year, according to Glassdoor, and network operations engineer make about $110,400. There are also free meals — reviewers say they're the best in the business — and 16 weeks of parental leave. Cooper said he was surprised it wasn't more.

But Cooper said it's important for Facebook to differentiate its culture because different engineers can have such different preferences. Options like salaries versus stock options can be more or less attractive, depending on your stage in life, he said.

"I think there's a lot of people right out of school that just want to put it on their LinkedIn and resume. It's like a neon, flashing sign," Cooper said. "I think a lot of people, the ability to work on things that have massive scale — some people are just driven by the pure challenge of building something like that. But we've had candidates who are a little older and they are willing to take a lot less to have equity and build something from the ground up. I represent plenty of people that would never be interested."