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How To Get a Job At a Mega-Corp 373

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the name-rank-and-serial-number dept.
Barence writes "'With the economic hangover starting to wear off, the technology giants are once again recruiting in earnest. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have vacancies on their websites, and now could be the perfect time to land a job at one of computing's biggest hitters.' PC Pro talked to people inside Microsoft, Apple, and Google to discover how to track down the best jobs, and what it takes to get through the arduous selection and interview processes." With lots of experience both within and without, what other words of wisdom can be offered to those wishing to break into a mega-corp?
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How To Get a Job At a Mega-Corp

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:48PM (#30784498)

    in the last year, when interviewing...has anyone else noticed the interviewers air of superiority? like they hold the keys and you had better get to ass-kissing. i can't be the only one to have noticed this.

    and this the mega-corp is gods blessing to YOU. like you aren't just trading time for dollars and they aren't the ones making the profit? oh, please sir, may i have some more?

  • Be persistent (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:50PM (#30784528)

    I have an interview with one of them next week. My tips:

    * Don't give up. Be persistent in contacting with recruiting managers.
    * Create a network. Do you know people there? I know many people who work for all of them.

    Pretty simple, IMO.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:55PM (#30784604)

    It often works the other way, too. I can't remember how many interviews I've given for programming jobs where the interviewee comes in all cocksure and arrogant. Not to single them out, but I've found those trained in India to be the worst.

    They tell me about their training at some foreign university or college I've never heard of, about all of the certification they've received from Sun and Oracle and Microsoft, and all of these programming contests that they've participated in. Then I ask them to describe how a linked list works, and they tell me some shit like, "Java doesn't support linked lists, only arrays."

    Then I thank them for their time, and tell them to leave.

  • Re:Freelance decker (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:16PM (#30784814)
    I worked for Microsoft out of college (though I had some co-ops under my belt beforehand). I can't speak for Apple or Google, but Microsoft doesn't expect an 80 hour work week. My average work week there was 40-45 hours; it could drop as low as 35 or go as high as 50, but that was the exception, not the rule. I don't know of anyone in either group that I worked for that regularly exceeded 50 hours, and it was never my impression that managers expected that sort of time from anyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:36PM (#30785048)

    A friend of mine recently interviewed at HP. I talked with him about it.

    He said that they are starting to hire again, that they told him they needed to get their head count up because they really had not been hiring in the past 6 years.

    The vast majority of people are over 40, with pretty stagnant skills. One guy started asking him about a linked list in Pascal, that's how out of date they are! A hardware engineer didn't know what software defined radio was. Now, this guy that interviewed is a pretty smart guy, the best electronics guy I know in town, yet was not able to land the job after seven technical interviews. He also runs his own small software consulting company. He said the most unusual thing during the interview was a big boss lady that asked: "How was your first day?" as he was being walked out the door after 5PM.

    Our consensus was that the manager could not differentiate between an interview candidate in the department and a new hire.

    Another guy said that they used to serve steaks and have beer busts back in the good old days. He said those days at HP are gone. Now the cubes are smaller, like 6' x 8' Sounds like the power factory in the Matrix to me. A prison for your mind. Personally, I'm glad my friend didn't get the position.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:40PM (#30785106) Homepage

    The biggest challenge of the 21st century is technologies of abundance in the hands of those thinking in terms of scarcity.

    Money is a collective fantasy about rationing; how can we move beyond it? As Iain Banks wrote, money is a sign of poverty. James P. Hogan in "Voyage From Yesteryear" also envisioned a post-scarcity society that had moved beyond it.

    The last time an big company recruiter sent me an inquiry, I sent back this link: :-) []

    The problem:
    "The Mythology of Wealth" []
    "The Wrath of the Millionaire Wannabe's" []
    "School Daze links" []
    "Rebutting Communiqué from an Absent Future" []

    Some more links about moving beyond the need to work for pay: [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

    From something I helped put together: []
    "Dealing with a jobless recovery presents global society with some difficult choices about values and identity. A straightforward way to keep the current scarcity-based economic system going in the face of the "threat" of abundance (and limited demand) resulting in a related jobless recovery is to use things like endless low-level war, perpetual schooling, expanded prisons, increased competition, and excessive bureaucracy to provide any amount of make-work jobs to soak up the abundance from high-technology (as well as to take any amount of people off the streets in various ways). That seems to be the main path that the USA and other countries have been going down so far, perhaps unintentionally. Alternatively, there are a range of other options to chose from, whether moving towards a gift economy, a resource-based economy, a basic income economy, or strong local communitarian economies, and to some extent, the USA and other countries have also been pursuing these options as well, but in a less coherent way. Ultimately, the approaches taken to move beyond a jobless recovery (either by creating jobs or by learning to live happily without them) involves political choices that will reflect national and global values, priorities, identities, and aspirations."

  • by bangthegong (1190059) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:42PM (#30785132)
    Similar experience in a non-tech role, I interviewed a guy with an MBA but no experience, I explained that he was welcome to apply but would find it challenging to get the role when experience was absolutely necessary for this position. We didn't have the time to hand hold someone along. Anyway he immediately turned on me, started whining and getting angry "well how am I supposed to get into your field if everyone needs experience" etc.

    Very different from the young man without the MBA who came to me and earnestly wanted to interview for the role despite having that same hurdle to overcome, correctly realizing that there was value in learning more about the job and by meeting the people on the team, he could potentially impress us enough that we waived the experience requirement - or if not, he at least saw value in building the relationships that would come from the process.

    Needless to say, neither guy got the job, but that MBA would need to think twice about darkening my doorstep again, whereas the eager young man is someone I will keep in mind if I find a position that needs a sharp, motivated, positive person but doesn't require the experience. One more point - both of them could have decided that I was arrogant and holding the keys and requiring them to kiss ass, but the reality is I am confident (not arrogant) and I DO hold the keys, and while I don't expect ass kissing I also expect that part of the interview is not just your skills on paper but your ability to play nice in the sandbox with the other employees. If you walk in with the attitude of the AC above, interpreting the situation to be that I need my ass kissed, and that I am assumed to be arrogant because I do work as a manager at a mega-corp, well, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Good luck in your job hunt, you fill find a good position with a company of fellow paranoid schizophrenics I guess.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:00PM (#30785310)
    I am currently at megacorp and there are few reasons why
    - 23 days vacations
    - 12 holidays
    - plenty of sick time
    - working from home pretty much on your own schedule
    - above implies working pretty much from anywhere (local or international)
    - some deadlines but not too bad, workload 40-45 hours
    - $$$ (salary) + $$$ (bonuses) + $$$ (benefits)

    so reason I would conisder quit
    - 5 managers to report to
    - meaningless corporate training
    - track your time in multiple tracking systems
    - managers above any other employes
    - politics

    None of this talks about the actual work I do since lots of it depends on how I define it. Sometimes it is pretty interesting, sometimes can't stand it but it must be done.
  • No.

    In late Nov. last year I was called by LockMart for an interview for an entry level hardware engineer position. I had been looking elsewhere since May after graduating with a BSEE and with 3.39 GPA. Early in the morning of the interview we received the first major snow of the winter. I ended up stuck on the highway, 18 miles from the interview, for nearly 4 hours. I called to let my contact know I was going to get there when I could get there.

    That day I interviewed with several people from about 11:30 until 4:00. Lunch was provided. All the interviewers were understanding of the delay and were professionally courteous. No one had any overt smug attitude, and now that I have been working with them for over a year, I can say that they did not at all act out of character for the interview.

    That evening I received a phone call from one of the managers that the interview was well received and that if I wanted the position that HR would be notified that I was the candidate of their choice.

    Is there anything special about me that allowed me to land a nice job with little trouble with a MegaCorp at the height of the recession? Attention to detail, self confidence, and a can-do attitude which indicated that although I had a successful 11 years of service in the Air Force in an unrelated career field (linguist), I understood that I have no relevant experience in engineering and was willing to do a lot of [desk-bound] grunt work and learn how they conduct business.

    Contrast this with another lead I had been pursuing at the time: a small NASA contractor interviewed me for a test engineer position. This was/is my dream job, setting up tests for the NASA scientists. I toured the facilities and was all but shaking with desire to work there. The managers were friendly if not a bit short about asking questions. The young (well, younger than me, anyways) engineer they sent to show me the facilities and interview me seemed unenthusiastic about interviewing me. After about an hour or so of walking & talking (more looking around than conversing, unfortunately), we prepared to return to the manager's office. At that time he basically let me know that he thought I was playing the field for interviews (I had been unemployed since graduating several months earlier), ostensibly to grab the highest salary offered. I told him I was not bullshitting (at that point I knew he was going to torpedo my candidacy) that I really wanted the job.

    The hiring manager let me know that they were going to weigh their options and get back to me within 3 weeks. I sent a good thank-you letter, reiterating my strong desire to work there. He failed to call within a month, so I sent email reminding him that I was still interested. He claimed that with Obama's election that their capacity to take on new workers was unknown (NASA being a political / budgetary football, I guess) and that he'd get back to me when he knew what was going to happen. About a week or so later I noticed that the position disappeared from their website; I called to ascertain the status of the position and the guy basically blew up at me over the phone.

    A week later I was called to see if I wanted to interview with LockMart, and the rest is [recent] history.

    So there, AC, if you think that mega-corp interviewers are arrogant, then you may be meeting with jerks or you may have some sensitivity / self-confidence issues.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:29PM (#30785642)

    Moving from Apple Retail to Apple products...

    "You didn't get a job in Apple Retail expecting to move up to working on Apple products did you? If so that would be the saddest thing I've heard in a while"

    Obviously, you aren't an Apple employee, and you haven't really used Google without declaring this.

    If you are an Apple Retail employee already, ask your HR person about the "Apple Retail Corporate (ARC) Exchange program". I know at least seven people who are working in Core OS, or on products like "Numbers" or "Final Cut Pro", etc., who started out as Apple Retail employees, and those are just the people I know personally. If you are qualified, it's relatively easy to get what is effectively an internship, either coming from the store to corporate, or going from corporate to the store. If I recall correctly, in fact, an HR manager from corporate is now the manager of the "flagship" New York Apple Store.

    -- Terry

  • by TheoCryst (975577) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:08PM (#30785980)

    I'm working at Microsoft as we speak (literally, I'm waiting for some code to compile), and I don't know a single person who got in thanks to their connections. The easiest way to get into a company like this, and the way that most of my coworkers got in, is to be a college hire.

    Now obviously, if you're far past college then this won't apply to you, but if you are a student, find out when Microsoft/Apple/Google is coming to recruit at your school -- and trust me, at least one of them recruits there.

    I went to the University of Arizona and got hired because I was friendly, talkative, and competent, in no particular order. In fact, the only reason I went with Microsoft was because Apple doesn't recruit from the UofA, and the Google recruiter pissed me off by having a holier-than-thou attitude through the entire interview. Now in hindsight, I'm glad that I went with MS -- the pay is above-average, the benefits are outstanding, and the hours are as reasonable as you want them to be. I've never felt pressured to work more than 40-45 hours a week; in fact, my coworkers are more likely to talk me out of staying longer. Meanwhile I have a friend who took a job with Google who works a minimum of 50-55 hours a week, every week. That may not be the norm there either, but that's still a bit much for me.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:14PM (#30786044) Homepage

    All true. However, lets not discount the valuable lessons (both socially and professionally) learned when working for an SMB. If all you do is work for a large mega-corp, you will more often than not be just another cog in the machine. While your role may be important, it's also very limited and compartmentalized.

    I highly recommend working for an SMB when your younger to obtain those skills early on, then go after a mega-corp for smooth sailing. Should you be out on the street without a job later in life, you can feel confident in your abilities to find a new one. For better or worse, you might even have the skill-set to start your own company or small partnership.

  • Surefire formula (Score:5, Interesting)

    by viking80 (697716) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:21PM (#30786092) Journal

    I wanted a leading role at on of the top companies, and I got it after about a year of effort. I later had to hire people to my new team. Here is my $.05.
    1. Know exactly what you want, and do your research. Who would your managers and colleges be? Become familiar with them.
    2. A hiring manager usually have specific short term tasks to be solved. Know what they are, and make sure you are the solution to at least one of them. If you are not, it is probably not a good job to focus on anyway.
    2. Get in multiple applications. One to HR, other people on the team you want to get into. Also find a friend already in the company, and have them forward a resume.
    3. Go to conferences etc. Your future boss and colleagues might be keynote speakers etc. Listen to what is important to them, and talk to them.
    4. Hone your skills, and become the right fit.
    5. A team just wants to be successful in the organization, with little risk.
    During interviews, make sure the team knows that you will contribute to the short term challenge at hand. Also document that it is little risk to hire you. By low risk I means mostly that you can and will deliver as expected with no incompetence, attitude, and personality problems. If you can't, it it probably not the right job to focus on anyway.
    6. Know what you are worth to them, and ask for it, not more. That may include moving expenses etc.

    Bottom line: Know what you want, and go for it, and be prepared and be honest to yourself and your future team. Honesty makes it easy for you to convince people that you are the right person.

  • Re:Freelance decker (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gorobei (127755) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:13PM (#30786546)

    I'm currently having a pretty good experience at a big (100k+ worker) corporation.

    I am lucky to have a good relationship with my boss: he tells me what problems he wants solved, and I solve them or explain why I can't; I listen to his proposed technical solutions, implement if feasible, else do it some other way and then explain why the alternate plan was implemented.

    Meetings: I just ignore these. Maybe did one big face-to-face meeting and four phone-confs in the past year.
    Policies: I mostly ignore these too. Apparently, I work 40 hours a week because my PA just enters info into some random system.

    All requests for work are handled the same way: find the person who made the request; decide if they are a loser or not, give losers advice on what they need to do, ensure non-losers get what they need; repeat. After a few years, you have good relationships with many people in the firm.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:15PM (#30786556) Journal

    I know several people who started in Retail at Apple, and are now working at Apple corporate. Among them are a very talented visual designer, a manager who leads a team that develops various apps for internal use, and a person who writes sales training materials that are used worldwide.

    Besides those, I can also point out that since Apple retail is growing so quickly, that people who stay within the retail organization can move up quickly if they're willing to learn and work hard. I know three different people who went from sales, to assistant manager, to running a store within three years.

    I don't know what problems you had when you worked there (assuming for the sake of argument that you're not making it up), but I know that many others have done quite well by joining Apple retail. I'm even aware of several people who didn't make the cut to get their own store at Apple, but were recruited to run stores for other companies.


  • by phrenq (38736) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:53PM (#30786864) Homepage

    Wow. I don't know which Google you worked for.

    Also speaking from experience, I work between 40 and 50 hours a week. I occasionally respond to an email in the evening, if I notice it and it's easily addressed. Otherwise I leave it until morning. Performance reviews are peer driven, and I've never even *heard* of anyone getting negative marks for taking vacation, let alone having it happen to me. I'm respected and trusted by my largely highly competent peers, and nobody expects me to kill myself working. Sure, sometimes there are emergencies and crunch times, and there are crappy parts of every job, but this is a *very* good place to work.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday January 16, 2010 @01:41PM (#30792056) Journal

    I use is to ask esoteric questions until the prospective employee is forced to either start bullshitting or say the magic words "I don't know, I would have to look it up".

    I ask them to describe some problem they solved that they're particularly proud of. Every coder I've ever wanted to hire has a few inventions they want their peers to know about.


Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly. - Henry Spencer, University of Toronto Unix hack