Landing a Job at a Top Tech Company …

Finally, I have another book to bring you that’s “on topic” … as I’ve no doubt mentioned, I try very hard to read 72 non-fiction books a year, but only a relatively small sub-set of those are “business” books, and, of them, only about half are about the job search, so … unless I’m on a run of publisher-sent review copies, I have to think long and hard about how I could “spin” most of them into content for The Job Stalker!

Today’s book, however, is about the job search, if in a rather narrow focus: The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any Top Tech Company by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is a rather solid look at how to get a job in the big-name tech company niche, but it’s very specific to that category. Ms. McDowell has had a rather remarkable career, having interned with Microsoft and Apple while in school (getting a Computer Science degree and an MBA) and then working with Google, where she was involved with interviewing potential new hires … and, if I’m reading her biographical information correctly, she’s not quite 30 yet (and this is her second book)!

Obviously, she’s seen the inside of this process more that all but a handful of others, and so one has to assume that the advice in The Google Resume is dead-on. Of course, sitting on the outside, not looking for a coding job at a major tech player, I have little to gauge the material against. However, I did find one repeating “model” in this somewhat disconcerting: it seems like she feels that if one stays more than just a couple of years at any job, one is screwing up one’s career. This is mind-boggling to me, but she argues that even if you love your job and are happy at your company, if you wait 5 years to move, you’ve wasted 3 (I’m paraphrasing here, obviously).

The chapter headings walk you through the process here: “Advance Preparation”, “Getting in the Door”, “Resumes”, “Deconstructing the Resume”, “Cover Letter and References”, “Interview Prep and Overview”, “Interview Questions”, “The Programming Interview”, “Getting Into Gaming”, “The Offer”, and “On The Job”. Again, these are very tech-centric, but there are occasional bits which are interesting from a more general perspective (such as ways to analyze competing offers … although from where I’m sitting, the concept of having “competing offers” is about as real as having to choose between green and purple unicorns!).

Some particularly interesting elements here are the “letters” she answers at the end of each chapter … notes sent in by job seekers (McDowell’s since moved on to an entrepreneurial venture assisting folks with their tech job applications) which raise particular points (which the reader may or may not have thought of) and addressing those concerns. She also peppers the book with arch commentary, like this quote from a former associate regarding the list of skills/backgrounds specified in a job listing that should be responded to in one’s cover letter: “If you don’t exactly match every requirement, don’t let that stop you … sometimes ads are written by recruiters or managers who don’t understand that the combination of skills they want is impossible or very unlikely.” … needless to say, this reminds me of the Social Media job listings that require 10 years of experience in a field that has, arguably, not been existence that long!

Anyway, this is a book aimed at a very particular audience, and if you’re in that group, this could be an essential resource for your job search, but if you’re not looking to “Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any Top Tech Company” this probably won’t help you very much. As always, more details are over at my review. Oh, and to keep the governmental busy-bodies happy … I got this book as a free review copy from the good folks at Wiley … how insane is it that I even have to “go there” with that data point?!

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