- Jeff Sipe was a Google recruiter for five years, and now he’s a private tech career coach.
- He says networking with a “donation approach” is the best way to impress Google recruiters.
- This is the story of Jeff Sipe, told to journalist Dorothy Cucci.
During my time at Google from 2013-2018, I recruited thousands of people and personally hired about 150. Now I’m a private technology career coach, focusing on helping candidates with interviews. and salary negotiations.
It depends on the role, but LinkedIn is usually the main source recruiters use to find candidates. At Google, they use their own robust internal database to source, but their other benchmark is almost always LinkedIn.
Connecting with people who are already working in the company is probably the best way to get in – from what I’ve seen few people who apply without a reference actually get hired.
My first piece of advice for clients who want to impress recruiters at big tech companies is: network with a generous approach.
During my five years at Google, most of the messages I received were like, “Hi, here’s my resume, could you please find me a job?”
Recruiters receive hundreds of messages from candidates every week. A much better approach looks like this:
“Hi! I came across a really cool article on machine learning. I see you’re hiring machine learning engineers, and thought I might share it with you.”
Then you can pivot the conversation to career advice or your interest in a specific role. This way, you will be able to grab the recruiter’s attention and show the company what you have to offer.
Plus, make it easy for recruiters to contact you by providing your email and phone number in your message, along with an updated resume, and indicate your availability. It sounds simple, but the vast majority of candidates don’t provide this information right away, which makes it harder for us to act on your behalf.
You need to tailor your resume to the specific role you want.
A great way to do this is to create a brief bulleted summary of your qualifications at the top of your resume. It’s easy for recruiters to spot, and personally, I was much more likely to contact a candidate when they did this. It only takes a few minutes to add, and it’s important to adjust these bullet points to suit the job you’re applying for.
A lot of people say your LinkedIn profile should be very different from your resume – I would argue against that. I tell my clients to copy and paste the bullet points from their resume directly into their profile because the vast majority of recruiters using LinkedIn typically search based on keywords.
The second biggest mistake I see on candidate profiles is the lack of a profile picture. Recruiters are almost always more likely to contact you if your profile includes a high-quality photo of you from the shoulders up and if there’s data to back it up. (Make sure to smile too!)
For most positions, the hiring process begins with a recruiter screen. This is an occasional phone call with a recruiter that usually takes up to half an hour. After that, the candidate could have up to three people to interview before meeting with Google’s hiring committee. It’s basically a group of your potential peers who will review your interview comments and ask about your background and skills to see if you might be a good fit.
Finally, if it goes well, candidates move on to working with their recruiter to agree on compensation.
Something that sets Google apart from other companies is that their questions tend to lean toward open-ended problem sets. (There’s a misconception that Google likes to include trick questions in its interviews — in fact, they don’t ask them anymore.)
There are a few keys to answering Google interview questions well.
First, you need to provide a framework that explains exactly how you reached your solution, step by step. This will help create a visual for your audience and then you can actually get into the weeds and fix the problem.
To prepare, write sample questions, then come back later to refine them later if necessary. Train with a friend or mentor. Any career coach will tell you that practicing your answers – out loud – will make an incredible difference. And of course, you want to make sure you do enough research about your role and the company beforehand.
(Another tip: make sure you’re reaching out to the right person when you’re networking. About 40% of people who messaged me on LinkedIn asked how they could land an internship – I’ve never recruited for Again, not doing research suggests laziness.)
100% of people who come to Google should negotiate their compensation.
When offering a salary, Google will conduct a market assessment. If you live in New York, for example, they’ll rate what most software engineers in New York get paid and line up at the 75th percentile. So they are going to offer more than the average, but that number is still low for Google. This means that there is usually a lot of salary flexibility.
As long as you are friendly throughout the negotiation and set the bar high, you will be set – these are the two keys to success when asking for more money.
Many people think that Google is harder to get into than Harvard, but that’s not the case. You don’t have to come from a big tech company, and you don’t have to memorize every detail about Google’s products and services. As long as your skills match the job, anyone who prepares properly and practices enough can get in the door – I’ve seen it myself.