How to Get into a Technology Giant
I’m excited to share with you what I learned while listening in on a Facebook livestream last week featuring four current Facebook employees who were based in different offices in the U.S. They included an employee who manages compliance by small businesses to a strict code of ethics that Facebook adheres to; a global marketing professional who came from the beauty industry; and executives who focused on advertising relationships and the notion of monetization. Although each employee worked on different areas of Facebook’s business, they shared the same enthusiasm for working as part of a team for this technology giant and in being valued as business professionals. These were not techies. Rather, they were MBAs, some of whom were five years or more out of top-tier schools. I admired their academic accomplishments and professional highs, and could only imagine the extent to which these go-getters will have an impact on such a powerful social media channel in the years to come.
Of interest to me was that they shared the motivations that led them to choose Facebook as an employer, their strategy for how to staff up their teams, and some of the common missteps that job candidates gunning for top technology roles are taking.
Here is what I think you should know before submitting your job application to Facebook. This advice can also be useful when applying to any other technology company that has its pick of the litter when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent across all job functions, including unicorns such as Airbnb and Uber.
Why do you want to work here?
You need to have a good reason for why you want to work at Facebook. I’ve heard terrible ones. For example, if you want to work for Facebook because you are on their site every day and use the channel to stay connected to family and friends, then consider yourself similar to its 1.86 billion monthly active users. Instead, dig deeper into what’s going on at Facebook. I’ve coached some of the world’s most strategic individuals who went out of their way to figure out what the CEO of a company really thinks by reading that CEO’s book. You can read Lean In, though if you’re pressed for time, poke around the Facebook pages of each one of its senior leaders. If you want the job, you’ll go as far as figuring out what the head of your ideal business unit or functional area of expertise thinks. I’d also encourage you to step out of Facebook and check out their other social media accounts. Following this sort of due diligence will help you thoughtfully and uniquely come up with an answer to why you want to work for Facebook. There are other paths I’ve shared with clients – this is simply one that is low hanging.
Why do we need you on this team?
Alternatively, a people leader shared how she strategically approached staffing up her team. Most of the time, my clients who have successfully secured jobs in the past without my help have told me that their go-to strategy has been to research their interviewers and figure out in what ways they share similarities. These can include figuring out that they also enjoy golf or are board members within organizations that support women in technology, etc. Clearly, this approach has worked for them. It’s useful to keep this in mind when you want to establish a rapport. However, my approach has been to evaluate an existing team on a piece of business. When I prepare my clients for a high-stakes job interview or networking conversation, I make sure that they understand how their different skills, experiences, relationships, and viewpoints would fill in the gaps that might currently exist on the hiring manager’s team. For example, let’s say you are going for a brand-marketing role and you notice that everyone came from the client side. You, however, are the only one who came from the agency side. This distinction is worth mentioning. You should go even further to point out how your unique agency experience will add demonstrable value if hired. You can also draw some hypotheses in what specific ways you’d imagine adding value. My instinct and experiences were confirmed on this call! A panelist who hires staff said that she wants to bring people to her team who fill in potential gaps in skills that would help her achieve her business goals.
Why is this the right role for you?
Some of the brightest professionals that I have coached have spent the months before our partnership applying to roles that are unaligned with their core strengths due to two reasons: 1) they want to feel productive, so they keep applying to roles because “hey, you never know;” and/or 2) they think that a job hunt is a numbers game in the same way that sales is a numbers game. Once I partner with a client, I stop this madness of focusing on submitting applications to jobs and instead redirect their efforts to filtering their submissions to only those roles that require their strengths in order to be successful. I make this rule a requirement. It is only after this condition is met that I would encourage a client to network with influencers and certainly decision-makers. Who are we kidding? If you aren’t the best guy for the job there won’t be enough spin available for you to suddenly be the best guy. I heard this clearly during the livestream. Facebook and other top technology companies can only win if its employees are playing up to their strengths as often as possible. Why waste time applying to the roles that misalign with yours just to get into a company? What I heard during this session is that Facebook will weed you out or make you wait until a real fit pops up. Instead, focus on networking as much as possible during your job hunt – that is to say, worry about increasing your networking activity. I saw the same idea at play while working with a client who landed at Google. This client originally applied to one job. However, he did not get a callback until the perfect role for him became available. Google also hires based on strengths: perfect fits based on crystal-clear strengths, not on your “almost there” or “close enough” abilities.
The insights I gathered from this chat are not unique to Facebook: they make sense if you are going for any company that has options when it comes to top talent. Consider them if you want to stand out from everyone in that interview room. Do your homework and explore a company’s public information. Dig deeper into matters that are beneath the surface. The nuances I’ve listed here make the difference between getting a callback to a final interview round versus staying stuck in the initial HR conversations.
Schedule a session with me today to see how we can position you for the right role at a technology giant that requires your strengths to win.