How to Work for Google: 8 Actions That Can Make It a Reality
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So you're eager to learn how to work for Google, one of the world's biggest technology companies? You're not alone. The tech giant continually receives a huge number of job applications. People all over the globe want to know how to get hired by Google. However, not all of them understand what it really takes to do so. That means you have an opportunity to gain a competitive edge in pursuit of your dream—starting right now.
Working at Google on a permanent, full-time basis is something that more than 98,000 people get to enjoy. In 2018 alone, they helped the company generate more than $136 billion of worldwide revenue.1 Just consider some of the immensely popular products and platforms those employees have had a hand in creating, improving, or promoting: Google Search, Chrome, Android, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, and Google Play. Or imagine the many exciting innovations that are now being driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
In terms of careers that impact the world, jobs at Google definitely qualify. Plus, they are known to come with amazing perks and benefits. So it's no wonder that countless students and professionals want to become "Googlers" (i.e., people employed by Google). The chance to reap extraordinary rewards and help solve some of today's most interesting challenges is highly appealing.
Here's how to improve your odds of getting hired by Google: Explore each of the major steps below, then start back at the top and tackle each one. With any luck, you can do more than just apply for your dream job; you can show Google exactly why you deserve such a great opportunity.
- Acquire relevant skills and experience
- Learn about Google's work culture
- Explore job openings, prep your resume, and apply
- Prepare for your phone or Google Hangouts interview
- Prepare for your on-site interview
- Understand how the final hiring decision is made
- Enjoy the great perks and benefits (if you're hired)
- Consider the alternative path of being a contractor
1. Acquire Relevant Skills and Experience
Before approaching Google, career readiness should be your top priority. That means you need to focus on developing the kinds of traits and abilities that are highly valued. Just be careful not to make too many assumptions.
Even though Google is a tech company, expertise related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) isn't necessarily seen as the most important type of skill set. In fact, after studying the effectiveness of its teams and hiring practices, Google learned that soft, transferable skills related to emotional intelligence and fostering good interpersonal relationships should be prioritized.2,3
So part of learning how to work at Google is understanding that hard skills, on their own, probably won't be enough to get you hired. In addition to being great at performing job-specific tasks, the company wants employees who are good at things like:
- Being dependable
- Coaching others
- Communicating effectively
- Demonstrating empathy
- Exhibiting curiosity about coworkers' ideas
- Listening attentively
- Respecting others' values and perspectives
- Showing generosity
- Solving problems
- Supporting coworkers
- Thinking critically
Essentially, Google wants to hire people who can help foster a work environment in which employees trust each other and feel confident and psychologically safe enough to share their ideas and make mistakes. After all, the company likes to work on high-risk projects that offer the potential for big rewards. That requires building socially aware teams of Googlers who have a wide variety of experiences and points of view.
So you don't necessarily need a degree in a STEM field. Google has discovered that some of their most productive teams include people who've majored in subject areas that nurture the development of soft skills and provide broader learning opportunities—such as the arts and humanities. Also, even though Google likes candidates with a lot of education, you may not need a college degree at all. For many roles within the company, equivalent professional experience can substitute for a college or university education.
The key is to pursue subjects you love as well as classes or experiences that challenge you to grow as a thinker, communicator, and team player. Then, clarify what you really want to do professionally. That way, you can build your hard skills on top of a robust foundation of soft skills—making you the full package.
When it comes to choosing the types of hard skills to develop, it helps to know what kinds of teams you're most likely to be hired for. Careers at Google generally fall into one or more of the following categories:4
- Technology and engineering
- Marketing and communications
- Business and finance
- Sales and support
- Human resources
- Legal support
- Security and facilities management
Since Google is a technology company, this category receives most of the spotlight, and rightly so. After all, Google is known for hiring some of the world's best coders and tech talent. Googlers who thrive on this kind of team tend to enjoy solving technical challenges (big and small), which leads to the creation of digital tools and products used by billions of people. Here are some of the most relevant types of expertise for this category:
- Computer programming
- Computer science
- Data science
- Electrical engineering
- Information security
- Mechanical engineering
- Mobile app development
- Project management
- Software development
- Technical writing
- Web development
And here's something cool: Google has created its own technical development guide, which you can use to plan a customized path of study. It offers suggestions for the types of classes to take and resources to use in order to get up to speed in the technical areas you're most interested in. For example, in addition to programming and machine learning, the guide offers suggestions for gaining skills related to cloud computing. It even provides examples of coding-related questions you may be asked in a Google job interview.
Google aims to create products that are visually appealing and easy to use. The user experience, which needs to be intuitive, always comes first. That's why Google's design teams are so crucial to the company's success. They work diligently to strike the right balance between function and beauty. Graphic design and web design skills obviously apply here. But many roles are more specialized or complement the visual design process. For example, some of the most valued skill sets are related to:
- Interaction design
- Motion design
- User-experience (UX) engineering
- UX research
- UX writing
Whenever Google creates new products or significantly improves existing ones, it needs to get the message out. But that involves more than just notifying current and potential users of the latest developments. It also involves creatively capturing people's imaginations. The goal is to help foster a positive and authentic emotional connection to the Google brand, all while putting users first. So, in addition to marketing and communications specialists, teams in this category employ people with skills related to areas like:
Like any other large global corporation, Google requires a wide variety of business strategists, operations managers, financial specialists, and similar professionals. After all, the company is always analyzing problems and opportunities, seeking useful insights, and looking for ways to better manage everything it does. Some Googlers in this category have MBAs, and many have backgrounds in areas such as:
- Business administration
- Business management
- Data analysis
- Financial analysis
- Financial planning
- Project management
Sales and Support
Some of Google's core products are designed to help other businesses succeed. That's why the company employs many professionals who are tasked with gaining new clients or providing great service and support to existing ones. In addition to sales representatives, teams in this category often include professionals with skill sets in areas like:
- Account management
- Business development
- Corporate training
- Instructional design
- Project management
- Quality assurance
- Technical support
At Google, HR is known as People Operations. That's because the company understands that people are the real drivers of its success and should be treated as such. In order for Google to keep thriving, talented people must be recruited and encouraged to stay. That's why Google employs a lot of HR specialists who find job candidates, develop and support the company's employees, and help keep the work culture vibrant, special, and inclusive. Useful expertise related to HR includes:
- Business administration
- Project management
- Recruiting and talent acquisition
- Staff training and development
The digital age has produced countless benefits, but it has also generated new challenges. With the rapid speed of technological change, the legal and regulatory system has, in many cases, struggled to keep up. So companies like Google help educate policymakers and collaborate with them on potential solutions. That's why the company employs a lot of legal and public policy experts, including professionals who know how to conduct legal research, negotiate contracts, and craft policies with the interests of clients and users in mind. In addition to staff attorneys, the company hires non-attorneys with skill sets related to:
Security and Facilities Management
Google strives to create safe, healthy, and sustainable work environments that foster collaboration. That means the company is frequently on the lookout for a wide range of talented professionals who have the expertise to help make that happen. Some of the most relevant types of skill sets for teams in this category are related to:
- Civil engineering
- Construction management
- Hospitality management
- Information security
- Law enforcement
- Property management
- Risk management
- Threat assessment
2. Learn About Google's Work Culture
Life at Google is full of opportunities to follow your curiosity, learn from other talented professionals, collaborate with people who think big, and channel your creativity into meaningful projects. Plus, Googlers are encouraged to talk openly, act with transparency, and stay at the top of their game each day. They are supported in what they do via:
- Access to relevant tools and resources
- Comfortable, fun, and casual work spaces
- Great perks and benefits designed to simplify their lives
That's what it's like to work at Google, at least according to those who love their jobs there. Like any other company, Google has some current and former employees who feel less satisfied or don't speak so glowingly about their experiences. Also, many Googlers have said that the work culture can vary—sometimes significantly—from one office to another.
So, where is Google located? All over the world, in more than 150 cities across 50 countries.5 The company has numerous offices in North America and Europe. It also has multiple offices in regions like Latin America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and the Middle East.4 The head office, known as the "Googleplex," is located in Mountain View, California, which is part of Silicon Valley.
Of course, many aspiring Googlers want to know how to work for Google from home. Here's the thing: Google prefers its employees to work at its offices. Despite creating multiple technologies (such as Google Drive and Google Hangouts) that make remote work easier, the company wants its employees to work together in the same settings as much as possible.
That said, Google does have teams of employees who work in different locations. In fact, 30 percent of the company's meetings involve team members who are located across at least two time zones. And when comparing the performance of its remote teams to teams that are fully on-site together, the company didn't find any difference.5
Some Googlers who have been with the company for an extended period of time are able to work from home in particular situations, at their managers' discretion (and with the support of their teams). However, as a new employee, you cannot work for Google at home—unless you're a certain type of contractor or you've been hired for some kind of field position that requires you to be out of the office a lot. Still, you may be part of projects that require working in Google Hangouts for some of your meetings with team members in other locations. But that obviously isn't the same thing as telecommuting from home.
That's just one reason it's a good idea to spend plenty of time researching the company's work culture and expectations. Many current and former Googlers have posted about their experiences online and are willing to answer questions on websites like Quora. In addition, you can contact current Googlers directly (especially recruiters), ask them questions, and even request a tour of the office you're interested in working at. Basically, don't be afraid to network with people in the company.
3. Explore Job Openings, Prep Your Resume, and Apply
Once you feel confident in your skills, experience, and ability to contribute to Google's work culture, it's time to check out the positions that are available. Google provides a searchable online database of job openings for just this purpose. Simply enter the type of job you're considering in order to see the various opportunities associated with your skill set. Or if you're a military veteran, search for relevant openings with your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) code.
If you're a college or university student, you can also search for a Google internship using the same online database. In addition, Google representatives visit hundreds of colleges and universities in order to share information about various job and internship opportunities for students and recent graduates. So let your school's career services department know that you'd like to be notified in advance about any such visits. Some of the best Google internships involve working with the company's business and technology teams over the summer.
The requirements for each Google job are spelled out in the online descriptions of each position. By exploring the descriptions of several open positions, you'll start to get a feel for the opportunities that most interest you. Then, you can begin matching your interests and skill sets to specific openings.
Make a short list of the jobs you want most. (Google allows you to apply for up to three jobs at a time "within a rolling 30-day window."4)
Save or print out the job descriptions for each opening on your list. Then, start crafting your resume, creating a separate version for each job you intend to apply for. As you prepare your resume, focus on:
- Keeping it as concise as possible
- Including only your most relevant skills and experience based on what matches the job description
- Calling attention to your achievements—being specific about the scope and results of successful projects you've led, managed, or contributed to in a significant way
Make sure you proof each resume a few times and get someone you trust to do the same thing. (Everything you send to Google should be free of errors.) When you're ready to apply for an open position, go back to its online job description and hit the "Apply" button. Then, sign in with your Google account (or sign up if you don't have one already) and follow the instructions.
Google's recruiters will review each of your applications and determine whether you're a match for any of the openings. If you are a match, they will schedule an initial interview. If not, they will keep your resume and may notify you when openings that potentially match your qualifications become available in the future.
This review process can sometimes take several weeks. So after two months, if you still haven't been contacted by Google, you probably aren't one of the candidates being considered. You can certainly apply for other positions. But if you applied for some type of engineering position and haven't been selected, Google prefers that you gain at least one more year of experience before applying again.
4. Prepare for Your Phone or Google Hangouts Interview
If you're chosen as one of the candidates for a particular job opening, you'll be scheduled for an interview that will take place over the phone or via Google Hangouts. It's an opportunity to talk about your qualifications and suitability for the job with a Googler who, if you're ultimately hired, may be your manager or one of your peers. It's also a chance to ask your some of own questions about the position.
Knowing how to ace a job interview is obviously super helpful at this stage. Typically, you'll be asked a variety of questions related to your expertise. Some of the questions may be about how you would respond to hypothetical situations. Others may be geared toward understanding the actions you've taken in the past in order to handle certain kinds of challenges.
For most positions, this first interview usually lasts about 30 minutes. However, some interviews last up to 45 or 60 minutes. The longest interviews are generally for positions on software engineering teams, which require a lot more technical knowledge.
In fact, your first Google interview for a role related to software engineering will require you to:
- Answer questions about coding, algorithms, and data structures
- Write up to 30 lines of code on the spot, in your preferred programming language, using Google Docs so that your interviewer can see what you're doing
- Share your thought process as you write your code
- Answer an open-ended question by explaining it in an algorithm and clarifying the requirements as necessary
- Converting your algorithm to workable and optimized code and explaining potential test cases
Regardless of the role you interview for, it's a good idea to practice your potential responses by having someone you know conduct a mock interview with you. And if you're going after a role in software engineering, be sure to practice writing code on a physical or digital whiteboard.
5. Prepare for Your On-site Interview
If you pass the first interview stage, you'll be invited for an in-person interview conducted by about four Googlers you probably haven't met yet. The interview will take place at one of Google's offices. It's used for learning how you:
- Think and approach problems
- Communicate, make decisions, and help teams succeed
- Use your skills and experience to make valuable contributions
- Work as part of a group, as well as on your own
- Handle ambiguity, assist others, and motivate yourself to keep learning and pushing beyond your limits
As you prepare for this interview, try to imagine the kinds of questions you'll be asked. Many of the most common job interview questions—such as "What makes you want this job?" or "What's your biggest weakness?"—are easy to discover with a simple Google search. You can also ask various professionals you know to share some of the questions they've been asked in job interviews over the years.
Ultimately, it's a good idea to create a long list of potential questions, write down a few possible responses for each one, and practice answering them all out loud. That way, you'll feel more confident during your actual interview.
Other things that can help you excel at this interview include:
- Sharing specific stories that illustrate your strengths (as part of your responses to most types of questions)
- Asking for clarification and verbalizing what you're thinking when you receive challenging or open-ended questions or an ambiguous problem to solve
- Refining your answers out loud as it becomes apparent that your initial responses can be improved upon
- Asking your own questions about the work culture and your potential role in the company
Also, keep in mind that if you are a person with disabilities, a Google recruiter can put you in touch with its accommodations team. That means you can talk privately about what you need for your on-site interview with a dedicated specialist.
Of course, as with the first interview, this second interview has some special characteristics if you're pursuing a role on a software engineering team. For example, you'll need to be prepared to demonstrate your expertise in areas like coding, algorithms, basic math, data structures, sorting, recursion, and graphs. Depending on the location, you'll have the option to use either a laptop or whiteboard to write code while figuring out the best solution to a given problem. You'll be expected to push your boundaries and provide detailed verbal explanations of your thought process while exchanging ideas with your interviewers.
As part of your preparation for technical questions, Google recommends going through the book Cracking the Coding Interview. The company also suggests looking for examples of technical interview questions on sites such as Stack Overflow and CodeLab.
6. Understand How the Final Hiring Decision Is Made
After passing your last interview, it's time to wait. Everything associated with your application will be sent to a hiring committee, which usually consists of Googlers of various standing in the company who haven't met you. The committee will review your resume, work samples, references, and interview scores and feedback. The goal is to ensure that you truly meet Google's hiring standards.
Once the committee has reviewed everything, it will add its own feedback to your "candidate packet" and send it all to a Googler in a senior leadership position. This senior leader will review your candidacy and either approve or reject it. If approved, your candidate packet—along with a summary—will be sent to a Google executive for final review. If the executive approves of your hiring, you'll receive a job offer.
At this stage, you can negotiate some of the terms of your employment, such as your salary. And like with any other employment opportunity, it's smart to get everything in writing.
The entire hiring process can take several weeks or months. But every Googler has been through it, so it's seen as a badge of honor. It's also viewed as an indication that you've proven yourself and can be trusted to contribute, add value, support your colleagues, and grow with the company.
7. Enjoy the Great Perks and Benefits (If You're Hired)
Working for Google is a privilege that relatively few people get to experience. The company is always striving to nurture the health and happiness of its employees. In fact, a lot of the benefits are designed to help employees save time and minimize the need for non-work-related decision making so that more of their focus can be directed toward the most meaningful activities inside and outside the office.
So, in terms of the perks, what is it like to work at Google? The benefits vary from region to region and office to office, and they sometimes change based on employee feedback or the needs of the company. But depending on the location, Google has offered perks and benefits such as:
- Comprehensive health, dental, and vision insurance
- Education subsidies and tuition reimbursement (even for personal interest)
- Financial planning services
- Flexible work schedules
- Free meals from on-site cafes (including breakfast, lunch, and dinner at some offices)
- Free or subsidized mobile devices
- Free shuttle service (with on-board Wi-Fi)
- Life and disability insurance
- Matching charitable donations (including for time you work as a volunteer)
- "Microkitchens" with free snacks and drinks
- On-site classes for personal interest and professional development
- On-site gyms and fitness classes (or off-site fitness memberships)
- On-site health and wellness services (such as massage therapy, chiropractic, physical therapy, dental care, and physician care)
- Opportunities to attend or help arrange Talks at Google, which feature talented and fascinating speakers, including celebrities
- Paid parental leave
- Paid sick leave
- Paid vacation
- Retirement savings plans
- The ability to bring your dog to work
All of the on-site amenities, especially at Google's largest offices, go a long way toward simplifying the lives of employees and helping them stay happy, healthy, and motivated. That's why it isn't surprising when people hear about these perks and think, "I want to work for Google too!" But, of course, the company's employees don't just enjoy awesome benefits; they also get paid pretty well.
So, how much do Google employees make? If you work for Google, you get the chance to earn a competitive salary. According to PayScale, Googlers make a median salary of about $113,000 in the U.S.6 That means half of them earn more than that amount, and half earn less. However, another source pegs the median yearly pay closer to $200,000 (based on SEC filings).7 Plus, many Googlers receive additional compensation in the form of bonuses and company stock.
Here are a few examples of typical salary ranges for positions at Google:6
- Data scientist—$89K to $163K
- Communications manager—$85K to $166K
- Software engineer—$77K to $148K
- Supply chain manager—$70K to $157K
- Financial analyst—$63K to $113K
- Front-end web developer—$62K to $148K
- Project manager—$60K to $147K
- Marketing manager—$56K to $140K
- Computer scientist—$56K to $139K
- Technical writer—$51K to $140K
- HR specialist—$51K to $97K
- Systems administrator—$50K to $108K
- Content strategist—$48K to $125K
- Computer programmer—$44K to $111K
- Graphic designer—$38K to $78K
- Administrative assistant—$30K to $60K
8. Consider the Alternative Path of Being a Contractor
Temporary and contract workers who are employed by outside staffing agencies may account for roughly half of Google's overall workforce.8 So depending on your skills and location, you can get a job inside Google by looking for contract positions through an outside agency. Unfortunately, Google doesn't publicize which staffing agencies it uses; however, you may be able to find out by asking around or contacting some of the agencies that operate in your region.
Each agency will have its own hiring process, which is usually a lot faster than Google's. However, Google likely requires that certain standards are met so that it receives a consistent quality of workers. The company has also announced plans to start requiring the staffing agencies it uses to provide full benefits and pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour to the contract and temporary employees who work at Google for 33 hours or more per week. The benefits will have to include at least eight days of sick leave, 12 weeks of paid parental leave, comprehensive health insurance, and $5,000 or more per year in tuition reimbursement.8
Many contract positions involve temporarily helping Google teams that are experiencing a big spike in work or filling in for a bona fide Googler who is on parental leave or short-term disability. So it's possible to get a contract position for many of the same types of professional roles that Google hires directly for, such as recruiting and software engineering. And if you do well, your performance may help you land a permanent job at the company.
However, a lot of the contract positions are for jobs that Google doesn't hire for in-house. For example, Google's cleaning crews, cooks and chefs, and shuttle-bus drivers all tend to be employed by outside agencies. The company also sometimes uses staffing agencies to hire contract workers known as "ads quality raters" who do things like monitor the quality of search results or help ensure that ads don't appear on online videos promoting hate.
So if you want to know how to work for Google from home and get paid, you can try searching for "ads quality rater" positions. Just keep in mind that with Google, online jobs are fairly uncommon in the U.S. and not widely promoted. Mostly, they are offered in non-English-speaking countries so that the company can refine its algorithms and bring them to the same level of quality as in English-speaking regions. Also, many of the so-called "opportunities" you find online may actually be scams. So be cautious.
Start Preparing for Your Dream Job
Now that you've learned about how to work for Google, you have a better chance of making it happen. So take action by following the steps outlined above. Begin with learning the kinds of skills that are valued by the company and pursuing opportunities that help you expand and refine your personal and professional traits. A huge variety of colleges, universities, and vocational schools offer convenient programs in many of the areas that Google hires for. Simply enter your zip code below to find nearby schools that can help you start gaining the skills and practical experience you need!
1 Alphabet, Investor Relations, website last visited on May 9, 2019.
2 The Washington Post, "The surprising thing Google learned about its employees—and what it means for today's students," website last visited on May 9, 2019.
3 The New York Times Magazine, "What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team," website last visited on May 9, 2019.
4 Google Careers, website last visited on May 9, 2019.
5 Google, "Working together when we're not together, website last visited on May 2, 2019.
6 PayScale, website last visited on May 9, 2019.
7 Wired, "Who Pays the Most, and Least, in Silicon Valley?," website last visited on May 9, 2019.
8 Forbes, "Google's Temporary Workers Will Get Full Benefits Including Health Care And Paid Parental Leave," website last visited on May 9, 2019.