Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My review of "The Google Resume"

A lot of people ask me about interview prep and I’ve blogged on it a few times but I wanted to share a few thoughts/insights on “The Google Resume” by Gayle Laakmann McDowell. This book came out recently and I picked it up the first day or two it was out and REALLY hoped this book would be the one I could tell candidates....”Go buy this book and you’ll be fine”. Well, it’s not perfect but I would definitely recommend giving “The Google Resume” a quick read if you are interviewing for a software engineering job.....doesn’t have to be at Google, lots of the tips in this book will serve you well in any interview.

You can buy the book by hitting this link -

The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any Top Tech Company

I don’t want to go crazy and rewrite the book here, but there are a few tips/chapters that I want to call out. They are:

Chapter 3 - “Getting in the Door” - Great chapter here and really useful tools for anyone in an active job search. Gayle gives some of the same advice I give all the time. Hit your alumni networks, do your homework, getting personal referrals, doing information interviews, all GREAT stuff. However, one thing really jumped out. She gives a tip on how to reach out and find recruiters at companies. This is a great idea, especially if you are targeting one particular place. Only thing I’d add to this....use LinkedIn too, building out that network can help you find recruiters much easier than ever before.

Chapter 5 - “Deconstructing the Resume” - Good stuff here, I’m not a huge stickler on resumes but her advice here is spot on and should really help you build a better resume (frankly I may try and do this myself to see how it comes out) The best advice here is on page 88. Parting Words. I won’t deconstruct them all but “Too big, Too bulky and Too boring” should be on the front of your mind when writing your resume!

Chapter 8- “Interview Questions” - One tip I always give people when they are interviewing (especially at a place like Google or Apple, etc) is to “Search for Company X interview questions”. You’ll find good stuff, horror stories and some just plain weird stuff....but the info you find should give you a general idea what to expect. Gayle takes things a step further and breatks down behavioral based interviews, estimation interviews, brain teasers and design interviews. Fantastic stuff. MUST read if you are actively interviewing.

Chapter 9 - “ The Programming Interview” - Gayle takes things just a little deeper and this is gold if you are interviewing for a software engineering role. She breaks down coding, design, algorithms, memory usage and scalability in this chapter. The best part though, is page 167 where there is a grid of about 25 concepts that you have to understand to be successful. That grid is a “how-to” for landing a great software job. Trust me on this one.

Chapter 11 - “The Offer" - Everyone has different opinions on negotiating. Page 219 Gayle gives a few tips on how to win a negotiation. I can say, I don’t agree with all of these. Some of them are good “Have a specific ask” for example is a must....know your worth and ask for it. Totally cool. I really disagree with “Don’t name the first number” and I realize why people might think it’s bad to do but here’s the deal. Your recruiter is trying to fill jobs, that’s it. We don’t get credit if you don’t take the job so be honest about what you want and/or need and do a deal. Don’t play games during the negotiation. And here’s why....recruiters negotiate ALL the time. Honestly, throughout my career I’ve negotiated hundreds of offers. Recruiters will do their best when you are upfront, honest and sincere with what you are looking for in a new compensation package.

So, there you go...good read and I’d recommend you pick it up regardless of where you are interviewing. Like any “self-help” book you’ll agree with some of it and disagree with some other parts but that’s ok. When preparing for an interview, the more research you do the better. This book is certainly no silver bullet for getting a job but adding “The Google Resume” to your list of preparation materials will be money well spent.


  1. This is great! I just finished my Freshman year of college as a Computer Science major, and I'm hoping to work at Google one day :)

  2. very nice post... I am working as an Account Manager in a SEO Company. And I am determined to be a part of Google at the earliest. Your post is a great help...

  3. Can I share your post on my blog giving the credit to you and a link back to the post. :-)
    It will be a help for my collegiate friends and beginners..

  4. Hi Neha, absolutely please feel free to share. Make sure to give credit back to Gayle, it's her book... I was just reviewing it!

  5. Thanks for the post. @googlejobs retweeted your blog which is how I stumbled upon it. I'm a CPG supply chain guy who's heading back to school for an MBA and not surprisingly, Google is on the short list of companies I'd love to learn more about. I'll be sure to check out the book!

  6. Ha! I just read through some of your past blogs and I just realized that you actually are a recruiter for Google and in Boston to boot! That's funny. Now, I'm really glad I stumbled upon your blog! I'll be moving to Boston this summer to attend HBS and it would be great if I could buy you a coffee and chat with you about Google and the tech industry in general when I get into town.

    Alex Pak (@alexpak1)

  7. Good post. I never knew such a book even existed. Glad I've read this post. I'm pursuing my M.S in Comp Science and I aspire to work for Google in the future.

  8. Great piece. Thanks for the heads up, Jeff. ;-)

  9. Good luck Rahul!!! Keep me posted on how the degree goes!

  10. hello Jeff....I am a last year graduate with CS...I m not getting any interview call...what should i do now ?

  11. great post jeff....
    one day will surely work for google.

  12. That's good to see this feature and information.