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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thinking about a career in Recruiting?

Recruiting is one of the careers you don’t aspire to when you are a kid, you just become one. Not really sure how or why to be honest. For me, it was an opportunity to try something new and come to find out I was pretty good at it (well, maybe?). A lot of people see recruiting, especially when the economy is strong as a way to make a ton of money...and you can, but the fact is, to survive as a recruiter you have to love it and realize that it’s an up and down kind of career. Another thing about recruiting....it’s hard, like really hard.

If you are thinking about a career in recruiting here are few tips that will serve you well.

1 - If you bat .300, you’re an All-Star - My first boss in recruiting told me that the hardest thing in recruiting is dealing with rejection. He’s right. In baseball, if you hit .300 you’re in the All-Star Game....same is true for recruiting. If three out of ten people take your call, you’re on you way to being a good recruiter. What makes this hard? That means at best, 70% of your calls will be either voice mail or “Leave me alone”. It can wear on you, trust me. I once had a day where I made 140 calls, and spoke with zero people. Every single call went to voicemail or I was hung up on. What did I do the next day? Pounded the phone and tried to make 150 calls.

2 - Changing jobs is an emotional decision - This same boss explained to me that changing jobs is one of the most stressful things people can do (along w/ buying a house, getting married or losing a loved one). In order to be a good recruiter, you have to realize this is stressful and be prepared to coach your candidate through the decision and be respectful of their situation. A good recruiter listens to their candidates and helps them come to a decision as it relates to their career. Why is this hard? People will make decisions that don’t make sense to you. And they won’t make sense because at the end of the day, your candidate won’t share EVERY detail with you. Sound crazy? It’s not, it’s just part of the job you have to learn to embrace.

3 - Stars don’t align - This one drives me crazy. I’ve had great candidates, people I KNOW are good and for some reason I just can’t find them a job. Lots of factors go into this but as much as you try there are times that the stars don’t align and that superstar candidate finds another gig before you can help. Frustrating...

4 - When the going gets tough..you’d better be good - Recruiting in a down market is tough stuff. Companies slow down or stop hiring and the first folks to go are the recruiters. Fact, not opinion on that one folks, sorry. So, how do you survive? For starters be REALLY good. A good recruiter is worth their weight in gold and companies will keep you around for when things change. Another key to survival is to find great companies. Corporate or agency, doesn’t matter. Great companies are always hiring and can use a good recruiter.

I hope this helps you looking to get into recruiting, it’s a great gig if you are into it. Work hard, keep networking and you’ll be fine. Until next time....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Total Comp is what really matters

Negotiating compensation is a core part of any job search right? One thing to remember is that when you’re looking at an offer is to consider the entire package being offered and not get too caught up on base salary.

A few easy to digest thoughts on total compensation and negotiating for your new job:

1) Base salary DOES matter - Its not the end all be all of the package but you do have to make enough to pay the bills. Life is about cash flow and base salary is the most consistent form of it. You won’t notice the difference between 45K or 46K so don’t freak out over small numbers but also, be aware of what your budget requires and make sure your base covers regular expenses.

2) Bonuses are great, especially if they pay out out - Lots of companies have a bonus percentage that pays out annually as part of a total package. Trust me, they are great but tough to evaluate. The question you have to ask is “What percentage of the bonus actually paid out last year. Once you know that, you can safely evaluate whether the bonus is legit or not. If it is, rock on!

3) Equity is a wild card - It’s really hard to evaluate equity as part of an offer so you’ll have to make a few assumptions in order to help come to your decision. For example, is the company public? If yes, then you can sort of guestimate the value and have a ballpark idea of the value. Private company? MUCH harder to do but again, not impossible. What percentage of the company do you have? Is it significant? Is the company trading private equity on the secondary market? What is the internal valuation of your grant? These are important questions to ask because equity can be a HUGE piece of total comp so you’ve got to make sure you’re doing your due diligence.

4) Sign-on the dotted line - Like I said before, cash flow is king so a sign-on bonus should be considered a great thing if you have one in your new offer. A sign-on can also help bridge the gap between a small cut in base salary or waiting until some equity vests. Long story short, a sign-on bonus can give you or your candidate JUST enough of a nudge to make taking that new job easy.

Ok, that’s it today...remember, it’s about total compensation and making sure you’re happy with the deal.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The post interview follow-up

Sorry I’ve been out of touch the last few weeks, SUPER busy and barely any time to tweet....scary. Anyway, I’m back and hope that this short blog will get me back and dedicated to this.

This week’s topic...post interview follow up. Nothing crazy here just common sense recruiting advice. When you interview with someone for a job or even if it’s just an informational chat you’ve got to do a few things:

1) Ask the person if you can connect on LinkedIn - This is networking in the 21st century 101 here folks. You should be connecting to everyone and anyone you interact with professionally. Built that online network, you’ll need it eventually.

2) Send a follow up thank you - I prefer email but sometimes it’s nice to get something in the mail. If you are going to mail something, use professional stationary and make it nice. Emails, you can you be a little more causal but you still want to make it nice and sincerely express your thanks for the persons time.

3) Stick to your commitments - Said you’d follow up with a resume? Do it. Offer to send some referrals? Do it. Nothing worse than having someone promise to help you with a few things...only to never hear from them again. Don’t be that guy.

There you go, a few simple tips that if you follow them after every hiring related meeting....you’ll find your job search is much more successful!