Here’s What You Need to Know if You Want a Job at a Company Like Google

Five young people using their laptops for coding.
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Each year, around 2 million people apply for jobs at Google. About 5,000 are hired, according to The Guardian.

How do you feel about your odds? Somebody has to fall into that elite 0.25%… right?

Even if you don’t land — or necessarily desire — a job with this particular giant of Silicon Valley, tech jobs are the future of work. Your dream job is out there.

These tips from top tech companies and employees can help you land it.

Here’s how to get a job at Google — or any other tech company…

1. Learn the Right Skills

If you want a job in tech, you’ll have to speak the language.

Java, that is. Or Python or Ruby… or one of about a dozen other popular programming languages.

If this is all brand-new to you, try one of these free apps to learn to code from scratch.

If you want more guidance, consider a coding bootcamp. These short — usually 12-week — courses help you learn a marketable skill quickly, without spending a ton of time or money in school.

And they can yield some pretty fantastic job opportunities.

A coding bootcamp “gives you a good foundation and kind of springboards you into the new career,” Philadelphia-based developer Cody Norman told us. “… It allowed me to get jobs that otherwise would’ve been pretty tough.”

If you want to work in the tech world, but not in development, think about how to use your other skills.

These companies have tons of departments to staff, from HR and accounting to social media and marketing to food service for those famous on-site cafeterias.

2. Know Where to Look for Jobs

You probably won’t happen across a Google job listing on Craigslist. (If you do, please don’t tell your interviewer that’s where you found it.)

To stay in the loop with the top jobs in tech, use a site geared toward people who work in your industry.

Dice is a job site exclusively for tech careers.

Use it like any job-search site to filter by position, location, company and other criteria — except you won’t have sift through a bunch of irrelevant listings, because the site caters to the kinds of jobs you’re looking for.

You can also use Dice’s Hack Your Career feature to find your market value — so you know you’re being paid fairly for your skills and experience.

3. Get Ahead at Your Current Job

Before telling your boss to take your job and shove it you-know-where, make the most of your current position to set you up for success in your next one.

Even if you hate your job, seize every opportunity to learn something new. Consider it paid training for whatever you do next. Use the time to network with people in your industry (or others, which may come in handy).

Practice soft skills you’ll need no matter where you go next.

Take it from Google’s own former senior vice president of people relations (the guy who hires people). In his book “Work Rules!,” Laszlo Bock advises giving your work meaning.

“Connect work to an idea or value that transcends the day-to-day,” he says, “and that also honestly reflects what you are doing.

“If you’re a lox slicer, you’re feeding people. If you’re a plumber, you’re improving the quality of people’s lives. Whatever you’re doing, it matters to someone. And it should matter to you.”

Get to the root of what purpose your job serves, and conquer it — even if you know you don’t want to be slicing lox for the rest of your life.

4. Develop Skills Google Cares About (Other Companies Will Care, Too)

The Guardian asked Bock what Google looks for in employees.

It’s clear you don’t have to exude a traditional professionalism to make it onto the campus decorated in colors reminiscent of kindergarten. What does matter, then?

First, Bock says, “general cognitive ability… Not just raw [intelligence] but the ability to absorb information.”

They also look for “emergent leadership. … when you see a problem, you step in and try to address it. Then you step out when you’re no longer needed.”

Next, they look for a quality you may have heard of in the lore: “Googleyness.”

It’s the name the company gives to those characteristics that make you a cultural fit, which Bock says boil down to “intellectual humility.” You don’t have to be warm and friendly, but you need to be able to admit — and believe — when you’re wrong if you want to mesh with other Googlers.

Last on the list, they look for “expertise in the job we’re gonna hire you for.”

Surprised that one’s last? Google isn’t the only company that hires this way — it’s just the company that’s made the idea most famous in the past decade.

If you can learn and understand new information, are willing to step in where you’re needed, and can admit and adjust when you’re wrong, then picking up the skills needed for a position should be a piece of cake.

5. How to Apply for a Job at Google

Google, for one, makes applying for its sought-after jobs very easy. It lays out — online — exactly what it’s looking for in your application.

The real secret here? These tips are helpful anywhere you want to apply, so pay attention.

About your resume, Google says, “This is the first piece of information we’ll see about you, so highlight your achievements. Here’s how to frame them…“

So nice of a company to make it that simple! Here’s what its hiring managers want to see in your resume:

  • Make sure the skills and experience you highlight are in line with the job description.
  • Be specific! Which projects did you work on? What were the outcomes? How did you measure success?
  • What leadership roles have you held? How many people did you oversee?
  • If you have limited work experience, what kinds of school projects or coursework did you do that will show off your skills?

Finally, Google says, “Keep it short! If there’s additional information (like a portfolio) we need during the hiring process, your recruiter will work with you to collect it.”

6. Prep for Your Interview

Job interviews can be the absolute worst. Or they can be the best… and then the subsequent five days while you await a phone call can be the absolute worst.

Head into the recruiter’s office with confidence by bringing your best game. Start by knowing concise and thoughtful answers to these common interview questions

Next, don your thinking cap. (Not literally, unless that’s a quirk you think will get you ahead with your future employer.)

The Valley’s finest are famous for truly out-of-the-box interview questions, so be prepared for… something you weren’t prepared for.

To warm you up, think about how you’d answer these challenging questions real interviewees faced at major tech companies:

  • “How would you go about to find the top five Java Developers in a certain area?” — Google, technical recruiter.
  • “Write an equation to optimize the marketing spend between Facebook and Twitter campaigns.” — Uber, data analyst.
  • “How many happy birthday posts do you think Facebook gets in one day?” — Facebook, sales operations.
  • “Name a brand that represents you as a person.” — Twitter, brand strategist.

Land Your Dream Job

Regardless of the position or industry, you bring the most important pieces you need to land your dream job — your sparkling personality and wealth of talent.

We hope these tips can give you the nudge you need to get in the door with the company you’ve been dreaming about since you were a toddling little 101-year old with *’s in your eyes.

(101 is binary for five… but you already knew that.)

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post,, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).