Posted August 08, 2014 by

How I Helped a Friend Get a Job at Google

Sally Miller photoBeth joined Google as a temporary worker for Finance when a Googler went on a 5-month maternity leave. She understood the terms from the start: work for 6 months then move on. However, she viewed her temporary job as a way to get hired as a full-time employee. Like many others, Google was her dream company.

Three months into her contract, Beth started to poke around at open roles and network with Googlers. She found two opportunities within Finance. She did what she was supposed to do: set up informational chats, learn about the team, apply. Still no luck.

Time is running out!

With one month left in her contract, Beth was panicking. Both Finance roles she applied for did not work out. Those teams only offered to extend her temp status for another six months. I knew she put in enormous time researching the teams and practicing her answers. But she was missing the bigger picture.

Help is on the way!

I sat down with Beth and went through other open roles available in Finance. Given her background and skills in Finance, I thought it best to still focus on Finance to increase her chances of getting hired.

We combed through list of roles on the Google Jobs site. One particular position piqued her interest: a role with the Brand Finance team. This team’s mandate is to support Google’s push into brand advertising.

Beth wanted this role! She applied and got invited to interview. She was psyched. I asked if she knew anything about brand. What about how search ads work and how these are different from brand ads? She had a blank look on her face. I knew we had a LOT of work to do.

Think big picture

Given her technical background in SQL and databases, I told Beth that she does not have to worry about being tested in that aspect. I’m pretty certain her interviewers will not ask her to write SQL code.

Instead, she needs to focus on the big picture. She needs to come in to the interviews with a perspective on brand. I gave her some questions to reflect on:

  • Why is she interested in the brand finance team?
  • How can she bring her current skills to the brand finance team?
  • Why does brand matter to Google?
  • What are challenges facing Google in order to win brand ad dollars?
  • What are some ideas to address these challenges?

Beth at that time was still a temp so I could not divulge sensitive information. Instead I gave her pushed her to think big. I challenged her to put on an advertiser’s hat and think of how Google can help her get the best return on her ad dollars. What assets does Google have? How about weaknesses?

Once she has developed a perspective on the questions I posed her, she has to share that information during the interview. If the interviewer asks her the same questions point blank, then great. If not, offer the information.

Keep talking. Be enthusiastic about the role and appear knowledgeable. If she has to fake it until she makes it, then by all means. By doing so, she will show the interviewer that she has put a lot of thought in her answers.

Have a seamless story

Another of Beth’s concerns was that her work background has all been about crunching numbers. How can she put herself in the best light if all she has known is data? I told her it’s all about how she positions her story.

I encouraged her to emphasize how her love for data is a big plus. For someone like her, Google is the place to be. There is no other more data-driven company than  Google. What better place to exhibit her skills than in a company such as Google where product and sales decisions are driven by data? It’s a perfect fit!

Beth’s face lit up as I spoke. More than anything, I think talking to her for an hour gave her hope and restored her confidence. All is not lost. Despite not nailing her first few interviews, she felt she now has a decent shot at the brand financial analyst role. She wished she had spoken to me sooner.

Great news!

After going through five interviews, Beth emailed me and said she got the role! Needless to say, she was ecstatic. She was so over the clouds that she offered to treat my husband and I to massage.

I was so happy for Beth. What this experience taught me is to never be shy to ask for help. Had Beth not told me about her situation, she would have gone to the brand finance interview with the same mentality as in her first couple of failed interviews.

That’s what I would encourage you all to do. People are generally eager to help. Ask for it. And if things turn out positively, show gratitude. Beth was not alone in her job search journey. You are not alone as well.

Sally is the founder of EggHead Job, a blog where she shares stories and tips on how to get a job and advance your career the smart way. At the height of the recession, she managed to get 3 job offers from top companies.  She currently works at Google and is a graduate of MIT. She is also known as “Get the Job Girl” and you can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and G+.

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