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MBA Career News
Volume 3 Issue 8 :: March 14, 2011

10 Secrets To Getting A Job At Apple, Google Or Microsoft
By Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Some might say that I got incredibly lucky. At eighteen years old, I was perhaps the youngest intern in Microsoft’s thousand person intern class. Most of my fellow interns had three times as much experience as me, and I couldn’t help but wonder, “What am I doing here?”

Indeed, there’s no denying that I got very, very lucky to land such a prestigious internship at such an early age. But there’s more to it than just that.

The tricks below enabled me to get the right experience, flaunt it on my resume, get the attention of recruiters, and eventually land positions with Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Here’s a list of 10 things you can do to improve your chances to do the same:

1.  Start Something: Launching a small tech company, or just a project, can demonstrate virtually everything a tech firm wants to see: field expertise, passion for technology, initiative, leadership and creativity. Don’t have software development experience? Not to worry – you can hire an outsourced development team from sites like odesk and elance
2.  Create an Online Portfolio: Almost everyone can benefit from a portfolio. A simple web site with a description of your major accomplishments (both inside and outside of work) can provide more context than what your resume can provide. Recruiters may reference this after seeing your resume, but they might stumble across your portfolio online and give you a call.
3.  Get Out There (And Online): Online job boards are tough, and the best way around them is a personal referral. Attending tech events will help to build your network, but don’t forget about the online channels. Recruiters search for potential candidates on blogs comments, industry forums and Twitter. Being active on online – while providing a trail back to your portfolio – can be an excellent way to catch a recruiter’s attention.
4.  Make a Short and Sweet Resume: Let me tell you a little secret: recruiters don’t really read resumes. They glance at them, often for as little as fifteen seconds, before putting it in the ‘yes’ pile or the ‘no’ pile. For this reason, a short (usually one-page) resume is advantageous. This will ensure that the resume screener notices your most impressive accomplishments, without the mediocre items getting in the way.
5.  Focus on Accomplishments: Kill the fluff; no one buys into vague statements like “excellent problem solver.” A resume should focus on your accomplishments: concrete ways that you’ve made an impact, quantified if possible. Remember that your list of accomplishments goes beyond the “official” work that you’ve done. Any project that is reasonably substantial can be listed on your resume.
6.  Rehearse Your Stories: One of the best ways to improve your overall interview performance is to practice your “stories.” For each major accomplishment, brainstorm ways that you showed leadership, demonstrated influence, or overcame challenges. Rehearsing these responses aloud will help you to more effectively discuss what you did and why it mattered.
7.  Practice Interview Questions – And Practice Them Well: Don’t walk into an interview blind; web sites like and offer thousands of interview questions from tech firms. This will give you a good feel of what areas to prepare. Memorizing answers to these questions won’t help you though. Instead, practice solving these interview questions just as you would in an interview: out loud or on paper. The more realistically you can simulate the interview the better you’ll do.
8.  Prepare Questions for You to Ask: Asking interesting questions during your interview cannot only help you learn if the job is right for you, but it will also demonstrate to your interviewer that you’re passionate about the position. You should prepare a list of questions before your interview. My favorite questions take things a step further. A particularly insightful question about how the company has handled potential challenges can demonstrate your own expertise in the field.
9.  Admit Mistakes: No one is fooled when you try to cover up mistakes, especially in a problem solving question. After all, your interviewer has probably asked it dozens of times. Admitting a mistake shows that you are analytical enough to recognize when you messed up, and it also demonstrates humbleness and interpersonal skills. No one wants to work with someone who won’t fess up.
10.  Be Fearless: Companies like Google and Microsoft nearly as notorious for their tricky questions as they are famous for their perks. Unfortunately, many candidates freeze when asked a challenging question. Their minds race with thoughts of incompetence and impending doom, instead of with potential solutions. In asking these questions, companies aren’t just trying to test your intelligence (though that’s certainly a component of it). They want to see that you are fearless. They want to see that you’re the type of person who sees a tough problem and charges it head-on. So take a deep breath, and charge.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell, a former Google engineer, who interned at both Apple and Microsoft, is CEO of She’s the author of “The Google Resume” and “Cracking the Coding Interview.”

Over 630,000 jobs available

Have you checked out Employment Wizard lately? Westminster's jobs database has been augmented with daily updates from,, and to bring you literally thousands of jobs that span the nation. Your job listing search will be the most effective if you search for the positions separately in each database as the keywords are different for specific positions in each database.

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Employment Wizard can be found on the Career Center website front page

Why You Really Shouldn't Job Hunt at Work
January 18, 2011 (1:26PM) by Julie O'Malley, CPRW

Did you ever hear the expression, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should"? I usually say it to my teenage son as he heads off with his friends to the all-you-can-eat buffet.

But it also applies to today's blog topic: Searching for a new job using your current employer's resources. You can. But you shouldn't.

Don't get me wrong. It's perfectly all right to look for a new job while you're still employed. In fact, it's the best way to do it. There's less pressure, and employers may be more apt to hire already-employed people (which is ridiculous and unfair, but that's another topic).

Job hunting while employed is only a problem when your job search takes time or money away from the company that currently provides your paychecks.

First of all, that's unethical. But even if you believe you're justified because of all your "unpaid overtime" or the fact you've been "underpaid for years," the likelihood of getting caught—and fired—should be enough to stop you from doing it.

"So what," you may be thinking, "I hate my job. I'd love to get fired!" OK, but just so you know, getting fired could make you ineligible to collect unemployment. And it makes it a lot tougher to answer the interview question, "Why did you leave your last job?"

Here are two more things to consider if you're thinking of looking for a new job while you're at work.

The Electronic "Paper Trail"
Remember, employers have access to all your e-mails, instant messages, faxes, and phone calls. Even if you delete them, those messages live on in the backup archives. The company can also track the web sites you visit—even if you're at home if you're using a company-provided laptop or you're logged in remotely to the company network. They pay for the resources, so they have every right to monitor their use.

Online Friends and Connections
You should also stop yourself if you're thinking of Tweeting about the great job posting you just found, posting photos on Facebook of your awesome new interview suit, or updating your LinkedIn account to mention that you're seeking new opportunities. These things have a way of falling into the wrong hands.

Beware the old-fashioned grapevine, too. Even if you don't specifically tell anyone you're job hunting, coworkers will overhear your phone calls or spot those resumes you left on the office printer. That kind of gossip is too juicy not to share.

If your current job is atrocious, the best way to deal with it is to find a better job on your own time. Be creative. Slip out to the car on your lunch hour or break to make phone calls or search the internet. Take time before or after work. Use the library. Take a day off.

Another expression also applies here: "Be good. But if you can't be good, at least be careful!"


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