A GM Recruiter’s Tips on Landing a Job

General Motors LogoIf you want to work for General Motors, but not live in Detroit, look toward Austin, Texas.

GM’s global IT staff is expected to expand by about 10,000 in the next three to five years as it brings 90 percent of its outsourced IT work back in house.

In addition to Austin, the company will establish three more “innovation centers” in as-yet-unnamed cities.

Hiring is already under way in Austin, where the company will add 500 IT jobs.

“We want to take location out of the equation,” said Cheri Ott, GM’s director of human resources for global information technology. “Where before we might have brought someone to Detroit, now we’re able to consider someone in the Austin area. We want to find the best talent in any of the technology spaces where we need people … by having these innovation centers across the United States. We want to make it desirable, regardless of where you live.”

The new jobs include software developers, project managers, database experts and business analysts. The positions range from those for the experienced – such as senior IT project manager, senior agile coach/scrum master and enterprise data warehouse senior Big Data integration developer – to the entry level.

Ott said interviews and campus recruiting have already begun, and new hires will begin work immediately.

If you plan to apply, GM’s interviewers will probe deeply into your experience, so come prepared with specific examples that will demonstrate your key strengths and accomplishments. “We’re looking for people who can articulate their experience and communicate clearly what they bring to the party,” Ott said.

Software developers, working in collaborative teams, will be creating enhanced tools to support GM’s global business, supporting areas such as manufacturing, product development or supply chain while using both traditional and agile development methods.

Advice on Landing a Job

To apply, Ott says you should start at its website and study each position’s specific requirements. Also spend time learning about GM as a company, because understanding its business is key.

“Beyond technical competencies, we’re looking for people who understand the business, who have leadership skills, competencies like problem-solving, decision-making and dealing with ambiguity, learning agility,” she said.

Once resumes are selected, recruiters do an initial phone screening, then hand them off to hiring managers. The managers also conduct a phone interview to get a sense of whether there’s a general fit before scheduling a face-to-face interview.

“We like to drill down into a candidate’s experience,” Ott explained. “How did you approach this situation? Why did you select this approach? What was the result? Not all outcomes are positive. We want to hear about your learning. What was the takeaway, the lessons learned? Lessons learned is a big thing with us because we want to have strong learning agility. A lot of these things are all about trial and error. To be able to look back, evaluate the pros and cons and take that learning to the next challenge, is what this is all about.”

“Having that continuous-learning mindset and being open to change and challenge, dealing with ambiguity, are key because things change,” she added.

Advice for Experienced Pros

Because the company allows a lot of cross-functional movement, GM offers opportunities for IT pros to build upon their previous experience or dive into new areas. “If you love working on an enterprise data warehouse, come on, because we’re building an enterprise data warehouse. If you have a lot of years in software development, perhaps you haven’t had the opportunity to develop software for the automotive industry.” In addition to your technical skills, the themes to emphasize are your desire to make a difference and your love of challenges.

Advice for New Grads

Ott describes GM’s effort as “one of the largest IT transformations you could be involved in.” Joining the company in one role doesn’t mean you’ll stay have to stay there. The start up of such a massive IT transformation provides myriad opportunities to add new experience, which is part of the company’s ongoing career development program.

Don’t worry about lack of experience. Any school experience, internships, maybe you managed a project in a fraternity — all of that counts. GM wants people who have initiative, a strong work ethic, a desire to make a difference, and wants to learn. Bring specific examples of what you’ve done. If you say you’re creative, for example, prepare a story of a specific time you demonstrated that.

6 Responses to “A GM Recruiter’s Tips on Landing a Job”

  1. If you want to get lost, this sounds like the place.

    I’m a car buff, and I can tell you that GM has ignored their customers for years, producing some of the worst designs – including the Pontiac Aztec – rated one of 10 ten ugliest cars. Now because the US Government owns so much of them, the deal with the devil is they must keep producing Chevy Volts – that sell for $40,000 (as much or more than a BMW 3 series) but can only travel 100 miles on a charge. It costs GM about $80,000 to make the cars, so they loose $40k on each car. So far the sales have be dismal.

    No wonder they needed a government bailout.

    Employment at GM is like signing up to be crew on the Titanic.

  2. The really strange thing about this is during the last ten to fifteen years of outsourcing guess what the it management structure looks like now? just do a google lookup of the white pages of the general vacinity of general motors. interesting very very interesting indeed.

  3. Jimmy Lozano

    —-“” Don’t worry about lack of experience. Any school experience, internships, maybe you managed a project in a fraternity — all of that counts. GM wants people who have initiative, a strong work ethic, a desire to make a difference, and wants to learn. Bring specific examples of what you’ve done. If you say you’re creative, for example, prepare a story of a specific time you demonstrated that. “”—-

    I don’t guy’s, but… to me is like:
    If you can tell a good joke or be a good creative novelist, you HAVE THE JOB, instead all your studies and degrees…

  4. Ryndee Carney

    Doug_B: Since you’re a car buff, you surely know that the Chevrolet Volt has just had its second month of record sales and that more Volts have been sold than Porsches in the U.S. this year. Also, it is an electric vehicle with extended-range capability that can travel between 25 and 50 miles on all-electric range, and 340 miles on its gas-powered geneator that moves the wheels but does not recharge the battery. While Volt is not making money yet, the costs of any vehicle are allocated across the lifetime of the product and other applications of the technology. Full disclosure: I’m a member of the GM Communications staff.

  5. First interview with GM, I say the wrong thing when asked about legacy software and how I would deal with it. The manager completely blows up at me, starts screaming like a raving lunatic and promptly cuts me off and hangs up. About a month later I get a call from his manager asking me why I didn’t persue the position. I was blown away. I told him what happened and that I had already accepted another job across the country. He started making excuses, blah blah, and I told him that for a company of its size, I considered it a total failure. About 6 years later I get contacted by another GM recruiter, he promises the moon and stars, I apply and get an interview. I show up in my best attire, ready to interview except that 30 minutes later I find out that the point of contact has the day off and no one really even knows I’m coming in for an interview. An hour later some manager shows up, half apologizes and makes and ‘drills into’ my resume giving me the distinct impression he doesn’t really want to be there or cares. After that wonderful experience he starts texting a bunch people to get someone else to talk to me. I get this other manager who strikes me as a chip on the shoulder, rude, condescending prick who’s smiling at me while thinking of ways to make me lose my cool. No apologies. Leaves. The point of contact shows up finally in a t-shirt and sweats. She has an obvious look of ‘crap, we screwed up’. And makes me sit through a video presentation of how great it is to work for GM. I leave wanting to scream and start throwing all the chairs they had in the conference room through the windows. Maybe then they’ll wake up from their slumber.