Confession: I used to work as a contractor in finance, but then I left to work for Google in Mountain View. It was fun, but I went about it all wrong.
If you’re an experienced engineer on Wall Street and you want a Google job, you need to proceed in a certain way. I didn’t do that because I didn’t know the Silicon Valley etiquette. I’m telling you what I learned so you don’t make the mistakes I made.
Firstly, you should never take a job at Google just to get through the door. Google is not good on internal mobility. Just as it’s hard to move from the back to the front office in a bank, it’s not easy to move around in Google. Before you join, you therefore need to research Google’s divisions and roles and to decide which is best for you. Don’t join one with the intention of moving to another; it won’t happen.
My problem was Google’s ladders system. I should’ve joined the engineering ladder as a software engineer. The engineering ladder is where the best jobs are. Instead I joined the business ladder as a technical solutions engineer. I took a relatively entry-level position and I was stuck. For this, I blame the recruiter – he kept steering me into technical solutions roles, even though I was more suited to software engineering, so I’d also advise ignoring recruiters when you’re figuring out what to do.
The other thing I didn’t realize was that if you want to maximize your salary at Google, you need to play the Silicon Valley hiring game. When I’d been at Google a few years, I realized there’s a whole process around getting jobs in Silicon Valley which involves collecting competing offers from other big tech companies (Facebook, Amazon) and playing one company against the other. This is how you get the big money from the start.
I didn’t understand any of this. I was just a Wall Street tech guy in California. Don’t make the mistakes I did if you go the same way.
This article by an anonymous finance IT guy originally appeared in eFinancialCareers.