It’s not surprising that many new grads aspire to work for one of the five prominent U.S. technology companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix or Google (often referred to by the acronym FAANG).
Cutting your teeth in an industry-leading company can provide the foundational cachet for a long, successful career in technology. However, it goes without saying that scoring an offer from a member of the FAANG fraternity isn’t easy, especially when FAANG hiring is down from pre-pandemic levels.
To help you land your dream job at FAANG, we asked several grads who successfully navigated the hiring process to reflect on their experiences and share their most effective strategies and tips.
Get On the Radar
For new grads without a CS degree from one of the top feeder schools, getting on the radar of FAANG in-house recruiters and meeting the criteria for initial candidate screening can be the most difficult part of the journey.
You’ll need to spend more time on top-of-the-funnel activities, explained Shayaun Nejad, who honed his technical skills at a boot camp after graduating with a chemistry degree and now works as a software engineer at Amazon subsidiary Twitch.
After building relationships with in-house recruiters, he would request the opportunity to demonstrate his knowledge of algorithms and data structures by participating in technical phone screens or whiteboard evaluations.
Many companies provide interview preparation materials, and the earlier you dive into them, the better. Nejad also recommends building a basic app on the side (using React or another platform of your choice) so you can talk about it during interviews.
“Don’t beat around the bush, ask for referrals,” advised Keely Hicks, who spent months networking with family, friends and influencers through social media, Meetups and organizations like Women Who Code and Tech Ladies after graduating from Rhodes College. “Yes, cold outreach can be intimidating,” she admitted, “but it’s easier when you realize that the worse someone can say is ‘no.’”
Hicks’ efforts yielded about 12 interviews and a job as a software development engineer for Amazon. Her advice? Don’t take rejection personally—and never turn down a chance to interview, use them as an opportunity to practice your interviewing skills. Also, keep asking for feedback and iterating your résumé.
To overcome a lack of internships or co-ops, work on projects or challenges and post them online or on GitHub. For example, Aidan Toole completed two internships at Facebook while attending Drexel University. He also built up a portfolio on Dribbble and improved his skills by taking the Daily UI challenge, resulting in a full-time job as a product designer at Facebook after graduation.
“Make sure that every bullet point, every skill you highlight on your résumé, offers value to the employer,” Nejad said.
Build Your Technical Chops
Once you get past the initial screening phase, educational pedigrees are less important. Technical skills carry the greatest weight in the typical FAANG evaluation process. When you’re competing against as many as 250 applicants for an open position, there’s no room for error on coding tests.
“The entry-level jobs in FAANG companies aren’t really entry-level,” Hicks noted.
New grads need to continuously learn and develop their skill sets in order to perform at a level expected by FAANG hiring managers. Successful job hunters can spend four or more hours each day practicing live mock interviews with colleagues, plus solving coding problems and algorithmic challenges on popular websites.
For instance, because many problems require the candidate to demonstrate a deep understanding of commonly used data structures and systems design, and to complete a task correctly within the time limit, Nejad sharpened his skills by solving 10 of the most commonly asked coding problems listed on LeetCode (a favorite with FAANG engineers) daily. He also spent time “talking shop” and learning from other engineers in vibrant online communities like Hacker News.
Also, because FAANG companies value cultural “fit,” you need spend time researching your target companies’ culture and practicing answers to behavioral questions.
The bottom line is that landing a job at FAANG as a new grad is possible. However, to accomplish that goal, you need to make job hunting and skill development your full-time job.