How to get noticed by Google

This question originally appeared on Quora: How can an average programmer get their resume noticed by Google? What kind of excellence does Google hope to see on resumes? Answer by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, Founder / CEO of CareerCup and the author of Cracking the * Interview.

If you’re truly average—average intelligence, average coding skills, etc—then your odds of passing Google’s hiring process are pretty slim. Google’s hiring process is designed to hire the very good programmers, not the average ones (and I believe it does so reasonably effectively).

But, your calling yourself “average” doesn’t necessarily mean that you are. One’s impression tends to be a reflection of self-confidence as well their peer group’s skills. Those who think that they’re average are sometimes great, and vice versa.

So let’s assume that you’re fundamentally good. What do you need to land an interview? Here’s a handy little framework:

  1. Demonstrate an ability to be good on the job. Show coding skills (hackathons, building a project, get a CS degree, etc). Show initiative (start something). Better yet, do both by having some interesting projects on your resume.
  2. Demonstrate an ability to pass the interviews. Suppose I’m a recruiter (FYI—I am not) and I pick up a resume. If I believe you’d potentially be a good employee, but your odds of passing the interview process is very small, then I might choose not to interview you. What’s the point? It’d waste everyone’s time. To pass Google’s interviews, you need a solid understanding of computer science algorithms and data structures. This can be proved by a CS degree or Coursera (or other online) classes, or various other means. If you’ve been doing coding challenges on places like TopCoder and HackerRank, that also suggests you’re likely to pass the interviews.
  3. Get someone to look at your resume. Applying online works, but not very well. Build your network and reach out to a recruiter directly. Or have someone internal submit your resume.

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