Listen, Google. I've got a whole lot of love for you. I use all of your stuff, I hear you're a great place to work, you've certainly got a good thing going. But I don't know if I'm loving the message you're sending about getting a job at Google.
In his article "How to Get a Job at Google," Thomas L. Friedman gets some great insight from the hiring guy at Google, Laszlo Bock. According to Bock, the foundation of what they're looking for at Google isn't necessarily about what you can do; it's about how you act while you're doing it. There are five hiring attributes they look for at Google: cognitive ability, humility, ownership, leadership and the least important, expertise. For each of those attributes, there are specific qualities that they want to see potential employees embody.
Of these, humility and ownership are my favorite. Where humility is concerned, it’s intellectual humility that matters. Friedman points out that, to deliver what Google is looking for, “you need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.” I like that idea. Stand up and shine when it’s your time to do so, but understand that when it isn’t your time, or when someone may have more to contribute than you, you’ve got to suck it up and step back. This double ego concept it valuable not only to be successful at Google, it’ll create greater success anywhere.
So, here’s my beef with where Google stands on hiring. It all lies in this paragraph right here:
“Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.”
Ok, I get it. The perfect employee may not always come from a four-year college. They may not fit the traditional mold. And I’m good with that. But what if they do? I don’t think Bock telling students who have worked hard at college to “beware” is necessary. If what Google cares about most is “leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn,” who’s to say that isn’t someone with a great education? I went to college, worked hard and learned a lot, and I think I could make a strong argument that I would be a valuable employee at Google (aside from the whole technical ability part). It was through college that I learned 90% of my most valuable skills in collaborating, adapting, leading and learning, so I don’t think Google should knock the value of a college education.
If I were a high school student reading this article, or an adult for that matter considering going to college to further my education, I might think that I could get a glamorous job at Google without putting in the work at college, and I think that’s a dangerous message to send. True, college isn’t for everybody, but neither is a job at Google.
Friedman, Thomas L. "How to Get a Job at Google." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=1>.