How to get hired if you are the best

Marc Andreessen blogs about how to hire the best for a start-up and uses Microsoft and Google as models. One difference between the two, I would say, is the GPA thing. You might get a different sound byte if you ask a college recruiter here but I don't give a rip about your GPA. The disadvantage most of us have when we go to college is that we are kids; anyone else lack the maturity and attention span to really do as well as they wanted in college? I care what you have done. Lately.

Marc also talks about that other it factor that we discusses a while back. Someone who has worked their way through school or become an expert at something. It's not the kind of thing that will get you the interview (rarely listed on job requirements), however, it's definitely the kind of thing that comes up in interviews that shows drive and passion.

I thought Marc's post would be relevant to the job-seekers out there because it shows what's going on on the other side of the table, or at least what should be going on. And it helps you know how you need to present yourself. When I read what Marc wrote, it sounds a lot like Microsoft but without all our internal buzzwords (that happens when you have been around as long as we have and need a taxonomy to refer to the same things consistently).

Comments (15)
  1. RJD says:

    "Sound byte"?  "byte"?  You have worked for the big blue monster for too long.

    BTW – 3.79 cumulative.  Total.  Oh, you meant average?  Never mind–I don’t feel like borrowing 1 from 0 right now.

  2. Wine-Oh says:

    I know from personal experience that Google cares about GPA.  I got nixed after round 1 for not having a 3.0 or higher from my undergrad days. I had well above a 3.0 for grad school and an MBA, but they didnt care. Their rule was it had to be from undergrad and that went for anyone no matter how many years experience. They also said they would require a transcript. From their standpoint I understand they want a certain level of person. From mine, my undergrad GPA should not be indicative of my skills and background. Not to mention theres some reasons why it was low, but they didnt care. End of rant and I am happy where I ended up! 🙂

  3. Sunil says:


    Reached your blog while trying to find a position in Microsoft Paris.I work for an Indian mutlinational as Europe Sales Manager.Am so so keen to work for Microsoft.

    Any tips?

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    RJD – would you have preferred "snippet"? : )

    Wine-Oh, I hear ya and totally agree. I’ve had several calls from headhunters representing them and the first thing I say is "I don’t meet your GPA requirement".

    Sunil – lots of tips. Use the search box at the top oif the page to search my blog and you’ll find more tips than you ever wanted. Some of them are even good ones 🙂

  5. RJD says:

    : )

    You are a funny one, Miss Hamilton!

    Does Google care what your classes are?  I understand both sides of the argument, but am curious if classes mater as much as GPA.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    What do you mean, what classes you have taken? Probably just for their tech people. Hmm, if only I hadn’t had to take those 2 statistics classes.

    I know some people that work there in recruiting, but I don’t know a whole lot about their requirements. One thing about working in the staffing industry is that if you don’t agree with how the company hires people, it makes it hard to work for them. I don’t have any ill will toward them (and the headhunters that called me assured me that the GPA requirement would be flexible for me which was proably less about me and more about Microsoft), I just don’t agree with their hiring philosophy.

    I’m not sure what that says about me that my biggest job requirements are about the philosophical approach a company has to staffing. Suppose it has a lot to do with culture, which I think is important to most job seekers.  I guess it says that I am likely to stay where I am for a long time.

    I have had a couple of messages from headhunters lately that I haven’t returned. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t even been following my own advice. Maybe I’ll return those today (not because I’m looking but just to stay up to date on what’s going on in the market).

  7. Wine-Oh says:

    They first care that you have a 3.0 from undergrad, and then yes they do care about your classes. They ask for a transcript.

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    It’s interesting, because both companies have a "prove-it-to-me" mentality. Google wants you to prove it on paper (with historical info) and Microsoft wants you to prove it right now in the interview. I suspect that Google wants the interview proof as well, but I just can’t get beyond the relative irrelevance of GPA for industry hiring. I believe they are missing out on a number of great people. Will that change as their employment brand evolves and the market continues to tighten? Will be interesting to see.

    Late bloomers of the world unite! : )

  9. NativeWisdom says:

    I think if you are newbie from college, then GPA is a good indicator of what you are capable of accomplishing.  If you are a season professional, I would think job experience and your biz accomplishment far outweigh any GPA.  I too have been asked my GPA from college, a cool 10 yrs ago. I put what I got (college 3.65, MBA 3.8) and then proceed to tout what I can do for the employer.


  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    I think it’s fine for assessing if the person is a hard worker, for lack of other (experienced based measures) but I have met plenty of people that do well in the classroom and not in the workplace (and vice versa). I think companies can do a reasonably good job of coming up with interview techniques to evaluate intellectual capability. Even if they are using GPA for folks just coming out of college, I sure hope they are doing some more questioning to gauge whether people can operate in real world situations. And by using the GPA as a filter, I still think they are missing out on some great people. Not everyone is a classroom learner. That’s just my take. It’s fine for qualifying people into your funnel, but not for qualifying them out. And both ways, further assessment needs to be done.

  11. Simmi says:

    Hi Heather-

    It was great knowing you through your blogs and not to mention I did read your bio- Great one with an awe inspring exp.

    After going through a  blogs and I am referring back to RJD’s querry on "does classes matter?" (not for google- lets talk about MSFT). My q to u is- If you are interested in making a career shift to Marketing and at some point, one realises that the classes taken in your grad school doesnt have a reasonable match to the marketing courses a school generally offers, then where does one fairly stand?

    Is it always necessary to get back to yet another degree program?

    As a staffing manager how do you select the best candidate for an entry level marketing in MSFT?

    Would appreciate your response –

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Well, I have to admit that I don’t hire into entery level marketing roles. There are a small number of openeings for entry level marketing via a program called MLR (there are other aspect to the program that are for newly minted MBAs). We hire for those roles off of college campuses. So basically, there are 3 ways into a marketing role hre:

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    Well, I have to admit that I don’t hire into entery level marketing roles. There are a small number of openeings for entry level marketing via a program called MLR (there are other aspect to the program that are for newly minted MBAs). We hire for those roles off of college campuses. So basically, there are 3 ways into a marketing role here:

    1) get recruited off campus for an entry level marketing role (very limited number of positions)

    2) get recruited directly out of an MBA program based on the program alone or plus work expeirence

    3) get recruited for an experienced role based off work experience withor without an MBA.

    Hope that helps answer the question.

  14. Charles Albert Cunningham says:

    I have 25 years experience in leadership and management in the dynamic nonprofit sector (19 of which was in the faith-based sector). I have two bachelor’s degrees and I am two/thirds done with my Masters of Arts in Philanthropy and Development.  My undergrad GPA, which I finished in May of 2008 is 3.758.  I have sent out hundreds if not a thousand resumes to try to land that perfect career position in the nonprofit sector.  In my last leadership position (which I left because I realized if I stayed I would never reach my potential) I recruited tens of thousands of volunteers for fundraising and other programs and I raised millions of dollars. It is possible that I am being discriminated against due to my history having such a long stint within a faith-based nonprofit as I have only had two interviews in three years within the field I am qualified to work in.  In both cases someone with just a little more grant writing experience beat me out of those positions.  I keep receiving letters from places I know I am more than qualified for that say, “we chose someone that more closely represented our criteria for this postion.”  How do I sell my skills in organizational development, community development, management, leadership, face-to-face fundraising, public relations, etc. to other nonprofit organizations?  Do I change the real title of my position on my resume to something that hides the ministry role that I also served in?

  15. HeatherLeigh says:

    I don’t think that you should change the title under these circumstances because I’m sure it would come out in the interview who you worked for. I could be wrong.

    Charles, have you tried doing any mock interviews with freinds or a career coach? If not, I would recommend doing that with someone you trust and getting some feedback. That might help. Have others review your resume as well.

    Career changing is challenging and so I regularly recommend that people make the functional change within a company for which they already work. Since it doesn’t look like that is a possibility here, I think you will likely have to network your way into a position. Have you joined any non-faith-based civic organizations or professional groups? That could help.

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