‘I Didn’t Think Google Would Hire Someone Like Me’: Crafting A Solid Resume So Top Tech Companies Take Notice

Anthony Mays
Written by Anthony Mays

Silicon Valley is changing the way that top companies recruit and hire.

What hasn’t changed is that you still need a solid resume to get the attention of your dream employer. Tech companies spend billions each year on recruiting around the clock. Automated tools help them sift through millions of resumes looking for top talent. Why? Because your resume is still the best way to convince them you are worth the time and effort to spend on the (very) expensive hiring process.

That said, here are four questions your resume needs to answer if you want it to grab the attention of top tech companies.

1.  Do you have the skills?

Recruiters will scan through your resume looking for specific keywords that identify skills they desire in a candidate. Make sure that you document as many relevant skills as possible to increase the likelihood of getting hits on your resume. Leave off anything that is not relevant to your prospective job position. For instance, if you are applying for a software engineering position, then you do not need to mention how well you can cook.

It is OK for you to clarify your level of expertise with a specific skill if you’re a novice at it. This allows you to mention skills that are highly desirable in the market and shows your prospective employer that you are interested in further development.

2. Do you get stuff done?

It’s said that the best predictor of future success is past success. The biggest mistake candidates make on their resume is filling it with dry, copy-pasted job descriptions. Not only does this make your resume boring to read, but it also does nothing to communicate your ability to get stuff done. Employers want a sense of what you can do by seeing what you have already done.

Take Google, for instance. Google looks for candidates that want to “Do cool things that matter.” They have a reputation for building cool, innovative technologies. Things like autonomous cars. Or apps that run on every device in the world. Or balloons that carry internet access to the remotest corners of the earth. A good candidate will show that they, too, are passionate about building cool things, whether for one person or one million.

A sure-fire way of showing you get stuff done is by including short links to your Github projects directly on your resume. More and more, having a digital portfolio of your work is necessary to show that you can do what your resume claims. Have an app or a website you’ve built? Provide links on your resume. This gives people an opportunity to check out your work and easily sets you apart from other candidates.

resume
Image: Diego Justino

Image: Diego Justino

3. Can you show impact?

“Impact” speaks to the importance of the work you’ve done. Your resume should quantify your impact. Do your homework and get as many concrete numbers as you can. This can be the hardest part of resume building, but it is absolutely the most important.

If you have trouble quantifying your impact, then these questions might help:

  1. Did you build your own app or start your own business? How many users did you serve? What about downloads?
  2. How many bugs did you resolve and can you tie that to higher user satisfaction?
  3. Did your work save the business or your customers money? If so, how much?
  4. Can you take credit for any performance improvements? Do you have specific numbers expressed in units of time, as a percentage, or even in Big-O?

These questions are obviously skewed to a software engineer like myself, but you get the general idea. When it comes to impact, think Jerry Maguire and “show me the money.”

4. Are you a good culture fit?

This is tricky for some people to think about and requires some additional research for each employer. Culture fit is about how well a candidate is likely to thrive given the company’s culture. A good candidate knows how their prospective employer’s values align with their own.

Tech companies in Silicon Valley are known for having strong work hard, play hard, innovative, quirky, get-it-done kind of corporate cultures. They have grand visions and entice candidates with the promise of big adventures. Like many universities, they too look for well-rounded people who demonstrate leadership and good moral character.

Do not neglect to mention accomplishments and activities that speak to the culture of your chosen company. Show that you have leadership skills by mentioning clubs you lead or sports leagues you have joined. Is there a hobby at which you are exceptionally skilled that showcases your innovativeness? Put it on your resume, along with awards you have received.

Oh yeah, there’s one more thing

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, do not fear! Start today building a career plan that will lead to your solid resume in the future. As you grow in your career, track your impact and keep your resume updated. I didn’t think Google would ever hire a person like me, and I had the mediocre credentials to back that up. You can read more about how I prepared for the Google interview and even check out my resume. With time and hard work, you can achieve your goal of getting hired at your top company.

This article was originally published on Anthony D. Mays‘s website. It is reposted here with the permission of the author, Anthony D. Mays.

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About Anthony Mays
Anthony Mays is a software engineer at Google, where he builds big data visualization tools for the web. Raised in Compton as a foster child after suffering physical and sexual abuse, he taught himself how to program computers at age 8 and started his career as an INROADS intern at City National Bank. Perhaps best known for his Huffington Post article entitled "Google Would Never Hire a Person Like Me," he is a frequent public speaker at schools and other student organizations. He was recently awarded the INROADS Trendsetter Award for his work promoting diversity in tech. Anthony graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. His GPA was horrible, so don't ask.

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