Getting Hired by a Big Tech Company Doesn’t Make You Special

 There’s this trend on social media I’ve noticed.

Odd people bragging about how they got a job working for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, <insert brand name tech company>. The customary photo at their new desk, with big-tech-labeled mugs and bags, as well as the cliche t-shirt they wear to the gym. Google’s suite of logos explains this weird big tech phenomenon beautifully.

What these big tech lovers see is this.

What I see is this.

Big tech companies aren’t special. Getting hired by them doesn’t make you a genius and it doesn’t guarantee you of success.

Many ex-big-tech workers will tell you how, in a way, once they learn how tech companies screw with our attention, they’re not the same. They go from fanboys/girls to decentralized Web 3.0 enthusiasts.

What matters about a company you work for is the work you do and the people you spend time with. You can work for a little company in the middle of nowhere, that makes rubber widgets, and still do life-changing work.

I believed in Unicorn Dreams too

At one point in my career I believed big tech companies were the answer to my dreams. Like the LinkedIn folks, I thought a juicy logo would give me meaning and a killer set of connections, that come with a job title and brand new Tesla.

I interviewed at Google and got rejected.
I interviewed at Oracle and got rejected.
I interviewed at Microsoft and got rejected.

In fact, I interviewed for tonnes of apps we have on the home screen of our phones. My honest thoughts: a lot of the experiences felt “dehuman.” You were treated like a chunk of data in a HR person’s analytics platform. Ghosting and pretentiousness were ripe. Clearly, many of them had never worked through a recession like 2008, where you get fired for no reason as a way to quickly cut costs and show the “market” you’re falling into line.

Quite often you think to yourself, “I don’t even want a job anymore. Just give me my freaking dignity, please.”

The interview feedback from hell

Getting a rejection from a big tech company is like asking Warren Buffet for a one-hour lunch meeting at KFC (he loves Maccas). Your chances are close to zero. Giving up your time and taking days off work doesn’t count.

Luckily I’m an assertive maggot. I kept asking. I wouldn’t let them sleep. You could expect a 9 am phone call from me every day. Feedback is the only way I could learn the rules of the tech game.

I had to get those who referred me to do the dirty work and find out the problem. The feedback started to trickle through. I’ll oversimplify the feedback for you:

“Too entrepreneurial.”

I never understand this way of thinking. Entrepreneurial people aren’t a threat. Entrepreneurial people have a business mind. You can hire an entrepreneur and have them operate in a business as an entrepreneur. It’s not new. It’s even got a hip startup term: intrapreneurship.

Still, I was seen as a threat by tech.

This is what you do with rejection

Anger and frustration move you to action.

I took the rejection from big tech companies and eventually got a job in tech. The leader I worked for didn’t care about labels. He wanted results and I had a track record. All you had to do was ring people I’d work with and they’d go “Yeah, he can sell and he’ll run circles around most on LinkedIn and use it to network his way to opportunities others can’t see.” Unfortunately, the master skill of networking on LinkedIn isn’t recognized by the automated resume scanning (ATS) software, yet, that big tech use.

While working in tech, I started a small business on the side. I worked on the business quietly after hours without telling too many people at work. I got to the office, did the dance, and got the freaking hell out of there. It actually was a highly efficient way to work. Others had time for coffees and meetings involving Powerpoint foreplay. I had zero time for any of that.

That business I started on the side ended up doing well enough for me to leave a normal job, and work on my business full-time.

Feedback doesn’t have to hold you back

The moral of the story is don’t let feedback hold you back.

Feedback is an opinion. Read that again.

You can take feedback and do something awesome with it. You can simply implement the feedback. I was labeled “too entrepreneurial.” That’s one of the best reminders I’ve ever been given. That reminder led me back towards focusing on the work I did after hours. That work now dominates my entire life and brings me a sense of meaning. I feel as though I may leave a tiny legacy behind after I exit human life and become an octopus.

Working in big tech isn’t special. It’s not worth bragging about. We don’t need more elitist culture and “I’m better than you” humble brags clogging up our overflowing newsfeeds. Nope. We need more people taking feedback and unlocking their potential thanks to it, not in spite of it.

So when you get rejected from a job, don’t get angry. Implement the feedback, be humble, and do your thing.

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