Joining FAANG and other top tier companies posted on 04 April 2024

It doesn’t matter how good you are at coding questions and how much you study system designs, you can’t get into top tier companies if you don’t even have the chance to interview.

The reality is that there are thousands of applicants for every opening at these hot companies, so recruiters have to quickly triage candidates. For new grads, the easiest way to triage is to look at school – this means that if you are not in some top tier schools, you have close to no chance of getting considered. You need to have something else standing out in your resume, but even then it’s not obvious the sourcer/recruiter will pay attention to it. They may not be technical enough in the first place to grasp the value of the unique work mentioned in your resume.

One way to work around this wall is through referral, but these are difficult to get. You need a referral from an employee that can strongly support your case – this means having worked with you. This is where asking for referrals to people you never worked with isn’t useful – my experience is that referrals just guarantee that someone will manually look at your resume, nothing else.

My advice, which might not be the one people want to hear, is to not focus on joining these top tier companies from the get go if you don’t have all the relevant “qualifications” that they are looking for (this doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be successful/valuable, just that you are not a good fit for their triage system):

  • Consider joining these top tier companies as a journey. For the same reason as you can’t start your career as a director, you can’t always start at the best company as your first one.
  • The grass always looks greener on the other side – I don’t think FAANG companies are a good fit for everybody. I have met many people who would/were not happy working in such large companies. FAANG doesn’t have to be your goal in your first place.
  • You can grow in many companies and work on interesting projects (both from a technical and product point of view). Your local scene is likely more vibrant than you think – join meetups, meet people etc. There are passionate people everywhere

To close this post, I went to a YC startup for 2.5 years before joining Google. I had an amazing time there and I learned a lot. I have no regrets starting my career there it gave me a lot of valuable insights and experience.

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