How to get a job at Microsoft

I’m a Principal Development Lead on MSN‘s content management system called Bedrock. I’ve been at Microsoft for 9 years, 1 year as a contractor and 8 years as an FTE. But I’ve wanted to work for Microsoft for 11 years…ever since I went to a TechEd conference back in 2001. I met some awesome people and decided then that I would work for Microsoft some day. I submitted my resume to the Microsoft careers site so many times, but never heard back. I assumed that since I only had about 2 years of experience back then and no related degree, Microsoft wouldn’t even look at my resume I didn’t know anyone at the company, didn’t have much experience and didn’t have a degree….but still I was determined to work at Microsoft. Since I had already been a college student for 4 years as a music major, I didn’t really want to start over with computer science. So instead I decided to fulfill the “or equivalent work experience” requirement on most Microsoft job postings. I knew it would probably be the same amount of time in school versus getting the hands on work experience, but I already had a web dev job and couldn’t give up the money to go back to school.

In 2003, after a couple of years of travelling around the country as an independent web dev and many no-response resume submissions through the Microsoft careers site, I had the idea of just getting my foot in the door by starting as a contractor. So I called up Volt, asked to speak to a manager, told them my situation and they said…”as a matter of fact I do have something that looks like a fit”. I started at Microsoft two weeks later. Dream come true.

I realized that Microsoft observes contractors as an extended interview so I pulled out all stops, did my absolute best and was later hired as an FTE. It’s been almost 8 years since then and it has been an awesome experience. I’ve grown so much over the years and have worked with some amazing people.

So, what are your options for getting a job at Microsoft? Well, it depends on your situation.

Friend at Microsoft?

Knowing someone here is obviously the best way to get in. There’s an amazing internal referral system here. If you are reading this blog then you now have a friend at Microsoft. Contact me through this blog to start the conversation. I’m always happy to help good people get into Microsoft. Don’t just send me your resume or a quick note…tell me how I can help you fulfill your dream and what you can do for Microsoft. If you know someone else better at Microsoft, then send them your resume and a couple of job ids from the Microsoft careers site.

College Student?

The best way to get a job as a college student is to get into a Microsoft internship. I have had many interns on my teams over the years and it’s always amazing to see such great talent coming from the universities. There is no better way to prove yourself than going through a 12 week extended interview. At the end of your internship your manager needs to make a hire or no-hire decision. Do your best and make sure you get a hire. Set very clear goals for your internship and follow up on those goals regularly with your manager.

Experienced?

1) Keep your LinkedIn, Monster, StackOverflow and Microsoft careers profile up to date. Microsoft recruiters use these sites to look for talent. Represent yourself well.

2) Start as a contractor. Prove yourself and it will likely lead to a full time job. Most contractor jobs are posted to Monster, Dice, LinkedIn, etc, so just find one that fits and submit your resume. This is how I got in and it worked out great for me.

Regardless of your situation you want to make sure you are submitting your resume to specific positions through the Microsoft careers site, because it can’t hurt to do so.

Lastly, you can do any of the above and hopefully you can get in, but you must do something that sets you apart from the rest. For me, it was a Microsoft certification, good command of the technology and a concise resume with details on what I did to change the product, not just a list of tasks completed. I’m not sure what that thing is for you, but with all the resumes Microsoft sees you have to have something that helps you stick out.

Hope this helps you fulfill your dream of working for Microsoft. Let me know if you have any questions or need help.

Jon