6th April 2023

The 5 Career Principles for Finding Your Next Job in Big Tech

Do you feel stuck in your current big tech role, unsure of how to progress or find a new role? Or are you hoping to move into a role in a big tech company? If so, you’re not alone.

In large organisations, it can be a struggle to navigate your career path and identify growth opportunities. But there is a clever way to approach this situation. It’s all about problem-solving and building relationships.

Based on my experience working at these companies, I’ve come up with five principles to help you land your next opportunity within your current big tech organisation (or in a new one).

Showcase how you solve other people’s problems

If you’re looking for a new role, the first thing to do is identify the problems you solve with your knowledge and skills. Don’t just talk about your interests. Instead, be ready to have a great conversation about the problems you work on and the solutions you bring. This is what hiring managers really care about.

When you meet people or network, it’s easy to talk about yourself and your background, but the truth is, other people don’t care! You can stand out above others looking for promotions or upward career moves by flipping the conversation on its head and focusing on the problems you solve.

Research first, then get an intro to a leader

The advice we often get is to go and have a chat with senior leaders, which is fine, but it’s missing a couple of important steps.

When you speak to team leaders, you want to talk to them about their problems and challenges. But getting the conversation going in the first place can be tricky. You can’t exactly just walk up to the CFO and say ‘hi what’s your biggest problem this week?’ They’ll think it’s a little odd.

So, what can you do to figure out their problems before you to talk to them?

Speak to junior people in their team about what their specific problems are first. Then, you can ask for an introduction to their manager. If you want some advice about what to say in that situation, or a clear framework about how to go and do it, book 30 minutes with me for a chat.

Study the company’s organisation chart

Now, assuming you’ve met with some junior team members and now know about their problems, the next challenge is to figure out which senior leader to talk to. There are so many people in these big corporate companies, it’s hard to know where to start.

If you’re already working in the organisation and are looking to switch teams or get a promotion, use your internal org chart. Go to the top of the chart and work your way down it, thinking about which of the leaders you could be interested in working for or, who you’d like to support. Put each of the leaders into categories of ‘yes’ ‘no’ and ‘maybe’.

Using this top-down approach will help you get an idea of the area(s) you might want to work in. You can do this exercise broadly across the whole company, or just for the finance function if you know that’s where your passion lies.

The end result here is that you’ll have a list of interesting people to go and talk to. Go and speak to the people on that team and (using principle two), find out what’s going on in that part of the company. You can also use this as a pre-qualifying activity to work out if you’re actually still interested in joining that team or not (before you join and it’s too late!).

Research the role

Now, how do you know what job titles are good for you?

Most companies list their jobs on LinkedIn as well as on their own company website. Use these, and job sites like Indeed to research what job titles actually mean so you can find what suits you. With this, you’re not looking for a specific job, you’re looking for themes across lots of different jobs with various titles.

80% of job descriptions are corporate blurb that doesn’t really say anything. So ensure you pay attention to the skills and attributes, and the role and responsibilities sections. Make a list of the common themes across the job specs you review, and decide on which ones you’re looking for in your own future role.

Do an internal internship

Once you’ve researched the role, one of the biggest challenges, especially within a big organisation, is that a hiring manager will say ‘I’m not sure I want to hire you because you haven’t done this job before. How do I know whether or not you’ll be good at it?’.

The number one priority for hiring managers is to reduce risk. That’s why they always say things like ‘hey can I have a list of all your skills?’. It’s because they want to hire someone who’s done the job before as they already know you can do it (in theory!).

So, the question is, how can you help them reduce the risk when hiring you? Do a mini internship with them. Now, this is tough if you’re external to a company, but if you’re internal this should be straightforward to set up.

If you follow principle two well and are clear on what some of the problems that team has, then you can volunteer to help the manager solve them. I’m not talking about stepping on everyone’s toes trying to looking into their biggest most challenging strategic problem. It’s about taking on the things they never have time to get around to – the annoying, smaller (but still important) issues they’d love to fix.

Showing your enthusiasm and initiative in this way means the hiring manager gets to experience how you work. They’ll see how great you are and what your attitude is like, and how you think about things. Then it doesn’t matter if you haven’t done the exact job before because they know you and the opportunities you’ll bring to the team. Of course, this massively increases the chance that the next time there’s a job opening, they’ll invite you to come and interview.

In conclusion

If you follow these five principles, you’ll have a good chance at getting the role you’re looking for. If you’d like to hear more about how to apply these principles to your situation, or in your own organisation, whether it’s Google, Microsoft, Amazon, or any other big corporates, get in touch. I’d love to make this plan a reality for you.

Oliver Deacon

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