I don’t know what the companies’ rules are and I am not sure they even know what their rules are. If they exist, then you should know from start to hire what these rules are. I thought Google, the gold standard, had the hiring all figured out till I read Laszlo Bock’s book “Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead.”
In the 400 pages he goes through all the things Google does to make sure they hire the right candidate. But we all know that no matter whom you hire, there is no way you are going to know for six months---at the least---whether, you hired right.
We go through two years of campaigning for the presidency in the United States and still majority of the people, after the election, are unhappy with the person elected. Through all the vetting, we collectively always seem to elect the most incompetent person for the most important job in the world for four years. The last three times we even re-elected them.
Google may have figured out how to organize all the information that exist in the world, but they don’t have hiring figured out. Here is what Bock is not telling us that Google has a culture and luxury of moving people around till they find some place where they can add value. It is not their hiring practice that is necessarily working; they just have too many opportunities for one to not to find something where he can add value. You have to try very hard not to succeed at Google. They do hire people who are not total screw-ups based on their past performance and they usually deliver. Now you know the real secret of Google’s hiring.
Take Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, as an example. According to the book “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!“ by Nicholas Carlson, he writes that when Mayer was hired as a coder right out of Stanford University, she joined a project to develop a system that would generate ads from searches. Mayer worked on this project for weeks when Google hired an engineer named, Jeff Dean, from DEC. He developed this system in a very short time. Dean was also able to bring along with him other outstanding coders from DEC.
Mayer quickly realized that she was not going to make her mark as a coder at Google. The one thing that Mayer indispensable at Google as Carlson writes that “Marissa Mayer was willing to do almost anything for Google.” She started looking around and ultimately found her niche at Google: User Interface. And later when Google was having difficulty hiring good product managers, she created a program at Google called associate product manager (APM) that proved to be a huge success.
This clearly speaks to the culture of Google of providing Mayer with other opportunities to find her niche. In an old-style companies, she would have been let go since she would be at the low end of stack ranking. This is what makes Google hiring work. They find people who have the ability to find an area where they can add value within the company.
Also, don’t fall for this canard about companies wanting “A” players. A company has only one “A” player and that is the CEO. Steve Jobs was an “A” player since he got to make the final call at Apple. Everyone else is strictly a role player. Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA has only one Lebron James. Everyone knows that he is going to be taking the last second shot to win the basketball game.
You can read books trying to understand companies’ rules. But you might be better off if you have your simple rules to follow. You and the company need to reach an agreement on the hiring rules. If you want to be a good negotiator, negotiate this first. If you can’t negotiate this, do you really think you are going to be successful in negotiating your salary? Anyone who gives tips on negotiating a salary should point this out to have any credibility on their negotiating tips. You negotiate hard in the beginning when the stakes are low and you have nothing to lose. At the end, you are going to lose since you are still distant since you don’t have the job and easy for company to not agree to your terms.
Do you know who negotiates salary for the CEO? No one. The board just gives them a salary that they can’t refuse. And if they are not happy, the CEO is not talking to HR or the board. The CEO’s lawyer is getting paid a lot to negotiate his salary.
Here are the rules I follow:
Before you play the game, make sure you both agree on the rules of the game.
Prepare the employer for the 30-minute interview game and make a go/no-go decision
Only agree to a face-to-face interview if they have given you a non-binding verbal offer. Also agree to it if they are going to reimburse you for the visit.
Never give the employer more than 24 hours to make any decision and the default is no if you don’t hear back from them after you have told them.
Stick to your rules, otherwise why have it.
Now that you know have rules, it is time to play the game. Not so fast, since you still need a pregame. Without a good pregame, you can’t win. Pregame is where you will spend most of your time, approximately 70%. The game should take up only 10% of your time and postgame, if necessary, should take up about 20% of your time.
The biggest obstacle to success is not only coming up with the rules but sticking to them. If you do this, then you are ready to play the game and win.