Reading Analysis: How to Get a Job at Google

In his article, Thomas Friedman argues that our praised GPA’s and test scores alone won’t land anyone a job at one of the most successful companies in the world. The main criteria for the job include 5 skills: general cognitive ability, leadership, humility, ownership, and expertise. Since “Google attracts so much talent, it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics,”(Friedman), meaning that if you’re particularly talented at a skill, it isn’t necessary for you to have a fancy college degree. To google, experience trumps brand name colleges.

General cognitive abilities are our “brain-based skills we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex,”(Michelon). Strong cognitive ability will allow someone to solve puzzles and piece together information. This also involves critical thinking skills and how to solve problems. This skill isn’t something that could be sticker priced using a GPA, and is the number one thing needed to be hired to the Google team.

As opposed to taking every leadership position in every club you possibly could, Google is looking for “emergent leadership,”(Friedman). Emergent leadership is being able to take control of a situation suddenly. However, knowing when to step in is just as important as knowing when to step out. Decide you can’t handle situation and being “willing to relinquish power”(Friedman) is also a characteristic of leadership. You must be aware of your limits.

GSA Program Team

GSA Program Team

Being able to take ownership of a problem can be difficult for some people because they may not want to be wrong and have a bad outcome. Being able to step in and at least attempt to solve the problem is the type of ownership Google is looking for in their employees. Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google calls this “your end goal,” meaning what you can contribute to the situation. When it comes to humility, being able to learn from your failures is the key. Bock mentions how for this reason, “graduates from hotshot business schools plateau,”(Friedman), these intelligent students don’t experience the failures that would better them in the long run. This is when the fundamental attribution error is made. This entails that when failure does occur, they blame everyone but themselves for the mistake.

Bock states that “expertise” is the least important of all five skills. This has to do with the way an “expert” and a “nonexpert” solve problems. Someone who’s done the same thing 1000 times will come up with an identical answer to the problem every time, whereas a nonexpert will sometimes “come up with an answer that is totally new,”(Friedman). This specifically will make an employee stand out in the crowd.

Google, a multi-billion dollar company, hires their team based on raw talent, as opposed to their fancy college degree. If you have general cognitive ability, leadership, humility, ownership, and expertise on your resume, you meet the criteria of Laszlo Bock, who’s a member of the team in charge of hiring. However, having that degree and excellent grades can only help you. A higher level education is important for general knowledge and may put you above others in skills such as math, computing and coding skills.  

Works Cited

Friedman, Thomas. “How to Get a Job at Google.NY Times, 22 Feb. 2014.

Michelon, Pascale. “What Are Cognitive Abilities and Skills, and How to Boost Them?SharpBrains, 18 Dec. 2006.

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