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Why Blog? Because Google Might Hire You

Ok. Now that I have the official word on not getting hired by Google, I'm opening the Can 'O Worms. Yes, I almost took a job with Google, and no, I wasn't job hunting. Let me tell the story.

It's a quiet day. I'm sitting in front of Hercules (R.I.P.), my faithful laptop, coding away, when I see a new email in my inbox from Google. The title of the message- "Hello from Google!". Curious, I open it up. The body of the text is as follows:

Hi Aaron-

My name is Dan McCarthy; I'm a talent scout for the engineering team here at Google. I came across some of your work on the Web and was impressed with your development experience - particularly the breadth of your background in Linux and your abilities in Python, both of which are extremely valuable here.

I actually recruit for the engineering team here, which is the group of engineers that's essentially the mission control of Google. They're responsible for the design and development of the infrastructure for all our web applications and internal services. You'd be able to tackle some of the most unique scalability problems in the world and work on the newest products we have. It's a mission-critical role that involves a lot of coding and requires a high degree of creativity and troubleshooting expertise, so we're looking for Unix experts and great coders with broad skill sets (like yourself)! We have several positions within the department that I feel would be a good match for your skills and qualifications. The positions are currently available in:

Mountain View, CA
Santa Monica, CA
New York, NY
Kirkland/Seattle, WA
Dublin, Ireland
Zurich, Switzerland
Sydney, Australia

I'm not asking you to quit what you're doing now - just seeing if you might be interested in exploring opportunities with Google. If you're at all interested in the department or in Google in general, I'd love to speak with you about the opportunities we have here - and of course, if any of your talented colleagues would be interested, feel free to forward my name and contact information to them as well.

You also may have noticed that a couple of weeks ago we were named the #1 company to work for by Fortune Magazine:

Thanks for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Best regards,

-Dan McCarthy
Engineering Staffing Team

I was excited, needless to say. Even though it is a recruiter, and his job may be scout out possible new-hires for the company, I felt flattered. Whether it be a form mail that he sends out to anyone and everyone (insert name here), or a personal mail sent just to myself, I had to keep my options open. I replied saying I was interested, and what the next steps would be. I forwarded him my resume, and within a couple days, had a phone screening.

I was asked where my strengths lie, how I felt in certain areas of technology and software development and where I would best fit given the talents that I had. After everything was in order, I was asked a few technical questions to review my competency, then the review was left to the Hiring Committee. After a week of review, it was determined that I was not a good fit for Google.

During the phone screen, I was given the opportunity to ask any questions that I had. I seized the moment, and asked Dan how I was discovered. The initial email mentioned that he was impressed with my work on the web, and my Linux experience, but other than that, I was curious just exactly how he found me.

The response? My blog.

Because I blog, regularly and consistently, and stick with very specific topics, I was weeded out from the millions, and given the opportunity to work for one of the greatest companies, if not the single greatest, on the planet. Who would've thought that blogging could create such opportunities? I certainly didn't. So, should I pass up the opportunity to work for other companies? No way! Keep my options open, and ready to respond. I never know who will be on the lookout next.

Am I bummed that I didn't get a job at Google? No, not really. I work for a fantastic startup company, namely introPLAY, which I am confident will take off and do fairly well. I love the environment that I am currently working for, and love those that I work with even more. I don't know if I would enjoy going back to a M-F 9-5 environment with corporate management and rampant politics. Then again, it is Google. Who knows? Maybe Google will acquire introPLAY, and I'll end up becoming one of the borg anyway.

{ 18 } Comments

  1. Lasse Havelund | May 27, 2007 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that's a pretty sweet offer to get. Even though you're not taking the job; congrats 🙂

  2. Jerome Gotangco | May 27, 2007 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I got such emails from Google Recruitment twice for engineering as well. But they found out my profile because of LinkedIn and probably made its way to one of my contacts.

    I received a thank you email a few weeks ago. I guess I didn't make the cut 😉 I had two interviews though and boy they can be hard.

  3. Regina | May 28, 2007 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Congrats! I think I'll never have the chance to receive such emails...

  4. phanatic | May 28, 2007 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    I got a very similar e-mail as well, only some tiny differences in the text... Maybe all of the Planet programmers were contacted 😉

  5. tonfa | May 28, 2007 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    Yup they usually screen blogs and mailing list. I know people who are contacted because they post in lkml or debian mailing list. (And you can regularly see well-known hacker telling google to stop their non-targeted massive hiring campaign)

  6. Wilmer | May 28, 2007 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    What tonfa says, posting on mailing lists works too. I received this mail last Summer, also asked the recruiter how she found me, she said it was on a Debian mailing list. Interesting, because the last time I posted on a Debian mailing list is years ago already, I'm afraid.

    Anyway, I took the job, and it's pretty cool. It's the cool kind of sysadmin job they're offering here.

    It does look like the initial mails are getting better, a little bit more personal. That's good to see.

  7. niq | May 28, 2007 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    Hate to rain on your party, but when you replied to that email, you responded to spam. They harvest addresses through opensource communities. Your blog was targeted not because some human had read it, but because it's syndicated to a reputable planet (ubuntu where I saw it; maybe others too).

    How can I tell the difference between legitimate email and spam, when it's on a subject that interests me?

    Well, spam is by definition a form letter (clever spam may even do something like attach to and quote blindly from something I wrote).

    Legitimate email, by contrast, may include form-letter-like boilerplate, but will show signs of being sent to me rather than everyone. If unsolicited, that means they'll have taken the trouble to figure out who I am, beyond just someone who participates in XYZ community.

    Yes, I've had googlespam too. First came shortly before a conference at which I was able to talk to the goog's opensource top-dog (gstein), who was kind enough to answer specific questions. I left it there, without the extended telephone sessions you mention.

  8. bapoumba | May 28, 2007 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    Hello 🙂
    For what that's worth, I got a similar email couple months ago... The thing being I am not _at all_ in the IT field, and have no skills regarding what they were looking for ^^

  9. Aaron | May 28, 2007 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Lasse- Thanks. It was definitely cool.

    Jerome- Yes, I can attest to the strength of the technical questions that was asked. I imagine that had the interviewing process continued, I would've been swallowed up.

    Regina- Thanks. Keep blogging!

    phanatic, tonfa- Yes, I imagine that I was discovered through Planet Ubuntu. Still, however, the fact that they weeded me out from so many others on the planet makes me feel good. Even if I was a target.

    Wilmer- Our LUG uses Google Groups for our mailing list, so it's no doubt to me that I could've been discovered that way as well.

    niq- Although the mail may have been unsolicited, and 'spam' defined in the truest sense, it was legitimate. The mail they used to contact me was my Gmail account, so it's hosted on their servers anyway. I'm not exactly sure what you're talking about with mail harvesting. I admit that many other people in this world probably get similar emails, and the message text that was sent to me was a form letter. I still value the experience, and will be keeping my eyes open in case other opportunities come around from other businesses.

    bapoumba- Well, then they probably didn't hire you, now did they? 🙂

  10. Rick | May 29, 2007 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    I got one of these and figured it was just spam and didn't reply. That's interesting to see that I was wrong and it did lead to an interview process for you.

  11. john | May 29, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Aaron, I'm confused about your blog post. How many times they interviewed you? Only one by that person named Dan or what ? It seems that just Dan interviewed you, forwarded your info to the hiring team (what's that, a sort of internal committee?) and they refused your "application" ?

  12. Aaron | May 29, 2007 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    @john- Dan was my only contact through the process, and I was given just a phone screen. I never made it to the interview process. The Hiring Committee decided that I wasn't a good fit, probably based on my lack of Python experience.

  13. john | May 29, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the clarification. I did four phone interviews (different job) and I'm waiting their final answer. The interviewer told me in the last, to wait until tomorrow.

  14. Seveas | June 1, 2007 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Heh, I got that mail today 🙂

  15. zgoda | June 14, 2007 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    I was contacted by him too. The email text was very similar. What was intriguing is that he sent this to my company email I really don't use that much on the 'net, only for 3 maillists (django, twisted and pylucene). And he mentioned my OS works which aren't signed with this email generally.

  16. Gerrit Holl | June 19, 2007 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    I received exactly such an e-mail. It was different only by one line. I really wonder where they get the idea that I contributed to Python a lot, because I didn't. I was active on in the distant past. It must be highly automated.

  17. Kristian Erik Hermansen | August 11, 2007 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I was also contacted by Google. In fact, it was even Dan McCarthy 🙂 So, I spoke with him a few times.

    The text was nearly identical. Google is spamming everyone these days...
    Kristian Erik Hermansen

  18. Jimmy Wennlund | September 20, 2007 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I just talked to this famous Dan, of course its fun when google is after you, but after reading about this spamming I don't feel that selected anymore. Now i just have to wait and see if they drop me or not. 🙂 I got this line: "bla bla the breadth of your background in Linux and your contributions to the open-source community, particularly through initng, which we definitely appreciate around here 🙂 - it's obviously apparent that you have the sort of passion for free software that we value. bla bla", It looked wery personal at least 😉

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