Tips for Microsoft jobseekers

things you should know before you accept the offer

If you're interviewing at Microsoft for a technical position, there are some things you should know:

1) In general, Microsoft interviews take all day and end with a meeting with the recruiter. If you're finished before lunch or after a couple of hours and you aren't doing a second day, you probably aren't getting the job.

2) If you want a development position and you have experience, be very wary before taking (or even interviewing) for a position in support or testing. A lot of college hires come in through support or testing, but it will take a while to move to actual development from one of these positions. In the meantime, you'll be killing a lot of time in your career that could be spent actually doing development at another company.

3) Do not take a pay cut. No matter what your potential manager or the recruiter says, it is nearly impossible to "make up the difference" in the short (or even long) term. Microsoft may try and undercut your salary requirements. Given the average raise caps these days, and the cost of living, it is pretty unlikely that you catch up on the 10K or more that Microsoft shorts you at the beginning.

4) Be realistic about your future prospects. Microsoft is a VERY large company now. You will not be the CEO. You will probably never make it to be a VP. If you are lucky, you'll make it to Director, but you got about 50,000 people who also want that job.

5) Be very, very careful about which group you work for. Your quality of life at Microsoft is 100% dependent on which group you work for. Some groups grind their employees down like wheat. Some groups at strictly in by 9 and out by 5. Think through the questions you ask the people you interview with. Ask for honest opinions about the manager. Ask for honest opinions about schedules and work/life balance. Ask about raises and bonuses and how available they have been.

6) Check out the membership of the team. If you join an established team with many experienced people you are going to be the low man on the totem pole forever. You may learn a lot, but you are going be stuck with the crummy scores on the stack ranking; you will be the first out in the lifeboat drill; and you will be last on the list for promotions.

7) Find out what your level is going to be. Your level determines your salary range. Your level determines which jobs you can take. If you are assigned a level too low it could take years to get to where you are supposed to be. Find out what the responsibilities are for each level. If you've been in the industry for a decade, you probably should be at least a 62, and depending on your experience, possibly a 63 or 64. If you are leveled low, you may spend years trying to get to where you should be.

8) You will not be a millionaire. You will not be a multi hundred thousandaire. Microsoft switching from stock options to stock grants will make it hard for you to get much income beyond your salary.

9) If you live outside Seattle, check the relative costs of living between where you are now and Seattle. Seattle has become one of the most expensive cities in the country to live in. Make sure the salary you ask for and the salary you are offered take that into account.

There is my advice for the moment. I'll add more in the future.

Posted: Wed - October 12, 2005 at 10:45 PM           |