From aspiring developers to experienced data scientists, Big Tech is the holy grail for most professionals working in technology - and with such a high proportion of the industry's top talent vying for coveted roles with Big Tech firms, they're notoriously hard to land.
However, that's not to say it's not worth a punt. It just means you need to make a concerted effort to stand out from the crowd.
What Is Big Tech?
Big Tech is a collective term used to refer to the leading players operating in the tech industry.
The names that appear in the Big Tech collective are those dominant in their respective fields, i.e. social networking, eCommerce, media streaming, cloud computing etc.
These industry giants have a major global presence, rank among the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world, and look to continually break new barriers through first-class innovation.
Who Are The Big 6?
When we talk about the big 6, we refer to the following companies:
Google or more specifically, its parent company Alphabet. This tech behemoth has multiple offerings under its Google segment alone - not only the world's primary search engine, but cloud computing, online advertising, and a host of software and hardware solutions.
Microsoft is the oldest of the big 6, the Microsoft Corporation started out in 1975 and quickly became the world's biggest software company. Its operating system, productivity suite and email services remain hugely popular and have been joined over the years by cutting edge consumer electronics, and the cloud computing solution, Microsoft Azure.
Facebook certainly has the monopoly on social media. Its original platform has grown from a simple networking site to a global phenomenon, with some 2.85 billion active monthly users worldwide. It cemented its stature with the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and continues to push boundaries through Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research.
Apple, best known as a pioneer in consumer electronics, Apple's smartphones, wearables, tablets, computers and electronics are everywhere. It's behind the scenes that the real innovation takes place though, with sophisticated chip design and development in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and machine learning. The company also branched out into entertainment with the launch of Apple Music and Apple TV.
Amazon has paved the way in eCommerce since its launch from a Seattle garage in 1994. No longer just the world's biggest online retailer, its products and services extend to media streaming, cloud computing, and a growing range of consumer electronics including Alexa, Echo, Kindle, and Fire tablets.
Netflix is a relative newcomer, but not as new as you might think, Netflix began as a subscription-based DVD rental service, using algorithms to drive its recommendation system. Its global success however stems from the launch of its streaming-only service in 2010. Whilst CEO, Reed Hastings, insists it's an entertainment company rather than a tech company, its technology-driven nature sees Netflix take its place in the big 6.
All of these firms offer exciting opportunities for tech graduates, but for every role available there's a host of eager candidates waiting to apply, so you'll need to go the extra mile to get yourself noticed.
10 Top Tips For Big 6 Tech Companies 2021
1. Apply For The Right Jobs
If you want to forge a successful career in Big Tech, you need to start out on the right foot. So, before you even think of applying to any one of the big 6, determine your career goals and make sure the jobs you do apply for contribute towards them.
There's no point chasing a role just because it's with a company you're desperate to work for. You may see it as a foot in the door but if you're not passionate about it, you're unlikely to make a lasting impression, and may ruin your chances of landing the job you do want.
Think long-term, and focus only on the jobs that match your aspirations.
2. Create Your Personal Brand
In 2019, there were 3.3 million applications made to Google alone. It's likely this figure is comparable across all the big 6, meaning not just a highly competitive landscape for you, but also a major undertaking for recruitment teams.
They can't afford to spend hours looking into a single candidate. You need to stand out immediately, so create a personal brand that represents who you are and what you bring to the table.
Use this consistently across every possible touchpoint between you and a recruiter - your CV, application forms, LinkedIn profile. They won't spend time uncovering your potential. You have to take your potential to them.
3. Be Your Authentic Self
In building your personal brand, make it a true reflection of yourself, and if it secures you an interview, carry that authenticity through in person.
Big Tech employers don't want you to fit a mould. If anything, they want you to break it. They want you to think differently, challenge the norm, and bring your own unique perspectives to the working environment.
These companies understand the importance of diversity, and how it contributes to greater innovation, so instead of presenting yourself as someone you assume they're looking for, be genuine.
4. Build Stuff
Big Tech companies have a shared common purpose - to make life better for the end-user through innovative technology. To do this, they need a workforce of creative problem solvers, and if you want to be part of it, you need to prove that you're such a person.
The best way to do this is with demonstrable evidence, so build stuff. Whether it be in your current job role, as a personal side project, or hobby, the stronger your build portfolio the better.
It's not about building perfect solutions either. In fact, it's better if you can identify and discuss areas for improvement. This shows you're able to grow and evolve in your approach to problem-solving, which is exactly what these firms look for.
5. Do Your Research
To perform well in the recruitment process, you need to know what's in store, so whichever company you apply to, research its hiring practices and procedures thoroughly.
Each has its own approach, but all are made up of multiple stages. For example, Amazon's hiring process consists of an online application, aptitude tests, an assessment centre, and final round interviews.
The better informed you are about what each stage involves, and why it takes place, the better you can prepare to ace it.
6. Attend Company Specific Events
These could be participatory events, like a Google Hackathon, or spectator driven, like Apple's virtual launch events for example.
Being able to talk about your participation and/or attendance at these shows you have a historical interest in the company. It tells the recruiting team you're not just applying for the role because you want to work in Big Tech, but because you're engaged and invested in this particular brand.
It's also a great way to learn more about a company's vision and goals, and when you walk into an interview with that kind of insight, you walk out having made an impact.
7. Understand The Culture
Every Big Tech company is driven by a set of core values that define what it stands for, and how it operates. Together, these determine its culture, and every member of staff is expected to align with this.
As a potential employee, it's important you're able to reference the specific culture of the company in question. For example, Netflix has a comprehensive Culture Memo that describes, in detail, its values and approaches. Amazon, on the other hand, sums up its culture succinctly in its 16 Leadership Principles.
Study company culture inside out, then prove how your skills, experience and character are a great fit.
Those that get hired in Big Tech aren't just skilled. They're also self-aware. They understand what motivates them, where their greatest strengths lie, and how they intend to use them to advance their careers.
The tech giants welcome this because they know they're getting an employee that will give their all, so take the time to look back on your own experience, how it's brought you to where you are, and where you want to go next.
Self-reflection is something Google, in particular, encourages before a candidate starts out in the application process.
9. Focus On Skills Over Experience
It's highly unlikely you'll tick every single box on a person's specification for a role in Big Tech, but don't let that put you off applying. For these leaders in innovation, it's not so much about what you've done in the past, but what you have the potential to do.
It's one of the reasons they make use of aptitude tests - because they value your skills more than your work history.
Be sure to highlight your skills wherever possible, and take plenty of practice aptitude tests to pass this stage of recruitment with flying colours.
10. Use Your Network
If you know someone that works in Big Tech, referrals are a great way to get noticed, but use this technique with caution. Only ever approach those you have an existing relationship with - someone that knows you well and can vouch for your suitability.
It's no good asking second or third-degree connections to recommend you, in fact, it could well be detrimental.
The key here is to build a valuable network first. Actively engage in the right communities, and build foundations before seeking a leg up.
Don't Give Up
Finally, persistence is key. Few people land their dream job on the first attempt, and to break into Big Tech you need to be resilient, tenacious, and determined.
Take every rejection as a learning opportunity and keep pushing forward until you reach your goal, just like the Big Tech companies do themselves.