So you want to work at Microsoft?
My friend asked me about applying to work at Microsoft this week. “Sure, it’s pretty simple” I said “every single job in the world is advertised on the Microsoft Careers Site. There is also an employee recommendations system where I can submit you for a job. Why don’t you send me your CV and what job you are thinking about and I’ll tell you what I think?”
So he sent me his CV through. It looked like every other Tech CV I have ever seen, he has some qualifications, has worked at a few places for a few years each, some well known companies, some smaller places, some freelance stuff. I flicked to the bottom — “Hey, don’t you have any MCP’s? Aren’t you an MVP? Do you have a GitHub profile?”
He replied “Nah, those certifications expire so quickly, no-one can keep those up to date. And the MVP thing — well I’m not really one for getting my peers to vote for me, it seems a bit big-headed”.
Now I’m not a hiring Manager at Microsoft, but I have been one elsewhere and when I was staring at a pile of 200 black and white, Times New Roman Font single spaced resumes — I was looking for differentiation. Any hint at all that this person was better than their peers. Being an MCP shows that you know the content well enough to pass an exam on it — it’s not enough on it’s own, but it’s something.
But being an MVP shows that your peers think you are among the best of them. I don’t need to try and guess if you are better than these 200 others, the Microsoft Community says you are. In fact, it says you are better than thousands of others. Even hundreds of thousands of others.
But more than that — an MVP is already working for Microsoft(before they are actually employed by Microsoft) and the evidence of that work is distributed throughout the ecosystem. Elaine Van Bergen presented 5 or 6 sessions at Microsoft Ignite Australia this year. The amount of preparation work required just to write, stand up and speak for one session is tremendous — and she did multiple, while she was still working for Empired one of our Microsoft Partners. I wasn’t surprised when she told me she was starting at Microsoft just after Ignite.
Being an MVP is about contribution to community. Contributing code to projects (Microsoft is the biggest contributor to the open source community in the world and we value people that share our values), Speaking at events (I speak at more than 50 events per year — which is not part of my day job, it’s just something I do to help the community), Helping others (contributing to the wiki’s, the forums etc), Creating Content (writing books, blogs, articles) — this is all stuff that MVPs do on-top of their day jobs at other companies. And it shows evidence of the work they could do at Microsoft — because they are already doing it.
And of course many MVP’s do not want to work at Microsoft. It isn’t necessarily a means to an ends. Being an MVP means you are Microsoft, even more surely than working directly for Microsoft would be.
And if you think you only have to do two jobs until you get to work at Microsoft… no, being an MVP demonstrates that you can work at that pace — because you need to. You can’t keep up with the MCPs? You will definitely not be able to get through the amount of training we have to complete each month as well as our workload. And if you are non-compliant, you are out. Compliance and Governance are critical in a global tech company. You don’t have time to speak at events, write articles, contribute to round-tables because that isn’t your job? Microsoft expects more from you.
And I’ll guarantee that we aren’t the only one. Tech is a wonderful field to work in because it is cutting edge, it’s always changing, it’s dynamic, exciting — but you have to be able to hit the ground running and then keep running. And jump. And drop and roll.
What I said to my friend is that being chosen to work for Microsoft is not like King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone. No-one is going to look at you and just know you are destined to achieve great things. You have to go out there and already be doing great things. Then you have a chance.