Photo: Jobs At Google Picasa
Google is supposed to be one of the best places in the world to work.Googlers have some of the best perks and they are among the highest paid in the industry.
But it’s not all fantastic. In fact, as with any huge company with thousands of employees, there are bound to be a few hiccups here and there.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the top negatives about working at Google culled from recent Glassdoor reviews. Keep in mind that this is a site that is built around reviews and complaints about an employer—so these are individuals’ views. Some may be exaggerated or simply unreflective of the typical work experience.
A lot of them are also “big-company problems”—issues any company would experience as it grows larger.
Still, Google has prided itself on its supposed ability to keep its startup values as it grows ever larger. And the complaints we’ve included do jibe with what we hear in the industry from current and former Googlers.
You can't get promoted for doing incremental improvements. Instead, you have to help build and launch a new product.
Of course, most programmers get assigned to fix bugs and rebuild code to make it more efficient. And yet Google's rewards don't give incentives for doing that work.
Getting a spot on a launch team is highly competitive and some people feel it's more about who you know than how you perform.
There's a lot of peer pressure to spend a lot of time at the office because everyone else is spending time at the office.
Since its earliest days, Google has hired engineers right out of college. These are kids that are very ambitious and want to move up in the world--so they spend a lot of time working.
Most of their time, actually. Google encourages this by having a lot of food facilities on campus and other ways to essentially 'live' at Google.
Here's a great example of why you can't always trust what people say word for word. One review said that it can take upwards of 15 years to reach senior management at Google.
Google was founded in 1998, so if you believe this guy, no one could ever make it to senior management.
But there's a grain of truth in this obvious exaggeration. Google has gotten more hierarchical over time and the earliest employees--those who have been around, say, 10 years or more--wield outsized influence.
How to deal with this: Jump horizontally to other projects to learn as much as you can and use Google as a stepping stone in your career before you join another business.
Google offers a ton of freedom, and there's minimal oversight.
Seriously, you can pretty much do whatever you want, as long as you get your work done.
But you also don't get a lot of guidance on how to do your work. So if you aren't very self-driven, it can be difficult to ship your projects on time.
Projects that start in remote offices like New York and Sydney are consistently moved to Mountain View over time. Your best bet is to move to Mountain View if you want to move up in the ranks at Google.
As much time as Larry Page spends trying to make Google feel more like a startup, it's still a company with thousands of employees.
That means sometimes communication is lost in the crowd.
Being a big company is not a bad thing, necessarily. It's just the reality of being a technology company which has reached enormous scale.
Google's full-time employees have access to some of the best perks in the world.
That's not often true for some of Google's contract workers, who are treated a level below the rest of Google's employees, according to one Glassdoor review.
We hope things have improved since 2008, when Gawker described how contractors had limited access to even move around the campus.
Sometimes separate Google teams will be working on the same project without actually knowing about it. The result is a lot of overlap in work done at Google, according to one review.
There are also a lot of 'me-too' products at Google in development, the reviewer said.
Google is not for the faint of heart.
They employ the best engineers and they expect the best out of those engineers. When you get a lot of talent under one roof, you're bound to end up with a lot of competition.
If you're an engineer or product manager, life is great at Google, and the pay is fantastic.
The same isn't as true for Googlers in roles like operations, HR, and PR, who aren't deemed as important as engineers in the company. To be valued, people in other job roles need to show how they fit into the process of shipping a product. That directive won't come from the top.
While Google employs some of the most talented engineers, they still need to make sure they ship products.
That means that a hypertalented individual at the top of a university's class might end up writing a small portion of code, or fixing a small bug.
Whatever tools you acquired at other companies, you can essentially throw them out, one reviewer said. Google has its own way of running its infrastructure that is unlike any other company's.
The downside is that when you try to change jobs, you'll have to relearn infrastructure--and you may find you miss Google's tools. That said, having Google on your resume will never hurt you.
Early employees at Google that are still at the company have taken on a lot of management roles, and some of them are just 'vesting and resting'--waiting to exercise their options and collecting a paycheck, in other words.
Granted, this is a common problem with many companies--especially as the companies grow larger. But with so many young and ambitious new employees, it can become taxing. The result is a lot of internal politics.
Pay is good--for engineers. Software engineers make more than $100,000 on average, according to Glassdoor postings.
But startups are trying to steal engineers away from Google, and while they can't always match pay, they can offer more upside in their stock packages.
And if you're not an engineer, chances are your pay package won't be nearly as competitive.
When you get three type-A, hypertalented individuals in a room, you'll get six opinions on anything. Or 200.
The same is true at Google, where many employees have big personalities. There will be some clashing in Mountain View--so have a thick skin. Just remember to keep it about the ideas. Googlers aren't supposed to take it personally.