What it’s Really Like Working for Microsoft
Childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975, a business move that would make them both billionaires. In 2020, the tech company is still going strong, as it’s often bunched together as part of America’s Big Five tech giants, along with Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google.
Last year, Microsoft became the third company in American history to be valued at more than $1 trillion. Known for its operating systems and software, the company has also made a splash in 2016 by acquiring LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.
Empire Resume recently dug into what it’s like to work for Amazon, Google, and Facebook. So, what’s it like to work for Microsoft?
Unlike some other big tech companies, Microsoft hasn’t been involved in as many scandals and controversies. It’s also not as frequently targeted by the media. Still, as a giant multinational corporation, employees and ex-employees say working there is like working at other huge tech companies.
Microsoft provides excellent salaries and benefits, exciting work, and the chance to collaborate with very talented people. On the downside, employees say work-life balance isn’t great, and there’s a lot of office politics.
Empire Resume sifted through several reports to give you a glimpse of what it’s really like to work at Microsoft.
One of the World’s Most Valuable Brands
Microsoft’s rise to prominence since the 1970s dovetails with the rise of personal computing and the internet. The company dominated the PC market in the 1980s after developing the MS-DOS operating system, followed by Microsoft Windows.
The company went public in 1986, and since then, its rise in share price has created three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires among Microsoft employees. Not too shabby.
Since the ‘90s, Microsoft has diversified its business a great deal. The company currently develops, sells, and supports software, electronics, PCs, and a wide range of related services. In 2001, the company entered the video game market by developing the Xbox.
Today, the company has about 156,000 employees worldwide. Microsoft is one of the world’s most valuable brands, and it has a market share of more than 75% in the desktop operating systems market.
By some estimates, Microsoft is also a great place to work. Glassdoor ranked the company No. 21 in its 2020 Best Places to Work. Compared to other big tech companies like Facebook and Google, Microsoft jumped up in the rankings.
2019 was a tough year for big tech firms due to privacy concerns and political controversies, but Microsoft has gotten by relatively unscathed. The company made Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list in 2019, 2018, and 2017.
Microsoft has 4.3 stars out of 5 on Glassdoor, and 89% of employees and ex-employees would recommend the company to a friend. Satya Nadella, the company’s CEO, has a 98% approval rating on Glassdoor and was named a top CEO in 2019, 2018, and 2017.
Excellent Salary and Benefits Package
As you might expect, one of the best parts of working for Microsoft is the world-class salary and benefits package. The company pays its employees an average salary of about $119,000 per year, according to PayScale.
PayScale reports that Microsoft employees with the job title Senior Attorney make the most, averaging nearly $188,000. Employees with the title Data Center Technician make the least amount of money with an average annual salary of almost $55,000.
Engineering accounts for the biggest share of job titles worldwide at Microsoft at nearly 47%. A Senior Software Engineer earns an average annual salary of nearly $125,000, according to Ladders.
Microsoft’s benefits package gets rave reviews from employees. Along with excellent healthcare insurance, employees get a robust 401(k) plan, Employee Stock Purchase Plan, and student loan refinancing program.
Like Google and other big tech companies, Microsoft’s headquarters in has on-campus retail shops and services, employee resource and social groups, and a shuttle and company bus fleet.
Many Microsoft employees also love getting exclusive discounts on company products and other discounts on things, even like car loans and mortgages. Overall, employees give Microsoft’s benefits package 4.4 out of 5 stars on Glassdoor.
CEO Garners Praise
Hiring at Microsoft has slowed in 2020, probably due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of open jobs at the company dropped by more than 60% between March and late May, according to a report in Thinknum Alternative Data. The May report said Microsoft listed 2,142 open positions, which was significantly lower than in early 2020.
For the open positions Microsoft does have, it’s primarily looking for software developers and engineers, according to Dice. The skills most in-demand for new Microsoft hires include Microsoft Azure, and software engineering and development.
Like other big tech giants, most Microsoft employees will be working remotely for the foreseeable future because of the pandemic. But Nadella, the CEO, isn’t as big of a fan of remote work as some of his executive peers. Dice predicts that, whenever the pandemic is over, Microsoft employees will likely be back in the office.
Part of the reason Microsoft has been getting good reviews from employees is Nadella, who took over as CEO in 2014. People say working at Microsoft is much better under Nadella than the former CEO, Steve Ballmer.
Part of the reason is because the company is doing great. Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft stock tripled by September 2018 with an annual growth rate of 27%. But employees also like Nadella because of his role in changing the company’s culture. Nadella has focused on empathy, a growth mindset, and teamwork since becoming CEO.
Employee Burnout and Office Politics
While Microsoft employees seem generally happy, there are some aspects of working for the company that people grumble about. One of those things is work/life balance.
Employees say work/life balance has improved under Nadella, the CEO. Nadella has talked a lot about work/life balance publicly, suggesting people should use the word “harmony” instead of “balance.” What he means by this is having passion and meaning for what he’s working on, which prevents burnout.
Despite this, some Microsoft employees say they feel burned out working for a large tech company that expects you to perform and work hard. Employees gave the company a C+ in work/life balance on Comparably, as 30% of employees said they work at least 10 hours per day.
In various company reviews, other employees describe some negatives as the high amount of office politics, navigating the bureaucracy of working at such a big company, and the possibility of career stagnation.
Every company has organizational politics, but some employees said on Glassdoor it can be particularly bad at Microsoft. One reviewer wrote there’s a “fair amount of political infighting,” and another reviewer said, “your career can excel a lot more if you align with the right manager” and drink the company Kool-Aid.
Microsoft provides many opportunities to work on exciting projects, but employees say the competition from co-workers is very stiff. Some employees on Glassdoor say it’s easy for your career to stagnate at the company by getting stuck on projects that don’t have high visibility.
Getting a Job at Microsoft
While hiring may have slowed down recently at Microsoft, that doesn’t mean you should shy away from applying there. The Big Five tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are all currently fighting for the most talented workers worldwide, and the pandemic hasn’t changed it that much.
Every year, Microsoft hires between 15,000 to 20,000 workers externally, and it hires and promotes about the same amount internally, according to CNBC. The company receives millions of applications per year and not just for tech positions. You can also apply for HR, finance, and research jobs at Microsoft.
Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016, so having a great LinkedIn profile can help tremendously in landing a job at the company. Microsoft actively searches LinkedIn profiles and reaches out to people who it thinks would be a good match.
Chuck Edward, Microsoft’s head of talent acquisition, says people should make sure their profiles have language and keywords that human recruiters and AI automated recruiters are searching for. The tech company uses algorithms in its recruiting, so having the right keywords is essential.
Company insiders say you should also be passionate about Microsoft’s mission statement, which is “a tech company whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
When interviewing for Microsoft, you’ll likely be asked why you want to work there. It’s a common interview question asked by all companies. But insiders say not to be fooled by the question’s simplicity – it’s super important to give the right answer.
Job applicants don’t have to be completely aligned with Microsoft’s mission statement. Still, they should be passionate about the projects the tech company is working on and its global impact.
Microsoft is on a Hot Streak
Compared to other big tech companies, Microsoft has quietly been on a hot streak in recent years. The acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016 was its largest acquisition in company history and, by most accounts, it has paid off.
Microsoft has also been in the news lately after confirming it’s holding talks to possibly acquire the social app TikTok from a Chinese tech company. It remains to be seen if the deal will go through and if it’ll be a blessing or a curse.
While there are some things Microsoft employees grumble about, it seems most people like working for this tech giant. The company provides terrific salaries and benefits, and most people praise Nadella, the current CEO.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.