Microsoft — like most other major tech companies — is in the middle of an epic battle for top talent.
Chuck Edward, head of talent acquisition at Microsoft tells CNBC Make It that each year, Microsoft hires between 15,000 and 20,000 workers externally and approximately the same number internally.
"Sometimes the term 'war for talent' maybe sounds cliche, but in our world within technology it is fierce," says Edward. "We talk about the digital transformation all the time. As all workers digitally transform, the demand for people that can support and service that continues to go up, up, up, up, up. That means the demand continues to go up, up, up for very specific skills."
The company employs roughly 124,000 workers worldwide, receives millions of applicants each year and interviews thousands of people each day.
Despite these huge figures, Edward says part of Microsoft's winning strategy in the talent recruitment arena is to make the applicant pool even bigger. Microsoft is among a growing group of major companies that no longer screen out candidates that do not have college degrees. Instead, the company chooses to "screen in" candidates that may have the skills necessary to excel but not the diploma to prove it.
So if you want to apply for a job at Microsoft, go for it — everyone is welcome — but that doesn't mean it's going to be a walk in the park. You will still have to compete with those millions of other applicants.
Here's what Microsoft is looking for and how you can land a job there:
Fine-tune your LinkedIn profile
In 2016, Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26 billion. Today, the tech company actively searches through LinkedIn profiles to find potential new hires.
"We leverage LinkedIn every day all day to try to find great candidates and reach out to them," says Edward. "We're already looking at people's profiles, so the profiles matter."
Microsoft uses both human recruiters and predictive automated intelligence to search through potential candidates.
"We have recruiters that have LinkedIn licensing who are mining candidates all the time as a key part of our sourcing strategies," explains Edward. "We also have algorithms that more and more will provide us candidates that are possible fits."
In order to take advantage of this dynamic, candidates should make sure their profiles include language that recruiters and AI are searching for. Check the job opening for keywords and skills and make sure those appear on your profile.
Ask thoughtful questions and be ready to show your work
Applying for a job at Microsoft can be broken down into four stages. First, candidates search through and apply to job opportunities on the Microsoft job page . Once they have created their profile, applicants can search for openings, create job alerts and view the status of their applications.
Next, recruiters review every application and they reach out to those who appear to be a strong match. Candidates who are not contacted will have their information stored and will be notified if they qualify for a different position.
Third, applicants are screened by a recruiter or a hiring manager, typically over the phone. During this stage, Microsoft is looking to confirm a candidate's qualifications and screening for "a strong desire to learn, high intelligence, a passion for technology and an entrepreneurial spirit."
The final step is a series of in-person interviews, typically three to six hour-long interviews. Depending on the position, candidates will be asked to write code, share their creative portfolio or provide examples of work in other ways.
Most importantly, this is when candidates should ask as many thoughtful questions as possible.
Don't overthink it
"Its OK to be nervous," says Edward. "People try too hard I think to manage their emotions."
That's one reason why he gives Microsoft applicants some unconventional advice: Don't overdo it on the prep work.
"When people overly prepare and they want to look right they can get themselves into trouble," he says. Some people, he argues, can become robotic with their pre-planned answers to questions and can easily be thrown off by unconventional questions.
The best thing you can do to put yourself in a good position to land a job at Microsoft, he says is to bring some honest proof. Be able to clearly explain the exact skills you possess, provide examples of how you have learned and grown in your role and show evidence of how you have led and worked with others.
"Be curious and do a little bit of homework, but when they come they really should be prepared to have an honest dialogue and to ask great questions," says Edward.
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