Tom Friedman makes in excess of $300,000 a year at the New York Times. He also charges $40,000 for speaking engagements. If the market is a true reflection of value, then what Friedman says must be pretty powerful. So when Tom Friedman writes an article on how to get a job at Google, it must contain some incredibly insightful information on how to get hired at the world’s second most valuable company. After all, it’s for the New York Times – a very serious newspaper for very serious people.
Presumably on an all-expenses-paid trip to Google HQ in Mountain View California, Friedman sat down with Laszlo Bock, the Senior Vice President of People Operations to ask him how one might get a job at the search engine turned dominator of all things internet. What transpired was probably the most pointless, least insightful interview ever done by Friedman — and that is saying a lot given he wrote an entire book on the glaringly obvious fact that the internet is making business communication faster.
Bock ran Friedman through the list of things Google looks for when hiring talent. Unsurprisingly, it turns out they look for things every halfway decent employer looks for; being smart, leadership, being humble, an ability to learn from failure, etc etc.
Helpfully, he summarizes his thoughts on the enlightening interview:
Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.
So basically, the New York Times spent thousands of dollars sending their most celebrated columnist to come up with the following article:
Tom Friedman: How do you get a job at Google?
Google Person: You need to be really smart. But not necessarily college smart.
Tom Friedman: Thanks!
Folks, here’s what you need to know about getting a job at Google: you need to be smart and maybe go to college, but be able to learn from things outside college too. Ciao!
Basically, Friedman got paid roughly $5,769 for an article that contains information your inebriated uncle has given you for free at family gatherings every year since you graduated high school. If ever there was an argument against the free market’s ability to determine value, it would be this.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.