Table of Contents
- What Is It Like to Work in Silicon Valley?
- What Skills Are Tech Companies Looking For?
- How Difficult Is It to Get a Job in Silicon Valley?
- What Makes a Company the Best or Most Sought After to Work For?
- Best Tech Companies to Work for in the Bay Area/Silicon Valley
- How to Apply for a Job to Work in Silicon Valley
Words like “entrepreneur” and “innovation” are synonymous with Silicon Valley. They’re part of the reason the greater Bay Area draws tens of thousands of hopeful applicants to its open tech positions each year — positions sprinkled across companies whose very names have become cultural icons. We’re looking at you, Google.
Forget chugging soylent, though. We’re giving a taste of the best companies to work for in Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area right here, with a particular focus on the tech juggernauts revolutionizing the modern working world as we know it.
We’ve ranked the best-of-the-best tech companies according to the following:
- Employee reviews, both past and present
- Which tech companies give the best perks
- Company support of a healthy work-life balance
- Work culture and office environment
- Salaries and career growth opportunities
- Overall company performance and public opinion
What Is It Like to Work in Silicon Valley?
The spirit of Silicon Valley is single-to-none, inspiring professionals at all career levels to pack up and move to the tech hub of the world. What can aspiring tech workers expect once there? A few characteristics include:
- Cutting-Edge Offices, Workspaces: Silicon Valley tech companies are home to some of the most stunning workplaces in the world. No stone went unstrategized when designing headquarters for places like Apple, Airbnb, Intuit and more. Silicon Valley offices have now set the bar for what’s cool and contemporary in modern office design — from open-concept, cubicle-free floorplans to multiple campuses to office “third spaces” like cafes and libraries fashioned for employees to feel more at ease.
- Work Hard, Play Hard Mentality: Work days that are 10 to 14 hours long are the norm, not the exception, in Silicon Valley tech halls. So, work-life balance is especially challenging for those with families. However, the best tech companies are self-aware of their workaholic stigmas. Many companies adopt a range of in and out-of-office perks to support employees’ mental and physical health, from yoga breaks and designated nap rooms to generous remote work policies, paid childcare and fully salaried, company-sponsored sabbaticals.
- Cream of the Crop Brainpower: There’s a feeling pervading Silicon Valley tech companies that you’re working with the best — the best entrepreneurs, the best leadership, the best developers, programmers, salespeople, recruiters, engineers and marketers. Such collective brainpower is part of Silicon Valley’s appeal, yet at the same time can be its worst enemy. The high caliber of talent means constant competitive pressure.
- High Salaries, But High Costs of Living: The average starting salary for an entry-level tech job is San Francisco hovers around $92,000. It’s not uncommon to see higher figures in order to draw better talent, plus toss additional monetary perks on top of an offer. But don’t don’t get starry-eyed — the Bay Area’s cost of living is more than double the national average. Tech workers have been known to stretch and save creatively even while pulling in six figures.
- A New Definition of Work: Silicon Valley’s ethos is to disrupt. Creative freedom is paramount, as is the ability for employees to work how, when and in ways that’ll spark near-constant innovation. To work in Silicon Valley is to work past limits, both your own and those around you. Those able to not only embrace but exceed expectations in this work culture stand to be rewarded.
When wondering what it would be like to work for a tech company in Silicon Valley, consider the following three questions.
What Skills Are Tech Companies Looking For?
Across the board, today’s best tech companies state they desire the following in their employees:
- Radical Inquisitiveness: Curious minds are the best minds in Silicon Valley. Those who seek to transcend the status quo make a natural fit for the culture and attitudes that define this industry.
- Functional Detail-Orientedness: You don’t need to border Steve Jobs-levels of obsessiveness. However, you will need to translate ideas into action, then make sure that action prioritizes functional, thoughtful and attentive solutions to company problems.
- Collaboration: Most Silicon Valley companies aspire for a collegiate office environment with organic collaboration and ideation. Individuals who can’t live out these interpersonal principles may not last long.
- Continual Learning: Technical knowledge is great, but the pace at which technology moves means experts don’t stay that way for long. There are always new skills, new products, new advancements and new trends to attack, as well as the ability to discern what’s hot from what’s hype.
How Difficult Is It to Get a Job in Silicon Valley?
Job searching in Silicon Valley is no cake walk. According to data released from Indeed’s annual Silicon Valley Spotlight study, tech job postings in San Jose and San Francisco fell by 6 and 8 percent respectively in 2017. Some big players, like Google, regularly receive over two million job applicants every year.
However, the Bay Area alone accounts for more than 30 percent of all tech jobs in the United States. A region comprising over a third of an entire industry won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Oracle and more have actually increased their hiring rates over the past two years.
What Makes a Company the Best or Most Sought After to Work For?
What makes a company the “best” is subjective. For those in the tech industry, there’s a push and pull between speed and stability, innovation and endurance, short-term creativity and long-term, cross-organization health. Companies that balance these characteristics — and do so authentically, without sacrificing worker wellbeing — will earn the title.
So what are these title-earning best places to work in Silicon Valley? We’ve ranked the top 10 with great perks, great leaders, great career advancement opportunities and many more amenities to form our list.
1. Google — Mountain View, Calif.
Google continues to define today’s tech-centered epoch. Its Mountain View headquarters — known as Googleplex — houses around 12,000 employees, which is enough to form a small town. Indeed, you could say Googleplex operates like a town, with in-office amenities and features that consistently ease the work-life balance of its employees:
- Pros: Free meals, snacks and beverages at its headquarters, alongside other perks like massages, car oil changes, dry cleaning, hair styling and even its own credit union. Recent years have seen Google making a clearer push to shake the tech industry’s diversity and inclusion problems, hosting everything from transgender employee town halls to setting metrics to source more diverse suppliers.
- Cons: Scale and work-life balance. As a former senior account manager put it: “You are given everything you could ever want, but it costs you the only things that actually matter in the end.”
2. Zoom Video Communications — San Jose, Calif.
Zoom was ranked #2 in Glassdoor’s 2019 best places to work — and for good reason. Employees cite a Goldilocks-sized — albeit quickly growing — company with generous support programs and benefits, not to mention one of the leading cloud-based remote conferencing suites on the market. Pros and cons include:
- Pros: Company culture encompasses the best of Silicon Valley — upbeat, innovative, collaborative and future-focused. Zoom employees enjoy some of the most comprehensive benefits packages in the business and laud leadership for openly caring about its workforce.
- Cons: Growth pains. Employees report that as Zoom grows, it still hasn’t quite figured out how to properly outline department responsibilities and resources.
3. Salesforce — San Francisco, Calif.
Salesforce maintains some of the progressive benefits packages in Silicon Valley, including health coverage for things like IVF treatments and acupuncture to commuter reimbursement stipends. Many insiders say Salesforce is one of the only Silicon Valley giants to truly live up to the work hard, play hard mentality so enticing in the industry:
- Pros: Salesforce incentivizes lifelong learning and skills development in all employees, which likely bolsters its overall positive and supportive work environment. The company is also explicit in its commitment to volunteerism, social responsibility and community improvement initiatives.
- Cons: Its burning-the-candle-at-both-ends mindset can sometimes court high turnover and project failure rates, something that may grow tiresome.
4. LinkedIn — Sunnyvale, Calif.
When “humor” is among your company’s core values, you know you’re in for a different kind of workplace. Many are drawn to working at LinkedIn because of its signature culture, which, alongside humor, promotes transformation, integrity, collaboration and results:
- Pros: Free breakfast and lunch provided at regional HQs, as well as generous health and vacation policies. Employees also say LinkedIn doesn’t just talk the talk with its values, either. Leadership continually strives for ways to live out its five core tenets, encouraging employees to do the same.
- Cons: Its Ivy League-saturated workforce means fierce competition amongst employees looking to “out-result” others.
5. DocuSign — San Francisco, Calif.
Past and present DocuSign employees rate DocuSign as particularly work-life adept, meaning they feel the company’s culture supports healthy expectations for time on and off the clock. That balance is fueled by a startup-like office buzz, even amidst DocuSign’s recent IPO transition. Other pros and cons include:
- Pros: Excellent work-life balance encouraged by upper management and within teams. DocuSign’s business outlook is also on the up-and-up, both with public opinion and internal stakeholders.
- Cons: Less of your typical Silicon Valley perks and add-ons — no one’s paying for your gym membership here. DocuSign’s ongoing IPO transition has also shaken up once-clearer promotion paths and career development.
6. Tesla — Palo Alto, Calif.
Elon Musk’s business brainchild has already revolutionized electric cars, batteries, clean energy generators and storage systems. Tesla’s dedication to a “green future” even has the company setting sights on the stars — literally — working in conjunction with NASA and SpaceX to launch the first commercial-operations crew into space. Pros and cons of working for Tesla include:
- Pros: Few other companies are as committed to disruptive transformation as Tesla. Tesla lives to bring cutting-edge, future-altering, never-before-seen-or-done products to market. It demands the same zest for discovery against all odds from employees, an intoxicating pull for those wishing to make their mark in tech.
- Cons: The same revolutionary zeitgeist fueling Tesla’s notoriety also drives its quandaries. The company’s future hinges largely on sales of its most recent electric vehicle, the Tesla Model 3. Publicity surrounding Musk’s eccentric personality and public life also plague the company’s overall stability.
7. Netflix— Los Gatos, Calif.
The ultra-popular streaming service is a hit with its employee base, as well — but a specific type of employee. Proudly proclaiming its high-performance, high-results atmosphere, Netflix encompasses the proverbial Silicon Valley startup where employees are expected to work fast and hard every day.
- Pros: Netflix strategizes ways to minimize the “big brother-like” micromanagement techniques and structures other companies default to. It prioritizes employee autonomy and initiative while maintaining equally strong systems of reward and accountability, as well as pays some of the highest salaries in tech. In short, it’s a distinct work culture many call the challenge of a lifetime.
- Cons: Practicing what’s been dubbed a “culture of fear,” Netflix takes DevOps’ principles to the next level. Employees must utilize a laundry list of company lexicon, as well as face regular reviews proving on the spot why they’re high-value.
8. Apple — Cupertino, Calif.
Apple consistently lands amongst the tech industry’s top places to work. Its brand is synonymous with innovation and Silicon-Valley sleekness, something other companies pay big bucks in attempts to replicate:
- Pros: The “brand name” recognition that comes with working at Apple can be leveraged far and wide. Apple offers plenty of office perks to keep employees performing well, from commute reimbursements and campus shuttles to “beer bashes” with private headliner musical performances.
- Cons: Lots of brand recognition comes with lots of responsibility. Apple employees are known for putting in long hours intensified by extreme competition, which has been encouraged by managers and C-suite leadership alike.
9. Cooley — Palo Alto, Calif.
Cooley has never dipped out of the top three law firms, according to Fortune 100’s Best Companies to Work For. Employees rave about the firm’s upbeat, purposeful and downright fun atmosphere:
- Pros: Cooley’s employees are 67 percent women and 32 percent people of color — one of the most sincere commitments to diversity and inclusion in the business. Cooley also supports industry-leading pro bono work on matters close to employees’ hearts.
- Cons: Long hours — some of which are non-billable — make up the main strike against Cooley, alongside reports that it’s difficult to climb the ranks.
10. Hewlett-Packard (HP) — Palo Alto, Calif.
HP has been revolutionizing print, ink and graphics products for decades. Age hardly negates innovation, though. The company prioritizes its employees above all else, stating their belief that top-notch employees create top-notch products and — ultimately — propel their success. Pros and cons of working for HP include:
- Pros: Substantial employee benefits packages. All employees are treated as investments, encompassed by mentorship programs and professional development opportunities sponsored or paid for by HP.
- Cons: Due to its large size, corporate policies can be like oil-and-water, not mixing well at the individual or team level. Others cite uncertainties about HP’s presence in tomorrow’s tech landscape.
How to Apply for a Job to Work in Silicon Valley
Now that you have a better sense of what it’s like to work in Silicon Valley, how do you get your foot in the door? Landing a job with one of the top tech companies in the Bay Area requires a few strategies as unique as this region:
- Strengthen Your Socials: AngelList, GitHub, Dribble — if you’re interested in Silicon Valley, it’s more important than ever to maintain profiles on Silicon Valley-pertinent professional platforms.
- Leverage LinkedIn: Treat LinkedIn as a daily networking opportunity. Post industry-relevant content, write authoritative articles, comment on thought leader’s posts and send personalized messages to insiders in the biz. Do so tactfully, ensuring your own profile is squeaky clean and ready for display.
- In-Person Network, Network, Network: Few things beat the power of in-person networking. Luckily, Silicon Valley and the Bay Area play host to a constant flux of industry meetups, both formal and informal. Start getting seen as soon as possible.
- Quantify Everything: Every professional achievement should have a metric to it. Assigning numbers to your accolades makes them irrefutable. It also awards you a value that is objective and undebatable.
- Be a Brand Evangelist: Learn as much as you can whenever you can about your tech employers’ target departments. Attend company-sponsored events, expos or conferences. Rub elbows with current employees. Set up interviews or send follow-up correspondences with actual tech-company insiders. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know — it’s who you know.
- Consider a Bay-Area Advanced Degree: Many of the Masters and P.h.Ds programs from Bay Area universities offer a direct pipeline into prominent tech companies. Attaining an advanced degree from these programs could be the foothold you need to climb the next rung of your career ladder.
- Be Persistent: The average Google employee must pass through a four- to six-week-long interview process, pass test projects and receive unanimous approval from a multi-department hiring committee before landing an offer — including interns. Don’t be disheartened if things don’t go your way on the first attempt — or even the fourth. That’s often just it works.
Job Hunting in Silicon Valley? We Can Take Finding Somewhere to Live in the Bay Area Off Your Mind
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