Ex-employees suggest that Google is human, after all

The bloom is off the Google rose as ex-employees' complaints suggest, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

TechCrunch has compiled a list of ex-Googlers' complaints (and sometimes praise) against the company. Considering the source, it's perhaps not surprising that not every (ex) Google employee loves her alma mater, but the criticism does suggest that working at Google is not necessarily like working for the Magic Kingdom.

On the hiring process:

Google actually celebrates its hiring process, as if its ruthless inefficiency and interminable duration were a sure proof of thoroughness, a badge of honor. Perhaps it is thorough. But I would be willing to wager that Microsoft's hiring process, which takes a fraction of the time, does not result in a lower-skilled workforce or result in a higher rate of attrition. And let me say this: if Larry Page is still reviewing resumes, shareholders should organize a rebellion. That is a scandalous waste of time for someone at that level, and the fact that it's "quirky" is no mitigation.

On the Google work/life balance (or lack thereof):

But along with the food came the Google lifestyle: if you were staying for dinner, it better be because you were working afterwards. It was frowned upon to leave right after dinner. I think a lot of people spent quite a bit of time either just before or just after dinner hanging out and not really being all that productive, which is nice for the mostly 20-something crowd, but I can sympathize with the people who have families that didn't fit in. I had my own reasons for not wanting to hang out at work, so I never really got that far into the Google social scene. And my experience was that the people who spent all their time at Google were the ones that ended up on the sexier projects or in charge of things.

As I read through the posts, it became clear that the bloom is off the Google rose, but that's what happens to companies as they grow up. Google has always been a great product, but it's becoming a great company. It has been making difficult decisions like layoffs and shuttering products, indications that it's living within its means and living according to Wall Street dictates.

In the process, Google is almost certainly going to annoy existing and prospective employees. That's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign that it's a normal company.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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