What is it like to pursue a career with Microsoft? ClearanceJobs recently sat down with four members from Microsoft’s Federal and Engineering teams to discuss more about the culture, current hiring efforts, and why cleared candidates should choose to launch or advance their cleared career with Microsoft. We received nearly 100 questions during the course of that conversation and webinar – we consolidated your top questions into this Q and A. If you’re interested in pursuing a career with Microsoft, this is a great place to start.

DIVERSITY AND CULTURE AT MICROSOFT

Can you describe the culture at Microsoft for us?

At Microsoft, we know that we will only achieve our mission if we live our culture. The foundation of our culture is our belief that potential is not pre-determined: Everyone can learn and grow. We call this belief Growth Mindset. We aspire to have a culture where employees are free to be curious, to experiment, and to share the things they learn. To feel empowered to fix or build something they think needs fixing or building, and to fail and learn and get better over time. We want to be a company of learn-it-alls, not know-it-alls.

When we apply a Growth Mindset to our customers, we ask them what they need, and we listen carefully so that we’re able to understand and anticipate their needs. When we apply Growth Mindset to how we work with one another, we’re able to break out of our silos and work together as one, seeking diverse perspectives that make us and our products better.

We strive to create an environment that brings the power of diversity to life—where people with different backgrounds and experiences thrive in both their professional and personal lives. We engage and connect to communities inside and outside Microsoft through several opportunities in partnership with our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

 

GETTING A JOB WITH MICROSOFT

What kinds of certifications should one consider getting prior to applying?

Azure Certifications, DevOps trainings and Security Certs are the top certifications frequently required for positions.

Can you explain more about experience levels and how we know which careers or jobs are the right level for our experiences coming from a long-term military career?

For experience levels, we can use the PM roles as an example.

PM1 is a college grad or new to the role—more like an apprentice level.

PM2 has more experience, is often trusted to run things, but still is more operational than a leadership role.

Senior PM begins to own and drive pieces of the larger business and can have PM1 or PM2 reporting to them but may not always have reports if they are an individual contributor (IC).  A Senior PM finds things that needs fixing 70% of the time and gets direction 30% of the time from Principal PM.

Microsoft Principal PMs tend to own many pieces of the puzzle, can lead teams, and will always have executive facing roles and deliverables.  Principal PMs will have large budgets and freedom to use them, based on strategic objectives they own.

Partner/General Manager PMs own a service in most cases. They almost always are people managers and control an even larger budget and responsibility for the business. Partner/GM roles are purposely rare and most people entering Microsoft are best served starting somewhat lower and being able to learn the company, their role, their organization and have opportunities to advance to the higher levels with confidence. However, we do recruit directly into some executive roles.

A Vice President sits above a GM, then we will have Corporate Vice Presidents (CVP’s) and Executive VPs (EVPs), for example our Microsoft Leaders we have listed on our Leadership page are all Executive VPs.

What is the process for connecting with a recruiter, applying, and then getting interviews for those of us with security clearance?

Apply to the roles on the Cleared Technology Careers site and network with those who know your work and can help you compare oranges to oranges in work roles. Be on the lookout for cleared hiring events and attend webinars that can lead to engagement with recruiters and possible interviews.

How can we get in front of an actual person in Microsoft? For example, a recruiter that focuses on talent with security clearances.

Network on LinkedIn – find those cleared recruiters and talent sourcers, but also the cleared hiring managers that are posting roles on LinkedIn. Be ready with your resume, elevator pitch and the skills to do the role.  We get a lot of resumes for open roles. Stand out with your skills and specific clearance that match what we need. Make it clear you understand the company, the role you’re interested in, and why you’re a good fit.

What is the best way to match my skillset to the open roles for clearance jobs?

Look for key words in the job responsibilities and requirements, and make sure you have some, if not most of that experience.  You can search key words on the Cleared Technology Careers site. Ensure that you are using the same keywords in your resume to describe your experience. You can also search jobs by keyword or military job code/title on our U.S. Military and Veterans site. Compare oranges to oranges, not coconuts to oranges.

Do you have both full-time roles, and contractor roles available?

We will always have full-time roles for those with security clearances so be sure to keep checking the Cleared Technology Careers site. There are a lot of teams where cleared talent naturally moves around inside Microsoft leaving new opportunities open. Numerous contractor agencies work with Microsoft to provide contractor talent. There are pros and cons to going that route, but check it out if it seems like a good fit. For those roles, you would work directly with the contractor agency.

What is the best way to get my application to stand out?

Be clear and concise. List an overview of technical skills and clearance up front, then job experience below. Use keywords that are applicable to the role. Don’t use many words when few will do. Don’t use interview speak on a resume. Highlight the impact you’ve had in your previous experience: to who, how much, when and outcomes as bullet points. Less is often more if it’s concise.

What is the best way to get hired?

Demonstrate your growth mindset. Show how you have been a learn-it-all and not a know-it-all in your military or civilian cleared career. Try new things, such as projects on GitHub. Keep looking at open roles and continue to apply to those that match your skills and clearance level. You may interview more than once before finding the right role for you, so keep applying and interviewing. Our careers site will always have new openings.

Can you elaborate more on the interview process and what it entails?

While the interview process may vary depending on the role, we’ve got great tips on our Careers site to help you prepare.

Do you have recruiting events and how would one get invited to one?

Find and connect with our cleared recruiters on LinkedIn—they will often advertise their events! Register and attend as many as you can.

 

CLEARANCE QUESTIONS

Do all roles need security clearance?

In Microsoft Federal, we staff employees that have a Public Trust, Secret, Top Secret, or higher security clearance. Not all roles require a clearance, but all roles on our Cleared Technology Careers site do require security clearance. Explore roles by profession or location on the Microsoft Careers Site.

Does Microsoft sponsor upgrading clearance levels?

Upgrades to clearance levels may sometimes be sponsored by Microsoft. Clearances are based on each project and the customer need and we work on clearance upgrades with our customers as needed.

How would one know what level of clearance a role requires?

Each role will list the specific requirement in the job description.

Does it make sense to apply to roles if you do not have a security clearance?

It does not make sense to apply for any roles that list a requirement for security clearance if you do not have a security clearance. We hire for many roles across a wealth of disciplines and you can explore careers by profession on the Microsoft Careers site.

 

MICROSOFT LOCATIONS & REMOTE WORK

Where are the locations that Microsoft hires for cleared positions?

We can hire for anywhere in the US. For Microsoft Federal, we often focus on VA, FL, MD, and CA, where some of our major hubs for customers are in the cleared space. Microsoft offers workplace flexibility, but it depends on the role. The first step would be to apply for roles you are qualified for, and for which you have the appropriate clearance. Don’t let the listed location deter you from applying! For cleared engineering roles, we focus on Redmond, WA, and the DC Metro areas.

 

ROLES WITH MICROSOFT

How can we better understand the team and the role prior to applying?  

We encourage you to get engaged by joining events such as our tech talks and virtual networking events, expand your network by connecting with Microsoft employees and leaders on LinkedIn, and check out our open roles on our Cleared Technology Careers site. Explore our different products and services, including AzureAzure for Government, and Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) and learn how we are empowering our customers on the Microsoft for Government blog.

Are there other roles besides technical roles, for example, business functions such as finance, operations, etc.?

Yes, we have many kinds of roles in Microsoft Federal & Engineering. There are sales, account management, business operations, manager roles, project managers, customer success account managers, and many more.

Are there Technical Delivery Manager (TDM) Roles within Microsoft Federal?  

Yes, there are TDM roles. These roles will become available when a current TDM changes roles, or as the business grows to maintain span of control with managers and individual contributors.

Are there roles for program managers in the cleared space?

Yes, there are roles for program managers. You can see all of our cleared roles on our Cleared Technology Careers site. If you select “see more jobs,” you can filter by Program Management under “Discipline.”

What is the average number of consultants or persons that a TDM in Microsoft Federal manages? 

Our average is teams of 18 – 26 depending on which part of the business they are in.

 

SKILLS, GROWTH, AND REQUIREMENTS

Does Microsoft participate in the DoD SkillBridge Program?

We participate in several SkillBridge pipelines, including but not limited to Microsoft Software and Service Academy (MSSA), LaunchCode, HoH (Hiring our Heros) TWI (Training with Industry) and a new 6-month fellowship we just had approved, called the Microsoft SkillBridge Fellowship.

What does Microsoft recommend for technical or professional skillsets for Program Manager Roles?

Key skills we look for include proficiency in Agile methodologies along with a solid Azure DevOps background with a mastery of how the Software Development Life Cycle works. You can find learning paths and certifications at Microsoft Learn, including Azure and Microsoft 365.

What coding skills are in most demand for Microsoft Cleared Roles?

C++, Scripting, PowerShell, Python can really help you cover everything from software development to Site Reliability Engineering roles.

What types of manager training does Microsoft offer to enable managers to be effective leaders of their teams?

Microsoft invests in enabling all of our employees, managers, and leaders through our Learning and Development programs. Each organization and discipline has both core and common as well as unique learning paths and courses. Trainings and courses cover topics from technical skills to leadership and coaching skills, from accessibility to culture, and many more across a variety of disciplines.

 

CONNECT WITH MICROSOFT PROFESSIONALS ON LINKEDIN

Connect with some of our panelists on LinkedIn for more insights into Microsoft life and our innovative technologies:

Coogan Perrin

Dave Wright

 

SPONSORED CONTENT: This article is written on or behalf of our Sponsor.

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