Be Seen: Standing Out from Millions of Applicants at Microsoft

Have you ever felt overwhelmed trying to get your resume noticed among the sea of applicants at a dream company?

I’ve received a lot of questions over the course of my career at Microsoft on how to apply for a job with the company – and several more just today (in response to a recent post) from folks on LinkedIn. With over 200,000 employees worldwide and millions of job applications submitted each year, it’s an incredibly competitive place to break into. But with the right preparation and approach, it’s possible to stand out from the multitude of applicants.

As a manager and leader who’s reviewed countless resumes, interviewed many hundreds of candidates, and hired many employees during my career at the company (plus having gone through the hiring process myself), I wanted to share some tips that helped the best candidates put their best foot forward. In addition to the tips from Microsoft Careers, here are some additional ones that may help strengthen your approach and efforts.

Start at the beginning

Whether you are eyeing a technical or business role, an entry-level position or more senior leadership, there are a few strategies can help position you for success:

  • The first step is to create your profile on the Microsoft Careers website (, a great place to start for more insights on specific roles. There you can search for jobs that match your qualifications and interests. Once you’ve applied, you can also set up job alerts to receive updates and track the progress of your applications.
  • Research Microsoft roles posted on LinkedIn by peers or recruiting managers. There’s a lot of jargon and specialization of roles and responsibilities at the company, and once again, this is where the Careers site can help you learn about roles at the company.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile to showcase relevant skills, projects, and achievements aligned to the roles you are pursuing. Microsoft recruiters often leverage LinkedIn to source potential candidates. There are lots of recommendations on LI, and I particularly like the advice from (the very smart) Heather Hamilton and the guidance in her articles and posts.
  • Watch for roles posted on LI and other social media sites. If you are already connected, great! If not, look at your degrees of separation and if you’re within one or two connections, leverage them to help you get an introduction and recommendation for the role. When you find a role posted by a hiring manager or shared by one of their contacts, make a connection.

Connections are key

  • Leverage your personal contacts. When you have friends at Microsoft and are persuasive and convincing, they can submit your resume for consideration. Rinku Thakkar said that talent teams rank employee referrals as the most important source). Here’s the twist you didn’t expect: less than a third of people actually ask their contacts to refer them for a job.
  • Then, reach out with a personalized message, and explain why you’re interested in the role and how you’ll impact the team. Share the job description, your resume, and ask if they can refer or introduce you. I’ve consistently read that referred candidates are twice as likely to get interviews and five times as likely to get job offers. (And referrals are beneficial for hiring managers, as nearly half of referral hires stay for three years or more, compared to less than 15% of those hired from job boards.)
  • Target specific teams and product groups that match your background and passions. Articulate why those groups excite you and how your skills would add value. Each has unique visions, strategies, and cultures, and it’s important to find a genuine fit with your skills and interests. Also, knowing what drives Microsofties and what’s valued most at the company is important: see and

You successfully ran the gauntlet: now what?

If you land an interview, get ready and be prepared. In addition to the hiring tips on Microsoft Careers, I enjoyed Joy Chik‘s post that details one Microsoft product manager’s hiring experience in identity security and the many resources available from the company. Juanita Peter and Kalin Dimtchev from the CEE team shared their guidelines to preparing for a job interview at Microsoft. And the mock interviews that prepared students for technical interviews at Microsoft is an interesting view from the Microsoft New England NERD team.

A few additional tips to consider:

  • Know what there is to know about the role which you’ve applied for: prepare for questions about real-world problems in the role and group. This is your opportunity to demonstrate critical thinking, creativity, and ability to collaborate with others. Be ready to communicate ideas clearly and succinctly.
  • Show that you’re curious, have a growth mindset, and are adaptable. Microsofties value applicants who can handle ambiguous situations, embrace uncertainty, listen to and learn from feedback, and are open to new perspectives and approaches. 
  • Most of all, be authentic! It’s your opportunity to express yourself with confidence and humility. While rehearsal is important, being genuine goes a long way, as does being respectful, transparent, and (always) honest.

I hope these tips help guide your application and preparation, and I’ve included a few more in the links below. Here’s wishing you much success with your application to Microsoft!

Additional links

This has also been posted as an article on LinkedIn