How to land a job at a top company

Apple is still the pick of the crop

Find out which brands make the world’s top 100 – and some of the skills you’ll need to get there.

Global brand consultant Interbrand has released its list of the top brands in 2014. But what do some of these top-value companies look for in potential employees?


Number of employees: 72,000+ (worldwide)

It’s been said that if Steve Jobs applied for a job at Apple today, there’s no chance he’d get hired.

Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple has become a very different place culturally, and it now looks for very different people.

Egoists like Jobs and the notoriously difficult Scott Forstall (who refused to apologise for the Apple Maps debacle) are out.

“We look for people that are not political and don’t really care who gets credit,” Cook has said. In other words – for better or worse – people who are just like Cook.

You still need to be “wicked smart” to land a job, but a collaborative attitude is a must.

While Cook succeeded Jobs with a promise of sweeping cultural change – and some argue has over-delivered on it – a recent BBC Panorama program (aired March 2 on the ABC’s Four Corners) presents a compelling and confronting case to the effect that change has been limited to inside the company’s designer, air-conditioned offices.

According to the report, Apple is still as exploitative of its factory workers in China, and tin miners in Indonesia, as it ever was. It is another issue aspiring, senior-level employees might wish to consider, and not just as regards Apple. 


Number of employees: 50,000+ (worldwide)

In her book The Google Resume, Gayle McDowell offers some great tips for job seekers.

If you’re a graduate, Google (and Apple) likes to see relevant internship experience. Your majors also matter, with finance, accounting, marketing or computer science the best.

McDowell emphasises the importance of being able to write and speak well.

“You have to express yourself in a way that is clear, clean and professional,” she says.

Above all, you can’t be a one-trick pony. Regardless of the role you aspire to, it is vital to show an understanding of multiple positions within the company. McDowell calls this being a “generalist”.

“Start from your role and work outward,” she advises.

Infographic: Why it’s harder to get into Google than Harvard

Coca-Cola Company

Number of employees: 700,000+ (worldwide)

Some say it’s lost a bit of its fizz, but for anyone interested in global business and marketing, Coca-Cola is still employment Mecca.

The magnet is its 128-year thoroughbred status as a global iconic brand despite having gone through at least three damaging marketing fiascos in recent years.

The Coca-Cola logo is recognised by nearly the entire worldA just-released book about Coke’s strategies, Growth, By Design, puts this in context by quoting former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

The book also sums up what it takes to succeed at a senior level in a company constantly confronted with new and disruptive business model or macro socio-economic trends. Two key traits: agility and the ability to think on your feet.

Infographic: 94% of the world’s population recognises the Coca-Cola logo




Number of employees: 431,000+ (worldwide)

The only Top 5 brand to lose ground in 2014 and with a number of year-over-year declines in both revenue and operating pre-tax profit, IBM is shifting from its five-year-old “Smarter Planet” strategy to focus more on Big Data/analytics, cloud computing and systems engagement. 

Notably, in mid-2014 it announced a partnership with Apple to bring together its formidable analytics and enterprise-scale computing with the more elegant user experience of Tim Cook’s organisation.

It is too early to say how (if at all) this might impact the culture of IBM (itself historically renowned for ingenious and authentic brands), but job aspirants should nonetheless take note of Cook’s comments above.


Number of employees: 128,000 (worldwide)

Apart from the obvious requisites – high intelligence, a passion for technology and rock-solid skills – Microsoft likes people who can show they give back to their communities.

Given founder Bill Gates’ renowned philanthropy, this should not be a surprise. It doesn’t mean becoming a soup ladler in a homeless shelter but, rather, perhaps volunteering your professional skills to a recognised charity.

Microsoft, like its founder, appreciates employees who give back

However, nothing will enhance your prospects of becoming a “microsoftie” more than being able to demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit. Even keeping a blog will help, and to quote Gayle McDowell: “If volunteering gives recruiters a reason to call, starting something makes them get down on one knee and propose.”



Facebook +86%
Audi +27%
Amazon +25%
VW +23%
Nissan +23%
Starbucks +22%

Note: All rankings in this article are sourced from Interbrand’s 15th annual Best Global Brands Report. The percentage reflects year-on-year change in brand value.

Next month:  Working at some of the world’s most ethical companies – and why they warrant that status.


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