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Want to Work for Google? For Starters, Don’t be a Knave

June 24, 2015 - Written By Lucius Bossio

Have you always dreamt of working for Google? Does the thought of working on one of Google’s state of the art campuses whilst earning an average salary of $141,000 keep you up at night? Well, Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former SVP of product management Jonathan Rosenberg have some pertinent advice just for you. The book about management “How Google Works“, which the pair co-authored, reveals the secret to getting and maintaining a job with everyone’s favorite big data, software, and services company.

To get your foot in the door, strong knowledge of software development, data analytics, and statistics are a great place to start. It is no secret that Google is a very large company who feeds off of talented employees. According to Schmidt and Rosenberg Google is always on the lookout for new people and getting a job with the software giant is not actually that difficult as the company is desperate for smart workers.

Ok, so you are a master of statistics and have just been hired, how best do you keep your dream job at Google? The answer to this question is somewhat comical and provides a great deal of insight into the corporate culture of Google. According to Rosenburg, Google’s management is constantly engaged in a tireless hunt for “knaves”; nothing will get you expelled from Google’s campus faster than being knavish. What exactly is a knave, you ask? In their book Eric Schmidt and Rosenburg go to great lengths to explain what exactly this devilish trait is and why it is so toxic given the environment they are trying to foster at Google. Knaves are sloppy, selfish, sneaky, jealous, arrogant, and devoid of integrity. Knavish behavior includes distasteful acts such as taking credit for someone else’s work, selling a customer something they don’t need or benefit from, and not cleaning up the Lean Cuisine you blew up in the company microwave.

Knaves, like a virus slowly taking over its host, must be expunged. Knaves are so annoying and ill-willed that they drive away good employees, thus too many knaves can cripple a company and eventually take over if “knave density” gets too high. “If you get more than a few of these knaves, people don’t want to come into work in the morning”, according to Rosenburg. Knaves are also leaky, states Rosenburg, which perhaps explains why Google is quite good at keeping projects under wraps for a company of their size, as being deemed a “knave” within Google is practically a death sentence. All told, Schmidt and Rosenburg’s tales of knavish rogues strongly reflect the company’s “don’t be evil” mantra. Google doesn’t just hope they remain altruistic, “don’t be evil” isn’t simply a buzzword without substance; the company actively fosters integrity within their employees by discouraging knavish behavior. In summation: keeping your job at Google depends more upon the kind of person you are and how well you play with others, rather than whether or not you invent the world’s “next big thing”.