Company culture

Is Working at Microsoft Considered Prestigious?

A critical look at whether Microsoft belongs in FANG.

With a market capitalization over $1.58 trillion and dozens of ubiquitous products on the market, Microsoft is considered by some to be the most successful software company.

However, despite its global prominence as an industry leader, it doesn’t always get as much attention in recruitment as its FAANG counterparts.

So what does that mean for its industry reputation?

Hint: Working at Microsoft is prestigious.

Will working at Microsoft be a weaker resume boost than Apple or Google?

According to some people, yes.

As what many describe as more of a “traditional company,” Microsoft isn’t known for the fast-paced culture that many tech giants boast. Headquartered in Redmond, WA, it’s not even technically a Silicon Valley company.

One former Microsoft employee said that he sensed an air of superiority from Silicon Valley competitors when he was working in the company’s Mountain View office.

“People would either assume I was from Seattle or belittle the company as being ‘way past its prime,’” he said.

No matter how much you emphasize Microsoft’s success and stability, many can’t get over the fact that a company of its size isn’t on the verge of taking off, only because it already has.

“It’s just about hype, is all,” said one commenter on Blind.

Despite its abundance of newer products like Microsoft Edge and the latest Surface Pro, Microsoft also maintains many legacy products, like Excel or Word. Engineers may find these projects less exciting, and therefore are less likely to fight over a chance to get involved.

But this perceived ranking isn’t universally accepted.

Despite its critics, by many accounts, Microsoft is ranked at least as highly as rival tech companies. Some speculate that Microsoft’s negative reputation in part stems from its leadership history, particularly its controversial CEO Steve Ballmer. However, if that’s truly the case, the company has been recovering since Satya Nadella took over in 2014.

Nadella has gained high praise inside and outside the company, ranking #6 in Glassdoor’s list of Top CEOs in 2019, with a 98% approval rating.

Microsoft also rivals many competitors in employee perks, which have almost come to be expected among many in the tech industry.

  • In addition to the standard benefits like dental coverage and discounted company shares, Microsoft employees at the Redmont campus get an assortment of other luxurious perks, including free lunches, game rooms, and on-site gyms.
  • While these bonuses may be comparable to those found at many Silicon Valley companies, they put Microsoft a level above Amazon and Apple, who notoriously don’t offer free food for employees.

Even as an established, successful company, Microsoft is still continuing to grow.

While the coronavirus has hit many companies’ revenue over the past few months, it actually gave Microsoft a boost. The software company reported $36.9 billion in Q2 revenue, compared to $33.1 billion the quarter before. In the report, it revealed that the cloud computing service Azure was up 62%, while Surface revenue increased by 6% and LinkedIn by 24%.

A Forbes article speculated that shutdowns played a crucial part in this growth, saying that they “accelerated cloud usage from current customers yet the most important impact is that it forced slow-to-adopt companies and industries to migrate to the cloud overnight.” Several of Microsoft’s other products, like Skype and Teams, are also well-fitted for remote work, so the company probably won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Microsoft nearly doubles its budget for employee salaries in 2022

In a move to show its appreciation for its employees and retain talent, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told employees on May 16th that the company would be raising compensation. In fact, the company intends to “nearly double” the budget for employee salary increases and raise equity ranges by at least 25% for employees at level 67 and below.

This is happening at a time when many companies are instituting mass layoffs and the inflation rate reached a high of 8.3% in April.

"As we approach our annual total rewards process, we are making a significant additional investment this year to compensate our employees globally," the company said in its statement. "While we have factored in the impact of inflation and rising cost of living, these changes also recognize our appreciation to our world-class talent who support our mission, culture and customers, and partners."

Nadella explained that salary budget increases will vary from country to country and “the most meaningful increases will be focused where the market demands.”

So is Microsoft prestigious? It depends on who you ask.

As many tech veterans will tell you, the reputation behind a company name rarely matters as much as the experience you gain and the impact you make there. Microsoft is known for hiring talented developers and leading the industry in innovation. At the same time, some find it difficult to make a lasting imprint on a company of 150,000 employees, and to resist feeling like a small cog in a big machine.

Instead of focusing purely on prestige, look into employee reviews and company values to determine if it’s a good fit for you and vice versa. Despite the notoriety of software giants like Google and Facebook, many criticize their business model of offering free products and profiting off of consumer data, praising companies like Microsoft for making their money more directly.

Wherever companies you’re looking into working at, there’s more important qualities to focus on than purely brand recognition. And anyway, catchy acronyms like GAFA or FAANG are usually pretty arbitrary.

One commenter on Hacker News said that the only reason Microsoft didn’t make the cut is “because that would make it harder to pronounce.”

👉 To read about Microsoft's employee benefits, check out our article: “Make the Most of Life” Using Microsoft's Benefits

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