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Great place but substandard pay

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Contractor - Software Development Engineer In Test IV in Redmond, WA
Former Contractor - Software Development Engineer In Test IV in Redmond, WA

I worked at Microsoft as a contractor (more than a year)

Recommends
Neutral Outlook
Disapproves of CEO
Recommends
Neutral Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

Pros

* Great for building your resume!
* Very friendly, laid-back atmosphere.
* Enough challenging projects to keep one from getting bored.
* Free drinks.
* The feeling that the work you're doing actually matters.
* I know there are a lot of cons, but I still felt that my experience at M$ was very positive overall. Obviously, I would've liked to have had the opportunity to continue working there, but I just couldn't get past the beurocracy. It was still fun, though!

Cons

* Pay scale is significantly below industry standards.
* Most positions are contracts, which cannot exceed a year in length (after which you cannot work there for at least three months) and carry absolutely no benefits.
* Extremely difficult to tailor resume keywords to get past automated filters. You can get past that if you're a contractor and they like you, but only if your department has been allocated funds for another FTE by the higher-ups, which is very difficult to get approval for.
* Contractors and vendors are otherwise treated no differently than people who have never worked at Microsoft in terms of applying for full-time positions. Non-FTEs can't even access the internal jobs site to apply; they have to use the public one that is notoriously difficult to reach human eyes.
* I've seen contractors and vendors who have been there for years ("mandatory three-month unpaid vacation," as many have come to call it, notwithstanding of course) and never even been able to get an interview for an FTE position. This is unfortunate because there's a lot of really good talent there.
* If you're an OSS developer, don't expect a lot of job security. Steve Ballmer has frequently expressed contempt for open source software. Though some of the senior leadership is more supportive, Mr. Ballmer has made sure that the few OSS projects/teams that are authorized are given minimal budgets. It's also not uncommon for those departments to be suddenly dissolved by the upper management without explanation. It had just started happening to mine when my contract was up, so thankfully it didn't affect me.

Advice to Management

1. Open source is your friend. Bring more OSS people into your ranks. These people can add a lot of insight about ways to improve performance and security. Like it or not, Steve, Linux is not going to disappear. Apple embraced BSD and look how much that helped them!
2. Stop relying so heavily on long-term contractors. It may save a few pennies here and there but all you're doing is training good talent and then sending them to go work for your competitors.
3. Update your pay scale across the board. A quick Google search will tell you that it's not very competitive as it stands right now.
4. Fire whoever came up with that ugly "Metro" interface for Windows 8. Seriously, it looks terrible. When I see a bunch of Skittles-colored squares with sharp corners, I'm not thinking, "Wow, this looks so cool and futuristic!" I'm thinking, "Wow, this would make a great toy for my 6-year-old niece!"

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  1. Best place I have worked at

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer In Test (SDET) in Redmond, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer In Test (SDET) in Redmond, WA

    I worked at Microsoft full-time (more than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Salary
    Benefits
    Peers - very intelligent
    Career paths

    Cons

    There is no check/balance to ensure you and your manager are compatible

    Advice to Management

    Do a better job sharing the company's vision to the rest of the company
    Better marketing is necessary
    Target consumers more

  2. Helpful (6)

    Not the company it was.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Principal/Director in Redmond, WA
    Former Employee - Principal/Director in Redmond, WA

    I worked at Microsoft full-time (more than 10 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Good compensation, benefits, access to technology.

    Cons

    Almost everything these days is downside. The worst part of the company is its senior management--their strategy and executional ability is terrible. The company has an awful HR culture--no matter what HR represents, everything above level 65 is political and based on the subjective opinion of some inept VP. Great place to start your career. Leave at level 63.

    Advice to Management

    Fire Steve Ballmer, and eliminate stack ranking.

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