Whether you made your connection at a career fair booth, or submitted your application online, getting an interview at Microsoft is a coveted honor for any tech professional looking to make it big in the industry. And if you’re fortunate enough to receive a job offer, stand a little prouder and count yourself amongst the chosen few.
Microsoft has been a tour de force in the tech industry for decades, wielding tremendous influence over trends, innovation, and the daily lives of its end users. Nearly everybody in the developed world has at some point touched or interacted with one of their products. They are also known for being a great employer to those who can hack their high expectations. Microsoft jobs pay well and help to define lasting career distinction.
If you want to succeed with this tech giant, it’s important for you to get it right from day one. Joining an organization that employs well over 100K people isn’t a simple process, but it doesn’t have to be scary either. To help you through along this journey, Paysa has compiled this easy guide to Microsoft’s employee onboarding process.
Microsoft has a number of specialized HR and tech professionals who are solely dedicated to onboarding, the employee experience, and the career lifecycle of their employees. However, employee onboarding is treated as not just a job for HR, but a job for everyone to offer their support and membership to recruits. The whole team strives to make the first days of work feel special and to make the experience rewarding and exciting.
Each week, Microsoft holds something called NEO or New Employee Orientation for the new hires who are starting that week. This orientation mostly revolves around rudimentary HR and compliance topics. According to one employee, there are usually about 100 new-hires a week at Microsoft so that you will be there with several of your peers.
This is an excellent opportunity to land softly in your new work surroundings and get to know a little bit about Microsoft as an organization. At the NEO, you’ll watch a prerecorded presentation from CEO, Satya Nadella, go through a few admittedly silly ice-breakers, and get some information about transportation and other logistics. You’ll also learn about your stock options, your health insurance, your 401K, vacation time, etc. Employees will receive a Windows Phone and laptop to use for work and will be walked through basic IT protocol.
If you’re feeling unsure about your new role after day one, sit tight and relax because day two will likely be more informative and help put you at ease.
The second day is when things really start to roll. You’ll go to your new office where your desk and email will be set up for you. You’ll probably have a few onboarding emails waiting for you to help you get situated and answer some frequently asked questions about your role, your team, and your department. You will likely be assigned a mentor, who has been with Microsoft for a few years and will be your go-to person for questions. Microsoft is known for its inquisitive culture of learning so remember—there is no such thing as a dumb question. According to one new Microsoft employee who shared their experience on Quora, their mentor even helped them find a space heater when their office was too cold.
One of the first things you may notice in your early days at Microsoft is a large amount of personal freedom granted to employees. According to a Microsoft veteran of nearly two decades, employees order their own supplies, customize their offices to their personal tastes, schedule their own trips and meetings, decide when to arrive and when to leave, choose how they dress and are allowed to work remotely (within reason). Especially starting out, you will have a lot of support from your mentor, but nobody will be holding your hand. Deadlines are strict but are set with the input of the team to keep expectations realistic. The level of freedom will vary greatly from one department to the next, but it won’t take you long to get a feel for how things run in your role.
Extended Onboarding for Recent Grads
For recent college graduates, Microsoft has a specialized onboarding program called Microsoft’s Academy of College Hires or MACH. The MACH program lasts for two years and begins with an intensive threes. Week one, dubbed “Start Strong”, consists of additional learning and familiarizing the new hire with their department and their role. Week two is the MACH Conference, which is considered by many to be an exciting experience. It’s a multi-day event that consists of meeting lots of new people and networking with your colleagues. DuringWeek three, you’ll reunite with your fellow new-hires to attend specialized training programs and practice the competencies you’ll be using on the job through some role-playing scenarios. Here you’ll do a lot of self-discovery and learn more than you can imagine about Microsoft, your colleagues, and yourself as a worker.
After an intense three weeks, you’ll begin the process of settling into your role and your day-to-day responsibilities. You may start by shadowing someone or assisting on projects, depending on your job and department. Over the next two years, Microsoft will continue to offer you world-class training and continued support through their MACH program until you feel confident in your position.
Depending on your department, you may find that in your earliest Microsoft days there isn’t much to do. You will not be expected to know everything when you first start and learning the ropes of your new company will be an ongoing journey. Spend this down time familiarizing yourself with the programs you’ll be using. The most basic of these will likely be Outlook, SharePoint, Project Studio, and any other tools your team uses, which will vary widely depending on your function and department. If these are not outlined for you in the first couple of days on the job, it’s wise to follow-up with your mentor or manager for further information.
As time goes on, you’ll want to regularly check-in with your mentor and manager to find out what you’ll be working on and absorb as much information as you can. Talk to your peers, especially those who were in your NEO group and who are on your team, read as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Microsoft culture is generally nice and friendly so expect people to be open and receptive to interaction—especially in their Seattle location.
Keeping in mind that Microsoft with a huge company with employing more than 100K people worldwide, the employee experience will differ a lot due to your region, department, and function. However, another employee who recently posted on Quora said that they enjoy fair working hours, a good salary, and great benefits for themselves and their family.
While Microsoft has many offices and workspaces around the world, it’s not unlikely that your recruitment will require you to relocate, at least temporarily to their Seattle offices. The process can be challenging—especially if you are relocating from overseas, but Microsoft provides ample relocation support for employees and their families.
According to one Microsoft employee who moved from Australia to Seattle for his role, this support includes:
- Microsoft’s relocation/onboarding department
- An outsourced relocation provider to coordinate logistics
- A moving company in your home region to pick up your things and assist with moving
- A US-based delivery company to deliver your items to you new home
- If necessary, an immigration attorney to help with your Visa application and approval
- A corporate housing provider
- Financial planning services
- Rental car providers
If you’re working in Seattle, you will likely find it to be a fabulous location. While Seattle has a reputation for rain, it actually receives less precipitation on average compared to other US cities and enjoys relatively mild and comfortable weather. Another perk for employees here is that Microsoft makes commuting much easier with their commute program. This includes shuttle service to their 500-acre campus, connector buses, abundant parking, and carpool/biking reimbursement as an incentive to be a little greener.
The Bottom Line
The object of Microsoft’s employee onboarding process is to enhance the new employee experience for thousands of recruits a year while improving the odds of employee retention. With specialized paths and supports for new hires, expats, and various sub-specialties, it’s obvious that they go to great lengths to help employees at every stage of their career lifecycle and get you started on the right footing.