Want To Get A Job At Apple? Here's How
Do you want to wear your favorite jeans, swing from a trapeze in a giant transparent cube, and predict the future? Working at Apple may not be exactly like that, but it's probably the closest you can get.
Apple is hiring for a whole host of positions, from engineers at its corporate headquarters to customer service reps and Geniuses at its 259 retail stores across the country. And while Apple's sales folks can push hundreds of thousands of dollars of merchandise a year and take home a dust fragment of that themselves, Apple historically has paid slightly more than your average retailer ($11.82 an hour was the average, according to Glassdoor, compared to $8.87 an hour at a Walmart). But after a tough New York Times article, Apple this summer announced it was lifting wages by as much as 30 percent and giving employees discounts on iPads and Macs.
On the other end of the spectrum, Apple senior software engineers have earned a pretty $126,454 a year on average -- slightly less, however, than similar positions at Facebook ($132,503) and Google ($141,705).
An Apple spokeswoman refused to respond to our questions, but luckily a bunch of former Apple employees have offered up their insights on getting the job. The exact number and nature of the interviews vary, they say, but there's one thing that Apple looks for in all its new hires: being obsessed with Apple. Apple is a cultish brand, and it wants its representatives to be swimming in the Kool Aid.
One person posting on Glassdoor.com applied to be a specialist at Apple in Providence Rhode Island, and the manager asked if he or she owned any Apple products. "Like an idiot I said 'no,'" the poster writes. The manager then replied matter-of-factly, "I don't know if you can work here if you don't own any Apple products." This particular applicant did not receive an offer.
"Humanize it a little bit," advises Tom McGraw, 26, who worked as an Apple specialist in Virginia for two years. McGraw suggests mentioning specific projects or experiences you've had involving the Apple logo, such as saying, "I used iMovie to make this really cool video for my friend's birthday."
Even applicants for customer service positions may be asked gentle technical questions, like "What is the most challenging technical problem you've been faced with and how did you overcome it?" or "Describe a time you explained something technical to an older person."
But Apple isn't looking to fill its ranks with sun-starved code-monkeys, at least when it comes to retail positions. They want extroverts. They want charisma.
Many individuals who apply online get invited to an Apple "job fair," which various stores host on a regular basis. These 20 to 30 hopefuls are often greeted by some hip and perky track of the moment (when Cult of Mac blogger Buster Heine attended one, MGMT was the artist of choice), as well as a somewhat disorienting standing ovation.
"It's like running a camp workshop," said McGraw, who helped run job fairs at his store. The applicants are given tasks to test how comfortable they are speaking in front of people and interacting with strangers. It could be that applicants are required to stand up and introduce the person next to them, or they may be broken into teams and asked to prepare a presentation.
"It's almost like shopping for a puppy," McGraw said. "What puppy is the most playful and fun?"
No matter what position you're vying for, Apple still places a lot of faith in the referral, according to Electricpig, the gadget news site. So if you know someone at the company who can vouch for your brilliance, call in that favor. Even if you don't technically know anyone who works at Apple, try wooing your LinkedIn contacts.
There are plenty of other tales of unlikely entries into the Apple fold, like recruits tapping people who contribute sweet apps to the App store or who answer questions in Apple support forums. And once you accept that offer, you'll join the loved-up work culture Apple has carefully cultivated through its hiring practices. "In terms of the work environment, it's probably the best job I've ever had," said McGraw.
The 25 percent employee discount doesn't hurt either. "And if you really are an Apple fanboy and really like the company.... it's cool to be around when new products launch," says McGraw. "You're the first person to play with it, and to be around the whole thing."
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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