- 18 Jun 08, 20:40 GMT
Let's get to the money part first.
Engineers at Google rake in an average of $113,000 (£58,000) including compensation, while over at Microsoft and Yahoo it's around $106,000 (£54,000). The penny pinchers in this equation are Apple, who pays its engineers a measly $89,000 (£45,000).
Still I suppose the Apple crew do get to work on some of the coolest products on planet earth, and I am guessing they get a good employee discount to boot.
All this information is courtesy of workers at these firms who have anonymously lifted the lid on the sacrosanct topic of their wage slip. And they are sharing this with the world via a new website that has just recently gone live called Glassdoor.com.
The aim of the site is to provide information about everything from career opportunities to management culture and from salary to what the boss is like.
Jerry Yang, post-Microsoft, is having a tawdry time in the approval ratings. To date he scores a dismal 46% compared to his nemesis, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, at 55%.
The mission, says Glassdoor, is to "bring more transparency to the workplace so that everyone has the information needed to make better career decisions."
I think if you are a top notch engineer considering a move to Silicon Valley you would be mightily depressed by these salaries. So perhaps in this case, ignorance is bliss because it would allow you to go to a company with real conviction demanding the heavens.
On the other hand, I guess human resources will love it because they can keep expectations low.
But hey, it's not all about the dollars and cents. What about career satisfaction and development?
Let's look at what is being said about Google, which comes out top in survey after survey as one of the most desired places to work.
One review is titled "Awesome culture, bad management". Another says "Fun at first, frustrating in the long run". Uh oh!
Someone else carps that "Google is deteriorating at the edges" while someone else really goes for the solar plexus by noting "Google: an elitist's playground". Ouch!
There are positive reviews but they aren't as much fun as, say, that last posting from a past employee which goes on to say: "If you enjoy your individuality and time alone, Google is not the place for you. Google pushes a highly 'Googley' atmosphere, which is something akin to what the Brady Bunch would be if they lived in Communist Russia.
"People are encouraged to have Googley attitudes, wear plastic smiles, and not to question the infallible nature of the executive management group."
Okay, enough vitriol! But, man, don't you just love reading this stuff? And that's why Forbes has dubbed the site "Workplace porn".
It's car crash rubber necking at its best.
But love it or hate it, it seems to be a runaway success if the numbers are to be believed: 32,000 reviews covering nearly 7,000 companies from people in 165 countries and 1.2m page views on day one.
Impressive stuff, but should we care? Well, that rather depends on whether or not you are looking to work at any of these companies. CEO Robert Hohman, formerly President of Hotwire, makes a good point for the need for Glassdoor.
"Google serves up 15.4m sites with reviews for the iPhone, yet I can't find a good site that can tell me what it's really like to work for Apple."
He can now because the reviews of Apple vary from "Awesome company" to "Dead end career".
The issue of course comes with trusting what you read on the site. Mr Hohman claims that every effort is made to verify the anonymous reviewers are bone fide and that actually "We're rejecting one or two out of every 10 reviews because they violate our community guidelines in some way, are clearly bogus, or it's someone trying to post duplicates."
Hm, that seems quite high to me and given the recent volume of reviews, it might seem wise to read some of the extremely gushing or caustic ones with a healthy bit of scepticism.
And just to prove it's not all about negativity, the company is actually offering reviewers $500 for the most thoughtful posting.
The winner first time out is someone who works for Netflix and writes that the company is all about "Freedom and responsibility. You're treated like an adult. You're part of a pro team that is highly functioning. You matter."
As for advice for senior management, the reviewer writes "I have none. Senior management is fantastic, smart, focused and led by example."
Now, depending on how cynical you are, you are either looking up Netflix's phone number or asking for someone to pass the sick bag.
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