5 keys differences between working at Google and Facebook

5 keys differences between working at Google and Facebook

July 15, 2022
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Glassdoor’s annual 100 Best Places to Work list has just been released with Google at #6 and Facebook at #11 in the 2021 rankings. The rankings are based on employee’s choice and their experience and ratings of each company. Not only do these companies both rank exceptionally high, but they’re far ahead of other FAANG companies, with Apple at #31 and Amazon and Netflix not even on the list.

While both companies offer great perks including access to delicious meals like Buttermilk Fried Chicken Benedict with Bacon Gravy, recreational games and competitive salaries…will your experience at each be the same? Which company pays a higher salary? Which employees experience a better sense of work life balance? Or career growth? Or company culture?

Here are 5 ways they differ:

The company size impacts the quality of experience

Google is a much larger company than Facebook. In fact, it has four times as many employees at 200,000 worldwide, whereas Facebook has 52,000.

Googlers have noted the size of the company as one of the primary challenges of working there. Because the company is so big, employees have had experiences in which they’ve felt they had to fight for projects, discovered multiple teams had been unknowingly focusing on similar projects, faced difficulty with career growth, and felt the organizational structure to be bureaucratic.

Take it from David and other reviewers:

“Google is really big. There are multiple teams doing the same thing and don’t know about each other. There are teams that strongly believe that other teams should not exist. There are giant sections of Google that have been described as “non-Google” because of culture drift and acquisitions. When you go to the holiday party, you will not know 95% of the people there.”

While Google has its challenges that stem from the company size, Facebook differs in that it has a leaner approach to resources which means that individual employees take on more responsibility according to their assigned projects. In some ways, this can be a positive because there is more opportunity to challenge yourself and grow your career; however, since more weight is placed on each individual to execute tasks, many have noted that they work long hours and have difficulty with work life balance.

Wondering about the pros? Turns out that regardless of how the company size impacts the work experience, working with smart people is the highest reported positive feedback on employee experiences at both companies.

Pros at Google & Facebook:

The work pace and speed are vastly different

Google has been around for a longer time than Facebook. Because of that, they have a wider range of projects (like these inspiring moonshot ones under Alphabet), and people to interact with and bring visions to life.. Facebook, on the other hand, rapidly grew its platform and advertising services in a relatively short period of time. When you work at Facebook, you should expect the path from ideation to offering short, with a high potential for pivots.

Take it from Sief:

“Facebook moves faster. This could simply be because it’s a smaller company when it comes to headcount or a difference in philosophy of how to test and ship quality code. Google has more breadth when it comes to products and projects. Google has been around longer, invested in different things over the years and has more people to work on more things. You’ll likely have more potential projects/products to work on at Google.”

This engineer, Brian, agrees:

“Facebook is a “move fast and break things” company. You write your PHP code (I guess now it’s Hack, not PHP), test it in your sandbox, and push it to production the next week. Google seems to have much more stringent requirements for code quality, and releases new features much more slowly. Google has to have more red tape since it’s a bigger company.”

The fast pace of the work is not limited to engineers; employees in a wide range of functions from sales people to product managers are equally affected. We had a chat with Anthony, one of our Facebook coaches, on this in detail – come learn here about how being open to ambiguity, changes and pivots is key.

Salaries are competitive, but one company pays higher

You’re more likely to get a higher salary at Facebook than you would at Google, even if you apply for a similar role at both companies. In fact, Facebook salaries averaged $20,493 higher than Google salaries for the top 3 most common jobs (Software Engineer, Research Scientist, and Program Manager).

Despite the fact that the salaries tend to be lower at Google, Google is one of the top companies that Facebook employees migrate to when they’re ready for a change in their career. Why might that be? Here’s [Paysa’s] theory:

“With the disparity between salaries, why is it that 46 percent of Facebook employees migrate to Google? The answer may lie in other perks offered by the two companies. Google, as the much larger enterprise, offers a number of highly imaginative non-salary perks that may edge out Facebook’s offerings.”

By the way, if you’re thinking of applying to Google as a contractor, come learn more about how the pay is along with the pros and cons in our article, here.

The structure of the organization will impact how you execute your work

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The larger a company gets, the more levels of leadership come into play to manage all of the employees. Since Google is a much larger company, it has more of a vertical model of management in which there are levels of hierarchy and lower-level employees have more defined roles.

Here are thoughts from David, an engineer:

“Because Google is so big, management plays a much bigger role. There are many VPs, directors, managers (not all technical), and tech-leads. Most managers are competent, and I have almost never heard engineers disliking their managers. But there are turf wars, and ideological conflicts on many levels. Google’s culture is that decisions should be distributed, and made bottom up. This means engineers, and project teams have a lot of freedom, but it makes it difficult for teams to cooperate.”

Facebook, on the other hand, has less levels of hierarchy, smaller teams, and people encourage cross-functional communication. What that means is that the company has a culture that feels more “flat” in structure and that lower levels of employees have wider work opportunities (and more responsibility).

Here are David’s thoughts on Facebook:

“Due to the size of Facebook, the hierarchy is much less important, since it’s actually possible to develop relationships with people throughout the company. This means there is a lot more peer-to-peer communication/collaboration than the management structure enables. Some of the managers at Facebook are new to management (having recently switched from engineering) and may not be as good at management as you may like. That said, I’ve been very impressed by the diligence with which they approach their new role, and the effort Facebook puts into selecting the right candidates.”

The vibe at both companies is distinctly different

Some of the notable differences about Google and Facebook’s company culture is that Facebook has a younger demographic and they’re extremely mission driven. This description of “youngness” plays out in how people approach challenges and the level of access they have to guidance on work execution.

Here’s David’s experience from both companies:

“Google is like grad-school. People value working on hard problems, and doing them right. Things are pretty polished, the code is usually solid, and the systems are designed for scale from the very beginning. There are many experts around and review processes set up for systems designs.

“Facebook is more like undergrad. Something needs to be done, and people do it. Most of the time they don’t read the literature on the subject, or consult experts about the “right way” to do it, they just sit down, write the code, and make things work. Sometimes the way they do it is naive, and a lot of time it may cause bugs or break as it goes into production. And when that happens, they fix their problems, replace bottlenecks with scalable components, and (in most cases) move on to the next thing.”

Come check out our article on 6 Things to Know About the Workplace Culture at Facebok

Since Google has more of an “experienced” vibe, some people feel intimidated at certain periods of time at the company. Take it from Rae:

“In the first week of arriving at Google, I immediately thought ‘Hmm, so I’m actually not that dumb’ and I definitely felt a bit of an ego-rush knowing that I am a part of this. However, as time went by I realised working for them actually humble me more and more. There are endless amount of people you can learn from and they are often do not mind having you asking them questions on related matters. There is a comfort knowing that you’re surrounded by very intelligent people that are willing to help you get to their level in no rush and with your own time, because of this I am now twice likely to explore new unrelated skills and things that will be useful to me in the future without having to worry about time-limitations.”

Essentially, the choice you’re making is to either join one company (Google) that feels elite in how people approach problems and interact with each other, versus one (Facebook) where people have a passion and drive for their mission of “Bringing the world together”.

So there you have it! While both companies are highly ranked and have competitive offerings to employees in terms of perks and salaries, your experience can be notably different at each.

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