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The No. 1 midsize place to work in IT: LinkedIn

Career growth is on a fast track for IT pros with superior customer-service skills -- with free lunches and theme parties keeping things hopping.

June 23, 2014 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - The No. 1 midsize place to work in IT may be an 11-year-old company with nearly 3,500 employees, yet LinkedIn still very much has the look and feel of a laid-back and oh-so-cool Silicon Valley startup.

Customer service comes first at LinkedIn
Customer service is job No. 1 for LinkedIn's IT department. Here, systems support analyst D'Artagnan Felarca staffs a Tech Lounge, a comfortable support space where employees can relax in beanbag chairs while having their tech problems solved. (Credit: LinkedIn/Khanh Nguyen)

Workers cruise around the company's grassy, college-like campus in Mountain View, Calif., on colorful beach bikes, which are stowed in racks outside each entrance and are free for the riding. There's free, made-to-order food in the cafe, an on-site health club offering strength training equipment and yoga and kickboxing classes, plus legendary parties hosted by IT, which has been known to transform the workplace into a full-on nightclub.

"There are a lot of benefits, like the cool parties when we get to keep the culture happy and entertaining," says 25-year-old Sridevi Rajaraman, who was hired after college graduation and now, as an IT business partner, works with business users on adopting new technologies.

"But the biggest reason I like this job is that it's different every day," she says. "There are different business problems, and I'm really happy to be part of an IT department that has the attitude and intention to help our employees be more productive."

A commitment to customer service is absolutely imperative for anyone working in IT at LinkedIn. So are unparalleled technical chops and, perhaps surprisingly, social skills.

When hiring, "the very first thing we look for is technical skill, but almost as important is how well a person interacts with others," says Mike Jennings, senior director of LinkedIn's $31 million enterprise IT organization. "If someone is extremely intelligent on the technical side but isn't up to par on interaction, we discount them. We have found that's our best bet. Otherwise, you spend too much time trying to teach a person soft skills."

Being a pleasure to do business with is a point of pride for IT at LinkedIn. IT support analysts are available in tech lounges where users are encouraged to make themselves comfortable in beanbag chairs and listen to music as they get their computing problems solved.

When he moved into the top IT role six years ago, Jennings says he was determined to build an IT group with deep customer service skills. The company recruits through LinkedIn and by word of mouth exclusively and offers referral bonuses to employees as an incentive.



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