Decision Makers: Refresh Your Career with Coca-Cola

This new series, Decision Makers, will spotlight what goes on in the minds of people who make the hiring decisions--what they look for, what you should do. Even if you don't want to work for the particular company, there are valuable tips for any job seeker.

job interview Coca-Cola brings many memories to mind. Perhaps it's just lunch from 10 minutes ago. If you're of a certain age, it's the classic 1980 Super Bowl commercial with Pittsburgh Steeler "Mean" Joe Green. If you're of another age, you might remember the 2009 remake with Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Palumalu and a newer brand, Coke Zero.

Coke isn't exactly a small family business; there are more than 92,000 employees around the world. That's a long way from 1886, when Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton brought a jug of his new concoction to a local pharmacy. The first Coca-Cola was sold for 5 cents a glass. Adjusted for inflation, that works out to $1.18 today. You can find fountain drinks today for $1.50-$2.00, so Coke remains a bargain.

According to The Coca-Cola Company, people drink nearly 1.6 billion servings of their products every day. That's as if every person in the United States had 5 Cokes today. But if you work at Coca-Cola's Atlanta Headquarters, employees have access to free Coca Cola products. To some people, that perk beats free coffee.

That secret recipe remains a secret held only by a few people. The formula is patented, but because of trade secret regulations, you won't find the recipe on the U.S. Patent Office website. And the recognizable bottle dates back to an early method of quality control. Coca-Cola started using the famous contour bottle in 1916 so consumers would know they were getting "the real thing," even in the dark.

(See salaries for positions at The Coca-Cola Company.)

I'd Like to Buy the WORLD a Coke

Coke conducts business almost every country so there's a global approach. When you work for Coke, either filling vending machines or guarding the secret recipe, Tom McGuire, Global Director of Talent Acquisition, says that a global view matters. "It is our people and their ability to connect with each other and communities around the globe that really makes the magic happen," he says.

Even if you're applying to work in the mail room, be assured that the company hires with future promise in mind. "We try to approach most interviews as candidates for leadership positions, either now or in the future." says McGuire. While some companies might give a candidate with raw talent a "shot," Coca-Cola isn't one of them. "While there are always exceptions, we prefer to take potential and add development to it rather than just giving someone a "shot" at an important role," he says.

Insider Tip

One tip from McGuire works at Coca-Cola, but you might find success with this tactic at other companies. He advocates connecting your past with your potential future. "I have found that there are times in the interview process where the right person is able to connect an example from their past experience that perfectly fits what the interviewer is looking for in the conversation," he says.

Live to Work? Get a Life!

Coca-Cola wants you to get a life. The company's "Live Positively" program encourages employees to be active, live environmentally-conscious lives, volunteer in communities, and choose beverages that match their lifestyles.

Talking about hobbies and interests on your résumé and in interviews matters at this beverage king. What you do outside work gives hiring managers a sense of how you would be at work. "Knowing and discussing these personal interests helps give us a sense of what motivates an individual and how they might respond to our culture," says McGuire.

The "P" Word

There are all kinds of stories of people who work for Coca-Cola allegedly getting fired for drinking or even saying "Pepsi" on the job. The company asserts that it's a myth--saying the word P-e-p-s-i is not cause for termination. But a true company man, McGuire says, "Why would they need any other beverage in their vocabulary?!"

-- Coca Cola Job Openings

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