When it comes to top tech companies, we often hear about office utopias with free food, places to nap and other unique perks that most people don’t even dare to dream of, never mind seek them out. But while a vibrant corporate culture and company recreation make great news, what many people really care about when it comes to the daily grind is getting ahead. Perks are just that, but most employees want concrete benefits in exchange for hard work, and the opportunity to be promoted.

Glassdoor.com
has come up with a list of companies that get top marks for opportunity - that often elusive career coup - based on ratings from real employees. We looked into the top-ranked IT companies on the list and provide some insight into how job seekers can get a foot in the door. (For an interesting read, check out How I Got an IT Job Without a Tech Background.)

Facebook

According to Glassdoor.com’s online survey, 97 percent of respondents would recommend a job at Facebook to a friend, and the company rated highly for opportunity, compensation and benefits, corporate culture, senior leadership, and work/life balance. Plus, it’s largely described as a tech-driven culture, where code is written and shipped out at a blistering pace, and new ideas often emerge from engineers themselves, rather than the executive suite. (10 Things I Hate About Working at Facebook is a great satire piece by a Facebook employee about what it’s like to work there.)

Getting your foot in the door: It won’t be easy. Facebook reportedly gets hundreds of thousands of applications each year, which means that potential candidates are put through the ringer. But according to Facebook employees, the company is looking for passion, team work and someone with the endurance to withstand some the toughest interview questions around. (Check out some of them in The Craziest Tech Interview Questions - and What They Might Mean.)

Check out Facebook’s career page and tips on interviewing for a technical job.

LinkedIn

Although its headquarters is in Mountain View, California, LinkedIn has offices across the United States and the world, including Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Amersterdam, London, Mumbai and Toronto. Despite having more than 175 million users across 200 countries, the company tries to keep its start-up roots. Employees are encouraged to work on projects they’re passionate about, and education and professional development are a major theme. Employees call it a challenging and motivating environment with helpful colleagues.

Getting your foot in the door: If you want to get a job at LinkedIn, the first thing to do is to get on LinkedIn and leverage your profile to get noticed. This will also help you understand the product and the value it presents to users. In a 2011 interview on Mashable, Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s director of global talent acquisition, also recommended that applicants get to know the company by reading its blog and staying current with recent LinkedIn press. A LinkedIn representative told us job seekers should also keep an eye on the careers page, where LinkedIn posts new jobs and its most recent hires.

Check out LinkedIn’s career page.

CareerBuilder.com

Careerbuilder.com is the largest online job site in the United States and it powers career sites for more than 10,000 major websites, including newspapers and major portals. It has about 2,000 employees worldwide, with corporate headquarters in Chicago and technology headquarters in Norcross, Georgia. It get top marks from employees for its strong learning culture and excellent employee benefits. It’s a highly competitive environment, but Careerbuilder also says it gives employees "the freedom to win" by allowing them to make decisions, take risks and own their own accomplishments.

Getting your foot in the door: According to Jennifer Grasz, vice president of corporate communications at CareerBuilder, the company offers different ways for job seekers to stay up to date on openings at the company.

"We post new positions on our online job board, and job seekers can set up alerts to let them know when new opportunities arise," Grasz said via email. "Job seekers can also join our Talent Network. It’s designed to match job seekers’ skills and interests with current and future positions at our company and keep them in the loop with what’s going on at CareerBuilder."

Check out CareerBuilder's career page.

ExactTarget

ExactTarget may not be a big name like Facebook or LinkedIn, but it isn’t exactly a small player. This global Software as a Service provider has more than 1,000 employees over four continents. The company is headquartered in Indianapolis, and was voted one of the top places to work in Indiana five years running. It describes its work environment as an "orange" culture, where innovation, creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit are as essential as a solid educational background and strong references. It’s a competitive work environment (like all software companies) but employees gave it a thumbs up in terms of opportunity.

Getting your foot in the door: ExactTarget is big on entry-level recruitment, and provides what it calls a Catapult Rotational Program Associate position for new hires. This allows new hires to try three different job roles within their first nine months of the job to discover what they enjoy and where they fit in before transitioning to a permanent position.

Check out ExactTarget’s career page.

National Instruments

National Instruments creates graphical programming software, modular, open hardware, and global services and training solutions for engineers, organizations, integrators or OEMs. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, the company scores high marks for corporate culture and career opportunities. National Instruments has more than 5,100 employees worldwide, and is still headed by two of its original co-founders. Each major business function has a dedicated training professional who helps build professional development opportunities for employees, and the company says it aims to hire for the long haul.

Check out National Instruments’ career page.

SAP America

SAP is a multinational software corporation that makes enterprise software. The German company’s American headquarters are found in Newton Square, Pennsylvania, and it has branch offices in a number of other U.S. cities. The company employs more than 55,000 people worldwide, and has gained top marks with employees for compensation, benefits and work/life balance. That’s thanks in part to the company’s flexible work hours, sabbaticals and the opportunity to telecommute. The company’s high marks for providing opportunity for employees may stem from an intensive career development program, including a career portal that employees can use to track, manage and develop their careers.

Check out SAP’s career page.

Akamai Technologies

Akamai is an Internet content delivery network and one of the world’s largest distributed computing platforms. In other words, Akamai operates in the fast-advancing cloud computing space. If you’ve ever shopped online or watched a Web video, chances are you’ve used the company’s cloud platform.

The company has more than 2,300 employees, and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, although it has 30 offices worldwide. Akamai gets solid marks for providing opportunities, compensation, work-life balance and an enjoyable corporate culture to its employees. Plus, employees can take advantage of the resume-boosting power of working for a company that delivers Web content for many of the largest companies and organizations in the world.

Getting your foot in the door: Akamai looks for candidates who are passionate about what they do and have a demonstrated record of achievement - whether at work or academically, Jeff Young, senior director at corporate communications, told us. Akamai also relies on engineers. People who love to solve large, complex problems - and can prove they have the chops to do it - have a better chance of being hired.

Check out Akamai’s career page.