One of frequent questions we get from people reaching for guidance or mentorship is related to figuring out what are things they should look for when starting their journey, hope this blog helps a bit.
Mission - what is company about, what is dream, or north star of people coming together. What kind of impact is going to have.How it is going to help you in your lifelong journey, and in the short term, for your next thing to do.
Diversity - gender, cultural, race, background (same school, industry) location. It’s one of the MUST criterias when picking a company, if you are eager to discover more, and your ambitions push you to change the world asap.
Team competence/caliber - People you interact with on a daily basis, the learning is a 2 way process, if there is a big gap of competence in a team, sometimes it becomes boring or time consuming and less joy for higher level of engineers. Who does not want to work with rock stars? So, we need a right balance, and even team building architects for that.
Title - depends on the company, sometimes higher title means your creativity or ideas can be valued more. For the external world is also good, when presenting in conferences or meeting new people, to make 1st quick first impression, obviously you need to figure out how to back it up with other stuff depending on the context.
Customer - As direct, the people you serve, coming to you with requests you should fulfill or as indirect who are users of the product, where you are indirectly involved. If you have friends in both circles you are lucky, hearing informal feedback is always good to do a better job.
Process - Sometimes the process is too generalized in company level to avoid management overhead, but burns some teams, which should be a red flag and requires immediate action before the team crew start finding joy in some other places.
Tech stack - the stack is important, especially if the company wants to continue hiring the top engineering on market, either fresh or higer levels. Being, uptodate with technologies used, makes it smooth in the hiring part as well and keeps employees for longer run.
Projects/tasks - Here includes what is required to do from you on a daily basis, tasks, problems to solve, collaboration etc. If your time distribution is more than 30% takes to do routine things, it’s a red flag, start rethinking about automation or ways to bring the percentage down.
Product - The final product matters, if you are a direct user of it as well, so lucky for you, if not, need a bit effort to learn more about it, and keep consistent excitement.
Leadership - The transparency matters, sometimes the information flow when comes from top to bottom, is refined, so integrity of message matters to avoid the gossips, emotional and motivational harm to culture and individuals at same time avoid potential exclusion. Also, instead of trying to find an excuse not to promote you, if the managers can be direct about budget, quotas for promotion would make things easier for most people.
Training - The continuous training will help individuals, and overall companies to stay updated in the competition space, for making agile decisions, continuous innovation, happy customers, productivity increase, also a good way to slow down a bit and have a different perspective to what we do.
Company reputation/brand - It is good, especially if you are in an early stage in your career and need to grab attention, again it’s not only a way, but one of things nice to have. It is not a secret, most companies benefit from open source projects, but do they give back to the community ? Is there opportunity for you to take part on this journey ? How many times, you need to name a company and what it’s doing ? Are you going down the entrepreneurship path as a next step, and how is it going to help you, when talking to investors, engineers, customers etc. ?
Immigration - Another legacy thing needs to be fixed as part of globalization, borning in different parts of the world should not be an advantage, but reality is different. If you are one of them, sorry to say but, you need to work double to shadow this part and make sure the company is willing to take care of that part.
Speed - It’s one of debatable metrics, some likes some does not. The overall company growth combines mainly hiring speed, market share or selling speed, and product development speed. So, continuously getting feedback and adjusting it, will help to go longer and without burned out crew.
Reward(base salary, equity, health insurance etc.) - As a final step, we are getting hired to generate a value, which ends up converted to cash, thanks to customers who are seeing enough value on the final sum of work we are doing. I wish we had a better way to get paid, but for now it’s the only way. So, if in some cases, the company is trying to reason that you are merchandise etc. it does not make sense. Rent, food, health insurance, gas, gifts, family needs if you have one and other things depending on individuals are few among values generated that we need cash. So if you are having hard time of negotiation, below is a use case which makes sense:
IF I get X amount, means I need to go out and find a cheaper option, or commute kids to school in another district, which ends up time and energy loss for me, and instead I would like to invest this time on self development on my job. So, pushing to get paid, above market average is debatable, and requires reasoning, what you bring to the table.
So, it must be part of conversation, but not the deal breaker, and with a couple rounds of negotiation should come to a conclusion if agreed on rest.
IF none of them keeps you happy, you know what is a logical next step. If some of them makes you unhappy, try to change and make sure you are getting heard, if still the same, rethink and move on. If all looks good to you, either it’s your Day01, or love made you blind or you are one of few lucky people who is in the right time, right place with right people. Still a small alert for you, think if you would still be happy in that place in 5-10 years' time span, what things will change or might change in your life, and if that changes won’t trigger any red flags in your happiness.
Obviously, there are so many other things need to consider, but constantly monitoring, preferable quarterly will help you to be proactive and keep the joy:
- 0 - RED Flag, requires immediate action
- 1 - Unhappy, but can be changed
- 2 - Good for time being
- 3 - Happy, great
So, try to evaluate the criterias in your list, and if the average is above 50% continue doing what you are doing or try pushing it up a bit more, if below 50% start having conversations with people can help to change it, or if nothing helps get ready for your next journey.
Hope you enjoyed reading it, and helps in your journey, as always I love to say:
Nobody is wrong, adjust your body.