What's MOST important to YOU when considering a new engineer position?

Marketing manager at InfoTrust here trying to figure out how to best attract software engineers to our open positions. As I'm not an engineer myself, I'd really like to hear from actual software engineers on what you value most when looking for (or even considering) a new job.

Is it...

  • Job flexibility? Like the ability to work remotely or take PTO when you want/need?
  • Stability of the company? (Startup vs. long-established corporation, for example)
  • Basic things like location, pay, and benefits? (401k, short commute, etc.)
  • Something else? (Please tell me if I'm not even THINKING about what I should be focused on.)

Really trying to figure out what aspects of our open jobs and our company culture I should be highlighting in promotions.

Appreciate your help!

Lisa Quera's photo

It speaks so well of you and your corporate culture that you're asking the community you'd like to reach, without making assumptions. In my opinion, you list table stakes. Excellence in attributes like flexibility and benefits are base expectations for qualified engineers with choices. What matters most to me when making a decision on how to spend my time: 1) the problems I get to solve, and 2) the people I get to work with in the process of solving them. If you highlight what is compelling about those two things then I think the right people will get excited and connect. Good luck and I hope you find great people/position fits!

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Lisa Quera's photo

Finds joy in making stuff

Anything can be compelling (the opportunity to learn a new skill or to stretch an existing one, the opportunity to innovate or to optimize, even solving old problems but tailoring for a new community), it all depends on the person. What's compelling about a specific problem set may flip my switch but be completely boring to someone else. Just be honest about what you're trying to accomplish (ie. communicate the needs of the stakeholders the engineer will serve) and it will resonate with the right person.

Chase Howell's photo

Marketing Manager

Excellent insight, thanks Lisa.

Mark's photo

Well where I live, 401k and paid time off are arranged guaranteed by law, to a large extent.

But generally the "basic things" you mention seems to be the important things - salary and commute.

Probably another thing to attract code monkeys is challenge and ability to learn. Perhaps friendly atmosphere that's efficient but not too stressful.

Chase Howell's photo

Marketing Manager

Awesome insight, thanks Mark. "Friendly atmosphere that's efficient, but not too stressful." LOVE IT.

Tyler Fowler's photo

For me personally, in no particular order:

PTO/Other leave

I very much prefer the "unlimited" policy in terms of vacation, from my experience with it it's a no brainer. As for things like personal days or sick leave, it's very important for me that these things aren't strictly tracked. At my current job I overlooked this aspect due to excitement about other areas and I've come to realize how important this is. Things like timesheets or otherwise managing (and spending) rollover days and such are a pain and frankly counterproductive. Particularly given that I can work from anywhere, I have a very low bar for taking a sick day. Even if I'm just feeling a little under the weather I can either stay home, work a full-ish day and be comfortable, or go to the office, work a full day and be miserable. Of course the former makes for a more productive day (generally speaking) and I respect an employer who's willing to think beyond traditional convention on the subject.

Flexibility of Hours

A question I like to ask when being interviewed is this,

If I wanted to work from 11am to 1am, can I do that in your organization?

Reading between the lines, I'm asking whether your org values office face-time over actual productivity. I have a lot of respect for companies that trust their employees to know when they're going to be most productive, and that they will be.

Additionally work from home days are a must, either set days (a previous employer liked to do Tuesdays and Thursdays) or whenever a person feels necessary. Though I somewhat prefer the former. Again, given that as an engineer I can work from anywhere, if I want to power through a problem or something at home I want to be able to have the freedom to do so.

Stability of Company

This is highly subjective, I personally prefer startups because of the environment but I've known plenty of great people who dislike these environments and find them frustratingly chaotic. What I do not like though, is large companies "operating like a startup". To me this says that the company has likely chosen not to deal with growing pains and may be seriously lacking in things large orgs need like process, documentation, etc... But I'll freely admit that this preference is biased from some past experiences.

Employee Impact

It's important for me to know where I stand within an organization that I'm entering and what I stand to influence within it. Knowing that I can help make tech or process decisions helps me set expectations around culture or org hierarchy and is helpful for me to determine how fair a compensation package might be.

The Work

It's an absolute requirement for me that the work I'm doing be interesting to me personally. While of course from time to time an engineer might need to put in some tedious or otherwise boring work, generally the work given to me should be challenging and growth oriented. If I'm working on something I find boring for a long period of time with no light at the end of the tunnel, I simply can't stay. Something that helps immensely with this problem are organizations that encourage engineers to move to projects or even teams that they find most interesting given that they're otherwise a good fit for it. Tech stack also plays a big role here, and I particularly appreciate it when an employer gives me room to fail in order to learn a new technology.

Chase Howell's photo

Marketing Manager

Tyler Fowler This is INCREDIBLE. Thank you.

Right there with you on the unlimited PTO (which fortunately we have, so we can promote that). Same with flexibility of hours (especially since we have clients across the globe and offices in Dubai, Barcelona, etc.).

Appreciate you taking the time to give such an extensive answer!

Joseph S Stevens's photo

To me, work from home days are a must have. Second is the technical stack, I'm rather picky about it.

My biggest fear is I'm walking into a decade of technical debt, but it's so hard to know 😨

Arpit Mohan's photo

That's a great question! To begin with, I'd say, take a look at the developer survey by StackOverflow here. That's the global trend.

Most of the points that you listed are table stake offerings by any company for any candidate in any role. Some of the things that would excite me as a developer would be:

  1. The actual role / responsibility in the job. What would I be doing? Why is it challenging? Is this a large problem that I'd still be solving 5 years down the line? If yes, sign me up.

  2. What's the sort of people in the workplace? Who can I learn from? Will your job be a step up for me in life? Or will I stagnate there because it's very hard to find a job if I tell other that I work at this company? Basically, can you provide me a great place to be from?

  3. What's the culture? Does the company's or co-workers values fit mine? If everyone has an aggressive demeanour (nothing wrong with this btw) but I'm a shy, reserved person, this is not a fit. So, what culture or values do you promote and more importantly practice in day-to-day life?

Hopefully, this gives you another perspective to hiring your next engineer. All the best!

Chase Howell's photo

Marketing Manager

That's awesome perspective, Aprit, thank you! So interesting that you bring up the demeanor of co-workers. We recently all completed our DISC profiles in order to learn more about own personalities AND better understand how to work with our teammates.

Appreciate your input, and I'll definitely check out that StackOverflow link.

Amanda Fitch's photo

(1) is the product interesting to me?

(2) do i like the people who work there?

(3) can they pay me enough?

(4) how professional are they?

Chase Howell's photo

Marketing Manager

Amanda Fitch, thank you! Follow-up question to #2... how do you know if you like the people who work there? Is that something you'd try to learn further into the interview process?

Amanda Fitch's photo

Coder. Writer. Sometimes Cat Herder

During the interview process, I observe the people who are interviewing me. I ask them non-work questions to get a feel for who they are as individuals.

How can you use this? Make sure that the people who are conducting interviews are exemplary of the culture you want to promote. Like attracts like.

But, as I was once a hiring manager, I discovered that most candidates will blindly accept a job offer, no matter what culture is presented in the interview process. By the time someone submits a resume, they’re already sold on you.

If it’s culture you want to promote, you need to establish this during your advertising process. And make sure that the culture you want to present actually exists in your company. If it doesn’t, you’ll have high turnover.

Caleb H.'s photo

I would be most interested in being able to see how my code is affecting other people, and also the people that I would be working with.

Chase Howell's photo

Marketing Manager

Thanks, Caleb H.! In terms of attracting software engineers to apply for our jobs, how do you think we could best showcase the people they'd be working with? Simply with pictures of the office, our team outings, etc? Or something more I'm not thinking of, maybe? What would attract you?

Caleb H.'s photo

Co-founder of High/Low

As far as the people I'm working with, I would say testimonials from the people working there, talking about the company would be useful.