I often get contacted by recruiters asking if I am interested in changing company. Even if I am happy where I am, I briefly check out companies I have not heard of before. One reason is that you never know, maybe the new company is a fantastic opportunity that really is interesting to me. Another reason is that I don’t know how things will change – maybe I will want to change in a year’s time or so. These are the things I check when I am trying to evaluate a company I haven’t come across before.
The Job Ad
The most interesting source of information is the job ad itself. It usually says what kind of developer they are looking for, and what tech stack they are using. Good ads will also give you a sense of what they value, how they work, and what you would be working on.
Next I go to the company career page (usually a subsection of the About us section). Sometimes there are other job ads to look at too. If there is a section profiling people already working there, I like to read those too. Often the presentations are quite generic, but sometimes you get a better sense of the company.
If they have an engineering blog, that is another source of information on what they work on and how they do it. In my experience though, it is quite rare for companies to have one.
Some recruiters don’t include the company name when they first contact you. I have written before about why I think this is bad. I normally just say no if they don’t tell me the name of the company. However, if there is a job ad, you can often just google some phrases from it to find out what company it is.
The next step is to search for the company on LinkedIn. I typically look through some of the profiles of developers working there. I am looking at where they worked before, what their interests are, what articles they share etc. If I am lucky, I already know somebody working there. If not, there are typically a few that I am connected to via common contacts.
There are a few other sources that I sometimes check. For example, if the company has a Twitter account, I will check and see what they tweet about. Many companies only have a boring corporate account that mostly consists of press releases. If some people I found on LinkedIn look interesting, I will also check and see if they are on Twitter.
Glassdoor is another source of information on companies. I like to read both the company reviews and the interview write-ups. However, many smaller companies don’t appear on Glassdoor, or have very few reviews. I sometimes also look up the company on Google Maps to see where their office is.
How do you look?
If we turn the tables for a while – what will people find if they decide to check you out online? If you have a blog, code on GitHub, or side projects, hopefully those are the top search results when searching for you. Do you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile? If you are on Twitter, what will people find out about you from your tweets?
It is good to remember that developers are quite lucky to be in such high demand. There are so many companies looking to hire programmers that we can be picky and only look for the best ones to work for. For me, that means checking them out before taking it any further. How do you evaluate a potential new employer? Please let me know in the comments.
Hacker News discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20979153
I was usually doing the same. Now I usually ignore the requests because they contain only the word innovative 3 times, but no interesting facts.
Do you find some diversity in the job ads? Often it seems to be the same old, same old job ad.
Some ads are like that for sure. But you can usually find out what tech stack they are using. And it can be interesting to read what things they emphasize in the ad. Also, what I describe in this post is just a first screening. If it looks interesting I would have to talk to people at the company to find out more.
Amazing and accurate insight, Henrik. I always try to educate tech leaders about this point of view. A developer should feel like an employee, or “family member”; he/she is interested in where he would belong to, what team would surround him, and what he would learn in his next journey. Recruiters, Tech leaders, hiring managers should not focus on tech stack and budget only, and certainly should not be secretive. It is a huge decision in the candidate`s life, he deserves to know about every detail without much research.
Well said, Henrik!
(I like your blog about developer`s quotes :-))
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