Qualifying Employers

Suppose one is looking for a new job, and wants one that will allow some kind of personal and professional growth; one that does a little better than the situation described in WeWillTry and ExtremeFrustration. No employer comes out at the interview and admits that they are chaotic or that they treat their people or customers badly. What questions can one ask or observations can one make to try to find employers that have compatible values?

I had a terrible boss who drove like a nut - weaving in and out, always far over the speed limit, overtaking dangerously...he also was a stress-enhancer who constantly underestimated time requirements and then required death marches to (unsuccessfully) achieve goals. In the end, the project was terminated, together with him and (unfortunately) 2 out of the 3 developers. So I think there really is something to this. -- Dan

(Please add either descriptions/refinements of the problem, or suggestions.)

I think I've had about 20 employers, counting significant consulting jobs, over about the same number of years, which I suspect is a large number even for a NomadicProgrammer. Anyway it seems large to me. My guidelines these days are:

I'll argue, at least on the low-flow fixtures. At least in the US, high-flow fixtures are illegal, so any new building has low-flow. As for the rest, you're on the money. -- RobMandeville

Great list, Peter. I wish I knew all that about two years ago....You should also "hang out" with your prospective teammates for a while. You'll know pretty quickly whether you have anything in common with them. If not, then don't waste any more of your time. You won't really enjoy spending 8 hours a day at work. -- AnthonyLander

I'd add: Visit the lunch room. An explosion of posters reminding you to "make a new pot if you take the last cup" and "don't leave dirty dishes in the sink" is a warning sign.

Generally, I'd say, I watch for companies that have any kind of serious insight into developer desires. Another $20k is the answer most companies have to the developer crunch, and it's a crummy answer. I never work as an employee any more, but the companies I prefer to contract for recognize that more money in the quest for loyalty is a dead path, and focus their attempts instead on the many alternative benefits they can offer developers, both tangible and intangible. -- MichaelHill

See http://www.asktheheadhunter.com for an interesting view of this topic.

Also see http://home.earthlink.net/~jdc24/worksIns.htm for a worksheet to rate the quality of employers.

See also: QualifyingEmployees


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