Why priorities are so important for Software Professionals in making the right move to a new job
Over time, we can become incompatible with company culture or a manager who clashes with our core values, which underpin our working culture as we see it. Collaboration, independent thought, two way communication with management, delegated authority or just helping a team member are all virtues of the collaborative personality. They can also land you in trouble with a new manager who may prefer a hierarchical approach, thus viewing your behaviour as inefficient and sub-par. This story is a familiar one to many and lends itself in the software engineering world to the old saying ‘good people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers!’
2018 was a good year for programmers with the jobs market getting hotter as the expansion of the digital marketplace fuels the increasing need for software developers, engineers, and software related professionals. The average unemployment rate for the software developer according to Bloomberg was 1.9% in 2017 compared to a 4% national average in the United States. The demand for software professionals has only increased through 2018 and is so high in certain cities across the world, the competition for candidates has become fierce. The resulting balance of power is now with the software engineer in deciding who they work for. This expansion is set to grow as the cloud penetrates more existing industries along with the rise of new industries based on technologies like blockchain and big data transforming how we work, live and interact as a society.
So if our happiness is truly in our own hands, how do we make a right move in 2019? I would say research on the company’s tech stack and their compensation policies against industry averages by language and technology is a good starting point. The next focal point is the company culture. This is a grey area that can set you up to fail if you don’t understand what you will be walking into. Its always best to start with the hiring company’s About page, checking out their statements on who they are, what they are about and how they say they treat customers, employees, and society as a whole. Many companies have a corporate responsibility statement, which helps with this. Allow what you see to paint a picture of what kind of company culture you may walk into. Next step is to google company articles and then look for anything that contradicts your sense of the company culture. The most valuable source of information on company culture is employee reviews. Ensure you review a wide variety of employee reviews to get a sense of what employees overall think of the company and its culture. Glassdoor.com is a good source for this part of the exercise.
When considering employee v contractor in terms of your working status, you should ask yourself if you are skilled enough in a sustainable technology stack (e.g. LAMP) to develop and maintain it without any substantial supervision? Can you personally take a chance on contracting for a higher initial return for your work without the security of employee benefits, etc? Do you, as highly skilled software professionals, have the business acumen and experience to network, develop a business profile and negotiate top dollar contracts with client managers at all levels? Do you have an understanding of how to run a business even it only consists of one person… i.e. you? These are the type of questions you should ask yourself when determining how to approach the jobs market. If it’s a yes to all of the above, then contracting may be the better path for you to your next employment.
Career is important in terms of making sure you have a plan on where you are going with your work life. If you want to be happy, is doing front end for the next 40 years going to cut it or are you just happy to code wherever on whatever? Also, mapping out your career attributes and goals is extremely useful in revealing new options that may have been previously out of sight.
Leaving a company for the right reasons allows us to focus on what will be a good fit for our next move. However, the inverse is also true. If we leave for the wrong reasons such as squabbles with colleagues, not understanding management decisions or unreasonable expectations of any other kind, the ability to accurately identify a good fit for our next role is compromised. This fact makes such a move an unnecessarily risky one. By applying a clear and methodical approach to a job move and never losing sight of the practicalities, the path to a good employer will deliver an outcome of been happy working with those of like mind doing what you love, which is software in all its glory!