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How to evaluate if a company is a good place for you to work at

How to evaluate a company when looking for a job. Are they as good as they look? Or are they another firm wasting your time?

Software Engineers are usually flooded with job offers. The huge demand for their skillset results in numerous opportunities that are often hard to evaluate. Which ones are worth exploring?

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We understand this is something many IT professionals experience, which led us to write a series of guides to help technical profiles (actually any profile) to spy before signing. The five articles of the series are full of different pieces of advice and little tricks to evaluate many aspects of a company. They will also help you to gather a huge amount of intel in order to be in a position of power when contract negotiations start.

It doesn’t matter if you’re actively looking for permanent or freelance contracts, or if you’re an intern who just received a job offer – the guides will help any of you with advice tailored to any situation. They are based on our startup and tech domain experience.

Spy before you sign

To start, we’d suggest to evaluate the development processes and chosen technologies. This is mostly interesting to engineers, but could also help others.

Once you’re sure of the basics – a solide product/service – it’s time to check the infrastructures in place to get the product out into the world and sell it. That’s the goal of the second articles: one to evaluate the marketing efforts without putting a foot inside the company and one that helps to evaluate internal processes and methodologies in case you’ve access to it.

After having an idea about the technical and commercial sides, there’s still one big question mark in the room: who are the actual people you’ll work with? Our last guide advises you on how to get a feel of the atmosphere and your potential colleagues.

Be ahead during negotiations

After having filtered through numerous companies, you’ll probably have found one that matches your expectations. The next step will be interviews and negotiations.

No matter the job, you always need to negotiate. Unfortunately, not many companies offer you a deal that exactly represents your value. On top of that, you might have expectations that can’t be foreseen.

Before even starting to analyse the different steps of the negotiation, one thing that’s always true: only believe what’s written in your contract. Anything mentioned orally during discussions is worth nothing. Always keep in mind that the one making the promise will often not be the one that needs to execute it.

The salary

The salary is obviously the heart of the negotiation. As a developer, you’ll find many indicators around the web that will tell you how much your combination of mastered technologies is worth.

salaries based on languages

While these articles and studies help you to understand the most trendy coding languages, they don’t really help you with your salary negotiations. They are often too optimistic (especially as if you’re a Junior).

Sorry to disappoint you, but you’ll probably need at least some years of experience until you’ll earn 100k€ + per year. Truth is experience and language type are just two of the numerous variables defining a salary. Others would be your position in the development team or simply the location.

You’re the reference

A better benchmark is much more valuable and easier to find: your previous salaries. There’s no rule that says x years of experience = y % salary increase, but it’s always a good fact on which you can base yourself on.

It is important to note that the first number you spit out is crucial. It should always contain a margin (around 10% more) in order to be able to negotiate. If you start with your bare minimum, it will be harder to make a good deal.

Bonus per objectif

Bonuses are often used to compensate an otherwise minimal salary. The most important rule applies especially for this aspect: Do not believe anything that’s not written in your contract. If the bonuses are based on objectives that “will be defined once you start the position”, it might just be a tactic to hire you with a lower salary.

The same goes for impossible objectives you might never be able to attain and thus never be paid for. And once you’ve signed, it will be much harder to contest those objectives.

Potential increases

To make a low salary look better there are more tactics than the one mentioned above. One big classic are future salary raises. They usually do not involve any commitment by the person declaring them.

For software engineers, this resembles to “in 1/2/3 years, you’ll be CTO/Lead-Dev/Rockstar”. It’s really hard to judge the depth of such promises – don’t let them impact your choice.

It’s time to negotiate

Before signing the contract, you have the most leverage, so do not waste this momentum. Once you’re hired, it’s difficult to negotiate new terms. So be prepared, with every intel possible and as always, never forget rule #1: do not believe anything that’s not written in your contract. The only way to be sure about what you’ll get is to eternalise your desires in white and black on paper.

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