What is the one thing that would make you move on?

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We are all different. We have different aspirations, dreams, goals. When you are looking for a job, or an offer comes at you, what is the one thing that trumps everything else? The one thing that makes the job VERY interesting. On the other end, when that particular thing is missing, the job isn't just that attractive in your eyes.

To me, it's working remotely. I absolutely love it. I don't know if I will do it my entire career, but I sure hope so. If I work remotely, the job isn't so bad.

What is yours? Money? Working on a product you believe in? Working with a great team? Company culture?

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Believing in the product that I'm working on and knowing that it benefits actual humans.

I took a PM role at a nonprofit because I believed in their mission. They had no engineering openings at the time so I took the career detour for the opportunity to contribute to an org that was making a difference.

 
  • "Our product makes the world a better place, especially for people who are disadvantaged in some way."
  • "You get your own private office with a door you can close. You don't have to attend any meetings you don't believe in."
  • "We only do permanent hires and we only hire developers who write clean, high-quality code. We will always commit the time/resources to refactor or rebuild when necessary because we want to sell a 5-star product."
 

I tend to categorize jobs from "Never" to "Yes Please".

There are certain industries that I will never work for based on personal ethics. For example, ads and marketing: I hate the culture of trying to trick/entice people into buying things they don't need. I would do hard labor before I would work in ad tech. That's just one example of several I can think of, and everyone will have different ones.

There are other industries I would consider working in only in desperate situations. Finance. The rumblings I hear about this industry is that for programmers it is high pay, high stress, terrible working conditions. Government contracts. So much red tape, doubly so if you need clearances. Restrictive and political work environments.

After that, I would give strongly increased consideration to positions which give me enough autonomy to pick my tools and have time to think through problems. This is part of what makes me happy as a builder personality. Contrast to "get X features/points/units done per sprint" arrangements. I like to see the big picture, not just ticking the feature counter. (Others will thrive in a different type of position than I will.)

I would give strongly increased consideration to places with positive work environments. Co-workers support each other on the technical issues while trying to reach the product (customer's) goals. Management supports the team on the internal issues toward the same goal. Unhealthy organizations are usually turned inward: Employees are focused on what they can squeeze out of their employer. This is simply a reciprocation of the way the company/management views the employees. Healthy organizations focus serving their customers first and supporting each other in doing so.

I would give increased consideration for pay and benefits. However, I notice that when a company pays above market value, it usually come with strings attached. For example: extended work hours, always on call (and being called always), toxic environment, etc. I had rather make market value with less stress and more time at home. Market value for programming is usually pretty good anyway.

I do not yet know how I feel about remote work (for me). I greatly desire it in theory. I think it would be awesome and very productive for my own tasks. But in my current job, I find that I frequently (multiple times daily) work with team members on an ad-hoc basis at their request. I'm still pondering what it would take for me to bring the same value to the team as a remote worker.

Honorable mention: I would like to say I would prioritize organizations which I consider to have a critical impact on society. Examples: foster parent services, homeless services. However the kinds of organizations I would prioritize have at best an occasional need for programmers. Their money would be better spent on core services than a staff programmer. (I find it better for me to just volunteer locally in their core services.)

 

Derek Sivers is an philosopher-entrepreneur I respect a lot. He has a model, Hell yea, or no for decision-making. That is a pretty good model I believe for most cases.

In case of jobs (or engagement, since I'm a consultant mostly), I look for jobs that are challenging but doable. It will help me grow without breaking me. This is a fine line so I have failed few times and signed up for wrong jobs, but mostly I have enjoyed the jobs I have taken in the last 20 years.

I don't mean "with no pain", but "not breaking me".

I can give you an example that I cherish. One time, I went on an onshore engagement to a large Canadian bank to gather requirements for building a project dashboard for their CIO. The dashboard had to pull data from multiple applications. I had earlier built a similar dashboard, hence I had needed skills.

But the employees of this bank mistook that I am there to take their jobs offshore, so none of them co-operated with me to talk about their respective applications. I tried most of the methods I knew, but I was a failure. I had no progress to show even after one and half month. CIO was angry and the project was going to be terminated if I didn't show any progress. That day when this was announced, I sat in the hotel-bed and cried. I was puzzled, didn't know what to do other than return back empty handed. I said a small prayer and went to bed.

Few days later the whole situation changed. In the next 2 months, I gathered all the requirements and both management were happy. But that is not the part that I enjoy. The whole team sponsored a lunch for me and got me a ticket to a basketball game. All their own money, not from the company.

Now tell me, isn't that wonderful? Want to know how the turn-around happened?

There was a French-Canadian in the team who was the key player in the team. I was told if I gain his acceptance I would get the project in shape. But he hated talking to me. He took all steps to avoid me. But, few days after I wept in my hotel, I went to him as a last chance. I cornered him and started with 'Xavier, I need ....', But I pronounced his name in French and not in English. He didn't expect that. He got up from his seat and told loudly, "guys, I have been working with you for a decade. Nobody pronounced my name correctly. A guy has to come from India to pronounce my name correctly".

Pronouncing a name correctly, changed everything. Not my technical ability, not my communication skills, but a simple thing like getting the name correctly.

I didn't gain anything technical in that engagement, but I learned to persevere a challenge and win over a client because I pronounced his name correctly.

That's what I call "not breaking, but challenging".

Good luck to you.

 
  1. Working remotely.
  2. Belief in the product and company philosophy.
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Damien Cosset profile image
French web developer mostly interested in Javascript and JAVA
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