5 Important Attributes to Evaluate a Job

Every once in a while we all sit and contemplate whether we should stay at our current job or find something new. The reasons could be several. Next time you’re in this situation, I would recommend making a list of all the attributes that are important to you in any work place. Below are the attributes that are important to me and I believe should be important to all engineers.

Learn – Personally, I think that we should always be looking for opportunities to learn. Learning is one of those intrinsic motivations I look for in any job. If you are just starting a new job then you should learn how to perform your job, learn how things are done in this new environment, learn how to effectively work with new colleagues, etc. Once you’re comfortable with these then your should seek additional challenges that provide you with an opportunity to learn something new – learn to handle new & bigger projects, learn how to collaborate with multiple teams, learn how to manage and mentor new hires, etc.  In fact, everybody should treat their jobs as a sort of higher educational institution because your current job prepares you for your future. One can get a good sense for learning opportunities by asking interviewers about what is it that they have learned during their tenure with the company.

Mentor – One could never have enough mentors to learn from. You can learn new things without having mentors but having them just makes the learning much easier, smoother and faster. Without mentors, you could potentially keep shooting in the dark hoping that you might hit the target at some point and as a result waste a lot of time and energy. Some of the mentors that you meet at your work may also become mentors for life and may even advance you carrier outside of your current work place. Also, a hidden advantage of having mentors is that you yourself will learn mentorship skills that will enable you to mentor and help others. You can get a good sense of potential mentors at a company by doing a LinkedIn search of the employees and by asking your boss about his mentoring/coaching style..

Team – The team you work with has a direct impact on your learning rate. Your learning is directly proportional to the combined knowledge of your team and its willingness to learn new things. It’s also advisable to make sure that you are not the smartest person in the team. A collaborative team can make your experience worthwhile while a non-collaborative one can make it worthless. I understand its not as easy to figure out the team you would be working with at bigger companies. A few recommendations I have are: searching for the existing employees on LinkedIn, meeting and conversing with the team during interviews, asking questions about the collaboration style of the team you would be working with, etc. An important thing to remember is that as much as you are being interviewed, you should also be interviewing your potential employer to figure out whether it would be a good match for either party.

Growth – A company’s growth has a direct impact on your learning and your own growth opportunities within the company. Every company small/big has various growth opportunities that you could figure out by doing some due diligence. For e.g. a startup at an ideation stage will have growth potential based on the background of its founders; A well funded startup will have growth potential based on its product-market fit, number of users, founders, investors, team, etc; A public company on the other hand will have growth potential based on new products initiatives in its pipeline or new markets it wants to explore.

Compensation – Compensation is an important aspect to consider while evaluating a job because you can’t be happy while not getting paid. Also, it is in your best interest to get compensation right because you do not want to accept a job and feel that you are paid an unfair salary.  Thus it is your own responsibility to figure out the market salary based on your qualifications and the company of your interest. Once you get a good understanding of the market and the company, you should come up with a range to help you negotiate. Note that I am talking about the base compensation in this section. A lot of companies do offer stock, promise yearly bonuses, etc but these future payments do not pay your current bills and will totally depend on your willingness to risk.

Making a list of important attributes that matter to you and assigning a weight to each of the attributes really helps you develop a perspective. If you are a software engineer, I am sure you are in good demand and are always approached by other companies with the promise of better compensation. The list will help you take a step back and really think what is important to you and help you from making a wrong decision. I am curious to know the attributes that matter to you so please do share them in your comments.