Finding the ideal IT company - or why this article is not for recruiters

Finding the ideal IT company - or why this article is not for recruiters

Working atmosphere more important than salary?

Working atmosphere more important than salary?

Especially if you spend more time at (or with) work than you do in your private life (apart from the necessary sleep), you should be happy there. And if you look at how many job advertisements there are on the market, a professional change is usually easier or at least safer than a private one. For some developers and other IT staff, the idea of ​​venturing into uncharted territory and trying something new scares them. I can absolutely understand that, it was very similar for me in the past, but I have never regretted a change afterwards. Or as a friend from the Munich area once put it: "If they no longer value you in your job or only the idiot colleagues are left, cross the street and start on the other side. They're all looking!"

Ok, so let's just assume you're ready and dare. But how do you find the right, ideal and exciting job in IT for you? In this specific case, maybe also in a company with which you can continue to work on the popular TYPO3 software? Let's take a closer look.


Headhunter

First of all, you can either search for yourself or let others search for you. Of course, hiring a recruiter to market you to the appropriate companies can be a time saver. Maybe the people in the industry can negotiate better than you?
But make sure that there are black sheep here too. Some even don't care if they suggest you as a JavaScript developer for a Java position, the main thing is that the commission is fast and high. The other aspects that really interest you and make you happy are often neglected.
Since I see dark clouds gathering in the form of a shitstorm on LinkedIn after these sentences, I want to make it clear: Of course there are also recruiters with integrity who care about your well-being.

But what these people mostly keep to themselves is the fact that many companies categorically do not work with headhunters (I also include our company here, by the way). So don't be surprised if the recruiter of your choice opens up completely different positions than you might have hoped for.

My advice: Have the courage and don't give up the reins! Throw on Google and find your matching lid. Some things can be found out quickly via the Internet, while other topics require a conversation or two. Here are a few points to watch out for:


Salary

I'll start with the most obvious topic. Of course, salary is one of the most important factors when choosing a career. But as new studies and polls show, it's far from the most important item in a long list. But let's stay with the monetary grant for now. If the topic is important to you (of course it's not unimportant), then don't just pay attention to your monthly or annual salary, but also ask about possible bonus payments. How do these turn out? Are these guaranteed or how have they turned out in the last three years?

But there are also a lot of other financial advantages that you should definitely inquire about: Is it possible to have a company car, a monthly ticket for public transport or even "jobrad" (my personal favourite)? Is there a mobile phone with a contract? And are there allowances for old-age provision? Don't be afraid to ask about other advantages in this direction.


Work life balance

Would you rather work from home or in the company? Or even better - shouldn't both be flexibly possible - just the best of both worlds? I won't go into the pros and cons again - you've probably read that a thousand times. A hybrid way of working is actually indispensable in IT and especially after Corona. Do you actually know the difference between home office and mobile working? In principle, the latter means that your work takes place somewhere completely different from your life. For example, if you want to work part-time from Canada or Bali, this should ideally be possible. If there are already red flags here, you should think twice about applying.

In addition to the place of work, the working time is also an important factor. Flexibility wins here too. Of course there are times - especially when working in a team - when you get together directly or virtually and discuss problems. In addition, individual time management is extremely important to many developers, especially from Generation Z.
The adjustment of weekly working hours could also play a role for you in the future. After all, you can't know what your life will be like in 5 years. Ask whether a reduction or increase would generally be possible in the future.


development opportunities

Of course, when I say "development opportunities" I also mean the opportunities for advancement within the company. But that's not all. Are there also opportunities to be able to reorient yourself internally - perhaps even without a concrete rise in the given hierarchy? I have experienced it myself quite often that younger colleagues in particular do not yet know exactly whether the journey should go to front-end or back-end development. And how should you know if you haven't tried it yet? But maybe the project or team management area would be much more interesting? This is often a major shortcoming, especially for large companies with small TYPO3 departments.

It also gets difficult here if there are no other colleagues for the advertised position. Imagine that you are the only ones in the company who are familiar with your topic. First of all, that actually doesn't sound bad at all - after all, it could make you irreplaceable. But what if you have questions or even want to learn from colleagues (and older colleagues are still learning all the time)? Or if you urgently need a holiday but there is no one around to do your job? Try to find out how many colleagues are doing the same job.

You know what's next. What about continuing education? Do you have to go begging to the boss yourself when he's in a good mood or even pay for the training yourself and do it in your free time or on vacation? Modern companies have understood that further training or even a certificate does not only benefit the individual employee.

Regular feedback discussions are also important. At least once a year, both sides should have ample opportunity to provide feedback on where there is potential for improvement and what is going really well.


Open Source: Sharing is Caring

This post is first and foremost about the industry I know best. This is about the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) TYPO3 in detail and, in the broader field, about web agencies with design, infrastructure and online marketing skills.

So if you've found an agency that makes money from FOSS, it would make perfect sense not only morally but also economically to put a portion of the revenue back into the product (see "Open source is broken, let's fix it"). I even claim that there is a possible connection between the public appreciation of an open source community and the appreciation of one's own employees. Doesn't the company care about open source, maybe they don't care that much about you?

How a company can give something back to the community is quickly listed: Is the company a member of the TYPO3 Association? Does the agency support the community by participating in events? Are development and other achievements sponsored? Does this even get directly involved by participating in code sprints? Are human resources provided for the further development of the product (code, marketing, documentation or organization)? And very elementary for TYPO3: Does the company make the extensions it creates publicly available and maintain them over time? Does the company use and promote open source in other ways?

You should also not completely ignore the social commitment of the company. Environmental protection and social projects play an important role here. For me, this is a clear indicator of the importance of managers' own wallets.


Setup

I'm a developer myself, so it's super important to me what my personal hardware and software looks like. I want to be able to decide for myself what to install on the hardware I have chosen. Unfortunately, some companies have still not understood that a specification of the operating system is rather a hindrance here. Many large companies still prescribe Windows - rather a no-go in web development. Many other agencies have zeroed in solely on Apple. In my case, however, it should be Linux - that gives me the greatest possible freedom and allows me to work efficiently. Ultimately, only I can decide what the best working conditions are for me - because nobody else knows me so well. How about you?

I even have a clear idea of ​​what IDE I want to work with. I, as a PHP developer, would like to work with PhpStorm (one of the few non-open source programs on my machine - but that should be worth a few euros a month for my company). Maybe you have a completely different development environment or a completely different local setup - ask if you can use it.

The screens you want to use in your daily work are at least as important as the computer you choose. Do you want two monitors and a notebook or would you prefer a large monitor and a desktop PC? What about a height-adjustable table next to it? If your employer appreciates your health, a purchase should not be a problem even in the home office.

But also pay attention to the setup of the company. Here I mean specifically in the web area: How is the software deployed? Which versioning tools are used? Has the company ever heard of pipelines and continuous integration or even automated tests? Do you work locally with Docker images or other containers? Or is there still software and transmission methods from the last century.

Mood

One of the most important points in my long list is the general atmosphere in a company. It's not really something tangible to put on a scale. Basically, you have to be comfortable. And here's another tip from me: dare to write to former employees of the company on Twitter or LinkedIn and ask how it was, what work, colleagues and bosses are like. Also ask how crises were dealt with - this is where the true face often shows. While you may not feel comfortable disturbing others, there are many in the same industry who are happy to share their experiences. Just ask yourself whether you would answer such a question about your last employer or not.

If you're part of the open source community, just ask other developers if they know store X or Y and what they've heard about it. This also seems to be a rather questionable source at first, but in a real community you stick together and give others helpful advice - just try it out.

Fluctuation is also extremely important - i.e. how many developers or other employees leave a company over time. Take a closer look at LinkedIn or Xing and try to get a feel for it.

From my point of view, the most important point: your gut feeling! If you have the chance to work for a company for a short time or just pop in for a coffee, use it. If it then feels a bit like Titanic, your feeling might even be right. Trial work is of course a good idea. Within a few days you will get an impression of how your colleagues or bosses tick. Then the picture of the actual work that needs to be done becomes more concrete.

But you can also use the probationary period for yourself. After all, this also gives you the security of trying something out and canceling it immediately without giving a reason.

Either you get the chance for a non-binding chat with a manager or at the latest in the interview. Just turn the tables and ask the critical questions you usually hear: "What do you think is going well and what is bad in the company?", "How can the company help me to improve my life? " or "Where can I develop in 5 years?". You can think about what is important to you in advance. For example, if there are flat hierarchies and modern working methods, it would be: "When was the last time you changed something in the structure of the company and who came up with the idea?". Again, the same applies here: We are no longer in the 90s and companies should apply to you today - just dare!

I would like to mention rating platforms (above all Kununu) at this point. Use this to find out more about a company. But don't let this fool you too much. Like all ratings on the Internet, these are only of limited significance and are manipulated by clever companies to their advantage. I've heard of agencies that have offered free training in return for positive Kununu ratings in order to appear better in public than might otherwise be the case. And you probably know this from your last visit to a restaurant or purchase from Amazon: negative reviews are left much faster than praise.


Finally

If you have made it and got here, you should also think about whether you would rather work in an agency or in the private sector or in the public sector. While it is usually more stressful in agency life - probably one project chases the other - it is also usually more demanding there. New techniques and many different projects and contacts will accompany you there. If the public sector (universities, authorities, etc...) is an option for you, make sure that your employment contracts are not limited. Otherwise, you may have to live with the uncertainty that you will be taken on next year as well.

Make a list of 3-6 potential companies that come into question for you and clearly write down the advantages and disadvantages of these. Then weight the individual points in the way that is most important to you. And then just try it out!

Here again all key points for copying for you:

  • Salary
    • Regular
    • Bonus payments
    • Retirement provision
    • Other donations (public transport, "jobrad", private hardware, etc...)
  • Development opportunities
    • Opportunities for advancement
    • Orientation
    • Continuing education
    • Colleagues as "fallback"
    • Regular feedback talks
  • Setup or hardware and software
    • Free choice of computer (or the system of your choice is available)
    • Free choice of software for local use
    • Modern, company-wide tools to simplify work
  • Work life balance
    • Hybrid way of working
    • Flexible times
    • Work from abroad also possible
  • Sharing and Caring
    • Open source is encouraged
    • TYPO3 Membership
    • Developers are certified
    • Help and participation in and in the community
    • Active participation in TYPO3 and extensions
    • Participation in events or sponsorship of such
    • Social commitment
  • Mood
    • Questioning former colleagues
    • Rating platform
    • Questioning an executive
    • Ask for the company in the community
    • Gut feeling in trial work or trial period
    • High or low employee turnover
  • Agency, free economy or public sector

Good luck in your search for your dream job!

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