10 things to consider when looking for a new IT opportunity

We all know the thrill of looking for a new job. Browsing exciting opportunities on job portals. Breath taking job descriptions and salaries. You apply for some of them and suddenly the whole world is interested in you. Your mobile phone goes red. All agencies in a 60 mile radius want to know your future plans and reason why you decided to make a move. Finally you start getting interviews. First one on the phone, second face to face and the final one with a senior member of staff. All the excitement and effort you put in the process makes you vulnerable to emotional and unwise decisions.

Before you agree to anything be aware that you are making commitment for at least 1 or 2 years. It’s lots of time and time is more valuable then money. You can’t buy it back.

I would like to help you with making the right decision. In order to do that I will share a few important points worth keeping in mind during job hunting. I build this experience thought the last 8 years. Some of the things I learned from my colleagues, other I had to learn the hard way.

1. Recruiter is not your friend
Every recruiter is a salesman. What a salesman does? He sells. I must admit that some of them are very professional and ethical but sadly they belong to minority. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not their fault. The environment they are in is very demanding, competitive and stressful. They have tight deadlines and they need to deliver.

When it comes down to salary negotiation you might hear something like “I’m going to get you the highest number because I’m paid by commission”. It should mean that they will fight like a lion for every penny or your behalf. I don’t buy it. They can get few hundreds less (out of thousands) or nothing. It’s a no-brainier. 

The other quite common thing is pushing you for a role which isn’t a good fit. You will hear something like “The job description offers less money and the responsibilities are different but don’t worry. I’m sure we will work it out after they know you better”. Yes, It might happen on rare occasion but the odds are you will waste your and other people time. The real intention behind it is to make you invest time and emotions into that role. It will increase chances that you are going to take it.

2. Never accept a counter offer?
This motto is broadly promoted by sales people. I’m sure you can guess why. I would say “never say never”. Every case is different. If you feel that the counter offer is better than take it.

3. Options
Options are like a lottery. Some people win most of them don’t. Many companies offer options and it’s great. The problem starts when options are used as a negotiation tool to compensate for a gap between offered and your target salary. It’s up to you to take the risk but learn as much as you can about it. “Options” on it’s own means nothing. You need to know how many of them you are going to get, when that will happen, what will be the buy price, what happen if you leave the company etc. All the answers should be put into your contract.

4. One day we will…
If you are seeking for a certain kind of experience like managing a team of 10 people get into such a role. When you hear something like “Our technical team has only 2 members but we will expand by the end of this year” be prepared that it might never happen. If something is very important to you never really on a promise. It will save you stress and disappointment. 

5. Self development & fulfillment
There are things more important then money and prestige. What you should really look for in the first place is self development and fulfillment. 

How much can you grow in a certain environment? Will the job make you feel rewarded? What can you learn? How will it change your market value in next 2 years? 

Always ask yourself those questions. Working for a company which help you grow and make you feel fulfilled is worth everything. It’s a win-win situation even if you earn little bit less then in other places. 

6. Conditional salary
Some employers might initially offer you less then you target wage. Advancing to the full amount might be conditional to certain goals you or the business will have to meet. If you take such an offer be prepared to never receive the money. Goals might change, investment might never come and you have no control over that. Set your bottom line and manage expectations.

7. See the office
It’s surprising how many people don’t ask about their workplace. You will spend most of your time in this place. It’s in your best interest to find it out. Have a look at your desk, meeting areas, kitchen and toilets. 

8. Flexible hours & working from home
Answers to those questions will give you better understanding of company culture. 

9. Ask about your desktop
Who likes to work on slow 4 years old computer? Nobody. It’s easy to avoid putting yourself in such a situation. Ask what is the desktop you are going to work on. If you don’t like it ask for a new one. The important thing is to do it on the interview. Once contract is signed it might be too late.

10. Take advantage of the notice period
For many people notice period is a magical time when they officially can do nothing. I can’t understand what do they see so rewarding in wasting time. If you have nothing to do ask your new employer for a source code you are going to work with. Learn more about the new company and technology they use. Try to connect with people from the new office. Usually it’s the last chance to change your mind. Hopefully there won’t be any need for that and you will start your new job well prepared and familiar with the environment.

I would like to know you opinion. Do yo agree with me or perhaps you have a different experience? Would you like to add something to this list or the 10 points are enough?

Finding the right job is more important than some people might think. It defines who you are for the next few years. It has impact on your private live, members of your family and even your future. Put aside emotions, do your homework and make conscious decision.

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