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Ankur Sheel
Ankur Sheel

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What is my idea of a dream job?

This post first appeared on my website at What is my idea of a dream job?

It's a goal that everyone should have. But, what makes a job, the coveted but elusive dream job?

For a long time, I thought that doing something you love, automatically meant that you had a dream job. But as I have matured (now, that doesn't seem right ), I have realized, that being passionate about the work is not enough to make any ole job the dream job. Don't get me wrong, passion is a key ingredient but it's not the only one. If the job does not make you happy, no amount of passion is going to make it a dream job.

The question now becomes, what does my dream job/company look like? After all, if I don't know what my dream job looks like, how do I know if I am progressing towards it. More importantly, how do I compare different opportunities and differentiate between good and bad ones?

Let us tackle the makeup of my dream job and see what it looks like.

Culture (44 points)

After working with some terrible companies and some great ones, I have realized that the company culture trumps everything else. After all, I am going to be spending a giant chunk of my time at the company and no matter how interesting the work is, if I don't like being there, how can I be happy? So what does the perfect culture look like?

  • The company and management should trust that I am a responsible adult and will get stuff done without micromanagement. I should be able to blow off steam by playing games or taking walks etc during work hours without being questioned about it. 9 points

  • No draconian rules like giving explanations on why I stepped out for some time or why I was a little late or why I am on youtube. As long as I am getting my work done in time and no-one is blocked because of me, I don't think the company should care about how and when I get stuff done. 8 points

  • Excellent work/life balance. 7 points for 40 hour weeks. 3 points for 40 hour weeks with occasional overtime to up-to 60 hours. 0 otherwise

  • Open communication not only among team-mates but also with management and Human Resources. 6 points

  • Friendly people. 5 points

  • Laid Back dress code. 5 points for shorts and sandals. 3 for Tees and jeans. 0 otherwise

  • Potential to discuss ideas and being taken seriously on issues related to processes and company culture. 4 points

Culture trumps everything else, every single time

Compensation and Benefits (37 points)

I would be lying if I said that money is not important to me. I need to feel that I am fairly compensated for my skills. It's also a good confidence booster to be making an above market rate salary. Benefits and perks are nice but they don't pay the bills.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies feel that because they are working on interesting challenges, they can afford to pay less. This is especially prevalent in the games industry. The ideal company would not give a lowball offer when trying to hire me. After all, if I had to fight (actually let me be politically correct and say negotiate) to get what I deserve before I even joined the company, who's to say that I won't have to do it again at each review. More importantly, why would I want to work for a technology company who skimps on paying its most important assets (the programmers).

  • Above market-rate salary without negotiation: 8 points

  • Above market rate salary with negotiation: 6 points

  • Market Rate salary without negotiation: 4 points

  • Market Rate salary with negotiation: 0 points

  • Below Market Rate Salary: (-) 6 points

When considering a new job and comparing with current job and already at market rate, replace market rate with current salary + X%. The following 2 factors also come into play.

  • No relocation: (-) 6 points

  • Initial Low-ball Offer: (-) 4 points

Although I did say that the base salary is more important but, for the comparable salaries, it is the benefits and perks which make a company more attractive. Some of the important benefits:

  • Access to productivity tools such as Resharper or Visual Assist X etc depending on the language. 7 points

  • 100% covered health insurance with a good provider. 5 points

  • The ability to work remotely either full-time or part-time. 1 point per day in a week. 2 points for the well-stocked kitchen. Full-time remote work automatically adds 22 points from the culture section

  • Recurring Bonus: 4 points

  • A well-stocked kitchen full of coffee, tea, and snacks. 1 point for each for a total of 2 points

  • The ability to move horizontally or vertically throughout the company. 3 points

  • Reimbursements for sports-related activities. Most companies do give gym memberships but I don't like going to the gym and prefer to spend my time playing sports. 3 points

Learning (6 points)

The perfect company would invest in their employees. The way I see it, this is a win-win for both the employee and the company. The employee improves their skill set and the company gets a sharp engineer.

  • Ability to work on side projects after work without any repercussions. 3 points

  • Ability to work on non-work related tasks for a few hours a week. Kind of like Google Fridays. 2 points

  • Access to resources such as online courses, conferences or even books. 1 point

Passion (5 points)

Not only should I be passionate about the work I am doing, but I want to be around people who are also passionate about their work.

  • I am passionate about the work. 3 points

  • People around me are passionate about their work. 2 points

No Assholes Policy (4 points)

I don't work with people who have ego trips or feel that others need to cater to their every whim and demand just because they are more knowledgeable or at a higher position.

New Things to Work on (3 points)

I just can't see myself being happy working on the same thing for a long time. The reason I love game programming is that I got to work on a different aspect of the game every so often.


That's a total of 100 points. Maybe no job ticks all the boxes but then again maybe there is.

My current job scores 79/100.

How does your company rate on my dream job scale? What makes a job a dream job for you? Let me know in the comments.

Top comments (2)

jennrmillerdev profile image
Jen Miller

I like your list and I think its helpful how you broke out many of the items into individual categories instead of just lumping them into 'culture'.

To me, I think think the list changes over time too. What might seem important to developer in their first 5 years would be different later on. I know my priorities have changed....

In the past I used to enjoy places that rewarded personal projects and such...but now less so. I'm more keen to keep my personal projects totally personal and do non-work learning on my own time.

ankursheel profile image
Ankur Sheel

Thanks for the kind comment, Jen.

I completely agree that the list should change over time. What I looked for in a company in my early twenties is very different to what I value now and is probably going to be different 5-10 years from now. Thank you for highlighting this :)

I think its also important to clarify that what is important for me might not be important for someone else even if they are at the same stage in life.