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Jean-Michel (agent double)
Jean-Michel (agent double)

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Who do I Want to Work With? A Simple Framework

"Who do I want to work with?" is maybe the most important question for your career.

A framework of choice: 3 criteria and 3 anti-criteria

If I have to pick one, what matter most, the project or the company?
And what about the tech, hot or cool?
How important is it that I work remotely or hybrid?
What about people?

There is no better or worse answer.
It's for everyone to decide.
It's hard to decide.

I know it took me a while to figure that out.
And I can't answer that question for you.
What I can do it to offer you a framework within which you can make your own choices.

Location ❌, Company ❌ Money ❌

Location, Company and Money are your 3 major anti-criterias.

You won't work at a company just because the criteria are filled, but if any of those isn't met, then it's a deal breaker.

  • Location is the easiest to understand: if everything else is right... but the work is located in North Korea... then deal breaker, you can't do this job. If you want to do remote but the company has a different culture, then it doesn't work.
  • Company is your personal blacklist of companies you won't work with, for example for ethical reasons. Personally I won't ever work at Facebook because I think it's a morally bankrupt company.
  • Money : I won't work at a company that pay their employees below the average of the market, because I care about my craft and they probably only compete on price.

So each of them is a deal breaker, but on the other hand they don't tell you how to choose between companies. That's where the positive criterias come.

Technology ❤️ Project ❤️ People ❤️

Technology, Project and People are you 3 major criteria.

Given two or more companies that match your anti-criteria above, those are the criteria you will use to choose between them.

And that would be a personal choice. You will not try to work at Facebook because, according to others, it's a "top company".

You will work at a place that meets your own personal needs.

  • Technology: will you be doing at least part of your preferred tech.
  • Project: who really needs this project, and why?
  • People: do the people you meet look like cool people you would enjoy working with?

Now obviously if all three criteria are met, stop procrastinating and accept the job offer.
But what to do in a less than ideal world?

What if You Had to Pick Two Criteria out of Three?

That's the most interesting question IMHO.
It will reveal your personal hierarchy between those criteria.

And that hierarchy can and will change during your career.

When I was young, I was passionate about tech, I knew more vim shortcuts than 95% of the devs, I wanted to do Kotlin, Kotlin. Ok, at that time it was not Kotlin, but you get my point. There is nothing wrong about wanting to use your favorite cool tech.

Later in life, I worked in Berlin in a mobile agency with very talented colleagues. We did very interesting tech there, but one of the most important client I had there was paying us to do a pretty meaningless product. That's when I understood that for me at that point, the meaning of the project was more important than the tech.

But 18 months ago I got to work at Tignum in Berlin. And I have to confess you something: for at least 3 months, I had only a very superficial understanding of what the company was doing. Coaching for executives, not my comfort zone. So why did I get there? Because my future boss Fernando Cejas and I had an informal coffee discussion to see if we could work together doing Kotlin Backend programming. And that coffee discussion went incredibly well. I had no doubt and I said immediately that I wanted to work with him.

For me today: People > Project > Technology

💯 But again, it's up to you to decide. I can only provide the framework.

🙏🏻Thanks for reading

Please send my article to a friend that needs it.

Hi, I’m Jean-Michel Fayard. On my website, I have Careers Resources for Developers, and if that's not enough, you can ask me a question.

Top comments (1)

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David Leuliette 🤖 • Edited

When I was young, I was passionate about tech, I knew more vim shortcuts than 95% of the devs.

I am always surprize on how many devs doesn't know vim at all 😅