There's an interesting thing out there people tend to notice during hiring sprees, and shifts and pivots in the IT industry. That particular interesting thing is that whatever Silicon Valley tends to adopt, others tend to follow suit. Not necessarily because it's "cool" or "popular" but because they know how to get people hired. On not one, but five separate occasions with various interested employers I began noticing a pattern on these small startups that had that mentality.
- No specific time off "pool". Take your time off as needed, when you want, as long as you allow others to do so.
Now, I found this to be an interesting trend because I'm used to working for Fortune 500 companies. Many of these larger companies tend to have a fairly oldschool mentality that seem like they are attempting to shift to these new ideas, but simply do not know how to get out of that old mentality and shake it. This makes it harder for them to snag unicorns and people who are incredibly senior level because they're going to get paid more moving into a startup, or a reputable SV company that pays far more and has much better benefits.
The first company I ran into like this, it had really kind of taken me back. "No pto pool? Take it off when I want? how... how does this work?" You just take time off as you need, within reason, as your work is done. Work life balance. It exists, some companies do it, yes, they're out there! Do I think most companies will adopt this? Probably not. Some companies have a hard time taking that progressive turn and wondering why they miss out on so many good candidates in the industry.
- Integrating people into the ideas from the first interview.
This also is an interesting thing to me. Many employers in larger companies, I've noticed, start out an interview with asking what you've been doing, asking where you want to go and then talk about the role. This is more of a, "Tell us why we should consider YOU?" and that's fine, after all, part of that interview should absolutely be why you deserve the job, why you fit in, and what you offer. But many of these employers are also spending time demonstrating why YOU should choose them. It's a competitive industry!
Many of these smaller startups and SV companies get you involved in understanding what the mission is about instead. After all, many of us (myself included) don't just want a job, we want to feel fulfilled. I personally look for a company that believes in its people, products, and gets everyone excited behind it. No one wants to come to work and do the same thing day after day if at the journey of 2-10 years with a company you feel like you've accomplished your daily tasks for nothing. What change are they making in the world. How do YOU contribute? How do YOU fit in? It's becoming a huge thing I'm seeing with many of these new tech companies on a regular basis.
Not only are you selling a candidate on why your company is great, but you're selling them on a purpose. It shouldn't just be a "sale" though, if you can cultivate that shift in your culture at your company so people believe in what they do, have that purpose and can see an end goal, you will have far happier people working for you and people who come to work who are just stoked as hell to be there.
- Relaxed, but diligent and purposeful
My last job was an interesting culture, and one I must say I quite enjoyed. I had a pretty nice mix of work life balance. I had days where I could walk up to my boss and say, "I need a mental break, chill if I take the next few off?" and of course, I'd let him know I had just finished my workload, followed up with my teams and checked with them first, and made sure everyone else was fine with it. Usually it was, "yeah if your work is caught up, enjoy your time off!"
This was very different from my larger companies I had worked for. I felt like I was turning a wheat mill day after day often times, and had to plan my time off way in advance, and many times it just didn't feel like it was enough. Many of these companies have a very relaxed culture in that they aren't going to micromanage you, you need to be a self starter, you need to hit the ground running and do work. However, they aren't going to keep their thumb on you constantly, they aren't going to pound you into the ground. The Agile/Scrum environment that so many have been cultivating and moving to is a great way to hit this. I hate to say it, but if you're not adopting it, you're likely lagging behind your competition in the long run, and there's also a high likely hood that you are missing out on great candidates who don't feel like working with massive obelisk monoliths vs microservices and an agile company who takes things off in bite size, realistic chunks.
I've seen people get more done remotely, get more done in sprints, and far more effectively communicate in that environment than I have elsewhere. Which brings me to my next observation:
- Working Remote
There is a huge shift going on in the work remote culture coming out of SV and other areas and that is that many, many companies are entirely without an office, work remote, and they are damn good at it. Companies who are going to cease to have this as an option in the near future are likely going to see a large missing out of potentially fantastic and amazing candidates. There is a caveat to this though, which is that people who work remote need to be good self starters, communicate well, communicate often, be very diligent in staying on top of their work. If you can find those candidates, you'll flourish. We found an interesting pattern during covid where I was last at, which was that we expected people to be less productive, but in fact, we were getting a LOT done. People were more comfortable at home, people were running home for errands less because they could get things done on breaks, people could balance their time with family, they were happier. It was working out wonderfully.
There will always be the "struggle" of work from home communication with work from home options, but in all reality, it can be harnessed well, and many of these companies are 100% remote as it is. I would say out of every 5 companies I have interviewed with recently, 3 out of 5 are 100% remote. Some looking to stay remote after covid, some offering it as an option after covid, and some "not sure" after covid.
- Benefit OPTIONS
This one was interesting to me the first time I ran into it, but I'm seeing it more and more where companies have a various selection of benefits. Different insurance providers, different medical providers, different providers for dental, varying on where you live and what you want. Different investment providers. It was like being in a candy store for benefits. While this is certainly not something I'd say is "super norm" I have now ran into several companies who shocked me when they sent me benefit packages that were out of this world with options. Often times the way it's presented is usually, "Well, this is what we have and uhhhhh, well there you have it. I know... I know... ehhhh... well. here you go."
I am noticing though that many of these new companies spend more money on their benefits than others in terms of benefits. Even if they aren't spattered with options, the quality is generally higher, just so they can make sure they're that much more on the edge over another company and their benefits.
- Incredibly Competitive Pay
Here's the real kicker. So many software companies I have seen who are more oldschool, more waterfall, still clinging onto their older ways are often saying how "it's getting harder and harder" to find good engineers out there. In all reality, it's not. They're all over, but it may not be enticing at all for them to come to you. I've had several friends in the field who I would certainly consider unicorns, very very good at what they do. They found themselves in a situation without a job, and easily within a short period of time, had more than a handful of offers that they could simply pick and choose from, all of which were easily over 100k, and 150+ for the senior positions. My experience in looking at local software companies is that they tend to be fairly held back and try to "pay for the area" and as little as possible for that area, meaning you are potentially making a fraction of what you could be making elsewhere.
For instance, many devops positions start at $100k in many places for a salary. Senior devops people are easily making $150k or more a year. The more interesting thing is that many companies are paying similar wages across the board and happy to be flexible on pay without being stingey.
- Progressive Views on Mary Jane
Yeah, I'm going to talk about it, because it is really not a taboo topic for many companies. Marijuana. Many states it's now legal, and even in states where it isn't, many of these companies quite simply DO NOT test for it and consider themselves 420 friendly. Why? Because good luck finding someone in the engineering industry who doesn't either use it medicinally or recreationally. Supply, demand. If you found out that everyone enjoyed playing pokemon GO, but had a ban on Pokemon Go when people weren't on the clock, you'd probably stop banning people who play it. As far as I'm concerned, as long as someone isn't showing up at work baked, what they do in their own home is their own thing. The last company I worked for was happily 420 friendly, happily told its employees, and it was no big deal.
As someone who is currently in Oregon, this is an ongoing trend here. There are of course, some companies who will have restrictions federally who may have to have that due to whatever it is their company does, but that's pretty rare these days.
But if it's a choice? You're missing out on a plethora of candidates.