Is Your Employer a “Best Place To Work” For Developers?

Glassdoor recently released their Best Places to Work 2016/Employees Choice Awards, and as you would expect the top of the list features several well-known companies from the tech sector (Airbnb, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google) and other firms that aren’t exactly household names. The rankings are based on anonymous reviews and ratings from employees, with the results crunched by a proprietary algorithm. The survey asks respondents to rate their company on the following set of criteria: Career Opportunity, Compensation & Benefits, Work/Life Balance, Senior Management, Culture & Values.

As someone who has asked thousands of job seekers about their ideal employment scenario, I have heard each of the criteria above cited on countless occasions. Glassdoor is not exclusive to the technology industry, so of course the survey criteria are rather generic and applicable to firms in any vertical.

Based on how I hear developers describe their dream job, I would add the following criteria (in no particular order) to Glassdoor’s list when ranking development shops:

Autonomy and Tool Availability

Does the company mandate the manufacturer and operating system of your laptop, your IDE, and whether or not you are allowed to use open source tools? Firms that restrict tool and language use may hinder their employees from developing marketable skill sets, which forces career-focused individuals to either develop these skills after hours or seek new opportunities.

Learning Culture

Is the company committed to allowing their employees to develop their careers through ongoing learning? This could be as simple as letting developers prototype in an unfamiliar stack, holding in-house lunch and learn sessions, formal training, or providing time-off or budget for conference and users’ group attendance.

Variation in Projects/Greenfield Work

Ten years of maintenance on a static project will not be considered ten years of experienceby a future employer. Pardon the cliche, but it may instead be deemed one year of experience ten times. Variety in project work and a favorable new development : maintenance ratio tends to make for happier employees.

Doing Things Right

Developers gravitate toward companies where they can get things done in a professional environment. How the company’s development organization scores on the Joel Test is one way employees might rate job satisfaction.


Is the daily work engaging and challenging for the employees? Even well-compensated employees will look elsewhere if their duties are no longer interesting.

Respect and Value On Engineering

Does the company see technology (and technologists) as a core element to their business, and are developers treated accordingly? This is usually evident in software product businesses, but becomes a bit clouded when technology is considered a cost center.

What did I miss?

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