Friday, May 18, 2007

Why would someone work for your company?

[This was originally posted at]

I mentioned last month how everyone likes to say that they recruit the best, but that's just silly. Not every company can all have the best developers. Especially in a good job market, it merits asking - Why would someone work for your company?

At Paylocity, because we're always hiring for top talent, we constantly focus on this question.

Ultimately, you need a niche, such as:

  • High salary
  • Enjoyable work - the company does the exact kind of thing you like.
  • Brand name recognition - i.e. the opportunity to work for a Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, etc...
  • Good work-life balance
  • Job security - such as a government job where you likely won't get fired.
  • Good learning opportunity - like consulting companies that fly you around the country to work with the latest and greatest technology
  • Future potential - maybe a startup that you think will hit it big
  • Good coworkers - whether it's just team chemistry, or there's a star you want to work with (i.e. ThoughtWorks having Martin Fowler)

In my experience, most companies think they have most of these things when they don't. Sometimes they think they have enough of some niches such that they don't need others (i.e. "we don't need competitive salaries because we have XYZ instead").

Obviously big salaries are the easiest thing to point to. Hiring managers may insist they can't get good recruits because their budget simply doesn't allow them to be competitive -  and there's substance to that. However, the interesting thing is that several of the things on this list can be addressed without your CXO changing their budget:

Niche How to get it without changing your budget
Enjoyable work Focus on new problems and process, and not repetitive, copy & paste tasks. It's a win-win: developers will like the challenge more, and managers will like the better code that results from it. Managers can try delegating work items to developers based on their interests.
Good work-life balance Giving developers laptops lets them work from home. I've found that people are far more willing to do "homework" in the evening (after they've had downtime or dinner with their families) in the comfort of their own home, as opposed to staying late at the office. It also gives you the option of working from home. For example, at Paylocity we often let developers work from home on Tuesday and Friday (we use laptops and instant messenger, and we have mature developers who don't abuse this). If you're firm doesn't require travel - it's much easier.
Good learning opportunity Good developers have the intrinsic need to grow and learn. Managers can champion having estimates that include even a 5% research cushion, purchasing a requested technical book, or making the business case to upper CXOs how the new technology helps the bottom line. Any manager that stifles that for any reason will simply push their best developers away. Such excuses may include: "we don't have time", "that's not in the requirement", "just do it this way because I said so", "this approach worked 5 years ago", "your job is to support the business, not research technology", etc...
Good coworkers A manager has tremendous influence over their team. First, they can lead by example - not gossiping, respecting team mates, not showing favoritism, etc... They can also refuse to hire someone who is socially incompatible (i.e. don't hire a jerk), such that the team doesn't get tainted. If a people-problem does arise, such as someone sends out a dumb email or makes an inappropriate comment, a leader can proactively isolate the incident and encourage quick resolution (as opposed to "waiting to see what happens").


I'm proud to say that at Paylocity, we do these things - we work with cutting edge technology, have an amazing work-life balance that allows developers to stay mentally fresh for long-term development, always encourage learning, and have the best team chemistry I have personally seen.


Living in Chicago and interested in working for a great company? Check out the careers at Paylocity.

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