For many professionals, startup hubs like San Francisco and Seattle are job-hunting nirvana. The “Big Guys” like Facebook and Google keep growing, and the stream of startups elbowing each other to snag talented employees seems endless.
In an environment like this one, you can’t blame an in-demand developer, for example, for picking the biggest paycheck. But when multiple companies want you on their team, I suggest weighing several factors beyond salary before sealing the deal.
I spoke to Anthony Smith, CEO and founder of CRM and project management software company Insightly, about growing his career, attracting talent, and comparing your options.
1. Startup table stakes
Let’s get this one out of the way first: If you work in tech, you can expect some primo perks. For example, free snacks, a stocked soda fridge, and even complimentary massages aren’t out of the question. But don’t let those bonuses cloud your judgment.
“These kinds of amenities have become as standard as health insurance and retirement savings plans,” Smith said. “Check them off your list and move on to considering more substantive benefits.”
2. Remote work options
If the thought of a two-hour daily commute makes your butt sore, look for potential employers that offer remote work options. “Insightly uses several different tools to ensure off-site employees stay connected to the company culture and happenings,” Smith said. “We use Google Hangouts for face-to-face meetings and Yammer, a social network for businesses, allowing employees to collaborate and provide instant updates when videoconferencing isn’t necessary.” The availability of collaborative software at your company will indicate its support of a remote workforce.
3. A voice in decision-making and cross-departmental responsibility
Unlike mega corporations, startups can offer employees the chance to take part in big-picture decisions.
“In the absence of the bureaucracy that characterizes so many big enterprises, our employees have the chance to guide company direction and weigh in on projects beyond their defined roles or departments,” Smith said. “That kind of flexibility fuels professional growth much more quickly than would be possible in a large enterprise.”
4. Employee happiness
When you tour any workplace, pay close attention to the happiness of their employees.
“If you’re going in for an interview, you can see this onsite,” Smith said. “The cohesion and collegiality of the team will influence your ability to succeed and thrive in the job.”
If you’re not interviewing onsite, I recommend researching employee happiness on job boards and company review sites such as Glassdoor.com.
5. Frequent, clear communication
Do employees know what’s happening in their company? Do they understand the vision of its leadership?
“I’ve always made it a point to be receptive to employee feedback,” Smith said. “If an employee disagrees with a policy or has a suggestion to change an existing process, I want the executive team to listen and enact change.”
Don’t assume that every employer listens to employee suggestions or offers clear frequent communication — ask.