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It's a goal that everyone should have. But what makes a job the coveted but elusive dream job?
For a long time, I thought that doing something you love automatically meant that you had a dream job. But as I have matured (now, that doesn't seem right), I have realized that being passionate about the work is not enough to make any ole job the dream job. If the job does not make you happy, no amount of passion will make it a dream job. Don't get me wrong, passion is a crucial ingredient, but it's not the only one.
The question now becomes, what does my dream job/company look like? After all, if I don't know what my dream job looks like, how do I know if I am applying for one or even in one? More importantly, how do I compare different opportunities and differentiate between good and bad ones?
Let us tackle the makeup of my dream job and see what it looks like.
|Compensation and Benefits
Culture (50 points)
Culture trumps everything else, every single time
After working with some terrible and great companies, I realized that the company culture trumps everything else. After all, I will be spending a giant chunk of my time at the company and no matter how attractive the work is, if I don't like being there, how can I be happy?
So what does the perfect culture look like?
|Breakdown for Culture
|Honesty and Transparency by Management.
|Potential to discuss ideas and be taken seriously on processes and company culture.
|Open communication among team-mates
|Open communication with management and Human Resources.
|The ability to move horizontally or vertically throughout the company.
|Internally Visible Compensation Matrix
Compensation and Benefits (35 points)
I would be lying if I said that money is not important to me. I need to feel that I am fairly compensated for my skills. It's also a good confidence booster to make an above-market-rate salary. Benefits and perks are nice, but they don't pay the bills.
Unfortunately, many companies feel they can afford to pay less because they work on exciting challenges. This is especially prevalent in the games industry. The ideal company would not give a lowball offer when trying to hire me.
After all, if I had to fight (actually, let me be politically correct and say negotiate) to get what I deserve before I even joined the company, who's to say that I won't have to do it again at each review? More importantly, why would I work for a technology company that skimps on paying its most important assets (the programmers).
Salary (15 points)
|Breakdown for Salary
|Above market-rate base salary without having to negotiate
|Market Rate base salary without having to negotiate
|Above market rate salary with negotiation
|Below market base salary.
Note 1: Some companies will give an annual bonus. Unless the base salary is already above market, deduct 5 points from the salary breakdown table. This is because you don't get benefits like Kiwisaver etc., on bonuses.
Note 2: When considering a new job and comparing it with current employment and already at market rate, replace market rate with current salary + X%.
Benefits (20 points)
Although I did say that the base salary is more important, the benefits and perks make a company more attractive for comparable wages.
|Breakdown for Benefits
|ESOP's / RSU's
|100% covered health insurance with a good provider.
|Reimbursements for sports. Most companies give gym memberships, but I don't like going to the gym and prefer to spend my time playing sports.
|A well-stocked kitchen full of coffee, tea, and snacks
Learning (10 points)
The perfect company would invest in their employees. The way I see it, this is a win-win for both the employee and the company. The employee improves their skill set, and the company gets a sharp engineer.
|Breakdown for Learning
|Ability to work on non-work-related tasks for a few hours a week. Kind of like Google Fridays.
|New Things to Work on
|Access to resources such as online courses, conferences or even books.
Passion (5 points)
Not only should I be passionate about my work, but I also want to be around people passionate about it.
|Breakdown for Learning
|I am passionate about the work.
|People around me are passionate about their work.
Cause for Automatic Rejections
- No relocation (if moving to a new city/country)
- Initial Low-ball Offer.
- Mandatory in-office days.
- Micro Management.
- No Ability to work on side projects after work.
- I don't work with people who have ego trips or feel that others need to cater to their every whim and demand because they are more knowledgeable or in a higher position.
That's a total of 100 points. Maybe no job ticks all the boxes, but then again, perhaps there are.
My current job at Atlassian scores 82/100.
This is a very opinionated list, and what is vital for me might not be essential for you even if you are at the same stage in life.
Remember that the point breakup and the list change over time. It will also likely change in the next 5-10 years. After all, the things that were important to me in my early twenties are very different from those that are important now.
How does your company rate on my dream job scale? Let me know.