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How To Choose a Job in the Tech Industry

People who work in the technology industry enjoy a luxury that people in other industries simply don’t have: the opportunity to choose where we want to work.

Naturally, we still have to apply, interview, have the right skills and get the job. However, because our skills are in high demand, there’s a plethora of jobs out there from which we can choose and employers are frequently vying to recruit us to their teams. This is not the case for most people in most industries.

That being said, when presented with so many opportunities, how do you choose the one that is the best fit? Personally, I use the following four-point framework to guide my decisions, and as a result, that’s how I ended up working at Rover.

It’s all about the people

First, the most important question is, “do I like the people?” To my way of thinking, I spend as much time with the people I work with as I do with my family, so I want to enjoy my time around them.

Now, you can’t answer that question directly before you’ve even applied, but you can get a sense for if the company seems to have strong values and high ethical standards. Between press, asking around your network via LinkedIn, and reading Glassdoor reviews, you can start to get a sense of the company’s culture.

Rover has its Core Values published on our web site, so that prospective candidates will understand what it’s like to work here. These values are not platitudes–they are actual principles we use to guide our day-to-day work.

Ultimately, the matter of people is a threshold question: if a company doesn’t share my values, then none of the other questions matter.

The “sniff test”

The second question I ask is, “does this product or service pass the ‘sniff test’ for me?” When I say, “‘sniff test’ to me” that’s actually sort of a multi-part question composed of several sub-questions, such as:

  • Does the product make sense and do I understand what they’re doing?
  • Is this solving a real problem for consumers or businesses, or is this a solution in search of a problem?
  • Do I think it’s a noble endeavor that will make the world better?

Essentially, the question I’m asking myself is: “do I buy into what this company is doing?” I want to have meaningful work, so if I can’t buy in, then I’m not that interested.

For me, Rover answered these questions easily. As a dog owner, I had experienced the problem of searching for someone to care for my pup like family while I was away, and owning a pet has enriched my life. Rover believes that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the unconditional love of a pet, and our mission is to make dog ownership possible.

Getting out of bed in the morning

The third question I ask myself is, “will I enjoy the work?” I believe that we only have success when we’re having fun. And, at the end of the day, we all have to get out of bed in the morning, and it’s really hard to do that when you don’t enjoy the work you’re doing.

I’ve spent my entire career building industry leading, consumer websites, and that’s what we’re doing here at Rover. Creating features for the web site and mobile apps, the machine learning algorithms that power our custom search engine, and the data warehouse that allows us to analyze our experiments and split tests… I love all of these things, so I knew the job would be a fit.

Keeping the boat afloat

The fourth and final question I ask is about the business, “is it viable?” Is the business growing? Are they profitable? If they’re an unprofitable startup, do they have well-respected investors? Essentially, the questions here boil down to risk: there’s nothing wrong with joining a company in a sub-optimal financial position–goodness knows that I’ve joined some crazy startups in my career!–but it’s also important to go into that eyes wide open.

Rover, of course, is not in that position: we have world-class investors, are growing rapidly and have a bright future ahead. If you’re interested in working together, check our open positions at http://rover.com/jobs.

Scott Porad is the CTO at Rover.com, the nation’s largest online marketplace of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers. Since 1995, Scott has been building early-stage consumer web sites on the edge of emerging online trends. Prior to Rover, Scott worked with user-generated content at Cheezburger, e-commerce at drugstore.com, online media at ESPN.com at Starwave and online marketing with Seth Godin at Yoyodyne.