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What I value in a job

Every time I've looked for a job or helped others do so, one question always rises to the top. What am I looking for?

Tim Cheadle
Tim Cheadle
3 min read
Multi-colored threads being fed into a loom for weaving
📸 Mick Haupt

Finding open positions at interesting companies is a big challenge. Before you start that journey, it's important to consider what you want in a job in the first place. You're going to spend thousands of hours of your life at work. Take some time to think seriously about work needs to take care of you in return.

During the interview process, you're going to meet friendly people who rave about their companies. Knowing your must-haves and nice-to-haves will give you a framework to sort out what's real. After all, this is your chance to interview them as much as they're getting to know you.

Recently I started down this same path, so I decided to outline what I care about. After 20 years in the tech industry, this is what I value in a job, in no particular order.

Impact and voice

Having a real, tangible impact on adding value to people’s lives. Also, a voice in directly shaping the product to meet these needs.

Meaningful challenges

Working on problems that are worth solving. I want to work on problems I can relate to and empathize with, ideally connecting closely with customers themselves.

Autonomy

The ability to make decisions quickly, and the trust to do so. No micromanagement or constant design by committee.

Product focus

Being able to always see the forest from the trees and doing work that’s user facing instead of always working behind the scenes.

Support and inclusion

A workplace that truly supports and values its people, and works hard to make sure everyone is included with equity. A place where it’s safe to make mistakes.

Accountable leadership

Leaders whose direction I trust, who look for advice, who make decisions with confidence. Leaders who aren’t afraid to try things, learn from mistakes, and change course when needed. Leaders who value the work done on the front lines.

Talented team

Working with experienced and driven folks who have high standards and are eager to share their knowledge in a supportive way.

Knowing the tech

Being able to bring my years of experience to the table on day one and identify patterns quickly. Often it's helpful to jump into the guts and help out.

Schedule & flexibility

Being able to work the hours that make the most sense for me, my family, and my team. Easily taking time off to enjoy the rest of life, especially when unscheduled.

Salary, bonus, and equity

An amount that feels like I’m valued and is easy to say yes to. Bonuses and equity that provide meaningful, substantial opportunities to reward growth.

Travel

If travel is involved, going to interesting places with interesting people, just often enough. Bonus points if flights and accommodations are well appointed.

Education & growth

Support for growing as an engineering leader and developing my own voice in the industry. Speaking and attending conferences is a huge plus. A strong investment in helping every employee grow and cultivate new leaders.

Funding & staffing

Adequate staff, funding, revenue, and runway to support the milestones we want to achieve. A business model that intuitively makes sense.

Positive culture & appreciation

Optimism goes a long way in making work feel rewarding, and so does real appreciation for work well done.

Health plan & benefits

Making sure my family is completely taken care of for physical and mental health. I really don't want to switch doctors or therapists.

Meaningful feedback

Regular constructive peer feedback and the ability to share lessons learned.

Sustainable remote work

Making decisions in writing, avoiding unnecessary meetings, and working asynchronously to ensure that everyone is a first class citizen. Regular in-person meet ups are critical.

Modern tools and services

Access to GSuite, Slack, Notion, Figma, Gusto, etc. Tools that are made to do modern work and support creating modern software.

Readable code thats easy to ship

Improving and shipping code should be a well understood, well documented, painless process that happens without any bureaucracy.

Some other elements that make work great:

  • Hardware and work expenses covered easily and quickly
  • Fitness benefits and focus on health
  • Work happens during work hours
  • Stipend for coworking space
  • Food and snacks
  • Well-loved slack channels full of GIFs

I hope this helps you frame what you're looking for next. Let me know what you value! I'm always interested in how people evaluate their own jobs.

Already considering some potential jobs? You may be interested in how I figure out which job to take.

Tim Cheadle Twitter

Tim Cheadle is a product and engineering leader focused on building empathy and value to solve human problems.