There are a bunch of features I'd like to have at my next employer, and several that are strong negatives. Many of these are not the obvious ones that recruiters like to showcase; and some of the things I want are definitely minority features.

I'd like to find a way to screen all the companies in my industry, and find the handful that are likely to meet my desires. Or any other way to select companies I'm likely to enjoy, based on these traits - perhaps ones that meet some criteria tend to advertise in particular places.

If you need specifics, traits involve ethics, respect for engineering staff, limited interruption work environments, equal opportunity, good tools, and management practices I like.

The industry is software development, particularly systems software.

I'm aware of the Joel test, and it looks like a good filter for some of my desires, so I'm posting this on the way to do some searches on the Stack Exchange jobs site, hoping to accumulate a list of good companies for future reference.

But I'd like to find good sources for other data, since many employers have never heard of the Joel test, and I'd like to learn about companies whether or not they currently have positions available.

  • the fact that they're never heard about Joel test make it more effective. Otherwise workplace is about answering specific questions, your question is probably too broad, and off topic because it's asking for external sources. Finally in medium/big sized company, managers within those are pretty differents, so scanning for "good managers" won't probably be easy or even relevant.
    – Walfrat
    Sep 15 '16 at 19:58
  • 4
    only way to do this is personal knowledge, so either find someone within who will give you specific info on each specific team, or get a job there under false name and take notes for future reference
    – Kilisi
    Sep 15 '16 at 20:15
  • 2
    In anything larger than a tiny start-up, there can be good and bad places to work in the same organization. Those places can change as specific people on the management team and the dev team change. So any research you do can become outdated almost as soon as you do it. Further a great place to work can change completely under a new CEO. Or if they are bought by another company.
    – HLGEM
    Sep 15 '16 at 20:25
  • I'm particularly interested in the company-wide picture. Policies like Amazon's rank-and-yank evaluations or Facebook's picnic-tables-in-an-auditorium work environment affect everyone, even though local policies can enhance or mitigate those effects. Sep 15 '16 at 20:31
  • Have you looked at any of the public sites like Glassdoor? LinkedIn may also be useful to see if you know anyone who works for the company, invite them out to lunch and have a conversation.
    – JasonJ
    Sep 15 '16 at 20:35

The person you can trust the most is (should be) yourself. Any information you get ahead of an interview is just evidence in the investigation for the perfect company. Most of the time you cannot know what's ahead without going to interviews and feeling what's up. I would usually use what I found online to rank potential companies, know where to dig more, not make a final decision on their fitness.

You need to ask yourself how do you measure what's valuable to you. What do you think is good "equal opportunity"? I joined a company composed only of white people, not being white. Did I ever felt like the color of my skin matter when I worked there? No. What mattered to me was that they took me seriously during the interview. No reason to ask why there wasn't more diversity of skin or gender.

The number one metric is just to ask to somebody who had experience with the company and who know you. Nothing can beat personal experience.

Otherwise I tend to use Glassdoor to have a vague idea about management practices in big companies. In general reviews are written either by new employees (within months) or employees on their way out. Because of that the review may seems merrier or gloomier than the real thing, but this is just a model. I look for :

  • Points which are consistent about reviews
  • Bad reviews which are upvoted

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