Recently, between interviewing people and talking with some friends about the interview process and what do we seek, I was thinking about quickly writing a list of the five things I think most people should do when searching for a new job. The following advices assume you're searching for a technical position (in software development, systems or the like), living in Spain, with not much but some professional experience.
Learn how to sell yourself: Avoid extremes, either chatting too much about irrelevant stuff (dodging the questions asked) or being too shy and not giving enough detail or good examples (when you actually knew about the topic).
Aim for tech-driven companies: I still have to find a single company where sales people don't become headaches for tech. I try to learn what, how and why they do what they do, but still outcomes vary from "I sincerely don't know what I'm selling" to "I don't give a fuck as long as I get paid my variable". Best scenario: no sales people and a CEO with tech background; Nice scenario: tech-driven roadmap driving the company; Everything else tends to eventually cause crunches, planification issues and chaos.
Seek for a constant learning place: Companies mutate ("pivot"), roles change, code evolves (and gets replaced), colleages come and go, but what you learn is what will really help you in the future. You're the sum of your experiences, try to amass good ones by working on interesting projects with colleages smarter and different from you.
But never forget the money: If you wanted to work just for the shake of what you do you'd be at an NGO or at home doing only opensource, so don't lower your requirements just because you're passionate about what you do. Ask for the amount you think is fair, or at least the market average, instead of selling your valuable time for peanuts.
Equity and bonus are secondary at startups: It's so nice to speak about how Google, Twitter or Microsoft employees got very rich (including chefs and graffiti artists), but that's not the common scenario and outside of USA happens even less often. Most of the time your grants will mean nothing and your company won't be a huge success. Or if you're lucky and it gets bought, your common stock will be like a big bonus, maybe enough buy a new car, but not enough to buy a house. Unless you're entering a well stablished and usually mid to large company, negotiate first a decent base pay, then agree about the equity and lastly arrange the variable pay. Also ask for very specific terms/rules for evaluations, you'll avoid too subjective judgements.
- While colleages come and go, it is very important to work at a nice environment with good teammates. Ninjas and rockstars might generate more problems than those they resolve, and a toxic environment will only drain your energy and patience (whenever it is a bad coworker, a bad manager, or something else).
- English is critical: Not a perfect level but enough so you are able to understand conversations and communicate.
- Who you hang out with is who you are: If you work at startups, you'll probably move between startups and get job offers mostly from startups. If you do consultancy or work at big companies, your contacts will be from those ecosystems, although it is more common for startups to peek for candidates also from big companies (sometimes people wants to change).