The 5 types of Programmer companies

I recently had a chat with a recruiter about why I wasn’t interested in a prospect. This is the answer I gave him:

In answering your question, it’s necessary to list the categories we (Software developers) put companies into.  Depending on where a developer is at in his career, different types of companies may occupy a different order.  The ordering of the list changes depending on the developer. This is by no means canonical.

Software development jobs generally fall into one of a few categories:

1. Startup – ‘Fun’ atmosphere, chaotic, making new things, generally at the cutting edge; fails easily, pay isn’t as good, but the other benefits (working from home, relaxed dress code, casual work atmosphere) make up for it. Long hours at times. Developers care about the company and their work. Selling environment may dictate ‘ship now, fix later’ mentality (that normally leads to project failure down the road)

2. Private Company that sells software as its primary business function – Developers treated well, first class citizens; pay is very competitive and benefits are outstanding. Normally right around 40 hour work weeks (there’ve been numerous studies that show as knowledge workers work longer hours, they perform more poorly mentally); dress code varies, but normally Jeans and button down or something along those lines. Well defined process; Developers care about product and company, vested interest to see it do well.

3. Private firm that sells something else and makes software as a ‘supporting’ function – Developers more often than not are second class citizens; restrictions on what developers can do; working with new technology or making changes ‘for the better’ is hard. Pay is great, but it’s a mixed bag as to whether the other developers really care or if they’re just collecting a paycheck. Dress code is conservative.

4. Private Firm support government entity – Somewhere between 2 and 3, depending on the company.

5. Public (government) entity – Not cutting edge at all (in most cases); heavy restrictions on what a developer can do; watched like a hawk; change is unheard of.

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