3 questions every engineer should ask before taking on a new job


This is no secrets this technology industry companies are in a battle for the best technical talents. Those looking for a new job have the upper hand in negotiations. Since we are in a candidate market, companies have a mission to recruit the best of the best. Now potential employees have the ability to ask for what they want in a job and explore the options as they see fit.

As an engineer, the opportunities can seem endless. Some candidates I’ve spoken to recently have had more than five offers at a time. The demand is exciting, but narrowing your choices in such a market can also be overwhelming. You may have several great deals on the table, but you’re still struggling to figure out where to go next.

With that in mind, here are three key questions every engineer should ask themselves and a potential employer before accepting an offer.

3 questions every engineer should ask before taking on a new job

  1. What do I want next?
  2. What do I want to learn next? Who do I want to learn from?
  3. What is the state of the company and its technology?

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What do I want next?

This can often be the hardest question to answer. Why exactly are you looking for a new job? Do you want to start working with a new type of technology? Or maybe you would prefer to work in a large organization.

In my experience, people who have a clear understanding of what they want from their next step are often the best candidates. If you’re passionate about a business and feel excited about your team, you’re going to do your best.

Take the time to think about what you want your career to look like in a year, five years, or even 10 years from now. What are your goals? What will satisfy you? Once you’ve covered these basics, you can start thinking about what exactly you want to learn and who you want to teach it to.

What do I want to learn next? Who do I want to learn from?

Once you’ve established the criteria you want for your new job, think about the skills you want to acquire and the specific areas in which you want to improve.

Engineers must constantly evaluate how to develop our skills. In times of failure, we should focus on lessons learned. In times of success, we still have room for growth and can always find things to do better next time.

At Opendoor, we challenge ourselves to be 1% better every day. To ensure you continue to grow day by day, you’ll want to ask yourself what opportunities and resources will be available to you in a new role. Does the company provide days off for professional development? Is there a budget to attend a workshop or industry conference? You can adapt these types of questions to suit your role and values. Don’t be afraid to ask for space to learn.

Another key part of this question is to ask who exactly you want to learn from. One of the biggest mistakes engineers make is not talking to their potential managers before joining a company. You need to talk to the person you will be reporting because, in the end, that will be the person you will learn the most from.

You also want to meet potential teammates and get a sense of their work dynamics and team culture. Joining a team and realizing you’re not gelling is a bad feeling. Prior to joining my current team, I spoke with a variety of team members, from senior executives to people who would be my direct reports to cross-functional partners. Meeting people from across the company has helped me better understand the broader culture. And my interviewers were able to get a better idea of ​​what I would add to it as well.

Having a strong mentor is essential. In one of my previous roles, I had a mentor to whom I attest a lot of my growth. He was a pro at understanding scalable solutions, an area I hadn’t done much work in yet. His willingness to help me learn has guided my growth both in this company and throughout my career. I had an advantage when moving to new businesses because of everything he taught me. So when looking at a potential offer, think about who those potential mentors might be. They could have the power to shape the rest of your career.

Being able to answer such questions about what you want to learn and who you want to learn from will set you up for success when researching your offerings.

What is the state of the company and its technology?

Finally, you’ll want to understand the dynamics of the business, including the state of the company’s technology and its technical vision. If it’s a start-up organization, you could have a more immediate impact on their technology future. Or, if a business is going through a big transition, getting a foothold can be a challenge, but that challenge can also be very rewarding. You might also want a mature, stable company where you can work on multiple projects and have a defined role. The choice is yours, but take the time to weigh the pros and cons of each.

Depending on the size of the business, asking about the product side of things is also helpful. What is the product market and will you be involved in it? Are they selling products or are they still in the early stages? Are they iterating and improving? Again, adapt these questions to your wants and needs.

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choose wisely

With these questions in mind, sit down and start checking out your offers. Be thorough and take your time. Don’t forget your advantage: companies need talent and they want you, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to make the right decision.


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