Events / Hiring

Here are 7 things tech workers want from their employers: NET/WORK 2017

Meet a few of the 600 job seekers at our tech jobs fair as they answer this question: What does the perfect tech company look like?

This is what 52 companies trying to capture talent looks like. (Photo by Catherine Sontag)
When 600 tech job seekers are packed in a single room, the wisest thing to do is listen.

And at NET/WORK Philly 2017 — our yearly tech jobs fair which went down on Tuesday at The Fillmore — that’s precisely what happened: a crucial dialogue between 52 tech companies and hundreds of people looking for their next gig.

Sure, we could tell you about the free professional head shots, the in-depth resume reviews, the bountiful swag and the bangin’ lineup of workshops (also, some v important NET/WORK awards.)

But because retaining talent keeps rising and rising atop tech companies’ priority list, we’re taking this as an opportunity to turn the tables around and ask: what does the ideal employer looks like for job seekers these days? Here’s what attendees told us.

For Dominique’s next career move, work/life balance is key. The 31-year-old, a graduate of Moore College of Art and Design, has been working as a web designer and consultant for almost three years now. She said she needs a company with a culture that allows her enough freedom to embrace her entrepreneurial spirit while allowing her to spend time with her family.

The self-taught dev has a background in real estate and business with a degree in philosophy. Crazy mix. For his first job in tech, Feld is looking for a company with a learning, collaborative culture that lets him grow both professionally and personally.

If Karin’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she recently stepped down from a two-year stint as director of business development at CandiDate, the personal/professional matchmaking service. The most striking thing about this job seeker: her walking, talking reference letter (who also won Least Worst Recruiter later that night at the NET/WORK Awards).

The split, as you can tell, was a friendly one (though Amber Wanner tells us it was also an emotional one). Wolok is looking for a career change closer to the marketing side of things “I want to work somewhere where I can make a change,” Wolok said. “Somewhere where I can directly learn from someone. Professional development is key.”

We caught up with 20-year-old Levine as he made a very energetic pitch to Stratis CEO Felicite Moorman (who, btw, was tending to her own booth and handed out hella cupcakes). Along with three other students from the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, he hopped on an Amtrak for two hours to attend NET/WORK (think that’s a long trip? One guy bought a plane ticket from Chicago to attend). He’ll be graduating in 2018 with a major in computer science and, for his first job, he’s looking to join a company which, no matter the size, is open enough to allow him to learn on the job and grow with the company. But is he willing to move to Philly? “You betcha.”

Russo, a Bethlehem, Pa., local, has been in the software industry for 16 years. His gray hair stood out on the line to get a resume review. After seven years, the company he was with let him go in a round of layoffs. “Now I’m looking for more stability,” Russo said. “I’m looking for a company that has a solid future. Impressive growth just doesn’t do it for me anymore.”

We previously featured Butler in this piece on Interactive Mechanics’ fellowship program. The 2016 fellow (read more about the cohort here) has a degree in information technology from Drexel University. The next career move she makes has to be to a company that openly embraces diversity. “You spend most of your time at work, so it hast to be a place where you feel good,” said Butler, 29. “I also look for a team with open minds. Opinionated but not overwhelming.”

A regular meetup attendee, Phalon is the president of Temple University Venture Club. The bearded senior is minoring in entrepreneurship, and he will apply his knowledge of the Philly tech scene to find a position in sales or business development for a company that “feels like a family.”

If your company is looking to hire, these testimonies should be read carefully. You’ll notice how no beer keg or ping pong table was mentioned. Tech workers, regardless of their experience level, are looking for open, safe spaces that will let them handle challenges as they learn. They’re looking for a gig that makes an impact on their lives. They’re not looking to work with “brilliant jerks,” as RevZilla’s Talia Edmundson once put it.

In many ways, the internships and entry-level gigs offered by some of the leading tech companies at NET/WORK last nights reflects that. Though seasoned developers are still a hot commodity, companies are learning how it’s a good thing to build a workforce from the ground up.

And if you’ll allow me a personal note (Editor’s note: OK, just this once.).


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