So you just received a job offer…
You’re a brilliant chap, you’ve published or have contributed to a few open-source projects. You tweet and retweet interesting things, and you may even have a portfolio up somewhere, or a blog.
And then, out of the blue, you’ve received an e-mail from a guy you don’t know. It’s about a job offer. His company is looking for young talents, and is presented in a very favorable light.
However, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Recruiters are not your friend
As true as VCs are not your friends, recruiters are not your friends either. In their eyes, you are meat. Tender, delicate, fresh meat, but still meat. We are talking about the brand of people willing to put hundreds of employees out of their jobs because it helps maximize profits.
If you’re still having doubts about this, read The Rise of Developeronomics, published in Forbes, one of the world’s largest business magazine. While some business people have more of a human side than others, they’re definitely not doing you a favor: they’re trying very hard to find competent people, and that’s their job.
Don’t wet yourself
Having someone hitting on you is very flattering. Use it as an ego boost without hesitation. But, for humanity’s sake, don’t lose your shit. You are in demand here, which means you get to play ‘hard to get’. That’s right.
Finding good developers is a daunting task. Companies spend a great deal of money paying other companies to do the scouting for them, often with little success. The smartest in the bunch put out challenges for curious hackers to get hooked on.
Even then, recruitment is still largely a game of hit and miss. A good recruiter will have done a minimum of homework on you: reviewing your main skills, notable open-source contributions, studies, etc. But don’t kid yourself: he’s probably not obsessing over you.
Realizing that the person asking on you is simultaneously asking out dozens of other folks right now should help you keep it cool. Avoid being too excited, too verbose, or too praisy in your response. Stay polite, short, and efficient. They’ll appreciate it too.
Don’t put out until third date
Relationships in a company evolve. When you’re at the “potential hire” stage, your relationship with the company is a seduction game in which both parties should still be cautious as to where they’re stepping.
If you’re a nice guy, always looking to help find consensus and knowing how to let others be right when it matters, then awesome! That will get really useful later on in the company. But for the interview and negotiation phases, you really don’t want to let that out too much.
Whoever is interviewing you is paid to employ the company’s resources as efficiently as possible. If it means paying you 20K less because you’re too kind to ask for more, they will do it. The initial impression you give (ie. the first e-mail response) will be the recruiter’s base for his negotiation game. Don’t give him an unfair edge.
Think twice before making a decision
If you are really good, chances are you will get other offers. Don’t abandon your studies lightly. If you can combine school and a job, awesome! Just make sure you don’t burn out. Don’t commit for life to a company, think bigger.
Do you have start-up ambitions of your own? Sure, a job means less stress towards the end of the month. but the fact is that you’ll be working towards someone else’s dream. It can be a valuable piece of experience, but it’s not your baby. Choose your priorities with care.
Just because you say “no thanks” doesn’t mean you can’t stay in contact. Build up your network: that never hurts, whatever your career ends up looking like.
You should feel good about yourself. A fancy job offer is a good indicator that you have a bright future ahead of you, regardless of your decision.