Niko Heikkilä

Health Check Before Jumping to a New Organization

Dear recruiters, don't talk to me about your tech stack.

Niko Heikkilä / 09.05.2021 / ☕️ 3 minutes read

Many software developers who have at least a couple of years of experience in this industry are often barraged with headhunting letters from recruiters. Unfortunately, I have seen too many letters sent en masse vaguely describing an open position for some unnamed client followed by a generic description of a typical tech stack.

What is even worse is the instant realization that the recruiter has not bothered researching who you are. Instead, you only receive shallow promises of competitive salaries, exciting projects, education budgets, and as of lately, flexible remote working opportunities.

Dear recruiters, your tech stack is not important to me. All the languages and frameworks eventually suck, but they may perform well enough to solve the problem at hand given the proper context.

Competitive salary and interesting projects mean nothing because every company has those. Instead, consider putting the salary range and public reference cases on your website for everyone to see.

Education budgets are excellent to have, but sending people to training only to give them a break from the tedious work you make them do is a waste.

Coronavirus changed the knowledge work to remote by default. The client you’re hiring for is likely only waiting for the pandemic to end so they can restore the correct ways of working by forcing everyone to work at the office again.

Fortunately, you can do better!

Setting the Expectations Right

To help you attract great developers and software craftspeople — like I am — here is a non-exhaustive checklist of DOs. The emphasis is on myself and how I would like to work with you. The list contains some overlapping notions, and it is subject to change in the future because our profession is constantly evolving.

The next time your head is being hunted, consider following up with the below reply. By all means, steal this list and adapt it to your taste.


Hey X.X!

Thanks for reaching out. Before making any decisions, I would like to inquire about your company’s (or client’s) perspective to the following questions. I’ve found this information valuable to know when seeking new challenges. Please, take all the time required to go through these questions and get back to me. In any case, I hope we can have a fruitful discussion over these topics later.

  • Do the Agile Manifesto and its 12 principles act as a general baseline guiding your development?
  • Do your teams strive for professionalism following the Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship?
  • Do you grow autonomous and self-organizing teams trusting them to get the job done?
  • Do your developers mentor and cross-train each other to elevate the team’s spirit, skills, and knowledge?
  • Do your teams continuously improve their craft by having agile retrospectives?
  • Do your teams solve problems efficiently using collaboration and co-creation patterns like pair and mob programming (also known as swarming)?
  • Do your teams build quality products with Extreme ProgrammingContinuous Integration and Continuous Delivery methodologies?
  • Do your teams develop and maintain software with clean object-oriented and functional programming principles?
  • Do your teams ensure software maintainability by writing automated unit, integration, and end-to-end test suites following the behaviour-driven and test-driven development practices?
  • Do your core values include customer satisfaction, trust, innovation, transparency, care, and social responsibility?
  • Do your projects make the world a better place for everyone through diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • Do you share a transparent salary and career path policy either internally or with the public audience?

If you ticked yes to at least 10 of the questions above, I’m more than happy to continue the process with you.

When Should I Use This?

It’s worth knowing that this health check is most useful when you’re already satisfied working for your current employer. If you are unemployed you might want to adjust it for your situation.

Unfortunately, the IT recruiting world has its fair share of unethical wolfpacks (agencies) whose objective is to hunt you down and bring your head in for a reward. It bears repeating that having everything in balance is the best asset and defense when looking for new positions. It means you have not fallen into a pit of despair, and you are not easy prey for the wolves. Make your expectations and demands known.


Photo by Thomas Bonometti on Unsplash.

#career#recruiting#agile

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