Signs of a Poor Software Engineering Organization

Signs of a Poor Software Engineering Organization

When searching for a new job, there are a number of organizations will not be a good fit for you. How do you identify these companies so that you can avoid them? Below are a number of signs that may indicate an organization should be avoided. None of these factors are fool-proof, but be aware of the risks when accepting a software engineering position at a company that exhibits any of the following characteristics.

Non-Technical Engineering Managers

It is not necessary for engineering manager to write code. However, a manager should have enough technical knowledge to understand the scope and scale of a particular task that an engineer is working on. They should be able to have intelligent conversations about technical tradeoffs because these types of decisions are regularly made on a development team.

Additionally, if your manager does not understand the most basic technical concepts, it is likely that your annual performance review will depend more on your marketing skills than your ability to code.

Technology Adoption Laggards

As the rate of technology adoption continues to increase, the line has blurred significantly between a traditional brick-and-mortar business and a technology business. When Amazon was first created, big-box retailers didn't even notice. The thought that an upstart online book retailer would become their primary competition certainly wasn't the prevailing concern.

Eventually these large retailers discovered that even brick-and-mortar businesses need to embrace technology to stay relevant. The traditional sales model had been disrupted by a number of technology-based organizations who found new and innovative ways to deliver a better customer experience. Companies that didn't embrace technology were overrun by the competition.

You should avoid any company that is not embracing technology as a way to serve customer needs. It will save you the hassle of having to look for another job when that company goes bankrupt.

Itís a Sinking Ship

If a company is consistently losing market share, you are better off not joining up. These environments are usually budget-constrained, overly stressful, and just generally toxic. You should find a healthy company in a healthy market segment. A company that is growing market share will provide you with many additional opportunities that will not be available in a company that is shrinking.

Lack of Employee Growth

When you take a job, it is not just about what you can do for that company. It is also about what that company can do for you. You need assurance that you will be able to grow your skills, knowledge, and expertise in a way that will be beneficial to both you and your company. If a company is not willing to invest in your growth, you should not be interested in investing your time with that company.

Hiring for Skills, Not for Competencies

Some companies will hire you based on what you know instead of what you can accomplish. You don't want to work at these places. If a company doesn't understand the distinction between knowledge and accomplishment, they will be unable to differentiate between a decent engineer and a great one.

While there is certainly a correlation between knowledge and productivity, the relationship is not transitive. I have worked with some incredibly knowledgeable engineers who weren't that productive. Usually, it was a competency issue. Some lacked motivation; others lacked problem-solving abilities.

You don't have to hide behind your skill set. You want to be recognized for your ability to accomplish great things and for adding significant value to your organization.

Bad Company Reputation

A company's reputation is usually the result of an organizational leadership culture that originates from the top down. If a company has a bad reputation, it is usually not without merit. You can find groups that rise above a poor organizational reputation, but the positive culture in these areas often degrades as soon as one key leader leaves the group. There are plenty of companies with stellar reputations, so you should not waste your time with companies of ill repute.

The Perpetual Job Opening

There are usually two reasons that organizations keep a job requisition open perpetually. One is that they have been experiencing a sustained growth trend, and have been increasing staff for a significant period of time. This is an incredibly positive scenario. The other reason is high turnover within the organization. The company is continuously trying to keep up with employee attrition.

Keep in mind the size of the organization. Companies with a large engineering staff will often maintain an open requisition to keep the candidate pipeline full. Because of these factors, this indicator can be unreliable. However, if a position has been open for a long period of time, you should attempt to determine the reason before accepting an offer from this company.


While this is not an exhaustive list of reasons to avoid a company, you should consider the factors outlined above. In your quest to land a rewarding position, don't settle for less than the best. If you use these items as red-flag indicators, you will be well-positioned to avoid companies that are not going to enhance your professional growth.

Are you a software engineer who is wondering how to identify a great place to work? Use these tips in this article to help narrow your search for the proper organization.

Related Posts