What is the Best Company to Work for? (Software Engineer)

Dan Klos
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min read

Choosing your next software engineering job can be a unique challenge. With thousands of companies scouting for talent and a overwhelming amount of positions, it's crucial to not just land any job, but to secure a role at a company that fosters growth, innovation, and overall employee satisfaction. Nobody wants to waste time passing several rounds of interviews only to discover that you're not aligned with the company and are unhappy with your new role.

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In this comprehensive guide, we're going to break down what makes a company the 'best' for software engineers, and how you can land opportunities with companies that align with your personal and professional needs. Whether you've just graduated with a computer science degree or you're a seasoned coder looking for a new venture, this post will provide the strategic insights that every software engineer needs in order to make an informed decision about their career path.

How are the "Best" Companies Defined?

Before we explore the specifics of company assessments, it's essential to understand that 'best' is a subjective term. The best company for a software engineer is the one that aligns with their individual values, career aspirations, and lifestyle preferences. A company that might be a perfect match for one person could be a terrible fit for another. With that in mind, researching extensively before accepting a job offer is critical in ensuring a long, fruitful, and happy career.

Competitive Salary and Benefits

Competitive compensation is a major factor for many job seekers, and tech is an industry known for offering lucrative salaries. But it’s not just about the initial number on your offer letter. Make sure your offer aligns with your state's average salary for software development, taking into account your experience level. While juniors might need to accept unpaid internships to build experience, a senior software engineer should receive compensation significantly higher than the average salary benchmark.

Benefits packages that include health insurance, retirement plans, stock options, and perks like wellness stipends, commuter benefits, or free meals can significantly boost the overall value of your job offer.

FAANG companies are constantly competing to provide the best benefits to their employees. Google offers compensation and programs designed to ensure the financial well-being of their employees. Although Netflix leads in salary, Google and Apple stand out for their superior financial benefits. Moreover, full-time employees at Facebook, Google, and Apple receive competitive pay, reflecting the companies' commitment to employee satisfaction.

Work-Life Balance and Flexibility

Tech can also be infamous for its long hours and high-pressure environments. However, top-rated companies understand the importance of work-life balance and the value of downtime. Flexible work hours, telecommuting options, and generous vacation time are all indicators that a company invests in the quality of employee life outside of the office. A software company that prioritizes a healthy work-life balance sets a foundation for top talent to reduce burnout and maximize success.

Opportunities for Career Growth and Advancement

A company that can clearly map out your potential career path is worth its weight in gold. Look for businesses that actively promote employees internally and have clear pathways for advancement. This might include mentorship programs, educational stipends for further study, or a variety of project options.

Company Culture and Values

Company culture can make or break a business in the software industry. The culture of a company dictates the day-to-day experiences of its employees. A positive culture fosters a collaborative and supportive environment where ideas can flourish. It’s also critical that a company's values align with your personal ones; do you care about sustainability, diversity, or community involvement? If so, look for companies that share these beliefs.

Innovation and Technology Stack

In the tech industry, staying ahead of the curve is vital. The most attractive companies are those that are working on cutting-edge projects using the latest advanced technologies. Recent trends have been favoring companies who've implemented artificial intelligence into their systems.

Equally as important, is how those technologies are applied. Innovative solutions that have a real-world impact are incredibly gratifying to work on.

Employee Satisfaction and Reviews

Current and former employee reviews can give you a glimpse at what's happening behind-the-scenes at a particular company. Websites like Glassdoor and Blind offer anonymous insights into companies' culture, management, and workplace practices. While no company is perfect, consistent negative feedback should raise red flags. Carefully review past employees' experiences before signing a contract with a company that lacks employee-friendly policies.

Top 15 Companies for Software Engineers

In this section, we'll examine some of the most celebrated companies for software engineers and why they are considered the "best."

Google - A Pioneer in Tech Culture

Google has long been celebrated for its forward-thinking approach to work culture. It provides a collaborative, idea-driven environment, famously aiming to keep its employees happy and engaged through several benefits and perks.

Google invests significantly in talent development, offering numerous pathways for employees to grow, whether horizontally by gaining expertise in different product areas or vertically into management positions. Interestingly, Google is a great place to work for the perpetually curious, with its 20% time policy, allowing employees to dedicate a substantial portion of their working week to side projects that interest them.

Lastly, Google's dedication to innovation and powerful tech stack ensures that software engineers have the opportunity to work on premier, cutting-edge projects, such as the widely anticipated self-driving cars initiative.

Amazon - A Leader in Career Advancement

Amazon, with its "Day 1" philosophy, encourages its employees, including software engineers, to think like entrepreneurs, valuing ownership and long-term thinking. The company offers extensive technical training and mentorship programs, along with internal promotions. For software engineers, in particular, these programs can fast-track their careers while providing support for innovation and professional growth.

Join Amazon if you're a software engineer who wants to level-up your:

  • coding skills
  • data structures
  • system design capabilities

Microsoft - A Stalwart in Comprehensive Benefits

Microsoft is well-known for its comprehensive benefits program, which includes work-life balance arrangements and extensive health & wellness benefits. For software engineers, this can mean regular access to leading experts in healthcare, fitness, and personal wellness.

Additionally, Microsoft also has the 55/15 rule which applies to employees who are at least 55 years old with at least 15 years of continuous service at the company (or are age 65). When you meet this criteria, all stock grants, more than one year old, will continue to vest.

At Microsoft:

  • 73% of software engineers feel like they are paid fairly
  • 83% of software engineers are satisfied with their benefits
  • 67% of software engineers are satisfied with their stock/equity

Reddit - A Beacon for Company Culture

Reddit's unique culture emphasizes a supportive, close-knit community of employees, where every voice matters. The company's open dialogue policies encourage its software engineers to contribute ideas and feedback freely.

Here's a quote from an employee at Reddit
"I'm a software engineering manager at Reddit, and I lead the ads machine learning team in NYC. I actually just mentored a very talented intern this past summer, so I have firsthand experience.

  • The pay is very competitive. We go out of our way to be on par with the rest of the industry, both for interns and full-timers.
  • Interns work on real-world projects using real code, deploying to real production infrastructure.
  • Our offices in both SF and NYC are really nice
  • I joined recently (within the past year), and I've been particularly impressed by the culture. Everyone is pleasant and friendly, and there's a lot of social events and knowledge sharing.
  • I spend a ton of time on Reddit, so I can't judge my engineers when they do it. Besides, I always assume they're on there for work purposes"

Airbnb - A Pioneer in Global Connectivity

Airbnb has revolutionized the way people travel and connect around the world. For software engineers, working at Airbnb means dealing with complex challenges related to scale, reliability, and user experience. The company values diversity and offers engineers the chance to work on projects that directly enhance global understanding and connectivity.

Airbnb prioritizes crafting unique and memorable experiences for its workforce. Recognizing that engaged and content employees are pivotal in providing outstanding customer service. The company has initiatives such as "Airbnb experiences" tailored for its team, alongside team-building exercises, and exclusive events. This approach cultivates a robust sense of community and teamwork within the company.

Slack - A Leader in Communication Innovation

Slack has transformed business communication, making collaborations more efficient and less intrusive. Software engineers at Slack are tasked with continuously improving and securing the platform, ensuring it remains the go-to for teams worldwide. The company's emphasis on empathy and feedback creates a culture where engineers feel valued and motivated.

Beyond the office, Slack promotes a culture where employees are encouraged to disconnect and put work aside. This approach appears effective, given its culture score of 4.2/5 on Comparably, along with its recognition as one of the "Best Places to Work" by Glassdoor in both 2020 and 2021.

Netflix - A Trailblazer in Streaming Content

Netflix is at the forefront of content streaming technology, offering software developers the opportunity to work on high-availability systems, personalization algorithms, and content delivery networks. The company's culture of freedom and responsibility empowers engineers to take ownership of their work and innovate in ways that redefine how the world consumes entertainment.

Netflix provides a 4% matching contribution to their 401(k) program. Essentially, if an employee earns an annual salary of $100,000, Netflix will contribute up to $4,000 to the employee's 401(k) plan. This attractive benefit enables potential employees to strategically plan for their future financial security.

Shopify - An Empowerer of Entrepreneurs

Shopify's e-commerce platform supports over a million businesses globally. Software engineers at Shopify are central to building and maintaining the infrastructure that empowers entrepreneurs to start, grow, and manage their businesses. The company's commitment to resilience and scalability offers engineers challenging and impactful work.

Shopify provides an extensive range of family care benefits. Beyond maternity and paternity leave, it supports couples through adoption assistance, aids in immigration matters, and offers tuition reimbursement.

The highest salary that a software engineer at Shopify can earn is 166K as a Staff Developer.

Adobe - A Giant in Creative Software

Adobe's suite of creative software products is indispensable to creatives worldwide. Software engineers at Adobe contribute to leading-edge applications in imaging, design, video, and digital marketing. The company's commitment to innovation offers engineers a chance to shape the future of creative professions.

Benefits of working at Adobe include:

  • 401(k) with a company contribution of 50% on up to 6% of your salary.
  • Discounts on Adobe software purchases, with the option to donate your purchase to nonprofit organizations.
  • Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage.
  • Benefit from a wellness reimbursement program of up to $600.

LinkedIn - A Connector of Professionals

LinkedIn operates the world's largest professional network, offering unprecedented challenges in data management, scalability, and networking to its engineers. The company's culture emphasizes continuous learning and development, making it an ideal place for software engineers seeking to grow their career.

In California, LinkedIn salaries vary widely, starting at about $72,285 annually for Associates and reaching up to $242,832 for Senior Engineering Managers. On an hourly basis, pay rates at LinkedIn range from approximately $34.29 for Data Analysts to $63.83 for Senior Technical Writers. Despite these figures, it's noted that a good programmer may choose to leave LinkedIn due to a range of issues, including lack of recognition, limited opportunities for advancement, and an unhealthy company culture.

Spotify - A Leader in Digital Music

Spotify has changed the way people listen to and discover music. The company offers software engineers the chance to work on complex algorithms for music recommendation, large-scale data processing, and audio streaming technologies. Spotify's collaborative culture and focus on innovation make it a prime location for developers passionate about music and technology.

Spotify provides adaptable share incentives to its employees, along with a comprehensive global parental leave policy that includes six months of fully paid leave for all new parents. Additionally, the company supports its workforce through an employee assistance program and a self-care hub. Employees at Spotify enjoy the flexibility to choose public holidays, allowing them to exchange days off in alignment with their personal values and beliefs.

While Spotify does not offer cash bonuses, it compensates with performance-based stock refreshers, though these are awarded inconsistently.

Palantir - A Vanguard in Data Analytics

Palantir's software is at the cutting edge of data analysis, helping organizations solve their most complex problems. Software engineers at Palantir work on deploying scalable systems capable of processing vast quantities of data, making it an exciting opportunity for those interested in big data and analytics.

Palantir Technologies provides extensive health benefits, including medical, dental, and vision insurance, in addition to life and disability coverage. Furthermore, Palantir contributes 4% of your salary regardless of how much you contribute.

However, the software company faces a significant challenge due to its heavy reliance on the public sector. Although deriving substantial revenue from government contracts is not inherently problematic, this dependency could limit Palantir's growth.

Zoom - A Revolutionary in Remote Communication

Zoom has become synonymous with remote communication, allowing people to stay connected worldwide. Software engineers at Zoom face the unique challenge of maintaining and improving a platform that millions rely on for high-quality, reliable communication. The company values innovation and resilience, offering a dynamic and impactful workspace for engineers.

Zoom's happiness crew plays a crucial role in preserving the company's culture across all locations through a variety of initiatives such as events, celebrations, community engagement, and volunteer work. These efforts not only reinforce the company's ethos but also foster a sense of connection and appreciation among employees.

In addition to observing all local public holidays, Zoom provides employees with 20 days of personal vacation leave annually, along with 10 days of personal leave, ensuring ample time for rest and rejuvenation.

Zoom also offers a 401(k) plan, featuring automatic enrollment and a distinct deferral percentage for bonuses, complemented by a generous match of 50% on the first 3% of 401(k) contributions.

Tesla - Innovating Sustainable Transportation and Energy

Tesla isn't just about self-driving cars; its mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. Software engineers at Tesla work on a plethora of projects ranging from autonomous driving systems and battery management software to user-facing applications and solar energy grid integration. This provides a unique blend of challenges in both hardware and software realms. The company's commitment to innovation extends to its engineering roles, where creativity and problem-solving skills are highly valued. Tesla's ambitious goals offer software engineers a chance to work on groundbreaking technology that has the potential to profoundly impact the future.

Tesla Employee Purchase Program offers unique benefits despite not providing car discounts. Employees enjoy access to wholesale commercial furniture discounts, enabling them to design a comfortable workspace.

About 60% of Tesla employees would recommend the company as a great place to work, and the same percentage holds a positive outlook on the company's future.

The hiring process at Tesla can be challenging, but with thorough preparation and dedication, it can be an enriching experience. It not only prepares candidates for future opportunities but also might help them secure their dream job at Tesla.

Meta - Pioneering Social Connectivity

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, stands at the forefront of digital connection and social media innovation. By offering platforms that serve billions globally, software engineers at Meta face the compelling task of developing and refining technology that shapes how people interact online.

The company's broad spectrum encompasses everything from augmented and virtual reality to artificial intelligence and beyond, making it possible for engineers who wish to push the boundaries of what's possible in social technology. Meta's culture promotes open collaboration and the pursuit of ambitious projects, positioning it as a prime environment for software engineers dedicated to making a significant impact on global connectivity.

Meta's headquarters, located in Menlo Park, California, offers multiple in-office perks, including complimentary meals, laundry services, valet parking, an arcade, a barbershop, among others.

The company's PTO and vacation policy gives employees 20-30 days off annually, with 57% of employees enjoying complete disconnection from work during their time off. Paid Time Off stands out as Meta's second most valued benefit after Healthcare, while 22% of employees rank it as their top benefit.

The hiring process at Meta averages 43.51 days, while positions like Senior Engineering Manager, average around 330 days.

5 Tips for Software Engineers Looking for a Job

Finding the right job as a software engineer is a two-way street. While it’s important for companies to assess your fit, it’s equally important that you evaluate them as well. It’s natural to feel excited by a new job, but taking the time to research, ask questions, and ensure a mutual fit will benefit you in the long run.

Tip 1: Research and Evaluate

Research potential employers extensively. Read through their websites, news articles, and review sites like Glassdoor and Blind . Pay particular attention to their stance on technology and their dedication to employee satisfaction.

Tip 2: Leverage Your Network

Networking is a powerful tool for job seekers. Connect with current and former employees of companies you're interested in to gain an inside perspective. Professional platforms like LinkedIn, as well as local tech meetups and online forums, can be great resources for making these connections.

Tip 3: Prepare for the Interview Process

Interviews go both ways. Not only is the company interviewing you, you are also interviewing the company. Come prepared with specific questions about the company, the team you'll be working with, and the projects you'll be involved in.

Tip 4: Ask the Right Questions

Incorporate questions that address your key criteria in determining the ‘best’ company:

  • Ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role
  • The company’s vision and how your work fits into it
  • What success looks like in the first 6-12 months

Tip 5: Consider the Offer Holistically

When you receive an offer, evaluate it in its entirety, from the base salary to the benefits package and any additional perks. Not everything will be negotiable, but understanding the full picture will help you make an informed decision.

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The path to finding the best company to work at as a software engineer can be a difficult one, with many variables to consider. This guide is only a starting point to identify what truly matters to you and how to assess potential employers effectively.

Remember, your career is a marathon, not a sprint! Prioritize your long-term happiness and growth, and you’ll find a company that not only values your skills but also your personal well-being. Share your experiences with others, and continue to grow and evolve in this dynamic and rewarding field. Happy job hunting!

Dan Klos
Co-Founder & CEO @applypass
Dan has spent the last 8 years helping software engineers level up their career. He created Outco to help over 2,000+ engineers secure top-paying job offers. Currently, his entire focus is on building ApplyPass to aid engineers in getting 40% more interviews and saving more than 5 hours per week on job applications. When he's not at work, he's deeply involved in activism, challenging hikes, and canoeing.
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