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Do You Work for #1?

Someone recently asked me if I would work for a company if I didn’t believe in their products or services (to the point that I would consider them the best). It’s an interesting question because it reflects the trade offs many of us make when selecting jobs, and there is no one “right” point of view in that regard.

Should we all try to work for #1 in whatever space? There is nothing wrong with that, everyone wants to play on a winning team. But it’s not the only way to win. The team that won the World Series last year probably won’t win this year. Avis had it right, that #2 tries harder.

As I think back over the jobs I’ve held, I did most of them because they offered me the job. I needed work, I applied for positions, if they offered something at as reasonable salary I took it. I filtered jobs up front by not applying for ones that I didn’t think were a good fit, maybe because of driving distance or the company reputation or the published salary range. Rarely I would filter out a position post interview if I just didn’t have a good feeling about the culture (after a one hour interview even).

Not all of them were industry leaders, maybe one of them was a thought leader. Most were average in products and delivery. Some I stayed at for years, for a couple it was only a few weeks. The deciding factor wasn’t whether I liked their product, it was mostly whether they treated me well and paid what I considered a fair wage.

Today I take work based on the challenge it offers, how far I have to drive,how much it pays,the people I will work with, the overall culture. Money is always good, it’s what I need to take care of family, but once that amount is sufficient then I almost always decided based on culture and challenge. Sometimes I work for less than I think I’m worth just to take on a particular challenge or to join for a while a particular culture.

Maybe that answers the question. For me, it is just not the right question. For me, today, culture is perhaps the most interesting reason to work for someone, even over challenge. Next year maybe the most important thing will be money, or benefits, or being on a winning team.

It’s also a reminder to me that others pick jobs for different reasons than my own, and that’s ok too.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by AM on 11 August 2011

Great post. The question I have is - How long should you really stay at a job?

I've been in the situation where I was at a job that I didn't like because they had real real bad process problems and their tech level was really low (detrimental systems relying on access 97 DBs low). No matter what I did or tried, people did not care about SQL (minus 1 or 2 awesome people) or databases. To most people, I was just the guy that fixed the problems. I gave presentations on how we could be using SQL better (we had 2008 R2 enterprise!), started a company wiki where I posted SQL tips and tricks, yet no one cared. I pushed for my first 6 months but got nothing back.

Sooo...I needed to leave and find a place that had a better environment. Does that look bad a resume these days? Only a couple months at a job?

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