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"Green flags" when searching for a job

Published April 23, 2021

"Green flag wave blue sky pole" by Daniel Marchese is licensed under CC BY 2.0 - flag color changed to be darker green

What's a green flag?

We hear a lot of talk about "red flags" when searching for a job. The other day, a bootcamp student I had virtual coffee with asked if I had suggestions for any "green flags", or indicators that an organization or business would be a good place to work.

What a great question!

I brainstormed with colleagues and scoured Twitter for suggestions, which follow below, broken into three categories:

  • Before you apply
  • During the interview
  • Additional resources

A note that plenty of great places might not have all of these, or even most of these - but the more one does have, the better sense you can get of what kind of situation you might expect working there. 

As well, different folks have different green flags - with this list, we aimed to collect attributes or features that are broadly applicable. 

Happy job hunting!

Before you apply

Green flags for the job listing

  • The role / company feels like a values match
  • Compensation is spelled out
  • Benefits are spelled out (this means the company is confident in the quality of benefits they offer)
  • It contains reasonable qualifications that appear tailored to the role
  • It mentions specific ways they try to provide an inclusive environment (specificity is key!)

Green flags for the company or organization

You might be thinking, "Not all of these apply to me / matter to me - are they still green flags for me in my job search?" and the answer is 100%! ❤️ The wider diversity of benefits, programs or accommodations that a company provides, the better sense you get of how committed they are to inclusivity / a quality working environment. 

  • Diverse folks hold leadership roles
  • Education budget for employees (shows they're invested in individual growth)
  • Existing mentorship / coaching program
  • Negotiable benefits (such as sick time, vacation, etc.)
  • Equitable benefits ("paid family leave" vs. "paid maternity leave")
  • Salary transparency (shown to increase wage equity for marginalized folks)
  • Sponsored volunteer hours
  • Gender neutral bathrooms
  • Wheelchair-accessible building

Green flags specifically for junior developers and / or  bootcamp grads

  • A demonstrated history of hiring juniors (via LinkedIn or their website)
  • Blog posts on their website that speak directly to the junior experience
  • Headquartered in a city with one or more bootcamps (means they're probably more familiar with folks who have that background)

During the interview

General green flags

  • The interviewers are on time
  • They're engaged in the process throughout
  • If there’s more than one, they demonstrate camaraderie / friendliness with each other
  • They ask for your pronouns
  • Beforehand, they provided you with enough information about the interview process for you to feel confident and prepared (especially for technical interviews, this is a huge green flag)
  • They ask questions customized to you and your experience (showing that they tailored the interview to you, individually)

Questions you can ask to uncover flags of both colors:

While the determination as to which type of answer is a green flag is likely to be more individualized, these are ways to help raise topics that can tell you a lot about an organization (whether good or bad!).

More subtle questions

  • "How is Company X involved in the community?"
  • "What does weekend work look like here?"
  • "What happens when the team is approaching a tight deadline?"
  • "What does it mean to be successful here?"

More direct questions

  • "Are there any requirements regarding work apps on personal devices?"
  • "Do you feel empowered to raise both ethical and technical concerns?"
  • "Had you known what you know today, would you still have joined this team / company?"
  • "If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you fix in your organization?"

Additional resources

Key Values

Created by Lynne Tye, this site helps job seekers find engineering teams that share their values.

Women in Software Engineering stats

This is a crowdsourced repository of company gender stats, created and maintained by Tracy Chou. 

Twitter thread from Eva Dienel

Author details

Hilary Stohs-Krause

Co-Owner and Senior Software Developer