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Developers should keep their team when changing jobs

‘I want to build cool shit, but I hate the self-promotion and negotiating required to get ahead.’

There’s got to be a way for software engineers to advance their careers by being effective instead of wheeling and dealing. I believe the people you work with best—your team—is the key to solving this problem.

Think about ‘acqui-hires’. This is when a big company buys a smaller company so they can bring the entire team in house. Companies of 2-15 engineers will get purchased at a rate of $1-1.5 million per engineer. When a team has proven their ability to work together, manage big projects, and show results, they’re more valuable to a company.

So why are startups the only ones getting acqui-hired?

What if every subset of engineers in every company could band together and discreetly put themselves on the market?

Your team is more valuable than the sum of its parts

An individual contributes to a project, but it’s the team that actually creates something from nothing. When going into an interview, a hiring manager can look at all the projects you’ve worked on, but it’s hard to tell if you were the one leading the charge. When you put yourself out as a team, companies hedge their bets. They know what the team as a whole is capable of.

This type of hiring happens fairly often—it’s just difficult to arrange manually and few people even know it’s an option.

  • Shane Becker, for instance, put his product dream team of 5 on the market. They all made the switch to a new company in roughly one month.
  • Ryan Davis did the same with his team.
  • When Adel Smee’s employer went belly up, she wasn’t ready to leave the amazing team she built, so they put the whole team on the market.
  • Laszlo Block, Google’s CPO, wrote “Sometimes, though, we just hear about extraordinary people and do whatever it takes to get them, even if it means hiring entire teams and opening up offices for them.” pp 85 Work Rules!

Anyone should be able to be ‘acqui-hired’

There are tons of good reasons for wanting to leave a particular job:

  • Desire for something new
  • Not being challenged
  • Not getting along with a particular boss
  • Lack of opportunity to move up
  • Want to make more money

When you have a good reason to look for something new, why should you leave behind all of the social capital you’ve built with key members of your team? It would be like having to leave behind your vested stock options or retirement account. Your connections and the value that you add together are likely the most valuable asset that you will accumulate over your career.

Making this process accessible

Last year our agency almost got acquired by an analytics company. In that process we learned how much more valuable a proven team is than a series of talented individuals. It became obvious to me that we needed to build a platform that let every developer (and really every worker) team together. Our goal is to help teams grow their career with people they like and can work well with—and this platform will help the right type of companies grow and retain the best people.

If this is the type of thing that interests you, we’ve launched Elevator as a platform that’s free to use. We will help you assemble your team, and will help coach you on the best practices for getting great offers together. If you sign up, you’ll have one of our team members available to get on the phone or answer any questions you may have over email. Our job is to help you take you career to the next level with your team.

If you have any questions—here’s the discussion.