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How do I assess the “brand premium” when choosing a company?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [E4] at Metaa year ago

I am in the very fortunate position to be choosing among some great offers. My question is how to properly choose between

  1. A company with an industry-leading reputation (eg Citadel, Two Sigma, DeepMind)
  2. A “lower tier” company with less brand recognition/lower quality bar but is able and willing to outbid company (1) on comp.

If comp were equal going to company (1) would be a no-brainer, but how much of a premium should I place on the brand of a company? Put another way, how can I place a number on things like exit option value, social/engineering prestige and so on.

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Discussion

(3 comments)
  • 7
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    One way to evaluate this is to look at where company alum go -- do they start companies, join startups, go to Big Tech, or are there lots of lifers?

    You know the quote "you're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time":

    You'll likely be the average of the 5 engineers on your team, so where they end up is very important for your future career.

    Another dimension is longevity at the company. My sense from some of the companies in bucket 1 (many finance cos) is that they are much more performance driven -- some people have an actual PnL attached to their head. So if you're looking for more exploration and learning, I'd lean toward a more supportive environment (typically a well-funded company, and many other "tier 2" companies).

  • 11
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    How do I assess the “brand premium” when choosing a company.

    As mentioned in my thoughts on another thread from a Meta E4 evaluating offers, I don't think you really need to. You already have Meta on your resume, which is considered by 99% of recruiters to be a top-notch company. Getting more "brand names" on your resume is going to have diminishing returns.

    Company prestige and pay are important, but given that your offers seem to be really good, I would actually optimize for different angles:

    1. How supportive is the team? Did you talk to the manager, and if so, what did you think of them?
    2. Is the team working on a space or feature that you're passionate about?
    3. How stable are the companies? Have they had layoffs before? Is revenue healthy?
    4. What growth opportunities exist within the team? Is there wide project scope? Is there a strong senior or staff engineer who's open to mentoring you?

    When pay is roughly equal, I think the above are far more important as they're more long-term oriented. And again, things are a lot different as you already have Meta on your resume.

    If you haven't already, I recommend checking out these other resources as well:

  • 4
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    Senior Software Engineer at IBM
    10 months ago

    In my own right, I focus mostly on the quality of learning and the projects that I'm going to take on. Especially you with Meta or myself with IBM, you get the brand recognition, but as mentioned there are numerous other vectors.

    There can be soft validators like how proud would you be to tell people about what you do if you could. What would your inner narrative be about yourself in that position.

    What's the chance of maximizing upside in a position, for me technical work without travel, and how does that feed into your ability to prepare for your next position. Will you be stronger for it or weaker for it?