SpaceX, Google and Shopify top a the list of places tech talent wants to work

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla
Photo by Kevork Djansezian

Where are dreams fulfilled for tech talent? Companies including SpaceX, Google, Tesla, Netflix, Slack and Facebook rank highly, according to a survey conducted by job website, Hired.

For the survey, released Thursday, 2,349 software engineers, product managers, designers, and data scientists were interviewed between Aug. 8 and Aug. 24. Respondents were asked how they would feel about working at the tech companies in their geographical region that have been recently been hiring. Hired counted the percentage of respondents in each area who responded they "would love to work for this company" or "would like to work for this company."

In tech's mecca, the San Francisco bay area, 84 percent of surveyed tech talent would "love" or "like to work for" Google. And 73 percent said the same about Facebook.

And there were other high scores.

In Los Angeles, where SpaceX is headquartered, 85 percent of survey respondents said they would love or like to work for Elon Musk's space company.

In Toronto, 83 percent of tech talent would love or like to work for the e-commerce platform Shopify.

The chart below shows the top 10 companies with the highest brand positivity score, as determined by the percentage of local tech workers who would love or like to work at the company.

Chart courtesy Hired

Another chart shows which company in each city received the highest percentage of tech employees responding that they would love or like to work there.

Chart courtesy Hired

Hired noted the five factors employees care most about in their job search are compensation and benefits, the opportunity to learn new skills, company culture, location and commute, and team.

Though talent longs to work at these oft-heralded tech companies, even those at the top of the brand positivity list are not without their alleged problems. In May, SpaceX finalized a $4 million settlement with a number of former employees who claimed unfair compensation. SpaceX denied the allegations, saying the settlement was the easiest way to put the issue in the past. And in September, three former female Google employees levied a lawsuit claiming discrimination against women in both pay and promotions. Google has denied these claims.

Here are excerpts of what some employees say about working at the three companies that topped the brand positivity list: SpaceX (brand positivity score of 85), Google (84) and Shopify (83).

What employees say about working at SpaceX:

"Working here is more like being on a mission than having a job," says an anonymous current employee working in the Hawthorne, Calif., office according to a review posted on jobs website Glassdoor. "If you're just looking for a paycheck (no judgement, you do you), this is not the place you want to be. It's never boring. The work always feels important, even when it's basic stuff. Working in a rocket factory is slightly dream-like. The people around you inspire you to do the best work you've ever done in your life which is a pretty incredible high."

Another echoes the feeling that SpaceX is permeated with an intense passion.

"If you're looking for work with meaning then it probably doesn't get better than SpaceX. You're lucky to be working at one of the only companies really shaking up the industry. We don't just talk big, we make it happen. Lots of people are super driven here," writes a senior software engineer also working at the Hawthorne, Calif., office. "If you're highly motivated and ambitious then you can accomplish a lot at SpaceX. No one is going to stop you, there's way too much work to do."

Working at SpaceX may be inspiring, but according to the reviews, it is also stressful.

"With so many highly passionate, driven people, tensions often run high. People will defend their points of view, you'll defend yours, and it's tough keeping your cool. Picking which battles to fight and which to let go. The overall mission does help us keep perspective, but on a personal level it is non-stop ups and downs. You watch people hold on until they get fed up and flung off," says the senior software engineer in Hawthorne. "Space is cool, being a part of it is cool. But it's easy to overwork yourself without knowing it. This plus the above can lead to quick burnout."

What employees say about working at Google:

"The company is amazingly open: every week Larry Page and Sergey Brin host what's called TGIF where food, beer, wine, etc. is served, a new project is presented, and afterward there's an open forum to ask the executives anything you want. It's truly fair game to ask anything, no matter how controversial, and frequently the executives will be responsive," says a software engineer in New York.

Says another employee:

"You can't find a more well-regarded company that actually deserves the hype it gets. You'll work on cutting edge projects / solve important issues that impact your community and the world," writes an employee working at the Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. "You'll meet interesting people who are your colleagues, managers, and senior management. You'll open the paper and see your company in the news almost every day, and read about projects you're working on, which is a cool thing."

But, as with SpaceX, working at Google can be all consuming in a way that is unhealthy, says one former program manager working in the Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

"Work/life balance. What balance? All those perks and benefits are an illusion. They keep you at work and they help you to be more productive. I've never met anybody at Google who actually time off on weekends or on vacations. You may not hear management say, 'You have to work on weekends/vacations' but, they set the culture by doing so — and it inevitably trickles down. I don't know if Google inadvertently hires the work-a-holics or if they create work-a-holics in us...."

What employees say about working at Shopify:

"I've been at Shopify for a month now, and in my 20-year career it is by far the best place I've worked at. The people are supportive, trusting, brilliant and moreover extremely kind. It's a rare place," says a product design lead in Toronto. "[Tobi Lutke, Shopify's founder and CEO] is doing a great job keeping the culture of a startup with the backing of an extremely successful company. Well done Shopify!"

Another praised the benefits at the e-commerce company.

"Great benefits for employee such as 4 weeks holidays at a minimum, they are very flexible as an employer and care about their employee well being, you can work from home, they have great maternity and paternity leave, and this is only the basics of your benefits, there is also a lot of great perks, such as sportify, houskeeping allowance," says a former employee.

On the flip side, one former employee who worked in Toronto complained of stress and micromangment.

"I Ieft due not even being able to log off a channel to use the bathroom without someone pinging me asking me where I am and why I'm not helping people if I'm gone longer then 2 mins. I don't need to be micromanaged to the bone. All of my friends who still work here have the same issues. Expectations that are sky high and the micromanagement runs wild. People in other positions love their jobs because this only happens to the Gurus." (A "guru" is Shopify's name for its customer support employees.)

See also:

9 years ago SpaceX nearly failed itself out of existence: 'It is a pretty emotional day,' says Elon Musk

Billionaire Elon Musk responds to unhappy Tesla customer on a Friday night, teaching a brilliant lesson in customer service

There's one thing that motivates Elon Musk above all else

Wharton Professor Adam Grant: Why Elon Musk wants his employees to always speak up
Wharton Professor Adam Grant: Why Elon Musk wants his employees to always speak up

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