What it's like to be a developer at Hemnet
Authors: Asparuh Kostov, Full-Stack Developer & Villiam Aspegren, Full-Stack Developer.
Have you ever wondered what working at Hemnet is like? Or maybe you didn't even know that you can work at Hemnet? In any case, we'd like to share with you what being a part of our team is like!
A product company solving human problems
At its core every company solves a problem through products. Whether that is providing a service, manufacturing goods or doing RnD, each company strives to offer something of value.
At Hemnet we understand the importance of a home and our products are focused on helping everyone find one of their own. You have probably already heard what Hemnet does, but just in case, here is our mission:
At Hemnet we focus on making the property journey as simple and smooth as possible by increasing the housing market’s transparency, efficiency and mobility. We simply want to be the key to your property journey and help more people find a place to call home.
This is the challenge that the mission-focused people working at Hemnet help solve every day!
Why you should join a product company
So what brought all these people together? Why would you want to join us?Hopefully just the opportunity of solving such a human and personal problem sounds interesting enough to you!
But, as you can imagine, the human aspect isn't all that there is to it. Hemnet is Sweden's number one housing platform, and with that comes the need to have reliable systems that scale. And in turn, processes that facilitate the construction and maintenance of said systems. Every engineer at Hemnet has the chance to test and improve their skills on interesting problems with immediate feedback when they deploy their solutions out into the world.
The developer experience at Hemnet
Many of you out there have already experienced working in a product company solving domain-specific problems. But what sets Hemnet apart from those companies?
In one word, culture.
We know, we know, tech company buzzword bingo alert, talking about culture, but we think it's what drives people to perform and experience their best selves. As an engineer, you get to not only implement the solutions we come up with, but also to be a part of researching, and deciding which solutions the company should pursue and how.
This is a very different engineering experience from most companies, and the engagement that we get from everybody at Hemnet is something we're really proud of! Our engineers work closely with UI/UX-ers, product managers and feedback from our customers and partners.
As a result, not only will your engineering skills improve, but you will also get the opportunity to learn a lot about the real estate industry, advertising dynamics and core business problems.
Once we've picked a solution, we have to build it. Usually this happens within the same team, but sometimes we work with other teams. Where needed, the process involves a pair/mob-programming session to come up with a reasonable technical implementation. Otherwise the work is usually individual, and we develop several solutions in parallel. As a final step before we release a new feature we review our work and address potential improvements.
We strongly believe in automated testing, and through our CI/CD pipeline we gain confidence that we can push functional code without issues. Once a solution has gone through code review and has passing tests, merging it into our codebase is enough to release it into the cloud.
Speaking of codebase, Hemnet's is a shared one between teams, so while developers here have freedom to propose the introduction of something new to the stack, it usually has to be something their colleagues agree on. For the most part we stick to reliable, battle-tested technologies over the latest ones, and adopt changes carefully over time. Of course, our stack can't stay the same forever, and we're always looking into new ways of improving it to match our needs. Our latest focus has been on migrating our frontend to NextJS, in order to facilitate our growing UI/UX needs. We’re also exploring NodeJS as an addition to our backend.
Our staff comes from a variety of engineering backgrounds, but a lot of Hemnet engineers have solid experience in working with Ruby on Rails + PostgreSQL. The mentality is that we try to keep things simple and scalable.
It's also very important to us, that once we've shipped something we keep an eye on how it's doing, so we monitor our code's performance through Sentry & Datadog. At our scale application performance monitoring becomes very important, and we aim to develop each engineer's competence in this area as well. It is not only a part of our process, but also a part of our mentality and work ethic to follow up where needed through support tickets.
However, even if you're unfamiliar with some of the technologies we work with, we can promise you this, the moment you start at Hemnet, you'll have the opportunity to develop new competences.
Another good thing about being an engineer at Hemnet, is that you can try different ways of producing solutions - sometimes we're very data-driven and experiment (think A/B tests) to see which solution has the best effect and is the most usable. Other times we iterate quickly to get to the right one.
Because we believe in our people's ability to come up with solutions, twice a year we have a "lab-week". Lab-week is a fun event where everyone is welcome to work together or on their own, on projects unrelated to their day-to-day work. Everybody has complete freedom to pick the topic and bring their inner hacker out, so we've seen ideas ranging from iOS widgets to Christmas themes for the Hemnet app. Working at Hemnet is not only fulfilling, but also very fun!
Examples of interesting challenges that we need to solve are:
- Using machine learning models to extract valuable insights from the big amounts of data we have.
- Keeping our search results page fast, while also making it easy for our users to find what they need, by showing them as much useful information as possible.
- Migrating to newer technologies, while maintaining our existing codebase at the scale that we have.
Hemnet strives for coziness not only for its customers, but also for its own employees! We're a very friendly bunch coming from a diverse set of backgrounds. The way we act towards each other is very democratic, and our culture is such that we listen to each other and act together! “Culture” here is not being used as a buzzword, as we do actually have more influence and democracy than employees at most other companies.
There's a big opportunity to influence where we're headed to, and to learn a lot. We're not limited to the role we joined for, and since we often work cross-functionally, there is always an opportunity to join a different team if preferred.
Throw in a healthy mix of office & remote work, and the result is a balancedenvironment, that helps you bring out your best!
Thank you for reading about how it is to work at Hemnet, and we hope that you'll consider joining!