Out With It

In the last 4 months I have had a flurry of activiy, including:
* college graduation
* marriage
* major purchase (car)
* job change

The graduation was mostly moot, as I had emotionally checked out of college many years prior. The marriage I’m not really gonna discuss here, and buying a car is certainly no mark of integrity.

But changing a job is among the most stressful things I’ve done.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I’ve resigned my position at AXXXXXM and am now soon to be in the employ of BXXXXXE Software.

Despite all those major life things above, I have to say that the Job thing was the heaviest. Through it I learned a few things about finding and getting jobs.

* Choose your employer:
This is a tough one for most everyone, but especially for new grads and entrants into the job market. It’s a matter or recognizing that an employer exists to facilitate your growth, just as you facilitate theirs.

My advice is to examine the people your company carefully, examine the principals and important executives. What is their track record? Where do they come from?

Know what the company does and their corporate history. Read any SEC or public finafnial data. Listen to the conference calls on Yahoo Finance. Be armed with this info in interviews- it impresses the hell outta people.

Look for a ladder of some sort. If you are a programmer, you may be interested in moving up the corporate food chain some day- so look for engineering-savvy project managers.

* Complacency Kills:
This is especially true in the software world. You have to avoid complacency at all times. Once it’s set in, it’s too late. You’re bored.

The prevailing wisdom is that is it always possble to extract additional skills from within your current job- but not always. Sometimes, you need a change.

* Negotiation skills matter:
Prepare to be judged on every action and every move you make. You need to be ready. You need the right clothes, right attitude, and visual aids. I can’t tell you how valuable having print-outs of code was to me.

Be on-time, reply to every telephone call and e-mail promptly and thoughtfully.

Be prepared to talk at length and to lead the meeting. If you can lead the meeting, you’re a shoe-in.
I’m a real talker, and I blew out my throat twice this last go.

* Look hard, but don’t waste your energy:
Finding jobs is tough. It is easy to key into the job market but difficult to get noticed. You will need to hit up as many channels as you can without wasting time pursuing dead-end venues.

You will need a multi-faceted approach:

* active contact (sending out resumes)
Send a personal cover letter for each resume you send out. Only apply to bona-fide jobs at companies that you choose. Research the company, check their web site. Don’t ‘spam’ your resume.

* passive contact (networking):
Talk to your peers and attend networking events. Avoid direct job solicitations in social situations. Face-to-face networking is more of an ongoing thing- look for opportunities to meet people outside of your social or peer groups. Avoid events popluated by non-professionals or dominated by vendors.

* Personal Colateral:
Have a web page with your info on it. Make an excellent resume. Print code. Have a portfolio.

* Be Decisive:
Make changes if things arent working. Be prepared to change jobs, and even career domains. Be prepared to re-train and re-purpose. Accept change and use it as a tool.

Don’t be funny with salaries,benes, whatever. Speak clearly and get it in writing.

IF possible, and if you are currently employed, or in a transition phase, avoid part-time and short-term contract jobs if you really want Full-time work- they will only tie up your resources. Of course, you may need the money 😉

* Be Discreet:
From your new salary to problem projects, be calculating with what you say to whom throughout the hire/resign cycle.

Don’t let management know you’re leaving until you’re ready to go. Don’t use the new job as a bargaining chip. Don’t entertain counter-offers, speak so as to politely but firmly decline any possible counter-offer.

So there you go. Hopefully, this will be useful to someone out there.