Wednesday, July 17, 2013

work explosion!

It's been a very full week! On Monday I was informed that it was my last day at my job of the past two and a half years. The head of HR was extremely gracious and kind, and treated me like a trusted colleague: I had time to clean the personal stuff off my laptop, send a calm, loving goodbye email, and wander around saying farewell to whoever I could manage.

It's always tempting to try and give people a narrative when you're shown the door. I've been strenuously avoiding that, but in the face of numerous emails saying "I didn't even know you were leaving, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye," I have to respond that it was a surprise to me too. It's important to me that these people, who I care about, know that I wouldn't just leave without warning or saying goodbye.

I've now talked to every available source, and I think I have a decent picture of what happened. Conclusion: what a clusterfuck. Time to move on, then.

As it happened, I was completely burned out and trying to switch teams so I could get a fresh start on something else. The outcome of that conversation was what told me it was time to go. On Monday morning I also got two informal job offers (where they say "please come work here, we're getting the numbers ready"), so I was already a little disoriented when The Fateful Meeting came. By the time I got home I couldn't really carry on a conversation.

I've had a couple of days to settle, and I'm wrangling the end of the job-search process. I despise interviewing, and I'm only erratically good at it, so to some extent I end up only at companies that see the value in me beyond my not-very-dazzling ability to solve programming problems. I've managed to tune the search process pretty well, so that all the possibilities condense relatively quickly into a clear choice. It's never quick enough for the companies' taste, but they can cope: hiring is incredibly difficult and expensive, and especially in the current environment and with people at my level, they can't afford to be petty and withdraw offers that don't get a quick enough response.

(I actually spent 20 hours in Boston last weekend for an interview, and I was explaining to my parents that it costs so much to hire one person that the $1300 it took to fly me out there doesn't even register. One way to measure the cost is to note that tech companies commonly offer referral bonuses of $5,000, and often $10,000 or $15,000, and they consider that a bargain.)

We're in the condensing period now, the home stretch, which is nice, because then this part will be over. I'll have a job somewhere, and life will go on to the next thing.

I have one offer outstanding from a really excellent company, and the hiring manager has been terrific at listening and working with what I say about my experience. I noticed today that while I am more stressed, trying to manage everyone's expectations and communicate in a kind but firm way, he is also stressed! They really want me to work there; hiring at my level is practically impossible right now, especially once you filter out for culture fit and temperament. I was reflecting on how universally stressful the process is:

  • Recruiters get judged, one way or another, on the success of the hiring process.
  • Hiring managers need people.
  • Candidates need jobs.
This means that at every transition in the process--failing the phone screen, not getting an offer, turning down an offer--someone gets screwed, or disappointed, or kept from their goals. Usually several someones. Even when a candidate fails the interview, the company has lost precious employee time down a black hole.

I'm pretty beat, from the endless phone calls and emails and introductory talks and interviews. I'm glad it'll be over soon, and then I can start actual work, which is often a lot less work than trying to find work.

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