The following is from frequent contributor Kosmo
Three years ago, I was in the middle of a job hunt. I took you along for the journey. I eventually landed a position about a month before my old job ended. For those of you who weren’t along on that journey, the company decided to get rid of remote workers, and I was one of hundreds affected.
I’ve been in my current role since March of 2018, and it has been an enjoyable experience. The work has been interesting, and I’ve worked with great people – both my co-workers and the business partners we create systems for. I’ve even interviewed for some manager positions. It has been pretty awesome.
A reorganization was announced a couple of months ago. One hundred and fifty people in our IT department were laid off. The programmer who sat next to me was one of the people affected. I was moved to a new team and immediately went from being the top expert on my old systems to a complete novice on the new ones. Even the potential of a manager role became less interesting as a result of the changes. This isn’t the first reorg in recent years, but it’s the first one that has had a direct impact on me.
In the coming weeks, I lost much of the fire that had made me a dynamic employee. The effort to handle the fallout of multiple recent reorgs is taking time away from more productive work. It’s frustrating. I want to do work that is difficult and challenging. Many of my recent tasks fall short of that bar. Eventually, I made the decision to begin a new job search. This job search is different than the previous one in a lot of ways.
My previous job search was driven by the fact that I would be losing my job on a particular date. I left no stone unturned in an effort to make sure I had a new job by the time the old one ended. I ended up in one of the best possible jobs. A lot of the jobs I applied for had some serious warts. Many weren’t a great fit for my skills or had long commutes.
There is no urgency in my current job search. Although my new area doesn’t see me as quite the rock star that my old area did (and still does – as I’m still pulled in when needed), I’m relatively safe in my position. I can afford to take my time and wait for the right position.
When I kicked off my last job search, I had been caught completely off guard. My resume was outdated and I hadn’t done even casual job hunting in a decade. I wasn’t even sure how the industry even referred to someone with my skill set. It took quite a bit of time to get my resume squared away and to get my job search focused on jobs that would be a good fit. I needed to figure out a new-fangled thing called LinkedIn.
I have made an effort to keep my resume updated recently. Every couple of months, I pull up my resume and make relevant changes – adding recent accomplishments, new responsibilities, and any recently acquired skills. At the same time, I also removed aspects that are no longer relevant.
My last job search was limited to companies within an hour drive of my home. We have roots in this area – my wife’s career is with a local organization, and we have two kids in school. Relocating for a new job was a last resort.
As a result of COVID-19, A lot of companies have become more accepting of remote workers. Some even advertise themselves as “remote first” organizations. This means that geography is no longer a limiting factor. If I can work from my
dungeon basement, it doesn’t matter if the team is located in New York City, Miami, or Topeka.
The flip side of this is that the companies are also able to cast a wider net. They aren’t limited to employees in their geographical area. So, while there might be more potential jobs for me, there are also more potential applicants.
Overall, I see this as a net gain. I should be able to focus on the jobs that are the best fit for my skills, instead of simply looking at the jobs that are nearby. Being located in Iowa also gives me a cost-of-living advantage over applicants from large metro areas.
The search begins
I’m writing this on Christmas Eve. I kicked off my job search on December 12. How’s it going? Well, it’s definitely starting off better than the last one.
A friend and former colleague works at a company about an hour south of where I live. It’s a considerably smaller company than the one I currently work for, but still a company that does more than a billion dollars of business every year. The upside of a smaller company is that there’s considerably more autonomy and not as much red tape. In other words, more time spent on productive work. It’s a similar position to my friend’s, but with a bit more focus on technical skills, such as a bit of minor data wrangling.
My friend – let’s call him Bryan, because that’s his name – has mentioned the position to me multiple times in the past few months. It has always sounded like a great fit. The reason for my lack of interest has always been the same – the commute. A commute of an hour each way isn’t the greatest sacrifice in the world, but it’s simply not something I’m interested in doing.
I pinged Bryan a few days ago to ask if there was any chance his company was considering 100% remote candidates for this position. No, but they were looking at 2-3 remote workdays per week. I spent a weekend thinking about this and decided that a split of 2 days in the office and 3 days remote would be acceptable.
Bryan put my resume in front of his boss on Monday. His boss reached out via email and we set up a call from Tuesday afternoon. I wasn’t technically a candidate at this point – I hadn’t formally applied through the standard process. This was probably the first time in my life where I had used my social network to gain an inside track for a position.
Tuesday’s call went well. The position seems interesting. I would basically be coordinating a multi-year implementation of a new HRIS (human resources information system) system. I’ve taken a look at the vendor solution and it looks like an interesting and complex system to implement. Lots of moving pieces.
The manager is a little bit on the fence about whether the position will require two days in the office per week, or three. I’m pretty confident that if everything else aligns, I can convince him to do two. The company’s location works against them in attracting candidates. They’re located in a small city (those of you from large urban areas would call it a town), and it’s a fairly long commute from any of the surrounding metro areas. They’re growing and want to attract high-quality candidates. To do that, they’re most likely going to have to be more flexible on work from home. Management is slowly coming around to this idea. Their employees have been working from home for about nine months now, and they’re realizing that an employee who’s working from home is actually working – they aren’t just playing Mario all day.
At the end of Tuesday’s call, the manager asked me to formally apply for the position, so that we could move forward with the process. On Wednesday, HR contacted me to set up a panel interview for the first week of January. Things are moving about as fast as possible, considering the fact that it’s impossible to arrange interviews during the holidays, due to too many key players being out of the office.
My friend won’t be a part of the interview panel. This makes sense, as including him would compromise the integrity of the process. He has, however, been able to give me good insight into the different roles within the company. I’ve also asked him questions about how the company approaches certain problems. At this point, I’m getting a lot of good answers. Although it’s a smaller company than my current one, it seems to be well-managed.
I’ll spend a lot of time in the next week preparing for the interview – and watching football.