This is a continuation of Kosmo’s Job Search Journey.
Interviews are of varying lengths. Some are thirty minutes long, some are an hour or two. Some interviews last an entire day.
I recently finished an interview that lasted for seven months!
Ok, it wasn’t exactly technically an interview. It was a contract position, and my goal was to get hired as a permanent employee. In my opinion, the best way to do this was to perform at a high level for the duration of my time as a contract employee.
It was sink or swim from day one, and I swam. I’ve been in the industry for two decades, so not very much fazes me at this point. It was interesting to be thrown into the action with barely any background on my project, but it wasn’t insurmountable. I read documentation, combed through the existing code, and asked enough questions to learn what I needed, without asking so many that I was annoying.
Before long, I had righted the ship, gotten the train back on the rails, and utilized several other idioms. Once my primary project was humming right along, I got pulled into another project to back-fill for someone who had left.
I had even less background for the second project than I did the first. At least the first project dealt with some accounting concepts, which allowed my to utilized my dusty accounting degree. The new project was all data and reporting. To make it even worse, there were multiple sub-systems, and it wasn’t very clear how they interacted.
I jumped in and began to work on testing. This presented a huge challenge. Most of the requirements had been written months ago, by people who were no longer on the project. Many of them were very vague, and I had to lean on the veteran technical analyst to even understand what functionality was being added.
Eventually, the other business analyst (also new) and I were able to get things on track. We tested eight months worth of new functionality and regression tested the entire application. We had to restart regression testing a couple of times due to new bugs.
At this point, we’ve pushed that block of code to production and are ready to tackle the next big block of testing.
Originally, the idea was to loan me to the project for two months, until a new person could be hired to fill the position. That was five months ago. I don’t think the project is going to let me leave any time soon. I always come to work with a smile on my face, and it’s apparent that I care a lot about the quality of the code that gets implemented.
Finally, HR contacted me about converting to permanent employee status. I tried to push for 25 days of PTO, but they have a hard limit of 20 for new employees. That was a a bit of a letdown, since I had worked myself up to 30 days at my previous job.
Money, of course, would be the main point of negotiation. I knew that the local market for someone with my qualifications and experience was about 7-8% below what I had been making in my previous job. A friend of had been forced to take a pay cut when he switched job. I knew a pay cut was a distinct possibility and was bracing for them to make a low offer.
What did they offer? Well, they really didn’t. They asked my what I was looking for. I asked for a number that was 3% above what I was making at my previous position. This was the midpoint for someone in the lead business analyst role, and was, according to my information, about 10% above the market rate for someone in my position. It was a significant amount about what a friend of mine in a similar position recently got from his new employer.
I felt like I had a good chance I’d get what I had asked for. Although I was asking for a premium over what they were likely to offer another candidate, I had something the other candidates didn’t. I have seven months of experience in the exact role. I had clearly exceeded their expectations, and they knew what they were getting, both in terms of ability and temperament. I had essentially been on a seven month interview.
Finally, after being approved by three levels of management, HR was able to make me a formal offer. The offer was for the exact amount I requested. A small part of me regretted not asking for more, but all in all, it was a very fair offer. I’m relieved to finally be an employer rather than a contractor.