Whether you’ve got a job right now and you’re looking to take your next career move, or whether you’re beginning your search from a standing start, here are my top 5 things that are going to help you get ready to begin your search.
This is aimed at software engineers looking for a permanent position (PAYE), most of the things I’m talking about will be applicable to day-rate contractors, but not 100%:
NUMBER ONE: Work Out What You Want To Do
As anyone who’s recently finished looking for a new job will tell you, it doesn’t take many conversations to work out that you actually need to have a really good understanding of what you want to do next before you start to talking to anyone.
The key point here is that for the hiring managers the interview process is all about risk. Working out which candidates are going to be worth interviewing from their CVs is an obvious example (which candidates looks like they’re least likely to be a waste of time interviewing). But for the hiring manager it isn’t just the time spent on the initial search for the right candidate, what’s also at stake is the huge amount of time that stands to be wasted if the candidate they hire never really wanted the job in the first place. If the successful candidate goes on to leave after the first couple of months, then that’s potentially hundreds of hours of time wasted, involving training, mentoring, showing them around the company, including them in future plans, wasting the hiring manager’s time, their colleague’s time, their team’s time, their boss’s time…, reputational damage, their judgement and competency questioned, a huge amount of budget potentially wasted, IP at risk, etc, etc, etc.
Which means that during an interview when you’re asked “what kind of job are you looking for” or “what are the main things you want to get from your next job”, you’re going to want to have worked this out already. Because the man who walks into an orange fruit shop and starts talking about other fruit they’ve had in the past that they liked, and “that they really don’t mind what kind of fruit they buy because they’re just hungry”, or even that “actually their most favourite kind of fruit they ever had was an apple, but as they’re here now they’re happy to consider oranges”, isn’t going to go down as well as the man who confidently tells the shop keeper “I’m an orange-kind of guy. I like oranges and I’m here to buy oranges.”
So, going into the job market armed with nothing more than a bunch of vague ideas about what you kind of job you’d like to have is not going to help you.
Operational Hypothesis vs Re-iterating
Have a good think about it, talk it over with someone else, and then be comfortable with the idea that you’re probably going to refine your idea of what you’re looking for after you’ve started your search, but time spent working it out before you begin will be time well spent.
Some Food For Thought:
To help get the brain juices flowing, here are some ideas. You could say a Software Engineer can go in 1 of 3 general directions with their career:
- Team Management
- Sales and Product
- Architecture / Technical SME.
Here is a simple list of the main factors that Software Engineers’ tell me they’re looking for:
- How much time you want to spend hands-on coding? Do you just want to code, or do you want to be paid for other things as well (design, architecture, requirements gathering, scrum mastering, stakeholder facing, client facing, deployment, support, testing, code reviews, people management, project management, etc)?
- What size of company do you want to work for? A big corporate? A mid-tier company? A start-up? A small company?
- Would you discount a company that had lots of problems, or would you see that as an appealing factor?
- Does it matter if the team is all located in the same office or is spread around the world?
- Are you looking for technical authority?
- Is formal training and investment important to you?
- Is any the “package” element of the job important to you (pension contributions, medical insurance, nice office, flexible working hours, working from home, lots of colleagues etc)
- What kind of office locations you want to commute to / are you prepared to get to?
- Is a new (“greenfield”) application important to you?
- Is working with the latest and greatest tools and technologies important to you?
- Do you have some kind of preference for the people you work with (senior to you so you can learn from them, same age as you so can easily get along, etc)?
- What kind of industry/industries do you want to work in? Does it matter to you?
- Is it important that the application you work on is something you find exciting or high profile?
- Do you want to work for a well-known company?