Job search update

I accepted a job. I’m going back to work January 7 as an Engineering Manager for a national software company with a large office in Indianapolis. If you live in the US and have children in school, you probably have used, or at least have heard of, the product I’m going to help build.

I had hoped to find another small company ready to scale. The company I’ll be working for is well established, with a mature product and thousands of employees. Smaller companies have been my “sweet spot” where I’ve found great satisfaction and delivered solid results. But I didn’t find such a company ready for a person like me on this job search. 

Yet I am relieved. And this company should provide a solid platform for growth.

When I found myself unemployed in 2015, I was in high demand. Several companies expressed strong interest in me, I picked up some side consulting, and I got to weigh two competing job offers.

But in 2015 I was selling myself as a Quality Assurance leader. (QA people test software to make sure it works as intended.) I have a great story to tell there, backed up with deep experience.

Since then I made the transition to Engineering leadership. It came not a moment too soon, for as I discussed in this post on my software blog QA leadership roles are drying up, and for good reason. 

But in Engineering I find myself in a much larger pool of competition. Frankly, it hurt me as a candidate that I haven’t coded in ten years and am only lightly familiar with modern development and infrastructure tools and frameworks.

I claim that this doesn’t matter. What I might lack in technical chops I more than make up in skilled leadership. I made a deliberate choice some years ago to double down on being an outstanding leader, and it had the natural consequence of letting my technical skills wither and age. But I get outstanding results anyway, because I know how to harness my teams for best engagement and best results.

This turned out not to be as compelling a pitch as I imagined. In two opportunities I was passed over for candidates with more recent technology experience. Maybe this is ego talking, but I would be surprised if they had anywhere near the leadership skill and experience I do.

But I have to take this as an important signal. In my new role, I need to learn the technologies we use. I must go deep enough that one day when I’m on the market again, I have a technology story to tell that removes any doubt about me.


38 thoughts on “Job search update

  1. DougD says:

    Good news Jim. I’ve thought of myself as a medium sized company sort of guy, but here I am working for a large company and that pays the bills just fine.

    I don’t envy you in the deep dive into technologies. We just had Enovia training and there were a whole roomful of mechanical engineers going “Wait, why do we have to do this? Wha? hold on, how did you get to that hidden menu? We have to approve the approval? That’s stupid… And so on for a whole week.

    • Paying the bills is not overrated.

      I’m confident in my ability to learn what I need to learn — short of actually delivering code into the codebase. But I don’t think that will be required.

  2. Well done Jim, and congratulations on getting right back on the horse.

    As you’ve said before, no reason you can’t keep an eye open for other opportunities even once you start your new role. In the meantime it sounds like it will give you some opportunities for new learning and growth along the way.

  3. Congratulations Jim. Your reservations aside, this is great news, Hopefully this means you and your family can catch your breath and settle back for a really good Xmas with one less thing to worry about. All the best.

    • Yeah, here’s hoping! I’m trying to decide whether to pick up some seasonal work to help pay the bills until I can get back to my career work — it’s tempting to just lay off until the New Year and rest!

  4. Nancy Stewart says:

    Good to hear Jim …. Should help you to enjoy the holidays without that worry lurking in the background.

  5. Victor Villaseñor says:

    Congrats on the new job! Welcome back to the world of flipping 1’s and 0’s in an orderly fashion.

  6. Jim I wonder if this would affect your ability to blog as often? I always had that issue when working a lot. Has unemployment issues too at points in my life. Congrats!

  7. susanJOY Hosken says:

    Jim, congrats on the new job and I have to agree with you about being up with technology as well. Even my being retired still finds me needing to stay up to date as possible with the technology that affects my life and others susanJOY

    • I’m still far more technical than the average man on the street, but I can’t write code anymore and I don’t understand some of the latest tooling. I should be able to get my head wrapped around it all.

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