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.