Tim Eaton

Job Searchin’ Blues

Why is it so hard to find a job? I’ve applied for well over a hundred positions (through LinkedIn, Larajobs, Hacker News, friends, random openings, or just cold-writing to a startup CEO). I’ve gone through a number of interviews, but had very little luck.

I attribute this to several things: First, I have not applied or interviewed for a job in 17 years. I’m out of practice. It’s slowly coming back, but the IT interview process was quite a bit different almost two decades ago. Second, I worked with one stack for 16 years, following the ideas of a very opinionated boss. Many other companies don’t follow his philosophy, so they reject my initial solutions (even though I am quite willing to adapt.

The most annoying manifestation of this - for me - was a person who asked me to rewrite a sample class so that it would still pass tests. Neither the code nore the tests were shown to me. I just had to make them work. I did, in the way I had been learning, and all tests passed. The response was “I don’t like your style.” I found that profoundly unhelpful, because I’m willing to adapt to new styles - but without knowing a single thing about the company it’s difficult to guess what they like. I asked for a second try, perhaps after talking with an engineer, but received no answer.

Another particularly annoying response I received two weeks ago was “We like your CV, but we need someone who knows Laravel and can work for less money.” I replied that my CV was full of my Laravel expertise and I’m willing to accept a lower salary to start. The response was just “We need someone who wants a smaller salary.” Who knows that that person was smoking.

One other problem, I think, is that most of my writing and programming is proprietary. All I have to show is my personal work, not my larger enterprise work.

I have always worked and hired people on the philosophy that if they were smart and fit in the team, it didn’t matter what their expertise was. “OK, so you can solve this with your preferred style or language? Well, we like you so we’ll teach you our style.” But that has not much been the case in my tries recently.

Alas, I need to revise my strategy in some way to be more successful, much like a coal minor walking down those ole’ roads looking for a job.

So it goes, until you meet the right person!

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