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analyzing my job history
singapore sunset
Since i am now actively looking for work and have interviewed at a few places, I am trying to figure out if there is some kind of pattern to the companies i like. I decided to make a little table to figure it out.

Funding Industry Profitable Size Head Office Location Product Release Schedule My Role Did I like it?
Government Government N/A ~50 Brisbane suburbs internal tooling on-demand support yes
Private Health/Manufacturing yes <10 Brisbane suburbs clinic administration/industrial automation on-demand developer/support yes
Public Media/Big Science no thousands Silicon Valley suburbs storage quarterly developer no
VC Construction yes ~150 Melbourne downtown document management quarterly developer yes
Private IT no ~30 Toronto downtown IT administration biannual developer/lead no
Public Fashion yes thousands Berlin downtown e-commerce weekly developer/lead no
Private HR yes ~20 Berlin downtown business process management on-demand developer/lead/support yes
VC Supply Chain yes >1000 Hong Kong downtown supply chain management weekly developer/support no

Some columns like funding source, profitability and release schedule are things that i actively ask about during interviews because i always thought they were stuff that mattered to me. For example, i like to tell myself that i avoid VC-funded companies because they are just get rich quick schemes and not profitable or real companies. But, as it turns out, that's not true. Release schedule. I want to deliver on-demand. I hate having to wait around even a week to deliver a fix or new version to a customer. And yet, there is that one company that released quarterly (at the time) that i still enjoyed working for.

I guess the problem with trying to do analytics on only 8 jobs is that there isn't enough data to draw any useful conclusions.

But here is one interesting thing. It seems every company i joined that was more than about 100 people, i was not happy. In all of those cases i felt like decisions were made too slowly, and there was not enough of a mindset of real continuous improvement. Even when the bosses said "we're just a big startup" or "we are agile", it never was. So perhaps that's something i need to think about at my next company.

Also it seems that generally... Actually, in all cases apart from my current job, i am happier when i am doing support. Most developers hate support. They look down on it. They think dealing with ignorant customers and fixing bugs is annoying. Personally i find that to be something that gives my job a bit of meaning and context in the real world. I guess that ties in a little bit to the on-demand delivery. Right now i can't deliver on-demand, so even if i help a customer i can't really help them, i have to tell them to wait for the next release and that sucks. But when i can roll out fixes straight away, that makes me feel good.

What does this all mean for the jobs i am currently interviewing for? Well two of them are at large companies with thousands of people. And i can tell, already, that the process is a pain. HR people doing all their box-checking. Taking ages to get back to me. Even if the work itself is enjoyable, i wonder if i am just not cut out to be part of a huge corporate machine like that?

And then there is the robotics job, which is a seed-stage start-up. They have one customer and one product and are going to need VC funding to ramp up and a shit-ton of sales to become profitable. Because it's so small, i probably would have more of an opportunity to support customers. And perhaps i could influence the release schedule by helping to engineer a platform that is easy to update remotely. (Obviously the robots are all on-site.) I mean, it seems like it hits the right things for me. Then again... no solid customer base and not (yet) profitable. Is that what i want?

We will see. I have a screening call over lunch with one of those faceless multinationals where a few of my acquaintances once worked. Last night i had a call with the 🤖CEO so that seems to be almost at the offer stage.

Sigh. Job hunting is exhausting.

Oh, hey everyone. I also turned down a promotion to director of software development at my current job. I'd have ~5 team leads under me, each with several guys under them. Would've been great for my résumé. Horrible for my mental health, at this company at least. The CTO was disappointed. I think he's pretty clear now that i will be out the door in the next couple months.

I just want to make sure i walk into the right door.

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You know, one thing where I can really relate with you is the whole "support" thing. A lot of bakers hate customer service and like to hide in the back room. They have a really hard time talking to people, but I love it. I like feeling a connection with the people I'm baking for. It really does add value to what I'm doing. It's one of the big things I don't like about doing wholesale baking. I have no idea who eats the stuff I make. If anyone wants to give me feed back, they have to tell the store where they bought it, the store has to tell the distributor, the distributor has to tell my boss, and then finally my boss tells me. And even if I do change something for someone, they have no idea who the person behind all that is who's doing that for them. It's a complete disconnect.

This is a really interesting response, thanks.

I always sort of surprise myself when (re)discover that I like helping customers directly, because I don't see myself as a particularly sociable person. But I think it's perhaps less about the actual interaction and more about knowing that what you are doing makes a difference to somebody. Like you say, when you are working in a bigger company there is a disconnect.

I guess this goes into management theory and how to motivate people. I am sure that not all people like you or me work in small companies - that doesn't really scale - so there has to be a way to provide that same kind of feeling in a larger organization. I've never experienced it before, but I wonder if a really good manager could find ways to give their guys the feedback and meaning they need, even if their role isn't directly facing the end user/consumer?

And people think getting a job is easy.....

I have to admit, getting a job is easier for me than it is for a lot of people, because I have almost 20 years experience developing a skill that is still highly sought-after. Granted it's a bit harder right now because I am in a foreign country, but I am still very lucky. That said... I think getting a job is about more than just getting a paycheck. I think people should also be able to work at a place where they are happy and feel they can make a positive contribution to society. Finding something like that is a lot tougher, for sure.

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