This is really just a bit of reflection on the path I've taken to find a new (totally awesome) job. There are a number of things I've found and I would like to share those with you.

Development managers have beards

Seriously. 100% of the dev managers that I've come across (a total of two) have beards. With that, I would like to conclude that all development managers have beards. Also, both of the ones I met happen to be really cool dudes, but that's beside the point.

Having said that, I realise my failing to secure a development manager position. I didn't have a beard. So, if you are on the market for dev manager position, you must have a beard.

It helps to be good

I really enjoyed going to the interviews and I thought I did alright at all of them. So much so, that I thought I could totally do it full time. At some point I realised that it's not some weird skill that I happened to have, but that I was pretty good at what I do. Not totally awsome, which is the goal, but better than average.

Don't take this the wrong way. If you are reading this post, I can pretty much guarantee that I am on par with you - just a normal programmer who is pretty passionate about what he does. I've met plenty of totally awsome devs in my time and I can tell you, I'd give an arm and leg to be half as awesome as them. It is pretty surprising, really, how little effort it takes to be above the average line in this business.

Karma is totally real

Being a fairly active StackOverflow participant, giving back to the community is fun. You get points and get to receive instant feedback from others if something that you say sucks. To most non-geek folk out there it's virtually impossible to explain why you would selflessly spend so much of your time helping others.

But get this. After two months of constant applying and weeks of interviews, technical tests and take home assignments (which are totally what you'd get if you are going for senior developer positions), the one offer I got was through agent thrawling SO for people in the area that are active in a particular tag set.

Not by placing a job ad on careers.

Not by signing to search candidates on careers.

Just by brute forcing their way through participants. Kudos.

You have to work hard for it

Yeah. Applying for senior developer position in Sydney is hard work. The market for .NET developers is pretty lively at the moment, so I would recommend to only apply for the jobs that you are totally in love with.

ThoughtWorks, being the heavyweight of employment process, has the following approximate steps:

  • HR quick interview
  • Take home assignment (~2 days part time to complete)
  • Logic and aptitude test
  • Tech interview 1
  • Tech interview 2
  • Cultutal interview
  • Management interview

Compared to the other places, they are not entirely unreasonable. Although the logic test at TW deserves a special mention as it's so so so cool. You basically need to turn you brain into pointer dereferencing CPU for 45 minutes. I've never seen anything like it and a quick search online didn't turn up a similar one.

Place 2

  • Online test with the agency
  • Technical questionaire
  • Technical interview (this one was 3 hours)
  • Take home assignment (about the same amount of effort as ThoughWorks)

Plase 3

  • Online test
  • Written test at the place
  • Tech interview
  • Cultural interview (with BeardDev 1)
  • Cultural interview 2. I made it this far at which point they decided I was overqualified. It was annoying and I still don't actually agree with them, but it turned out for the better.

Place 4 (the place)

  • Take home written test
  • Interview with architect and dev manager (BeardDev 2)
  • Reference check
  • Offer

So, be prepared. Luckily I liked all the tests, especially take home assignments. Wriating about writing those deserves a separate blog post, as there are nuances that caught me out. Publisising those will make for an interesting read.

Doing what you love, point 2

There is a parallel with what happened to me and what my wife is going through at the moment. She loves making parties (invites, themes, decorations, etc). She also loves facebook and not in the time wasting way. She communicates with other mums out there who have babies of similar ages to ours, which has been god sent for her.

By taking the two things shes loves and combining them, she is now on her way to creating a business - printaparty.com.au - designer party invites and themes you can print at home(the site is designed by her and humbly coded by yours truly). Genius. I have no doubt, she wouldn't need to go back to full time work after maternity leave. Turns out facebook is unparalled in promoting an at home (mummy) business.

There something important here, and that is your participation in the community must be genuine. That much is obvious. You don't want to be another loud mouth "guru" who jumps on whatever bandwagon is in to promote self. People are not dumb and they will see through that.

To wrap it up

I think it should become clear what the point of this post is. By being geniune and striving for the best, you are well on the way to happiness. This is a very Zen-like approach that seemed to have worked for me, I hope it does for you :)



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Published

23 February 2011

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