I’m a senior software engineer. Since the mid-‘90’s, my job has included interviewing people. The late ‘90’s were heady times in my field, especially in the Bay Area.
The joke was that you could get a job if you could spell HTML. It was pretty much true. You needed more than that for the positions I was interviewing candidates for, though. Some of the time the interviewees didn’t have it.
And some of those times, by the time we got back to the candidate to say we weren’t interested, he or she had already accepted an offer elsewhere for a godawful amount of money.
I mentioned previously that when my job before last went south, I took a long lunch and got a new one.
The story’s true as written, but there were two omissions, one of which makes it less dramatic, one of which makes it moreso.
1) I’d already been looking for another job, and had already scheduled the interview. 2) I quit before the interview. My PHB’s reaction was to ask what was the salary I’d accepted elsewhere. It was basically condescending, asking “OK, kid, so what do we have to beat to keep you?” as if he held all the cards, and I, none of them. When I told him I didn’t have another offer for him to beat, the conversation derailed — I’d deviated from his script.
Those were the boom times, and I could get away with that.
While I was at my last job, the boom turned bust.
Not long thereafter, I hired a kid fresh out of college. He proved to be a walking stereotype: the kid fresh out of college who thinks he knows everything. Worse, he had a sense of entitlement that matched his arrogance.
I just didn’t get that for a while, but when it clicked, it was blindingly obvious. For the whole of his college career, he had known nothing but the boom. He expected to graduate and instantly be on top of the world.
I fired his ass. I hope he’s gotten over himself in the meantime.
And then the bust got much more dire: it directly affected me. I was laid off.
I had more experience and skills than 4 years ago when I quit with no worries. But I was having a hard time even getting interviews. The seller’s market had turned buyer’s market in a big way. Companies were demanding years of experience in the exact systems they were using… and getting it. I had one interview that couldn’t have gone better, and then didn’t get the job because they found someone with experience in the exact ad serving software they used.
And Perl’s fallen out of favor for web development (to judge by Bay Area job listings.) Java and MSFT systems predominate, and most of what’s left is PHP.
So for 9 long months, I was unemployed. Not long ago, my unemployment ran out. With only Malasada’ salary, the mortgage would cut through our savings pretty quickly. We were trying to avoid talking about what to do about that.
I’d had an interview that had gone well, and then a second interview that had gone well, and a former co-worker not only worked at the place, but shared an office with one of my interviewers, and could recommend me. We felt optimistic.
And, happy ending, I got the job.
Now there’s something big I’ve still omitted.
I haven’t worked a 40-hour week since 1997.
After taking time off due to a crippling repetitive stress injury from insane overtime in insane start-ups, I sought jobs with less than full-time hours, but with full benefits.
And I got them.
Because it was the boom, and I could get away with that.
At DNAI, I worked 25 hours a week. At my last job, 30.
I can’t get away with it anymore.
Before I go on, let me make clear that I am very grateful to have found this position. I am well aware that my life is incredibly cushy, not just by the standard of humans in general, or even the standard of First World citizens, but by the standard of American professionals working full-time jobs.
I don’t have insane hours — it really is 40 (though it’s understood there’ll be overtime required at points.) My workplace is less than a mile and a half from home; I can bike it in ten minutes if I hurry. I don’t have to wear funny high-maintenance costumes that need dry-cleaning. I’m not on call nights and weekends.
The difference between 40 hours and 30 hours is huge. Suddenly, it feels like I have to struggle for the time to do everything. Things that never required thought before — spending enough quality time with Malasada, with the kitties, getting enough quality time alone (I’m one of them there introverts) — now take effort. It feels like I only have about four elective hours a day, and I’m in trouble if I don’t spend a couple of them doing the infrastructure maintenance that lets me go back to work the next day.
You can see why my blogging frequency is off. I don’t have much time for web surfing.
I know there are people who have even more of their time spoken for. Commuting hours a day, working insane hours, raising kids.
Don’t know how they do it.