General job search question


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  1. #1
    Bill Guest

    General job search question


    I am employed at one of the large IT consulting firms as a developer. I have
    been here for 13 years, right out of college, and I am making 63K. It's
    decent money, but not great. I live in a major metro area in the south.
    I know the economy is not at its best right now, but I am interested in
    looking externally for a new position. This will be my first external job
    search ever, and I know my situation is a lot different than it was when
    I was trying to land a job right out of college.

    I've read all the articles on resumes, cover leters, networking, and all
    that stuff that you're supposed to read before embarking on a job search.
    But I know you guys have some good advice, since I've been following this
    forum for several months.

    My main concern is that every job posting I see, whether it be a general
    job site (ComputerJobs.com, Monster.com, etc.), a company's web site, a recruiting
    company's web site, or the newspaper, seems to specify a very narrow and
    specific skill set. That would be all very fine and good if my skills matched
    the skills they are looking for, but that does not seem to be the case.
    I've moved around quite a bit in my company, learning what I need as I go,
    and I have a lot of different technical skills. Many of them are not exactly
    the latest - COBOL, VSAM, VB3, VB5, some C++. I've always had success picking
    up languages and platforms easily, so that is not a problem for me. Part
    of my problem is that I've tended to work primarily on legacy systems, doing
    some development and maintenance. I haven't gotten into much architecture
    or design, and I haven't dealt much with any infrastructure issues. It's
    mainly small-to-medium-sized development projects on an existing system.
    But, I just don't see any ads that seem to be looking for that type of person.

    I know that companies need people with those skills - we've hired several
    just like that in the past. I don't know how the position was worded, but
    these people have had similar skills as myself. They've been good solid
    IT workers - not superstars with amazing and unique skills - and they have
    for the most part been very loyal and stayed here for several years.

    It almost seems like I'd be better off getting an entry-level position where
    I would not be expected to be an expert on a particular platform or language.
    I'm sure that with my experience and skills that I would do well with an
    opportunity like that. But, I cannot take a position at an entry-level salary,
    and I'm sure I would hear the word "overqualified" quite a bit.

    So, how exactly should I approach this possible job search? I'm not in a
    position where I have to change jobs, and I'd rather not have to devote a
    huge amount of time or effort. Not that I'm lazy, it's just that I have
    a job plus a family. Also, I really didn't have to work hard at all to get
    interviews and offerings out college. Back then the thing I kept hearing
    that employers were looking for was "experience", and now I have me some
    of that "experience", so I would expect that things should be somewhat easier.

    I know that the market for IT workers in general is not that great, and I
    also know that some positions are going to be sent to places like India and
    Mexico. But there are always some positions open, and the economy will improve
    sometime. Again, this is not an urgent job search, but if there is something
    better out there, I'd like to find it without a ton of effort. I hear of
    some people who send out thousands of resumes with no interest, and I hear
    of some people who send out one and get a better job. I'd rather my search
    be like the latter example.

    Any advice and words of encouragement (or admonishment) are welcome.

  2. #2
    Elena Guest

    Re: General job search question


    Howdy Bill!

    Before you launch into a job search, you might want to stop and consider
    what direction you would really like to move in over, say, a 5 to 7 year
    timeframe.

    Do you want to stay in software development? That is possible, but that
    path requires ongoing investment of time and money in self-training. By
    money I don't mean $5,000 for expensive seminars and training programs -
    - I mean maintaining a "training lab" at home with hardware and software
    for your chosen platform. There are a few companies that still foot the bill
    for all this, but not that many that I can see. Or, if they do pay for all
    the training, they require massive amounts of unpaid overtime (so the training
    isn't really "free" if you get my drift.) If you really don't see yourself
    making that investment because, say, you have a life, then perhaps you don't
    really want to stay in hands-on technical positions over the long term.

    There are a couple other routes you can go. There are "business analyst"
    type positions where you serve as the interface between the technology-ignorant
    business people and the business-ignorant technology people. In this type
    of position, you do not need to know the nuances of any particular language
    or software tool - - instead you focus on making sure the technology is designed
    correctly to serve the business function in a cost-efficient manner. I could
    explain this further but I expect if you work for a large consultancy you
    already have some of these people around so you know what I mean.

    Another path is IT management. You need to make a thorough assessment of
    yourself here to decide if you really have the desire and temperment to do
    that type of job. Again, you probably have plenty of people around you in
    those types of positions to help you get an idea of what their work is like.


    Another possible option is moving into the "user" area completely. If, for
    example, you have done many projects in the accounting/finance arena, or
    in the materials management area, or some other business function, you might
    consider a sideways move into one of those jobs.

    You could, of course, look for a job with precisely the same skillset as
    the one you currently have. If your work has been in mainframe environments,
    look around for companies that still maintain those technologies. Large
    hospitals and government organizations are the first to come to mind.

    You situation now is completely different from where you were when you graduated
    college 13 years ago. Yes, of course, now you have experience. But now
    you no longer work for entry-level wages. And at this moment, developers
    are accepting job offers at salaries 10% lower than a year ago. You should
    probably research salary surveys on the web. The Computerworld 2001 salary
    survey at

    http://www.computerworld.com/cwi/sto...O63423,00.html


    reports the following for the South Atlantic region (South Atlantic = Delaware,
    District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina,
    South Carolina, Georgia, Florida )

    Programmer Analyst: $54,500
    Web Application developer: $59,000

    Job titles are only a crude way of categorizing people's positions so perhaps
    neither of these accurately describes your responsibilities. There are other
    salary surveys on the various job boards that report much higher numbers
    although frankly, I'm a little suspicious of some of them.

    At any rate, to get a premium salary as a developer you absolutely have to
    have the "hot" skills and that requires a significant ongoing effort. And
    in this market, with a large contingent of unemployed developers, you might
    find the going pretty rough. In previous years, you could also go into self-employed
    consulting which allows you to keep much more of your billable rate but right
    now life is pretty hard for the independents so you might want to hold off
    on launching your own consultancy.

    Well . . . all I'm trying to do here is to give you some things to think
    about so that you can choose the direction that best fits your ambitions
    and lifestyle.

    Best of Luck,
    Elena

  3. #3
    T. Hoskins Guest

    Re: General job search question


    Hi Bill,

    My background is similiar to yours. I used to work for a large consulting
    firm and I also performed a lot of maintenance work while working for them
    as well. Lately, my experience has been similiar to Elena's. Lots of hard
    work and personal sacrafice before I was able to get away from the big iron.


    First, I will comment on your post and then I will give you "my advice" at
    the bottom of this post.

    >I am employed at one of the large IT consulting firms as a developer. I
    >have been here for 13 years, right out of college, and I am making 63K.
    >It's decent money, but not great.


    13 years with the same consulting firm! Wow! For someone in a techie position
    that is truly impressive.

    I think you might be reading too many salary surveys. From what I have seen
    out there your salary is what I would expect a consulting firm employee to
    be earning (i.e. someone with the same number of years and experience).

    >I know the economy is not at its best right now, but I am interested in
    >looking externally for a new position. This will be my first external job
    >search ever, and I know my situation is a lot different than it was when
    >I was trying to land a job right out of college.


    I am going to take a guess as to why you are currently looking for a new
    job. Let me know if I am close to being correct.

    Maintenance work is lot harder than people think it is and you don't feel
    appreciated for doing it. You are tired of constantly fighting fires and
    you wish you didn't have to solve each and every problem that comes your
    way all by yourself. You are tired of getting those 3AM phone calls and would
    like to do more new development work. You don't see yourself doing anything
    but maintenance work if you decide to stay with your current employer. Your
    employer is taking half the billing rate and providing you with little besides
    a bi-monthly paycheck. You are worried about your marketability and think
    that your extensive legacy skills are making you look like a dinosaur.

    >I've read all the articles on resumes, cover leters, networking, and all
    >that stuff that you're supposed to read before embarking on a job search.
    > But I know you guys have some good advice, since I've been following this
    >forum for several months.


    Well, I wouldn't put too much stock in what you have read. Unlike most corporate
    jobs, there are few "universal truths" that you can follow when searching
    for another IT position nowadays. We definately work in a bizarre industry
    don't we?

    >My main concern is that every job posting I see, whether it be a general
    >job site (ComputerJobs.com, Monster.com, etc.), a company's web site, a
    >recruiting company's web site, or the newspaper, seems to specify a very
    >narrow and specific skill set. That would be all very fine and good if
    >my skills matched the skills they are looking for, but that does not seem
    >to be the case.


    That is why most people still get hired using their networking skills.

    The reason almost all advertised jobs specify a very narrow and specific
    skill set is because most companies only place an ad when they have reached
    the "I am hurting stage". In other words, companies only place job ads for
    IT positions they know will be hard to fill.

    A company may hire someone such as yourself if you come "highly recommended"
    by an insider in the company, but they probably won't hire you if you respond
    to one of their job ads. Unless of course, your skills closely match those
    that are on the job ad. Why does this happen? Can you say "buzzword bingo"?
    This is the only game most HR types know how to play. While the same can
    be said of recruiters and headhunters as well -- they seem to have an excuse
    -- they have no choice in the matter (at least that is probably how most
    of them feel).

    >I've moved around quite a bit in my company, learning what I need as I go,
    >and I have a lot of different technical skills. Many of them are not >exactly

    the latest - COBOL, VSAM, VB3, VB5, some C++. I've always had >success picking
    up languages and platforms easily, so that is not a
    >problem for me. Part of my problem is that I've tended to work primarily
    >on legacy systems, doing some development and maintenance. I haven't >gotten

    into much architecture or design, and I haven't dealt much with >any infrastructure
    issues. It's mainly small-to-medium-sized development >projects on an existing
    system. But, I just don't see any ads that seem >to be looking for that
    type of person.

    You know neither do I. You don't even see the large consulting firms advertise
    for these type of jobs. Why is that? I think the answer is complex, however,
    here are three reasons that I can think of:

    * A lot of companies have outsourced maintenance work to consulting firms
    and therefore they don't need people such as yourself.

    * Consulting firms know that don't really have to recruit for maintenance
    positions therefore they hire people for these type of positions through
    indirect means.

    * Companies only advertise IT positions they think we will be hard to fill.

    >I know that companies need people with those skills - we've hired several
    >just like that in the past. I don't know how the position was worded, but
    >these people have had similar skills as myself. They've been good solid
    >IT workers - not superstars with amazing and unique skills - and they have
    >for the most part been very loyal and stayed here for several years.


    I am assuming that your company has several large outsourcing contracts.
    You could ask those individuals you mentioned how they got hired by your
    employer at your next branch meeting. You could also do some research and
    find out which consulting firms have a lot of outsourcing contracts. Once
    you have indentified these companies you can send them a cover letter and
    resume.

    >It almost seems like I'd be better off getting an entry-level position >where

    I would not be expected to be an expert on a particular platform or >language.
    I'm sure that with my experience and skills that I would do >well with an
    opportunity like that. But, I cannot take a position at an >entry-level
    salary, and I'm sure I would hear the word "overqualified" >quite a bit.

    Yes, I think you would hear the word "overqualifed" quite a bit. This word
    can mean many things such as "too expensive".

    >So, how exactly should I approach this possible job search? I'm not in

    a
    >position where I have to change jobs, and I'd rather not have to devote

    a
    >huge amount of time or effort. Not that I'm lazy, it's just that I have
    >a job plus a family. Also, I really didn't have to work hard at all to
    >get interviews and offerings out college. Back then the thing I kept >hearing

    that employers were looking for was "experience", and now I have >me some
    of that "experience", so I would expect that things should be >somewhat easier.

    From a technology perspective, what are strongest skills? Is it COBOL and
    mainframe development? If so, you should be able to find a local contract
    or a full-time job with very little effort on your part. My question to you
    is this -- will it be worth it? Just because you might be able to find another
    job doesn't mean that you will be earning anymore money or that the grass
    will any greener than where it is now.

    >I hear of some people who send out thousands of resumes with no >interest,

    and I hear of some people who send out one and get a better >job. I'd rather
    my search be like the latter example.

    I think everyone would like to be in the latter group.

    >Any advice and words of encouragement (or admonishment) are welcome.


    ----- My advice -----
    I would re-post your question all over the web just to get some different
    perspectives. You might want to try asktheheadhunter.com, as well as, sending
    a few emails to syndicated careers columnists.

    Make sure to carefully read Elena's post to you. She is a lot wiser than
    she probably thinks she is.

  4. #4
    Elena Guest

    Re: General job search question


    >>Make sure to carefully read Elena's post to you. She is a lot wiser than

    she probably thinks she is.<<

    Oh My Goodness! My face is so red!

    Interesting analysis of why companies do what they do, THoskins. I think
    the comments on how maintenance work is valued, the "hot skill" game and
    the importance of networking are right on. As well as the idiotic insistence
    on a precise buzzword match before interviewing. ("Fred quit! We need another
    Fred! What does Fred know? Fred knows X, Y and Z. Therefore, we need someone
    with X, Y and Z.")





  5. #5
    T. Hoskins Guest

    Re: General job search question


    Hi Elena,

    >Interesting analysis of why companies do what they do, THoskins. I think
    >the comments on how maintenance work is valued, the "hot skill" game and
    >the importance of networking are right on. As well as the idiotic >insistence

    on a precise buzzword match before interviewing. ("Fred quit! >We need another.
    Fred! What does Fred know? Fred knows X, Y and Z. >Therefore, we need someone
    with X, Y and Z.")

    Well, my analysis was really pretty simplistic. There are many sides to any
    story. For example, the guy who runs asktheheadhunter.com has a different
    take on why there is so much "buzzword matching before interviewing" going
    on. From what I have read on his site -- he seems to blame incompetent Project
    Managers for the buzzword matching problem.

    Personally, I wish networking wasn't "the way" most techies obtain a full-time
    job. The problem I have with networking is that most of us techies don't
    interact in the same manner as many other professionals types do.

    Maybe the Internet may someday reduce the importance of networking? I hope
    so. Job boards certainly will never be the answer though. Job boards are
    simply -- a cheaper and sometimes more effective -- alternative to newspaper
    job ads.

  6. #6
    Bill Guest

    Re: General job search question


    I thank you both for your advice. It makes me miss the good ol' days of college,
    where the employers came to ME and they had no strict expectations of what
    I knew or could do - they just expected me to be able to step in and learn
    and contribute. And now that I have "experience", I should be able to step
    in and learn and contribute more quickly, while avoiding many of the mistakes
    that a young developer makes. Nothing against young developers, but I've
    made mistakes and learned from them, as well as learned from the mistakes
    of others.

    The main reason my thoughts are wandering towards leaving my current job
    is that I'm getting tired of being a number, or unit, or whatever you want
    to call it. I currently work on a very large system, and it could take years
    to get to where I am a key person, if I even have the ability to get there.
    Right now I am just one of many developers, and my ego is not getting fed
    as much as I would like. I've also been on smaller projects, and the people
    on those are also ignored. The only way to make it technically is to be
    a big fish in a big pond. My personality is more of being a big fish in
    a somewhat smaller pond. I guess after 13 years I've just finally recognized
    the reality of my situation....

    If I look at my situation from a different perspective, like a recruiter
    or an HR person or a hiring manager, I can see the difficulty of my situation.
    If a company has one position to fill, and it gets 50 resumes, the person
    who is screening the resumes will look for a match in skills. This is not
    the most effective way of finding a match, but it sure is quicker than interviewing
    every single person. A resume does not tell what a person's "soft skills"
    are like - personality, confidence, ability to work with the team. But a
    resume can be reviewed in a very impersonal manner in a matter of minutes.
    There's no way for the screener to tell that I can learn to be productive
    very quickly in a certain language by working in the code and reading a good
    book. Face it - it's not that difficult for many people to be thrown into
    a project with good team members and some existing code and do an outstanding
    job. I have personally seen people with no experience in a language such
    as C++ outperform people with years of experience. Knowing a language is
    one thing; having the good judgement to learn and apply knowledge and work
    well with a team and within an existing framework is something else. But
    that is a skill that will not come across on a resume; "four years coding
    in C++" looks better to most screeners than "three months coding in C++ (but
    learns quickly and works well with others)".

    I'll step off my soapbox now.... just getting worked up over what I perceive
    to be my major stumbling blocks by going the traditional job-searching route....

    At least I know quite a few people who could help me. Former co-workers,
    neighbors, people from church, parents of my childrens' classmates. I think
    I'll start with them and see what may turn up. I may also put my resume
    on some of the big boards and send it to some other companies. At least
    I'm not desperate. I've heard the horror stories of those who are.

    Thanks again for your advice.


  7. #7
    Elena Guest

    Re: General job search question


    >>If a company has one position to fill, and it gets 50 resumes


    Actually, these days it's much closer to 500.

    >I'm getting tired of being a number, or unit, or whatever you want
    >to call it . . . The only way to make it technically is to be
    >a big fish in a big pond. My personality is more of being a big fish in
    >a somewhat smaller pond.


    I'm not sure I understand the comment "the only way to make it technically
    is to be a big fish in a big pond". What is your definition of "making it"?
    Are you referring to money? Career longevity? These things are not necessarily
    tied to the size of the company. In fact, I'm starting to think large companies
    are the last place I want to go. I've worked in two fortune 50 companies
    in the past and these organizations are where this whole "people are commodity
    products" concept reigns supreme.

    Anyway, you might think seriously about small companies for your next career
    move. Now if you derive a lot of satisfaction from walking into a 50-story
    glass tower each day, or from working for a big "name brand" outfit, then
    perhaps you would not be happy in a smaller organization. There are certainly
    pros and cons. This is a choice that depends on your personality more than
    anything else. It's just one more thing to consider.

    Elena


  8. #8
    Bill Guest

    Re: General job search question


    >>I'm getting tired of being a number, or unit, or whatever you want
    >>to call it . . . The only way to make it technically is to be
    >>a big fish in a big pond. My personality is more of being a big fish in
    >>a somewhat smaller pond.

    >
    >I'm not sure I understand the comment "the only way to make it technically
    >is to be a big fish in a big pond". What is your definition of "making
    >it"? Are you referring to money? Career longevity? These things are
    >not necessarily tied to the size of the company.


    What I mean by that comment is that the only way to get any real significant
    recognition in my company (salary, bonus, promotion, respect from any manager
    above the lowest level) seems to be by being either a manager or a lead developer
    on a large project. Being a mid-level developer doesn't cut it, nor does
    being a lead developer on a smaller project. While I can certainly understand
    this mindset, that doesn't mean that I like it.

    >Anyway, you might think seriously about small companies for your next
    >career move. Now if you derive a lot of satisfaction from walking into

    a
    >50-story glass tower each day, or from working for a big "name brand"
    >outfit, then perhaps you would not be happy in a smaller organization.
    >There are certainly pros and cons. This is a choice that depends on your
    >personality more than anything else. It's just one more thing to
    >consider.


    I do agree that a smaller company may meet my needs better. From what I
    know, the pay is similar and the benefits may be as good (although benefits
    seem to vary widely), plus they may treat people with more respect. I guess
    I have some sort of mental block. My father and my wife's father both worked
    at the same large corporation in a town of 40,000, so I am used to the concept
    of working for the biggest outfit in town. They both retired from that company
    after spending their whole careers there, so I am used to the concept of
    spending a career at one place. So I have to break free of this mentality
    that I have that is keeping me here.

    Thanks for all the advice.


  9. #9
    Jeff Guest

    Re: General job search question


    Bill,

    Your situation sounds a lot like mine two years ago, except I tried to find
    a job in a healthy market. I ended up staying put, but I can share some
    of my experiences.

    I do agree with the "being a unit" observation. A lot of developers want
    to stay "technical", which is not entirely the same as being an individual
    performer rather than a manager. The more senior people in my group (senior
    being a matter of position rather than age) still do a fair amount of coding,
    but they do an awful lot of dealing with the customer and other vendors,
    leading projects from the technical side, estimating, and high-level design.
    This is on the larger types of projects that you mention. Many people don't
    want to mess with those tasks - they want to have a task already defined
    fairly well to the point they can sit at their desk and design, code, and
    unit test it. On smaller projects, the tasks I mentioned are not as difficult
    - there are fewer vendors, the estimates are smaller, the designs are not
    as difficult - there are just fewer people to deal with, and people are a
    lot more difficult variables than technology.

    Back to my job search.... I had been maintaining some smaller client/server
    and desktop applications for the past nine months. These were developed
    in Visual C++ 5.0, Visual Basic 5.0, and Visual Basic 3.0. This was when
    VC++ and VB were already well into the 6.0 versions. Prior to that, I had
    spent two years with a COBOL system using VSAM files, and prior to that,
    a smaller BASIC application running in DOS with flat files. Before that,
    more COBOL and some real old stuff, like DBASE III+. I had two goals in
    my job search. First, make more money. I was paid decently, but it sure
    seemed like the market was higher than where I was. Second, I wanted to
    "re-invent" myself from a mainframe developer to a client/server developer.

    I put my resume on a few Internet sites, and the phone started ringing off
    the hook. It was primarily recruiting firms, of course. They had seen that
    I had Visual C++ and Visual Basic, and that piqued their interest. But once
    they found out that I did not have a lot of experience with it, many of them
    didn't call back. I actually met a few recruiters, who told me I may have
    a hard time getting the salary I wanted (a 7K - 12K increase) with my particular
    experience.

    I also sent my resume to a few large companies through their web sites.
    I got a short phone interview from one, but that was it. I imagine they
    get flooded with resumes, because they seem to be a good place to work, with
    decent salaries and stable positions and good benefits.

    I had a few short phone interviews, and I ended up with actual interviews
    with two companies - one through a recruiter, one where the company found
    my resume. With the first company, I do believe I could have gotten the
    job. I just wasn't sure I wanted to drive that far to work at a really small
    company, so I decided not to pursue it further. With the second company,
    I actually had three separate interviews for three separate positions. It
    was a large financial firm who was hiring a lot of technical people. I think
    the recruiter for that company was overselling me - once I got to the interviews,
    I found out that they were looking for a real senior person who had been
    using the particular technology for a while. I decided not to pursue any
    more interviews with them, even though I think they would eventually have
    found a good match for me.

    By then I was kinda tired of the whole process, and I could see that it would
    be more difficult than I expected to make the change I wanted on my terms.
    Plus, I found a good opportunity within my company. Interestingly enough,
    they were looking just for people with *any* C++ experience. I joined the
    group, and honestly, I have been as strong a C++ coder as just about anyone,
    including people with a lot more experience. I've seen some people with
    very little coding experience whatsoever do fine, and I've seen a couple
    of people with lots of C++ experience fall on their face. One guy in particular
    - his resume looked great, he had actually taught C++ before, and he knew
    quite a bit about it. But he just could not write a program to solve the
    necessary business problems. Plus his code was unnecessarily complex and
    hard to maintain. I ended up totally rewriting one of his programs, and
    I made it a LOT better. So, that goes to show you that a killer resume does
    not necessarily mean that a person will do better on the job than someone
    with little relevant experience.

    But if you think about the whole interviewing process using examples from
    other parts of your life, you can see why the screening process is such a
    barrier. When I was getting calls and emails from 20 recruiters a day, I
    didn't have time to talk to each of them or meet each of them. I had a job
    to do, and I had a wife and kids to spend time with at night. If the phone
    rang and it was a recruiter, I would talk with them, but I did not return
    all the calls that were left on my voice mail. I may have missed out on
    the perfect opportunity by doing that. Also, when we got a new roof on our
    house, we talked with four roofers. There were probably several dozen we
    could have chosen from, and we may have gotten a better price or better quality.
    When we were getting tile in our bathroom, we didn't talk to everyone who
    could do it. We didn't look at every pediatrician in the city when we chose
    one. Most of the time, for most positions, a company just wants to find
    someone who can do the job, and they don't worry about finding the "perfect"
    candidate. Now if they're looking for a CEO or other officer, or if they
    desperately need someone with a hard-to-find and difficult-to-master skill,
    they'll try harder to find the perfect person. But most of the time, they
    want to fill the position as quickly and inexpensively as possible. They're
    willing to miss out on that "diamond in the rough" - the person who could
    develop into the perfect employee - if they can find someone who already
    has the skills needed for that position. They don't have the time or money
    to extensively interview everyone who applies - they find the people who
    best match the criteria and eliminate everyone else. By doing this, obviously
    they interview some people who are not a good fit at the expense of some
    people who would have been.

    Another part of interviewing is the dreaded technical interview. I hated
    knowing that my fate could be determined based on how well I answered a question
    that may not be relevant. But, they are a way of screening people out, and
    they can get rid of unqualified people. And, if you really know your stuff,
    they are not that difficult, provided you study a little bit before your
    interview. I guess part of my dislike for them was because I really didn't
    have a lot of experience to draw upon. I knew the terms - I had the book
    knowledge - but I couldn't relate it to actual work I had done. I actually
    did very well in most of my VB tech interviews. I did get tripped up on
    one because I expected it to be a short phone interview to tell me about
    the company and the position, but the interviewer started off by firing off
    technical questions, and I just wasn't prepared for that sort of interview.
    My C++ tech interview did not go as well because they asked some tough conceptual
    questions. I could answer them now, but really it did not mean that I could
    not have done the job. In my current position (where I did NOT have to endure
    a technical interview), I have done just fine without knowing that stuff
    coming in. I have learned it, but being able to learn something is a lot
    harder to quantify than actually knowing it.

    As of now, I'm fairly satisfied with my current situation. I live only four
    miles from work, and I could not work any closer. But I struggle with what
    I want to do, and the market is not particularly good right now (externally
    or internally).

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Based on my experiences, you may
    have some struggles, but you may find the perfect job too. Good luck!


  10. #10
    Bill Guest

    Re: General job search question


    Thanks for the info. I'm really not looking to re-invent myself by changing
    jobs - I'm honestly looking for an employer that values all-around skills.
    I have been able to use any technology that I have had to learn, even when
    I have no one to learn the technology or the actual application from.

    When I think of my ideal position, it always comes down to the smaller-scale
    development, where I can support a project from beginning to end, and where
    I get some say in the design and platform and architecture, as well as getting
    to do a considerable amount of coding. And in my current company, those people
    just don't get any of the glory. The projects are huge, and with big projects,
    anything can go wrong - budgets, egos, re-organizations, and so on. Plus,
    all the work is specialized. You have the architecture team, the design team,
    the coding team, the test team, and all the politics that go along with that.
    I work better when I am doing all that work myself on a smaller project.
    And honestly, a lot of people who thrive on the larger projects just could
    not handle the smaller ones, just as some who work better on the smaller
    ones do not thrive on the larger projects. I have had plenty of opportunities
    to do and observe both, and those who work primarily on smaller projects
    just don't get the same recognition. I'm not adverse to politics and dealing
    with people. I actually love working with the users of an application to
    determine what they need and want it to do, and I enjoy training them on
    the end product. On the large projects I have worked on, the direct interaction
    with the customers has been missing, and it has been a lot more acrimonious
    than what I have experienced on the smaller projects.

    I think I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens. I'll make use of
    my personal network too, as well as the conventional means. At least I have
    no urgency at this time. I've been studying VB.NET and C##, although I haven't
    had any opportunity to use them. I'm sure I can learn them as I go along
    - I have NEVER had any problem picking up new technology, as it never seems
    to be a radical change from anything else I have learned. If I have a good
    manual, I feel like I'll be set.

    Thanks everyone for the advice.

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