Don’t worry…or maybe don’t get excited, depending on who you are – I’m very happy at M&S and am not looking for a new job. At least not at the moment.
But there was a time last year where I was starting to get bored of doing the same old thing, I was increasingly aware that I could be paid significantly more elsewhere and be working with more modern technology.
I had a bad week, got drunk one night and changed my status on LinkedIn, along with uploading my details to Hired, which is basically where techies are headhunted by companies directly.
Now I’m still at M&S, have been promoted to senior (may have mentioned to certain people that I had some interviews), am being paid more (albeit I can still earn significantly more elsewhere) and am working on a pretty cool project, built in Next, React, TypeScript and styled-components. Oh and I’m front-end team-leader, but I feel that means more to delivery folk than it does to me.
So what did I learn?
1. Be Prepared
Believe it or not, deciding to change your LinkedIn status one night when drunk, without having updated your LinkedIn profile, CV, personal portfolio or Github account for 2-3 years, isn’t helpful.
It still didn’t stop me receiving around 100 approaches from different recruiters/companies over the course of a week, but there was then a disconnect between what was on paper, and the skills and experience I professed on phone/video screens.
2. Learn To Say No
I’ve kind of been schooled from many holidays to Ibiza that the answer is always “yes”, plus generally I think I’m kind-hearted, so I found it hard to say no to offers of interviews – especially given that some recruiters can be a tad pushy.
I agreed to far too many phone screens, often doing 2-3 a day, whilst working full-time, trying to exercise, have a social life, my side-projects and having fun on a weekend.
I found myself going into them unprepared, and then drifting away when they started talking about their mission and wondering why the hell I’d agreed to yet another phone screen.
Only agree to speak to companies and/or roles that really do appeal.
3. Have The Time
Looking for a new role in summer, at the height of my social calendar – especially given that it was covid re-opening season too, was another dumb idea.
Phone screens were getting in the way of my work and getting in the way of my social life. I quickly came to begrudge them. And I dropped out as soon as anyone dared suggest a coding challenge – if I was struggling to find time for a 30 minute phone screen then finding 2, 3, 6 hours – whatever it was – to actually write some code was impossible.
To look for a job properly, I need to be able to commit my schedule to it – keep my social calendar empty – or even better do it in January/February when I’m detoxing and can put my full non-work energy into it.
4. Know What You Want
Another issue I had was that I didn’t really know what I wanted. Well, I wanted more money, I wanted an interesting mission and the opportunity to work on a more modern tech stack.
But that still didn’t really define what I wanted, in an ocean of opportunities – bear in mind I had around 100 approaches in a pretty short space of time.
Who am I as an engineer? What do I see my career path as? What do I really, really want to work on?
I’m closer to the answers now, but back in 2021 when I had my little fling with the jobs market, I didn’t really know. Plus – most of the more interesting roles required React experience, and at the time, I didn’t have any.
So, in conclusion – be prepared, have the time and know what you want.
I guess if I were to leave M&S before I get bored, then it would have to reach quite a wide range of criteria – the company ethos must suit me, the project must be interesting (so many dull projects out there), the tech stack must be modern, they mustn’t expect me to ever come into the office bar special events and I will need to be paid more. Oh and they will need to be happy with me working in another country if I fancy.
Gosh I’m demanding, aren’t I? But I can be. I’ve worked my ass off to get these highly in-demand skills, and still am doing so. Even today, on the Jubilee bank holiday weekend, I’m studying, learning and coding. Well, I was until I started writing this…well…finishing this post that I started writing last year.
I might even start re-building this shabby portfolio site soon. But what to build it in? Frontity?