Applying for Jobs and the Agile Job Search

I’ve written before about how I approach recruitment and I’ve even given a talk on it, but recently I’ve been on the other side looking for my next role.

There are some parts of my own recruitment process I will definitely be improving as I now understand more about the things matter to an applicant.

Firstly, waiting for feedback after applying can feel like forever.  I’ve previously waited weeks before contacting people for interviews, despite getting feedback later that this was a long time!  I will now try and give feedback within 3 working days of receiving an application (and will commit to that in any automated responses that I might send to an applicant).

The next thing I experienced was how you really need to sell the company and you should involve everyone in this process.  I was put off by grumpy receptionists, untidy buildings and late starts to interviews.  All things that I might have previously considered minor, but with other items appearing equal then they could have made the difference!

The interview questions that are asked also reflect the company.  For some roles I engaged in pair programming to test my technical knowledge, others I was asked about more obscure areas of C++.

The biggest issue I have with interview questions and a question I often ask myself, is what insight do I get if someone answers incorrectly?  The opposite is easy, if I ask about virtual destructors in C++ and I get a good answer then I have learnt something about their C++ knowledge, but if they don’t answer very well then what have I gained?  Do I really need someone who already knows this information or would I be happy spending 5 minutes explaining the answer and having someone who can learn?  Unless you really must have someone with this knowledge then you either haven’t asked a question that helps you evaluate, or you could be turning away a lot of suitable candidates.

Johanna Rothman has often written about how the shortage of skilled workers is being made worse by poor recruitment practices.  She suggests hiring for cultural fit and helping people gain the skills they need to fill the role.  After all, when I was looking for a new role, I was looking for somewhere that could also offer growth for my own career not somewhere where I already knew everything.

To give myself a boost in my job search, I attended a 1 day seminar in London with Johanna Rothman.  I’ve since bought her book, which is also highly recommended.

The course itself ran with an agile approach, being tailored towards the people on the course.  It was an amazing day, not only was Johanna brilliant, but the encouragement and support from the other 3 attendees was an unexpected and powerful bonus.

Whilst I didn’t put too much of Johanna’s headline ideas into practice, I can see how well they would work and I often stumbled into the mistakes they were designed to avoid.

Some wise words proved very wise later; Johanna said that getting a new job is hard, and there will be many ups and downs along the way.  I had moments of positive feedback and exciting roles to apply for, but also many lows of rejection and frustration.  I especially disliked that feeling of not being in control – I knew I wanted a new job, but couldn’t find anything suitable to apply for or was unable to progress roles I had already applied for.

I also found that I shouldn’t rely on other people to progress my application, especially recruitment agencies.  Despite getting automated acknowledgements to say they had received my application, I still found they’d gone missing when I chased a few days later!  Keeping a list of what I’d applied for, through which contact and agreed next steps would have been a lot smoother if I’d written it down rather than trying to keep it in my head!  Sorry Johanna!

The one part of my job search that I couldn’t get working, despite Johanna’s advice was in finding roles to apply for.  There’s a lot of research that suggests many roles are not advertised and are filled by people meeting the hiring manager, but I didn’t manage to find them.  Instead, I found a daily search of Indeed to be the most effective.  I was able to setup about a dozen searches and check for new entries in each of those categories easily each day.  This was made even easier using the Indeed phone app.  I also setup an rss feed from stackoverflow careers, which has some amazing jobs, but I didn’t find many in the locations I was looking for.

Most roles were advertised through recruitment agencies, and I ended up uploading my CV to cwjobs and jobsite in order to apply for a lot of them.  This in turn triggered a lot of contact from other agencies for other roles.

I’m pleased to say that I have found a new role and I’m really enjoying it.  It’s always sad to leave somewhere, especially as I’ve been there for so long and have personally recruited so many of the great people who work there, but the time was right for a new challenge.


About Big_GH

Currently employed as a Software Development Consultant with over 30 years experience with computing. Started writing BASIC programs on the Commodore VIC 20, C64 and Amiga before switching to C and C++. Now spends more time helping others with their software and looking after the "bigger picture".
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