Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nice Work, if You Can Get It

Current Job

And now for the latest on workplace foibles.

My coworker and I have deduced that our two fearless founders have been employing a two-pronged strategy for survival.

On one end, they are trying to find a venture captial fund that will give the some money. They seem to have found one over on the east coast, and they spent a good chunk of last week over that way.

On the other end, they are trying to secure a deal with a guy who is bent on becoming a digital content distribution overlord. It would be more of an IT services consulting gig that might help us work some on the core product, but this is more about money than mission. They are spending a couple days in Tinseltown this week having meetings on this front.

We think that the founders want the first option more than the second, but we also think that deep down, the CTO would rather do the consulting gig because it's closer to his occupational roots.

Up in the air is whether the second option forces a company relocation. My coworker said that the CTO was scoping out schools for his kids, which suggests to me that they might be headed out that way if this deal goes through. Also, when then went out to lunch last week, the CEO asked my coworker if he would be open to moving to the West Coast.

I just finished a big round of testing, debugging, and rewriting of code for their next release. Now I'm migrating a bunch of settings from the prior version so that we can get it rolled out to a semi-paying customer on the West Coast. Our CTO has yet to get us a testing environment set up over there. So this may well turn out to be a situation of hurry-up-and-wait.

Job Search 3.0

About a week and a half ago, I updated my resume and put it up on the big boards. Phone calls and e-mails aplenty. I've also put my name in a few places both here and around the country.

I applied for a position with a really big computer company, often associated with the color blue, that is supposed to be local to this area. It would be a really cool job, writing and porting scientific research software to their way out, super powerful CPU. It's the same one used in a big name game console. Big name, no relocation, interesting work, bleeding edge technology, and good pay... what's not to love. Trouble is, their job application process is one of those standardized web forms, and I have no idea whether anyone has seen my resume. I don't even have a phone number or e-mail address of someone I can bug over there.

I have another lead, which is a 3 - 5 month contract position here locally. I did a phone interview with the manager and one of the developers last week. They want me to talk to another manager on Friday. I suspect that one might be mine for the taking, but there's some misgivings.

First, it's not a job that would lead to a permanent hire. They are simply enhancing a warehouse management system to handle additional customers, and once the job is done, they won't need me.

Second, it's on a mainframe, and it's pure C. While it might result in some enhancement of skills, the skills are legacy technologies, not forward looking ones.

One nice "in" for the lead is that my brother happens to work there as a network administrator. He knows the guys in management and in software development. The managers are OK guys, according to him, but he says he stays away from the developers because both of them are kind of bizarre.

The lead with the local IP telephony company is officially dead as of late last week. I found out from the recruiter that they want someone with more .NET Framework experience.

The recruiter said she knew of another lead at another company in town who was looking for a C++ programmer, and she said she would send my name their way. I got a call the next day, and I set up an interview with them on Tuesday. They are a company that makes CNC machine tools, and they were looking for someone to work on the software that is used to program their lathe.

I think I've seen ads for this kind of position on job boards for over a year now, albeit through a different company. I never applied because their desired skill list didn't exactly mesh well with mine.

The interview went quickly. I met with an Executive Vice President and a couple of software engineering managers. They quizzed me briefly on my resume and had me talk about a code sample to see if I could figure out what it was doing. The EVP decided that I didn't need to take an online C++ programming test, and he sent the other two managers to give me a tour of the facilities.

During the tour, I got another code sample to comment on, and they showed me what the software interface looked like. After about 20 minutes or so, one of the managers got paged by the HR director, and we went to her office. She told me that they wanted to make me an offer. I got a lowball value from them and worked them up some. I have until the end of business on Thursday to answer.

Maybe I'm becoming a snob, but I've become leery of any job interview process that doesn't run me through the meat grinder enough. One hour of face time really isn't much of an introduction, and the fact that HR was ready to make an offer without having the two software development managers consult on it in the meantime raised red flags. Maybe that's the way they do things? Maybe they're desperate to find someone? The company is doing well, but my gut is in a bit of a knot over it.

I took a programming test for a hedge fund up in Chicago, but they said that my score wasn't high enough. They said I could apply again in six months. I suspect they are like the investment trading software company that uses a threshold well into the 90th percentile to sift out applicants. At that point, you're just judging people on how much C++ trivia they know, but that's their prerogative.

I've been recruited aggressively by this firm that does both consulting and software development in the finance sector. They originally approached me regarding positions in the Big Apple, including the one company whose interview I canceled out on at the end of January.

I took a C++ programming test and a logic programming quiz at her request and did well on both of them. She said she would vet my my resume with her client. Then later on she came back and wondered if I would be interested in a position working for them in a big town on the west end of the Keystone State. She said they had just opened up a new development office there. I said I would be willing to consider it.

So I went through two technical phone screens. One was targeted towards my knowledge of systems programming. The second was an algorithm design problem a la some of the hour long phone interviews that I did for companies in the Pacific Northwest. I have survived both of those rounds. Next comes a phone interview with the manager at the office on Thursday afternoon. If I pass muster there, I get to fly in for an on-site interview.

On the advice of a loyal and esteemed blog reader, I applied for a position at a company that she knew was looking for talent. I found an opening on their website that covered some stuff I had worked on recently. I got a response, and I did a phone interview last night. It was a half hour technical screen, and while I wasn't able to answer every question perfectly (there were some doozies), the guy said he really enjoyed talking to me and is recommending that I come out to their offices on the West Coast for an interview. I need to figure out what day to go. I'm thinking at the end of a week, so I don't have to suffer the wrath of the Red Eye.

I've been approached by another recruiter representing a search engine based in this metro area. This is the second time in a year that I've been approached. I'm not sure if they're still as much of a train wreck as what they were last fall, but I might bite just to see what I can get.

This morning, I got a call from a recruiter representing the large manufacturer of printing devices located down in the eastern Bluegrass State. She is most likely going to forward my resume to a couple of managers there. They would be long term contract positions, but the benefits would be nice.

I'm quickly approaching the overwhelm point, so I probably need to throttle back a bit on leads to pursue. Once again, it seems like I have better luck with leads where I'm approached rather than the ones I apply for.
blog comments powered by Disqus