Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Good Job Hunting

Having just completed (successfully!) a fairly extensive job hunt, I feel obliged to report on the situation.

I set out to find a position with the title UI Designer. In today’s market, UI Designer really means UI Developer, which really means Web Developer, which, in turn, means Whatever We Have For You To Do Doer.1

To begin, I carefully considered all the factors that contribute to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. They are, in order or priority:
  1. Good coffee
  2. Interesting work
  3. Compensation and benefits
  4. Reasonably quiet, comfortable work environment
  5. Laudable enterprise goals and ethics
  6. Did I mention coffee?
With this list in mind, I began my search. I determined that the best job search engine was, except for, which is actually the best except for One key feature of is that it allows current and former employees to write reviews of a company, so you can read the scathing opinions of disgruntled exes who either left or were laid off or fired. This may or may not help you assess the company, but it’s an entertaining distraction.

Once you’ve narrowed down the options, you can apply online to these companies, using one or another automatic resume blocking service. These sites allow you to upload your carefully formatted resume, and then completely re-type it into various form fields. Be careful with these forms. If the job requires, for example, 8 years of experience with JavaScript, and you’ve had 7 years and 10 months, your application will be electronically shredded.

The surprise ending, though, is that the whole list of job satisfaction points that I so carefully compiled means nothing. Well, ok, not the coffee. But really, job satisfaction has little or nothing to do with office space or even compensation and benefits.

It’s really about challenge and accomplishment. You’ve got to have both of these. And in the right proportions. Too much challenge and you just feel frustrated all the time. Too much accomplishment is boring. The perfect balance is given by:

where A is some number having something to do with accomplishment, and C is some number having to do with … well, you get the idea. The point is that you need both. And you have to make it happen. Any job can start out great, but over time, as your skills and interests evolve, you’ll find ways to get involved in different things and grow into new roles.

And if you get stuck in a situation where you can’t do that … well, that’s why I started searching.

1Note that anything that could be construed as vaguely critical in this post emphatically does not apply to my current employer. My current employer is perfect!

1 comment:

Bill Costa said...

"And if you get stuck in a situation where you can’t do that … well, that’s why I started searching."

Sorry to hear that it has come to that point for you. My first programming job was at the University of New Hampshire 35 years ago and have been here ever since. Early on I applied for different positions within the department, but even that limited "job hunting" was more than 20 years ago. I have no doubt that today I would not survive the job hunt process if I had to look for a job in industry. I can't believe how fortunate I've been to have such a high level of job satisfaction and job security for so long. Even after all those years I still feel like they'll finally figure out I'm an incompetent fraud and kick me to the curb.