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#jobs-discuss
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2019-05-15
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Functional Miles08:05:53

Hey everyone, Miles from Functional Works here 🙂 I have another question for you: What do you look for when looking for a new position? -Is it the tech stack being used: Clojure, Clojurescript etc. -Is it management style? -Is it the ability to have working from home days? I'd be keen to get your thoughts. - Please comment in this thread 🙂

alexlynham09:05:51

- do they talk to users? - what’s the tech stack? - do they understand their problem area adequately? - is their product a good market fit? - what is the quality of the people that work there? - how do they handle and respond to change? - how long is their runway? (if applicable) - do they allow remote? (lower priority if they’re local to me)

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dharrigan09:05:00

- what are the immediate technical challenges being faced?

dharrigan09:05:16

- how is the software deployed?

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dharrigan09:05:42

- how long would it take to have a development environment up and running locally

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dharrigan09:05:08

- what OS(s) are permitted and what is the security/internet policy

dharrigan09:05:41

- what tools are permitted/used in development?

dharrigan09:05:11

- what ratio of time per week is allowed for self investigation/learning new stuff?

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shan09:05:57

- work/life balance, how often have people had to work overtime to hit a deadline milestone

alexlynham09:05:07

@dharrigan that’s a great final point. Many jobs have promised 10% time and not delivered on it… having the time to do your job properly is important

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dharrigan09:05:07

At my place of work, Fridays are usually self learning/presentations etc..

dharrigan09:05:37

Of course, if there is a production downtime etc.., (which very rarely happens), or a customer issue, then all-hands-at-the-pump

dharrigan09:05:58

but those don't happen that often. Fridays are a great time to learn and try out new stuff, which only feeds back to the company to improve things!

orestis12:05:07

Good stuff in here, I’m stealing these questions to make sure job openings have answers to them 🙂

3Jane13:05:24

all of these are actually immaterial to me…

3Jane13:05:43

I mean, they’re important if you’re running the business, but honestly? I don’t care if the work mandates this over that IDE

3Jane13:05:02

How about these: - what are the success criteria for the position? do they square with the employee’s values, personality, strengths? - where is the employee expected to end after working at the position for a year, two years, five years? Does the company even have a plan for developing its workers? - (on that note, does the company employ juniors?) - do the managers actively coach employees and sponsor employees’ development, or are you left to figure things out on your own? - are coworkers mostly supporting each other, or are they in direct competition? (eg stacked ranking) - do coworkers socialise (out of their own initiative, not company-mandated), or do they go home at 5pm?

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3Jane13:05:14

- what kind of behaviours are rewarded? (relevant presentation, “Being Glue” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KClAPipnKqw&amp;list=PLBzScQzZ83I_qiY6iuS-jHmp1QvdE8m5_&amp;index=9 or slides/writeup here: https://noidea.dog/glue )

dharrigan13:05:53

Oh I don't know. When I was interviewing for a new job, it was very important to me (for example) on how the software was deployed and how long it would take me to run up a local development environment.

dharrigan13:05:28

To say all of those questions are immaterial may be fine for you, but for others some may have relevance.

dharrigan13:05:38

Some may be useful for others

dharrigan13:05:11

I think each developer looking to join a company has to make the choices (to them) which questions they need to ask

3Jane13:05:14

For the day to day quality of life, yes. For a career, in the next position you will not be able to take your dev env with you, but you will carry the contacts.

3Jane13:05:26

anyway, sure (updated above to reflect that they’re immaterial to me, but this is genuinely career advice I would give someone, from the perspective of 10 years and 4 companies in)

dharrigan13:05:46

I don't know. I seem to have had a pretty good career, and have very little to worry about contacts - mostly I've found jobs via normal means and being good at what I do.

dharrigan13:05:51

Of course, YMMV.

dharrigan13:05:52

I also find that in the past 4 roles I've been in, I have been able to take my environment with me, since I tend to filter for companies that only work with Linux and the JVM.

dharrigan13:05:12

Thus, the setup - in terms of env has pretty much been the same.

dharrigan13:05:53

Give me a terminal, vim and a nice monitor, and I'm happy 🙂

orestis13:05:29

What about collaboration? Do you care about pair-programming, mob-programming, code reviews, pull requests etc?

dharrigan13:05:01

Code Reviews yes, Pull Requests yes, everything else <meh>

dharrigan13:05:53

I think alot of agile is just cargo-cult tbh.

alexlynham14:05:06

@lady3janepl Being Glue blew my mind

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3Jane14:05:57

it was the kind of thing I wish someone showed me multiple years ago

alexlynham14:05:04

@orestis gp - I often ask about pairing because companies who never pair (e.g. through a hard bug in a critical place) is a red flag, companies who always pair is a red flag (for me, ymmv as always)

3Jane14:05:23

(I’m the kind of person who picks up essential things others ignore, for the good of the team… with predictable results.)

3Jane14:05:21

re pairing, i’d say this is one of those things where you have to make sure a position is appropriate for the employee personality

3Jane14:05:06

Things like extraversion, noise sensitivity, performance stress, preferred working hours (I know people who work best at 7am, and some who start around noon and do best work around midnight.) Unfortunately a lot of that is not surfaced in job ads. I wonder why - it would make it possible for companies to stand out on quality of life (because different characteristics make up “quality of life” for different people).

alexlynham14:05:52

> (I’m the kind of person who picks up essential things others ignore, for the good of the team… with predictable results.) yep, & then you burn out and leave (well, I did anyway, haha) > re pairing, i’d say this is one of those things where you have to make sure a position is appropriate for the employee personality 👍 💯 so much this watching somebody with anxiety or extreme introversion having to pair with the wrong person is like cruel and unusual punishment > Things like extraversion… I often wonder if companies have literally never thought of this, although obv some movement in our sector on working hours

Drew Verlee15:05:57

What would be the wrong way vs right way?

alexlynham14:05:06

sometimes I’ve found senior people who manage others that have literally not ever understood the meaning of the terms ‘introvert’ and extrovert’

alexlynham14:05:20

& you explain it and they go ‘whoa okay’

3Jane14:05:29

I mean… people that I know who know about these things fall into these categories: 1) studied psychology 2) have been in therapy / counselling 3) are married to a therapist / counsellor 4) have been to manager training 5) very sharp HR people, but zero tech training, so kept out of tech recruitment

3Jane14:05:35

so what do you expect?

3Jane14:05:41

Managers at small companies that I know have been promoted and are evaluated based on project management.

3Jane14:05:15

I know one manager at a huge company that’s been sent to managerial training, and who has a degree that included psychology and sociology, and he’s knowledgeable, but culturally, this is neither common knowledge, nor, I think, even perceived as a necessary thing in companies. Having people fill out Myers-Briggs (basically a horoscope in terms of scientific reliability) is as far as it goes.

alexlynham14:05:53

> (basically a horoscope in terms of scientific reliability) 😂

chrstphrhrt14:05:15

just wanna say this is a sweet community, having just joined and read in this channel a bit.. people seem pretty down to earth compared to e.g. HN machismo

3Jane14:05:07

welcome! (also whispers love your cat 😄 )

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3Jane14:05:24

come for the brackets, stay for the ( community )

chrstphrhrt14:05:43

on the topic of being glue, how does one avoid falling hard into a funk of "I TOLD YOU SO" and resentment? has anyone ever recovered from glue-based burnout and stayed at the same co?

3Jane14:05:31

She’s got some advice at the end of the presentation. I’ve personally seen people negotiate their own title/position (successfully, but sponsorship was required), people converting glue work into a lead position (again, sponsorship was required), and also people plain stopping glue work.

orestis14:05:48

Love the term glue work

orestis14:05:49

Thankfully my org values it when I do it but I’m not sure what would happen if a less technical or junior member would do the same

3Jane14:05:55

tldr my opinion on glue work is, if you don’t have support of someone with more pull who recognises the value of the work you’ve done, you’re screwed. Even if you learn to advocate for yourself, if you don’t fit into what your company rewards, they will not be able to justify rewarding you.

Aleksander14:05:33

on similar topic but from different perspective I’ve found this very useful/interesting: https://medium.com/@skamille/opp-other-peoples-problems-d7eb174724ee

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3Jane14:05:56

that is an excellent description of why all companies are somewhat broken 😄

orestis14:05:59

I’ve found that small tech companies can really struggle with culture, just because management and culture can be very adhoc and de facto.

orestis14:05:12

And even trying to make it explicit is hard if you don’t have budget to hire a manager in the first place...

Drew Verlee14:05:56

I worry the resulting actions from these types of polls put the horse before the cart. You should worry about the wellbeing of of your employees because for example, sleep loss had a well studied and proven significant effect as opposed to say, python vs Ruby. What I mean is, if your trying to hire you need to stick to what works and either educate or ignore what doesn't. Put another way, if you don't believe and understand the reasons why people want certain things it's unlikely that your culture will be able to adopt them correctly.

orestis15:05:35

The issue is, just saying in a job post that you value employee well being is pretty vague. Asking about some specific practices makes things more concrete.

dharrigan14:05:57

I 100% agree with the pair programming sentiments above. Far far far too often I've seen people pair with others (in a sort of its-expected-of-you) that have completely different work patterns/personality etc...always ends in tears.

alexlynham14:05:49

I saw somebody forced to pair with the same person for 7 weeks or something nuts, they didn’t gel and the more junior person burned out

orestis15:05:21

Same pair for seven weeks??? That’s rough. My experience was changing pairs every day.

Drew Verlee15:05:27

I feel like the specific context matters more then the length of time.

orestis15:05:53

We did mobbing this week and so far it’s working really well to spread knowledge and share culture. Also much less constraining as people have their own laptops and can do a mini spike or lookup things.

dharrigan15:05:31

As this is Clojure, and taking a leaf out of RH's book:

dharrigan15:05:39

a noun:

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dharrigan15:05:44

a disorderly or riotous crowd of people.

dharrigan15:05:49

a crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence.

orestis15:05:10

The name is terrible. But there is value in the practice, for certain contexts and needs.

danm07:05:49

We've mobbed before occasionally and had it work well, but generally we pair

danm07:05:48

I almost left my last team when I had to pair with that one toxic person, that a lot of larger teams seem to have, for about a month and a half. Then I got moved away and managed to avoid pairing with them for over 2 years

danm07:05:58

(Then I left the team for unrelated reasons)

danm07:05:32

But my experience is that you pair for the duration of a sprint, or the duration of a ticket if working in a Kanban-y way

alexlynham08:05:32

yeah that sounds about right

alexlynham15:05:57

@dev964 this bit from that article really rang true: > Going through this exercise of solving an unowned problem is fun once in a while, but it’s a real drag when you feel like you’re surrounded by such problems, you can’t ignore them, and you’re powerless to fix them. That is a good sign that it’s time to find a new job, preferably somewhere that is more in tune with your way of doing things. Life is so much more fun when you have people around you that you trust to solve problems, even the problems you have a lot of opinions about.

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3Jane16:05:48

this exactly because of something else I’ve encountered recently

3Jane16:05:15

TLDR: 1. Lack of control 2. Insufficient reward 3. Lack of community 4. Absence of fairness 5. Conflict in values 6. Work overload

alexlynham16:05:29

wow, that’s p spot on

3Jane16:05:35

the quote hits several of those

3Jane16:05:13

I’ve always thought of burnout as “work overload” and couldn’t figure out why certain environments were such a bad fit despite a reasonable workload. Now I know what to point to.