Anatomy of Julie's Job Search
This is the introductory post for an ongoing series about my approach to searching for a software engineering job. Check out the anatomy of a job search tag or the stages of the job search section for links to the current posts in the series.
I am in the early stages of a new job search (hire me!). This is my third time looking for a job very publicly using a reverse job posting. It worked well for me last time, so I am doing it yet again.
It has been encouraging to see other people adapt and remix my idea to work for their own situations over the years. After getting more questions about my process (in specific) and interviewing (in general), I realized I could share more insights that might be helpful. However, I struggled with how to frame it. A lot of my approach works because of a combination of experience, privilege, and luck (not necessarily in that order). Would it really be helpful for me to share advice that would only work for a small number of other engineers later in their careers?
I ruminated on this. Probably too much. I overthink things. This is part of why I am good at my job. I can tease apart the pieces in a system and think about how they work together. When I dug into my opinions about job searching, I found more than just advice for the very experienced engineer. My first public job search was in 2015 when I was much earlier in my career. I helped people in varying roles and experience look for jobs in the past. Maybe I could be helpful to a wider audience? Also, I wanted to practice writing during my summer break.
As I started working on this, I quickly realized my thoughts on job searching are based on an implicit mental model built over decades. I needed to deconstruct that model and translate it into something explicit that I could write down and share with others. The result is a series of posts that I will be publishing as I go through my current job search.
I identified three audiences for these posts. I will do my best to provide information for all of them, but not necessarily in equal amounts.
- Future Julie ("my process" & "why it works for me"): All of this hard work overanalyzing my thoughts to make the implicit explicit is not solely a philanthropic endeavor. Documenting something helps me retrospect on what worked in the past and reproduce it in the future. The "my process" section of each post will summarize my approach to that part of the job search. I will use the "why it works for me" section to call out the specifics of my situation and underscore that this is not an off-the-shelf tool for others to use as is.
- Job searchers ("takeaways for job searchers"): My approach to job searches is not a one-size-fits-all tool. In fact, it could be counterproductive for people in different situations. The "takeaways for job searchers" section in each post will attempt to extract generalized ideas that others could potentially adapt into their own approaches. These takeaways are not only for later career engineers, but they are more focused on people already in the industry. I don't have great insight or advice about breaking into tech with your very first job.
- Employers ("takeaways for employers"): Employers are the other half of the job search. Hiring software engineers is notoriously time consuming and difficult, especially for more experienced engineers. The "takeaways for potential employers" section in each post will call out information that may be interesting to engineering managers, recruiters, and other people looking to hire me or other engineers.
After over-analyzing my process, I broke it into seven stages. These are roughly in order, but I often return to steps and go through them many times throughout a job search. I plan to write about one post for each stage and publish them as I'm going through that stage in my current job search.
- Reflecting - Reflecting on what I want out of my next job.
- Preparing - General preparation for my job search.
- Sourcing - The searching part of my job search.
- Screening - Evaluating jobs for a potential fit.
- Interviewing - The
gauntlet of "onsite" interviews.
- Preparing - Getting ready for interviews.
- Deciding - Evaluating offers and making decisions.
- Retrospecting - Learning from my job search.
These posts touch on a complex subject that can impact people's livelihoods, so I would like to provide a few disclaimers both for clarification and to avoid liability.
- As mentioned in the post above, my approach to job searching works because of my privilege and experience. It is NOT RECOMMENDED to be used as an off-the-shelf solution for most people.
- My posts will be US-centric because I have lived and worked in the United States for my entire life.
- My advice is focused on people who are already in the industry. I don't have insight or advice about breaking into tech with your very first job.
- The advice that I call out for "job searchers" is an attempt to generalize information that MAY be useful for others. People have a wide variety of experiences and situations, so it would be difficult-to-impossible to provide advice that is helpful for everyone. Your mileage may vary.
- The information in these posts is provided "as is" with no express or implied warranty of any kind. No liability is assumed for incidental or consequential damages in connection with or arising out of the use of the information contained herein. Use the information and instructions contained in this series of posts at your own risk.