Anatomy of Julie's Job Search: Retrospecting
My approach to looking for work is an exhausting, stressful full-time job. After months of preparing, interviewing, and making decisions, all I want is to be done. However, there's one more stage to complete before I'm truly finished. I need to reflect on how the process went and what I learned from it. Future Julie will appreciate it the next time I do this...hopefully in the distant future.
The retrospective is the most informal part of my job search because it's mostly for me. Every other stage of the process is deeply intertwined with my ability to get a new job. I get to do the retro after I've finished all that hard stuff and signed a job offer. I can relax a little and think about how it all went.
I try to complete the retrospective within a couple weeks of signing an offer, so everything is still relatively fresh in my mind. This stage is kind of the inverse of the reflection I did at the beginning of my search. The retrospective helps me process what happened, learn from it, release some stress, and move forward.
I don't have a standard template for retrospectives, but they usually include answers to questions like:
- What did I do?
- What went well?
- What didn't go well?
- What did I learn?
- What do I want to change next time?
I say it's mostly for me, but I do usually publish a retrospective on my personal site. I feel an obligation to share the results after doing my search publicly, so people can learn from it. Below are links to the retrospective posts from my previous job searches.
I'm still working on the retrospective for my 2022 job search. I'm hoping to publish it within the next few days. Stay tuned!
As I've noted throughout this series, the public part of my process is pretty specific to me and my situation. The same thing goes for publishing a public version of my retrospective. I do my best to be careful, but the amount of honesty could risk some professional consequences. I'm very careful not to identify companies to the general reader, but it's plausible that interviewers can identify their companies in the stories (sometimes this ends well).
Just like the reflecting stage, the public part of my process may not be for most people, but the introspection part is good for just about everybody. Thinking about what went well, what didn't, and where you want you to improve is critical to getting better at interviewing. There isn't really a right or wrong way to reflect after your job search. The important part is that you do it.
I don't have any general takeaways for employers on this stage because it isn't really for you. That said, I highly recommend reading my public retrospectives. I tend to share a lot of honest feedback about interviewing that you cannot get from most candidates because they're afraid of how it may impact future job prospects. As I've said throughout this series, hiring for software engineers is kind of broken. Maybe you'll get some ideas that help you fix it a little.