Why I Haven’t Quit My Job Yet

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in blog | 0 comments

I have been very negative about my job lately. In fact I’ve even posted about applying for other positions. At the end of the day my job is not terrible and could certainly be worse. I realize I am better off than many of the people I went to High School with and I’m thankful for that. In the spirit of the approaching new year, and not being so negative all the time, I thought I would post some of the reason I like my current position.

  1. I get to work remotely. This is the absolute biggest benefit there is for me. When I drive in to work my commute is brutal. I could spend anywhere from 3-5 hour commuting round trip. Not to mention that I’m much more productive when I work at home. I have a problem with sounds distracting me when I’m trying to concentrate. When you’re in an office environment it’s almost impossible for there not to be a distraction.
  2. I get experience working with customers in all different types of business. I basically work with one product but when it comes to businesses I get to work with a diverse group. This also means I get to interact with people at some of the top companies in the world and get my name out there. This gives me an opportunity to have a network of people who know my work that can vouch for me if I’m looking for a position in the future.
  3. Job security. I work for one of the largest tech companies in the world. I’m in a group that is just at the beginning of what is possible and we will be growing for the foreseeable future. While some groups within the business are being affected by layoffs, my group is immune for the moment. A bit of stability is nice in the current market conditions. As far as job security goes the tech industry is still very strong.
  4. I get paid a decent amount. Compared to the area I live in I make about 2-3x the average salary. That’s not bad for a someone in their 20′s with an Associates Degree. It’s also nice to know that I will be paid the exact same amount each month. I’ve always wanted to not have to work for a company but I’ve also experience the ups and downs of income when you run your own business. Boom and bust is not that much fun.
  5. Tuition Reimbursement. My company has a program that offers to pay up to $5200 per year towards schooling. I’ve heard it’s much more difficult to get approval for this type of thing now, but the program still exists. Since I’ve applied for other jobs and been denied based on my education I might have to take advantage of this program. The only stipulations seem to be that you have to maintain a satisfactory level as far as job duties go. You have to be employed for the entire length of your school plus two additional years. If I could get approval for this it would basically guarantee I would stay with the company for another 5 years.
  6. Benefits. They were much better when we were a startup, but they still aren’t as bad as they could be. Health care is expensive but at least I have decent insurance.

 

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Feelings vs Facts

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in blog | 0 comments

I have a therapist and I’m not really afraid to admit that. There is nothing wrong with admitting you have problems and attempting to fix them. During a recent session she introduced me to a concept of Truth versus Belief as far as human thinking goes. I’m sure there is probably some name for this concept but I’m no psychologist.

truth_belief

The idea is that there are some people who react to situations based on the truth of the situation with no regard for beliefs. Some people react based on a belief they have and exclude the truth. Smart people can use both truth and belief to asses a situation and make their decision from a position of knowledge. Another way I like to think about this is facts vs feelings.

facts_feelings

 

The people strictly on the ‘feeling’ side of this diagram I think of as those with empathy or you may say they are over emotional. The people strictly on the ‘facts’ side of the diagram tend to be my bosses. I’m half joking but they seem to only consider the facts of a decision without regard for feelings. The people who can harness both facts and feelings can make decisions based on the reality of a situation. My therapist says that I tend to be on the ‘feelings’ side of this diagram and I agree. She wasn’t the first person to point this out to me.

I also tend to think the type of people who are strictly stuck in the feelings side are the types of people who could be considered to have impostor syndrome. I’ve actually thought that I may have this. Basically if you have impostor syndrome you think that you are awful. A failure. You only got where you are because you are lucky. You wake up everyday expecting to be fired. Most people when given a self-evaluate tend to rate themselves highly. You underrate yourself. The reason you think like this is because you can’t see the facts. You can’t see the facts that prove you are not an impostor. You disregard that there are no facts proving that you are an impostor because the feelings overwhelm your freaking brain.

Last winter I took a business development class known as 30×500. It’s a class about developing and selling products. Not only that: it’s a class about developing and selling products that people actually want to buy. It was started by self proclaimed ‘product crusader’ Amy Hoy. If you don’t know Amy I suggest you check out her website unicorn free.

Anyway, the reason I mention Amy is because she was actually the first person that pointed out I live in the land of feelings (long before I saw a therapist – send me a bill Amy!). I was struggling with audience selection. I couldn’t decide what market I wanted to start researching. I sent several emails to the mailing list for the class with excuses and barriers to why I couldn’t choose an audience. She pointed out that everything I mention was a feeling. You see everything in 30×500 revolves around cold hard facts or evidence. You find evidence that someone is having a problem. You find evidence that it’s a huge pain point in their life. You find evidence that these people will actually pay for a product. You use the evidence to come up with a product to solve this terrible problem. There are no feelings except for the feelings of pain that your customers have. When you connect the facts that you discover with the feelings your customers have you can deliver a real killer product.

Several of my classmates have had overwhelming success. Some have not yet but I can see they are on the path to success. I haven’t shipped my first product yet but I am one step closer because I am starting to understand that the only barrier is myself.

P.S. I ran out of sweet venn diagrams to draw. In what part of the chart does your thinking usually occur? 

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I’m not qualified for a support position

Posted by on Dec 6, 2013 in blog | 4 comments

I’ve been doing the same job for almost four years now. I’m not the type of person that generally is complacent in any position. Even if I like a job, I’ll still browse jobs ads. Why? Because as long as other opportunities exist I’m going to be on the look-out. That being said I was browsing a popular tech recruiting site and found a job I thought that I would be good at. Even if I wasn’t hired I thought for sure I could get an interview.

The position was for a “Support Engineer” at a local company that was left nameless (because that’s how recruiters roll). I took at look at the qualifications:

  • Product Support Engineer with 1+ years of experience [check]
  • Solid understanding of web technologies [check]
  • Working knowledge of HTML5 and CSS3 [check]
  • Experience with Objective-C [need work here]
  • Computer Science degree or similar [check]

Based on the requirements I meet 4 out of 5 of the important criteria. I clicked ‘Apply’, spent about 15 minutes filling out the required questionnaire, and then sat back an waited. A few days later I get a response.

We appreciate your application and the time you took to review the job description and apply. Unfortunately, your background isn’t exactly what our client is looking for at this time.

I’ve applied for at least ten position via this website and I’m used to getting canned responses like this, but this time I really didn’t understand why. So I emailed the recruiter and asked why. The response I got:

The client is looking for someone with a bachelors degree and you only have an associates degree.

I understand the importance of a degree, but I applied for a position requiring 1 year of support experience and that didn’t even list that a B.S. was a requirement. Knowing that this is the reason I was not even invited to a phone call with the recruiter caused mixed emotions. First I was upset, but then I was relieved that they were basing the decision on something as arbitrary as two years of schooling when I have over eight years of experience in this field. It was kind of a relief that it wasn’t that the recruiter thought my past history wasn’t enough to do the job. It was that he thought my education wasn’t enough to do the job and he is wrong.

Let me explain why I think passing me up as a candidate was a mistake.

  1. I’ve been employed without a single break since I was 15. This includes working full time while I went to my 2 year tech school. Actually the reason I went to a 2 year school is because I needed to be able to fit in a full time job. If anything this shows that I am a dedicated worker.
  2. I started my first job at 15 bagging groceries. I worked my way up through every single job that store had to offer until finally I informed them I was going to quit. I had just finished my degree and was off to start a technical career. The regional director was upset because he knew what kind of employee I was. He tried to get me into the management training program but I respectfully declined. His last attempt to keep me was going to the CEO and telling him that they needed to move me to a corporate IT job because they didn’t want to lose me. I worked my first corporate IT support job for almost two years. I supported 17 different location with a team of 5 people.
  3. I left that job to take a support role for FedEx. For over 3 years I was responsible for making sure your packages ended up at your door. I was in charge of several mission critical applications 24 hours a day. This was one of the most stressful positions I have ever worked. If you know anything about logistics and shipping, this time of year is hell. I gained a ton of experience debugging all different types of applications and databases. This is a perfect example of 3 quality years in a support role.
  4. I left FedEx to join a search startup, Vivisimo, as a consultant. I spent every single day working directly with customers on projects. A typical day has me configuring and customizing software, finding and filing bugs, working with our developers to get a solution, and/or creating a work around if the customer needs things to work immediately. I’d say this is another 3 years of customer support experience.
  5. Our startup gets acquired by IBM. Now I’m a consultant on IBM’s Big Data team. I’m basically still doing the job I was before the acquisition but this is even more experience with one of the biggest tech firms in the world. Add another year to the tally.
  6. On top of all of that I ran my own marketing company, by myself, while working other jobs. At one point I was bringing in more money per month than these positions offer per year.

I have about 9 years of experience in customer facing support roles. To be told that I wouldn’t be considered based on my education is an insult. If you’re a recruiter that would consider a fresh college graduate with a 4 year degree for this position, over someone who has about 9 years of proven experience, then you are not a very good recruiter.

In the end the company is the big loser. I’m not sure if it’s a company policy or just the recruiter’s personal preferences. It doesn’t matter. You just lost out on a quality candidate. If your company really puts two years of school over all those years of experience than I probably don’t want to work for you anyway.

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