How do I find a better tech job?
April 5, 2021 11:51 AM   Subscribe

I've had a string of bad tech jobs. Mostly consulting. This last one I decided to keep my head down, not complain and even did my due diligence in asking former employees what they thought. It is absolutely horrible and I've seen work environments get progressively worse.

Specific details:

- We now lack 401k matching
- PTO is docked from pay but is "unlimited"
- The PM and QA roles have been eliminated so I'm on a team of one as an architect doing dev work.
- Requirements and processes like sprints have gone away because the client doesn't want to pay for it.
- Went from project based work to staff aug essentially and have to sit in the client office being given what internal resources don't want. On top of that it isn't collaborative, I'm not part of the client team,
- Company maintains rah rah best place to work attitude with virtual happy hours and things and I just want to work,
- Projects aren't consistent with my skill set. I love learning new technology but without training I'm expected to go from say Python to React and be seen as an expert.
- I'm asked to relocate and am provided no bonus and I can't afford that.
- We're expected internally to find our own work then interview with the client, which wears on you and makes me wonder why I'm not just doing this on my own.

I took a lot of steps before accepting and was told what I wanted to hear which seems to be the norm. This is isn't just one job but a string of bad jobs over the last two years. It appears that clients no longer want to pay for a "full team" and rather just augment internal teams with an SME. I took a large pay cut thinking my high salary was causing desperate companies to hire me.

Now the economy is turning around is there something better than LinkedIn? Ideally I'd like a technical leadership role at a startup but networking was hard even pre-Covid. I'd be okay with being a heads down senior dev if I could have some sort of consistent process. I don't think basic requirements, something resembling a sprint model and a team are really asking a lot but maybe the industry has changed. I had a friend work at my last company as he was between jobs and he said he was hellish and was lucky to land at a small startup through chance.

My work product is good, I get tough assignments, I complete them on time but I can't deal with this ad-hoc programming working solo. With all this talk about remote work is that just NYT clickbait? How do I find these jobs. I think consulting is not for me anymore but get nowhere applying to product companies.
posted by geoff. to Work & Money (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, PM in tech here. Shoot me a dm, I'd be happy to review your resume and share some thoughts.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 11:55 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]

I do think you're on the right track to move out of consulting. Many or most of the complaints you list seem consulting-specific to me, and aren't things I have personally encountered in non-consulting tech. (Though certainly some of this stuff, like "rah rah" and varying adherence to process you can find in companies of all stripes.)

My suspicion is that the biggest hurdle you'll need to get over is the perception (likely unfair) that people with a consulting background will struggle in a non-consulting role. So getting that first non-consulting job will probably be the hardest. I don't think there's any secret job board you need to find - most companies post their roles on the big ones. But it is worth doing some research and thinking about specific companies you might be interested in, and look directly at their own careers sites. For remote stuff you can check out, but lots of major companies (mine included) hire people remotely. It's not universal, but it's not clickbait.
posted by primethyme at 1:36 PM on April 5 [6 favorites]

Seconding pretty much everything primethyme said. I'll add that I have worked at a company where a significant chunk of the senior devs had consulting backgrounds, so there are certainly companies out there where your background isn't all that unusual (in contrast to other jobs I've had where I think no one had ever done consulting, but that's partly geography too).
posted by hoyland at 2:15 PM on April 5

Response by poster: Thanks all, I've been doing consulting my entire career (18 years?) so I'm use to clients being difficult, budgets being tight and general consulting stuff. I think what has changed is that when I started it was more custom dev as cloud computing, things like Salesforce or Okta didn't exist (or were not really widely used) so it was all custom. We had to spend considerable time doing things like ensure resilience and scalability along with actually building produts from scratch. Within the last 5 years or a bit more there's more and more mentality that not only do these companies like Salesaforce exist clients are learning not to custom them and just configure it. If I were a consulting company I'd take that over the risk of a custom project any day but as someone with a traditional software development background I would put this along time lines of configuring Active Directory or something and just not where I'd want to see my career going. It also explains why a traditional software development team and model that I grew up with is no longer needed ... you're not developing.

coldbabyshrimp I will definitely send you over my resume warts and all. I was advised to use Top Resume to clean it up and rewrite which I'll do, a friend actually got a promotion at another company by just using that so we'll see if that works.

Little venting but it is beginning to become a little apparent why all of a sudden consulting just doesn't interest me. Also with Covid I think there's a lot of unknowns driven by clients who don't know how things will look so there's a general consensus that it'll just go back to normal. Any other advice would be appreciated.
posted by geoff. at 2:33 PM on April 5

Since you asked about alternatives to LinkedIn, have you tried any of the tech-specific job matching services? I've had some success with Angellist, Hired, and Underdog.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:45 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]

The best decision I ever made was to stop working for US-based companies.

I now look for remote-first companies based in countries outside the US, or at least extremely heavily influenced by non-US forces. (My current company is technically based in New York, but a plurality of the engineering team is in Sweden and 2/3rds of the founders are outside the US. And I wouldn't have joined here if it were based in CA which in my experience is the worst of all tech cultures.)

As a result of this, I have about double the paid holidays of most of my peers in US-based companies and am actually encouraged to use them. People have lives, children, hobbies, and actually leave work at a reasonable time. People aren't afraid to push back on scope creep in jobs (e.g. the answer to "training isn't really something I want to be doing and my team is already pretty busy" was "good point, let's staff up a training team" rather than "work harder").

While no place is perfect no matter where it's based, I'm 3 for 3 on good places to work that were based in Europe.
My experience of US-based companies is universally 100% negative.
posted by fader at 1:54 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]

I've found 2 separate jobs on weworkremotely since 2017.

Remote work is really a thing in software engineering, I've been fully remote for 5 years. If the evidence of my current company means anything, it continues to be difficult to hire good people, and there's high demand for engineers, so it's a great time to go on the job market.
posted by dis_integration at 3:40 PM on April 6

Also, I'd highly recommend working at a product company over consulting. Consulting was chaos, I hated it. Your boss overpromises to the client and then blames you when you can't deliver. Requirements constantly change. Working on a product means slowly but surely building features, fixing bugs, making improvements, learning and growing. The time pressure is a lot different as well, since the software is out there live, making money, we can take our time to improve it and try to increase market share. There's no panic, and if a deadline is missed, it's fine!
posted by dis_integration at 3:43 PM on April 6

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