How great it would be to land a new job working on an exciting project with a great work life balance, work from home option, and generous PTO! I’ve been reading the job listings on Glassdoor and Indeed…all these software companies offering high salaries and baiting job seekers with amenities such as ping pong, a fully stocked fridge, and fresh fruit… It really doesn’t get any better than fresh fruit in the office!
In assessing the option to remove myself from my current assignment, I asked myself these questions:
- These jobs have got to be better than my current one…right?
- How do I find the time to see out the application process while I’m still working?
- How much time, money, and effort will I need to commit to the application process?
I felt confident in my skill set and experience…I’ve been coding hard for over fifteen years, so I must know something right? So…I quit, and set out on the job application odyssey!
What is Culture?
Soon after beginning my job application adventure, I noticed that many things had changed in the world. Company culture was a new concept for me, and I passed it off as just a bunch of BS that was designed to draw attention to a particular job posting. As I soon discovered, company culture was not quite BS, but a vital element of the modern office “lifestyle”. An element that is claimed to be more important than your technical skill set, and the virtual “glue” that holds the team together. Imagine a company turning down highly skilled talent, due to the fact that the candidate does not fit in with the rest of the team. This appears to have become the rule, as I started experiencing this first hand in introductory interviews. Even some remote jobs I applied for claimed to have a strong company culture. I asked one interviewer, “How does company culture work with the team located all over the world”. He couldn’t give me a clear answer, but was quite proud of the culture…whatever it was. Perhaps screen savers with fuzzy animals and candy canes whizzing by, or virtual bungee jumping?
I soon started seeing a trend in the job listings, with a new section in the job description titled, “Life at BlaBla Company”. This is usually a collection of images of employees with huge smiles, wearing identical company T-Shirts. Other job postings proudly displayed company images that resembled a kind of “Romper Room” culture with employees(or actors) gleefully staring into the camera, lounging on brightly colored random objects. Adult size pools of candy-like foam, with software developers neck deep, and furniture made to resemble Legos. A Willy Wonka work life where employees cruise around on tricycles and other kids toys, while tackling the most cutting edge software projects. Is this what companies do to attract the best talent, and keep them from going elsewhere? I soon became confused and even a bit scared. To me, these companies displayed the properties of a cult. I imagined a CEO with a sweaty brow, wearing dark aviator sunglasses, sitting in a velvet chair somewhere in the jungle.
I soon asked myself, “How will I fit in with these people, and how did I not see this coming?”. Back in the wild west days of software development, I don’t remember coming across the term, “Culture”. Culture was something you experienced while traveling in India, not through staring at a monitor all day in a climate controlled office. Back in the day, if you could prove to your interviewer that could do the job, then you got the job…if you failed, well then you were sent to the curb. Simple and easy…you had to prove yourself in every way. However, you were not judged based on your personal interests or how you “fit in” with the team.
The Quest for the Holy Squirrel
So many jobs, so many skills, so many dreams! It’s hard to believe how much new technology is out there now. It seems like just a few years ago, if you could hack away at C and SQL, you were good to tackle any programming challenge. Not any more! Perhaps I’m just naive, but this is beginning to look more like marketing than software development. CEO’s must say to themselves, “how do we set ourselves apart if we don’t subscribe to the latest and greatest development tool”. Who cares about getting the job done…we just want to say we’re building the app in Kotlin!