Yesterday was my last day at RealScout. This post isn’t about what’s next but rather the experience of finding that next thing. I think the following will be helpful for job seekers in tech and possibly beyond.

I started searching for a new role just over 2 months ago. While I had passively reviewed messages from recruiters for awhile, I finally decided to give the search a real go, getting in touch with my network, switching my status to searching on AngelList & StackOverflow jobs, and applying to a few promising positions I had found through Indeed, in #golang-jobs on gophers slack, and elsewhere. I was not interested in relocating so I targeted only Philadelphia-based, 1 day/week in NYC, or fully remote gigs.

Here’s part that might be helpful to others - turns out it’s kind of a mess out there.

Sometimes you won’t hear any news for a long time. That was the biggest surprise for me, especially when doing well during a round of interviews. When I’ve been in a position to hire and a good candidate comes in - someone I think would be a great addition to the team - I work to create a sense of urgency and enthusiasm do get that candidate fired up to join. That means feedback within 24 hours, end of day or first thing the following morning. During my experience in the last few weeks, I had no word for 2+ weeks after just an HR screen, twice! I was pretty sure I didn’t mess up quite that badly in either. In both cases I followed up with a “hey I like you so far, do you still want to figure out if you like me” email and both times had an initial phone screen with team set up shortly after, both times with an apology for the delay. I’m still waiting on a code challenge following the second round of talks with one of those.

Despite making it clear that relocation was not an option, some recruiters still wanted to chat and try to convince me to move San Francisco (it was always SF). While I’m flattered, it’s not a great use of either of our time. I learned this one pretty quickly and cleared it up early in the process with each company. One phone screen ended amicably after about 90 seconds but I could have avoided it altogether with an email.

Some companies, especially very small startups, require an extreme amount of time to complete the interview process. I went along with a few of these at first, investing many hours in video calls, coffees, and pairing sessions. After having some success without investing quite that much time, I was less enthusiastic about going back for yet another round at the other places and politely bowed out of their next rounds.

Getting in through the front door is pretty tough. I’m fortunate to have many years of experience, in various roles, and tales of scaling and hard problems at some notable companies - I was rejected from a number of companies without even an initial phone screen. Referrals are of course great for getting that initial interview, but most of us only have access to so many of those. I felt more successful when replying to posts in slack channels and hacker news and those sent through a mailing list than through companies’ HR portals though my supporting evidence on this is a little thin. I considered but ultimately decided against services like Hired, TripleByte, and VolkScience this time.

The point of all of this is not really to get recruiters, HR, and hiring managers to improve their processes, though it would be great if that happened, it’s more of a note to my fellow job seekers that there is a lot of strangeness in [tech] recruiting out there and you’re not weird or alone if you’ve had similar experiences. I’ve confirmed with a bunch of other developers that what I’ve described here was not unique to my search. My best advice is to stick with it and really go all in on the search with some deadline in mind for making decision. Be flexible and understanding with possible future employers but don’t let them undervalue your time.

Good luck out there.