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On Finding Jobs

Kamlesh Chandnani
March 21st, 2020 · 6 min read

Late last year I took a break to look out for my next job. I wasn’t prepared at all, initially everything was blurry, I was confused but I learned a lot of things throughout the journey and formed a process, so I decided to share it with everyone and thought it might help someone somewhere.

So it was July 2019 when I decided to move on from Treebo. Treebo was a great company with amazing founders, great work culture, rockstar engineering team that one could ever dream for especially staying in India. But then because of several reasons I decided that it’s time now for me to move on. Although this decision was not as easy as it may sound but sometimes you need to make some hard choices and move on. I had not decided what will be my next move since I wanted some time to think about my next step which I was struggling to do with my day job.

Fast forward to the first day of my so called Funemployed state thinking what I want to do next. Couldn’t find an answer, and I was not even worried. 1 week passed by, and I was still in the same state. But soon I started getting a little worried and hence started talking to people in different companies to identify what’s going on in the industry. Caught up with few folks started talking about what they are trying working on and if it sounds exciting to me. I did this for 2 weeks but slowly I started feeling drained out as it was not meaningful at all and I was not able to conclude anything out of it. I started discussing with some of my friends about the mental state I was in, and they said it’s good to be in this state which at first sounded like a stupid thing to me but later I realised what they meant(Keep reading till the end to understand what I mean here).

I decided to stop, take a deep breath and zoom in to what was happening and realised few things:

  1. People were asking me what I wanted to do but I had no clue.
  2. It was about finding the next meaningful+exciting job and not another job that just pays the bills.
  3. What are my non-negotiables.
  4. Do I want to move abroad?
  5. How about working remote?
  6. I didn’t had a timeline for myself as to when shall I find my next job and also I didn’t had infinite time(ofcourse none of us have 😄).

Then I decided to answer each of the above questions. The first two questions were similar as to what I want to do. I realized the primary reason was not about what the companies had to offer but about what I want to do next. So to answer this for myself I decided to retrospect my past work. This is the template I created for myself to analyze the results:

  • What I’ve been doing in the past?
  • What part of it excited me?
  • What parts of it still looks exciting?
  • What path I want to choose? Managerial Path? Individual Contributor(short for IC)? P.S. Individual Contributor isn’t really Individual 😄

After retrospecting I was able to figure out about what I want to do next and it looked something like this:

  • Work on creating better Developer experience(a.k.a DX)
  • Work on Developer Tooling
  • Investing and working on creating the base foundations that then enables developers to build things on top of it seamlessly.
  • Be on an IC(Individual Contributor) path as I like to hands on work on the problems above and understand the real pains of a developer which was only possible with the IC path since I would be in that role itself.
  • Combine all of the above to create real value and impact for myself (so that I keep myself motivated and iterate over it) as well as for the organisation because often Engineering teams neglect the power of engineering itslef.

Next up was non-negotiables and I was pretty much clear about them. It looked something like this

  • Good Work Culture
  • Tech focused engineering culture
  • Flexibility to make mistakes and space to rectify them
  • Focus on self growth and not just organisational growth
  • Focus on building and evolving the frontend community in India

Moving abroad was out of my list since my priortities were different and Remote didn’t work out because of multiple reasons so moving on to the last question and the most difficult one was to come up with a Timeline. Timelines are necessary as it helps to create an end goal in mind and also helps our brain to work towards something definite. Imagine all your projects without a timeline? Will they ever see a light of the day? Never.

Now, to decide the Timeline ofcourse you need to first check on how much savings you have, to pay the bills. I did the calculations and saw that I had some money in the bank to pay the bills and hence I came up with a timeline which accounted for a break since after all of the above exercise it looked impossible to find the next job in a day/week’s time.

So now all the required exercise and planning was done so the next step was to ACT!!. Now where to start? Any guesses? Ofcourse, Twitter!

I was surprised and happy to see lot of responses. I feel blessed to be part of such a nice community 🤗.

After that I started talking to people again but this time with a clear mind and confident about what I want to do which helped to have meaningful and focused conversations. Few things I tried to prevent unknown surprises at the end:

  • Humbly request the HR to schedule an exploratory call with someone who can answer my questions(Hiring Manager/Head of Engineering/Director of Engineering/CTO/Founders).
  • Ask about the Interview Process.
  • Ask them humbly that if it’s ok for me to decide and take up the interviews only if I find it exciting after the exploratory discussion.

Right after the conversations I used to write down my thoughts about the company. Now the next step was filtering. Since I knew what I want to do, it made the task fairly simple. I just had to match the list of companies based on the notes against my requirements. The final step was to move ahead in the interview process with the shortlisted companies. After everything was done I received couple of offers and went back to the requirements list again, did the filtering to narrow the list and finally made a choice to join Razorpay.

Closing Notes 📝

Finding a right job is equivalent to working on a small project. I learned a lot of things during this process and it also helped me evolve. Here’s the condensed version of everything I mentioned above:

  • You need to be clear of what you want. In order to do that you need to create a plan and then break it down into small milestones.
  • Retrospect yourself to find out what you want to do? What type of work excites you? What type of role excites you? What are your negotiables and non-negotiables? Sometimes you won’t get it fully but the goal is to get some direction to get started.
  • Discuss with your mentors, friends, family members or your closed ones whenever stuck at anything.
  • Don’t just create the plan but Act on it and iterate regularly.
  • Taking a break worked out very well in my case as I was able to focus on just one thing. But you need to Save up money in order to take breaks.
  • Have a definite timeline for yourself.
  • Filter at each step so you progress towards the end goal and also be on track. Sometimes it’s fine to let go off certain things in favor of something else.
  • Have meaningful conversation during the interview so you can get a clear picture about the company’s vision and your expectations to make the filtration process easy.
  • Sometimes it’ll be daunting and frustrating but don’t give up just take a deep breath and relax things will fall in place.
  • It’s very rare to achieve 100% of your expectations. So don’t be depressed about it.
  • Sometimes you might not get the job that you want desperately but it’s fine the world doesn’t end there you will reach there eventually.

Phew! It was a wild ride 🎢. I hope it was helpful 😃

I didn’t really speak about the interview process because that’s out of the scope of this post. Stay tuned for the post on the interview process 🙂

P.S. If you like this, make sure to subscribe, follow me on twitter, and share this with your friends 😀

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