So the mobile developer vacancy is moving forwards after some high stakes drama today.
I spoke to the recruiter yesterday, he said I sounded like a good match. So he went off to the employer and the employer agrees I sound like a good match. He came back to me today and said “we think you’re a great match! The next stage is a video interview with me”. Like what are you smoking. I want to speak to the employer, you’ve just told me the employer wants to speak with me… so the next logical stage is… for me to have to speak to the recruiter… again?!
As my patience has been worn slightly thin this week, I sent him back an email saying that I don’t have much free time and didn’t see the value in interviewing with third parties so I wouldn’t be going any further. No more than a few minutes later I got back a very hurried response saying how about we just skip this stage and he puts me through to the employer. YES, what a good idea!
I’m still not sure about this one. It’s potentially interesting but only within a limited scope. This is the one where they are open to using different technologies, which is fine as long as their business requirements happen to coincide with my career requirements. In mobile development you have a million different options, and only one of those is really interesting to me.
The one I have used the most is to essentially create a web page and wrap it up into an app, so really the app is just a web browser showing you a website stored locally on your phone (but it doesn’t look like one). I like this because it’s all transferrable skills to and from general web software development. I can spend two years developing an app like this and then walk into almost any web development job afterwards. The risk is that you end up in a company that decides to use, say, Flutter, and then two or three years later potential employers are looking at you suspiciously because they’ve never heard of Flutter and you don’t have any recent experience in anything they use.
But the details of all this will become clearer after the interview, I suppose. At the moment I don’t know enough to say whether it’ll suit me or not.
I had an interview today and it went really well, with the small exception that I don’t really want the job. I don’t want it because 1) it’s too similar to what I’m doing now that it’s not really offering me any progression (or perhaps what I really mean is it’s not going to give me any new stuff to put on my CV) and 2) despite the recruiter assuring me it was “fully remote”, it requires travel every few weeks.
They have now asked me to do a ‘technical test’. They said it was about 3-4 hours work, but what they’ve asked for is a full .NET MVC application with a WebAPI endpoint to upload a CSV file, parse it, put it into a database, and generate some reports from the data. Completely from scratch. Code should be structured according to “best practices”. ‘Three hours’. More like three days.
But the interview itself was great and it was a huge confidence booster for me.
I don’t have an interview tomorrow after all. I should do, because the agent has arranged it, but I’m going to cancel it.
Unfortunately the thing with agencies is they often don’t reveal the name of the company until they’re at the point of sending your CV to them. If I’d seen the company name on a job ad I’d have done some research and immediately passed. But I didn’t, so when I did get around to researching the company, I found…
Consistently negative employee reviews on Indeed, spanning years. Except for one month in 2019 when they suddenly received a deluge of glowing reviews.
On their website they’ve hand picked a few glowing employee reviews, one of which attempts to cast doubt on negative reviews by disparaging ex-employees.
The Guardian has an article where they try to resolve a customer’s complaint without much success, and advise other customers to avoid the company.
When you Google them, one of the suggested searches is “[company name] trading standards”
They were sued in 2019 for unfair dismissal
They are currently being sued by someone for withholding wages
The Advertising Standards Agency upheld a complaint against them last year for misleading marketing and banned one of their online adverts
This is only a relatively small company with about 100 employees, so I’m quite impressed by the volume of negativity I’ve found towards them.
The fact they have published something disaparaging ex employees on their own website was really surprising to me. It shows a total lack of self awareness and professionalism. Who would see that and not be instantly repulsed? You’re supposed to use your website to show your best image of yourself, and you use it to slag off other people? Ehhh.
The agent probably won’t be happy, but whatever.
I’ve have another interview offer come through today, and the mobile developer agent wants to speak to me on Wednesday.
I probably have an interview on Tuesday but it hasn’t been confirmed yet. It’s a bit weird because the agent emailed me Thursday evening to ask if I can do Monday or Tuesday, I said let’s go for Tuesday, he emailed me Friday morning to say OK he’d arrange it for Tuesday and get back to me, and that’s the last I heard. So I don’t see how Monday was possible? It might be the agent trying to accelerate the process and the client is a bit more relaxed. Anyway…
As well as this I have four other applications outstanding. The one from last Friday I haven’t heard anything about, but I did a bit of research last weekend and I’m not really optimistic about this one. It looks like the agency has been advertising it since November.
Then there are the three fully remote ones.
Then there are two more I’m on the fence about going forward with.
The first is one based about 15 miles away but would need a car. The agent tells me it’s fully remote at the moment “and likely to remain so”, but the word “likely” puts me off. I don’t know, it might be worth the interview practice?
The last one is more curious. A recruiter emailed me yesterday for a mobile app developer role. They said the client is trying to hire a team to bring something in-house and is open to using different technologies to rebuild it. I’ve figured out which company it is, and it looks like they hired a Romanian company to build them an app, the quality isn’t there, and they want to re-write it in house. They tried to hire by advertising directly (without an agency) in January for someone with 5+ years experience to head up their mobile development, with salaries starting at a whopping £25k. Apparently they didn’t get anywhere with that (shocked Pikachu) and now they’re working with an agency.
That they haven’t decided what technically they’re going to use is actually a big problem. I can’t accept a job without knowing what skills I will be building and whether they are skills that will keep me employable in future. But I am interested. Delivering apps to the general public is actually a lot more interesting and rewarding than working on enterprise software that nobody uses.
I think it’s worth checking out. I’m going to respond to the agent and see if I can get anything more concrete.
The problem is that all of these could come back at once and then I won’t be able to fit the interviews in.
I felt very motivated this morning and I ended up speaking to three recruiters. I’ve been put forward for four jobs, and I have an interview offer already.
Of the four, this is the only one that isn’t 100% remote. Unfortunately the location is a bit inconvenient – I’d need to get the train into the city centre, then get a bus out. Probably about an hour and a half in total. Or, buy a car. They are open to some remote, so it depends how much. If they’d agree to one day a week in the office (or less) then I’ll be OK with the location. I don’t think the car option makes much sense. If I only need to be in the office a few days a week then a car seems like a huge expense for not much use, but if they want me in more frequently then I’m probably better off where I am now.
I realised where the weird dream came from. The colonoscopy was because I was reading a thread on Reddit about reducing the incidence of colon cancer (drink less, eat less red meat, eat more yoghurt), which turned into a discussion of colonoscopies. The male doctor with breasts was because a few nights ago I watched the episode of the Simpsons where Krusty is trying to hide from the mob, so he gets plastic surgery but for whatever reason his surgeon gives him breasts.
I’m glad we got to the bottom of that.
The bit where he hits his head on the glasses and it plays the Godfather theme was really clever!
I finished a big chunk of work yesterday and merged the new changes into my code. The new changes broke my local version – nothing to do with what I’d done, they were just buggy and I had a lot more test data in my database. Working around this pretty much killed my productivity (and will to live) yesterday, but by the end of the day I was satisfied my changes were compatible so I checked them in and logged off.
The build/tests take about an hour to run so I logged on this morning to see the results, and… disaster, the tests were failing. Anyway the short version is that I spent all day trying to fix and work around other people’s problems. At about 4:45 I realised that there was one issue left and this one really was my fault, but as I’d been working since 8:00 I decided to leave it until tomorrow and went out for a walk. Unfortunately I left my emails open and when I came back I saw that another developer had checked in code to fix my bug with the comment “fix this insanity”. If I was in a different state of mind I might have found that offensive, but his choice of words says more about him than me. And I thought it was a bit rich as I’d have had this solved by 8:30 if I hadn’t had to work around all the problems he’d caused.
So anyway, I thought to myself “hmm”. I don’t feel very motivated at the moment and I don’t think the problem is me. When things like this happen I’m acutely aware that I’ve been here for well over a year and haven’t had a pay review. That’s not very good. This is the first time in my life I’ve worked more than 12 months without a pay adjustment.
So tonight I went on totaljobs and sent off my CV to two places.
Over the weekend I was feeling a bit stressed and guilty by the fact I wasn’t really making any progress with this job search. I had an interview in November and then basically did nothing again until very recently. If I still saw my counsellor I’d have probably gone there and admitted to her at some point recently that the prospect seems daunting and I’ve been avoiding it on purpose, on some level, and that’s just me and my anxiety.
So after much thought I decided to bump myself up to a three quarter dose of Citalopram. I’d always intended to go up to the full dose after Christmas to deal with job seeking stress and interviews.
The Scottish recruiter came back to me today with a job spec! At the top of it, it says it’s remote but requires travel to their office in Glasgow once per quarter. Instant nope, so I politely declined. He has again replied to tell me that it doesn’t require travel to Glasgow and is fully remote, and the spec was written pre-COVID! 🤦♂️ But then I googled some of the phrases in the spec and I found the company’s website advertising the role directly, where it says the same thing – you need to go to the Glasgow office once per quarter. I don’t know whether to believe him or not, but then, I also don’t really care enough to find out.
I don’t think that letting recruiters come to me is working very well. It occurred to me today that of the three jobs I’ve had since uni, not a single one required me to speak to a recruiter before getting an interview. With two of them, I applied online and the recuiter forwarded my CV to the company without needing to speak to me, and with the other I applied directly. Maybe by letting them come to me I’m just disproportionately dealing with the spammers who don’t really know what they’re doing.
I slept really badly last night. I felt stressed before going to sleep. I feel stressed by the thought of job seeking again.
I ended up having a dream about… Having a colonoscopy. Why? I really don’t know. Also the doctor administering the procedure was a man but he had breasts. And was showing off his cleavage. I felt very confused by this. He hadn’t addressed it and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be referring to him as he or she, which made me feel uncomfortable because I didn’t want to offend him. At some point later in the dream it somehow became clear that he was a he. For some reason I hadn’t notified work that I was having a procedure and I was getting nervous about whether or not I should send them an email to let them know.
This is by far the weirdest dream I’ve had recently. What was going on inside my subconscious yesterday I have no idea. I slept solidly from about midnight to three AM (while I had this dream), then everything after felt like low quality sleep.
When I said yesterday I’d replied to two more recruiters… I don’t think they’re going anywhere. One very politely replied with more information (as requested), but the salary is not really enough to make me move. It’s a shame because it lines up on the other points. I’ve replied to her and said as much, so maybe that one’s not quite over yet.
The other recruiter seems to be a pain. He originally mailed me to say he had a great job, can he phone me up please. I said “send me some information and if it seems like a match we can talk”. He replied to say “Are you free for a chat today?”. I have now replied and said “as I said, I’ll be free for a chat when you send me some information and it seems like a match”. I can’t see this one going anywhere. His agency specialises in Scotland (hundreds of miles away) and nothing they have on their website looks remotely relevent.
I communicated with two recruiters this week and now have one application in progress. It’s an ‘ehhh, maybe’. Anyway, their wish list overlaps with my experience and the salary is about right, so that’s good? I don’t know. Hiring is dependent on a bunch of things that are basically random.
The other recruiter I spoke to was annoying and pushy. Their role turned out to be a 12 month fixed term contract which they promise will become permanent at the end of it. I replied to say “sorry, I’m not leaving my permanent role for a 12 month contract”. They replied back to give me a long essay on how it’s “as good as permanent” and it just comes down to the client’s budget cycle, blah blah blah, and I should just have a ‘chat’ (AKA an interview) with the employer then decide.
I just ignored that one. I was going to reply back and say “I am only interested in permanent roles. When they are able to offer this I will be happy to consider it”, but I couldn’t be bothered. I already said no.
I replied to a couple more as well, but just a “can you give me some more details please” kind of thing. That’s enough for today.
Today was an exciting day as it’s the first time since I started back on Citalopram that I’ve had to request more of it. Anyway I just pressed the button to request the next issue and it seems to have accepted it. I wondered if they’d have put it on review since I stopped and started again, or if the fact it’s been so long since the last issue (about 9 months as I’ve not been taking the full dose) would flag it for review, but apparently not. So that’s nice. I just need to go and get it now.
I’ve had a few texts lately from someone I used to work with at my previous job. He was actually a foreign student (France) who came to the UK to do an internship at my old job. Don’t ask me why but it seemed to be quite popular for European students to come to the UK and work for peanuts for 3, 6, or maybe even 12 months and my ex-boss was happy to take advantage of them employ them for next to nothing and give them no real guidance or oversight but still expect them to produce professional standard work. I ended up sort of looking after some of them.
He texted me that he was back in the UK, which was a bit surprising to me because, well, you know we have a lockdown don’t you? Then this morning he posted a bike ride on Strava that lead to the office. So as we were texting anyway I had to inquire – are you in the office… is anyone else in the office?
That was kind of a stupid thing for me to ask because the answer came back “well a few of us are, it’s me, X and Y”, where Y happens to be a name I never wanted to see ever again. I left that place for a whole bunch of reasons, but Y was the main one. If it wasn’t for Y I’d probably still be there. I didn’t like reading that text. As soon as I read it a very vivid image of the office with Y sat in there popped into my head and I felt sick. It’s been a year and three months and it still has that effect on me. And that’s with citalopram.
Though there is a positive outcome because for some reason it prompted me to reply to a couple of recruiters I’d put in the “possibly” section, which I’d been procrastinating on.