Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Setting Job Change Goals

Having just gone through a job change, I thought about sharing one of the bigger aspects of my job search process. When this process started for me – and don’t be fooled, it is a whole process and not one taken lightly – I set four base goals that my new (or current) employer had to meet.

I was given this idea while listening to Ken Auer speak at SCNA this summer. Ken was telling of when he decided to start his own company and one of his mentors said, “Set four goals for yourself, and only one of them can be monetary.” That hit home with me at the time: only one can be monetary. It was simple, and in regards to your career plainly obvious, but actually hearing it made it hit much harder.

1. Can I effect change?

I’ve spent the last 5+ years living agile development and working with XP development practices. I’ve been involved with Book Clubs and started Code and Coffee. I’ve picked up four different build servers, enjoyed development in ASP.Net MVC, and done a cannonball into the Rails pool. Can I take all this knowledge and use it for good instead of evil? Can I get a new organization on a path of continuous improvement?

2. Will I get to continue to push Agile/Lean and work with good technology?

I’ve put a lot of time into Lean and Kanban over the last year and a half. Both learning it, molding the process on various projects, then speaking about it to about anybody who’d listen. I want to keep on that course, because I think I’ve only started to scratch the surface of what Lean can bring to an organization.

Additionally, will I continue to get to work with cool technology, or better, be involved in the decision making process on what technology we’ll use? The phrase, “Right tool, right job,” means a lot to me.

3. Cool people to work with.

I don’t want to be a one man dev team as the member of a one person dev team is never wrong. I want to be around people that I can continue to learn from, that will push me as much as I can (hopefully) push them. And, I want to have fun. It seems simple, but for many years of my IT career it hasn’t felt like work because it’s fun doing the job I do. A lot of that has to do with the people I’ve worked with in the past.

4. $$…can I get what I’m worth?

One of the four has to be about money – I don’t do this for free, after all.

Market value was one of the toughest things to determine. Different people value different skills at different levels. If you’re in the consulting game, you have to have a salary that your bill rate will support. And the downward pressure on bill rates the last year is no great secret.

The unspoken goal – family time.

This is one I never put on paper because it’s the first thing that concerns me while thinking about anything with my job and my career. I’ve been extremely lucky to have a wife and two boys who have supported me as I started speaking and being gone more weekends with code camps, give camps, and conferences. So, the length of the commute to any office becomes a big deal. In an interview don’t hit me with, “We have a mandatory 45 hour work week,” because you’re taking almost another day per month of my time away from my family.

If you’re in a position where you’re starting to poke around to see what might be next for you, take the time and spell out what you want. Talk it over with your significant other, with some close friends, and forge ahead. Writing it down makes you stop and think about where you really want to go.

At least it did for me.

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