Surfacing, finally

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swimmerMore than a week has passed since my last post. This has been the absolute craziest week in the recent past but I feel like things are on the up and up and I feel conservatively happy.

The end of the week before last was a bummer. With the end of August comes a complete slow down of hiring. There was nothing to apply for and I just felt like I was doing nothing. I’d read enough books, organized enough, sold enough stuff on eBay. I just felt like nothing was happening.

I had one job offer which I felt I needed to turn down. And enough time has passed on the remaining opportunities that I knew that they were no’s. It’s hard to go through all the word involved in an interview cycle and have no positive results. I was just going to rest up and let August pass and then be ready to go by September.

Monday was tough. I went to the doctor and had a couple of things diagnosed. Nothing serious but I am now on antibiotics for the next two months. And then I just went to my parents’ house and kind of just gave up. Laid on the couch for the next day or two.

Interestingly, I started conversations with the hiring manager of the job offer I had received. Apparently there was a miscommunication in salary and so we started talking about changes that could be made to sweeten the pot. After a few days of painful phone tag, I made a verbal commitment to the offer on Wednesday and the papers were signed (in a hurry) by Friday in time for the start of the long weekend. So now, I have a week to move out of my place, find a place in SF and start work by September 8th. Can you believe it? Oh man– so much change in such a short amount of time. Rising from a crazy low to a frenetic high with a ton of changes to boot

So that’s me these days. Hurrah.

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A look back: The week of August 18

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checklistI had lunch with a former coworker today and as I relayed to her the events of this week, I realized it’s actually been kind of an overwhelming period. A lot has happened. Some hasn’t happened. I’m feeling kind of cranky these days for various reasons. But I’ll go ahead and run down my list.

INTERVIEW STUFF

I did a final interview for a role where the hiring manager told me that I was one of two top candidates (at least at the time). That always feels nice to know that you’re a contender but when you know it came down to two people and you aren’t the one they select, it always feels just kind of worse. He planned to finalize the decision by yesterday but I haven’t heard anything. I don’t know if that’s a bad sign but at this point, it’s fine whatever.

I also got a job offer earlier this week from my former coworker’s current company. The offer amount, however, was very low compared to my previous base salary. I sent an email to the hiring manager to chat and we should be talking sometime next week. The difference is more than $20K though– so I’m feeling like this is a situation where I say, “Thanks for the opportunity but I think maybe you are looking for something different than what I am offering.” I feel like this is a more awkward situation than I am prepared for.

I am kind of frustrated b/c it’s now the end of summer and though it’s been just six weeks since I was let go, I feel like the jobs are drying up (which they tend to around August) and I’m just experiencing no momentum and a high level of restlessness. I have been go-go-go lately– with the garage sale, the interviews, getting together with people.  But now I’m either running out of energy or starting to get frustrated and I’m feeling less satisfied and less driven. I’ve hit a slump and I am kind of cranky about it all.

SOCIAL STUFF

So this week, I got together with a college friend earlier in the week, a former Google coworker, and then I had lunch with a former coworker today. I got Indian food with a college friend on Wednesday. We talked about the things happening in our lives. I gave her my updates on job stuff. We’re the same age so we kind of see things somewhat the same– that we’re more settled, we view goals and aspirations in a different light than when we were struggling in our 20s, that happiness takes on different formats as you pass through different phases of your life. I was back on Google on Thursday to have a free Google lunch with a former coworker. We talked about progress in our careers and the different things we each were pursuing. And then with my former coworker, we talked about things we have heard about the company we both worked at– all the people have left recently, where they have ended up, any gossip that we have heard.

OTHER STUFF

I went to kickboxing earlier this week. So, yay for me. Other than that, I’m still trying to rearrange my life, get rid of things I don’t need, sell stuff on eBay when I can. I’m reading a book called “Made to Stick.” Yeah, that’s about it.

 

Is it possible that job searching is worse than online dating?

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online datingFirst off: I have to say that the stock art that I have selected for today’s post is awesome. I don’t know the context behind its genesis but all I can say is “wow” and “bravo.”

So small update on the job search front: for one company that told me that they were gathering feedback and would let me know about the jobs I interviewed for, I feel like they are making offers to two other people which is why the delay is so long. Which is fine. I can give my opinions on that job after they give me the official “no.” I should also know the status of my candidacy on another position hopefully by the end of this week. Supposedly it came down to two strong candidates, so I’m going to guess that if I don’t hear soon, they are going with the other guy. I’ve found myself in this position before– sometimes it is the worst knowing you were so close and yet so far.

I also did get a job offer yesterday. It is bittersweet because I will need to turn it down. I don’t want to give away too many details but my sense is that they are searching for a much more junior team member to add to the team. I want to respectfully decline to give them the opportunity to find that person.

Today’s post isn’t fully thought out but I recently thought about how job searching is like dating and how, in my recent experience, it’s worse than online dating. So in online dating, you see a person’s profile– their pictures, their self-written assessment of their quirks and preferences, and their definition of what they are looking for. Typically they have read your profile and you meet up because you both sense that there is some level of similarity in your backgrounds and expectations.

Now, I’ve gone on some bad dates. I think most of us have. The number one culprit seems to be, a majority of the time, deceptive photos. I talked to a guy once and asked him the worst part about online dating as a guy. He said that females’ photos tend to be very selectively curated and that in person, most girls are noticeably fatter. In my experience, the guys tend to be really boring. At any rate, in most cases, what you thought you saw is not what you actually get.

Now imagine a scenario where a not very fit, not very attractive, not very accomplished man relays his ideal date: 5’9, 110 lbs, beautiful, smart, accomplished female who makes a ton of money, loves sports, cooks the most delicious foods for her boyfriend and is always ready and willing for sex. So this is like interviewing for some of the startups that I have seen. The company is eh. The office is blah. The revenue potential is ew. But they are looking for a superstar to do pretty much everything. Oh yeah, and the pay is lower than industry standard. BUT you get equity. Which means nothing in a land where a majority of startups don’t make it out the gates.

So here’s another example: I have this running joke with a high school friend. She always says that she would love to date a white guy, but that the guy has to be a good dancer. To which I reply, sure, that guy exists. He’s gay. But he exists. But these weird pairings exist in the job market too. I went to a job interview for a B2B product, an updated product for a pretty old and boring industry. The hiring manager said that in addition to having all these skills, the ideal candidate also needed to have a design background. He said that he knows that that’s a tall order but that they absolutely want to find that one perfect person. That person doesn’t exist. Or maybe they do but that company advertised for the perfect individual for well over 6 months. I personally suspect that they didn’t actually find that person but settled on someone after the lengthy search. Also the company was eh so if that person existed, I don’t see why they would have wanted to join this particular organization anyway. Also, very often people indicate that the perfect person for a role would be an engineer who is a GREAT writer and communicator. Has anyone every gotten an email from an engineer? It is full of clipped phrases, tech jargon, and run on sentences. Good luck with that.

The worst is when you talk to a recruiter or a hiring manager and they have a list of things they are looking for (a list, mind you, that they didn’t bother putting in the job description that they posted online). And one by one they ask you, “Can you do this….? Have you ever done this…? Do you have this critical skill…?” And you want to pull your hair out b/c 1) if you would have known in advance that these were deal breakers, and because you don’t have any of those skills, you wouldn’t have applied for the job. And 2) if these were deal breakers all along, they should have been posted in the job instead of being sprung on you during conversation. Or they should have looked for something implying that skill on your resume b/c had you done that very impressive thing in a previous job, YOU WOULD HAVE PUT IT ON YOUR RESUME. It’s like going on a date with a Jewish guy who tells you, “Oh yeah, I only date Jewish girls.” And you’re sitting there, all 100% Asian you, thinking, “Ok, you are a moron.”

So yeah, it is very possible that job searching is even WORSE than the already terrible process of online dating.

What it really means to have been a Googler — My POV

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google sceneI saw a couple of former Google coworkers over the weekend and I thought it might be interesting to talk a little about what it means to be/have been a Google employee. I forget if I’ve ever outrightly disclosed this but I was a Google employee earlier in the company’s history and left to go back to school. It is a highly sought after company, usually ranking as the top company new grads and MBAs want to work at, and I would admit, yeah, it’s actually a great place to work. But it comes with its share of challenges. I’m going to try to give a fair account from my perspective of what it means to have been a Googler.

My two friends are currently still employed at Google and one was bemoaning some of the things she had recently experienced. Take away Google from the scenario and her issues were things that befall most people in their workplaces: dissatisfaction related to promotions, unpleasant coworker behavior, bad manager, etc. But at the end of her spiel, she said the same thing that most of us Googlers/Xooglers have said to ourselves and to others when in the heat of complaint: “… But it’s GOOGLE. I should feel lucky to work here, with these smart people, with the great opportunity. I feel like I’m complaining from an elevated position, one that so many people would kill to be in.”

I don’t think it’s surprising that there is a strong, very potent golden handcuffs associated with working at Google. In my own journey, I left when I was accepted to bschool, though around that time I was also wondering what my next thing would be if I wasn’t accepted. I chose to go to bschool for a few reasons, but I can acknowledge that part of why I chose that option was because it was an “acceptable” choice. If you told people “I left Google to go to business school,” you didn’t get too much pushback. It was a logical decision. One with a clear value proposition, as it were. But I know that had I not taken that particular road, there would have been a lot of pressure to find another “acceptable” choice.

To my friend’s attempt to self assuage, I said to her that though Google is a great place to be, it is human nature to want certain things in your career, especially if you are the kind of type-A, overachieving person that passes the rigors to attaining Google employment. You want to know that your work matters. You want to be respected by those you work with and under. You want to know that there is something resembling meritocracy or fairness or equality in the situation. And if those things are lacking, then no amount of free lattes or gourmet sushi is going to make you feel better about it all.

I retain a lot of friends from my time at Google (more about that in a bit) and I get updates here and there about who is still there, who has flown the coop, etc. And it varies obviously according to unique situations. However, for a subset of people still working at the company, some in the same roles as years ago, some having not received a promotion since that time as well, this golden handcuffs seems the reason behind it all. There is the sense that they won’t find anything better outside of Google. Perhaps they are risk averse as individuals and the idea of leaving such a cushy, safe space is overwhelming. I personally think it’s fine if you aren’t a fan of change to remain in this happy, safe space. If you’ve mastered work-life balance and it’s all good to you, then I say: props! But for those who stay and who complain about lack of personal/professional growth– that’s a little hard to stomach. Because nobody really wants to listen to a person moan and complain about a situation that is fully within their control.

For those of us that have left, most of us look back really fondly on our time at Google. Admittedly, the Google that we shared isn’t necessarily the Google of today. That is a point that perhaps drove many of us to move on to something new. It was a fun, zany, crazy time where things were happening quickly and you had to adapt to the changes. It’s different now. Not in a bad way but it’s just different.

Beyond the crazy parties, the free food, the team offsites (I once did the flying trapeze courtesy of Google!), most of us will say that the thing we remember the most and the thing that we sometimes miss in the workplaces to which we moved on is the really smart and wonderful people. I will be very honest and admit that after leaving Google, I have on many occasion looked around at coworkers in my new places of employment and thought, “This is not Google.” I know that a lot has been reported about the rigor of Google’s recruiting processes and while I am personally a little dubious about some of the hoops that people must jump through (like having to report your SAT score– I mean, really???), I would say– and I think many Xooglers would agree with me– that Google did something right. Many of the people were truly exceptional.

Now that I’m a “Google Alumni,” AKA a Xoogler, and also searching for a new job, I am forced to explain what being at Google means to each potential employer. To be honest, and if anybody is wondering, having Google on your resume as a previous employer = AWESOME. I’ve read different people’s opinions on starting out your career at a big company vs. a startup (I have opinions on this– give me a few posts and I’ll tackle it). But I absolutely think having a sexy, impressive, big name company on your resume will do wonders for your ability to, at the very least, get your foot in the door at potential employers. Like going to a good school or having someone in your network refer you in, it’s a beacon of some level of quality. So I very much value this perk of being an alum.

While I think some people are impressed with me having Google on the resume, I will admit that it also becomes a point of contention in some interviews. A few years ago, a Googler wrote a blog post that explained why she left Google. It was pretty popular (you can read it here). I had forgotten about the content of this post so the explanation that follows may sound redundant as it is similar to what the blogger had described. She described Google as a college boyfriend, saying: He was brilliant, good looking, respected, and everyone loved him — I even loved him — but he wasn’t the one. The author of this piece had different reasons than me for leaving Google (she wanted to live a life that was more authentic to her personal goals rather than ride the money train that is Google). But I would describe Google in similar terms: it’s the hot, ex-boyfriend that everyone wants to be with. I’ve gotten in interviews, incredulously: How could you possibly leave? Would you go back? Why would you want me when you had Google in the past? How can this company possibly measure up? I’ve also directly gotten the caveat: you know, we’re not Google… as if I’m some kind of high class snob with hard-to-satisfy tastes. So it can be a challenge when you have to reassure a hiring manager (like a girlfriend reassuring her short, nerdy new boyfriend): no no, I want to be here. I want to be with you.

Finally, I think everyone takes away something different from having worked at Google. For my professional purposes, I am always big on highlighting my ability to understand and execute on scale, my flexibility while trying to firm up process and just generally trying to be a team player as things that I gained from my Google experience. Google wasn’t my everything– it grew to be a place where I felt unable to grow after some time and I knew that I needed to seek out something new. But for what it was, I very much value and appreciate.

 

Nearing the end of the first cycle of interviewing

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cliff jumpThis isn’t really a proper post but just a small thought as the beginning of the week nears. I have now completed or am near to completing all requisite interviews and tests for the first cycle of jobs I have applied to since losing my job just over a month ago. In the next week or so I should know if any of them will turn into offers. I admittedly haven’t been feeding my pipeline as much these days (there are jobs posted but possibly I lost some steam) so I don’t have much else beyond these. I am hoping there is positive news but at the same time, I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much.

I can’t say I’m crazy frustrated right now (just relieved to have survived that round) but it would be nice to get moving again. I feel like my life is kind of at a standstill. Fingers crossed, I guess.

A Look Back: The week of August 11

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checklistI’m feeling incredibly exhausted right now– not totally sure why– so I’m going to blast through this post quickly.

INTERVIEW STUFF

I had another large block of interviews on Monday. I always go into these things thinking that I’m going to bomb but I think I did an okay job. I also had a phone interview with an additional team member at the company today. For another opportunity, I did two phone interviews this week with C-level execs on the team. I think I did ok. I ended up dropping out of contention for a role in SF b/c I am feeling way too exhausted to start the process on a new opportunity. At this point, I am at the end of 4 interview cycles at 3 companies (2 roles are at the same company). My thinking is if this doesn’t work out, I need to move out of my apartment and take the job search perhaps a bit more slowly. I feel totally tapped right now.

SOCIAL STUFF

Wasn’t as social this week. Not sure why but exhaustion is high. Went to the Sara Bareilles concert last night in Berkeley. Was AMAZING. Have brunch plans with two former coworkers on Saturday and then brunch with high school friend on Sunday. Did go to Santana Row, an outdoor shopping center, on Tuesday and read and drank iced coffee for a few hours. Felt nice.

OTHER STUFF

Finished book #17 of this year so am proud about that. Was going to go to library to pick up a book I had reserved but found out they aren’t open today. So instead started reading a book from my personal library that I am hoping to finish and get rid of. Speaking of purging: had my garage sale last weekend. Was stressful but I sold a good amount of stuff and made $85. Can’t complain.

I guess that’s it from me.

How much is that doggy in the window? {Woof woof}

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dog-pound-puppyMy friend noted that I have been particularly prolific lately with my blog posts. Some of it is that one cycle of interviewing is nearing an end so I haven’t been doing as much work to apply for roles. I should and I am doing it intermittently. But the emotional investment of interviewing, especially if you feel strongly for a role (or in some cases, maybe don’t feel so strongly) can be exhausting.

Today’s post is also rather fluffy. But it was something that I thought about and so I thought it would be a neat tidbit for today.

My friend adopted a dog recently (from the shelter) and I have been at her place a couple of times to see her and also observe the dog. I forget how old the dog is (I’m going to guess a couple of years old) but the dog was found wandering the streets and that is how she ended up at the shelter. My friend and her husband adopted the dog and she said that within weeks, the dog started exhibiting her more natural behavior. She was easily agitated and showed a particular fondness for older Asian ladies and anger towards young Asian people (which as you can imagine was just great for me). They conjectured that the dog had been owned by an older Asian woman and might have been mistreated by her young relatives. They’ve worked a lot with the dog but she still gets rattled by stimulus (like the doorbell), is anxious around strangers, doesn’t like to be petted and is very territorial/protective of the female owner.

I asked my friend, had she known of some of these behavioral things in advance, whether she would still have adopted this particular dog. And if memory serves me correctly, I think she reluctantly admitted that she probably would not have. She also explained to me her thoughts on the pet adoption process which I thought were really interesting and related to the recruiting process. She said that a shelter is a very unnatural environment. In essence, it’s a doggy jail. And in this very sterile, understimulating environment, an animal becomes a very subdued version of itself. When it goes home with an owner and has the chance to unwind, that is when the animal begins to present itself as it normally is. I thought this was very interesting insight.

I thought about this when I was sitting in my interviews earlier this week. Interviews are an unnaturally sterile environment. You are sitting in a quiet room having an intense 1/2 to one hour conversation. You’re wearing a suit (which if you live in the SF Bay area is super unnatural). And I think what is the most unnatural about the situation is the hypothetical nature of everything being discussed. If this happened, what would you do.

If you are the job seeker, you want to get “adopted” so of course you are going to say what you need to say to get the job. And frankly, on the side of the employer: I think they know in advance who they want. Call it culture or whatever you want. I think the yay-or-nay already exists and regardless of what you say sometimes, the deal has already been sealed. So even if you show a couple of small red flags, they have already fallen in love with you (you fluffy adorable thing you) and nothing that they see will change that (or vice versa– no amount of tricks is going to help you make the sale if you are already on their cut-list).

It’s when you are in the home/on the job that you relax and unwind and start really being you. I think that there’s a stat that says that 1 out of every 5 employees is a regretted hire. In other words: if you look at yourself and four other employees, the company wishes it hadn’t hired one of you. (Incidentally, this test is fun to do when you are at work. Look at five employees and try to figure out which one would be the regretted hire. I’m not even kidding you, everyone always agrees on who it should be. There is always that one employee that everyone agrees is the dud.) So it’s just kind of frustrating b/c recruiting is a seemingly controlled process but one with flawed results regardless.

To end this, I should mention that there are some things in place to aid in the accuracy of recruiting process, namely the reference check and the test. Reference checks are, I think, much more potent these days since you can also verify identity on LinkedIn. My friend told me a story about giving a potential employer his friend’s name and phone number for a reference check on a job in the late 1990s/early 2000’s. Like– literally his buddy from high school who took the phone call and sang his praises. Yes, young Millennials who may be reading this, life was so very different before the internet.

I also am a big proponent of a test or case interview in the recruiting process. I should mention here that I take standardized tests like a muthafucka. Love them. Being a type A, overachiever, I like nothing more than objective, quantifiable proof that I am THE BEST. Recently, I was talking to a hiring manager who needs someone who is a solid writer to join her team. She carefully toed the subject of possibly giving me a writing assignment to complete. She seemed apologetic but in my head I was like “Yay! Gimme!” Maybe I’m a masochist (I think a lot of overachievers are) but I was really excited to complete that writing sample. It was kind of the highlight of my week.

So that’s it from me. Happy Thursday, everybody!