This time, I’m more positively moving to do better for myself. Rather that waiting for opportunities to arise in my existing job, I’ve taken an honest look at what I enjoy doing, and what I want to get better at doing, and made a deliberate effort to market myself and find a job that excites me.
It’s been an invigorating summer as a result. Having amended my LinkedIn profile to emphasise the skills and qualifications I want to exploit, and swung the big lever to indicate that I was actively looking for work, a swarm of recruiters descended on me. It sounded as though I might have to accept a pay cut in order to exercise the specific hands-on technical skills I’ve refreshed in the last 18 months, but I felt that I’d happily swallow that if it meant I had a job I leapt out of bed wanting to do each morning.
The rounds of interview began right away. The fact that these were interviews plural made a massive difference. Rather than being just an isolated escape opportunity, the final throw of the dice, the last straw, instead knowing that there were other people wanting to see me meant that each time I could relax into the exchange, be myself, honestly express what I was looking for in the role, and see the interview as much as an investigation for me as for the potential employer. It worked. When I’m not desperate, I seem to come across as a lot more employable.
And this multiplicity of meetings had cumulative benefit as well. I hit my stride and stayed in the zone, or possibly the crease if I’m keeping my metaphors pure. The homework I did for one position fired up my interest and curiosity and paid off when answering off the cuff during interviews for another. I genuinely enjoyed being interviewed. Even this experience, of representing myself face to face, thinking on my feet, learning and refining, reminded me that I’m capable of this kind of interaction in my day to day work and not just when I’m touting for it. It also helped me focus on what I wanted to do in a new job.
What I want to do is engineering and automation. I chose a career in IT and computing because I like working with software and systems and not just giving people advice about them. My existing consultant role hadn’t been giving me any engineering to do, but some recent training and certification had reminded me that this is what I like doing. But if I stepped away from the bridge and back towards the engine room, would I be sacrificing my accrued seniority?
The good news, once I’d seen a few companies, was that having got my foot in the door for vacancies which were more hands-on engineering roles than my existing flexible consultant one, I’d managed to show off that I had a few other strings to my bow, and some companies were willing to meet my salary hopes. And I found myself with a whole new dilemma. I had several offers to pick from.
I’d been completely open about my plans with my existing employer, who very gamely realised that I was about to leave, and pulled together an internal secondment to give me more of the sort of work I wanted to do. If no external offers had materialised, I’d have been very happy indeed to follow that path.
However, the offer I decided to accept is with a company who seem to be able to offer me a blended position, which means I’ll be able to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in with system administration, automation, and software development, staying true to my passion of pressing buttons and making things happen, and also a leadership role, in which I’m responsible for internal processes and standards, as well as managing projects and relationships with client companies. Everything else I’ve seen has been off-the-peg but this feels tailor-made, in fact the recruitment process followed a refreshing “tell us what you can do, and we’ll see if we can find a niche for you” path.
It is a dizzyingly senior-sounding position. It may be with one of the smaller companies I’ve worked for, but I’m reporting directly to the CEO and appear to be in the bracket called “management”. I feel lucky, as though I’ve won an opportunity. My ambition was to feel excited by and engaged in my work again, to be listened to, and to make decisions that have a sustained and tangible effect, and I’m going to devote myself to this as completely as I have in the past to local authority election campaigns, marathons, and on-stage interviews with former Doctor Whos.
The responsibility and visibility scare me. But the process of looking into myself to see what I really want to do, marketing myself, and finding the job search process so stimulating, has woken me up and rekindled my spark. I’m going to take a leap. I’m more excited by what happens during the working day this week than I have been for years and that helps me believe I’ve made the right choice.