July 05, 2012
A few months ago I decided it was time to switch things up a bit. I was eager to move back to the US and also eager to work for a startup where I had more control over my place in the company. I wanted an office I could walk to and one that I wanted to go to everyday. And I wanted the office to be in a vibrant, exciting city with an active startup scene.
Sure, I dabbled with a few companies over the last year, but it wasn’t until mid-March of this year that I started to get a bit more serious about it. Getting cut after the 3rd round of several-hour interviews at Google a year ago was a bit painful, but I was glad I went through that because it forced me to think about what I really wanted to do. It was actually the first time I interviewed for a job that I did not get. There would be a few others after that, but each bad interview taught me more and more about what I wanted.
Google came up because of a conversation with a friend at a ski house in France last year. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but hey, it was Google. Another company came up because of a well timed LinkedIn email just as the Google opportunity died (turned out they wanted a well-experienced do-it-all trainer but wanted to pay a fresh-out-of-college salary). And then I stopped pursuing anything for a good 6-9 months. That happened to coincide with the work I was doing to create FaxDocs.tv: I was having too much fun in my job to think about changing things.
So in March I decided to start looking again and thats when I put the Internet to work for me. The key tool I used to get me my job was IFTTT. Don’t try to pronounce it. Its “If This Then That”, or http://ifttt.com. IFTTT basically waits for something to happen on the internet and then does something in response. What kinds of things? Well, I use it to check tomorrows weather, check web sites without RSS, archive my Instagram pictures, auto-respond to new Twitter followers, and more.
But for job searching, I had IFTTT start searching a few sites every day and send me an email when it found a match. Each This and That combo is called a Recipe, and I had about 10-15 recipes for different sites and searches. I had searches on Craigslists for Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, NYC, and Boston for jobs with the word “evangelist” in them. I had searches on the various VC company pages for jobs at the companies they were funding, again looking for the evangelist role.
Every day, 3-10 jobs came into my inbox. Some were repeats, and some were actually jobs for pastors and preachers. But some looked like amazingly cool opportunities that I had to investigate. In April, I sent in my resume to one of those companies. Later that month we were talking (while I was in Sydney and Bangkok and San Antonio) on the phone and for some in-person interviews in Boston. In May came the offer, and next week I start the job: Technical Evangelist at a very cool web startup in Boston, Massachusetts.
Looking back at the interviews that did not work out, none of them were jobs that I really wanted. Some were startups a little too new (and risky) or too established (and rigid), some were Dev Evangelists, some were trainers. None of those were what I really wanted. Maybe that showed in the interviews because I wasn’t as excited as I should have been. One insisted on a Skype interview even though he had a terrible connection then had HR contact me to say I didn’t have the skills. If that was really it, they could have figured it out from my blog and twitter. (HINT: if you are hiring, have a bad internet connection and want to do a good interview, pick up the damned phone!). Glad I didn’t end up working for that guy.
Out of all the jobs I looked into there were many I was a perfect fit for, but there was only one that was a perfect fit for what I wanted to do right now. That was the one I was super excited about. That was the one I contacted several times mid-interview process and post-interview with ideas of what I would do in the role. I even made a video or two demonstrating my skills with their messaging. The one I was super excited about is exactly the one that I got. I can’t wait to get started!