Job Transitions

Jeff Haden wrote about a set of interview questions that potential employers can find it useful to ask, about each job in a candidate's history:

  1. How did you find out about the job ?
  2. What did you like about the job before you started ?
  3. Why did you leave ?

Naturally, the first two of those can be asked also about the job the interview relates to. Since they're reasonable questions, it makes sense for me to write up the answers to them alongside my career history.

CFEngine
  1. Head-hunters; and I'd noticed the company as interesting in my earlier job-hunting, so was willing to talk.
  2. Open-source core product, modest-sized development team, bright young interviewers.
  3. The investors – who'd told management to grow and promised to pay the resulting transient deficit – decided they didn't want to own technology companies any more. The company was forced to abandon the growth plan and those it had hired for it. At least we were able to leave the survivors with a better code-base on which to build their future.
Tandberg Data
  1. Online job-posting, found during job-hunt.
  2. A stable business and a change of scene; writing software for a computer hardware supplier, rather than the software-as-such industry, in which I've mostly worked.
  3. The head-hunters found me an interesting offer.
Opera software
  1. My friend Jonny Axelsson was working there and I'd asked him to let me know when they resumed hiring, after the internet economy bubble burst.
  2. Jonny had shown me round during an earlier visit to Oslo and it looked like a good place. Opera was also working towards making the browser market a free market, rather than the monopoly it was, and keeping the general market for 'phone software from becoming a monopoly. Moving to Norway apealed to me.
  3. After a decade, only the last of the above was really true and I was getting stale; it was time for a change.
Zeus Technology
  1. I heard rumours of an interesting young start-up in an incubator near where I was working; so researched them on the web.
  2. A bright young team of enthusiastic recent graduates; and an interview process that left me in no doubt that they only recruited the best, so I wouldn't find myself carrying weaker colleagues just in order to get things done.
  3. The internet economy bubble burst, obliging the company to contract – and the expensive old man drew the short straw !
LaserScan
  1. Advertisement in the local paper
  2. Solid company culture, ISO 9001 processes, GIS has parallels with CAD (see Shape Data, below) and a good location.
  3. Zeus was more interesting.
UIT / Metro Internet
  1. At a midwinter party, a friend of friends asked what I was up to; after hearing the shambles, asked if I could sysadmin; after hearing a humble answer, asked if I could webadmin; as I could, offered me a job.
  2. Bringing local small businesses into the Web era and being solvent again, so that I could take my time about looking for a proper job.
  3. I found a proper job !
Bergen
  1. I'd described a research idea to a friend of a friend and he claimed he could find me funding to pursue it.
  2. Play with an idea, get to see a new place; and I could afford for it to not be economically viable, thanks to the FlyBase follow-up work, as long as I lived frugally.
  3. I'd learned what I was going to and wasn't finding suitable work to keep me in Bergen.
FlyBase
  1. Aubrey rang me up one day and asked me if I wanted a job back in Cambridge.
  2. Chance to learn new skills (informatics) and subject matter (genetics) while returning to where I felt at home, after some bruising episodes in my personal life.
  3. It was a fixed-term contract and the job was done.
NA Software
  1. My friend Dave Lloyd was working with them and put me in touch when I was looking for a job in their part of the country.
  2. A viable commute from where I was marrying; and a challenging new field of enquiry.
  3. After the divorce I wanted to go home (and we'd pretty much solved the problem I was working on).
Shape Data
  1. My friend Diana commanded me to apply !
  2. Several friends recommended the place.
  3. I was moving away to Warrington and we hadn't yet invented telecommuting.
FEGS
  1. One of my friends had worked there the previous summer and was going to do so again.
  2. More practical application of my theoretical training.
  3. Fixed-term contract.
NNC
  1. My father worked for the same company and knew of a department that might have a use for a school leaver who could program.
  2. A chance to put into practice what I'd learned at school and get some experience with more modern computers. Bonus funding for my student years was also welcome.
  3. It was time to take up my place at Cambridge.

The same article follows up with How many people have you hired, and where did you find them ? but I've always preferred technical rôles to management ones, so never been the one to hire anyone. The closest I've been to the normal recruitment process is examiner for the programming test Opera applied to those seeking developer positions. The extent to which I've ever taken a leadership rôle has also been technical, as: an adviser to developers; an advocate of their interests and concerns; and the occasional ring-leader of skunk-work.


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This page is part of my curriculum vitae.