Me against the world?!?!

If you know me, you know that I’m pretty straight laced. I try to stay in my lane, both personally and professionally.  Recently I’ve found myself outside the standard way of thinking when it comes to my resume.

Let’s talk about me and my resume for a bit.  First some facts:

  • I have been working since 1997 professionally.  Which means I have 20+ years of experience now.
  • At last count I have worked with 15 companies over that 20+ year time span.
  • I worked for 5 companies prior to the year 2000 (most of them out of business now)
  • I’ve held 5 contract positions
  • I’ve worked as a full time employee for 6 companies (1 company twice).
  • My bread and butter from the beginning of me working was Microsoft technologies.
    • Started off in Classic ASP/SQL/JavaScript – yes I remember the browser wars
    • Now I primarily am a Full Stack developer using C#, ASP.Net/MVC/web.API, Entity Frame work, SQL Server and javascript (mostly jQuery)
    • I’ve been doing .Net since 2002 and I was a VB.Net developer as I started my career also doing VB6.  I switched to C# sometime in the 2005/2006
    • I have worked with a couple of different patterns (i.e. MVC, MVVM)
    • I had Windows Phone and Windows 10 applications in the store at one time.

Those are some of the facts about me an my career.  Love it or hate it, my career is what it is.  My resume basically states this same information above, but i have stripped out the details of what tasks I did in each job.  My thought process was that a hiring manager probably doesn’t care about what application I maintained in MVC 3/4 in 2012 or what win form application I did in 2005.  I have also broken up my resume into categories: Full time positions and Contract positions.  I have made it very easy for hiring managers to see exactly what they need to see about my work history.

Now my BEEF:

Here is the thing, resumes have been written the same way for decades.  Back when people worked at the same position for years and years.  Back before Software Engineering was the #1 job in America, back before the internet, LinkedIn and Twitter.  Times have changed….  And drastically.  According to this article and this article and this article and this article – Job Hopping is the trend for Millennials.  I know it doesn’t say this in my resume but in High School I used to wear baggy jeans before they were trendy.  I hate to tell you, I’ve been job hopping since before it was trendy too!  As I’m getting older I find myself wanting to hop less, but again my career is what it is.  I’m guessing that in 5-10 years from now some variation of my resume will be what everyone will be using.  Technology changes quickly and most hiring managers want to know what you know now, not what calendar application you updated 5 years ago.

Lately, I have had a bunch of recruiters calling me.  I understand that most recruiters don’t care about me and that they are looking to get paid to fill a position (I’m sure if you are a recruiter reading this, you don’t fit this description 😉 ).  Let’s call a spade a spade here, I know that I’m the commodity in this situation, I have a value as the market is really hot.   I’ve been in the ups (dot com boom & now) and the downs (dot com bust & 2008) as I’ve been doing this for a long time.  I also it would seem that being a recruiter is a young persons job, maybe even their 1st full time gig out of college.  I have worked with some great recruiters at Prodigy Resources (Thoa and Henry) – both younger than I am, but we have a good working relationship as they have gotten me jobs.  Everyone else that is trying to place me is a stranger to me.  If you have gotten me a job and made me money then I will be more apt to listen to your advice about my resume, career or anything in between.  If you are a stranger and just looking to fill a position, please do not tell me that my resume needs work before you submit me.  I know that my resume is different and I know why I changed it to something different.

This may sound like I’m yelling at the kids today to get off my lawn!  Yes I am older now, but I’m at my prime of my career.  I have a ton of experience that I can bring to any company/job.  Take off your filter about what you have been taught by colleges and professors that have been teaching the same courses for 20 years.   Talk to me and try to understand me and you will be able to make money with me as your partner versus just a slot to fill.  You will gain access to my circle of trust and will be a partner for many years to come.

I asked for a raise and didn’t get it. Now what?

I was recently asking my current boss for a raise. I work hard, I have an excellent attitude, & I have improved the overall quality of the product being released. I have verifiable proof through the reports in JIRA that I do 20% more tickets then the rest of the team. Things are going in the right direction with the project since I’ve joined the team. I figured now was as good of a time as any to ask for a raise. So I did the right thing, I ask my boss for a few minutes of his time and we discussed things. I told him I was seeing recruiter emails that had figures that were up to 18% then what I was making. I wasn’t asking for 18%, but I figured they should make this right, right? I waited for about 3 weeks and my annual review came and they gave me 2% for my annual raise. Yes that is not a typo. 2% – Needless to say I was shocked, & disappointed. I went to my boss and asked him about this and he said that HR has done the compensation analysis and my salary falls in line with the compensation they have for my position. I can understand that, but that doesn’t take into the account of me working through lunches, working at home on tasks (after work and sometimes very late into the morning hours) as well as working on the weekends. To be fair, they never asked for that, I just did it because I wanted to. However, when I received the 2% after reviewing all the extras I have done over the last couple of years I started to feel very under appreciated.

When I got to the project it was chaotic, after the product was pushed to production, it would come back with major errors. The teams reputation was pretty much trash. Our burn down chart never went down on each sprint and we worked until the last minute on tickets and bugs without ever really testing them. I don’t want to state that it was because of me that things started to turn around, but I will take some credit for it. Our team got a project coach who helped us in our Agile process and our BA/QA person really started to organize the work. I guess my role was to really adopt this new process and help bring my boss and the other devs to see how this could work for us. I also busted my hump on my tickets and worked with other team members to get things done. The business owners started to recognize my efforts as now specific project tasks are assigned to me at their request. Now after 6ish months, our burn down charts are appropriately going in the right direction, our tickets are more clear and production issues are almost non-existent.

My bosses boss came to me the other day and re-explained the companies position. He told me that if I find another position that pays more then I should take it. Which basically tells me that they are willing to let me go. I feel that is short sided on their part, but it is their right to do. I know I’m expendable, I also know this is a tight market. It would take them awhile to find my replacement and it would also take that replacement awhile to get up to speed. I’ve been told throughout my career that I am different than other developers. I can talk to people, & I believe in relationships – maybe I’m more unique in this case and any replacement will not be me. I suppose, just like anyone I have pro’s and con’s. It is my hope that my pro’s outweigh my con’s and that any replacement might not have my good qualities. During my conversation with my bosses boss, he said I should go to training events. Go to Las Vegas or Orlando and do one of the big conferences. I didn’t mention that one of the applications that I support is a 15 year old beast. It is VERY out of date and the company has no patience to re-write it or even upgrade it appropriately. When he told me about going to conferences, I responded, “if we don’t get to utilize what is available then what is the point?” Why go to a conference when I’ll never get to use any of the technology? I think all he was saying was that I should utilize every bit of money in the budget allocated to me as a way of compensating me for the discrepancy of pay.

I know I’m painting a bleak picture of this company & my position. They have an old application that I can’t update/upgrade. They have process problems and MOST IMPORTANTLY they don’t appear to recognize my hard work. I guess, it feels like the answer is staring me at the face. But… I can do this job with a blind fold on. I actually like working on the application as ancient as it is (mostly because it allows me to be creative). I have built a reputation as the go-to guy for new tasks. And to be fair, I’m not dumpster diving for food or taking a 2nd job to make ends meet. I’m paid about 7k under the lowest market rate that I’ve seen and 17k at the highest. With that being said the benefits are pretty good at this company. What I’m battling with is that I probably don’t have much of a future here and working as hard as I have been was not recognized. This decision should be binary. It should be either go and find another opportunity that pays you more or stay where you are at. However, like everything in life it isn’t that easy. If I leave, I have to rebuild my reputation (if possible) at the new place. There is nothing saying that the new place won’t have it’s own set of warts. Not to mention that there is always the possibility of just not liking the next gig. However, if I stay, do I work as hard as I have been? That answer isn’t that easy either. Yeah I would like to say NO, but the extra effort is just who I am. But if I do stay then my skillset gets further and further behind and I’m just not sure I can get over the feeling of not being appreciated.

As you can see, I’m waffling. The fact is that I’m not being forced out. Maybe I spend the time to look for my next position rather than jumping into my next job without really evaluating if it is the right fit. Or maybe I should ride it out because things change. Maybe someone retires or quits and another opportunity comes along. I will say the one fact that I can’t escape is that, if I stay my skills are becoming more and more out of date. There is only so much that I can do to battle that (local meetups, conferences and working on side projects), all of which I’m doing again. I think if I asked 100 people their opinion I might get the same thoughts that I currently have. This is a very personal decision and there isn’t necessary a right answer. It really just depends… But man it would be so much easier if they just gave me that damn raise!

#appIdea for developers

So you know when you start looking for a job and you go to those sites and you update your information and then you get bombarded with calls from recruiters? Yeah I think I have a cool app idea for that.

What if there was a service where you as the developer could block time for recruiters to call you and eventually setup interview times? Where the developer could go to the app and customize the time (by day) of when they are available for a phone call or face to face. Then the developer can pass a link to the recruiter and the recruiter can then select a slot with the appropriate information needed for the call or interview.

I used to coach and serve on the board of a youth soccer league. I would create a public spreadsheet that had the fields and the times available (by day) for practicing. I sent out the link to the public spreadsheet with minimal instructions and the other coaches would take the slots left. That spreadsheet was on your honor type of thing where other coaches wouldn’t highjack times but this app would be more locked down. This is the main idea for this app. It would be also interesting to create a chat bot/Alexa/Google/Cortana/Siri plug-in that could access this service as well. The app would have to tie into a calendar as well (which could be the tie-in to the virtual assistants).

The problem with this app is that it is only on the top of your mind when you are in that particular situation (looking for a job). So once that is done then the need to have something like this passes #goodproblemstohave.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

At least I hope Jerry Seinfeld thinks so. I’ve been watching his web cast of Comedians in Cars getting coffee recently. I was noticing that it was just 2 people having a conversation. It reminded me of the many bar sessions I’ve had with various friends over the years. It got me thinking, that maybe having a web series just talking to my programmer friends might be kind of fun.

This is some rough thoughts that I’m sketching out to give a basic idea of what the show would be.

Most programmers drink beer or are foodies or something. It might be interesting to tie food or beer into the show much like how Comedians in Cars getting coffee highlights a car. Then it would be just conversational. I need to craft a set of questions that I could ask each guest (i.e – What are they currently doing? What is the their favorite framework? blah blah blah). But what strikes me the most is how Jerry knows all these comics on some level and can converse about comedy. I might be able to do with programming. It doesn’t matter if I am a C# developer and someone is a Python dev. I think we all share the same idea of creativity or logic or something else unknown.

If you haven’t seen Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, check out the link below and watch it on Netflix: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Some things I still need to do:

  • Get Equipment (cameras, tripods, mics)
  • Talk to some of my friends/build a guest list
  • Get permission from bar to film
  • Find an editor that will do it for free
  • Think of some interesting questions
  • Create a website so I can some how tie this in to learning something!

As you can see, I still have a lot of work to do.  If you have any suggestions for a title or show ideas, give me a shout on twitter.

I’m back!

Some hackers had gotten a hold of my site and my host shut everything down.  Apparently the site was being used to wreck shop for other sites.  WinHost.com is a quality organization & I worked with them to resolve the issue & I’m now in the process of getting everything back up to speed.

Updating myself:

I entered a funk for last few years, where I didn’t have a lot of time that I wanted to devote to coding anymore.  I went to my job and then I came home and watched a bunch of Netflix!  Meanwhile AngularJS 1.x, React, ASP.Net Core 1 & 2 and countless CSS frameworks have passed me by.  I still don’t know what SASS or LESS is </smh> –  Maybe being a early adopter of the Windows Phone and Windows 8 debacle wore me out.  I had no desire to learn this new stuff.  I seriously wondered if I was going to continue to be a developer in the future &  I had started to think about what my exit plan would be.

However, in fall of this year I decided that I wasn’t done yet!  I started to look through my app note books to see what ideas might be interesting still.  What is feasible?  What is relevant?  What is interesting?  I looked at my projects that I had locally & found one that was 100% functional, yet it wasn’t deployed since it was written in AngularJS 1.x.  I’m a long way from learning the newer frameworks, so I made the decision in November that I’m going to publish my apps in the wild for all to see.  Regardless of the technology stack that I use (I’m currently comfortable in jQuery and webapi), but then upgrade the site/app as needed.  To be honest, I’m not 100% sure that Angular or ReactJS is going to make the site any better then what it is now.  However, now that my app is live, I can learn the new stuff with a meaningful example in mind.  Hello World is great, but I want to know how to do the bindings & call web services!

This BLOGs future:

In my last blog it was ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!  You name it, I wrote about it.  There are too many opinions out there for mine to make a difference.  Most of the time though I wrote because it was something to do.  I’m not a great writer, but I do like doing it.  The reboot of this blog is going to be development in nature.  Sorry, I’m not going to do the book or movie/TV reviews or politics or religion.  Just coding/programming/development – Maybe some life experience about those things, but it won’t stray too far from the core idea.