If you've ever felt bad about looking for a job, or you're wondering if now is the right time because a bunch of coworkers or friends are on the move, this episode is for you. We talk about approaching making a career change decision mindfully, and considering how it will affect your internal happiness.
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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
It seems that everyone is leaving their jobs right now. And as a result of that, a lot of high-profile jobs seem to be opening up for the first time. And in this market, I know a lot of you who are listening to this show are probably considering a job search. Now, we are going to get into a lot of the reasons why people are leaving their jobs. The very simple idea of people leaving and opening up vacancies is obviously a part of it. And then, of course, the surge in remote work has predictably opened up a lot of higher-end jobs that previously were kind of kept on-site. In any case, there is a boom right now for job seekers, because a lot of people have left behind those positions. And you are probably wondering if it's time for you to consider a change. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on the show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. We're going to be talking about job seeking this week, both in this episode and the next episode of Developer Tea, assuming things go as planned. We might end up talking about it a little bit more, depending on the response I receive from all of you. In this first episode, we're going to talk about the decisions of job searching itself, kind of these larger decisions, and how to navigate that. We're going to talk a little bit of psychology, and we're going to talk about doing this mindfully, so you don't make a big change that you made up regretting. Again, we're going to look at the psychology to kind of guide us in this discussion. But the biggest question that most people are asking is whether or not it's time to look for a job. Now, I'm not going to put boundaries on when in your career, timing-wise, you know, how long you've been at your current job, for example. I'm not going to put those boundaries on you. You have to make a decision about all of the specifics of your position, right? You're timing in the market. Now if you're wanting to remain employed, in other words, if you don't want to have a gap between one job and the next, it makes sense to always be open to talking about other opportunities. There is an illusion that by doing this, by even entertaining the thought of leaving that you are somehow breaking the confidence of your employer. But if you have this as a policy, right, even if you talk to your manager about this, then look, you know, I'm keeping my eye on the job market always, you'll find that a lot of people that you work with probably are doing the same thing. And if you are pressured not to do that, well, ask yourself why. Are people concerned that you will find an opportunity that seems better than the one that you currently have? If that's the case, then perhaps it is better. So my first piece of advice is that any time isn't okay and probably a good time to keep your eye open to, you know, survey what's available. Now this doesn't have a negative effect on your employer most of the time. In fact, by doing this, you're likely finding ways to improve. You might get some feedback or some insight into what your skill set is lacking. This is an external input into your skill set. You may be driven to improve. And there is some crossover, maybe not a perfect one to one with the typical interviewing experience and the skills necessary there. Generally speaking, if you improve in your interview skills, you're going to improve in whatever your job skills are, especially with relation to your communication skills. Okay. So any time is a good time to consider other opportunities. But as we'll hear in the rest of this episode, I'm not necessarily advocating that you change jobs a bunch of times. And we'll talk a little bit about why. Now we should be clear that it is pretty common to change your career path. And it can change drastically more commonly. You're going to change into another position that is either similar to the one that you have or maybe you are looking at this like a promotion. In other words, if you've been in your current role for a long enough, it might make sense that the job change itself is one pathway to a promotion. And because of the lack of a standard in terms of naming titles and software engineering in that industry, a lot of times even moving in a lateral manner can feel like a promotion depending on the responsibilities and what you're actually doing in your job. Now, the next thing that I want to bring up here about this ongoing job search is that you shouldn't be just doing this for fun. If you are keeping your head on a swell, we'll be honest with everyone about that. Be honest with the recruiters, especially because sometimes the companies that are doing this recruiting are tight on resources. And it's good for both sides if you tell them that you are not necessarily looking to change quickly. But this brings us to our next point. Avoid making a pressured decision. Avoid making a pressured decision. If somebody tells you that they have a job opening for you, but that you have to make a decision in the next 24 hours, this is a huge red flag. It's not always possible, but making a decision about a career change is a big deal. Usually when someone wants you to make a change under pressure, there's a reason that doesn't necessarily benefit you. Whether they are under pressure to convert this particular position at a certain rate, maybe their recruitment is their full-time job and they have to meet a particular rate. Or if they are trying to make you make a decision so that you don't have time to consider other options, whatever the reason is, typically it's not going to benefit you. To this point, even though the market is hotter than normal right now, making a decision about a career change based on the market conditions, based on the fact that hiring is a little bit hotter than normal, it may come with its own set of frustrations. For example, a lot of these positions we already mentioned in the intro that these vacancies may be open because the person that left was actually dissatisfied with the role. You might ask this question during the interview process, why is this particular role opening up right now? Whether you should leave your current job or not is a subject that we can't really cover over the course of a single podcast. There's a lot of good heuristics. For example, do you feel like you have stagnated? In that stagnation, have you been able to grow in other ways? Generally speaking, if you do feel like you're stagnating, this is a sign that you were probably headed towards an unhappy place in your career. If however you haven't stagnated, there are more complicated questions to answer. We're going to talk about some of that, and we'll also talk about why you're unlikely to regret your decision no matter which way you go. We're going to have to talk about today's sponsor, Auth0. Developer Tea is thankful for the support for today's episode from Auth0. Identity is the front door of every user interaction. Login experience is critical to a user's experience with your app. As a software engineer, you've probably spent countless hours on this incredibly important interaction, and it's still not done. If you're like most teams, you don't want to spend all of your time on the login. In fact, you'd rather spend almost all of the time that you were spending on the login on your core products, something that differentiates you from other people. Maybe you don't have the expertise you need to make your login experience seamless or maybe you're concerned about security and the constantly evolving nature of login. And this build versus buy decision on login is really a no-brainer, especially as you start to scale your application. It's even better if you can solve this before you adopt a bunch of technical debt or hidden security issues with the homegrown login solution. This happens all the time, even when you think you've got your bases covered. Auth0 is here to solve your login problems for good. Auth0 provides simple, secure and adaptable login for applications and businesses, freeing you up to focus on the problems you're best suited to solve in your product. Auth0 supports virtually every style of login you could want. Social login, multi-factor authentication, single sign-on, password list, and much more. You can implement Auth0 in your application in as little as five minutes, by heading over to Auth0.com. That's a-u-t-h, the number zero dot com, a-u-t-h-0 dot com. Thanks again to Auth0 for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. One of the amazing things that we do as humans is we rationalize our situations. This is a very important part of how we deal with our realities. We take a lot of information that seemingly could be random or, you know, you could consider this just a part of our situation and we create stories that make us feel like we've done the right thing. It gives us some sense of confirmation that our choices are good. In this particular regard, a lot of the time we're trying to rationalize why we should be happy with our decision. Why we should consider the change that we made or the change that we didn't make a good plan. Even if we chose not to make a change, we can hyper-focus on the negatives that theoretically could have happened. We might say we dodged a bullet, for example. Or if we make a change and we decide after the fact that the change has given us a whole new perspective. Often even if a negative event occurs as a result of our decisions, we post-rationalize and say that the negative event has actually taught us something. That even though the negative event occurred, something that happened afterwards that was positive that may or may not necessarily be connected overrides or somehow outweighs the negative event. Ultimately, all of this is just to say that most of the time the decisions that you make, you will probably find a way to find happiness in those decisions. In situations where you're very clearly unfit or where that situation clearly doesn't make you happy, then you will likely be able to make another decision, which brings me to another point. Very few decisions that we make as software engineers are permanent. In fact, a lot of the time we can make a decision and then choose to revert that decision. It's possible, for example, that if you decide to move to a different company, you could return to the company that you're currently at. This may sound crazy, but I have seen this happen in my career more than once. When you're making a decision like a career change, it's important to ask yourself, what are the many subsequent decisions that I could make down the road? Are you truly giving up something that you can't get back? Or are you just concerned that the worst possible outcome will occur? We've talked about this many times on the show before, but it's worthwhile to do this mental exercise. What is the worst thing that could actually happen? Now, we don't really have the ability to compare our decisions against an alternative version of ourselves. In other words, you're going to have a hard time deciding whether you would have been happy with a different decision or not. Most of the time, the best advice in this case, and in every case, is to make the most of whatever your current situation is. But since humans are very much wired for comparison, this is a social feature that we have, we're very social creatures. We are very likely to compare our career with other individuals. This is a trap, especially when it comes to software engineering careers, because you will always have somebody who has something completely different from you, and they're very happy with it. Playing comparison games is an easy way to make a decision that doesn't come from solid individual reasoning, reasoning for yourself, but instead comes from your comparison reasoning. If someone else's career change has triggered your decision to look for a new path, there's nothing specifically wrong with that, but you should ask yourself if you would have become interested, if you would have thought about this, if you would have thought about change, and that person not changed their path. So ask yourself this question. What specifically is your goal in a career change? Sometimes the answer to this is that we feel like it's time for a change. And this is a way of expressing that we feel that sense of stagnation that I was talking about earlier. Well, get very specific with this, and do a journaling exercise or whatever you need to dig into this in your own self. What specifically do you feel is stagnating? Do you feel like your interest, for example, in the subject matter that you're working with is stagnating? Is your pay stagnating? Or are your relationships with the people that you're working with stagnating? And is a career change really actually the answer to improving that stagnation? For example, maybe your interest could be shifted if you changed within, and this is a different kind of career change, but if you changed within the organization, or maybe your relationships would improve with your coworkers if you had other hobbies. If you cultivated some kind of interesting activity outside of work so that you're not overloading the responsibility of the relationships that you have with your coworkers. Now, again, none of this is necessarily going to push you against changing your career, but it's very possible that you're choosing to change your career to solve a problem that the career change wouldn't necessarily solve. If you think something is missing, consider how you might gain it if you couldn't change your career. Is there a way? This is, all of this is safe space because all you're doing is get these mental exercises. Is there a way you could gain those things without actually having to go through the process of a career change? For some problems, it is absolutely easier to change jobs to fix. For example, it's much more likely that you're going to get a significant pay raise if you change your job. And this is very often the reason why people choose to do that. For other problems, it is a much less. Less risky path to do the work to fix the problem. It's much more likely that if you get along with your coworkers now that the least risky path, especially if that's something that you care a lot about, is getting along with your coworkers, all things being equal, if you wanted to, for example, make a little bit more money, it's very likely that the least risky path is to continue working with people that you enjoy working with and simply ask for a raise. I want to reiterate something here at the end of this episode because again, we could talk about this in circles for a very long time and you're likely left with almost as much uncertainty as you had coming into this episode. My goal here is to help you become more mindful about why you're choosing to change your career. There isn't anything wrong with changing jobs, but a mindful approach focuses on what you are trying to improve. What is the function of this decision? Am I happy where I am? Then if so, what is motivating me to change my situation? If you see better pay, ask yourself how that pay will improve your quality of life. Or possibly, if it will make it worse. If you're seeking different dynamics or some other change, ask yourself how your happiness will improve. Remember that trying to predict what will make you happy in the future is very hard to do. It's an unreliable prediction mechanism that we have. If you have attained some level of happiness, it's probably worthwhile to be careful in this decision-making process. It does make sense to see happiness without trying to change your external realities first. In other words, how can you be happy with what you have now? And once you've done this evaluation, once you've done these changes, there may be some other reason that still remains. Then if that's the case, by all means, take the time. And once again, don't make this under a pressured situation, but take the time to consider what kind of change you want to make. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. I hope you enjoyed this episode. And again, this is very hard work to do. This is all the internal work that you have to do when you're considering a career change. Nobody said it would be easy. And I also didn't promise that I would give you answers here. My goal is to help you find a way to find those answers yourself. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Auth0, to get started with Auth0, head over to auth0.com. That's auth, the number0.com. Thanks so much for listening to Developer Tea. If you don't know about it yet, we have a Discord community. If you're not familiar with Discord, then just probably Google it. It's a really excellent communication platform. We actually have voice calling onto Discord. 99% of the time, it's essentially a chat server with various rooms. We have a very fun community of people, but it is improved with more interaction and the more people who come, the more questions we get to talk about, the more discussion we get to have. If you want to join that community, head over to developertea.com slash Discord today. It's free, it always will be, and the goal is just to give you a platform, a place to have discussions that are meaningful about your career. Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, enjoy your tea.