2014, A New Chapter and a Taste of Dogfood

2013 was a banner year. I started working at one of the most well respected Drupal shops in the country. I traveled to Prague to speak at Drupalcon about my rapid prototyping framework, Tractor. At CSS Dev Conf, in the historic Stanley Hotel, I spoke in front of some of my CSS idols about Getting Your Sass in Line. After spending the previous year being envious of Seattle's Sass Meetup, I decided to start PDX Sass and now welcome dozens of front-end developers to our meetup at Puppet Labs each month. Lastly, after recording a few Sass demos for friends, I decided to just continue making demos, creating the Sass Bites Podcast. Now with hundreds of Youtube subscribers and over 20 episodes under my belt, I feel like I am just getting started.

So, not to be over shadowed, 2014 started off with a bang...and a job hunt. Fortunately, the first month ended with a job offer, and a great story to tell.

Eating my own dogfood

I had spent the past several months at PDX Sass telling everyone how incredible the job market is for a well equipped Front-end Developer. It seemed my time had come to eat that dogfood, and see what it was really like to go out and try to find work. I was lucky enough to have my first job offer within a couple of weeks, and here are several factors that I think helped me accomplish that.

  1. I had a large group of friends to call on. Between Twitter, Google Plus, and the meetups I lead or attended, I was never short for solid leads. There are dozens and dozens of Front-end jobs availble in this city, but the challenge is often just finding them. Out of the 8 that I applied for, I had only found one of them through a traditional job listing service. So it's very true that "who you know" IS as important as "what you know".
  2. I had spent the past year leveling up. Our job is an ever changing landscape of technology. If you aren't learning something new, you are falling behind. A front-end developer's skill is no longer defined by their ability to wrangle IE7 and IE8 bugs. Sass and Javascript are no longer "nice to have" skills. Almost every position I applied for was looking for a solid Sass background and experience in Javascript MVC's such as Angular, Backbone, or Ember.
  3. I put a large amount of time into my personal brand. Between speaking at conferences, hosting and speaking at meetups, blogging and creating a podcast, I continued to push out quality content on Twitter and G+ and engage with other people in our industry. No matter the prestige of the position you hold, or the reputation of the company you work for, when you find yourself out on your own again, that is all but gone. The reputation and prestige you built around yourself, on the other hand, will always stay with you.
  4. I gave my job hunt time. I didn't simply accept the first offer I got, no matter how good it was. I also made sure everyone understood that I was looking at several options. Fortunately, no one ever had a problem with that. Most HR reps I spoke to assumed that I had other interviews going on at the same time. The end result was that I got to make a decision on my own schedule, not theirs.
  5. I included my family in the discussion. This may seem like a no brainer, but the things that I am looking for aren't always aligned with what my family needs. I turned down a few opportunities because they wouldn't provide the stability or environment I needed to be the husband and father I needed to be.
  6. I made a decision for my future, not just my tomorrow. In the end my decision wasn't about money, or a fancy title. I decided to accept an offer with Phase 2 because I am confident that when I look back at this decision 5 years from now, I will know that I made the right decision. I have room to grow, room to learn, and room to make an impact with the work that I do.

Thanks again to everyone that retweeted my 'looking for a job' tweet. Thanks to everyone that sent me a referal, or spoke on my behalf. Thanks to all of the companies that reached out to me, interviewed me, and gave me a chance to show you what I was made of. I am glad I had this opportunity to eat my own dogfood, and I'm SOOO glad that it didn't taste like crap! We work in an incredible industry, and I'm very proud to call myself a Front-end Developer.