Conducting an Agile Job Search

First, I must give credit where credit is due: I am stealing from Mark Shead’s excellent (Well, let’s be honest. I’m not an IT guy so I really don’t know if it’s “excellent,” but it was great for my purposes!) video, What is Agile?.

Agile, if I understand it correctly, is a framework for software development. Anyone who would be interested in hiring me to develop software for them, to oversee the development of software for them, or to test software that has been developed for them, should seek psychiatric attention. I make that clear from the beginning so that you will understand that what I write about Agile is as basic, fundamental and simple as possible.

When I was first introduced to Agile, I thought the person was talking about flexibility. Given that one component of the approach is the willingness to change, I may not have been entirely wrong. After all, they must have called it “Agile” and not “Inflexible” for a reason.

There are similarities between Agile software development and a job search:

  • There are some things you have to do quickly. In our case, the cover letter and resume. Get them out of the way. They are tools, albeit important tools, but only tools. The real work should be in networking, securing informational meetings, and honing interviewing skills.
  • You have to revisit what you have done to make sure it is working properly. If you are not getting networking and informational meetings, and if they are not productive, something has to change. If you are not getting interviews, redo your cover letter and/or resume. If you are not getting job offers, your interview skills need work.
  • And you have to keep focused on the end result. In our case, getting the interview and, ultimately, the job offer. That’s the test, the only test, of success. Yes, securing networking and informational meetings are important, but they are small successes on the road to the main success.

Consider this article the presentation of another way to look at conducting a job search, this time with somewhat of a scientific basis, but really a moralistic one.

Agile tells software developers to focus on, or stay true to, a set of values and principles, if you will, beliefs, they have decided upon at the outset of their work that they must follow. It also means that they have to be flexible, and change their plan if circumstances change. In a sentence, it’s not about what they are doing, but why they are doing it. (Perhaps some nice IT guys and gals would be so kind as to explain, in the Comments section, what values, principles and beliefs are when it comes to software development. A few examples would help. Thank you and have a nice day.)

No, I do not mean why you are applying for a job. It could be for any number of reasons. I mean why you are applying for a particular job. And that brings us back to values, principles and beliefs. They should inform your decision not just about where you want to work but, more importantly, for whom you want to work.

At the beginning of your job search you should decide on the type of boss you want to have. Most people search for the company. I have come to believe that that may be a mistake. After all, the Number One reason people quit their job is because of their boss, not their company. Look for the right boss, the person for whom you would want to work. The person from whom you believe you can learn. The person who you believe shares your values, principles and beliefs. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they’ll be working for a company where you would want to work.

So how do you find your next boss? Look around on LinkedIn, reading articles and posts written on topics of importance to you. See whose writing resonates with you. For that matter, see whose “likes” resonate with you and their comments on articles and updates. Read articles from professional journals and on websites. But don’t just concentrate on the authors. Pay close attention to whom they quote; those may be the people for whom you really want to work.

After all, if you are interested in software development, would you rather work for me or Mark Shead?