Is it a good idea to ask recruters what they are looking for ?
Any career coaching services tailors to dev/computer scientist out there ?
My favorite question in the world is "What do you want?" It's an incredibly difficult question, and very few people can answer it with any honesty. Sit and chew on that question. What do you want? If it proves hard, try applying the Five Whys approach. When you think about something you want, ask yourself why you want it. Five layers deep. Then maybe you can start getting close to what you really want.
It's a struggle, though, because what I can't seem to get what I want to do professionally either here in Texas or on the East Coast.
My degree is electrical engineering, and I spent almost 10 years working a combination of hardware production support, test software development, signal processing algorithm development, and "big" real-time embedded code development. I left that world because of internal political issues (long-ish story).
Now I have spent 3 years in NLP R&D and that is what I get typecast as. Every "Who is hiring?" thread I see a bunch of companies with very interesting positions who might actually be willing to take a flier on me, but they are all in SF. In the past year I have only been able to get three companies to even talk to me about roles I actually want. One decided to pass because I was in Texas (they were in DC and very early stage) and I apparently wasn't strong enough to warrant relocation, and two I had to pass on because they hit me up at the exact wrong time (demo leadup crunch time).
According to the Cal Newport / Viktor Frankl philosophy of life, there's no a priori 'what you want', and what you want right now probably isn't 'what you want.' Finding mastery and meaning in life – which, for them, is the goal – is best achieved through throwing yourself into things, deliberate practice, ruthless introspection, and taking advantage of chance opportunities. Things like "work/life balance" can conflict with the process, and I often wonder if asking what you want at an early stage is premature optimization.
I used to be critical of people who jumped immediately into big commitments (i.e. PhDs, working at Google), thinking they were "drones" who hadn't properly reflected on life, but now I realize that at least some of them are consciously or unconsciously doing the job of finding out.
Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning: http://amzn.to/1UwCEy6 and
Cal Newport's So Good They Can't Ignore You: http://amzn.to/1fkHSNF (blog: http://calnewport.com/blog/about/)
have really helped me navigate these issues.
From E. Fromm, The Art of Loving,
I will shorten and paraphrase:
"For humans the fundamental problem in
life is doing something effective about
feeling alone. The first recommended
solution is a good romantic relationship."
It's also the kind of question that this career-planning stuff smashes into. Do you want to get married? Have children? Believe me, those are tremendous commitments that will drastically interfere with your career (and vice versa). I've been married 22 years and raised two children to semi-adulthood. It has dominated a quarter to a third of my life.
(In my specific case: getting myself into a good position to eventually apply to work in the UK 1-2 years from now, given a current background of 3 years in DevOps and Python web dev)
What you'll sometimes find is that they'll teach you to not do what they did. For example, I'm a guitarist, and a very good one. I work hard at it. I had the opportunity to have a few conversations with the greatest guitarist I've ever met, and extraordinary musician. What I found out is that he's a very small person in a lot of ways. He practices or gigs about 12 hours a day, every day. He can't talk about much other than playing music. At that, he's tremendously deep. At everything else in life, he's a wreck.
So the next question is, "What kind of work skills will get me a job and a clean work visa in the UK?" This means the people you should be talking to are recruiters who bring people from your country to the UK to work in your field, to find out what they're looking for. You should also be talking to other programmers with a similar background to yours who made the transition you want to make, to find out what worked for them and what mistakes they made.
Unless you have a specific place you want to be (say, London), you should figure out where in the UK you want to be. It's a big place with a wide variety of culture and living conditions. From there, you can start looking at employers in the area, figure out what they're looking for.
What makes that question hard for me is that - it results into a chain of questions that appear (but not) less practical, like 'What is this World', 'What is happiness' and what not? Don't you get into (what people call) the Philosophical Questions when you ask that question?
I shamelessly stole the "What do you want?" question from the tv show Babylon 5. Here's the original, meaningful answer from that show, by Ambassador Londo Mollari:
"All right. Fine! You really want to know what I want? You really want to know the truth? I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again, and command the stars! I-I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power. I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to– to look back, or to look forward. I want us to be what we used to BE! I want…I want it all back, the way that it was! Does that answer your question?"
Of course, this leads to a gigantic galactic war and the deaths of billions, but that's another story.
Another one that comes to mind is Inigo Montoya, from Princess Bride. He knows exactly what he wants - he wants revenge for his father's murder. He may take odd jobs as a hired sword, but it's all in service of finding the six-fingered man and killing him.
So at a certain point, you don't have to keep asking philosophical questions. You just need to understand what motivates you, deep down. Inigo Montoya didn't have to ask why revenge mattered. He loved his father, and that was enough.
That said, IMHO it's better to ask then to hold it to yourself. Here or on Reddit doesn't matter.
It's good to keep in mind that there are infinitely diversified ways through which people achieved "a successful career" (whatever that means).
No, the average bozo recruiter is a transactionally focused individual. He's a bounty hunter, looking to put butts in seats for a fee. Time is money to him, if he can't qualify you for a match he must move on quickly.
You may of course, run across a rare thoughtful, seasoned recruiter. His profile is that of a relationship builder, he'll likely have some life experience and will gently entertain your career path questions.
Better still, design your own path. Make a daily habit to read the books and blogs of successful people. An excellent place to start, Peter Drucker on Managing Oneself> http://academic.udayton.edu/lawrenceulrich/LeaderArticles/Dr...
http://tinyurl.com/oauzqc9 - Pragmatic Programmer book
Come up with many possible point Bs where you'd like to end up. Find people in those positions, whether it be CTO, lead programmer, freelancer, or whatever and ask them what it took for them to reach that destination.
Plot your course from there.
For example, if a history major from a small liberal-arts college asks me how to get into DevOps, my answer is going into be affected by my having been able to spend several years hanging around SIPB, which is basically MIT's DevOps club. Maybe they can do the same, but it would be pretty expensive.
Then information can be found. Interesting responses and experiences. Find a winner.
Responses, motivations, and pointers, telling me far more than, that you did to your hypothetical applicant: plant into a well and expect them to be able to jump out by having a DevOps club experience at an 'expensive' (unclear if social, financial, or other cost) club. Grow people or crush people?
Can start at a devops meetup.
ps: the majority of recruiters doesn't give a damn about your career just because they are busy building their own...and it makes sense.
I'd say dont focus too much on one technology or framework and make sure to spend time with the best colleagues you have, on projects. You can learn a LOT like this in no time at all.
This website is also a really good source for stuff you need to learn, if something is being posted on here for over a year and noone complains about it too much it's probably good. ( ie new-ish stuff like Docker, React, etc. )
Also you mention recruiters; I don't trust recruiters at all and have had enough bad experiences with them blatantly lying to me. They're just looking to do their job and make a lot of money, I wouldn't expect honest advice from them.
Instead of seeking guidance, sit down with a piece of paper and try figuring it out for yourself. Make lists, weigh pros and cons, identify key questions. Don't be afraid to throw out your work and start again. Speaking with others is useful, but consider their stories merely data points for your own analysis.
Some of the more successful people I know have elaborate manifestos, codes of ethics, and spreadsheets that they use to organize and manage meaning in their lives.
Treat your career as a means to end; not as an end itself.
As to the OP, I'd say try to find opinions of people you respect, even if they aren't in your field at all. Who are people you look up to? Friends, family, bosses, coworkers are all good sources. Generally I've found people older than me to be most useful, just because they've made similar choices and might have interesting insights into things. Ultimately, as others have said, it's really going to be up to you to decide what's right for you, but at least gather some information, and talk to people.
Of course, that is because neither of those is true for me.
Re: recruiters, doesn't hurt to ask questions with recruiters for placement agencies; they get paid when you get placed so it's in their interest to get you hired.
That will get you far better advice than any kind of "career coaching" service.
I found mentors in positions that I aspired to be in and would take them out for coffee or lunch once a year to check in and get input on particular problems.
I've also used Clarity.fm from time to time for specific questions.
Now at a bigger corporate I'm looking into executive coaching.
Chances are that between those categories you've got it all covered: what you did, what you like, what you can do.
If you reach specific people, carefully selected to ask specific questions, you'll get useful answers. If you go away asking people at random, you'll get answers that can not be used even as a popularity pool.
Are you certain experience is always valued in law and management?
What about consulting companies in the law and management spaces? Do they value experience or just billable hours from warm bodies?
Is experience more valuable simply because it is easily
measured whereas skill is hard to measure?
Is there a correlation between experience and skill?
Is it good to seek out places where experience is valued so that you can acquire X years of experience and simply just coast?
Have you ever worked with a programmer who had 15 years of experience but was awful at their job? What about the inverse?
No but I know some lawyers. If you specialize in one domain you can make a lot of money. The more experience you get the better. In contrast, programmers with lots of experience often have a hard time getting a new job. They are considered old farts who are overwhelmed by the 'new' over-hyped technology.
My wife worked as a legal secretary for a long time and still has friends in various law offices. I have been told that corporate legal departments are reasonable pressure, but law offices (as in "Name, Name, & Name") typically are a dog-eat-dog climb the ladder pressure cooker nightmare with insane hours until you become a partner, if you become partner.
If you don't become partner, it means you need to find another company to work for... and it probably won't be a law office because all the law offices in the area know you didn't make partner.
If you do become partner, the hours go from insane to merely crazy. The dog-eat-dog ladder climb pressure cooker nightmare atmosphere remains unchanged.
Management reality check:
Managers climb the ladder, stagnate, or fall off. When they fall off, they have a hard time back on the management ladder because of of all the competition from other management (the ladder is pyramid shaped, not linear, so it gets narrower as you go up). Stagnation typically results in a layoff when hard times come around again, and hard times always come around again.
In my experience (big corporation), managers do not keep up with technology, so falling back to being technical is very difficult.
Law experience never gets outdated because law is moving slow. OTOH, experience matters. The more the better.
'I headed a department of xx people for nn years.' Sounds good. Experience matters - for managers.
(1) ASAP quit being an employee
be a sole proprietor
who owns his own business.
(A) Can't be fired due to office
(B) Guaranteed to win in any
office politics fights.
(C) Unless the business really is a
total disaster, guaranteed to still
have a job.
(2) Pick a business with a strong
barrier to entry. The three
Want a business where
all competition is within
50 miles, that is,
no business more than 50 miles
away is a competitor.
Don't want to compete with
Amazon, Dell, Cisco,
GE, Citi, Wal-Mart,
some company in China,
the Middle East, etc.
Examples: Fast food,
gas station and convenience
store, grass mowing and landscaping,
roofing, kitchen/bath renovation,
auto repair, auto
body repair, pediatrics,
some big-truck little truck
businesses (buy merchandise
in large quantities with a
big truck and sell it
in small quantities
from little trucks --
may become increasingly
vulnerable to Amazon, etc.),
bakery selling fancy cakes,
with customer decoration,
maybe with a lot of whipped
cream that doesn't ship well,
Italian red sauce restaurant.
Doing well running
fast food restaurants
can be fine -- doing well
with 10 can do still better.
E.g., I know a guy in NYS in the US
running 4 Burger King
locations; he's from Turkey,
still doesn't speak English
very well, needs a bath, a shave,
and some clean, neat clothes,
is great with people, and is doing
(B) Can't be Automated.
(C) Legally needs a professional
(3) Cross Section of Local Economy.
Want a business with many
small customers across a large
cross section of the local
economy so that if the local
economy is doing anything at all
then can still have an okay
business; this likely
means no one customer
provides more than 1% of the
(4) Small, Medium Town
Try to locate in a small
or medium sized town.
Real estate costs much
less, and can buy and own
a house in a rural location
without too much driving
to business locations.
(B) Easier to build the
brand name you need.
(C) Taxes lower. Regulations
fewer. To ease regulatory approvals,
can know the people
on the Town Council and the
Zoning Board and the
local people holding
(D) Usually better environment
for having a family.
(E) If the economy gets really
sick, can then just retire
to rural house and get most of
food from own garden.
(F) Have a shot at having
nearly a local monopoly,
say, dry cleaning, coin laundry.
(G) Can have spouse, kids
help in the business --
big advantages here.
(H) Have various ways to
save on taxes.