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051

051 JSJ Finding a Job


Panel

Discussion

01:02 – Panelist employment backgrounds
04:34 – Programming job market
  • Networking

06:31 – How to get a job doing what you like

09:36 – Qualifications 11:40 – How you find jobs

  • Being active in online and offline communities
  • Mailing list advertisement
  • Recruiters and job boards

15:51 – Resumes 19:27 – Interviews

  • “I don’t know.”
  • Pairing

24:50 – Company fit

30:47 – What makes somewhere a good place to work?

  • Autonomy

40:32 – Freelancing

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Node.js 0.10 Release with Isaac Schlueter

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TRANSCRIPT

[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at  Bluebox.net.] [This episode is sponsored by Component One, makers of Wijmo. If you need stunning UI elements or awesome graphs and charts, then go to Wijmo.com and check them out.] CHUCK:  Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 51 of the JavaScript Jabber Show. This week on our panel, we have AJ O’Neal. AJ:  Yo! Yo! Yo! Chuck, did you realize that this is like our anniversary? CHUCK:  Our anniversary was in January actually. Though, we missed a handful of episodes. Otherwise, it would be. Yeah. AJ:  Yeah, whatever. I don’t know whether or not I’m alive. I don’t know when our anniversary is. I don’t know nothing. CHUCK:  [Laughs] We also have Jamison Dance. JAMISON:  Hey guys! CHUCK:  I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. And this week, we’re going to be talking about finding a job. I’m a little curious. AJ, you’re freelance now, aren’t you? AJ:  Yeah, kind of. CHUCK:  Kind of. AJ:  Mostly, I’m just working on projects that I’ve been wanting to work on. I haven’t actually sought out a lot of work. CHUCK:  Oh, okay. And Jamison is empris — or employed. JAMISON:  [Laughs] Or happily employed. CHUCK:  I’m freelance as well, been a freelance for a few years now. So, and I know that Tim went freelance. I don’t know if that stuck or not. It sounded like it has, at least, until he decides he wants to be somewhere else. JAMISON:  Merrick and Joe are both employed though. CHUCK:  Yeah. They both work at Domo. JAMISON:  They’re like half and half, I guess, now. CHUCK:  So, how many places have you guys worked at as programmers? AJ:  I just worked at BYU and SpotterRF. JAMISON:  I have worked at four places. But one of them, I did PHP and Drupal. I don’t know if I could count that as a programmer then. CHUCK:  [Laughs] You plucked out the bad memories. JAMISON:  Yeah. Well, it was great for the time. It was [inaudible]. CHUCK:  Yeah. I did IT at BYU. I didn’t ever actually work for them as a programmer. And then, I ran tech support at Mozy and I did programming there but it wasn’t part of my job description. My job description was to run the Tech Support Department. So, people would call in with problems with Mozy and we would help fix them. But we needed an Issue Management System, our ticketing system, whatever you want to call it. And we also needed some kind of knowledge base. And the company really didn’t want to spring for it. So, I wound up building it. AJ:  Cool! [Chuckles] CHUCK:  And that’s kind of how I made the transition into programming because after working on that for a while, I realized I didn’t really want to do my job. I just wanted to code. [Chuckles] So anyway, I did QA for six months. No, not that counts either. We did write some scripts but our boss wasn’t too keen on us actually scripting the testing of the app which still doesn’t make any sense to me because it was a huge set of — or huge suite of applications that made everything work. And testing it all by hand was a pain. And then from there, I actually went and worked for a consultancy in Lehigh — they’re in Lehigh now. They were an American firm I worked for. I was there for about a year and their Ruby contract ended and they laid me off. And then, begged me to come back like three months later when they got another Ruby contract. And I told them, “No.” I worked for a lead gen company in Provo for a year and I hated every minute of it. I liked the guys I worked with but I just… The project was interesting, my boss was an idiot. And then, I went and worked for CrimeReports.com. They’re up in Draper which is in Salt Lake Valley. They’re about 20 minutes south of Salt Lake, downtown Salt Lake. And I worked for them for six months and then due to them having hired a guy that — they were actually profitable when I started working for them. And they were not when they laid me off which was why they laid me off and they laid a few other guys off too. And then I went freelance since then. So, kind of a checkered history there. It seems like all the jobs that I had that I liked, I got laid off from and all the jobs that I had that I didn’t like where the ones that wanted me to stick around. [Chuckles] JAMISON:  [Laughs] That’s bad season. CHUCK:  Go figure. JAMISON:  This is an interesting subject to talk about because there’s never been a better time to like financially or as far as ease in finding a job to work with JavaScript. And then, also a ton of people that might not be JavaScript developers that still work with JavaScript. It’s like, if you want to program in JavaScript, you can. It’s just basically how do you find a place that you enjoy working at or an environment that you enjoy working in? I don’t know; in my mind, at least. [Crosstalk] JAMISON:  There’s a million JavaScript jobs everywhere. CHUCK:  I first wanted to say, “Blasphemy! This is a recession.” But I’ve seen that the recession really hasn’t affected the programming job market a ton. AJ:  At least not here in Utah. JAMISON:  Yes. CHUCK:  I have people, recruiters, all kinds of folks that they find the show, they get my name off of it and they Email me. And they’re like, “We need you in…” wherever, all over the US. AJ:  Yeah. CHUCK:  So, it only just gets here in Utah though the tech industry here in Utah is very strong. I honestly think that there’s — I think it’s everywhere. And I’m seeing it in Ruby as well. I see IOS jobs come across my desk all the time. It’s crazy. JAMISON:  Yeah. CHUCK:  So, I don’t know if it’s really — I mean, we can talk about how do you find a job and where do you look. Most of the jobs that I’ve gotten there are actually jobs that I’ve gotten because I knew somebody at the company. JAMISON:  Yeah. Here’s the answer. If you want a job in Utah or in Seattle actually, Email jamison@i.tv or Chuck or AJ, I’m sure all these people have things they know that you can do. But it’s also interesting because if you want to work on server stuff, you can do that in JavaScript too. It’s not just for client side stuff. So maybe we can talk about how you find how to do what you enjoy in JavaScript. I don’t know. CHUCK:  Yeah, maybe. JAMISON:  That means no. [Crosstalk] JAMISON:  I hear that all the time from my wife, “Maybe…” CHUCK:  [Laughs] I’m really just trying to figure out what you mean by that. So, how to find what you like in JavaScript? AJ:  Like use all these opportunities. You could like the thing that just came across the mailing list today was for a company that does dedicated servers or dedicated Cloud servers. I don’t even know how it all makes sense, dedicated Cloud instances, whatever. They’re looking for somebody. Then you got like every type of business has got something going on with their hiring JavaScript developers right now. So, I think, and Jamison, correct me if I’m wrong. But what you’re saying is how do you go about finding the job that speaks most of the stuff you’re interested in like I’m interested in servers and JavaScript. Boom! Can I get both? Yeah, with BetterServers.com, you can. They didn’t pay me to say that. JAMISON:  Not yet. CHUCK:  They should sponsor the show. [Crosstalk] JAMISON:  …like what domain you’re interested in but also, do you like frontend or backend stuff, like the news, you can do both with JavaScript. CHUCK:  Yeah, there’s definitely that. I don’t know — the way that I figured out what I like is just by trying it. JAMISON:  That’s probably a good thing. You can try both in the same language. CHUCK:  Yeah. JAMISON:  Or if you’ve been a frontend guy traditionally, we have some people that started off as pure frontend developers and they work a lot on our services too. It’s something that they’re really good at and like it a lot. And they just were able to do that because they’re familiar with the language and it’s easy for them to pick up the backend stuff. [Crosstalk] CHUCK:  So, does that make them impure frontend guys? JAMISON:  No, it does not. It makes them awesome frontend guys. I think it makes them better with more experience. CHUCK:  I agree. Yeah, there’s definitely that. And that’s one thing that I think is interesting about jobs is, for example, you go in and say they do hire you as a frontend person and you’re interested in doing things like Node.js or some other backend technology that involves JavaScript. A lot of times, you can find ways to bring it in. But the way, the term I’ve heard for that is Skunkworks projects. And basically it’s, “Well, we need some utility that will generate these reports.” And I’ve heard people, “Well, I want to learn more Ruby or PERL or JavaScript. So, I will install Node.js on the machine and I’ll see if I can get it to generate those reports.” And you know, you bring that in, you bring in the skill set that’s involved as well. You get to learn what you want to know how to do and at the same time, you’re providing value to the company. As far as finding jobs that allow you to do the things that you’re interested in, what it really comes down to is just, again, if you know people who are doing what you want to do, it makes it really easy to get in there. JAMISON:  There’s also this weird, it almost feels like desperation in some companies, like, “Please! Come work with us. We’ll give you all these perks and all these freedom.” Sometimes, it makes me feel a little bad because I feel spoiled. But you, as an Engineer, looking for a job, have a lot of power and you have power to say like, “Okay. Maybe I’m not that great at this yet. But I’m smart and I’ll learn it.” And people will be really interested in that especially now, because there’s such a shortage of resources. CHUCK:  Yeah. To that point, if they’re offering all these perks, it means that you’re going to provide the business at least that much value for what that cost plus some. I mean, that’s how the business stays open, right? The thing is if you don’t feel qualified for the job. I found really in those situations because a lot of times, these jobs will list like their qualifications for the job. And they’re like… JAMISON:  “We need ten years in Node.js.” CHUCK:  Yeah, exactly. [Chuckles] JAMISON:  Sure. [Chuckles] AJ:  If they have like a ton of qualifications, you can just go in there and do whatever you want because no one has any idea what they’re trying to do. That’s when they list the ton of qualifications is when they don’t what HTML is, and they don’t know what Cold Fusion is, and they don’t know what PHP is. So, they just put all of them in the listing. CHUCK:  Yeah. The other thing that happens is if they have a bunch of qualifications that are more tightly focused around JavaScript or Node.js, one thing that you’ll find is that a lot of times, they were just filling in the form that their Recruitment Department or their recruiter gave them. And so, you can just cold play anyway. So you don’t have ten years of Node.js experience, who freaking cares? Funny story. A recruiter actually approached David Heinemeier Hansson, who created Ruby on Rails, and said, “We’ve seen that you have ten years experience with Ruby on Rails,” which is as long as it’d been around. [Laughs] And yeah, he lambasted him for it. I just thought that was funny. So, I thought I’d bring it up. So, yeah. Let’s go back really quickly. I want to start from the beginning. I know you guys want to talk about like interviewing and things. But I want to talk a little bit more about how you find the jobs. So, we talked about talking to people you know. Another thing is, somebody brought up on the mailing list for Utah JS. A company came and said, “Hey, we’re looking for JavaScript programmers.” So, being part of a group online or in person, Utah JS also meets every month, is a really good way to do it because a lot of times, the employers or recruiters will show up. And the folks that are pretty with their position usually don’t give them a lot of time. But if you’re in a position where you need a job and you just mention it in those meetings or on those lists, a lot of times, somebody who needs your skill set will see you and approach you. AJ:  Yeah. JAMISON:  You’re talking about explicitly advertising your self on the mailing list. “Hey, I have this as my experience. I’m looking for a job.” CHUCK:  Yeah. JAMISON:  I think that will totally work. Yeah. CHUCK:  Yeah. In fact, my contract is ending here in like three weeks. And I totally intend to Email the Utah Ruby mailing list and say, “Hey guys, I’m going to be freed up here in a few weeks. Does anyone have work they need me to do?” And of course, I’ve got other things going on to help find a work but you know. We’re kind of talking more about full time employment. So, I’m not going to go into prospecting and stuff as much unless we have time at the end of the show or we get into talking about freelancing. But yeah, literally, that’s the best way is talking to people. You can also go talk to recruiters. You can go look on the job boards. And in a lot of cases, they’ll put enough information in there for you to at least eliminate them based on the major things that you’re looking for and not looking for in a job. JAMISON:  Another thing that’s helpful about that is you don’t necessarily have to go in and say, “Hey, I would like a job please.” And advertise your self that explicitly. I mean, I get a lot of enjoyment out of relationships with other developers especially. And so, I just like hanging out with them and talking to them and go and do lots of stuff. And just through that, I’ve had so many casual conversations about people’s companies and what they’re working on. Like, so what do you talk about when you’re hanging out with a group of developers? And most of them, at one time or another, had said that they’re looking for people. So, if you just interact with people and develop friendship with them, they’ll also point the good stuff to you. CHUCK:  Yeah. And if your situation does change, a lot of times again, you can just to them and say, “Hey, I just got laid off.” Or, “Hey, I just left my job. I’m going to take a few weeks off and then I’m going to go get back to work.” And you know, it will work out to where you don’t even have to look for a job. JAMISON:  It could be a little bit less biased than something like a recruiter too because they have weird incentives. Their incentives are to get you hired somewhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best place for you or whatever. They just get the money from you being hired. So, if you have friends or a group of people, hopefully, it’s a little bit more organic. CHUCK:  Yup. AJ:  That’s why you should be talking to me or Jamison because we care about you and we work at the best places. CHUCK:  Yeah. We have no idea who you are but we love you anyway. AJ:  Exactly. CHUCK:  [Chuckles] AJ:  I have a real passion about like — so, I did the recruiting at the SpotterRF for the software team. I was team lead and I went out into the community and tried to find people to bring in. And I did my best to make sure that like it was a place where people are going to feel happy. And also, when I’m talking with other people about their skill sets, even if it’s not programming, I just love placing people. I love getting two people connected over some sort of business or job deal and seeing them be happy in that new thing. CHUCK:  And that’s an important thing. I mean, you definitely want to put people on where they’re going to be a good fit and where they’re going to be happy. I want to move along a little bit and talk about resumes. AJ:  Can I move back for a second first? CHUCK:  Sure. AJ:  Because I wanted to mention along the lines of getting exactly what you want. If you pick a technology that’s something you’re really interested in especially if it’s something a little bit newer and you go to a conference and you present on it or you go to a user group and you present on it or you put it up on YouTube. That’s probably one of the best ways to get a job doing exactly what you want to do, if you present on something you want to do because then, the people who need you to do what you want to do will find you. Guaranteed or your money back. CHUCK:  Yup. And there’s no harm either in putting up on your slides or whatever saying, “If you want to hire me, here’s how to get a hold of me.” And then, they know that will prompt them, “Oh, I need somebody who can do this.” And, “Oh look, I’m watching a presentation by a guy that can.” AJ:  Yeah.  CHUCK:  And that’s a trick that I’ve learned being a freelancer as well. And maybe we’ll come back around to that. And I think that kind of does lead into the whole discussion on the resume because usually, the resume is about giving them some kind of proof that you can do the job. I have to say, though, I’ve been a Hiring Manager in several instances. And most of the time, I scan the resume. If there’s something that is really pertinent to what I need somebody to do, then I’ll get excited and have him come in. So, you want to make sure that any of those things are on there. But beyond that, I’m really just looking for red flags. And you know, just throwing stuff in the garbage, if it’s not somebody that’s going to work. JAMISON:  The thing about resumes is if you know someone, it doesn’t matter. Your resume just has to be in English and free of spelling errors. CHUCK:  Yes. JAMISON:  That’s why it’s why jobs are about relationships. If you have relationships with people, then your resume goes through this special tube and ends up on someone’s desk and then, someone else comes and says, “Hey, I know this person. They’re cool.” And then, it doesn’t matter. The resume is just a piece of paper to get you into an interview. CHUCK:  Yes, I agree.  JAMISON:  So, if you can get an interview without it, it doesn’t matter. CHUCK:  Yes. And if I had a nickel for every horrible resume I’ve seen, I’d be a rich man. It just needs to be formatted well, has to be proper English, make sure there’s no spelling errors in it. AJ:  Here’s the thing I hate. This is what like grates on my nerves almost more than anything else is when at the top it says ‘Objective’. CHUCK:  [Laughs] AJ:  And it says, “One day, I want to work for a large corporation doing this skill as something.” And it’s like, “Okay. So, what I learned is you don’t have any experience working in a large corporation, you’re not experienced in this, and you can’t do that.” Because if your objective is to someday to that, that means you’re not doing it now. Like just put freaking what you are. Like, “I am a Software Engineer.” Like, whatever position you’re applying for, put that up at the top. Like put that as what you are because if that’s what you’re applying for, then that’s what you are. You don’t need to say, “This is what I want to be.” You already are that. [Expression] CHUCK:  Well, and I always think the objective is funny because ultimately, what the objective on every resume is ‘I want to get this job’. But, yeah. All of that aside, I mean, you know, I totally agree with Jamison. Most of the time, it has be good enough for somebody to want to interview you for the job. So, let’s talk about the interview. JAMISON:  Interviews suck, man! I hate interviews. I hate interviewing. I hate doing interviews. It suck! AJ:  They can’t hate them. JAMISON:  It’s so hard to tell from an interview how someone will actually do in the job. CHUCK:  I was actually going to say, the interview is almost as useful or I guess, I’ll take it back. The resume is nearly useless and it’s almost as useful as the interview. JAMISON:  Yeah. Interviewing is tricky. CHUCK:  So, the interview, in my opinion, is I mean, again, you’re just looking for red flags. Do I get a funny feeling about this guy when he walks in? Does he look nice? Does he smell nice? JAMISON:  What do you mean, does he smell nice? CHUCK:  Does he not smell bad? [Crosstalk] JAMISON:  …or hair color? CHUCK:  Yeah. But you know, just things like that. Does he present well? Is he somebody I could work with? But it’s really hard to tell a lot of those details just from like a half hour talking to somebody. JAMISON:  But again, that’s why it’s so important to have a personal relationship. Not just for you looking for a job, but if you are evaluating people. If you know more about them than what you could tell from an interview, you’re in a much better position to tell how they’d work at your company. We had a guy who applied because our CTO knew him. And he interviewed and he did okay but he wasn’t very experienced. And then, he came in and again, he was kind of okay. It was kind of — I don’t know. He was kind of medium. And no one was super impressed by him. But because he knew the CTO, the CTO just said, “I know him. He’s awesome. I’m going to hire him.” And we’re all a little bit skeptical but he is one of the best engineers at the company and we didn’t know this and we missed it in the interview. We didn’t know he was awesome. CHUCK:  Yeah. But the interview, in my opinion, if you’re going to go in for one, since we’re talking about finding a job not hiring. But again, I think the two go hand in hand because we’re going to be talking about that. You definitely want to be confident and you want to be able to present well what you know. And one other thing I just want to put in is, when I was a Hiring Manager, I would always push people to the edge of their knowledge. And I would ask them questions until I found something that I knew that they didn’t. And their correct answer for me was, “I don’t know.” JAMISON:  That’s a good point. CHUCK:  It can be varying degrees of ‘I don’t know’ like, “I could look it up on Google,” or, “I bet there’s an answer on Stack Overflow.” But I mean, it just — some folks, they just BS it. And I’d look at them and I’d say, “No, that’s not the way it works. This is how it works.” And I just tell them the interview is over because I could never afford, I can’t afford, I still can’t afford to hire anybody who’s going to BS crap on my client’s projects. I couldn’t afford, when I was running tech support, to have somebody BS something and screw up the customer’s computer. It just wasn’t worth it. And so, that’s one piece of — if you don’t know, just tell him you don’t know. Just accurately represent what you know, what you don’t know. Represent your willingness to learn and hopefully, that will get you far enough if you don’t have all the answers you’re looking for. When I interviewed at Solution Stream which was the job I took after Mozy, it was my first coding job, that interview I answered a lot of questions with I don’t know. And the programmer that was interviewing me, he would explain the concept and then I would reiterate what he said to make sure I understood it and that’s what got me the job. It was the fact that I was a quick study and I was willing to ask questions. So, you don’t always have to have all the right answers. JAMISON:  One other thing I wanted to mention is, again because of the way the market is, it’s kind of a [inaudible] market for software developers, you have the opportunity to figure out if the place you’re interviewing is somewhere you’d want to work. So, a lot of it is going to be do they like you, do you think you’re qualified enough, or could you learn the skills you need to, could you fit in? But some of it is your responsibility to figure out if you could succeed there and enjoy it. There’s a lot of room for asking questions about what it’s like to work there. I don’t know. What the business is like. AJ:  I had an experience with that and it went sour where — so, at SpotterRF, we used to ask people to do little projects to try to like gauge their ability to learn and how quickly they could come up to speed with something. And there was one person who became very, very angry because he spent a lot of time working on it, like way too much time working on it, was very frustrated by it. And it’s too bad that it wasn’t communicated enough in the beginning. Like, “Hey, if you don’t like this kind of work, you don’t want to work here.” It should have been obvious but I wish we had stated it out loud because this person just got so angry and then I get the feeling that they may have spoken badly about us to other people when like — this isn’t the place you want to work. Like, don’t sweat it. Like if it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. CHUCK:  Yeah. I think there’s definitely a bit of figuring out if the job or the company are right for you. JAMISON:  How do you do that? CHUCK:  It’s really hard. I mean, it’s just as hard from the company’s angle to really figure out if you’re the right fit or not. And I’ve actually let people go because they weren’t the right fit. Even though in the interview, there was every indication that they probably would be. So, I mean, the best thing you can do is ask to see where the developers work and go meet some of the developers. And you can look around the space that they’re in and you can talk to them about the project and they can answer you in kind of broad terms as to what they do and you can get a good feel just from their body language and the way that they approach things as to how happy they are there. And I think that’s a good indication. But I think the best idea that I’ve heard and I’ve heard this from several people, including, we actually interviewed Joe O’Brien who ran EdgeCase out in Ohio for a while before they got purchased. He started it up and ran it. When they were interviewing people, they would interview them and then they would actually have them pair with them for a few days. And I really, really like that approach because it gives the programmer a way of fearing out if, “I’ve been here three or four days. Am I happy here? Is it a good fit? Do I like these people?” And it gives the company a good way of figuring out, “Okay. We’ve had him here for a few days. Do we like him? Are we comfortable with him here? How do we feel about the work he’s doing?” That kind of thing. So, that’s one thing that I really, really like the idea of. It’s just bringing them in and having them pair with you for a few days. And in both of those cases, I’m pretty sure they actually pay them to be there. It’s just like, “Look, you’re going to do three days worth of work. We’re going to pay you for three days worth of work just on a contract basis. And then, if you work out, then we’ll hire you.” Any thoughts on that or any other ideas? JAMISON:  I like that. We do that for a day in i.TV and it’s been pretty good. I think they’re still — you’re still in a honeymoon period then if you really come in for a few days, it’s probably because you want to work there. And they want you to work there. So, there still might be some things that aren’t — not available, what’s the other word? Visible? I don’t know how you find out the truth. I guess that’s the closes approximation to what it would really feel like working there. CHUCK:  Yeah. JAMISON:  If they want you to work there, they’re not going to put on the crap work like there’s some awful project that no one wants to work on and that’s not what they’re going to have you do. But I guess if you’d hopefully be able to tell that that’s something they would do before you start working there so you could avoid it. CHUCK:  Yeah. At the same time, though, if you put them on something hard, you challenge them in different ways. I mean, you can figure out sort of where they’re at and what’s going on. Obviously, you’re never going to know until you actually hire them and bring them in. But that’s the closest, I think, you can get before you actually do it. JAMISON:  There are some places that do that for months, though. What do you think about that? They have like three month contracts. They don’t hire people until they’ve done a contract. CHUCK:  Yeah. That’s usually Contract to Hire is the term I’ve heard for it. So, you basically take a three month contract with them. And then, at the end of the contract, your reward is ‘we’re going to give you a job’. And the rob is that a lot of people when they’re looking for a job, they want all of the benefits of a full time job. So, they want health benefits, they want all of the other stuff. And you really don’t get that as a contractor. So, you can’t really give them what they want. And so, you have to find people who are actually looking for or are willing to take a contract position for three months without getting all of those benefits. Because if they give you all those benefits and everything else and then it doesn’t work out, you will claim it on your taxes, the IRS investigates. They treated you like a full time employee, and so, the IRS is going to come in and it’s going to say, “Look, all the expenses that you wrote off while you were on the contract with these guys, you can’t write those off anymore. So, we’re going to charge you more taxes.” And then, they go over to the company and they say, “You didn’t withhold for those three months. So, we’re going to ding you for not withholding. So, you have to pay those taxes plus the penalties, plus the interest.” And so, they can’t give you the benefits and everything. And a lot of people aren’t happy being without, at least, like health coverage for three months. Does that make sense? JAMISON:  It does. So, it sounds like you’re not… [Crosstalk] CHUCK:  I like the idea personally. I like the idea. I like the idea from an employer standpoint and from the employee standpoint. JAMISON:  It’s high risk, high reward. AJ:  Yeah. JAMISON:  You’re putting more effort to it but you will know more about it. CHUCK:  Yes. Well, I mean, Utah or most of the states out there including Utah are at-will states. So, they can fire you for any reason anyway. So, the risk really isn’t that much higher as a contractor versus an employee. The only difference is that if they let you go as a contractor, they don’t have to pay unemployment. And that’s the risk that they’re mediating with that. But yeah, the rest of it, it just doesn’t seem like it’s — yeah, anyway. That’s more or less where things are at there. So, the risk isn’t that much higher for you. You just don’t have the unemployment safety net and you’ll get paid a contactor rate that’s usually pretty comfortable to the salary that they would be paying you. It’s usually a little more so that you can go get benefits if you want them. But yeah, it is a nice way for the company to do it without having to take the risk of having to pay unemployment for somebody that didn’t work out. And it’s nice for you because if you’re under contract or whatever, you just abide by the terms on the contract and walk away. Anyway, so the interview, pairing — I don’t know. I’m a little curious as to what aspects of the different jobs you guys have had that you really like? Like what makes it a good place to work? JAMISON:  So, I’m really biased about i.TV because I’m still there and I would go somewhere else if I wasn’t happy but I really like it. And part of the reason why is they put a lot of effort into — so, it’s a very engineering-driven company. And they put a lot of effort and time into making sure that the engineers are owners of stuff they work on, not just producers of like manufacturers of results. That’s probably the thing I like the most. There’s like perks and I don’t know foosball tables and all that groove and stuff. But the biggest thing is just people get treated like adults. There’s no hours, there’s no vacation policy, there’s no [inaudible]. It’s just here are some thing that we want to accomplish probably work together to figure the best way to do that and then do it. And it works out really well. It makes it a really fun place to work. CHUCK:  So, it’s just kind a laid back environment? JAMISON:  It’s laid back until it can be laid back but that doesn’t happen very often. I mean, if there’s stuff that must get done or like a company is dead, then people will work on it. But if not, people are very responsible about having a good work life balance, I guess. CHUCK:  Yeah. That sounds a lot like… JAMISON:  And the company trusts people with that. There’s no guilt tripping if you need extra vacation time. Or if you work less than eight hours, you’re not in trouble. You just get your stuff done, it’s fine. CHUCK:  Yeah. I worked for one company that like I took a little bit of extra vacation time. And so, when they laid me off, they basically withheld my last check and said, “Well, you took enough vacation time to cover this check. And so, we’re not going to pay you.” JAMISON:  That’s so scummy. That’s really low. CHUCK:  Yeah. And then, the other — I’ve heard like Github and some of these other companies, they kind of do that where it’s show up when you want to show up, take off when you want to take off. If your kid has a baseball game, go to the baseball game. If your wife is sick, then work from home kind of thing. And they just trust everybody to get done what need to be done and they don’t give you like three weeks vacation or any of that. It’s just you just do what you got to do. And as long as we’re getting the results we need from you, then you’re happy and we’re happy. JAMISON:  Yeah. And to me, it feels like optimizing for the right thing, optimizing for getting stuff done not making people feel like they’re in control and they have a good handle on what’s going on. Because there’s, I think as a Manager, a caveat temptation to feel like you knew what your team was doing and where they were, what stuff was going to get done. Like you have this instinct to clamp down and control. And that doesn’t help stuff get done. It just helps you feel better. So, I don’t know. CHUCK:  Well, the thing that I’ve seen with a lot of this is that it tends to then attract better talent and people who are willing to work as part of the team. And as long as everybody is delivering and everybody on the team is yeah, delivering, giving you what you expect to get out of them then, that’s what you get. So, it’s nice. And the people who are in demand like really in demand that everybody wants to come work for him, are going to naturally gravitate the places that allow them to excel that way. JAMISON:  One thing that I think is interesting — so, there’s this podcast that evolved a common — I don’t know if you guys know anything about this. Probably the video game company has an in-house economist. And he was on this economics podcast. But for a while, he talked about Valve’s hiring policies and their company structure. And it’s just totally flat. No managers, no bosses, no external anything. They just work on whatever they want, whenever they want. But one thing he mentioned is, they make tons of money. But he talked about how anything can work in the good times. They haven’t really gone through a tough time as a company. So, I wonder if — I wasn’t a programmer last time the dot-com crash up. I’ve never been paid to write code when it hasn’t been like just a booming market. So, I wonder if any of this stuff changes. I don’t know. I’m just kind of thinking about is this the best way to do it all the time or is it just such a good mark time to be an engineer that things are really good at work. I don’t know. CHUCK:  That’s a really good question. It doesn’t make sense. And I don’t know if I have the answer either because I’ve been a programmer professionally for seven years, eight years. So, that’s still after the dot-com crashed. JAMISON:  So, maybe we just think this is the best way to work because it’s the most fun. But if there’s not enough money, then maybe something else happens. I don’t know. CHUCK:  I don’t know. JAMISON:  That way, we’re going to be happy. AJ:  Motivators for me are autonomy and getting to keep some of my work. I’m really motivated to do what I feel is a good job when it’s something I’m getting to direct myself on how to do it, and especially if it’s something that I get to use. And at SpotterRF, I was lucky enough to be able to publish a lot of open source stuff. And so, like I made things cleaner, not everything because some stuff I wrote are crap, I’ll admit that. But wrote a lot of things cleaner because I know they’d be useful to someone else and they’d be useful to me later. And I wrote some documentation much, much better than I would have because the same reason like I wanted to know how to use it for my self later or for someone else to use it. And we got patches for stuff sometimes. And that was way awesome. CHUCK:  Yeah. That’s always nice is being able to contribute to open source and that’s also kind of a big thing for me obviously, having been freelance for the last few years. And to be perfectly honest with you guys, this is the best job I’ve ever had. The nice thing is the autonomy, for me, it’s a huge deal just to be able to work through things that I work through. Work on things that I want to work on, pick the jobs that I want to do, pick the clients that I want to work with. I mean, sometimes, they ask me to do stuff that I’m not excited to do. Some of it is just boiler plate crap that you have to do. But for the most part, it’s terrific. And I get to solve new problems on a regular basis and really just challenge my self. And for me, I think the biggest things besides autonomy are just being challenged on a regular basis and to feel like I’m contributing, in general, to the well-being of the world. And that can like being in some small little corner of some small little world like the JavaScript community out there. I think we reach thousands of people. But in the grand scheme of how many billion people live on the earth, it’s not even a blip. But at the same time, we’ve made people’s lives better and that’s a huge thing for me. So, that’s what gets me excited. So, when I was working at Mozy, I really felt good about it because it had all of those things and telling people to back up their files so they don’t lose the pictures of their kids. I mean, it’s a pretty small thing and yes, they’re paying for the service but I felt like we made people’s lives better, like I truly believed to that at that time being there. And the lead gen thing was kind of iffy for me and I think that was part of the reason why I had a problem with it besides the issues with my boss. And that’s the other thing is the personal stuff wherever I’m working in is also really big for me. If I don’t get along with people I work with or if I’m just isolated, it usually doesn’t work out super well for me. JAMISON:  So, Chuck, just from listening, it sounds like your idea of job would be to be Batman. AJ:  [Chuckles] CHUCK:  To be Batman? JAMISON:  Yeah. You’re making the world — you’re helping people, you’re making the world a better place. I think you should look into super heroism. AJ:  What about throwing lavish parties and speaking in a dark nasty voice? [Laughter] CHUCK:  I’m just waiting for one of our listeners to Email or to mail me a cape. JAMISON:  [Chuckles] CHUCK:  But, yeah. Anyway, that’s usually what I’d be looking for in a job. And that’s what I look for in my clients. JAMISON:  So, we’ve talked about a lot of things. I think the main takeaway is if you don’t really, really love your job, there’s a job somewhere that you could really, really love right now. And you should do that. You shouldn’t be working in something that you’re not happy with as a programmer right now. CHUCK:  Yeah. And I also want to…[Crosstalk] JAMISON:  So, it doesn’t have to be with [inaudible] but find something that you love because you could. CHUCK:  And the thing is you can find that job. It’s out there. There’s a job out there that will probably meet 90% to 95% of the criteria that you have for a terrific job. So, we’re not just talking about it like if you don’t love your job, go quit. And we’re not talking about it like if you don’t love your job, go and kind of look for another one that kind of meets what you need. It’s out there. You can find it. Just go do it. And I’m actually going to pick a resource that I really appreciate that will tell you how to do that. Do we want to talk about freelancing really quickly before we go to the picks? JAMISON:  I haven’t done very much. I’ve only done a couple of things with it. So, I wasn’t too much in it, Chuck. CHUCK:  AJ, have you done much freelancing or is this your first experience kind of going indie? AJ:  Well, I’ve done work on the side. I also had a side business in high school. So, I’ve got some experience, not as much big time. Just a little bit of big time experience. But one thing, for me, was I know that you can’t really balance a full time job. A relationship and a contract job will not work. CHUCK:  Yeah. That all depends mostly on how much time you have to dedicate to those and how much time they demand. But yeah, that is generally true. I have found, though, that there are a few people that have done work for me that they work their full time job 40 hours a week, they work their part time gig with me, 10-15 hours a week. And they still have time to spend time with their wife and kids or whatever. So, it can work. It’s just really hard and I honestly can’t speak to how you do that because I’ve never had to do that. AJ:  I admire people that can. I know some people can. But goodness, it’s stuff. CHUCK:  I took one contract when I was fulltime employed. And that worked out okay but it wasn’t a very long term thing. Full time freelancing, you’d be surprised how many things it has in common with a fulltime job in the sense that you have clients just like you have a boss. They have some project that they need to get done and all that. The difference is that you get to pick what it is, you get to pick when you work on it. You can work on it as much or as little as you want as long as you keep the client happy. But the real trick to freelancing is good marketing. And we talk about that a ton on the Ruby Freelancer Show which is shortly to be renamed to The Freelancer Show. And we talk to several people about finding prospects, working with prospects, finding leads, working with leads, getting them down to the point where they’re actually going to hire you. And there’s a lot there to talk about. But ultimately, that’s what it boils down to is helping people find you and then helping them figure out that you’re the right person to do their job. The rest of the technical skill set, it matters that you’re able to do what they need and to do it right and to do it well. But ultimately, they don’t have any way of gauging that. And so usually, what you’re going to wind up doing is showing them something else that has solved that problem for somebody else or something similar for somebody else. And basically demonstrate, “Hey, I can do this job for you and I can do it in a timely enough manner to where you’re willing to pay my rate to do it.” And that’s the real secret to freelancing is getting people to that point. Building enough rapport and trust and then getting the word out so that people will hire you. Does that make sense? JAMISON:  It sounds great. AJ:  It makes sense. CHUCK:  Yup. So, the only other advice I’d give people is if you’re going to do moonlighting which is kind of the term for ‘I have a full time job and I’m going to do extra work’, don’t expect to be making quite as much as the fulltime freelancer guys, then you’re probably going to wind up sub-contracting for one of them. You know, it doesn’t always work out that way. But the other thing is you’re probably going to get paid more than you think you will. But if you ask the guy what his rate is and he tells you, you’re probably not going to make that much. So, ask for a little bit more when you’re being hired as a sub-contractor or as after-work contract deal. Ask for a little bit more than you think you can get. And then, see what happens because I think you’d be surprised by how much you can get and how much it’s worth to these people to have your technical skills at their disposal. And that’s all I really have to say about that other than go listen to the Ruby Freelancer Show if you really want to get in to freelancing. JAMISON:  I think you said all the things. CHUCK:  Alright. Well, let’s get into picks. It’s really hard to sum that up in like 10 minutes. JAMISON:  [Chuckles] CHUCK:  AJ, what are your picks? AJ:  Definitely, Psych Season 7. First episode was pretty awesome. Second episode was a little stranger than usual but also pretty awesome. Love me some Psych. Also, I’m working on a project that is getting to the point that I’m willing to risk putting it out to the public. And my website for it is GetMediaBox.com. It is a — basically, I’m working on a private Cloud solution. Like, this is the big thing that I want to work on, like if you want to hire me to work on this, you can totally hire me to work on this. If you want to join me for the open source parts of it, you can totally join me. This is something I’m really interested in. But the first part is just music and then I want to move on to like photos and full backup and yada…yada… CHUCK:  Cool! Jamison, what are your picks? JAMISON:  I just have one. I bought one of those quickie mechanical keyboards. Oh, man! It’s so good! Never thought that I would care so much about the thing I typed on but it’s great; the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate. It’s one of those ones that doesn’t have any letters on it. So sometimes, I have my fingers shift at over one key to the left or right and I type gibberish. It’s got boost which means they’re extra quickie. And this feels really good to type on and it makes it sound like I’m working really, really hard like if I’m typing fast, oh man! Somebody else knows that I’m getting lots of stuff done. It’s really good. Actually, I like it a lot. CHUCK:  Keyboards, like that, are the reason that I’m constantly saying on Go to Meeting with my current client, “Dude, could you please mute?” [Laughter] JAMISON:  Yeah. CHUCK:  Because I’ll be trying to talk to somebody and it’s [keyboard pounding sound]. JAMISON:  Yeah. I guess if you work with these people, you might want to check if they’re going to hate you or not before you get it. CHUCK:  Yeah. I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. I don’t know if this is necessarily for me mainly because I also wind up typing stuff into the chat and things during my shows and the last thing I need is something that loud. JAMISON:  But they have softer ones too that still feels good. I got the extra quickie ones. But you should try one once at least just so you know if you’d like it or not. They’re great. AJ:  You want to make sure you get the red cherry stem spring mechanism in that, right? JAMISON:  No. There’s like five different ones. And they all have different levels of pressure, different quickness. Yeah, it gets pretty in-depth. I have the blue cherries. AJ:  Oh, the blue cherries! JAMISON:  Some people like the brown ones and there are green ones, there are red ones. AJ:  I heard red ones are the best because they have when you look at the graph of the pressure it takes like — what’s that symbol? Like K for the amount of pressure you got to put on something before it will move, what static — what’s the name of it? JAMISON:  I don’t know. You lost me now. AJ:  Physics… JAMISON:  Science, I think it’s called science. [Laughter] JAMISON:  But then you look at the Science… CHUCK:  So, it’s not your standard ceramic PS electronic key switch? JAMISON:  It’s got the camshaft, overdrives, and the carburetors. CHUCK:  Oh, there we go. Yeah, David Brady is one of the guys on my contract. He’s on Ruby Rogues. Anyway, he’s on the contract with me and he’s one of the guys who has one of those keyboards. And initially, I asked him if I could try one out. And he said, “No. Not until we’re both off this project.” [Laughter] CHUCK:  Because he told one of the other guys on the project about it and that went and bought one of the keyboards and he’s like, “So, I’m glad he loves his keyboard and I’m glad it’s working out for him. But I’m really kind of sad that I told him about it.” [Laughs] JAMISON:  Because it’s super loud. CHUCK:  Yeah, because it’s super loud like he’s’ way louder than the other guy. JAMISON:  Yeah. The real test of skill is if you can code but also make it so the rhythm of your typing communicates in Morse Code with your team. In that way, you don’t even need to chat or anything. You just use that in Morse Code. CHUCK:  Nice. Alright. Well, I’m going to get into my picks. My first pick is a book. It is called ‘48 Days to the Work You Love’ by Dan Miller. And it’s so funny because every time somebody is talking about, “Well, I lost my job.” Or, “I’m thinking about switching jobs. Or, “I’m not happy with my job.” I’d buy him that book. I’m not even kidding. I’d buy him that book and I’m like, “Look, you have to read this and then you can go find another job.” And it’s just such a terrific book. I mean, it walks you through the whole process. Here’s what you want to do in order to identify the companies you want to work for. Here’s what you want to do in order to get their attention so that you’re not just another resume in the stack. Here’s what you want to do in the interview. Here’s what you want to be doing to make sure that they still are the right company you want to work for. Here’s what you want to do if you love your employer but hate your job and you might want to move into a different kind of position. It’s an excellent, excellent book. I just can’t recommend it highly enough. I keep thinking I want to see if I can actually get Dan Miller on to the Freelancer Show because he has another book called ‘No More Mondays’ where he talks about more independent, start-your-business kind of stuff. And that’s kind of the idea. No more Mondays being, no more I wake up on Monday and think, “Oh, crap! I have to go to work today.” And anyway, he’s just got some terrific stuff. He also has a podcast. You can find that if you go on to iTunes and you look up 48 Days. It’s the 48 Days Podcast. It’s just terrific. I can’t pick enough stuff by Dan Miller. So, I’ll put up links to those in the show notes. And yeah, that’s pretty much all I have to pick. So, yeah. I guess we’ll wrap up the show. AJ:  Chuck can I pick one other thing? CHUCK:  Sure. AJ:  This is something I’m super excited about. So, a friend of mine has got a — I don’t know what you call it, a comic company. And he is making comics out of Biblical stories. And the series is called From the Dust. The first issue just came out. It looks beautiful. It’s got a lot of little like ‘Did You Know?’ things where — I mean basically, the Old Testament, anybody who’s ever tried to read it didn’t get anything out of it except for like maybe three people. And he makes this idea of entertainment and education and fictional story with historical story together well. I really like the way that it’s shaping up. And I hope if there are some other people that are just interested in comics in general, it’s an interesting storyline. And for people that are interested in getting a little more education about Bible, Book of Mormon, that kind of thing, it’s a really cool avenue to explore. I mean, obviously, it’s not strictly to this book of story because it’s for entertainment. But it’s very cool. CHUCK:  Awesome. Alright. Well, let’s wrap up the show. And anyway, thanks for listening. We’ll catch you all next week. JAMISON:  Seeya!

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