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Summary: I've withdrawn my application for a role I no longer want, at a company I wouldn't mind working for. Company is still pursuing, talking about lateral movement down the line. Would it be professional to propose that I be hired directly in to the role I want?

Backstory:

I'm a software developer/engineer that, due to geographical (and financial) circumstances, had to take on a role as a QA Automation Engineer. I've been in this role for a year and a half, and while I have thankfully been able to pursue challenging work, I'm wanting to move back home to a larger city and back into a development-focused position.

Enter Company A. I had applied for Company A a few weeks back for a role as a Software Developer in Test. This application wasn't ideal for me, but I was discouraged by my lack of success applying for development positions at other places (and Company A has no openings for a non-senior Dev position). I felt I could live with accomplishing one goal (moving) and delaying the other (career path).

Company A was interested and we had a Skype interview that went very well and established that I'd be doing much of the same as my current role (test automation, building out CI/CD pipelines). I'm not thrilled about the prospect, as time in my current role has made me realize how much I miss building products/apps/things rather than primarily testing.

A couple days after the interview, we have a second round scheduled with a half-day of video calls next week. It was a couple days later that I no longer felt comfortable proceeding. The prospect of continuing in a test role was too much. That, combined with the fear that I would be further pigeonholed away from the career path I wanted, resulted in me declining the next round of interviews and withdrawing my application. At this point I felt the need to be vague and told them that my personal situation had changed.

They followed up over email, hoping to clarify what had changed specifically and to ensure nothing went wrong in the interviews/process.

I, not wanting them to be concerned about their end of the process, proffered more information. I tell them in a positive way that while I have had a long-term goal of moving out of testing, I had a change of heart (didn't use that phrasing) that meant my goal was now a short term one. I left my specific concerns out, sticking to the idea of my choices aligning with my goals. In addition I left the door open for future communication about development roles (they seemed interested in my skillset still), and made sure to thank/apologize for their time. HR rep was thankful for more info, and agreed that a future role might fit me as well

Since then, the manager hiring for that role (and a person I interviewed with) has reached out, hoping to chat. They are talking about how the role has a hefty amount of development despite being in the QA org (same as my current situation, still not appealing), and that lateral moves in the company are always possible down the line (did that in a former role, didn't go as smoothly as I expected). This indicates to me that they still want to pursue me, and I'm not sure how to proceed.

While normally I wouldn't do something like this (likely just move on), the reasons I believe I should come back to Company A with a proposal are thus:

  • They have continued to pursue the possibility of hiring me
  • The skillsets they were most interested were already dev focused to begin with (AWS experience, containers, CICD, microservices), and I don't see the need for this role to be a test role or in the QA org at all
  • It seems like one of those things that, if I'm interpreting their situation correctly, is best for both parties
  • I like what the company as a whole is doing and think it would be good in the right role

Reasons for me not to:

  • I don't know their needs as well as they do. Its possible they really do need more help on the testing side and my dev qualifications are just a bonus (happens to SDETs all the time, I'm sure)
  • I would be hired into a separate org, with a different manager if it worked. Not the best way to start if the QA manager feels they lost out
  • Might be seen as rude to be basically negotiating their job description

Right now I have a draft written that simply re-iterates my career goals, and explains that I don't feel comfortable taking on the role, even if movement within the company is a possibility (no guarantee of course) down the line.

Questions:

  1. Is there a better way I could have handled the application withdrawal (other than not submitting in the first place)
  2. Are there any problems with suggesting in my follow up email (that's currently a draft) that we sit down and discuss whether or not I might be hired on in a dev role?
  3. (Ancillary tech industry question) Are my concerns valid with being pigeonholed into testing? Would a hiring manager look at 2+ roles in QA/testing and pass on interviewing me for a dev role?
  • You should've just been honest with them about instead being interested in a dev role and enquired about whether they have an opening there. At this stage you can still just enquire about whether they have an opening there - what risk do you see with doing that? At best that leads to an offer for what you want, at worst someone at a company that doesn't have an opening you want thinks you're a bit unprofessional. – Dukeling Dec 5 '17 at 9:04
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    TL;DR but questions beginning with should are mostly off-topic. we can´t tell you what to do! – Daniel Dec 5 '17 at 9:15
  • @Daniel Agree, edited that one to have a more neutral tone. – Test Employee Dec 5 '17 at 13:50
  • @Joe Strazzere I have been applying for Dev roles both prior to this interview and since it. – Test Employee Dec 5 '17 at 13:52
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Starting with your questions:

Is there a better way I could have handled the application withdrawal (other than not submitting in the first place)

Seems to me that you handled it pretty well, you're circumstances changed since you initially applied and you were honest and gave them professional feedback. Nothing wrong with that at all

Should I suggest in my follow up email (that's currently a draft) that we sit down and discuss whether or not I might be hired on in a dev role?

No harm in asking.. they will either have a suitable role or they won't - I think if you make it clear that you understand that they might not have a suitable role and that you aren't demanding they create one there's nothing wrong with what you propose. I'd stress how positive you feel about the company and how you'd quite like to work there.

(Ancillary tech industry question) Are my concerns valid with being pigeonholed into testing? Would a hiring manager look at 2+ roles in QA/testing and pass on interviewing me for a dev role?

Depends on what the QA roles involved - if they were quite dev focused and were actively using dev skills then it probably wouldn't be a problem for there to be a couple of roles on the CV. When I'm hiring people I look at what they did in a role not what the job title or department was.

Some additional thoughts:

The skillsets they were most interested were already dev focused to begin with (AWS experience, containers, CICD, microservices), and I don't see the need for this role to be a test role or in the QA org at all

If the actual job responsibilities and the skill sets required are in line with what you want then really what org it falls under is of only minor importance really. With that in mind when you forget about the fact that it is in the QA department would you be interested in doing what the job actually entails? If so then it might be worth reconsidering your position.

Might be seen as rude to be basically negotiating their job description

I think if you'd agreed to the role and then started negotiating or had opened the interview with I don't care about testing, I want to be a developer! then that might have come across as ruder or as a bait and switch but I'm not getting that impression from your post.

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Don't feel bad about a change of heart, even if unfortunately timed. Life's too short to do something you don't like, waiting for "the right time" to make another move.

As for handling the situation ahead of you, at this point already you should just be up front. I agree that you should have from the start, but you're here now so make a mental note for next time and don't sweat it.

Make your proposal to them. You're fortunate that they still are pursuing you as a potential hire. And - one can assume - you're good at what you're doing... so make a presentation in person or via video call that explains what you envision, why it would work better for you and, most importantly, why agreeing with you on this idea is in their and the company's best interests. Emphasize how this idea benefits them. If they agree, perfect. If not, you're still alive just as able as you were the day before. No harm done.

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