3

Currently I work for a small software development company. I have been working for this company for 2 years. The "software development team" consists of me and another colleague, in other words the team size is 2. I was initially hired as a Backend-End Developer, who is not afraid of doing something Front-End related, which also was communicated in unison by the company and me. What was also communicated during the interview was, that the company had just lost three programmers, who decided for them it would be beneficial for their personal development to leave the company.

The first year at said company I was tasked with modernizing the development infrastructure setting up new servers/adding new ones, updating existing software with up-to-date libraries. The second year we got a new software development project, which we finished just yet. For my part the project was like Fullstack-Development with a much bigger focus on the Front-end. Like clockwork I basically come in at 9 am and leave and 5 pm. The tasks were/are so easy that I have so much free-time I can take up any book and work it through (I do and have done so the past 2 years). I literally had months of just sitting around and reading programming/IT-related books.

During both of the years the company management (which is constituted by a single person) has done a lot of talk, that there are two very promising projects and it will accompany a salary raise and a lot of other business talk (or should i call it "bla bla", i don't know). From time to time I was also tasked to work on these "bla bla"-projects. These "bla bla"-projects have only partly to do with software development, if at all, the software part -which is our responsibility- is mostly finished. The software we have developed is by design dependent upon a piece of hardware, which is not our responsibility.

Without going further into details of these "bla bla"-projects, my colleague -which is also the "Lead of Development" (in other words my superior)- are conviced that these projects are just a bunch of non-sense. We and another person holding the position of "Project Manager" come to this conclusion particularly, because the first one of those projects is ongoing since 8 years, the hardware is still not programmed/finished, has cost a large amount of money and has not yielded a cent. The second project is dependent upon the first project and is also doomed therefore.

What I also found out was there have been other multiple other projects that failed during the period the other programmers were still on the boat. (by reading Wiki entries, Issue Tracker, Git projects)

For the third year I was told by my "Lead of Development", that there wont be any bigger projects and if they will be mostly totally backend-related with which he wont need any help from me.

I feel like I am just there to answer to the phone if the Lead of Development or the Project Manager is on vacation.

I am 33 years old now and I want to gain more experience by working on actual projects. Sitting around just reading book would be wasted time in my opinion. I still want to have the work-life-balance, that my current job offers and a bigger salary.

At the moment I am searching for a new opportunity and by writing this article I want to positively influence this process by hearing opinions about my thoughts.

When talking to fiends from university, they all tell me that I could be earning much more retaining my current work-life-balance and even have other benefits.

How can I communicate all above, when being interviewed by a new company?

Do you see flaws in my thought process? (Maybe I was not clear enough at some points, additional information is needed or some assumptions I make are not ok.)


responses to comments

@Kozaky are you looking for a way to condense what you've described into a shorter answer you could give at an interview?

Not necessarily, but if you can come up with something more concise. I would be glad hearing your opinion about this.

@Kozaky If so, what might be preventing you from using what you put as the title as a possible starting point?

Nothing prevents me from that. My question was whether or not my story sounds not tolerable or inconvenient in any way.

7

What you should be communicating when being interviewed by a new company is the skills and experience that you offer and how they are best suited for the position that you are applying for. When asked why are you leaving your current job, instead of giving this long breakdown about all the problems you have had, keep it positive and focus on what you want in the future and how the new company can fulfill those goals.

5

How can I communicate all above, when being interviewed by a new company?

Well, I wouldn't give them that much information - answers in an interview should both answer the question and be short.

I'm looking for better opportunities / new challenges

Mention that you are great at what they tasked you with, and that you completed X and Y back when you first got there. They are happy with your work, but the new company direction seems to not really be software related.

Maybe mentioned that you've book learned a few new sets of skills (with their knowledge) but you really want to do more in your preferred field.

3

You asked,

How can I communicate all above, when being interviewed by a new company?

I think the answer to that is fairly clear, as supported by many other questions on this forum (mentioned in comments on your question, for example): Generally, you don't communicate detailed reasons for leaving your prior employer. Doing so has little chance of improving your chance of getting hired and a fairly significant chance that it'll give the prospective employer something to worry about (will he feel that way here too, and want to leave shortly?)

Instead of describing why you left your prior employer, take what you've written and turn it into positive talking points. Along the lines of:

  • I was able to be productive during downtime by helping with X,Y, and Z, or by focusing on improving my own skills (I wouldn't say, "I sat around reading programming books" but you can certainly allude to the fact that you did something positive vs browsing facebook all day.)
  • I was able to step beyond my backend development skill set and contribute meaningfully to frontend development - even if you don't want to be a full stack developer, showing that you're willing to step outside your comfort zone when asked by an employer will make you look more attractive than someone who doesn't want to budge from their focus
  • I was able to contribute to projects that were at various stages of development - instead of saying, "I had to work on dead end blah-blah projects" you can talk about how you worked on projects that were in pre-production, prototyping phases, or you were able to do your software development even before the hardware was ready, etc.

So - I do think there's plenty of positive talking points in your "reasons why I'm leaving" rant. But, I think there's a far more important lesson buried in your post, which you need to focus on in order to be happy at your next job.

Forget the job interview for a minute. Do some self-reflection. Describe to yourself what you did and didn't enjoy about your past experience. From that description, decide on factors that are important to you in your new employer. Then, convert those factors into questions you can ask during the interview.

If it's important to focus on full stack, or frontend or backend, ask about that. If you want something with stable, in-production software, or finished hardware, or a certain atmosphere, or a larger team, whatever it is - make sure you research what you can about potential employers, related to these factors, and then ask good questions during the interview.

Interviews are two way streets. It's as much a chance for you to determine if you want to work for the employer, as it is a chance for them to decide if they want you. Most employers give employees an opportunity to ask questions. As someone who's conducted a few hundred interviews, it's astonishing how unprepared most candidates are to ask real, meaningful questions that would help improve the chances of getting a good fit between candidate and employer. You have things you care about, clearly, based on your question here. Don't miss the opportunity to focus on those things when you're given the chance!

  • Interviewers - seasoned, effective ones at least - will generally not press a candidate to explain why they left, since they know that it's generally a topic that candidates aren't likely to explain in detail. Plus, it generally doesn't add anything of value, since they're interviewing for your fitness at their company, not at your prior company. – dwizum Jan 9 at 13:48
1

IMHO, if your amount of free time is as you describe, nothing stops you from searching for your own projects as freelance developer.

This way you and only you will be in control of your work/life balance, additional income and type of projects you take on

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.