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🎙 About the episode
Meet Dave Mayer 🇺🇸! Dave is a founder and CEO of Technical Integrity, a boutique recruiting firm famous for its culture-first approach. TI has worked with big companies like Twitter, as well as many mid-size startups. In this episode, you'll get a glimpse into the other side of recruiting. Dave explains his culture-first approach and why it benefits both you and the employer. You'll learn why it's important to know your values and how to make sure you find a company that aligns with them.
Dave explains why you shouldn't feel desperate if you don't get a job in a company that was your first choice and how to probe into a company's values without sounding disrespectful. From the recruiter side, Dave reveals how looking for a culture fit can backfire and why it's much better to look for a "culture add."
Dave and Alex also talk about recessions (Dave has lived and worked through three of them already!) and how to stay focused on what's truly important.
🔗 Connect with Dave
- Dave's path as a recruiter: from a traditional approach to focusing on finding a long-term fit between a developer and a company (01:44)
- What is company culture, and what makes someone a good fit? (03:19)
- Should you share your company's values? (06:15)
- Find your own values first (07:24)
- How can you verify that a company truly embodies what they claim to be their values? (12:10)
- Ask your interviewer: What does success in your company look like? (16:45)
- The importance of technical vs soft skills (18:12)
- Don't care who's hiring, find out where you belong (20:08)
- Why integrity matters (23:39)
- Challenges of recruiting, and the difference between the quantity-first and quality-first approach (25:53)
- Advice for developers who are thinking about approaching recruiters (30:01)
- We're in a recession. Now what? (33:14)
🧰 Resources mentioned
- Blog post: The Best Engineering Team Values Statement We've Ever Seen
- Simon Sinek's "Start With Why" Ted talk
⭐️ Leave a Review
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You can also Tweet Alex from Scrimba at @bookercodes and tell them what lessons you learned from the episode so they can thank you personally for tuning in 🙏
Dave Mayer (00:01):
Don't get so attached to the outcome. Sure, you're most excited about company A, but maybe, for whatever reason, you and the hiring manager don't jive. There are multiple organizations that could be a good fit for you, there's not just one. I don't give a shit who's hiring, figure out where you belong.
Alex Booker (00:17):
Hello and welcome to the Scrimba Podcast. On this weekly show, I speak with successful devs about their advice on learning to code and getting your first junior dev job. I'm Alex and today I'm joined by Dave Mayer, a recruiter who's worked with top tier talents at companies like GitHub, Twitter and many, many mid-sized startups through his boutique recruiting firm Technical Integrity. Dave believes long term success as a developer is about finding compatibility between your values and a company's values. If you can find clarity about what work you want to do and how you want to do it, with who, you can more easily hone in on a great opportunity.
Moreover, once you get in the interview room, you may find the process is a bit smoother as you can rely, by and large, on your honest answers. This interview is full of practical, measured advice by an expert on how to do exactly that, how to identify your values and find a company that appreciates them and you can be happy working for. By the way, just because a company says they value something doesn't mean they actually behave that way, they could be idealistic, right? I challenged Dave a little bit on this in this interview and he was unfazed. He shared some great advice about how to vet a company's values while still being perfectly respectful. You are listening to the Scrimba Podcast, let's get into it.
Dave Mayer (01:44):
I run a boutique firm, we have been in the recruitment and placement space for more than 20 years at this point. I got my start in 2000, I guess, three recessions ago, cut my teeth on building software engineering teams largely for enterprise organizations like IBM and cable companies and these kinds of things. And then, in another recession, 2008, the organization that I was working with at the time effectively went out of business and I had an opportunity to reflect on what I believed the startup ecosystem needed. I had really fallen in love with startups at that point and the energy and passion and enthusiasm around them. And what I decided and arrived at was there was a lack of focus around cultural attributes for engineering teams and a lot of these organizations that we worked with for the prior eight, 10 years was just butts in seats. We just need somebody to come in and do a bunch of work.
Yes, we may ship this engineering team off to a far land in the future but do you want to work here or not? And while that's one way of doing business and it can be lucrative, it's not the way that I choose to do business. And so, I knew there was a better way. For me, that had a lot to do with building long-term fit around both cultural and technical attributes specifically for startups. So, I moved away from the cable companies and the IBMs of the world to focus specifically on startups.
Alex Booker (03:19):
I appreciate you bringing up cultural attributes because I think it's something that a lot of new developers sometimes overlook. Of course, you need to have the technical skills to be successful in the role but there is this rumbling about being a good culture fit as well. What in your view is culture and, by extension, what makes someone a good culture fit?
Dave Mayer (03:41):
I'll add a little bit of an asterisk to the conversation in that, based on some of the conversations around the Techstars ecosystem, you have likely heard this as well from our friend Brad Feld. Many years ago, he built this asterisk and said, "It's not about culture fit, it's about culture add," and I feel like that's a big differentiator especially when organizations want to build diverse organizations, culture fit can, doesn't always, but can mean more of the same. So, we like to emphasize addition. How do we add to the culture? How do we make the culture better?
As a general answer to your question, obviously, every startup is different, every organization has their own culture as they should. Hopefully, the startup, at least in our small microcosm of the world, has given a good deal of thought to their mission, their core values and these kinds of things. If that's an afterthought, as an organization, it's going to be really hard to build a culture. If the founders, the founding team have sat down and say, "Hey, these are the whatever, three to five things that really drive us as an organization and these likely will not change over time." Maybe they'll tweak them a little bit, but if the founders are clear that whatever, integrity, customers first, fill in the blank as to what those core values are but everybody who wants to become part of the organization then understands, has a baseline to work from.
The rest of the thought process is what really matters to the engineer, what really matters to the engineering team, what really matters to the clients. It's easy enough to find a Java developer, it's not easy to find a Java developer who genuinely cares about customer success, who genuinely cares about mentorship within the organization and growing if that's part of the internal values. And so, sitting down with a client and understanding what their core values are and then sitting down with engineers, regardless of their level and understanding what's important to them, and then trying to fit the puzzle pieces together and say there's a match here, or there might be a match here, or there's probably not a match here. That's just part of the discussion or part of the beauty of the matchmaking puzzle piece fitting that we do on a daily basis.
Alex Booker (06:03):
So, am I understanding you rightly, culture is very much the same as the company's values? Could you say, if everybody shares those values, you have a good culture fit essentially?
Dave Mayer (06:15):
Certainly that's the baseline. If we all have an agreed upon framework to discuss, that we believe that integrity and speed of development and, again, customer success, those are the baseline in which we're starting the discussion, then everybody's at least starting from the same point in the race. There was a client that we worked with, we wrote a blog, and we can maybe link to this, it's called The Best Engineering Core Values Statement We've Ever Seen. They say core cultural values, family over everything, serve others with purpose, build authentic relationships, value unique perspectives, challenge what's possible and keep things fun and get it done.
So, I think those are awesome, those are six. And then they have engineering philosophy, there's 20 bullets here that we won't go into but the first one is have fun. And the second one is write code for humans first and computers second. These are all very, very intentional ways of looking at the world and that's really key to finding the right person who's going to come in as a culture add.
Alex Booker (07:24):
What advice can you share for people to understand their own values, firstly, and then proceed to find a company that shares those values so you have a good chance of being a culture fit?
Dave Mayer (07:36):
I'm grateful for the question. It's a really critical one and not an easy one. I'll be 49 this year so I'm a little gray around the beard and day in and day out have this conversation around what your intuition is telling you with engineers of all stripes and executives of all stripes. We also do executive placement in addition to building engineering teams. Where I'm headed with that is that we talk all the time with people who are in transition or considering a transition, regardless if they're straight out of school or they've been in business for 20 years, but the answer is usually the same and it's a little bit Zen Buddhist but it's true. And my best answer is, really, your intuition is never wrong but it takes time and effort to listen, to understand and hear your intuition.
And obviously, this is predominantly a conversation to your point around what is the best culture for you. And ways I suggest to people to get clear on that are just, really, getting outdoors, getting into the gym, turning off your devices, getting away from social media, getting clear on what your gut is telling you as to I really only want to work with a mission driven startup or I don't care at the moment, I just need experience. That's legitimate but is it being true to yourself is the question. When you're whatever, 21, 22 straight out of university and you do genuinely just need an opportunity to pay the bills and get some experience, sure, that's an okay time to go to work for fill in the blank enterprise software company and get the experience.
But the double bonus, the extra points are for when you can do both. When you can align yourself with an organization, whether it's nonprofit or a startup that's working on something in Web 3 or whatever it is that you're passionate about, and you can get the experience and they have the mission and value statement that aligns with you. So, you can do both is the message. Don't cut yourself short in saying, "I just need the experience. I got to pay the bills." That's okay, that's fine but take it a step further, get quiet, get clear with yourself, revisit if you haven't.
Simon Sinek's Start With Why, he's got a great TED Talk and a great book which really emphasizes your own personal why statement. What is it that you care about contributing to in this world and how are you going to manifest that on a day to day basis? And that means where are you going to put your time and effort? There's only so many hours in a day, so where are you going to spend it? Is it going to be with a mission driven organization? Is it going to be with an IBM? Is it going to be at Goldman Sachs?
All of those answers, again, are fine but are you truly listening to what is going to make you happiest when you get out of bed from your intuition, from your gut level need that is always talking to you. But if you're just constantly scrolling social media or not creating the space to be open to hearing what your intuition is telling you, then you're probably going to end up in a job that's not the best fit for you
Alex Booker (10:50):
Coming up on the Scrimba Podcast. Dave and me get kind of deep?
Dave Mayer (10:55):
The pendulum will always swing back.
Alex Booker (10:57):
I hope you'll excuse the interruption. I just wanted to ask that, if you are enjoying this episode of the Scrimba Podcast with Dave, please do us a favor and share it with your friends be that on social media or in your community like on Discord, for example. Word of mouth is the best way to support a podcast that you like so thank you in advance. It would also be greatly appreciated, if you haven't already, if you left a five-star review on either Spotify or Apple Podcasts, that really helps us reach new listeners. Next week, I'm talking with a successful Scrimba student named Theo who just became a developer at 49 years of age.
Yeah, I started as a software developer many, many years ago and then I moved into the IT sector. At the same time, I also did some photography and videography and that led to me working in the education sector for quite a few years. Right before lockdown, I decided to try and become a teacher myself which I did. I did it for a very short amount of time and I realized it wasn't for me. So, I decided to see if I could become a developer which I didn't think that it was possible.
Alex Booker (12:01):
That is next week on this Scrimba Podcast, make sure to subscribe as not to miss it. Back to the interview with Dave.
I have a question, a lot of people, after being in the industry for a minute, they feel a bit disenfranchised with company values because sometimes they sound really appealing but they are hard to interpret and arguably hard to live up to. My question is, as a new developer, how do you genuinely gauge a company's culture and company's values? Because lots of companies will publish a proud blog post saying, "Hey, here are our 10 values. Be honest, help each other," all these things, start small, dream big. But how do you verify that they truly embody these values?
And by the way, it's not uncommon for people to subscribe to these values and think it's a great fit. But as soon as business demands kick in, for example, a competitor launches or there's a dip in revenue or something, sometimes values fall by the wayside and it's really a case of ruthlessly working on the tasks. How would you go about gauging this as an interviewee?
Dave Mayer (13:04):
Interviewing is a two-way street and should be treated as such. That's not easy, especially for a new engineer who is potentially nervous in an interview situation. But at the same time, if the organization is just peppering you with questions and not giving you an opportunity to do your own due diligence on the organization, on the team, on the management, maybe it's not the right fit. Organizations that genuinely want it to be a two-way street and care about what you bring to the table as well as how you feel about the situation and, even at a bare minimum, acknowledge the humanity of being nervous in an interview, I think you can read the tea leaves to some degree.
To directly answer your question, I encourage people to ask difficult questions of their own during an interview process. Ask the interviewer, whether it's HR or the engineering manager, about ensuring that you have time to do so. Take the time to do the homework upfront about this organization, about their core values, ask them difficult questions, choose one or two pieces of their value statement or whatever it is that you have questions about and turn it into a critically thought out question. I see on your mission and value statement that this is the way you look at the world, how does that really manifest itself in a day to day basis and I'd like to hear an example. Further, I'd love to talk to some of your team members about this same question.
This is absolutely a two-way street and it is ultimately your responsibility to ask difficult questions to understand if it's the right fit for you, but also, to some degree, keep the organization accountable as well. This is not just a one-way street.
Alex Booker (14:49):
I think that is just the most perfect answer. I do understand that, as someone new to the industry, you might feel a little bit on the back foot and nervous to ask questions and things but it's not an unreasonable question at all. I agree with you that it's a difficult question to ask but it really shouldn't be a difficult question for them to answer. If they're reluctant to indulge in those questions, that's probably a yellow or a red flag. Maybe as a bonus, ask two separate people if you have multiple steps or a similar question because, if you get different answers, it probably means that they are not aligned by those values, they might have interpreted them differently.
Dave Mayer (15:26):
Yup, and it's okay. Look, everybody's got their own interpretation and can be slightly left or right of the intention. Not to say that everybody needs to be in lock step and that might be a little strange because then we're not talking about growing as an organization if everybody's just blindly repeating phrases that the corporate overlord puts out, that's not what we're going for here either. Everybody can have their own interpretation but, yeah, there's a vision as well and, presumably, it's a vision that people get excited about and can get behind. And when you are drinking your morning coffee, yeah, that it still resonates.
Alex Booker (16:05):
I suppose one way I'm coming at this is that, sometimes within companies, people might use the values to justify their decision no matter what. So, say, for example, one of your values is to optimize for learning, an engineer might spend a lot of time doing learning and not contributing to the code base but then justify it by saying, "Oh, I was optimizing for learning." Probably not the fairest example ever but just one I thought of.
Dave Mayer (16:30):
But again, take the opportunity. It's called an interview, right? So, interview them, get to know them, get to know them as humans, as leaders. They get to ask you about mistakes, you get to ask them about mistakes and how they learned. This is a two-way street.
Alex Booker (16:45):
Another really good question I heard of recently to ask in an interview and I really hope someone listening now can compile a little list and bring them into their next interview situation. The question I heard is, if someone was successful at this role, what are the things they should be learning and improving on to hit the ground running and contribute to the business? Because I think that demonstrates two things. First of all, your willingness and wanting to continue to learn, level up and actually contribute and you're eager to contribute but it also might reveal from the employer how much they've thought through the role. You should be able to ask, I think, in an interview what success looks like, what do you genuinely have to do to be successful? Because if they're a bit wishy-washy about it for any reason and they don't have a clear goal, it's impossible for you to score in that situation.
Dave Mayer (17:31):
I would probably break it down further. What does success look like in 90 days, the first 90 days? What does success look like by, whatever, end of the year? What does success look like in a year and how do they differ or how do they fit together? And of course, as a younger engineer is going to come to understand that success in a startup, while the metrics may be similar to what they are at IBM, being part of a larger organization, if there's 20 teams working on one product at Meta/Facebook, chances are the metrics are slightly different than a startup that has two total teams working on two different products. So, keep that in mind.
Alex Booker (18:12):
In your experience working with many candidates and companies, in the interview process, what percent of a candidate's success is to do with their technical skills? So, coding, likely, versus their ability to work in a team, articulate complex topics and other soft skills?
Dave Mayer (18:30):
My gut reaction, and I may need and want to reflect on this a bit, but my gut reaction is 51% EQ, emotional quotient, and 49% technical. And maybe even more on the EQ in the early days. Organizations are hiring for capability and capacity to learn and ability to take direction and learn new things. Everybody says that they're a quick learner and I typically say, "Great, prove it." Actions speak louder than words and so your ability to take critical feedback professionally and go back to the drawing board and/or understand technical concepts and be able to talk to them as a group and truly collaborate. At the end of the day, the most successful engineers are the ones that can and do excel at both EQ and IQ. That's likely the most important message regardless of stage of career.
If you can talk to your fellow humans, you enjoy engaging with your team members and that you can have vigorous debates about the best tool or language for the job but then understand that, at the end of the day, you're there to do what's best for the organization and for the software and for the clients, not necessarily in that order. And then you get to work and you start cranking out your code and you're able to debug and do some maintenance and whatever it is, you do what you have to do. The most successful engineers are capable of both.
Alex Booker (20:08):
I think many people will agree with you especially those a bit further in their career. It's not hard to imagine why, at the beginning, you almost overestimate the ability to code over your ability to collaborate. Coding has always had a, at least historically, this idea of coding by yourself when, actually, it's one of the most collaborative professions out there. I think, as a new developer, if you can understand this and draw on some of your advice, Dave, you can actually find success more quickly and earn yourself an opportunity to continue to learn while getting paid and hopefully learn faster because you're now working with a team on production code and things. What I'm saying, well, simply, is that you can just keep hammering your coding skills and making them better but you do effectively reach a point of diminishing returns.
If you've been coding for a year, it's hard to become a significantly better or more hirable coder in just two or three weeks. I'm sure you can brush up on some stuff and learn a little bit here and there but, fundamentally, you start to progress a bit slower as time goes by. Meanwhile, Dave, you'll be surprised maybe at the amount of people who I speak with who apply for 250 jobs on LinkedIn or more. But if they can draw on your advice and hone their culture fits and reflect on what's important to them, what their key values are, what kind of companies they want to work for, I think that would allow them to hone in a bit more on the right opportunities and, as a result, I think, grease the wheels during the interview process.
Because you can study how to interview and people often Google things like how do I answer these questions like tell me about yourself or what's important to you or whatever type of interview questions come up. But if you can be relatively honest, of course you're presenting in some way, you wish to polish your answers and make them clear. But if you have a good chance of having that culture fit from the beginning, you're truthful, sincere answers are going to be very closely aligned, I think, with what they want to hear, I think you'll be much more likely to succeed. And this is something you can definitely improve, I think, in a short period of time, you just have to frame it and reflect on it in the right way.
Dave Mayer (22:08):
I would also maybe just add an ellipsis at the end to say there are multiple organizations that could be a good fit for you, there's not just one. What we'd typically say is, "I don't give a shit who's hiring, figure out where you belong." And for us, that looks like putting together a top 10 or top 20 list of organizations that you're most excited about, put them in priority order after having done your homework based on the best companies to work for lists in your area, checking out Glassdoor and other widely available platforms that help you understand if it's genuinely a good place to be. And then, don't get so attached to the outcome. Sure, you're most excited about company A, but maybe, for whatever reason, you and the hiring manager don't jive, maybe you genuinely do have different philosophies on leadership or whatever.
Obviously, your job is to be open and honest and to learn, not to be stuck in your ways, I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying, there's a lot of people in this world and you're probably not going to get along with every single one of them, you're not going to. Maybe it's a personality thing, maybe it's a technical thing, maybe it's a values thing, it's okay is the point. It's okay that maybe you're not a fit for your number one choice, don't get so attached to it that number two is, all of a sudden, a disappointment. Your top five, you're probably going to be pretty stoked if you get a role with your top five or your top 20. Twenty organizations out of whatever, a billion? That's a pretty small list. Keep an open mind.
Alex Booker (23:39):
We talked a lot about company values and culture fit and stuff and I definitely think that's a main theme in this interview. But I would be remiss if I didn't draw on your experience as a recruiter a little bit and working with your firm, Technical Integrity. I was wondering, why did you call it Technical Integrity? That word integrity, what does that mean to you and why is it so important that you put it at the forefront of what you're doing?
Dave Mayer (24:04):
Yeah, it really is a number one for us. We say that we live and die by our namesake of having integrity in everything that we do. My father who passed away three years ago, one of the biggest lessons he taught me was really that the only thing you own in your life is your integrity. And he was commander of the Honor Guard at Arlington National Cemetery which is a super high profile military position here in the DC area. And for me to enter a business and a business realm where, regrettably, many of my competitors are more concerned about their bottom lines than they are about the wellbeing of the organizations and the people that they deal with on a daily basis, I needed and wanted everybody to know from the get go that, every single day that we wake up and tell the truth period, end of story, we play the long game and we look at the long-term ramifications of our actions.
And, as we say when we started in 2010, we're leading an ethical revolution in the recruiting and executive search that can only be done with having integrity in every decision that's being made. And we're grateful that the community building approach that we've taken in the startup ecosystem in Boulder, Denver and throughout the country, throughout the US and even in Europe a little bit, comes from this give first ethos and this just give without expecting a get. Again, that long-term vision and having honesty and integrity in everything we do both from a candidate and client perspective. And so, this is the flag that we are planting here in this realm of just being an honest, ethical partner and, yeah, it's been a fun journey.
Alex Booker (25:53):
Help us as developers understand the little bits about recruiters and some of the challenging situations you find yourself in as a recruiter where you still have to uphold your integrity. You spoke a little bit about how a lot of recruiting is numbers driven and that leads to compromise sometimes.
Dave Mayer (26:10):
Many recruiting firms, especially larger ones, are driven on how many calls you make a day, how many touch points you have with candidates a day, how many emails you send and, for me, I said that was a bullshit approach early on. This has got to be a quality over a quantity approach. Corporations, large recruiting corporations are entitled to do whatever they feel is best for their own bottom line and, at the end of the day, I am in business but our approach is very different. I tell my recruiters and affiliates and friends and colleagues that I don't honestly care how many times you reach out to somebody on a daily basis or a number of people you reach out to emails, calls, or otherwise, as long as the outreach is intentional, that it's really truly focused on what is best for both the client and the candidate and that you have an open, honest discussion around what matters to each.
That takes time, that absolutely takes time. This is a time consuming process and there are so many hours in a day. It's an intentional approach that I have taken and a different approach. Talking to one person a day, sure, it's not ideal but all it takes is one to find that ideal match for your client and for the candidate. At the end of the day, it needs to be a fit for everybody, both culturally and technically for the candidate and for the client and there needs to be good timing. The individual probably won't have been looking for a job for 12 weeks and have a short timeline with regards to when they need to pay their mortgage or their rent and all of these external factors that are always a part of recruiting. There are too many times I have seen in recruiting where there's too much pressure.
Let's just say a candidate has multiple offers on the table and one of them is my offer and two of them are from other companies. My job is to help them think through each of the options and what is best for them and their family as an engineer, as a human being. I have prided myself and my team prides themselves on having these open, honest sounding board conversations and just like, "Hey, there is zero pressure from us to take this opportunity. Yes, it will ultimately be good for Technical Integrity if you take this and that's why we represented it to you in the first place. However, I have an eye on the next 20 years. If you take a job that you are unhappy with and you quit in 45 days, that means you are unhappy, that means the client's unhappy and that means we're unhappy and we didn't do our job."
Having the long-term vision and having the trust and the integrity and the ethics to have a genuinely impartial conversation and/or putting them in touch with somebody in my network that can help them think through things and encouraging them to have hard conversations with their spouse, their partner, their roommate and just say, "Look, listen to your intuition," just where we started at the top of the conversation. Go get away from your damn computer, get away from your phone, stop scrolling social media, write down pros and cons lists, think hard and long about this position and why it might be the fit for you and why it might not be fit for you. And come back to me after sitting on it over the weekend and give me your answer and/or, if you need another week, that's fine. Obviously, I probably can't give you two weeks because the client needs to move on if you're not going to take the role and that's fine. But having an open, honest dialogue about what is ideal and what is not ideal and just being an impartial partner in the process.
Alex Booker (30:01):
If you are learning to code and you plan to work as a developer, you could be looking at a 20, 30 plus year career. The same could be said for recruiters and I think the average-ish attrition at startups especially but tech companies as well is two, three years maybe on average. And so, within that decade-long period, there are so many opportunities to reconnect. And of course, if you have trust, which can only be achieved through integrity, I'm sure you'll get a lot of repeat business as a result from both your employer clients as well as people with whom you're working to fill roles. What advice can you share to developers who want to approach and work with recruiters successfully? How do they bring integrity to the table?
Dave Mayer (30:43):
I think getting really clear on what your values are as a human being, not just leaving them loosey-goosey, asking yourself, really, what matters to you. There's lots of values assessments online that you can take, there's lots of psychological tests you can take online just to get to better know yourself and how you tick. I think getting clearer on your own integrity and your own values is a number one, you start there. And then you can better have a deep, honest conversation with others, especially people you don't know. And I think being willing to ask difficult, uncomfortable questions because those questions lead to deeper, more meaningful conversations rather than surface level bullshit conversations.
It's just like, "Hey, we both know that, in some cases, recruiters can be unscrupulous, recruiters can do what's best for them, not what's best for everybody involved. I'd love to hear a story about your own values and how you, Mr. and Mrs. Recruiter, have put the needs of a company and/or a candidate before your own." That's not an easy question to ask.
Alex Booker (31:54):
Do you think a new developer could ask a question like that? I would be so nervous asking that if I was feeling thankful for the opportunity at all.
Dave Mayer (32:02):
Sure. It's not your first question, it's maybe not even your third question. I feel like this likely applies to somebody who is pretty confident in their coding abilities and they know they're going to have several opportunities, whether it's an internship or a first job or a second job, confident enough to say, "I don't have the time to work with five recruiters and I am interviewing recruiters to represent me to various opportunities and I'm going to choose one or two and this is part of the interview process." You're correct in saying not everybody's going to feel comfortable in saying, "Hey, look, you've got an opportunity with IBM, I want to work for IBM, let's go," and that's fine.
Certainly, as you get further in your career, you need to be selective about who's representing you. But at the same time, I feel like each individual is a sovereign being and each individual has the right and the time and the space to say, "I'm going to only affiliate with people, recruiters, florists, bankers, otherwise that I feel comfortable with as a fellow human. And if I don't feel comfortable, then it's just fine walking away." Just say, "Thank you. I can find somebody else to represent me to IBM."
Alex Booker (33:14):
I'm sorry to say we're almost out of time but there was one thing I had in my notes since the beginning of this chat when you mentioned working through recessions that I wanted to ask. It is a relevant topic today and I can totally sympathize with people wondering about entering a job market when, arguably, we're at the brink of a recession, some might say, there's certainly an economic factor involved here. And likewise, there might be some people listening who are currently working but they're in the early stages of the company and they don't feel like they have any tenure or something like that. What's your perspective on these things having gone through a couple of recessions yourself? Do things just level out eventually, is it just going to suck in the interim? How are you thinking about it and what can you share with people listening?
Dave Mayer (34:00):
It's a tough question. Yes, the pendulum will always swing back, it's not going to stay this way forever. Take a deep breath, go for a walk even if you get laid off or your offer is rescinded, God forbid. I still believe, personally, that it's more important than ever to be able to work with people that you love and respect. So, continuing to actively target organizations that you're passionate about regardless of recession or boom or bust cycle. I continue to believe that, if you are doing meaningful work and pursuing meaningful work, that your life will be richer. I understand at the same time that people need to pay their bills and people just need opportunities and so maybe diversify your top 20 list a little bit. Maybe it's five startups, five large organizations, five locally, five remote, whatever it is, remain flexible. Every situation is different but, probably, don't take the first job that you were given a chance to take.
If you genuinely have gone through the pros and cons and it's your number one company and it's something you've been working towards for six months, of course, take it. All I'm saying is, just because somebody makes you an offer, doesn't mean it's the right fit and maybe you'll get another opportunity in a few weeks or ask them for an extension on the offer so you can continue interviewing with the two other orgs that you have in process. So, you can then make the best decision for you and your career, not the first decision. Recessions are not easy but they're not permanent and there will be another in five or 10 years after this one. Keep your eye on the ball and, for us, the ball is the thing that you're going to be most excited about getting out of bed to spend a fair amount of your day doing and be intentional about the questions that you ask of this employer.
And at the end of the day, it's also just a job. Yes, it's important, yes, it's a part of a career but your job does not define you as a human being. Take a deep breath, put the phone down, put the computer down, go for a walk, get clear and understand that there will be and there are no shortage of opportunities especially if you're able to dig deeper with a prospective employer about their values and how you might be able to make their life easier and how you can grow together personally and professionally.
Alex Booker (36:19):
The fact that you've been through recessions before and yet you talk about it with such calmness is very reassuring and certainly appreciated. I've been asking you a lot of questions, some of them really hard, I think that was a really hard question. This isn't a personal finance podcast by any means. But just in closing, one advice I got which I really appreciated was the best financial security you can have is to be employable and to have transferable skills or to know what your value proposition is as a developer and how to market yourself. And just to close the loop, I guess, Dave, to your excellent points earlier, knowing how to find your culture fits. Dave, thank you so much for joining me on the Scrimba Podcast.
Dave Mayer (36:57):
Thank you for the opportunity. Super grateful to be here and have a great day.
Alex Booker (37:03):
That was Dave Mayer of Technical Integrity. You can find all his links in the show notes. Thank you for listening. By the way, if you've made it this far, you might want to subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, wherever else you might listen to your podcasts. This way, you'll get more helpful and uplifting episodes. We have recently hired juniors like Theo next week and industry experts like Dave alike. You can also tweet at me, your host, my name is Alex Booker and share what lessons you learned from the episode so I can thank you personally for tuning in. My Twitter handle along with Scrimba's is in the show notes. By the way, this episode was produced by Jan Arsenovic. See you next week.