You know it's got to the point where I'm genuinely concerned I'm reusing LJ entry titles. No idea why it concerns me, just shows how long I've been updating this. Obviously updates are much more sparse these days, but I still want to make use of it, so entry time.
Let me see what have I been doing since I last wrote anything:
Well the big news, that chances are almost everyone knows about (as the number of people I have here, who aren't on other social media sites is small) is I got myself a new job, after nearly 7 years of working for the company I worked for since I graduated. I'm currently about half way through my notice period with my last working day due to be the 19th of July. New job starts on the 24th, so I've got all of two weekdays to practice the journey. Speaking to someone I know who regularly makes a similar trip, the commute might actually be shorter than I'm expecting (40-45 mins rush hour, rather than 60) so that will be good. New job is based in a small village (Kington Langely) about 5 minutes north of Chippenham, in a series of converted buildings on a working farm. The work is still programming, but this is a products rather than services company (or in other words they make things, rather than sell staff) who do not-Oyster cards (so things which look and act a lot like the Oyster card, but aren't the Oyster card).
My reasons for wanting to leave my current job are four-fold:
1) Location certainty. I want to know where I'm working month to month so I can make long term plans (and to be honest I don't like uncertainty and change), and while I'm losing the ability to walk to work (when work is in Bath) and go to town at lunch, I'm gaining a commute I've chosen (so no Newport, Basingstoke, London, Swindon or Southampton for example) and lunch time walks in the country side. It says a lot about a company that gave me less than 24 hours notice that I was working in London, and rarely gives more than a handful of days notice for projects generally, could tell me months in advance what and where my next project was likely to be when I resigned.
2) Money. It's rapidly come to my attention that I need more of it, and changes at current/soon to be old job have made pay rises less likely, and my salary growth has not been as I had been hoping these last couple of years (i.e. there hasn't been any). Not that I'm not comparatively well paid (because I am), but that looking to the future I don't see how I'm going to afford any sort of retirement (assuming it still exists when I get there) with where I am now and the career path I was on. Looking at my parents, particularly my Dad who has worked incredibly hard and had some very well paid jobs, the collective result of the various pensions (while pretty good) is certainly not what he would have once expected (given all the final salary schemes he's contributed to, etc) and in reality my parents retirement income is really going to be the student houses they still rent. So I'm looking at the relatively small pension contributions I've been making (because I've needed the money in my pocket for other things) and it's pretty clear that this is not going to go very far when I get there, and that's without considering all the other things likely to happen in the intervening years to further devalue it. Everyone has different senses of what enough money is, and ultimately you live to match your means (or you exceed them and have real problems), but at the moment doing a fairly standard piece of work to my house consumes a good 18-24 months-ish worth of savings, and puts me back at square one. Square one being I can't then afford to really do much else. Short term I'm going to have to save aggressively to be able to pay off the car by April next year, after spending something like 7-8 grand doing the roof and the back porch area in the last few months. Long term though marriage and kids is something that is wanted and that's going to be a whole other set of costs. So I'm looking at the future and realising that as far away as it is at the moment, I've got to start planning in the next few years to have anything to look forward to when I get to stop working.* Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I have nothing to complain about in this regard (I'm doing very well), but this is where my thinking has got to in the last year or so, and is why I've gone from feeling happy to just go do my job and come home, to really deciding to get on and make a career for myself.
3) I'm jaded. I've got to the point when I view all the decisions made by the company's management in a pessimistic light, and to put it simply I've got fed up for working for Smeagol. The things they say they want to achieve can be nice and positive and generally good to hear, but the business reality is all Gollum. To take some things from my resignation chat I had with one of the senior managers, for example, he told me how they try and consider things like young families etc when assigning projects, but that didn't stop them from selling one of the other graduates I joined with to a project based in Basingstoke so he spent 9 out of the first 12 months of his first daughter's (and first child's) life taking a two hour train journey there and back, and barely seeing her as a result.
4) There are nicer companies to work for. For a while working as a subcontractor for other companies made me appreciate my job more, because after all I could be working for one of those companies and that would be awful. Then though I started encountering really nice places, places I'd happily be employed by if they just weren't in Basingstoke or London. So it hit me, if there are other nice, and potentially nicer companies, why should I stay working somewhere that's generally nice, but can send me off to companies that are either kind of horrid, or just located horribly, when I could try and find somewhere nice to work at all the time. In fact trading off to somewhere less nice on average, but without the pits of potential horribleness, would be an entirely reasonable trade too.
*Of course when Rachael's becomes a published children's author she might be one of the lucky few to earns lots. If that happens then all these concerns become moot. Still while I have absolutely no doubt she will be published I'm under no illusions how unlikely it is to be one of those top few authors that really skews the earning figures.**
**Average author's salary: £16k, average author's salary excluding the really big earners: £4k. Writing books is not about the financial rewards.
The job hunting process was weird over all. I took gunstarvixen
's advice. Wrote my CV had her check over it, and stuck it up on a job site, and let recruiters come to me. I wasn't prepared for the rush, 30 odd emails and two phone calls by 8:30 of the morning after my CV went up. In the end the job hunt went as follows:
1) Technical phone interview with place in central Bristol of nothing but Java questions which I sucked at. For reference this was the first technical phone interview I'd done, well first phone interview generally.
2) Unexpected face to face follow up interview with place in central Bristol, got rejected.
3) Phone interview for soon to be new job.
4) Technical phone interview on Java by a well known phone manufacturer, got rejected for not being madly in love with Java.
5) Face to face interview in Bradley Stoke, all credit for giving me a technical test that involved handing me a laptop with an IDE running, instead of asking me to code on paper.
6) Face to interview with soon to be new job, on the afternoon of the morning after 5), got told they might not need to do third interview due to interviewing me with extra interviewer. Got offer couple of hours later.
The whole process took just over a month I think (CV up on the 23rd April, offer received on the 31st of May), so surprisingly quick all told. The nice thing was each preceding interview either got me to learn/relearn something I hadn't known/couldn't remember when asked, helped me practice interviews generally, but also help me get a better handle on what atmosphere of company I wanted to work for. The biggest headache I had with the process was the nature of my current job has made me a generalist who learns quickly. Recruiters want to pigeon hole you so you're easy to sell, and it's simple to decide which jobs to suggest to you. These things aren't entirely compatible.
Other highlights over the last few months:
We had our roof redone, and gained a massive Velux window in the process, which makes out loft infinitely more useable. (We'd had it floored the end of last year and had being using it to store things, but decent light up there is such an improvement). We are currently having the back porch area redone, will have to paint it this Saturday but we are finally getting near to the point we can have our washing machine in the house rather than the garage. So looking forward to our washing machine not freezing over winter.
We went to Mike and Amber's wedding at the end of March. It was lovely, they seemed incredibly happy, and they had mostly friends for the bulk of the day, which is good considering the massive family pressure*** they'd had the whole way through planning it. The food was good to, and I say this as a veteran assessor of the quality of wedding food (as are much of my immediate family).
***The grooms words to me about his family and the wedding a couple of weeks before was (approximately) thusly, "I don't understand it, they've been real dicks."
More recently we had a short break in Worthing for Lou and Paul's wedding. Once again both seemed very happy, the wedding was very very much there day, the assorted table decorations of toys caused much amusement, and the food (a carvery) wasn't something I could find fault with.
Still have two weddings left this year. The first, Rachael's sisters, I am concerned there could be drama considering the mother of the groom generally and the very acrimonious divorce of the grooms parents. Plus there has already been some family drama that has put a couple of dampeners on things; still as long as it avoids some of the traditional aspects of Welsh weddings (of which I had a very instructive instruction a couple of years ago at Rachael's cousin's wedding - the father of the bride's speech + him making sex jokes about the bride + my being sat next to Rachael's grandparents = NO THANK YOU) I'm sure it will be good. Still if the speeches are toned down somewhat between the red colour scheme, the welsh love spoons as favours, the welsh venue and welsh family, there will be no shortage of welshness to go around. The last, well I just hope that the whole thing proceeds as unstressfully as possible for the two of them, because they both deserve a nice, relatively straightforward, endlessly happy day.
August is getting closer and there's a lot of business coming, which unfortunately seems to be making me unmotivated and apathetic currently. Rachael's sister's wedding first week end of August, then Amecon the weekend after, then my 36 hour larp weekend the week after that. There is a lot of planning, and work to do, for the latter two of those, and considering I want to focus on new job, this means I really need to get on with and have them sorted by the end of the 23rd July. Hopefully writing this post will be the first step of just knuckling down to get on with things. Still if I'm online on MSN, feel free to gently remind me I should be planning the larp.
Starting new job is going to be interesting. 3 month probationary period, and while they don't normally allow holiday during that time, they would like me to start ASAP, and so would rather I start and take the holiday than wait 4 more weeks for it to be done. The end result is the start of new job goes like this:
Week 1: Start on Tuesday: I wanted time off to practice the journey, they want to induct me on Tuesday so Tuesday start it is. Result 4 day week.
Week 2: Had said I need the Friday off, but that's only to be in Wales the day before the wedding. Can afford to not take the holiday so probably won't. 5 Day week.
Week 3: Amecon, have Thursday and Friday booked off, do think the extra day beforehand will be needed. 3 day week.
Week 4: Amecon finishes late Sunday, so coming back Monday. Friday 36 hour that I'm running, need the day off. 3 day week.
Week 5: Recovering from 36 hour so Monday off. 4 day week.
Week 6: August bank holiday. 4 day week.
So yep the first half of my probationary period I'm only going to be working a single full week. That's going to be interesting I suspect.
Well that's everything for now I think. May have more news soon. Will certainly have a rant about background check company stupidity. You never know might update more than once this month!