Thursday, February 26, 2009

Job hunt update number something or other

Monday morning was my exit interview. I am officially no longer part of IBM. So how are the other job opportunities progressing? Here are updates on the four opportunities I felt were most likely,

1. (A large drugstore chain*) - Had my first interview with them Tuesday. It was a 45 minute phone screen. This company is undertaking a huge, highly visible project in which they are going to completely revamp how they connect stores, distribution centers, suppliers, and corporate headquarters. What's compelling about this is that they are using the software I know best as the basis for this project. Not only do they need folks with my skills, but they need a lot of them. The downside is that I am not entirely convinced they are going about this the right way. Right or not, that ship has sailed. The project is underway. If they are successful, the captain and crew are going to be heroes. If not? They are going to flame out in a spectacular, highly visible manner. Everyone associated with the project seems a little edgy to me. Of course, this is precisely why they could use me.

What's next? I was the first of 22 phone screens they are making this week (thank you Accenture insider for that information). When they get to the end of the list, possibly this week, more likely into next, they will then bring the short listed candidates in to meet in person.

* - For now, I am choosing not to identify these companies. Don't know why, just seems like the right thing to do. Not that you couldn't figure out who they are if you really wanted to; I'm not being that opaque. I'm also going try really hard not to use TLA's** like SOA and BPM. If you know what these things are, feel free to insert them yourself wherever it sounds most appropriate. If not, move along, there is nothing to see here.

** - Three Letter Acronyms. Popular in organizations like IBM, SAP, the FBI and the CIA.

2. (Our* WebSphere's largest and most annoying competitor) - Had a second interview, a face-to-face one, mere hours after Monday's exit interview. Went very well. The guy I met with manages a team of people who do exactly what I did for IBM. He thinks I am a perfect fit, and would really like to get me in the company. Problem is, they are in some sort of hiring freeze, and he doesn't seem able to create any positions right now. There is an opening in an above-region role (IE, covering a larger territory in support of larger, more strategic accounts) but it appears someone may have beaten me to that position.

What's next? Nothing left to do but wait on this one. It would appear, in fact, that this is dead in the water for now. I may talk to them a little further about a Sales Rep position they have... but wow, talk about descending deeply to the Dark Side! Joining the competition AND becoming a Sales Rep. That's too much cognitive dissonance to digest in one day.

* - I am finding it is taking some getting used to not to say "I" or "we" when talking about IBM. This makes interviews, especially those with competitors, awkward.

3. (A large hotel and hospitality chain) - Now this is interesting. They are in the infancy, nay, prenatal stages of a project that is smack in the middle of my expertise. Which is funny, because my expertise, though deep, is highly specific, and not at all broad. Which makes perfect fits somewhat rare for me. There are very few positions, unfortunately, that I could get up to speed on quickly, and do well. This is one. I had a series of 5 interviews with them yesterday morning, all face-to-face. It is my impression that 4 of the 5 interviews went very well, and 1 went moderately well. The outlier is the database guy, who, based on his line of questioning, may have some doubts as to whether I am technical enough.*

* - Yeah, this issue again.
Interviewer: "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a propellerhead computer nerd and 1 being technological idiot with a newly minted MBA, rate yourself."
Aw2pp: "About a 5.9."
Interviewer: "Oh, I am sorry, the answer we were looking for was 6.4. Thank you for playing. NEXT!"

What's interesting about this particular position is that it is all about strategy. They are hiring this person to define an IT strategy that is in line with overall business strategy, and then evaluate projects against their adherence to this strategy. Those that adhere (apparently these are very few in number) will continue. Others are either tweaked or scrapped. Very high-level, thinking and planning type stuff. I really like the sound of that, and hope to get an offer. Especially if I don't get an offer from #4.

What's next? I expect the HR recruiter to give me a call this week, and set up a face-to-face with the VP who manages everyone I met yesterday. I hear good things about this gentleman.

4. (A tiny software vendor)- I had a second interview Tuesday morning with the local account team*.

* - By "local account team", I mean a guy who lives in Wisconsin and drives to Chicago a lot. Did I mention it was small company?

We met at a Perkins restaurant just off the interstate. Nothing but good vibes here. I like the:

- Company. They are just crushing their sales targets, and the lousy economy is only helping them.
- People I have met.
- Market niche. The only competition is ignorance. As in, "Wait, there is a product that does this? What a fantastic idea! Where's my Purchase Order?" Which makes them a prime acquisition target, though company leaders I've spoken to deny this with surprising vehemence.
- Opportunity. Let's face it, you don't join IBM or SAP (my last two employers) to grow the business. Working for a 100-person software company with an international presence, however, brings out the entrepreneur in all of us. Everyone has to produce, everyone has to pull their weight. And if we do, there is some serious money to be made here.

What's next? The Presales VP is flying in next week to meet me. Then maybe a conversation with the CEO, perhaps a technical screening.

- Aw2pp, a former IBMer

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