Finding a new developer job in London

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As transparency seems to be the new black (I’ve read quite a few posts on HN recently about people fully documenting their earnings, for example), I thought I’d blog about finding a new developer job in London. Nothing too exciting but visiting various shops, comparing interview processes, and working with recruiters is always…entertaining.

Firstly, here’s a quick run down of the places I visited and some notes of my experience/observations (WordPress table editing is not so good, so excuse the rudimentary layout)

Company (type) Source Interview Stages Date Outcome Notes / Observations
Digital Agency in Croydon StackOverflow 1st (Face2Face) 7th Nov No callback First interview! This one was all about getting experience (I would probably never work in Croydon…); Had to hack a to-do list together in 20 mins. Unpracticed at Razor so this probably took longer than it should’ve! Good guys but company not really progressive enough in terms of technology
Shrink-wrapped Accountancy software in Charing Cross Jobserve (urgh) 1st (online test); 2nd (30 min phone interview) 9th Nov Not taken forward (by me) Online test was C#/CLR trivia galore (got 64% doh); phone interview was 3 guys asking some random questions, not very coherent. Not the best interview process in the world but no loss as unlikely that I’d work in something as exciting as accountancy!
Shoreditch Music industry startup StackOverflow 1st (pair programming f2f interview) 12th Nov No callback This was intimidating as I had/have these guys on a pedestal, especially the Director of Engineering who is active in the community and has seemingly done an amazing job using progressive ideas to create a successful engineering outfit. Consequently stuffed the interview up, howlers include trying to mock a concrete class with Moq and not pointing out mutability as problematic. At least I learned about the Chain-of-Responsibility pattern and was able to show them FluentAssertions. All is not lost!
Big City Management Consultancy StackOverflow 1st (30 mins HR phone interview) 15 Nov Not taken forward by them Pictured myself wearing suits everyday and going from client site to client site hacking in fixes in a tech debt creation frenzy (am I being harsh on city tech?). Interview went well but in the end I was “not a match for their requirements”, most likely because I said I wasn’t going to do any Java…
Charity platform Recruiter 1st (Online test); 2nd (f2f w/ CTO); 3rd (f2f w/ Architect & Technical Manager) 19 – 23 Nov Offer Accepted Great looking company that looks after its people and is technology-focused; liked the people I met in the interview – enthused, passionate, skilled, etc. High retension, always a good sign. Good tech stack, office space, progressive culture etc etc. Job done!

Some key observations and takeaways from the whole process:

  • Recruiters are the usual annoying and manipulative lot but actually finding a decent one is possible and can make a big difference.
  • Overall though, I’d definitely start with the StackOverflow job boards (avoid Jobserve like the plague!) where you can find lots of decent companies and also do THEM a favour, as if you’re recruited through SO their costs are lowered by around 7k-10k per role in recruiting fees. I did note that SO is slowly starting to “jump the shark” though, carrying ads from Big Consultancy Inc who aren’t really doing interesting things with tech. Along with SO who will feature most of the bigger, more established outfits, also be very sure to pay SiliconMilkRoundabout a visit at one of their twice-yearly shindigs, where there are many much smaller but very exciting companies who are looking for adventurous types to join their cutting edge startups. If working on something interesting and novel is high on your list, SMR is a must.
  • Another observation I made was the presence of huge variance in interview techniques and processes. In my opinion it turns out that the places you would rather work tend to avoid online tests of the multiple-choice questionnaire type, and have some element of your own code, whether that is pair programming at the interview or submitting your solution to their problem question over email. In my own hiring I have had the most success with:
    • 1st stage: CV screening that I do, screening on modern tech (ORMS, IoC, TDD etc) and passion for the craft (OSS/blogs/twitter/etc)
    • 2nd stage: 45 min phone interview going over technical basics (including questions like “What problem does IoC solve?”) and some recent work experience; If successful I give email a programming challenge and ask them to submit a project that solves it.
    • 3rd stage: 2 part face-to-face, 1st part soft-skills, 2nd part hard-skills where we talk about his/her code submission and possibly ask them to extend it in the interview.
  • Finally, the last observation I made was that it is seemingly quite a small world in the London tech scene! New hires in my old company were from places that invited me to interview, fellow colleagues from work were being submitted for some of the same jobs I was, some through the same recruiters, some through different recruiters, etc. Felt like a bit of a crowded space at times!

Anyway, my job is done as I’m now at a much better outfit than before, so hopefully I won’t have to traverse the recruitment maze again for a long while and I can get back to creating software and help building good teams. Hope you find this little anecdote interesting!

One thought on “Finding a new developer job in London

    Jamie Parkins said:
    January 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Glad you choose us 😉 Welcome aboard Mark!

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