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Budgeting my communication capacity

Spring 2023 was fun. After 7 years in one company, I started a new role in a very different type of business, with a very different tech stack. Bold move for me! The entire process from interviewing to signing an offer to opening my first PR in a new team took almost a year. Landing a job in tech is hard. "The system is broken" is a common phrase to hear when engineers of all seniority levels share their hiring experiences. Funny enough, my new job is to build products for recruiters. Let's see if I can help to "fix the system." I'll start by sharing some learnings from my recent job change project. And the first one is all about networking.

Kate is reading a book "Cracking coding interview" to her pets, cat and dog

I'm an introvert. I enjoy the comfort and solitude of remote work with async communication. When I'm in the flow, I can solve a wide range of technical problems from backend to frontend, from planning to shipping, from enterprise to greenfield.

Out of 100%, 80% of my capacity is technical, and the remaining 20% is communication skills. However, those 20% were barely enough to support all of my technical work, especially when I started taking on more management responsibilities. I had ambition, and growing often meant management.

Introverts on the other side of the screen will understand that once you've spent all your communication budget, it's a hard stop. I had been working like this for years, not leaving any of my "extrovert" budget for the outer IT space.

As a result, when it was time to move on, I had very few useful connections and an outdated understanding of the IT recruitment market. I had to go through cold interviews with their live coding sessions, algorithmic problems, personality tests, and other humiliating experiences. Not fun at all.

The most popular advice I received during that period was to keep interviewing. I was told to schedule as many interviews as possible until I became comfortable with them. I was advised to stretch my 20% even further.

Today, I have a better advice for myself: budget your communication capacity to stay in sync with the IT reality.
This means reserving 5% of my extravert capacity for external activities and spending that 5% wisely. Booking every morning for yet another interview call is not wise at all.

While 5% may seem like a small number, there are many activities in IT that bring a lot of value with just a bit of communication effort. Let me share some concrete examples that have worked for me:

Meetups and conferences

I found my current employer on I have also built strong connections with people I met at meetups and conferences. For me, the best way to network at a conference is to give a talk. This way, people come to me with specific questions, and I don't need to worry about how to start a conversation. I can also build good relationships with other speakers by giving feedback and asking follow-up questions. Even if I don't create any meaningful connections, I go home inspired and motivated. Good enough for me.

Mentorship and coaching

I feel much more comfortable in deeper 1:1 conversations than in group activities with strangers. Mentorship sessions were the main source of energy for me in 2022. I spoke to engineers and leaders from various organisations, and everyone was very helpful and supportive. Today, I have a couple of trusted mentors, and offer engineering mentorships myself on ADPList. If you are new to mentorship read my post "Where to find a mentor" to get started.


I created this little blog five years ago when I was playing with Gatsby during Christmas. Even with my occasional writing, it has become a great foundation for my public profile. As a bonus, it makes a positive first impression on recruiters. Writing skills are important in tech, as a lot of communication and knowledge sharing happens asynchronously.


Surprisingly, reading can be a decent networking tool. Writing a book review, giving a recommendation or participating in a book club - all of these activities can bring interesting people and ideas into my life. My "Learning Domain-Driven Design" book review is the most popular post on this blog to date.

Working from the office

To reserve some communication capacity for the activities mentioned above, I left behind my Tech Lead role and started as an individual contributor. However, as a Senior Engineer, I still have a lot of meetings to plan the work, pair on implementation, and stay up to date with the business in general. I was surprised to find out that all those activities drain me much less when I work from the office. Also, drawing on the whiteboard is a lot of fun!

Things that didn't work for me

I'm not the first to discover the difficulties with networking for less outgoing engineers, and I know there are many other ways to show up in the global IT community. Some of them didn't work for me (but they may work for you):

Dale Carnegie tricks
Not my thing, but I agree that learning some "tricks" can help in common situations, like starting a conversation with a stranger or having an argument with a colleague.

Online communities
There are many topic-specific channels in Slack, Reddit, Discord, Twitch, etc.

Open Source contributions
Early in my career, I was lucky to meet great people from the Drupal open-source community. They influenced my career more than anyone else. Participating in open source requires time and effort, and at some point I disengaged in favor of client work.

Freelance gigs
I know some very well-connected freelancers, but I'm not sure if my 5% communication budget will be enough to satisfy any client.

Building side projects
Building something public can be a great starting point for building connections with very interesting, well-connected people. Pretty much every indie developer I met was a very interesting person with multiple talents.

To summarise

As an introvert, I have a limited communication capacity that I refer to as my "extravert budget". In the past, I used to spend all of it at work, leaving nothing for other activities. My recent job change experience has made it clear to me that I need to budget my communication capacity wisely. Otherwise, I'm at risk of alienating from the global IT community.

Firstly, I gave up some of my management responsibilities and made it a habit to come to the office twice a week. Surprisingly, in-person meetings drain me much less compared to Zoom calls. Additionally, I began working with a mentor to enhance the efficiency of my communication.

By making these changes, I am now able to engage more with the global IT community and naturally expand my professional network. I have found several activities that work well for me, such as meetups, mentorship, and blogging.

I'd love to know what works for you, especially if you consider yourself a less outgoing person. Please, share your experience in comments below or contact me directly. Let's connect! πŸ˜„

Top comments (3)

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard • Edited

Landing a job in tech is hard.

currently yes... and It doesn't have to be
our skills are needed so the hard part should be learning our skills, not landing a job in tech

"The system is broken" is a common phrase to hear when engineers of all seniority levels share their hiring experiences.

The phrase is common because it is true
"not all hiring", but often enough that "all candidates"

I had to go through cold interviews with their live coding sessions, algorithmic problems, personality tests, and other humiliating experiences. Not fun at all.

God I know all of this but it is painful to read it every time.

Things do not have to stay like this.

Granted recruiting will never be perfect, recruiting like mating is a problem that is impossible to solve completely.

But the humiliation you talk about is real and completely not necessary.

We did manage to public shame Google to stop their brain teasers How many windows are there in Manthathan?, once regarded as super smart, but absolutely terrible in fact.

So what kind of other bad hiring practices can be fight back against?

That's exactly why I started my hiring broken series

See for example

kalabro profile image

Thanks for sharing @jmfayard! Congrats on being grilled by ThePrimeagen. Controversial topics trigger a lot of opinions!

P.S. I've no idea how many windows are there in Manthathan, and I hope I will never need to know it πŸ˜„

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

It can be a fun quizz between friends - basically the number of inhabitants times a magic constant.
But like it is completly shitty as a hiring critieria