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Karen Dickenson
Karen Dickenson

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Job Hunt 2021

What am I looking for?

My career has been with web agencies doing work for higher education clients, theming and building out Drupal sites (WordPress too). I would like to continue serving the public and not-for-profit sectors (higher education, government, foundations, institutes).

I am looking to join an established team. I have no interest in being the only women on the development team. I am also looking for a diverse team with varying levels of expertise and backgrounds.

I have been deliberate in choosing the companies I apply to. I have never had more than three applications going at one time. I am not the main bread-winner in our family and therefore I have the luxury of time. I know many job seekers are not that lucky.

Job Hunt Search Terms

Approach #1: "Drupal Developer"

Since Drupal 8 sunsets November 2021 and Drupal 7 sunsets November 2022, I found that companies looking for "Drupal Developers" are anxiously trying to find people with migration experience.

That is not me. Most of my career has been spent in the "front-end". I got to the technical interview on two postings but was ultimately rejected because I didn't have enough custom module experience. Time to take a different approach.

One company loved my site building skills and would love have someone on their team to alleviate that responsibility from their backend staff they just don't have that role developed or funded yet.

Approach #2: "Front-End Developer"

Job posting that resulted from this search were really looking for people with JAMstack experience. And if the roles included Drupal, it was as a headless backend. Most where looking for React.js and/or Gatsby.js. As much self-learning I have done in both, I do not have any production experience.

Approach #3: "Drupal Front-End Developer"

These postings seem to align better with my current skills except my projects have been non-enterprise one-offs. These posting are looking for more design system integration. Here is were my self-education in Pattern Lab, Storybook, or USWDS just isn't enough. Without production experience, I don't match their needs.

Take Aways

My 80% Fallacy

Although I apply to roles where I meet at least 80% of the qualifications, it is the missing 20% that trips me up. I have come to the conclusion that web agencies, in particular, don't have the bandwidth for someone to learn on the job. They have specific needs for specific projects that they are trying to fulfill and therefore they need a 100% match on qualifications.

1st Interview -> Technical Interview

If I do make it trough the first interview I consistently make it to the technical interview. Some roles had technical take-homes as part of their process but two did not.

My self-confidence takes a dive regarding my lacking skills and that seems to come through in the technical interviews. I don't have any completion certificates to "prove" my self-taught skills nor my own projects to show them off. Something I still need to work on.

Great Fit BUT

Personality wise, a good portion of my interviewers have responded that I would be a great fit for their company culture. As great as my skills are, they are not what they are looking for at this time. Is this the "kind" rejection template or am I getting an honest reaction? I don't know. I hope they are being as honest with me as I am with them.

Conclusion

Job hunting can knock your confidence to a new low. All I can do is keep looking for the right job with the right company for me. It has NEVER been said that "job hunting is easy". I need to put in some more hard work and believe it will pay off.

Job hunt stats to date for 2021:

Out of 11 Applications (3 via recruiters, 8 via company's website):

  • 6 Meet & Greets;
  • 4 1st Round Interviews;
  • 2 Technical Take-Homes;
  • 4 Technical Interviews;
  • 9 Rejections (7 by companies, 2 pull-outs by me);
  • 2 Ghosted (no response) applications

Discussion (1)

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Lucia Cerchie

Wow that is a great application/meet & greet ratio for applications via website/recruiter! Karen, I think whichever company that needs a frontend drupal developer and is willing to teach you what you'd like to learn would be very lucky.