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I started a new job today as a .NET developer. And boy was it a learning curve. For the past 7 months I’ve been used to writing spaghetti code, duplicate code all over the place, tightly coupling all tiers to one another. And I got used to this; accepted this.

Things are different at my new place of work. Everything is an object. I have missed nice object-oriented code. But for sure, I am out of practice.

Today has been one hell of a learning curve and I expect this to carry on for the next few months. There’s so much I don’t know. On top of learning Microsoft tools (Visual Studio 2005, MS SQL 2000 / 2005, Team Server, Source Safe, etc…), I’ve got to pick up C# and learn the company’s internal suite of products inside out. I love a challenge but dislike being a total newbie. My brain was worn out at the end of today just through the sheer amount of new information it was trying to take on board.

It’s company tradition that new guys, like me, schedule a 15 minute meeting with every member of the company in order to introduce myself and learn what everyone’s role is. I managed to speak to 6 people this afternoon, that’s just under half the workforce. Everyone I met was very friendly and far too clever. How am I going to fit in?

All in all, I’m very happy to have moved and will just have to go through the motions of being a total newbie.

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A couple of week ago I rewrote my CV and submitted it to those pesky recruitment agencies and job boards. My CV is looking quite polished, yet one can always do better. Christian Heilmann writes about writing better web developer CVs. Even though he is writing about corporate HR departments, he articulates better my frustrations with recruitment agencies. Marko Dugonjić also has a few CV tips appropriate for web developers. One tip is to include a short list of the most recently read on-topic books.

Something that I am missing is a personal website that can act as a sandpit, somewhere where I can play with the new stuff and demonstrate my ability to pick up skills. Olly has a sandpit and he’s starting to play in it again. Who else has a sandpit?

I had another interview yesterday. Before attending it, I checked out the company’s website and was immediately impressed. I was not disappointed when I arrived at the company’s premises; the office was bright, spacious, warm and the atmosphere created by the staff was one of professionalism, hard working, yet sociable.The guy who interviewed me for the job was a clever, polite, nice guy who explained to me that even though he was looking for a more experienced .NET developer, after looking at my CV, was intrigued by the mix of my skills. One question that I have been asked during my previous week of job hunting by recruiters is how whether I see myself as a web developer or software developer. Given my academic background I’d say I was software developer but over the last 12 months I have gone down the web developer path. I can never give a straight answer because I think I’m both, though obviously have little commercial experience of non-web development roles.

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Since last Friday I have applied for 7 jobs, via various recruitment agencies, and as of today I have been put forward for 3. Now I’m waiting to see if I get any interviews. Please God, don’t make me speak to any more recruitment consultants. How useless are these people? Has there ever been a single recruitment consultant that knows more than how to list of a bunch of acronyms? Generally, they will phone up, tell you about an amazing position, say they’re going to put you forward, and then all of sudden the job doesn’t exist anymore, and sometimes the person you originally spoke is impossible to get hold of. 

The main recruitment sites like Monster.co.uk and Jobserve.com are full of listings entered by employment agencies. It’s very rare that an employer itself posts on these boards. If you want, like me, only web developer type jobs listed directly by the employer check out 37signals Job Board, CrunchBoard, CSS Monster and Jobs @ JoelOnSoftware. Out of these niche job boards, only JoelOnSoftware allows you to filter jobs by country. All let you subscribe by RSS feed.

Here’s a plea to employers: Forget the large recruitment sites and please stop using employment agencies. They charge far too much for their services (not that I have to pay) and, like all middlemen, do nothing useful except create beaurocracy and get in the way of the task at hand. Instead, find a job board that caters for the particular niche you want and advertise directly and accurately.

I’d put recruitment consultants in the same bracket as estate agents. Useless, but a necessary evil.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve sat in on an interview. An interview my colleagues and I knew about literally 2 seconds before the guy walked in through the door. My boss failed to tell us (the tech team) about the interview, which meant no time to prepare, no time to look at the guy’s CV, no time draft up a list of pertinent questions. Instead, the boss gave a rambled history of the company, the interviewee spoke about his flickered job history (this guy never stood still) and the tech team asked a series of unstructured questions and tried to keep the interview together.

I’m only writing about this because I happened to read a blog post by Seth Godin where he states that interviews are a waste of time. I concur. His alternative is for the job candidate to do a very short stint of work experience. Both parties get a much better deal out of this compared to the standard interview process. Makes perfect sense to me. You?

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Today I resigned from my post at Microsoft Gold partner after having only been there 2½ months. Because I was in my probationary period still, the notice period was just one week, perfect for starting at my new job, which start next Tuesday. My resignation took the MD by surprise and I felt bad for giving such short notice and possibly leaving them in the lurch, especially since the company had paid hefty fees to the recruitment agency.

I started working at this company because I thought it was a small independent company, putting to practice the latest Microsoft technologies; somewhere that would enhance my career and be a badge of honour on my CV. In reality, the company had one major blue-chip client, who are using very old platforms, leading to a stifling of creativity and innovation. The main reason I chose to work at a small company and not at a large financial organisation or other large corporate was so I could actually make a difference by coming up with creative solutions rather than being a cog in the corporate machine.

After two months I decided to find another job, somewhere where I could get a lot more job satisfaction, continue to learn, and enjoy the company of the people I work with. Within minutes of stepping into the building at my soon to be new employer I felt at ease, even though I was being interviewed by a panel of four people, two techies and two directors. I was quite relaxed because I had nothing to lose by being myself and this was probably the first interview where my personality came across and wasn't quashed by my nerves.

Steinunn congrats me and points out the other bonus of my resignation:

then the other jobtells him there is no need to work out his notice, he can just go on holiday. paid.

So tomorrow I have some jobs to do: tidy the flat in preparation for Sigrun (Steinunn's sister) and her mate's arrival on Friday, food shopping, gym, and, for your listening pleasure, I'm going to start converting tapes of my old music into mp3, then upload onto my myspace page. I'm going to go back as far as my Sepulchral Thorn days, the first incarnation of the band what was to become the more tuneful Bula Tigers featuring Paul Gallucci on vocals, Peter Tye on bass and Brendan Tye on drums and guitar. There are going to be some embarrassing moments but now it is far enough in the past to laugh at. If you listen regularly you'll definitely hear the progress of the band.

Also, I'm going to sort my flat feet out once and for all. Is there a podiatrist in the house?

I started a new job today, the first since graduating from university. I haven’t had a full time, 9 to 5 since 1999. That’s nearly seven years! The morning was set aside for form filling, health and safety procedures, tours around the building (an old bank), a peer into the old bank safe, and familiarising myself with the Employee Handbook and the intranet.

I made S and myself a packed lunch from last night’s leftover veggie burgers accompanied by a bit of rocket & spinach and a slice of cheese. I sandwiched the burger with a rustic white roll. I went for a walk around the block and was still hungry so I bought a ‘new recipe’ Lion bar.