My friend Boris Hristov (b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. The party was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) in December of 2009. This month’s invitation is on the topic of interviewing and hiring. This happens to be an apropos topic for me, since I have a new job.
It was a dark and stormy night…
OK, it was 8:30 am on a Monday morning and it was a beautiful January morning. It is Southern California after all…
I was checking my email like I always do after I get my morning coffee. There was yet another LinkedIn request. I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I’m picky about who I connect with. Basically, I always keep my LinkedIn account up to date, I’ve stopped connecting with people whom I couldn’t possibly help because our professions are so different, and I don’t connect with recruiters unless they are on my good side. This particular LinkedIn request was from a CEO named Richard at a company called DeskSite. Little did I know it would change my professional life.
A String of Events
Let’s step back a few days. I was already at a relatively new job. I had been there for six months, but I had also been frustrated. It was not the position I was expecting. I decided to pray about it the whole weekend and figure out if I wanted to start interviewing again or if I wanted to stick it out for another six months. By Monday I had decided to start looking.
So, we’re back to the LinkedIn request sitting in my email box on a Monday morning asking if I want to connect. Normally I would have said no. “He’s a CEO. He’s not a SQL person. We have no common connection.”, I would tell myself. But I was in a good mood. I thought, “Sure. Why not.”
Within an hour, I had an email from Richard, and it said:
Hey, we’re looking for a Database Architect. I was wondering if you could spend 10 minutes on the phone with me to see if you could help us find one.
I happen to be a chapter leader of a local BI user group called BIG PASS Community. While our group is BI focused, I know we have database professionals that cover the board, so I agreed to speak with him to see if I could find a match.
Side Story: I went down to my car to speak with Richard so that my colleagues wouldn’t know. I didn’t want them to think I was looking for a new job. Unfortunately, I have a blue tooth speaker at my desk and it was close enough to my car that my phone started transmitting through it. (Face Palm) So, I had to move my car. Problem solved.
Richard painted a picture for me of his startup company, DeskSite. He then told me where it currently stood technically and where he wanted to take it over the next three years. He then asked if I knew anyone who might be interested in joining his team or if he could possibly lure me away from my current company.
I kind of stumbled over my words, “I…I’m available. I just decided…literally, this weekend to start looking for a new position.” I cannot tell you how happy I made him. By time we got off the phone, I had an in-person interview scheduled for the next night at their office.
Side Story: When Richard called to verify that I could still make it, he told me that he had seen my SQL earrings that I wore in one of my Avatars. He loved them! So I wore them to the interview.
When I arrived at their office, I was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm. They were so happy to meet me. You see, they had Googled me. They knew that I’m heavily involved in the PASS Community. They had even seen the YouTube video that Red Gate published of me speaking at one of their SQL in the City events in 2013. They absolutely loved my enthusiasm and my obsession with SQL. They had already decided they wanted me on their team. They just had to convince me that I wanted to be on their team. (You see, I was at a startup when the dot com bubble burst. It makes me leery of startups.)
My half hour interview ended up being three hours. At some point I was offered a job. Richard then wanted to know what it would take to have me on his team. Normally I don’t bring up the fact I like to speak and attend conferences in the first interview, but I’m also not normally sought after. So I asked if they would send me to conferences. Richard didn’t even blink. He gave me an allotment of days AND a budget. Wow. I did tell him I needed it in writing. I learned the hard way by taking something like that on good faith.
I was not prepared to have left with a verbal offer in hand. I was definitely thinking this offer was too good to be true. So like a good data professional, I started researching.
Over the next week or so, I asked many of my SQL friends what they thought. I sent Richard quite a few questions about the position, the company, the stock options, the offer, and even the culture of the company. (If you have never worked at a startup, they are VERY different than a mid-size or larger company.) I also made two more visits to their office.
The first trip was at lunch. You see, Richard’s ideal company is more like a family and families eat together. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a people person. I despise eating by myself. It depresses me. Now that I have a Kindle, I have gotten more used to it, but I still prefer to eat with people. The bottom line is, I loved the culture of the company and Richard was one step closer to getting me on his team.
The second trip was a technical trip. They wanted me to meet with one of the consultants they use, to make sure I knew what I said I knew, and to talk deeper about the technical environment I would be working in. This one hour interview ended up being three hours. I think the technical part was only an hour, the other two hours was about the company… And my acceptance of their offer. (Aaacckkkk!)
Side note. I don’t do anything without talking to my awesome husband. I did take a bathroom break and talked to him on the phone for a bit and he was completely supportive of me taking the position.
The money dance
This is the part that has always been hard for me. Making sure I get paid fairly. I was asked what I wanted for a salary. I spent several hours researching what my salary should be. I have a wonderful friend who I got to talk real numbers with. I knew that I had been undervalued 2 jobs ago, but that had to do with the growth I experienced at that company. I grew professionally so fast when I first got involved with PASS that my salary soon became disproportionate to my knowledge, but because of red tape, my salary could not be fixed.
Anyhow, I finally came up with a number and sent it in. They made me an offer based on that number. It was made up of cash and options in the company. Unfortunately the cash portion was much too low. I was crest fallen. I know I could make a lot of money when the company goes public, and I really do think it will, but I have a daughter who will be heading to college in two years. I can’t risk her education or her younger sister’s education.
So what did I do? I talked to my friend who was also crest fallen for me. He offered some great advice and helped me devise a counter offer. I thought for sure it wouldn’t happen. A week went by with no word. I prepared to start interviewing with other companies.
Then the clouds broke
I then received an email apologizing for the delay. They were in the processes of acquiring a larger office space do to the growth of the company and it had taken up much of their time. They really wanted me on their team. They understood my financial needs, but they had to discuss my counter offer.
In the end we came to an agreement and I became a member of an amazing team. I have been at DeskSite for a month and a half as of this writing. I’m very excited about the challenges ahead of me and I’m happy about being part of an amazing team.
So you see, I owe my awesome job to LinkedIn and Red Gate. I suppose Google should be added to the list since it was used to find my SQL in The City video on YouTube. So, YouTube should be added to the list as well……………
Thanks for all the fish
Thanks go out to Boris Hristov for hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. I always love and appreciate Boris’ enthusiasm about participating in T-SQL Tuesday, so please visit his website at http://borishristov.com/.