It has been a month since I decided to actively search for a new position and it’s been a real learning experience. I’ve had to sort out the following for myself:
- What role do I want? IC or Manager? Both?
- How much should I ask in terms of base salary?
- How much equity? What type?
- What benefits must I have? What benefits are a nice to have?
- Remote? Hybrid? (no way I’m going back 100% in office, heck even 90% is probably too much)
- What types of companies/teams do I want to join? (Pre-seed, Seed, Series A, etc.)
Early on, I was torn between going fully back to an IC (Individual Contributor) or sticking to management. It’s been a bumpy ride learning how to be a good manager over the last 1.5 years but I feel like I’m starting to find my direction and principles when it comes to people management. The technical and project management skills are always growing and evolving but people management was certainly a new thing. Even with previous experience being a tech lead and mentoring other developers, it didn’t really prepare me for how to create a safe space for a team, how to provide just enough guidance and communication from above as well as how to effectively manage up. I’m reading a ton and I’ve just received the following to help me on this path:
- An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management
- The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change
- Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow
- Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations
- Become an Effective Software Engineering Manager: How to Be the Leader Your Development Team Needs
As I go through them, I’ll use this site as a way to keep notes and review each and hopefully come back and make updates on how it’s been effective.
As of right now though, I’m pursuing management roles (both hands-on and hands-off) or IC roles with a short on-ramp to a management role. I don’t see myself going back to an IC role long-term.
What types of companies?
I know I don’t want to go back to a large organization anytime soon, so I’ve been actively searching for and applying to Pre-Seed, Seeded, and Series A to C startups that are open to hiring a manager with less than 2 years of formal people management experience. I know there is a ton of risk as the failure rate can be extremely high for start-ups but I want to go back to a small org to learn a lot quicker and to be able to SEE how my contributions can help a team. Maybe I’ll consider a move to a Tier 1 tech firm (aka FAANG) but for now, I am solely focused on small, up-and-coming firms where I can be aligned with the mission.
The rest …
I’m still sorting through the rest but I know for sure I want a remote-first company with great health benefits that can pay me as much as I get now and then some. From my current slate of interviews, it seems like most places are open to the TC (total comp) I am looking for but we’ll see what offers come out Since I’m looking at a lot of early-stage firms, equity is a factor and it’s something I’m still getting ramped up on.
I should note that Rand’s Leadership Slack has been a great help not only in terms of providing advice but also leads on jobs, resume critiques, advice on what to look for and how to decide, and a ton of other helpful things.
I’m starting to go through a couple of second-round calls and I have a number of first-round calls coming up over the coming weeks. As I go through these calls, I’m also making sure to take notes and learn from each company’s process so I can lean on that experience and potentially leverage it for my own hiring processes. There are a lot of great and smart people out there running the search and I can only grow further by learning from the experience.