This year I took quite a big step. I quit my wonderful job in The Netherlands and moved to the UK. It was time to go for adventure and live a few years abroad. Including the hunt for a new job. I’ve now finished the hunt, but to be honest, I expected it would be different, not to say easier. Let me explain why.

Of course I used people in the PHPamily to start exploring options. From WeCamp in the Netherlands I knew people around Manchester and there I heard about the conference PHP North West. This helped me getting started to get in touch with companies.

‘Everyone is looking for developers’ you hear everywhere. And it is true, but not as in ‘walk in the company, drink a coffee (or, as being in UK, a tea), get an offer, sign it and start’. That would be too easy: it’s not the internet bubble time anymore. However, I maybe had expected something like that. It’s always those assumptions…

It might have to do with a different approach to meetups. In The Netherlands I am used to meetups hosted by companies: they sponsor the venue, put a few beers in the fridge and make sure there is some (fast)food. Within the (Dutch) community, people can get to know different companies that way. And if you like the company and are looking for a new job: you walk in, get a coffee, talk a bit, get an offer and end up with a desk (well, almost).

In my new community it is different. I could find a lot of meetups around Manchester, but they don’t seem to be hosted by companies (or is it my search skills?). When I asked about it, I was told that because of the aggressive recruiting the hosting companies would apply, the organisers did not like being hosted. And with that the attendees too, I can imagine. It’s such a pity this happens. From the organisers and attendees point of view, you can get a free venue, free or cheap drinks and food and see different locations. From the companies point of view, it costs next to nothing, but you get ‘exposure’ in the community and probably your own employees learn something from it. Just don’t ask all attendees every time if they want to sign up with you. If you’re ‘cool’, they come by themselves. And for me personally, it could have been an easy way to see a few companies from the inside, before going into the official processes of applying.

During the job hunting a lot of companies asked to do an assignment. Every company has its own, one more advanced than the other. However, nobody mentioned anything about my GitHub profile (yes, it is in my CV). It can be a very good proof of what you a capable of.
Not that my GitHub profile is very impressive, but there are some of my own projects and some contributions to other projects. It can give a potential new employer an idea about tech-stack, code style and knowledge: A few tests in a project already show that you know they exist.

Think about this when you are looking for people or joining an interview: do you look at their GitHub profile, do you ask questions about it? I think it can save both employer and applicant a lot of time. Time that can be invested in e.g. open source projects on GitHub.
I do acknowledge: the code on its own is worthless. You need to know a certain background on it. We all remember some kind of legacy code of which we think “What the hell was this developer thinking?”. I think in most cases it made perfectly sense at the time of writing. With the code on a platform like GitHub it works the same: there is a reasoning behind it. Talking about it as a potential new colleague, employee or manager can be very useful, being a starting point in an interview about why certain choices were made in the code.

I shouldn’t complain. Within 2 months I found a job (and it could have been faster, but having time for personal projects is also nice, you know).

Is the above just a rant about the problems I came across while living abroad and looking for a job in another culture? No. It’s a lesson. For me personally. And maybe for others who are thinking about doing the same (go, do it!).
It was also a confirmation that the community is worth a lot and I maybe should’ve used it better. I looked through the list of all contributors of 24 Days in December. I recognised a lot of names. Some I spoke, some I saw, some I attended talks of (Thanks for that!): but really ‘knowing’ them, is not the case. It might be a missed opportunity.

So that was this year. What’s next? I don’t know yet. Introducing a new tradition of having meetups at companies? It might be possible at my new employer, at least we have the space for it.

Hope to see you soon!