Oct 02, 2020

I'm joining Automattic!

Most of my recent experience is in IT Consulting firms, where you usually get the chance to work on short term projects (mostly), or staff augmentation gigs, but opportunities to work on real product development are slim.

IT Services in general, it’s about either “Table Turnover” (as in, you want customers to sit down, eat, pay and move along so that you can serve more), or “Fast Growth” (as in, put more people to work for others and sell more of their time). It’s all about making money. (Not saying it’s bad, by the way)

Still, it was fun. I had the chance to meet great people and work on all kinds of projects, but eventually, my day to day became about solving the same set of problems for different customers. Politics and endless meetings started to creep in, and I stopped learning, so I wrote a list of requirements for my next job and left.

Here is the list: (After a few permutations)

  • Work at a product company with a long term vision/strategy.
  • Autonomy to innovate and make things better.
  • Work with smart people and learn from them.
  • Join a company with values, ethics, and a purpose (Not everything is about money)
  • 25m commute to work, or work from home.
  • Work on mobile, and be a little more closer to the code.

Soon after I started my search, the pandemic exploded, and I found myself looking for a job when nobody was hiring. Things went down to a halt, and many companies froze hiring, especially in Latin America.

Thanks to Elena (my wife), who supported me (both emotionally and financially) and the fact that we have no kids and little debt, I could still approach things calmly and sit down at home for more than six months looking for the right opportunity. (Lucky guy, huh?)

In the past 180+ days, I applied to more than 200 positions worldwide, hearing back from less than 20% and engaging in serious conversations with about a dozen companies.

When I mention those numbers, people think I applied to every LinkedIn post I found, but in reality, I reviewed thousands of posts and applied only to the ones that matched my list.

There were almost no good opportunities in Colombia, so 96% of the applications I sent were for jobs abroad, requiring VISA sponsorship, all in the middle of the pandemic with the world on a travel ban. It was a long shot, but what I learned was unimaginable.

I interviewed with companies in Germany, Canada, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, the U.S., and the Netherlands. Some conversations went sideways, and I advanced to the last steps of the process on a few others but didn’t get hired or decided not to accept at the end.

What’s most curious is that I did not find about Automattic open positions on a job board. Instead, I was reading Matt Mullenweg’s “Corner Office” article in the NYT where he talked about Automattic’s hiring process a bit, and got curious enough to check out their openings.

I know Automattic since my early days as a Web Developer. Besides developing WordPress, they are the company behind Tumblr and Simplenote (among others) and have been in business for 15 years. It’s a fully remote shop, with 1000+ people spread across 70+ countries, trying to make the web a better place, and it seems it works.

The hiring process is demanding and requires lots of work and commitment, but to me, it was also a great learning opportunity, full of pleasant surprises. It has been, by far, the most bizarre, exciting, and joyful process I have ever participated in. (Yea, it’s true: everything happens on Slack).

I will be joining Automattic as a Mobile Engineer next week. Going back to coding full time will be a challenge, mainly because these guys are incredibly good at it, and I’m a little old and rusty, but life’s boring when things are too easy anyway, so bring it on!.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

EDIT: Many people have asked me about the hiring process in detail. There´s plenty of info around the web, but I might write a follow up with my perspective.