I finally found a job
Okay, I finally found a job after about 5 months of serious searching (plus a month of not-so serious looking). Yowza... my wife just about had a nervous breakdown thinking we were going to have to move to the U.S. so I could find work ;-) We had started the countdown... Lucky me I get to stay in Madrid for a bit longer. :-p At least it's Summer, I love summer in Spain.
Here's the scoop:
You know how these things go, I didn't just get one offer, I got two on the same day. This was nice for negotiation, but it didn't change the results much. I'm a programmer with 8+ years of experience at some pretty high-end jobs. You can see my resume on the front page if you're curious. Who knows how that resume would do in the U.S. now with the market as it is, but I'm pretty confident I could find a job pretty easily for decent cash with my skills.
Here, however, it's a whole different experience.
The first offer, which I seriously considered, was this: $21,000 a year, plus 10% yearly bonus of my billing (it was for a consultancy), plus 80% of Health Insurance, plus $7 a day for lunch, plus a laptop, plus training in SAP (a back-end system normally used by big institutions for financials and HR). This wasn't just a job, but a career. I would be in charge of helping the company get up to speed with Server-side Java. It was interesting, but the base salary was almost insulting. The problem with the bonus is that consultants don't charge the same rates here as in the U.S. $50 an hour is HIGH for example and insanely cheap in the U.S. (even now). That means that even if I worked like a nut for a year, I could only get a bonus of MAYBE $10,000. But that wasn't likely since my job was mostly training, not consulting (they don't have any Java contracts yet). I asked for more money, but they just said that the company had levels and that their hands were tied. Too bad.
The second offer, which I accepted, was for a contract until December at a consulting company called VASS. This project is interesting, I just wish it was more resume-enhancing. This offer was just about money (no perks). At first I said no because my wife wanted me to take the "real" job. But after I said that money was really the issue, the consulting company I'm working through bumped their original offer of $25,000 up to $30,000 a year and I accepted.
Note that I was earning $35,000 at Terra where I quit because my coworkers were smoking like fiends. Call me an idiot. I left a job, lost 6 months of salary and then had to beg to find a job for $5k less... Another day, another valuable lesson.
Here's some things I finally figured out about finding a job in Spain:
1) Don't be surprised and figure out what to say when they ask you about your formal education. I'm a college drop out.
2) Don't be surprised when they ask you your age. I turned 30 in January. They're looking for young programmers here for some reason (right out of college) and aren't particularly concerned that those guys usually don't get the job done. Feeling old and out of it at 30 hurts. I'm not old and out of it.
3) I'm a REALLY good interviewee having been a consultant for so many years. I've probably had a 100+ interviews, seriously. But this is all in English. Selling yourself in Spanish is impossible for a non native speaker at my level: Lesson? Shut the f*ck up and let the interviewer talk.
4) Don't ever say the salary you're looking for. Let them give you an offer (as horrible as it is, it's better than nothing.) I started out in January saying I wanted "at least" 45,000 a year. That got me nowhere. Saying "whatever is fair" got me two offers (for 1/2 that).
5)Spanish employers are unresponsive at best. Even if you go somewhere 3 times and talk to 5 employees and spend a bunch of money, time and effort going to and fro, don't be surprised when they don't have the courtesy to notify you to when they decide not to hire you. In fact, you can expect them to avoid your calls and emails. It's like you don't exist anymore.
6) My experience has been that in the U.S. interviewers like when you talk about a foible you have - some downside or a dislike. They see you as more human, less cocky, more open and someone they can like. (Don't get nuts and start talking about your shoplifting habit, but in general it's a truism). In Spain, that doesn't work.
7) Mention the baby. They like that. Have a website with pics that you can show them during the interview... ;-)
8) The truth actually works. I was just saying that "things didn't work out" at Terra at first and the interviewers really honed in on that. I was there for such a short time that the interviewers thought I was fired. When I just decided to start telling the truth that I quit because my manager and coworkers wouldn't take my complaints about the smoke seriously, the interviewers laughed and started chatting about American foibles. So maby I was wrong about the above thing, you can have foibles, they just have to be American stereotypes...
What else? I'm missing other stuff for sure, but that's the "learned" stuff that I can remember for now.
Thank goodness I have a job.