New job in The Hague

Shortly before quitting FRISS I had started three concurrent job application procedures. I ended up signing with an IT-company in The Hague, which sells smart cards, smart card printers and the software to manage them. I started in my new job in March. I will discuss the job applications first and then my new employer.

The first job application was with the Dutch Ministry of Finance for a job as (junior) policy adviser. I passed the job application letter selection. Because I wanted this job so badly I prepared better than usual for the interview. I even practiced it with a career counselor, something I had never done before. I thought the interview went well, but it seems I always have to deal with extremely choosy interviewers. After I was refused I asked for and received detailed feedback, but I was too upset to memorize it well. Except for a remark about inadequate analytical skills, which shows the unwillingness of interviewers to look past first impressions and consider proven accomplishments. Such as an scientific publication for example, which the vast majority of their candidates wouldn’t have had. If that doesn’t vouch for analytical skills, what does?

The refusal felt devastating to me. Why does fate forbid me to get a job which I was trained to do, through my education in Public Administration? My suspicion is that there is a relatively large amount of applicants for jobs like policy adviser, while IT personnel is relatively scarce. Not long after the refusal the cognitive dissonance arrived. I got fed up with soliciting for government jobs, certainly after the realization that my current salary with my new employer matches the minimum salary of a senior (!) policy adviser. I can anticipate what will happen with that salary if I acquire some more experience and certifications like Scrum Master and Lean Six Sigma.

I had two other job applications, after two recruiters had invited me. Of course it felt good to be invited instead of having to take the initiative. One of these companies was Doculayer, which produces an Enterprise Content Management system. I liked the diversity in their team of employees, was impressed by their product and thought they had an attractive office building. I didn’t like their location right next to a big highway and the long bike ride to their office, which necessitated using public transport. The salary was attractive, but  offered more.

The company of my current employer is much smaller with a rather unassuming office in a large residential house. While I worked with colleagues from every continent at FRISS, almost all my current colleagues are white and male. On the other hand, I can reach the office in half an hour with my bike, it’s located in a nice neighborhood with a beautiful park nearby. The good salary offer came after I had told their recruiter that it was difficult to decide between Doculayer and my current employer. As mentioned in the previous post, I gained € 1.000 in gross salary. For the first time ever I feel respected and valued by my employer instead of a replaceable pawn to reap in profit.

Unlike the job interview with the Ministry of Finance, I didn’t do any special preparation for the job interviews at these two companies. I was just myself and asked as lot of questions, roughly equal to the amount I answered. Maybe I didn’t leave a good impression with them either and they were so desperate for new personnel to choose me anyway? Or maybe I held up fine during the interviews while the ministry was searching for unicorns and had a lot of choice? I have no idea.

My job is challenging. Basically I have to learn about the company’s products and software from the ground up again, because it is totally different from the software made by FRISS. The documentation could use improvement. Many processes suffer from administrative overhead and could be optimized. The ERP software which we use intensively, SAGE, is quite terrible and should be replaced. We use a very old on-premises version of SAGE based on Microsoft Access (!) which is very slow and user unfriendly. On the IT Service Management side there is decent incident management, but there is a lot of potential to improve the problem management. The the amount of incoming incidents could be reduced greatly if their root causes would be fixed. We need better monitoring software so that we are immediately informed when business critical systems go down.

Of course I like to be challenged. However, the reality is that I can barely keep up with my regular work. This consists of solving incidents with our software, placing purchase orders and processing incoming and outgoing deliveries. I don’t have enough time, I feel like I’m so busy evacuating water from my boat that I don’t have an opportunity to patch the hull leak. I hope to get more efficient in my daily work in the coming months so that I can free more time for structural improvements.

There is one thing which has been much more troubling though. The collaboration with one of my direct colleagues is very strained. I feel he treats me with disdain, like an inexperienced intern rather than a colleague. He works much longer for the company, is more experienced and has unrealistic expectations of how fast I can get acquainted with my new job. The vast majority of the interactions he has with me are negative because he always complains about me. Even though he is not my manager he frequently micromanages me and orders me around. When I ask him questions on how I should solve more complex incidents, he frequently answers with the question “What do you think yourself?”, as if it were an exam. I experience this as very condescending.

I consider myself easy to get along with and can get along with everyone else at my current employer. I did have one direct colleague at FRISS with whom I collided occasionally, but over time I developed a professional understanding with him which enabled us to get along. I still didn’t like him on a personal level, but in the end I did develop some respect for him as my colleague. With this guy, I don’t know. I’m not sure if it’s genuine passive-aggressive behavior or just social ineptitude. So far I’ve started to behave slightly more assertive towards him and I ignore his complaints and more counterproductive advice, but that’s not a road I want to go down further.

I thought I’d endure it for some months and wait to see if our collaboration would improve, but after four months it has not. This matter has been detrimental to the enjoyment of my work. If it continues for longer, I definitely should speak to him about it. The fact that I’ve been postponing that conversation tells me that I consider it difficult and want to avoid it.

Comment 17-12-2018: at the request of my employer I anonymized my employer’s name.

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