Dave Fecak's New Book Takes a Fresh Look at the Software Engineer's Job Search
Dave Fecak is not your average IT recruiter. IT recruiters tend to be lame, but Dave is quite awesome. You may have read some of his blog posts here or on Job Tips For Geeks. He's given some of the best advice I've seen about interviewing, job hunting, and generally how to continue being attractive to employers. His advice is simply aimed at making you a better professional overall.
This month, Dave released his first book and I wanted to share the news with DZone and ask him about the details of his new publication. Here is an interview I recently had with him (links to the book are at the bottom of the page):
Q: You just released your first ebook “Job Tips For Geeks: The Job Search”. I can probably guess, but tell us what it's all about.
A: The book is a step-by-step guide to a job search written for software engineers and technology professionals specifically. You won't find a lot of this material in traditional job search guides. It is written chronologically, so it starts with the decision to look for a job. Many people just say “I'm going to look for a job” and start firing off resumes without much thought. This book starts with what you need to do before you look, analyzes the pros and cons of the primary job search methods, and even introduces a new method which I personally feel is the most effective way to search for a job. It's counterintuitive, as it is a strategy to apply for jobs that probably don't exist. It then goes through a technical resume, phone screen and interview preparation and tips, and how to measure your activity and what metrics are useful. Eventually it comes around to how to evaluate job offers, how to handle multiple offers, negotiations, acceptance, resignations, and some stuff about counteroffers and maintaining the network you developed during the search.
Q: How is this book different from some of the other technical interview and job search books that are out there?
A: Most of the popular books on job search for engineers today seem to be more focused on lists of technical questions for memorization. Those certainly have value, but my book is focused on the overall process. My book actually has material on setting the proper mindset and expectation. What if they ask a question you don't know? People who memorize algorithms and design patterns might not have a contingency plan for the possibility that they may get one wrong. I think there is much value in having that safety net, and my book talks about that. It does provide lots of material on building a technical resume and gives interview tips, but if you want answers to specific technical interview questions this is not that book. If you want to know how to answer technical questions in general, what to do when you don't know the answer, and even how to recover after the interview is over, this book could help.
My book is also written from a recruiter's perspective.
Q: Technologists often seem to hate recruiters. What is your perspective on that?
A: Plenty of engineers won't work with recruiters, and I understand why. I've been very critical of the profession in my past writing and the book is no different. One of the unique things about my book is that I expose some of the recruiter's tricks and actually teach job seekers how to take control of the relationship and not fall victim to recruiters.
For example, in the book I provide several asides that are what recruiters are trained to do at various points in the process that job seekers might not even realize. Did the recruiter suggest you go to lunch with your new employer during your two week notice period or offer to write your resignation letter? Do you know why? I also provide the recruiter's counteroffer script, which is valuable to hear. I lay out how recruiters are motivated financially, the different classifications of recruiters, and what it all means for job seekers. That isn't always transparent to job seekers. Recruiters have a lot of influence in the hiring market today, and I think it's necessary that engineers understand the recruiter's motivations, tricks, and methods before getting involved with them. I could, and might, write a book on that topic alone.
Q: You have run the Philadelphia Java Users' Group since 2000. Do you think that experience has helped you in your business and with your writing?
A: My experience with the JUG has certainly given me lots of interaction with the engineering community and helped me keep up with trends. When several members ask to hear about the same topic for a future presentation, I know that their interest could reflect what may become popular. I saw that with functional programming a few years ago, and now FP is being more widely adopted. For my writing, the JUG has provided me with lots of insight from a large community of technologists that are often interested in discussing their careers with me. Even if I am not representing these job seekers, they will run scenarios by me for my opinion. Over the years, I've pretty much heard any job search topic you can possibly imagine. With my business, the JUG has given me some credibility, as people have been able to get to know me and realize that I do give back to the community. Building a users' group to over 1000 members and regularly getting 100 attendees for 13 years is not an easy task. That's a lot of pizza.
Q: Any plans for future books?
A: I'm planning on starting a second book in a couple months, with a possible release towards the end of the year. I'll be blogging in the meantime as well. I could write an entire book on resume or interview, which I might do, but my plan for the next one is a bit different. Stay tuned.
Q: Thanks. You're super-awesome, Dave. Where can I buy this book?
A: Book is available on iTunes for iBooks, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Amazon for Kindle, and Kobo. If you'd like a PDF, you can contact me through my website and there is a PDF sample chapter available here.