Jonathan ES Lin
Life · Tech · Faith

Risks in Job Switching

Apr 17, 2022

My first 8 years working as a software engineer, I switched jobs a few times, and each job was a pretty good fit, at least initially. I had never encountered a job where I entered and immediately regretted it.

Then came the time where I decided to stop coding on the job, and switched to solutions architecture instead.

I was very keen on Google Cloud, so when a financial services company was hiring for a Cloud Architect position focusing on Google Cloud, I jumped on it. In fact, I was hired after a single interview. The thing about knowing how to code and do DevOps is that, if your manager knows that you know how to do it, he will ask you to do it when the tasks of designing and architecturing is low in demand. At the end of my stint there, I was like 80% doing on-prem DevOps. In the end, due to BNM regulation, we could not go with Google Cloud and I ended up tinkering with Huawei Cloud, which is fine I guess. But if I knew I would be working on Huawei Cloud in the first place, I would not have taken the job. There was even one month during the pandemic lockdowns when I was literally doing nothing on the job beyond going online and making myself green on Teams. But overall, I think it was a good pivotal move out of software development, compared to the further moves I was about to make. It was a job I wish I held onto longer, despite becoming more of a DevOps Engineer in effect. Only after I left I did I realize that "Cloud Architect" in various other companies is actually a "Solutions Architect" and "Cloud Engineer" role rolled into one; it is meant to be a hands-on role.

Then came another company dangling the Google Cloud carrot. It was a consulting company that only does work for the German HQ, i.e. we are a cost center. The job title advertised was "Senior Cloud Specialist". In hindsight, such an unusual job title is a red flag. They just want someone to do something niche really well, i.e. help them out with Google Cloud presales work. What ended up happening was that due to my long notice period in prev company (3 months), the role they hired me for was filled by someone in Germany. And then they didn't even notify me about it. So when I came in I was on bench for a month with no contact from the German side. And when they did put me on a role, it was for backend API coding to be deployed on Google Cloud. I was really struggling with that as I did not sign up for a coding role. There was also a restructuring going on which resulted in some politiciking between factions over my placement. After two months, I told them it's a no go and I left on one month notice. It's a role that I wouldn't even put on my resume.

Then comes my current role. By this time I was like "f Google Cloud". A recruiter from a global GSI reached out on LinkedIn to be a cloud-agnostic Cloud Solutions Architect across AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. This time I even asked the hiring manager if there was enough work to do, and the answer was to the effect of "yes". The JD was pretty short, which in hindsight is a red flag to me now. If you can't write a long JD, then you probably have no idea what the role really entails? True enough, since joining I have been doing nothing much (again), apart from 2-3 busy weeks. It is a consulting company that is trying to build capability for their fledgling cloud business. Only problem is, there is very little cloud business in the APAC region. And right after I joined there was a new CEO which resulted in restructuring. My role went from regional to local, where there is even lesser cloud business.

All this is super frustrating. What could I have done better? Perhaps the wisdom that hopping too soon is a bad sign because you are desperate to get out and miss all the warning signs, then you end up in a vicious cycle of bad decisions. If you have work to do and you kinda get satisfaction out of it, it is way better than my current situation and you could stay there longer. If the job title is weird, avoid. If the JD is super short and vague, avoid. Also, recruiters cannot be trusted, they just want to close the deal and will sing songs of praise about the job without telling you the realities of the role on the ground (also because they are extroverts with no idea). And well, consulting firms are consulting firms, work is not guaranteed and change is the only constant. Losing consulting firms struggle, winner takes all.

2-3 bad moves in a row, am I the problem then? Yes, there is probably some issue with me not being able to toe the line in many areas of life. However, I just know I need to do something about it soon before I lose my mind, or otherwise ride it out a year and focus on learning and other positives that a chill role gives me. The only good outcome has been the increasing salary that I am getting. The market is super hot and I am quite thick skin in that sense. But I really need something meaningful to do to survive in the long term.