I’m going to preface this blog by saying: I’m really lucky I can write this blog. I know most people can’t. This is also mostly a way for me to frame what I’m thinking, because writing it down helps me and maybe it’ll help someone else.

This will probably span several posts. Sorry.

I am looking for a job.⁰ I’ve managed to save enough that I don’t need to take the first position I’m offered, and I’ve got enough time to think about what I want to do.

At the moment, it’s something of a mess. It means I’ve taken a slightly scattergun approach to job applications. I’ve nosed out interesting things and applied to the best of my ability, and then had valuable conversations with people who turned me down.

(I did have one conversation with a recruiter that I can only apologise for, because in the middle of a cracking answer about how I’d supported a member of staff to write their own web service an idiot in a low-clearance vehicle got stuck on a speed bump outside the cafe I was sitting in. And then revved his engine. And then I yelled ‘I can’t hear you, I’ll call you back’, which probably threw you a bit. And then I realised you’d called from a private number, so I couldn’t call you back.

The whole thing was a farce. I’m really sorry.)

Other people have taken me up on applications. Those conversations have been enlightening too. I spoke to a startup founder who admitted that at one point in the last week he’d been awake for 44 hours.

Another is looking for a CTO to do the technical stuff and eventually manage a department. For the moment, the founder’s brother had promised to lend a hand. I asked what Twitter thought of this.

Then of course there’s the other end of the chaotic-lawful axis: a return to the Civil Service. It was always my plan, but in the year I’ve been away I have apparently forgotten how to write competency statements. I fear this is because competency-based questions are just a horrible way of trying to work out if someone is competent¹.

These two environments are wildly different, and yet I find myself drawn to both. The desire to build a culture from scratch because I believe I know best has more than a whiff of both despotism and arrogance. At the same time, I don’t think I’d do it if I didn’t think I was right.² That desire clearly steers me away from the Civil Service, where the organisations are too big to start a new culture unless you have serious clout and unlimited patience.

On the other hand: I know the Civil Service, and they are working on incredible stuff. It’s an incredible time, with genuine transformation going on all over the place. At the same time, all of the infrastructure — the HR systems, expenses, etc — are horrendous. On the other hand, there must be teams working to improve that stuff, and I really like finding problems and solving them.

And then of course there’s other stuff. More established start-ups transitioning to SME status; consultancies that aren’t the soulless Big Four; local governments, national governments; and odd corners of the business world that are suddenly transforming. And within those there’s such a depth of possibility: from apprenticeships to to Chief [sprinkling of letters] Officer.

I’m going to write up something else where I’m going to start thinking about those paths. I know I want to always be learning; to have a culture that reflects stuff I care about; to be creative; and to solve interesting problems. Let’s see if I can find that stuff anywhere.

⁰ If you’re thinking about a vacancy that I might be good at, I’d love to hear from you.

¹ Ironic, right?

² So said every despot ever

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