On Getting Hired the Second Time.

On Getting Hired the Second Time

Hey there, I’m Chris and I’m employee #4 at Apsis Labs. I joined a half a year ago and I’m loving it. I work from Syracuse, NY (the photo above is from a few hours north on Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks).

The Story

About a year and a half ago I could tell I was near the end of my time at my job. When you find yourself browsing the job postings on Hacker News and Stack Overflow between builds you know it’s getting close. I sent out a resume and cover letter to a random company on the internet that I was pretty confident wasn’t real. The only reason I actually went to the effort of tweaking the resume and crafting the perfect attention grabbing cover letter was that the company claimed to only work 20 hour weeks, 100% remotely, with a minimum vacation policy. You can imagine my shock and excitement when I heard back from them for a phone screening.

The phone screening went well – well enough to schedule a more formal interview. I was given a chance to prove I could actually program, design a piece of software, and come up with a halfway decent estimate for the work required. A few days later I received the email: “While we think you were a strong candidate for the position, we don’t think our availability is ideally suited to your skills.”1

This only confirmed in my mind that it probably wasn’t a real company. I was bummed, but I was coincidentally given a bit more responsibility at work which helped me tough it out for another few months. I was spared quitting that job when we didn’t manage to get a signed contract with a huge client 2.

For the next 9 months I worked at an awesome startup (Rollbar) as a support engineer. While it wasn’t primarily a programming job, I did learn a lot about working with customers and I enjoyed the chance to try out work in a radically different environment than I’d worked in to date. On April Fools Day, Wyatt sent me a note asking if I’d be open to interviewing again3. I happily accepted the interview and eventually the job offer that followed.

The Lesson

One of the things I really appreciate about Apsis is how careful it’s been to put the interests of its employees first. One of the most important parts of this is ensuring that in the unlikely event that we lose a big customer we have all the runway we need to keep paying our employees. Even though it was a bummer to be told I wasn’t a fit at the time, I’m glad to know that we’ll never grow so fast that my paycheck will be in danger. Our clients, large and small, should be glad to know we have that sort of stability too. Cautious hiring is a key practice which enables that sort of stability. Which is why I’m kind of glad I got hired the second time.

Our policy of working sustainably goes beyond just working a 20 hour week, taking vacation, and working remotely. It requires making difficult decisions that preserve our ability to treat our clients and employees right. It also means that we can go back to someone, ask them to interview a second time and hire an employee who doesn’t resent that.

The Conclusion4

The work at Apsis has been varied and interesting. Being a small company I get a chance to try my hand at basically anything I’m interested in. Expanding our client base (with signed contracts!) is one of those things…email me if you have an interesting project! We’d love to talk.

I’m loving the opportunity to hang out more with my family, to stay home with my kids while my wife is at work, and keep on top of the rest of my life. I’ve learned a lot about work by working at a company that works a bit less.

  1. In case you’re curious, it’s neither frightening nor flattering to receive this note, even with the blow softened by being told I was a strong candidate. 

  2. Read: “I was laid off because we didn’t secure a contract with our only client.” 

  3. Wyatt has bad timing. 

  4. This is the fourth footnote. Now I have as many as Henry