Be careful what you wish for: The dream job that wasn't

A tech pro pins his hopes to a new position with a great boss at a great company. What could go wrong?

Have you ever thought you were going to get your dream job, then have it not come to pass? I did. At first I was disappointed. But as I learned more about the company, I was relieved to have dodged a bullet. You never know what ugliness hides beneath an impressive outer layer.

At the time, I was ready to move on from the major consulting firm where I was employed, mainly because I was frustrated about my lack of career advancement. I was also ready to live in a different location. After some searching, I landed an interview for the job of VP of application development in a city I really liked. I was impressed by the company from the research I'd done.

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I arrived on site armed with a list of questions, wanting to make sure I was careful even though it seemed like a dream job. The building was classy and pleasant, and the people courteous and professional. I was ushered into a meeting with the CIO, who was personable and conducted a good interview.

Getting answers

In preparation, I'd studied the industry and noticed the company was moving in a direction counter to that of its competitors, and when I asked why, the CIO laid out a very sound business strategy. In my research, I'd found that the company's financials were positive -- it'd been through a rough patch, but the new management team appeared to have turned the ship around.

The CIO explained how the company was building new systems that were key to significant cost savings and improvements in service levels. I was interviewing for the position to lead that application where the systems strategy was central to the success of the business strategy -- an exciting prospect.

I had a couple of concerns. First, the company was building its own code generation engine, which could be a real can of worms in the long haul. The second had to do with a clear vision the entire executive team had bought in to. In my work as a consultant, I'd seen major systems implementations run into problems when executive management was not aligned.

The CIO told me the executives were all rowing in the same direction except for one person, who was on vacation. The CEO had told the exec that when he came back from vacation he needed to start rowing in the same direction as everyone else, or maybe he needed to go do something different.

The CIO and I really hit it off, and he wanted me for the job. He asked me to come back and interview with the CEO. I was jubilant and started looking into what it'd take to move. I was flying out on a Sunday, and my interview was Monday. I had my airline tickets and was all set.

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