September came. We had contracts to transition to, but were still in limbo with the agency. The agency had looked so promising, had generated so much hope, like a silver lining on an ugly situation. It had seemed reasonable to think we would transition from one job to the next fairly seamlessly. But there we were. Waiting. Wondering. I was already struggling with feeling discarded by someone I trusted after having given so much to make the start up work. Now this agency seemed to just be stringing us along.
Tired of waiting on seemingly empty reassurances, T did the smart thing. He talked to his friends in the WordPress community. A couple of really great people stepped up with encouragement and ideas. They suggested a path he wouldn’t have taken on his own. He didn’t feel he was “good enough,” but they encouraged him to give it a try. We moved beyond the one initial agency that had responded right away and looked at others.
Agency shopping became a thing. We weren’t just looking for a job. We were looking for a place to invest ourselves, a place to settle in and stay for a while. We didn’t need to work for someone. Freelancing was still an option, but we were looking for something more. So what did we want in exchange for our freedom?
We wanted to work for a team.
The primary factor we were looking for, and our main reason for looking at agencies, was a good group of people to work with. T was self-taught. He started building websites in 1996 because it was intriguing to him and, except for almost 3 years (1997-2000), he worked on his own. He was the only guy, or the primary guy, at the corporation we left and at the start up he was the only WordPress developer. He knew he needed other developers to help him grow his skills.
We wanted to work for someone we could trust.
It’s possible that some of the questions we asked these new agencies came across as selfish. We wanted facts about sick days, vacation days, holidays, and advancement. Ironically, our interest wasn’t just about what they were offering, but in making sure they’d deliver. We wanted to know if they respected and valued their employees. It had been too long since we’d worked anywhere that did.
We wanted to work from someone who understood that our family needed balance.
We weren’t looking to be handed anything. We wanted to join an agency that didn’t overwork their employees. Too many places demand 60+ hour work weeks out of their employees and we just weren’t going to do that for someone else anymore. We needed a break from constant demands. Our family was worn thin. We couldn’t handle always being on call or having every job be urgent and important. Sure, we could be flexible. Building things doesn’t always fit into a 40 hour work week. But if the agency was going to ask us to give, they had to be willing to be flexible and give back.
He did his research. We talked through the options. Eventually, he found just the place. An established company was growing their WordPress branch and it was a great fit. Good benefits, the right pay, and most importantly a good environment. By the third week of September he was under contract to hire. In 4 months he would be full time and the future looked bright. But doesn’t it always?