My First Application as a Happiness Engineer

I have mentioned a couple of times in my posts about the fact I applied for the Happiness Engineer position at Automattic, but failed part-way through. So finally, this is the post about how it all happened!

Hearing Of The Job

July 11th, 2018, a Happiness Engineer (HE) posted about his experience working for Automattic on a job mailing list my Mum is signed onto. He also mentioned how they are looking to hire more HEs. She forwarded the mail to me, knowing I was casually looking for work. I had got my Master’s degree in information science and I also liked working with computers and homepages. What’s more, I was interested in a work-from-home situation, and so the role seemed like a good fit. However, at that time I had other short-term work opportunities already lined up, so I saved the mail for another day and didn’t give it much thought.

To be honest, I didn’t think the job was for me. I studied computer in university and, sure, made tons of programs in that time, but there was just something that made me feel the bar was really high. It could just be a lack of determination in my part or simple nerves. I thought the job was for a kind of people I was not a part of.

Over the next month or two, I was contemplating what to do with my life. I knew the jobs I had at the time were going to finish shortly and I was going to need some work. That is when that mail came across my mind again. I do enjoy using WordPress and I did have experience with both the self-hosted version and WordPress.com. I enjoy helping people and that first encounter with a HE was still very memorable in my mind. I had nothing to lose, so I decided to look into what exactly one had to do to get the job. I didn’t know if they were even hiring still, so then my research started.

Researching On The Job

From what I can tell, Automattic is recruiting personnel in all departments ALL THE TIME. Just a quick look at the growth chart on their homepage and it shows you Automattic and its services are in high demand.

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From https://automattic.com/work-with-us/ (Dec. 13th, 2018)

“A growing industry like that would be seeing the same sort of increase in its customer service tickets, too, no doubt. Maybe now is as good a time to apply as ever?” I thought. And so I decided to start my application process.

Applying To The Job

Automattic’s hiring process is different from your standard company – or so they tell me. To be honest, I had never had anything to do with employers outside of Japan. I knew the Japanese way, which is very formal and pretty much the same for most companies. But Automattic was different. My application with Automattic went something like this…

  1. Application: Sent in resume and cover letter, answering a few “required” questions.
  2. Test Task: Built a simple WordPress.com site, following given instructions.
  3. Interview: Chatted with a Happiness Hiring Team member over Slack.
  4. Sample Questions: Received a list of follow-up questions from the interview and sample every-day customer support questions.
  5. Process Halted: Received a kind mail saying I wouldn’t move forward.

If I had passed that stage, I believe the final steps would have been…

  1. Second Interview: Get offered a Trial contract.
  2. Trial: 4 – 6 weeks working as a contracted support agent.
  3. Final Interview
  4. Acceptance

Processes one through five took about one month. For me, waiting for every mail and progress, it was a long month. And when I woke up one morning to read a mail that said I wouldn’t be proceeding any further, I was devastated. I’ll admit, I shed a tear or two.

Reconsidering About The Job

Once my emotions settled down, I started to wonder why I hadn’t succeeded. There were many thoughts that went through my own mind – none of them real constructive. That is when I reread the final mail I had received from Automattic again and saw a glimmer of hope. The comments they had sent me WERE constructive! It wasn’t just a simple “You weren’t a match for us. Good luck elsewhere.” type of mail I think many companies send out. They actually gave me a few tips to improve on for if and when I thought about applying again.

The two main pointers they gave me were these…

  1. Spend time answering questions in the WordPress.com forums. It’s a great way to gain more direct experience and to see if full-time support at Automattic would be right for you. Regular and consistent involvement can help develop an eye for trends, support styles, and more.

  2. [Spend] time considering the philosophies and goals of great support. There are a few industry standard books like “Delivering Happiness” or “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit” which, if you haven’t read them already, are a good starting point in developing your own support philosophy.

I shared the last mail I received with my family and they agreed, it did not seem as if the door had been closed on me completely. Maybe, just maybe, there was still some hope! Of course, this could be the exact same advice they give every applicant they turn down. But even if that was true, if I could prove to them I have grown in these two areas and that I still have a vision to work with them for the WordPress community, then maybe I will come closer to being accepted if I applied again?

I responded to the last mail I received from Automattic briefly sharing my disappointment but also mentioning I was going to take on board their advice and give it another shot! And that concluded my first application to work as a Happiness Engineer.

As for my second attempt applying for Automattic, well… we’ll still have to see 😉✨

Thank you for reading and for joining me on this journey!

 

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