So you say you want to come and work at Automattic, the folks behind WordPress.com, Akismet, VaultPress, Cloudup, and a variety of other amazing services. HOW EXCELLENT. It’s one of, if not the, best jobs that I’ve ever had; and it is allowing me all sorts of opportunities that I would never have had with any other job I’ve held before (like the chance to see the world while still working every day).
Now if you’re reading this, you’ve probably asked me (or maybe someone else I know) about working at Automattic. Maybe you’ve seen a post on Facebook about Automattic, or you just are curious how in the world I’m managing to pull off the trip I’m taking. In any case, I figured that I would create this page to answer some common questions and generally let you know some stuff about working where I do, because you remember what the G.I. Joes say:
Knowing is half the battle! Suck laser, Cobra.
First off, I’m going to assume that you’ve been to Automattic’s Work With Us page and that you know it backwards and forwards, right? Good! So I don’t need to go over all of that stuff. Because seriously, it wouldn’t be there if we didn’t think it wasn’t important.
What do you DO at Automattic?
I am a Happiness Engineer, and I try to do just that. I work to ensure that our customers are happy with our products. Depending on when we’re talking, I have worked in our general support queues, on our Forums, or in our Terms of Service squad; but no matter where I work the goal is always to keep our users as happy as possible.
Currently we do this primarily via emails or Forum posts, however we are in beta tests for a chat system. We do not provide any support via phone at this time.
What is the hiring process like?
It’s long. Since Automattic is a fully distributed company, the Happiness Engineers (HEs for short) have to ensure that not only is everyone going to be able to do the work over the long term, but also will be able to do so with no physical supervision while still also being a culture fit with the rest of the team and the company overall. A huge order, no?
As such, the process is long and arduous. If I had realized just how much so, I would have been much more trepidatious when applying than I was. The entire process can last anywhere between 0 days and 8 weeks. If it’s 0 days, that’s because you didn’t make it, sorry. 😦 If it’s longer, then you have gone through at least 2 interviews, some variation on a test, a paid trial, follow up interviews, and a final interview with the owner of the company, Matt Mullenweg.
A paid trial? What’s this?
The paid trial is what takes so long. The trial is between 6 and 8 weeks long and starts with 2 days of training, at the end of which you are set loose doing tickets like a normal HE. At the end of every week you have a discussion with your Hiring Manager to discuss how you’re doing. As time passes they will tell you what you’re doing great at and what you need to work on. It will always be up to you to fix those things that need fixing, and if you don’t then at some point the trial will be ended early. If you do and everyone involved (including you) decides that everything is a good fit then you’ll be sent along to your final interview with Matt!
Yes, but you said paid. How’s the pay?
Yes, the trial is paid and when I went through my trial it was $25/hour. Could have changed since then, what do I know? You can work your trial full or part time depending on your own personal needs. We don’t judge if you have another gig and you can’t work full time. We always prefer that you work your trial full time (we’d like to get to know you as much as we can!), but we understand how things are.
As for your pay once you’re a full-time HE . . . that is something that you negotiate with Matt during your interview with him, assuming it goes well. It’s between the two of you!
This sounds amazing! How do I get started?
Well, hopefully you already have a love and knowledge of WordPress. If you don’t, maybe you should sign up at WordPress.com for an account and get to know the product. Once you’re in, maybe hop over to the Forums and see what a day in the life is like. Not sure what I mean? Well, pick a poor lost soul who is just trying to get some help. Help them find happiness! Then find another one. Help them too. Repeat. 🙂
It also helps (but is by no means necessary) if you have a bit of working knowledge of CSS and HTML. There are all sorts of online coding schools and academies which will help you out with that. You may want to brush up your skills while you’re at it!
Being a Happiness Engineer sounds rad and all, but what I really want to be is X, Y, or Z.
You should definitely wait for those things to become available then, or alternatively apply to a different company. Automattic is a flat company. This means that we have no real organizational structure other than our CEO/owner. So if you’re looking to climb any sort of ranks, well, there are no ranks. If you’re looking to use the position of Happiness Engineer to be a stepping stone into a developer position of some nature, you’re way better off applying directly there as HEs have to apply externally just like anyone else does and are granted no favours.
Cool! What’s next?
That’s up to you. You now know just about everything that I do about the hiring process. Go forth. I hope that you are successful and that I see you on the list of trainees soon!