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How to navigate career after layoffs

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community4 months ago

I recently got laid off working as a developer working within an agency. I currently have around 5 years of experience working in the agency setting utilizing React, Next js, Vue, Liquid, and the Shopify API to create custom eCommerce sites. During my time at these agencies, I also had the opportunity to act as a lead, interact with clients, set timelines, and cross collaborate with designers/projects managers to meet deadlines.

I have been looking for new opportunities since January and I've been able to secure a couple of interviews, technical challenges, and one onsite. Most of my interviews have been coming from agencies, but my preference is to join a tech startup or maybe more on the brand side of things within the Shopify niche. Below are a couple of questions:

  1. Will working at another agency hurt my career in the long run? My ultimate end goal is to work for a bigger tech company if possible.
  2. If an agency does want to hire me right now, should I take the job for now or just wait for one of my preferences?
  3. I notice a lot of developers within the agency space freelance after their 9-5. Does studying for interviews or future jobs provide a higher ROI instead of freelancing?
  4. Lastly, I just finished https://jointaro.com/course/ace-your-tech-interview-and-get-a-job-as-a-software-engineer/go-deeper-follow-through/ (super helpful!). It seems like the best course of action for me is to apply a lot, work on side projects instead of grinding leetcode, and study system design. Does this seem correct?

Thanks in advance!

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Discussion

(3 comments)
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    4 months ago

    Will working at another agency hurt my career in the long run? My ultimate end goal is to work for a bigger tech company if possible.

    Bluntly, yes. Well, I suppose it won't hurt, but it won't help you reach your goal. For two reasons:

    1. If your goal is to work for a Big Tech co, a directionally correct move is to work at some product-based company, even if it's much smaller. These roles might be easier to land compared to FAANG.
    2. You already have the "brand" or experience of being an engineer in an agency, so there is a lower marginal value of going to another agency. Diversity of experience is extremely valuable for expanding your network and brand, especially if you're earlier in your career. (That's why job-hopping is valuable earlier!)

    If an agency does want to hire me right now, should I take the job for now or just wait for one of my preferences?

    How confident are you that another option will work out? And how much personal runway do you have? If you have 6+ months of cash, I'd take a gamble on landing a job in a startup, since there's a risk of you becoming busy (or too comfortable) in the agency job. Connect with people on Taro through Networking, and start to understand your call-back rate when you apply to jobs.

    Does studying for interviews or future jobs provide a higher ROI instead of freelancing?

    Getting a Big Tech job is far, far more lucrative than 99% of freelancing. So from that perspective, studying for interviews to land a Big Tech job (or something close to it) is higher leverage. A promotion in Big Tech could translate to 10s of thousands of extra dollars per year, but seeing that kind of comp increase is very difficult as a freelancer.

    Keep in mind that freelancing is as much a marketing challenge as it is a development/coding problem. You'll spend a lot of your time trying to find clients who have problems where you can help. Freelancing is only more lucrative than Big Tech if you are well-known in some hot sector, ie. you have a big audience.

    However, if you can double-dip freelancing to build some experience and have a side project under your name, it can boost your profile significantly.

    Lastly, I just finished https://jointaro.com/course/ace-your-tech-interview-and-get-a-job-as-a-software-engineer/go-deeper-follow-through/ (super helpful!). It seems like the best course of action for me is to apply a lot, work on side projects instead of grinding leetcode, and study system design. Does this seem correct?

    Glad you found the course helpful!! That seems like a solid gameplan -- I would just ensure you assign timelines to these, and focus on one at a time.

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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    4 months ago

    Working on Shopify I imagine you’re in Canada? Either way DM me, I’m hiring for a senior web role!

  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    4 months ago

    As Rahul mentioned, I highly recommend looking for a product-based tech company. In general, it's best to work for as diverse a suite of companies across your career as possible to maximize your learning (and subsequently, your value in the market). Since you worked for an agency, Big Tech or a cutting-edge startup seems good.

    It seems like the best course of action for me is to apply a lot, work on side projects instead of grinding leetcode, and study system design. Does this seem correct?

    If you're relatively early in your job search, then yes, this is a great plan! However, as mentioned in the course, the key to a successful job search is to have an open-mind and be dynamic. If you get a FAANG interview, by all means, break out the LeetCode and start grinding. But if you have a docket full of startup interviews, I would actually double down on side projects to maximize your practical coding ability and lay off the LeetCode mostly. Figure out your current situation and adapt - That's the name of the game.

    The course linked a lot of these resources, but if you want to revisit, here's a nifty playlist: [Taro Top 10] Finding A Tech Job