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How to properly take career break after layoff?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Intuit7 months ago

I am a mid-level software engineer and expecting layoff in the coming month. As the market situation is very tight right now, I am thinking to take a break to give myself enough time to prepare and land a good opportunity instead of just accepting something which is below my calibre. I have 10+ years of experience and never had a career gap in my resume. How much gap in a resume is acceptable and not questioned (or frowned upon) by recruiters or hiring managers? Blind posts tell me that it is taking some people 6 months or even 8 months to land into a new role.

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(4 comments)
  • 13
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    Senior Software Engineer at Intuit
    7 months ago

    I can share some of thoughts here.
    Having been through a layoff in the past, this was my concern as well.

    and expecting layoff in the coming month.

    It can be hard to be deterministic of whether one will be laid off or not, and Intuit (IMO) is doing well.

    I am thinking to take a break to give myself enough time to prepare and land a good opportunity instead of just accepting something which is below my calibre

    I had the same thought : Do I accept something now versus do I wait for the right opportunity? Since you are okay with a 6-8 month gap, I can conclude you are not limited by the visa issues.

    Here are some key points I would consider:

    1. What are straight up no-gos? Like you would not accept pay below a certain amount, or wont accept a role below L4 or no relocation etc.
    2. What are nice to haves? Like maybe getting into a FAANG+ / promising startup / 2X salary / L5+ role
    3. What are acceptable conditions?
    4. Besides getting additional time to prepare for interviews and taking a break for maybe traveling, spending time with family, one cannot really time the market.
    5. What I would do?
      1. Give myself a month / two, to process the layoff and prep, relax.
      2. Look for a job which is acceptable ( mid way point between no-go and nice to have)
      3. Keep looking to get the dream job with a job in hand.
      4. I believe one has higher leverage when looking for a job while being employed.
      5. Also, you never know, you might just like your "in-between" job and grow there

    Good luck!

  • 14
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    Career Coach | Former Head of Engineering
    7 months ago

    It's important to unpack why there is a stigma behind a "CV gap", so we can deal with it objectively.

    Common stigma (all of which I strongly disagree with, but it does exist unfortunately):

    • Perceived as lazy and unmotivated for pure association with "unemployed"
    • Not marketable / misaligned to what employers want
    • Rusty since you've been out of the arena for some time

    What you can do about it:

    • Document and publish what impact you've had during this "gap" not only put it on your CV, but also show it as your public body of work '
      • Publish content on social platform/your own website
      • Release a explainer-guide / tutorial you made
      • Increase your visibility by speaking at an event, conference or guest speaker (a course, podcast, etc.)
      • Contribute to open source / show your side project on Github
      • Show testimonials of people you've helped and what positive impact it had on them

    If you do this, don't feel the need to "explain yourself" during the interview, just point them to your work and leverage social proof regarding the positive impact your work has had on others.

    If you'd like to take more of a sabbatical, don't be ashamed of that either. Don't feel the need to overexplain your time off for personal reasons, hobbies, etc. We're all human and thankfully it's much more widely accepted and even encouraged to do this every 10 years of so in your career to recalibrate / enjoy life outside work a bit. You can still do a lot of the things such as documenting and publishing your journey for non-career things. You'd be surprised the positive reaction it get since most people yearn to do that for themselves, but feel stuck in their own jobs.

    Feel free to DM me if you'd like to explore this further. After all, I've stepped away from my corporate job to make my side hustle my full time job now, so I've thought about this topic quite extensively.

  • 12
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    7 months ago

    At the end of the day, you can't prevent people from being dumb (and I think any sort of discrimination against a career gap is being dumb). There will always be ridiculous recruiters and hiring managers that discount people with just 3-6 month career gaps. However, here's what I will say:

    1. A company that is so cruel against career gaps is probably not worth working for anyways
    2. Intuit is a very good, well-known tech company, so you are in a good position. People with known names on their resume tend to have more leeway with career gaps (e.g. I have seen ex-Googlers come back with 3-5 year career gaps)
    3. People are more understanding of resume gaps now due to the layoffs and poor overall tech economy, which is forcing long career breaks on people. I talk about this more here: "How open should we be to recruiters about employment status?"

    How to properly take career break after layoff?

    My advice here is to take a real break! You mentioned doing interview prep to land a higher caliber role - I think that's important for sure, but it seems miserable to just grind LeetCode for 6-9 months desperately hoping for Google or whatever to lift their hiring freeze.

    In terms of things to do on the break:

    • Spend time with friends and family
    • Build side projects
    • Explore hobbies outside of coding
    • Just chill - There's nothing wrong with binging Netflix and playing video games
    • Retrospect - Have honest conversations with yourself and your closest loved ones on what you should do next

    I recommend checking these out to help with all this:

    Best of luck!

  • 7
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Intuit
    7 months ago

    Thank you for all the kind responses. I will keep my confidence high as I navigate this rough phase.