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Apply for jobs without a job or take a guaranteed job?

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Senior Software Engineer at Unemployed2 months ago

I was unfortunately let go from my previous company in mid November of last year. Took Nov/Dec of last year off to rest and fully cope. Now that the new year is here, I'm starting the job hunt.

Recently, I found out that a previous employer - not the most recent one - has an opening right now. I left that company on very good terms so I can easily get the job, but I'm not interested at all in that role for the long term as I'd like to work at a US company (preferably big tech, but even startups / midsize would be fine to start). All my experience has been at small companies.

I am extremely confident of my interviewing ability especially with the ability to prep full time. But will I have any difficulty in getting interviews if I don't have a job currently? Should I take the job at the old employer, wait it out 6 months, then start applying to better companies then? Or should I ignore the old employer, take a month to prep, and then start applying to the roles I want now?

Some other potentially relevant info:

  • Currently based in Canada. Visa won't be an issue
  • 6 YOE, have been Senior for the last 2 years
  • Will be applying to L5 roles at the bigtechs, with the expectation of getting downleveled
  • Money isn't a huge issue, I have savings to last me through the summer and can borrow more from family if needed (although I would like to have things wrapped up by May 1st)
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Discussion

(5 comments)
  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    tldr; You should probably take the job and continue exploring on the side.

    Here's the decision tree I would follow:

    • If the job has good work-life balance: 100% take it. You'll have ample time to prepare for interviews while leveraging the many benefits of a full-time role (benefits, money, structured action items, etc).
    • If the job has okay work-life balance: Probably take it. Same reasoning as before.
    • If the job has terrible work-life balance: Probably don't take it. In general, I tell engineers avoid roles with terrible WLB as it destroys your future flexibility by sucking up your time.

    But will I have any difficulty in getting interviews if I don't have a job currently?

    Yes. It's not too bad in the beginning as people understand that layoffs are a thing, but it will reasonably get worse as your unemployment drags on.

    A big mistake I see a lot of engineers make is hold out for the "perfect" job (often a FAANG role), which is extremely dangerous in this market. A current resume gap hurts you because employers will be skeptical about your rust build-up and ability to return and build production software. This gets worse the longer the gap is.

    You were laid off pretty recently. If you take the job now, you'll minimize your resume gap and have a fairly clean packet.

    I hope these resources are helpful too:

  • 1
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Unemployed
    2 months ago

    @Alex thanks for your input! That makes sense.

  • 2
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    Eng @ Taro
    2 months ago

    I would take the job with your previous company and prepare for interviews (and actually interview) while you are working because of how fickle the job market is right now.

    I am someone who has quit their job without anything lined up in the past, but after hearing about how difficult the job market is, it's very risky to not have something lined up.

  • 0
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Unemployed
    2 months ago

    @Charlie appreciate the input! Seems like a very clearcut decision to go back based on the responses here

  • 2
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    Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon
    2 months ago

    I was in a similar situation earlier. I decided to prep full time and hold out for a job that I would want to stay at for a couple of years. I regret it because the market is a lot harder than I though it would be. You never know when that new job is going to show up. It's a lot easier emotionally and financially to look for a job if you already have something reasonable. Job searching full time made a lot more sense before the tech job market crashed.