A quick TL;DR of my career, I started off at Lockheed Martin doing Linux C++ and Java development with a bit of SRE work building out Jenkins+Docker CI/CD infrastructure for my team. I then went to do frontend web development on Google Cloud. However, after around eight months, I wasn't too confident on my trajectory within the team, so I moved over to a team outside of Cloud. In this role, I did Android development with some C++ backend work mixed in. Looking at my background, I've worn several hats and more or less had multiple different roles during my ~4 year career.
This is all because I care more about the end result of my work instead of the work itself. The language, tech stack, etc that I am using is not what gives me fulfillment. Unfortunately, it seems like I'm getting punished for this mindset, as every employer wants someone who has been using the same stack their whole career. It's not surprising given how recruiters and anyone in the hiring process is seeking to find any reason to say "No" to you. They have become adversaries that one has to take down, since passing Google's hiring bar now no longer carries weight. Each interview I fail to pass just appears to perpetuate a narrative that I was nothing more than a COVID overhire and deserved to be laid off.
Is there a gainful role out there for me, or am I going to just have to settle for some dead-end job that will just drag these career woes on?
I'm in a similar situation. I'm actively looking looking for full-stack roles, even though most of my professional experience has been backend-heavy. Here's what has been helpful to me:
All that being said, the tech job landscape right now is ROUGH, regardless of how long you've been in the field or what your specialty is (if any). The truth of the matter is, in the current market there are way fewer available jobs, and a lot more qualified candidates (thanks to layoffs). The competition is just way harder now than it used to be.
Although there are some things you can control in this situation (like providing clarity of what you're looking for in your resume, getting referrals instead of cold applying online, etc), a lot of the rejection that you (and me, and everyone else looking for a job in tech right now) are experiencing is a result of unfortunate market forces that are out of our control. And that really, really sucks.
Basically, although it's essential to have an idea of what you're looking for in your next job, know that things will be hard for a while, regardless of whether you have a specialty (well, unless it's super niche). Hope this helps, and best of luck in your job search!
I've heard of various reports saying a lot of people who get laid off tend to find new roles quickly, but it's been four months for me. At this point, I wonder if people like us are going to have to settle for likely sub-par roles just to get by. Avoid anything like sign-on bonuses or relocation that would make it more difficult to hop, and then hope something more gainful comes down the line. The only issue there is the longer it takes, the more damaging it is to your career since most of these positions either don't pay enough or don't give you meaningful opportunities.
Furthermore, how exactly do you get real referrals? Most of the time it's just a referral link. This ultimately is just a cold apply with an employee's name attached to it, so it doesn't actually mean anything.
All of the following are unfortunately true:
I totally get that you're not feeling the best right now and you 100% deserve to feel that way. Getting laid off sucks. Trying to land a job in this economy sucks. But you can't stay in this mental state forever. Take some time to relax, reflect, and unwind. Just enjoy life for at least a couple weeks and pretend all the BS that is the tech industry doesn't exist. In order to succeed in tech, we all need to learn how to bounce back - This space is chock full of highs and lows.
We cover this all more in our video here: [Masterclass] How To Survive Tech Industry Layoffs
They have become adversaries that one has to take down...
Don't mistake incompetence for malice. "Incompetence" is probably too strong a word as well - More like "misfiring"? I genuinely believe that most people, especially at reputable tech companies, at least have good intent. Recruiters want to hire good people. But it's tricky for them to do that as they aren't technical and now they're being completely swamped with candidates - It's hard to spend >5 seconds on any application. Recruiting is a very hard job and they are trying their best. They're not out to get you.
Each interview I fail to pass just appears to perpetuate a narrative that I was nothing more than a COVID overhire and deserved to be laid off.
Look, you worked for Google. Google is arguably the most legendary tech company of all time. I worked at Meta, and we respect Google so much that we copy-pasted 90% of what Google does into our own engineering culture. You are a very good engineer - Don't let any random recruiter or hiring company tell you otherwise.
The good news is that you decided to join the Taro community. Whatever you want to do, whether it's diving deeper into tactics like getting quality referrals or just having someone to vent to, just let us know. We're here to help!
I've heard of various reports saying a lot of people who get laid off tend to find new roles quickly, but it's been four months for me.
The people who share that are creating a survivorship bias. If they're on places like Blind and Reddit, there's a good chance they're outright lying. They're a tiny minority of the laid-off population. Most laid-off engineers I know are at 3+ months without a new job - This is the norm now.
Furthermore, how exactly do you get real referrals?
By adding value to others and building genuinely deep connections. We talk about this more in detail here: "How to get referrals?"
I've navigated through some variation of this problem my entire career as being perceived as a "hyper generalist". A lot of it is trial and error to see what sticks and not being afraid to change your approach completely if needed. Like others have mentioned, I completely agree that the tech recruitment and talent evaluation process has many flaws and mostly boils down to "pattern matching" (i.e. did they solve X problem, using Y tool, as a Z title/seniority before). Build into your expectations that this problem is worse than usual since conversative hiring kicks in during a down economy. However, don't linger on this too long since it's an external factor that you have limited influence on.
Here's a few things that helped me navigate this problem through each pivotal point in my career.
One final thought: keep in mind there are a lot of factors at play that have nothing to do with you in terms of the outcome of an interview. Act only on signals and feedback that can be validated and never let it question your self-worth!