Prepping for interviews always feels detrimental to actual career growth. At the same time, what are the things one should look out for to avoid getting laid off and jump ship when things are about to go south.
One advice mentioned often is to look for finances of the company, but I am not aware how to analyse it. Can you help with resources for the same?
The most obvious sign is the share price struggling. Grab is publicly traded, so that's something you can keep track of easily. It looks like it's not doing too well unfortunately (hope it gets better). 😔 Layoffs at Robinhood happened shortly after I left, and I'm sure it wouldn't have happened if the stock had remained at its IPO price of $40/share.
That being said, here are other signs to look out for:
In terms of how a software engineer can prepare themselves for layoffs, I highly recommend reading through this discussion here started by a Meta engineer (which is unfortunately a company where this topic is very relevant right now).
In a nutshell, I think that unless you're >50% sure that layoffs are coming, I wouldn't stress out too much about it and just continue doing your best. Anxiety will worsen your performance on the job and ironically make you more likely to be cut during a layoff. From an IC perspective, layoffs are effectively random - There is no magic trick to drastically change your behavior and protect yourself from layoffs.
Tactically speaking, here's why this is even more true in your situation:
Junior/mid-level engineers will generally not have opportunities to do project management, leadership, and system design on the job, which leads to their interviews correspondingly being very DSA-heavy as well.
If you're pretty certain that deep layoffs are coming and it's likely that your team/org will be hit, it might be worth it dusting off Leetcode. But until then, just focus on being the best software engineer you can be.
Lastly, I highly recommend watching our "How To Survive Tech Industry Layoffs" masterclass if you haven't already.
I know of two layoff scenarios:
Failing Arm: For example, Uber cut their self driving arm in 2019. This layoff targeted an experimental and not profitable project within the company. While I'm not familiar with how Uber judged this project's success, it likely was not trending to meet those metrics or criteria. Rahul has a video that discusses evaluating wether or not you're working on a core piece of the business. Successful money generating orgs like ads will likely be last to go.
Going Leaner: A company may look to cut costs to become more profitable. A publicly traded company will have quarterly and annual financial reports (10Q, 10K) that are filed with the SEC. Analyzing these reports is multifaceted and vary greatly between companies because of differing business structures. At a high level, a company's financial heartbeat will consider: