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How is the market right now for junior engineers?

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Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community2 months ago

Hey, I just posted a question related to me considering to quit my job here:

Should I leave my company due to effects of commute? (jointaro.com)

TLDR: I am seriously considering quitting my job due to the commute, I live in SF, have 1+ years of experience and am looking to work in the city/remote. I have 6+ months of savings and am a U.S. citizen. Effectively, I'd say there's a 95% chance I'll quit my job in Jan 2024.

Considering this, I'm evaluating the current tech job market.

Generally, my impressions are that while the overall economy is doing quite well, the tech market is in a bit of a lull w/ potential layoffs in 2024-2025. We had the major overhiring of 2021-2022, then the layoffs in early 2023 and now are in a period of stasis relative to the bull market of the past 10 years+. I believe this is also due to the end of zero interest loans making capital expensive. This then leads to profits being more emphasized, then cost-cutting in large corporations (employees being a major cost, so layoffs occuring) and then difficulty for startups to raise money.

Additionally, I recently read The Pragmatic Engineer's take on Spotify's recent 17% layoff.

"Unfortunately, I suspect Spotify is early in having a realization which other tech companies will also have, next year. With the zero interest rate period (ZIRP) over, it’s expensive to borrow cash. Spotify making a loss meant it was effectively borrowing money in order to operate. Turning a profit is more urgent than when capital was cheap. But how do you turn a profit if you cannot significantly increase revenue? You cut costs, and the biggest costs for most tech companies are employees, sadly.

As a result, Spotify could well become profitable, assuming it generates similar revenue in future. And this is exactly the plan; to keep doing the same as before, but with fewer people.

In this way, Spotify’s cuts make business sense in the context of business growth slowing, persistent loss-making, and a hiring spree in 2021-2022 which didn’t boost revenue. These cuts may be surprising for many at Spotify, but probably not for the leadership team. The only question is how many other companies are in the same position as Spotify, but with leaderships yet to draw the same conclusion from the economic conditions.

This is probably a good reminder that the tech jobs market remains volatile. If you have a stable job, it could be a good time to put aside some earnings for a nest egg, stay engaged with your network, and to position yourself to work in areas seen as profit centers, not cost centers."

What are your impressions of the tech market right now?
Any recommendations of how to navigate the market or resources to utilize?
Anything advice years-of-experience specific (Junior engineers vs. senior engineers vs tech leads vs. etc)?

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Discussion

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

    What are your impressions of the tech market right now?

    Pretty terrible but clearly improving. As a concrete example, check out this article I revisit every once in a while: A comprehensive list of 2023 tech layoffs

    It has this very nice bar chart of all the layoffs across the year, and you can very clearly see it going down. A lot of companies have bottomed out when it comes to layoffs meaning that:

    1. They're not pumping more talented engineers into the candidate pool who would compete with you
    2. If you get a job, you're less likely to lose it quickly due to layoffs as companies are quickly adopting more responsible budgets

    From anecdotal evidence in the Taro community (check out #job-searchers-accountability-group in Slack), a lot more people are getting interviews and landing offers, even at FAANG. While hiring is still way, way down (especially compared to peak 2021), several companies are hiring again, including Meta.

    You should sign up for Taro Networking if you haven't already. There are so many community members who are open to refer!

    It will definitely be hard for you to find a new role, but you have 2 big advantages in having prior work experience and being local in literally the most important tech hub in the world. I'm fairly confident that someone living in SF Bay Area/Seattle/NYC who has some work experience already and has the backing of the Taro community can find a new job within H1 2024.

  • 3
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Also, I highly recommend NOT quitting your job. From your other post, it seems like it's a very good gig minus the commute with decent pay, chill culture, and great WLB. Try to land the role while staying employed. Here's why:

    1. Money (duh)
    2. Healthcare (getting healthcare on your own in the US sucks and COBRA is expensive)
    3. No resume gap
    4. You don't know how long the job hunt will take

    My advice is to use your remote days where you don't get drained by the commute to go hard and do a lot of job applications + interview prep.

    You also mentioned that your company is pretty generous with PTO, so you can use that to take interviews and prepare.

  • 4
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    Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon
    2 months ago

    I got laid off from AWS with 2 YOE. The job market for junior engineers is terrible. I am having 5 - 10 times more difficulty getting a job than when I graduated even though I have 2 YOE at AWS.

  • 8
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    Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon
    2 months ago

    I genuinely do think the market will get better in the first half of 2024 (J. Powell announced rate cuts next year, SPY is up and gas prices/mortgage rates are coming down) but I do think that will take some time to propagate.

    I agree with Alex on this one in that it sounds like you enjoy your job minus the commute so my recommendation is that you try to currently work out prepping/applying/interviewing while working.

    Believe it or not, some people find it easier to prepare/apply/interview while being employed (I'm one of them). Even though there is less time in the day,

    • Being employed forces you to have a structured day
    • Being employed forces you to socialize with others
    • You don't have to worry about an employment gap when you are employed
    • If you are unemployed and spend the majority of your time interview prepping, you might have high expectations for passing your next interview. Interviews, as we all know, are random and if you fail you might feel bad given how much effort you put into preparing. Sometimes it's nice to accomplish small wins at work to keep you going