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Layoffs Q&A and Videos

About Layoffs

Layoffs are the temporary suspension or permanent termination of a group of employees for business reasons, such as personnel management or downsizing an organization.

Should I take a SWE job in government or keep trying to get back into tech after layoff?

Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon

Hi Taro. I got laid off in April from AWS. I interned at NASA JPL and I am considering going back fulltime and continuing to apply to tech companies. I don't have an offer but I am hopeful I would be able to connect with a team since I interned there one year and have 1.5 YOE at AWS. I have some concerns about joining JPL, because they are prototype and research focused.

  • They don't have many production systems or serve customer traffic.
  • They also operate mostly in small and independent groups so the engineering standards can differ a lot. The research group I interned at had poor engineering and code quality compared to AWS.
  • The engineering environment is different than corporate. Some technologies and experiences missing at JPL that are common in tech are pipelines (CI/CD), TPS, tickets, oncall, debugging large and distributed systems, customer traffic, metrics, operational reviews.
  • JPL pays poorly and has slow growth. You can be there 10 years and make less than an SDE-1 in FAANG.

I don't have any visa issues. Finances are not a problem. Currently I have very low expenses and good savings because I didn't RTO and I am living with my parents. I have 1.5 YOE at AWS and 3 years of internships before that. I see the market picking up so I am tempted to keep trying for a tech company.

Another thing to consider is that there is a lot of inertia when you join a job. I will have little time to look for other jobs in the first few months because I will be busy onboarding. I will also have less time to look for jobs and study for interviews.

Please give advice :)

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Feel like I lost a lot of my time at my current company

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community

Sorry if this seems like a rant. Trying to collect my own thoughts.
I have been at my current company as a mid level backend engineer (a startup - around 10-12 years old, went public recently) for around 4-5 years and have a total of 6 years of work experience.

I feel like there has not been much career growth. Got my first promotion after an year of joining the company and not much thereafter. Thus, feeling very lost about where to go next from here.

In the current climate, we had our recent round of layoffs in the organisation. Also, I don't feel very good about some of the things in the organisation such as the stuff I am working on. I don't feel I am learning enough. It is just business requirement - one after another, that too often getting cancelled. Last project I worked on for 3 months, got cancelled after that due to changing priorities. Stock price is plummeting as well. I feel like the best way forward is to restart my own learning journey - what are your thoughts? I used to be one of the top performers in my current and past company and even got awards around 3 times in last 6 years. I tried to work hard for promotions as well, but even after multiple rounds of my manager asking me to do things such as leading the team, multiple XFN projects, infra level revamps etc. - I did not get a promotion. I asked my manager if there is a list of things I should do consistently for a good enough time and if then, we'll be able to make a case for me. He said, that I am trying to gamify the system, but I was only trying to set goals for me. Now, I feel somewhere midway, I have lost my motivation. Feeling a little depressed and often evade work, just coasting to get by.

I want to take charge of my life again and be positive. Quite often I think about other career choices, but have always been in love with CS (and math in my childhood, particularly due to them being intellectually challenging). Just want to make up for the time I lost, and want to do some things I am proud of. I often think of my life being pointless in last couple of years. And want to get a renewed sense of motivation and be excited for the things I work on.

I feel like joining a fast paced place or somewhere I can learn a lot (even outside of work) might help. Don't feel very happy about my current situation though.

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Help after a layoff

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community

Hello,

I got laid off this January, and I am trying to find guidance on finding my next job. I have almost 4 years of experience (2 FAANGs). So far I had 7 first round interviews, made it to final round on 2 (failed 5), and got one offer, which is a really big pay cut (govt job) and I have to relocate far, so I am not really wanting to take that offer.

I am applying for front-end roles so my prep varies between leetcode (50%), JavaScript and front-end tech questions (30%) and System Design (20%). I was very shaky on algorithms and front end, I wish I studied more before interviewing (I kinda freaked out and jumped too soon to the job hunt with spoiled skills).

Almost every new job opening is a pay cut, even for senior positions (I wasn’t senior). Is the market really that bad now? I’ve seen posts on Reddit and other places of people getting a job quickly after getting laid off, and not only that, it is a pay increase, which makes me feel like I am doing something wrong, since I’ve been job hunting for 4 months now. Sometimes I get demoralized after so many rejections but I keep trying every day to get better skill wise, I feel like I got laid off because I was an underperformer. Even though I was never put on disciplinary action, it did take me a lot of effort to understand and accomplish my tasks, unlike other of my coworkers, so I keep reflecting if I could have done something different.

Anyone in the same position than me or has experienced this before could give some advice? Or any comments are appreciated, thanks.

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Finding a job without a specialty

Mid-Level Software Engineer at Ex-Google profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at Ex-Google

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?

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What is a hiring manager's opinion on a candidate who takes some time after being laid off to work on side projects/freelance?

Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon

I am an SDE1 that was recently laid off from AWS (~2 YOE total). Lately, I have been reflecting on what I wanted to do/what really excites me. I really enjoy software development and while I do want to get another job one day, I wanted to use this opportunity to scratch my entrepreneurial itch and create apps/websites/side-projects for fun or for many small business owners I know that need someone to create software for their business. I'm not sure how long this "break" will be but I would say ~2 to 3 months time. Part of this is inspired by Alex Chiou's love for side projects.

I understand that finding a job will take some time as well, so the total gap on my resume that will be filled by this freelance work/applying might be ~6 months total. I understand that there are other posts on Taro that talk about the impact of a career break but this won't necessarily be a break per se. On my resume I will put this down as freelance work I completed for clients and will be prepared to show potential employers a portfolio of what I did.

I was wondering if this would negatively reflect on my application when applying for SDE jobs again/will make it harder for me to land a job. Alternatively, I could begin applying and interview prep now and only work on these projects on the side. Thanks.

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Learn About Layoffs

Layoffs in the tech industry are a common occurrence and can be a source of anxiety. They are a result of unforeseen adverse macroeconomic conditions or overambitious hiring. Layoffs are distinct from being fired, as they are generally not the employee’s fault and are part of a cost-cutting measure to restore the company’s economics. Layoff packages in the tech industry tend to be extremely generous and competitive, as tech companies are known for offering competitive perks, benefits, and pay.
There are many different reasons why layoffs can happen. Layoffs can be a cost cutting measure to ensure that the organization has enough cash to survive. Companies can undergo restructuring when they shift their strategic focus. This could be caused by mergers and acquisitions or shifts in business priorities. The rapid evolution of technology can render certain skills obsolete. Companies may have to reevaluate their technological needs and realign their workforce based on emerging trends.
It’s important to maintain a positive mindset in the face of layoffs. it’s best not to dwell on self-doubt or feelings of inadequacy. Layoffs are often done with incomplete information and can be random. Remember that being laid off is not a reflecting of one’s abilities or worth. It’s advisable to view the layoff as an opportunity for introspection and finding the next career move. The severance package that comes with layoffs can provide financial freedom and should be treated as a valuable resource.
Taking care of physical, mental, and emotional well-being is crucial after a layoff. It’s normal to feel stressed and anxious, so taking time off to examine your well-being and relationships is recommended.
When reflecting on the next move after being laid off, it’s important to think about career goals and where one sees themselves in the future. This self-introspection can take a few days or even a few weeks. Seeking support and talking to people during this time can be beneficial.
In the current climate, being out of work for more than 6 months after a layoff may or may not hurt chances of getting work. It’s important to emphasize the value one can bring to a company and be transparent about the job search and the time spent focusing on your career during the interview process.
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