Your tech job just laid you off. Now what
|Matt Martin in Developer Jobs Wednesday, June 10, 2020|
Clockwise Co-Founder and CEO, Matt Martin, wrote about what to do if your tech job just laid you off. The guide provides insight on common pitfalls to avoid and tips to help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
Between March 11th and May 31st more than 600 startups have let nearly 60,000 employees go, according to Layoffs.fyi. If you’re among those, my sincere condolences. This guide should help you avoid some common pitfalls and help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
If you’re still employed, now is a good time to get a game-plan together for what to do if it happens to you. When you’re laid off, you’re suddenly faced with an onslaught of high-stakes choices just when your ability to make good decisions is at a nadir.
Here’s some advice from people who’ve been there on how to leave with grace, how to get your next gig as quickly as possible, and how to survive and thrive in the meantime.
Make a graceful exit
Step-one is to get a handle on your emotions. “Don’t blame yourself,” Systems Engineer Timothy told me. “Take a deep breath. Your feelings are valid. I remember the last time I was laid off. It was a rollercoaster of feelings for the first few days.”
While it might be tempting to push down or try to ignore negative feelings, try to approach your feelings with curiosity and non-judgement.
Then, start taking action. Software Developer and blogger Dan Moore recommends telling your former colleagues how much you enjoyed working with them. “Get those LinkedIn endorsements,” Product Manager Andrew Sullivan said. “They help a lot. And order cocktails to go from somewhere nice.”
If you’re offered a severance package or asked to sign any kind of agreement, Dan recommends running it by an employment lawyer first. Also before signing anything, make sure you have the answers to these seven questions to raise immediately after you’re laid off.
Tell everyone you need a job
It’s always hard to talk publicly about needing a job, but it’s absolutely essential that you get over your embarrassment and let your network know you’re looking. If you don’t already have a robust professional network, check out Tips for Building Your Work Network and How to recession-proof your software engineering career.
“Tell people you're looking for a job as soon as possible,” Scientific Engineering Associate Liat Zavodivker said.
“Resume and contacts first,” Senior Devops Keith Rockhold said. “Number-one thing, before the crying, the drinking, whatever you need to get yourself right mentally. Update the resume, send it out to your close contacts and update your LinkedIn. Then do what you need.”
Operations Manager James Higginbottom notes that many positions are filled without ever ending up with a recruiter or on a career website. “Make sure people you've worked with who can vouch for you know that you're looking for work,” James said.
“Let everyone know (especially those in your field),” that you’re looking for a new gig, Timothy said. “And treat it like it is, a new grind.”
Post that you’re looking on social media as well. Just be sure that you don’t say anything that could be embarrassing or unflattering to your former employer. Not only do you want their recommendation going forward, but you may end up working for the same company or the same people in the future.
Even with a big network, it can take some time to get the word out and for the opportunities to come in. In the meantime, here are some other moves to consider.
Get money in the door
Software Engineer James Mishra recommends job seekers set themselves apart from the “stampeding herd” of tech workers who are and will be looking for work. “If I were laid off right now, I'd probably dive into contributing to open source projects and making free books and online courses about computer security and application performance,” James said. “When the economic dust settles, hopefully, that body of work would be a differentiator.”
Now is a good time to learn new in-demand skills. “In software, security and performance are hard to ignore,” James said. “Expertise is lucrative because slow equals expensive and nobody wants to be hacked.”
In a recent survey, 89% of IT managers said they had trouble finding enough machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain talent.
Demand for talent is increasing fastest in the areas of AR/VR, gaming, machine learning, and NLP. For more on what’s hot, check out In-Demand Skills to Get a Remote Developer Job.
To help you learn these new skills, check out these two resources: 42 Projects to Practice Programming Skills and 80+ resources for learning to code online.
“I think candidates should assume that many new openings are for solving specific problems (eg specialists) as opposed to being cross-functional,” James said. “Generalists need to advertise how they can handle specialist problems.”
Once you’re proficient enough, freelancing/contracting is a great way to learn new in-demand skills while getting money in the door. Freelancing widens your network, offers you the chance to get more positive recommendations, and many freelance gigs turn into full-time roles.
It’s also a good time to prep for your interviews.
While looking for a job in a recession and global pandemic isn’t fun, it is a good opportunity to find jobs outside your geographic area.
Losing your job is incredibly stressful. Experiencing job loss in a recession and global pandemic is a whole nother level. It’s easy to make mistakes and lose momentum when we’re under stress. Just remember to begin by remembering to breathe and feel your feelings. Then exit your job with grace and kindness to maintain positive relationships as much as possible. Lean hard on your friends, family, and professional network to help you find your next gig. Don’t be shy about telling people you’re looking for work. There’s nothing shameful about it and people want to help. Lastly, be open to learning new skills and looking at other cities when finding your next job.
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