9

I was laid off unexpectedly last Thursday. The company for which I worked was acquired (I didn't even know this was in the works, and it sounds like most others didn't either), and the acquisition immediately reduced the workforce.

I have only been at this job for two years. My last 6 years of experience has been at 4 jobs due to layoffs (and the whole company folded in one instance). The intervals between jobs has taken their toll. I am only just now recovered from a gigantic mortgage debt that was incurred during a previous layoff.

So far my job hunting has been more of the "Panicked Scramble" variety than the "Laser Targeted" variety. I don't feel like I have the time available to spend looking for a good job, I feel like I just need ANY job.

The Question

Any advice on what I can do to make myself more desirable? What I can do to find positions less likely to die after 2 years?

Pros

  • I have 10+ years worth of software development experience behind me.
  • That experience ranges over web and desktop applications, server applications, services, enterprise projects, and so forth.

Cons

  • I am a remote developer.

    The assumption, flawed as it may be in hindsight, was that I would stay with the company for longer. They billed themselves as a company that held on to people, and in the past that seems to have been true.

  • I live in Hawaii.

    Hawaii time zone is two hours different (or 3 depending on time of year) from California. Quite a few job listings mention that they want remote developers who are within 2 hours of the company home.

  • 1
    It is generally easier to land contract gigs than permanent positions. – Mawg Dec 19 '18 at 9:07
  • 1
    I have generally steered away from contract jobs due to the impermanence of them. Probably a good way to fill the gaps though. It seems like most of them are short-term 8-5 jobs. Is that just me or are those contract jobs less about the specific hours you put in and more about the results you achieve. What I am getting at is, could I hold more than one of those down so long as I gave them the attention they needed? Are there better sources for quality contract gigs than others? – CodeWarrior Dec 19 '18 at 11:43
  • 2
    As to "impermanence"; I have been contracting for *cough* decades now. That said, I have willingly travelled the world, whereas you might be tied to one location. You said "I feel like I just need ANY job", so a contract is a good way of getting an income stream for 6 to 12 months while looking for your ideal permanent position. I won't argue the pros & cons, just say that the barrier of entry is lower for contract because of that impermanence, which seems to be what you want. – Mawg Dec 19 '18 at 12:49
  • 4
    This is not an answer to your question, but a general advice. The best time to look for a job is when you have a job. You need to be always aware of opportunities and what happens in the market. Always have your resume and your Linkedin profile up to date. Let recruiters know you, and if they reach you, don't burn bridges but tell them that you are very compromised with the project now but looking forward to talk again in the future. You have to find your next job, but also start networking for the job that will come after that. Good luck! – Sebastian Aguerre Dec 19 '18 at 14:05
  • 1
    What I can do to find positions less likely to die after 2 years? Looking at the industry, I would say: try to find smaller companies, but not too small ones. Somewhere around 100 - 200 employees range. And not in unstable/seasonal industries like retail, "hot new thing" (blockchain currently), and financial. They - and big corporations - tend to lay off at a fairly constant pace. – Juha Untinen Dec 19 '18 at 14:29
3

Any advice on what I can do to make myself more desirable? What I can do to find positions less likely to die after 2 years?

As with anything look to mitigate your risk.

Options 1: Generally speaking the larger the company the more job security you will see. As others have noted nothing is a guarantee and big companies can have huge rounds of layoff like anyone else. Try and get on a team that is working on a long term, well budgeted project that is still in its early stages. Ask questions about the history of the project you are going to be working on and what the plans for the next steps are during your interview. These questions are not unreasonable and if they hesitate with answers that may not be a great sign.

In software you can also look at (to an extent) the tech stack. I know a lot of companies that are constantly looking for people to support legacy apps for a year or two while the platform gets migrated to some new web app etc. These jobs are often regrettably dead end but can look attractive at first if its an old familiar stack and high pay (often as a result of them not being able to find anyone).

Option 2: Look for government work. Government projects tend to be slow and stable, the pay is sometimes not as glamorous but the work can be far more reliable and long lasting. This can mean working directly for the government or working for a sub-contractor (of which there are many). If you are in Hawaii you may want to consider looking at navy jobs, remember you don't need to be in the navy to work for the navy. I have a few buddies from college that work for NavSea and have great jobs (both as developers).

Option 3: Look for contract work. While ultimately more volatile contract work can be more clear cut. If you get hired for a two year contract you know you are good for two years, you also know when its going to end and you can start looking for a new contract at the tail end of that time. Depending on the letter of the contract it can also make it legally hard more difficult to fire you before the end of the contract.

Option 4: Work for a consulting/on spec type of shop. You can often mitigate your employment risk by working for the kind of dev shop that other companies out source to. This way if a project ends you may have the option to jump to another project that your company is working on.

7

You can't.

There is no way you can specifically look for a job that isn't going to fold within 2 years. It's almost impossible to guarantee that, unexpected things happen that can't be controlled.

Even the biggest of companies can fold due to bad business decisions or even environmental changes.

The companies that have the least chances of folding are the big brand IT companies who will be your best bet of trying to get into because they have a brand and company reputation behind them. Even if they are going to fold you'll more than likely know about it before it happens so you'll have time to prepare.

Any advice on what I can do to make myself more desirable?

This depends on the person and the current state of your Resume. You mentioned that you're going for a scrambled application process rather than specifics. Build your CV to be more specific for each company. Although this may take more time, it'll increase your rate of getting interviews by a significant amount (companies can tell when a CV is 'generic'). Sending off 10 good applications is going to be far more beneficial than sending off 30 average ones.

I also recommend for the time being you look for small jobs, little contracting jobs that you can do to keep your financial situation in the positives.

  • I wasn't really asking for ways to guaranty a long-term stable position, but I was wondering if there were warning indicators that I could look for during the hiring process that might tell me something. I will see what I can do about tailoring a few resumes to potential positions. – CodeWarrior Dec 19 '18 at 7:46
  • 2
    Upvote for the advice on tailored CVs. I would suspect the numbers are even better than 1:3. – bytepusher Dec 19 '18 at 17:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.