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Backstory: In my country, as in most countries I presume, there is a big shortage of engineers and software people, and companies are desperately trying to reel in as many as possible. (At least, this was the case before COVID-19. I am not sure how this situation will evolve when the recession strikes.)

As an embedded software engineer, I had no trouble getting job offers when I graduated about half a year ago. After making a selection of all the offers, I was left with Company A and Company B. I was really eager to start at A because I had known them for a long time (had been in contact with them previously) and they also spoke about very interesting projects. I was a little less familiar with Company B, but I also felt very comfortable with the job offer.

Ultimately, Company A did some things during the hiring process which I found very rude, and thus I accepted B's offer and rejected A's. Up until this day, I have not regretted this decision. I have great colleagues, and also the relationship with higher management is very good.

Unfortunately, my company (B) made some poor decisions business-wise in an attempt to grow fast. I was already expecting rougher times ahead, since me and a lot of my colleagues had been stuck at the office for quite some time now without a project. (I'm in consultancy, so we're supposed to be assigned to customers who have projects for us, but due to circumstances we didn't get any and thus only costed our company money, while not bringing in any money.) We also didn't expect this to improve in the near future.

Then COVID-19 struck, and all of us working at the office had to work from home. A week later, I received a letter telling me my contract would be terminated... Crap... I got a phone call from my superiors, and they explained the situation. Pretty much what I already knew: we costed a lot of money, and they didn't have any customers for us.

So, now I need to find a new company. Fortunately, I've always remained very polite in my communication with Company A, and I'd like to try my luck again there. However, I'm not sure if it's best to contact them straight away and let them know I'm looking for a new challenge, or if it's best to wait until COVID-19 passes. I can imagine the recruitment process is going haywire at the moment...

I'm also not sure how the recruiter will react to knowing that I previously rejected their offer.

Some other things that might be important to know:

  • Company B is a direct competitor of Company A, albeit A is a lot bigger than B.
  • During my work at B, I received a very valuable training and gathered relevant experience for my work at A.
  • Getting laid off after only six months is of course never a good sign in a resume.
  • They told me that because the laying off had nothing to do with me personally, I was allowed to use several of my old colleagues/managers as references while applying, and they are also thinking about writing a recommendation letter (they just have to figure out if there are legal consequences for them in doing so).

So my question: how can I best handle this situation? Contact A right now? Or wait until the COVID-16 storm has passed?

Also: I know it's hard to predict, because a pandemic of this size is unprecedented, but should I expect changes in the job market in the near future? Are there things I should keep in mind while trying to get my career back on track?

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    Does contacting them now preclude you from contacting them in the future? – P. Hopkinson Mar 26 at 9:49
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    Getting laid off after 6 months, says much more about your company than you. Laid-off and getting fired are two very different things in the eyes of most employers. – cdkMoose Mar 26 at 12:51
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    In the UK there are a plenty of companies that want to hire large numbers of employees right now, and not just to stack supermarket shelves with toilet rolls. For example Virgin Media is looking for another 500 customer support staff. Consider getting "any job" in the short term rather than having no income at all. – alephzero Mar 27 at 0:51
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    I read it as "Recently got laid" phew. – Prometheus Mar 27 at 12:05
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    this was staggeringly long-winded. you need to learn to condense your communications down to the salient details. – bharal Mar 27 at 23:48
86

I can't see the advantage in you waiting - if you've been laid off, you presumably want to find new work as quickly as possible. As you say, company A (or any other company) may well not be prioritising hiring at the moment, and as such you may struggle to gain traction - but you won't know unless you apply.

If it were me in that situation, I would be hitting it hard, and applying to a variety of companies (both company A and other relevant opportunities.)

  • As an embedded software dev myself, I can personally say this is the right choice. I have done multiple interviews in the past week and have brought on several new hires this month. The world keeps turning despite what the media makes it seem.... – mascoj Mar 27 at 14:57
51

No, as you don’t know how long this will last.

There are estimates that predict this will last 18 months. Find a place to wait out the storm. There could easily be a stampede of applicants as jobs disappear.

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    +1 for this last part. While you wait to apply to Company A, laid-off employees from Companies C, D, and E are flooding them with applications. – A N Mar 26 at 21:03
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    If I was in OP's situation, I would apply now so my resume/CV was higher in the stack than you two. – Nathan Goings Mar 27 at 2:45
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    I'm sure this isn't the case everywhere, but my employer was in the process of replacing several people when the pandemic started. Typically we have trouble even receiving applicants (due to location) so I'd bet they'd love an increase in applicants. We have trouble retaining employees (other markets here have a high demand + location) so "pandemic" applicants wouldn't be much different than typical. – Nathan Goings Mar 27 at 2:53
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    @AN He is already in priority higher than the fellas from the other companies, because it sounds like he already had an offer, or at least an interview from company A, so they already know him as a good potential employee. – Galaxy Mar 27 at 5:47
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Getting laid off after only 6 months of starting somewhere is ofcourse never a good sign in someones resume.

Depends when... You entered the job market 6 months before a huge crisis. No one will ever hold that against you, except perhaps a poorly informed beginner 20 years from now, and that person won't be entitled to reject your application.

Reach out to A. And reach out to other companies: if B laid you off from lack of customers, and A is a competitor, there's a good chance that A doesn't have enough activity to hire you. And keep in mind that, however in demand tech skills are, the party is basically over. (Many startups that keep engineers needlessly busy will fail.)

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    I'm curious. What do you mean about "the party is basically over"? For sure it's hard to do those kind of jobs during a mass world-wide shutdown, like anything else which needs you to be hands-on with hardware, but the need for those jobs to be done still exists - it's just trumped temporarily by the need to live through the other side of this. :/ The party isn't over, it's just hit pause while the cops walk down your block. – Graham Mar 26 at 23:08
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    You seem optimistic about improvements in HR processes over the next 20 years. – chrylis -on strike- Mar 27 at 1:43
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    @chrylis-onstrike-: Yeah. I think they'll be automated out of existence. – Denis de Bernardy Mar 27 at 4:24
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    @DenisdeBernardy The guy said "embedded software engineer". That's a bit different from just doing IT. We don't exactly get lavish compensation, but the work never really goes away. And that automation thing - we're the people doing it. :) – Graham Mar 27 at 9:00
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    @DenisdeBernardy Definitely just you. By that definition, a chemist typing their thesis in Word is doing IT engineering. – Graham Mar 27 at 19:28
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Begin Your Job Search Now - But Prepare To Wait

I'm in a similar position myself right now - before the outbreak spread, I was trying to find a job closer to my spouse's family, and very nearly got even accepted an offer - but the sudden rapid spread and shutdown of businesses brought that to a much slower pace.

However, companies are still always looking to hire as quickly as possible, and still need positions to be filled - even now, I am still getting interviews done with companies looking for people to work, and have even gotten an offer with a sign-on date "to be determined" - specifying a hire date will be posted once on-site work resumes.


To put it another way - do you want to have to wait until several weeks or months after the outbreak subsides, going through the interview process and sign-on process at the peak of workers seeking to regain employment?

Or, would you rather have your new job set to go the second the outbreak recesses, so that you can begin work as soon as possible?

If the latter is your goal - start seeking a new job now.

2

Do not wait, start your job hunt now.

I was in the midst of a job hunt when this happened. Not in embedded software, but in software engineering. Hiring is still happening, especially for larger companies. Interviews are virtual, and it may take slightly longer to get interviews scheduled, but that just means you need to start the process as soon as possible.

Restart your search entirely...but include Company A on the list if they still make it.

That is, you shouldn't immediately fall back to Company A. Look through job postings, sort out any that are relevant, and pick the best to apply to. If Company A is still one of the best, then go for it, but a lot can change in 6 months. There may be better jobs that opened up, or Company A may also be having problems.

Don't worry about your resume.

Unless it was your job to actually go out and get contracts, then this isn't a problem. For now, you can talk about all the training and things you learned. In a few years, you can leave it off entirely.

1

While the pandemic causes lots of problems for some companies, it also offers opportunities for others. Especially in the IT sector.

Lots of clients are struggling to maintain their business models in times of social distancing. The solution is to do more things online. This requires investments into IT infrastructure and new software solutions for online collaboration. Further, IT companies are among those industries who have the least issues to convert most of their workforce to 100% remote.

Our company (3000 employees, IT full-service provider, public sector) is now operating about 95% from home - and it works. And we are still hiring. In-person interviews are now conducted via Skype. New employees get their onboarding packages with hardware and everyting sent to their home.

So no, don't wait with your job search.

1

Unless you have reliable information that they have a position they want to fill, I wouldn't bother with Company A. Do you have someone to call and ask?

Other than that there is no reason to "wait out" Covid-19, just start applying anywhere else.

  • They have positions on their website (and on other websites such as LinkedIn) posted all the time. This is because, in general, in my country this type of company is always short on employees. However... I do not know what effect Covid-19 has on this demand (because I hear a lot of people are getting laid off in the past 5 days) – Opifex Mar 26 at 14:15
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    @Opifex It's probably safe to say COVID will make your job hunt harder... Potentially much harder. But that doesn't mean you should wait it out before trying to find something. We don't know how long this might go on, and you will presumably need money sooner or later. Having a job - even a low-paying "survival job" at a company only tangentially related to your desired career path - will ultimately be better than nothing as we move forward in all this. – Steve-O Mar 26 at 20:45
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First things first - apply for unemployment. Chances are companies have frozen hiring in an effort to conserve cash, so finding a job will likely take a while.

Second - reach out to your contacts in company A. Tell them you've been laid off due to the COVID-19 epidemic from company B and wanted to see if they are hiring. Mention the training you've received.

That's your best chance - they know you, they were willing to hire you, the company is in the same industry, and they got the competition to train you for them. It's a perfect match. You dumped them but that's just business, as long as you stayed professional, they won't mind giving you a second chance.

If they are not hiring at moment tell them you understand and you want to stay in touch with them. Check again with them in a month or two. In the meantime search for other positions.

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