I am a more or less young developer. However, due to a weird combination of bad luck, lack of opportunities, newbie's mistakes and questionable management I was laid off twice in a row.

My first job started as a .Net trainee at a medium sized consulting firm. I was supposed to be mentored, but the person in question was more interested in being creepy and unpleasant than talking of C#, Sharepoint or Software Developement in general. I was reassigned a project with a payment processing company. It was a tough experience - I had to learn the technology and business logic, and produce high (Senior level) quality code all at the same time with little help or supervision. It went well for a while, until the Manager was assigned to a more lucrative project with the same client, and the Senior dev who helped me had to go to every meeting the Manager couldn't. I was left to deal all on my own with something that was too complex for a Trainee working part-time. Even tough the code was clear, well documented and working as requested, both the Senior dev and the Manager were not pleased. I was sent an official warning during a weekend, and escorted out of the company premises the following Monday.

The second one started as bait and switch. I was promised cutting edge technology and growth opportunities, but in reality it was pure Maintenance. I bit the bullet like all my coworkers did, and devoted my time to fix problems and develop not critical features. The Seniors who were in charge of me and other Junior employee were patient and helped us to understand the System we worked with. However, management changed, and it all went downhill (see this question for an example). The new Manager started a witch hunt against everyone he consider was an underperformer. People started leaving in considerable numbers, my team lost half its members and morale was in it lowest levels since the beginning of the project. I got seriously sick, and when I got back I was informed that I was going to be laid off at the end of the month. Everyone was surprised, as the more experienced devs were happy with what I did, and the same Manager had given me a considerable raise and was about to hire me as an employee (I was a contractor).

The economical situation of my country is not the best, many companies are firing, some are still in a cost savings mode, and the ones who are hiring ask for Ssrs, Srs or Jrs with five years experience, which I don't have. I've been job hunting for almost two months now, and I made it to the final rounds only once. What's worse, I fear that I don't get called back because the interviewers don't buy my story and consider me a incompetent dev. I know that two jobs that lasted for less than a year make me look like a job hopper, but this is not the case. So far I have three ways to approach this

  • Job 1: lack of tasks, eventually laid off
  • Job 2: contract not renewed due to budgetary constraints


  • Job 1: laid off due to budgetary constraints
  • Job 2: contract not renewed, reasons unknown


  • Laid off in a reorganization both times.

I could make it sound less worse than it was by explaining more of less what I said here, but means I'd be badmouthing my previous employers, which is a no no. I want to know if there is a way to make my previous experiences sound good, without denying the way it ended or looking like a slacker or just a crappy whiny employee.

  • 1
    Laid off is much better than fired, though of course better would be retained when others were laid off. How long did each of these last before you left?
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 15:37
  • Maybe explain to them that if you explain real reasons why you were fired, you have to bad mouth your employers and this is bad? Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 16:34
  • 6
    Sound like you got fired not laid off on the first. Why that strange capitalization? And I hope you did not capitalize .NET that way on your resume.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 17:12
  • 4
    In the first job, if I understand you right you were fired because you couldn't do a senior developer's job on your own when hired and paid as a part time junior developer. If that is correct, then say it, because it doesn't put you into a bad light.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 12:28
  • Regardless the reason you give must be true (even though the wording can be carefully chosen). If they find you lie on you application, that will be worse. Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


The first job may or may not be problematic, I'm not sure, but the second gig is pretty cut and dried: you were a contractor, you worked at a firm for a while, and you parted ways after your services were no longer needed. Few prospective employers are going to care that you worked on a contract and then left when the contract was over.

To the first job, it may be helpful when going to interview to look at it as a learning experience. People don't tend to get fired for no reason whatsoever, or even just "politics". If your code was well documented and ran successfully, maybe it wasn't optimized particularly well, or maybe it really didn't run nearly as successfully as you think it did (I'm a Sharepoint developer myself and I can tell you that there are a few very specific pitfalls that can make code that otherwise runs well in a dev environment blow up a production environment when it has to be executed a thousand times a day). I would figure that out and, if the interviewer wants to go more in depth than the standard "I wasn't a right fit for their culture" answer, talk about the things you learned about this since.

The thing about development is that it really isn't that much more different than other jobs than people think. If you're working in a team at all, you still have to work as a team member, and that means taking criticism well (which also means not arguing about criticism or insisting, in the face of others telling you you were wrong about something that your code was "clear, well documented, and working as requested"). The primary thing you can demonstrate in an interview situation isn't going to be so much your technical expertise as it is your ability to communicate and respond effectively and also to be humble.

  • 1
    + 1 for "you were a contractor". It's expected that most contractor jobs will be relatively short term. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 2:23
  • Regarding the first job, don't neglect the possibility of workplace gaslighting, notably setting up to fail by giving a subordinate insufficient information on the success criteria, work above his grade, and no constructive feedback until after they inevitably fail. This doesn't need to be a deliberate campaign, and might have seemed like business as usual to a senior/manager that had another project to work on and forgot to adjust their expectations for a first-job entry-level coder.
    – millimoose
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 16:26

There is something in your mindset which you may believe that you can hide it, but i seriously doubt so. This also refers to the linked question. You constantly assert that you know things better than your boss and make good evaluations of your work ("...the code was clear, well documented and working as requested,..."). Assert for a second that the code was all that, but had real problems in it (can happen - i can write clear, well documented code which works, i.e. passes the tests, and still it can be difficult to extend, show a poor understanding of the patterns etc). Imagine that your co-worker which you defended in your other question really fucked something up beyond your imagination.

If you assert that, what would be a convincing approach to convince somebody that you learned from these experiences? Before you interview, test if you can formulate what has happened under these assertions.

Instead of "...the code was clear, well documented and working as requested,...", you may think "I did not get feedback about the code quality in time before the final review; I should have insisted more that the senior developer reviews with me". Instead of thinking "it was so unfair to my coworker", you may think "my coworker and my boss did not get along, and maybe I misunderstood the weaknesses of both". Actually both of these would make excellent answers to the famous "what did you find complicated in you professional life" question. But if you enter the interview with the idea how unfair the world was, you will have a problem.

About what to write: "shifted project priorities of the company" and "restructuring of the department, with termination of contractors" could be a good explanation.

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