April 6, 2023

How Am I Supposed To Find An Engineering Job In This Market?

This article was first published by Branden Lawrence on Medium.

Week after week, we’ve heard that X company will be going through a round of layoffs. In fact, according to layoffs.fyi128,202 tech employees were laid off in 2023 alone when this article was published. For comparison, in all of 2022, 161,411 tech employees were laid off. This has left many looking for a new job, others uncertain about their software engineering future, and prospective junior engineers unsure how to get their foot in the door at any company.

So how can engineers find their feet at another company in a reasonable time, given these current market conditions? Let’s explore that a bit more.

For Those With Senior Level Experience

Temper Expectations

For companies that are hiring, many are looking for engineers that can immediately make a difference. This is a big win for senior engineers in the market for a new role! But just a warning, some of these companies might be companies you would’ve immediately skipped on a job board in better market conditions. My advice? Don’t overlook these companies now. They might not be the sexiest or most innovative, but they can offer stability and a chance to learn new things. Remember, you’re not married to a company. So if you find another opportunity that better fits your desires and goals, go for it!

Don’t Expect The Same Salary

Many talented senior engineers have been let go from top tech companies like Meta, Amazon, Stripe, Microsoft, etc. These companies are known to offer some of the highest salary packages. Conversely, most engineers aspire to work at these top companies. Don’t let this cloud your judgment and block you from applying to lesser-known companies that offer a slightly lower salary. Obviously, you should know your worth! Never compromise on that. But there also needs to be an understanding that the job market isn’t where it was 1–2 years ago, and the companies that might be interested in hiring you aren’t considered top companies. Again, remember that you’re not married to this company, so if another opportunity comes, go for it!

Leverage Your Network

This one is self-explanatory. If you’re in the market for a role, now’s the time to take advantage of all the connections you’ve made throughout your career!

For Those With Mid-Level Experience

Apply, Apply, Apply

Mid-level engineers are in an interesting position. Those who are out of a job might’ve just got promoted from junior -> mid-level, or some might be on the cusp of becoming senior. Some might ask, “Should I apply to mid-level in addition to senior, or should I apply to junior roles as well?” My recommendation? Apply to them all. If you’re a mid-level engineer and apply for a junior role, it may seem demoralizing that you’re going backward in your career. I would think about it like this. If you were to get an interview, you can showcase to your interviewers why you should be upgraded to a mid-level position. They may side with you if you knock the discussion out of the park.

For Those With Junior-Level Experience

Admittedly, it’s a really tough time for junior engineers. A lot of companies are only looking to hire experienced developers. With the market already saturated for junior devs, we’re now seeing mid-level devs (sometimes even senior devs) applying for the few junior roles available. So what can juniors do?

Do Your Best To Stand Out

Do you have an awesome personal project? I don’t mean a simple to-do list app or a portfolio page. Instead, something that encapsulates everything you’ve learned so far in your career and things you’re interested in (API, UI, Auth, Cloud functions, etc.) This goes a long way toward separating yourself from others and showing prospective companies you have what it takes.

Attend hackathons and meetups. These are great ways to expand your network and meet like-minded people. Hackathons can also be a great thing to add to your resume!

Contribute to open source projects. This is a great way to learn new technologies and languages while having the opportunity to work on a team. This is a great way to beef up the experience section on your resume if you feel it needs more.

Apply, Apply, Apply

Juniors should apply to as many available junior roles as possible. What’s critical for anybody starting out in their career is getting experience. So I don’t suggest picking and choosing the companies you want to apply to during this time. (Unless it goes against any moral convictions.) Don’t shy away from applying to the junior roles that say “2 years experience required”; that’s usually HR verbiage and not indicative of the actual position.

Brush Up On Soft Skills

This is extremely important. I’ve heard so many stories of juniors who thought they automatically aced the interview because they correctly answered all of the technical questions. But when the decision came back from the company, many were surprised they didn’t receive an offer. A lot of times, this comes down to the way you present yourself. As an interviewer, besides gauging your technical ability, I’m trying to see if I would like to work with you. Can you communicate well? Are you a team player? Can you easily build relationships? These are all things that factor into a decision.

As we all know, it’s not the best time to find an engineering job. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up. Many companies are still looking for engineers, and it’s up to you to show them why you’re a good fit!

This article was first published by Branden Lawrence on Medium.
Branden Lawrence

Senior Software Engineer at The New York Times