How to Land a Great Job in the Tech Recession
A practical guide to getting your mind right, making a plan, and landing on your feet
We’re entering the worst job market for tech since the early 2000s. Over 100,000 employees have been laid off from tech companies this year.
If you’re looking for a job, then this post is for you.
I don’t have all the answers, but here’s a collection of advice and resources for landing a great job in these tough times:
Get your mind right
Make a career plan
Network, network, network
Get interview ready
Celebrate small wins
1. Get your mind right
Process your emotions
If you’ve been laid off, it’s okay to feel anger, fear, and resentment. But remember that:
You are not your job.
It’s not your fault that companies overhired. Be proud of the:
Things that you’ve accomplished.
Relationships that you’ve built.
Skills that you’ve developed.
None of the above can be taken away from you.
Find support groups
Find people who are willing to listen. Share the news with your loved ones, friends, and ex-employees.
You don’t have to face this challenge alone.
Know your runway
How long can you go without a job?
If you’re on an H-1B visa, you only have 60 days to find another sponsor. Consider switching to another visa to stay in the country longer.
Otherwise, understand how many months of savings you have left. If you still have a good runway, you may have more time to find the right opportunity.
2. Make a career plan
Look back and forward
Start a doc and write down the following:
Looking back, what’s your zone of genius? What are you great at and love doing so much that time flies by? Be careful settling for things that you’re good at but hate doing. Here’s a thread about identifying your zones:
Looking forward, where do you want to be in a few years? Define a specific, long-term goal that ties back to your zone of genius. For example, I’d like to think that my zone of genius is “crisp writing” so one of my goals is to “grow this newsletter to 100,000 subscribers by 2025.”
Make a list of companies
Make a list of companies that fit your long-term goal.
FAANG is under a hiring freeze but many smaller companies are still hiring. Given the recession, I recommend that you try to find a company that has the following:
Product market fit
A growing and sustainable business
Mission and values that resonate with you
But how do you find these companies and job opportunities? The trick is to…
3. Network, network, network
To state the obvious:
Getting a warm lead through your network is 10x as effective as applying online.
This is especially true in this recession where every job will have hundreds of applications. Here’s how you can network:
Make a public post
If you’ve been laid off, post publicly on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media about what you’re looking for next.
People need to know your situation to help.
Reconnect with your network
Reconnect with your old managers, coworkers, and friends. Ask them if they know anyone hiring for roles you may be a fit for.
Your goal is to connect to a hiring manager at a company you’re interested in.
Reach out to strangers
You’ll be surprised at how many strangers are willing to help in this economy. Here are some tactical tips:
Find people who work at your target companies. Search on LinkedIn and cold DM or email people who may be hiring managers.
Build a relationship even if they’re not hiring. Reach out to people at interesting companies even if the company has no open roles. Try to build a relationship so that you’ll be first in mind whenever a role opens up.
Be crisp in your cold outreach. I get a lot of lazy messages like:
To drastically improve your response rate, briefly explain your credentials, provide value, and have a low-effort CTA. Here’s a hypothetical cold email:
Follow up. Be persistent and you’ll often get a response. I typically follow up at least 3x before I give up on a cold outreach.
Look in non-traditional places
Here are a few great places to look for a job:
Talent collectives. Make a profile for free and let companies find you.
VC job listings. Look on VC websites (e.g., Sequoia) or search for companies that recently raised money. Reach out to investors - they’re motivated to help their portfolio companies find good candidates.
4. Get interview ready
The old saying goes:
Success is when opportunity meets preparation.
Start getting interview ready now even if you don’t have one lined up yet.
Prepare your resume and interview answers. Write concise answers to common behavioral questions (e.g., achievement, conflict, failure). If you’re a PM, start building your frameworks for product sense, goals, and other case questions.
Get help from strangers online. Due to the economy, many experienced PMs and tech workers are willing to help strangers with resume and interview prep. You can find many posts offering help on LinkedIn.
5. Celebrate small wins
I spoke to Canadian astronaut (and my personal hero) Chris Hadfield last year and his advice should resonate with anyone who’s looking for a job:
You’ll likely face a lot of rejection job hunting in this economy. If you wait until you land a job to feel happy, it might be a while.
Instead, celebrate the small wins.
Give yourself permission to feel good when you reconnect with an old co-worker, learn from a practice interview, or send a cold email. Make progress and celebrate success on non-job related projects that you have full control over (e.g., getting fit). Appreciate the silver lining such as spending more time with your family.
To close, I’ll say this again:
You are not your job.
While work is an important part of our identity, we are so much more. We are good spouses, good parents, and (yes) even good shitposters.
If you’re looking for a job, I wish you the best of luck.
Here is a list of resources from this post:
Interview prep: Exponent
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