Posted 22 May 2024

I lost my job in March and I’ve been slowly starting to look for my next thing. I’ve been talking to other folks who’ve been laid off to get a sense of the job market — and the stories they’re sharing give me flashbacks to twenty years ago. Postings for jobs that don’t seem to exist, all sorts of shenanigans to hide that fact, recruiters who don’t even want to forward prospects to the client, and a new level of hell from the tech interview process.

Back in 2019, Heidi Waterhouse and I did an impromptu session at Write Speak Code about being ready for the next recession. Many of the attendees were still earlier in their careers, and the topic came up in our conversations. Much like the dot com bust, there’s a lot of things happening in the industry that seem entirely self-inflicted and of course the people who suffer most had nothing to do with how we got here. It’s going to take time for this to shake out, and I hate that for all of us.

Here’s some of what we talked about at that event, I hope it helps you all find a way to get through this.

If you still have a job, don’t panic. This is a good time to get your finances in order, take advantange of medical insurance and other benefits, and check in with friends to see how they’re faring. Know what your situation is going to be if you do get hit by layoffs. Don’t kill yourself trying to cover for all the staffing gaps.

For those of you at the start of your career — it’s going to take longer to get off the ground. Don’t feel like you’re setting things back by taking other kinds of work (it took me months and months just to get one-day temp jobs answering phones). Sooner or later the industry will get its head out of its ass about this AI stuff and need people to help clean up.

If you’re further along in your career, jobs do exist it’s just going to take way, way longer to land something that fits your skills. It’s not you, it’s them. Do what you need to. But it’s ok to take this as an opportunity for a career change, and you might be able to find local programs that help you with that. Changing directions doesn’t mean you failed.

Keep in touch with your former coworkers, and other friends in the industry. When hiring picks up again (and it will), we’ll all be working together to get folks into new roles.

Also — file for unemployment, get on SNAP if you need to, sign up for the health insurance credits at, and take advantage of any programs that will help keep you afloat. Those resources are for everyone.

More from Heidi:

  • Timebox your jobsearch. If you don’t do that, you will spend all day either looking for a job or feeling like you should be looking for a job. It’s soul-killing.

  • Help other people. If you can’t stand another minute of scrolling through LinkedIn looking at all the people who you respect who are out of work, stop. Use that time to write recommendations for them instead. Or write TO them and tell them you’re thinking of them.

  • It is paradoxically hard to get things done when you’re unemployed. You always thought you were going to blog more if you had more time, right? A big part of the problem is that you’ve lost external routines. Do your best to set up some new routines. If you can’t hold yourself to them, get a buddy.

  • Full-time is not the only kind of work. Think about what the most fun, rewarding parts of your job were. Those are probably the things you’re best at. Is there a way to do just that as a service?

  • I’m sorry, friends. It’s hard, and dispiriting, and yeah, scary. But it’s also not forever. Even though it feels like it.

Fellow tech recession survivors (especially you gen Xers out there) — if you have your own advice to share, email me and I’ll add to this.

Good luck. 💕

Past | Random