Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

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timboktoo
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Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by timboktoo » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:40 pm

I am a software engineer at a company that has recently had a reorganization. My boss, his boss and his boss were all laid off or forcefully repositioned. Some of my coworkers were let go. My coworkers and I are all very upset. This appears to be a cost-cutting initiative, even though the company is growing strong still. Many of the people who were let go were the best employees we had. They brought considerable value to the company.

Going to this job in the flesh has become unbearable. The atmosphere has become toxic to me. I am trying to decide what to do about it. My intuition has decided on the following course, but I wanted to run my decision by the community here, in addition to my friends and mentors, before executing on it.

My gut right now is telling me to continue to work for this company, but to do so from home. My salary is high and hard to match locally. Disconnecting myself from the building should help me avoid the toxicity of the environment. Meanwhile, I intend to learn new technologies, to reignite my passion and give myself more options for my next position. I have been developing almost exclusively in Ruby/Rails for the last 11 years. I intend to learn Node.js, MongoDB, Angular, Go and Java on the side. I already have experience with AWS, but I intend to increase that experience, as I currently have no experience with DynamoDB.

I will be purchasing a laptop of my own to do this learning on. I've already removed all personal files from my work computer and will be taking my personal things home from work as well. This separation is important for me psychologically. I was heavily invested in this company from an emotional perspective. Much of my value and self worth came from my work - from being able to provide value and being valued in return. This reorganization was quite unlike others past. By removing our top performers, they have sent a clear message to the rest of us that we are not valued for the value we bring. Whatever means they have now for determining who stays and who goes, it is not performance. I am not interested in offering the full extent of my mind to such people. They are not worthy of it. And on top of that, I do not think that they are actually interested in my mind anymore. They seem to want replaceable cogs who do the work that's assigned to them without question. So, I will give them that.

I have considered other possible choices:

1. Take a new job in the area

Pros: Healthy work environment with potentially higher stability.
Cons: Will have to immediately learn other technologies, and possibly have to use languages I find less palatable, such as C#. Will be difficult to find a job which pays as well and which has comparable benefits.

2. Take a remote job at a different company

Pros: Can use the same skills I already have and make the same pay.
Cons: Will spend much of my time learning about a new company's products, but won't be able to learn new technologies.

3. Taking a remote side job doing something new

Pros: Can learn new technologies
Cons: My relationship with my wife would likely suffer, as the demands of two jobs would decrease the time I have to spend with her and likely increase my stress.

What do you think? What would you do?

Who I am: I'm married, 35 and own a home. My wife works in the same city as well. Our family and friends are all here and we have no intention of leaving. The majority of our bills are paid via my income.

- Tim

software
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by software » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:58 pm

As a fellow software engineer I would strongly advise NOT to work remote for your current company. These type of moves usually spell the beginning of the end for a company and working remote will just make it easier to cut you next.

I would also not take on a side gig. As you mentioned, work life balance is important. Also your employer may not even allow this (mine doesn’t).

I would immediately start applying to other jobs in your area. How do you know that it will be hard to match your current comp and benefits? I’m not sure where you live but in my area (and most areas) obtaining top tech talent is extremely competitive. It’s hard to tell what your currrent market value is if you’ve been out of the market for a while. Once you get a few offers you should have a better idea where you are at. You don’t have to accept them and there is often room for negotiation.

KlangFool
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by KlangFool » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:13 pm

software wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:58 pm
As a fellow software engineer I would strongly advise NOT to work remote for your current company. These type of moves usually spell the beginning of the end for a company and working remote will just make it easier to cut you next.
software,

Please note that this may not be a bad thing. People that are cut earlier has a better severance package.

KlangFool

quantAndHold
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by quantAndHold » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:23 pm

I assume this is your first layoff. My condolences. Layoffs are often harder on the people left behind than the ones who got laid off.

As a software engineer, then software engineering lead, then manager, then middle manager who had to choose which people to let go...this is likely to not be your last layoff. I can't actually count the number of layoffs I've been through in 30 years. Some were small, just a couple of people, some were like a neutron bomb went through the place. I myself have been laid off 3 times. Sometimes the company was in financial trouble, sometimes it was a change in technical direction, and the people laid off weren't useful for the new direction.

Anyway, one of the things you need to learn to do if you want to survive and thrive in the workplace is to learn to emotionally deal with the disruption that reorgs and layoffs cause. Your managers, while they understand how hard this is for you (after all, they're going through it too) do notice who is capable of dealing with disruptive change and who isn't. The best thing you can do is get back on track and figure out what you're supposed to do next at your current job and do it. Then worry about whether or not you should change companies.

As long as you're employed, you have time to look for work. If this were me, I'd get back to work at the current job, then do a survey of your local job market. Maybe go on a couple of interviews and see what you think. But recognize that this situation is normal, will probably happen again, and work on learning how to handle it emotionally.

But yes, buying a laptop and using it at home to learn new technology is a good idea. I've gotten a couple of jobs based on work I did for "fun" at home.

pepperz
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by pepperz » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:45 pm

If you’re unhappy and the place is toxic, I’d make plans on leaving.

May as well get a paycheck from a place you feel appreciated and let your current work hire someone else who actually wants to be there.

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Flymore
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Flymore » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:05 pm

During my working years in IT, I worked from home 2 days a week plus evenings weekends, holidays and on-call.
Some of my colleagues worked from home 5 days a week. Some Monday's and Fridays. :)
It all depends on what you get from your peers when you go into the office. Do you collaborate on projects or generally work alone?
For me, it was mostly working alone.
You can learn a great deal from colleagues when your sharing information. Sure you can share information online but it's best in person.
I don't think WFH has that great an impact on whether or not your cut. Who knows why people are cut?
I was cut due to a merger/acquisition. It's much harder to get a job when you're over 50. :(

It's always a good idea to keep your options open and be flexible to move to another company or location.
I myself was inflexible to relocation, while my one friend is incredibly flexible. At the drop of a hat, he'll have over 2000 resume's out in all fifty states. Once his colleague was promoted over him, they didn't get along. Within 4 weeks, he had another job, the house sold gone. Got rid of all the furniture too. His house is always ready to sell, I must admit over the years he's done very well for himself. He averages 3 years in one location.

Have another friend who works for a company who doesn't care where he lives, so he lives in Washington state 1800 miles away from the company headquarters. They had to give him a raise cause of the demand in Washington for IT professionals.

Good Luck

aaronl
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by aaronl » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:11 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:23 pm
I assume this is your first layoff. My condolences. Layoffs are often harder on the people left behind than the ones who got laid off.

As a software engineer, then software engineering lead, then manager, then middle manager who had to choose which people to let go...this is likely to not be your last layoff. I can't actually count the number of layoffs I've been through in 30 years. Some were small, just a couple of people, some were like a neutron bomb went through the place. I myself have been laid off 3 times. Sometimes the company was in financial trouble, sometimes it was a change in technical direction, and the people laid off weren't useful for the new direction.

Anyway, one of the things you need to learn to do if you want to survive and thrive in the workplace is to learn to emotionally deal with the disruption that reorgs and layoffs cause. Your managers, while they understand how hard this is for you (after all, they're going through it too) do notice who is capable of dealing with disruptive change and who isn't. The best thing you can do is get back on track and figure out what you're supposed to do next at your current job and do it. Then worry about whether or not you should change companies.

As long as you're employed, you have time to look for work. If this were me, I'd get back to work at the current job, then do a survey of your local job market. Maybe go on a couple of interviews and see what you think. But recognize that this situation is normal, will probably happen again, and work on learning how to handle it emotionally.

But yes, buying a laptop and using it at home to learn new technology is a good idea. I've gotten a couple of jobs based on work I did for "fun" at home.
I have to second this advice.

The first few layoffs I experienced in my career upset me. They made me question the company's future prospects. The victims of the layoffs didn't seem like the right people to let go based on my impressions at the time.

Later, I worked for a company that was far too reluctant to lay off or fire employees. I saw that lead to serious problems. It gave me a new understanding of why layoffs happen and a grudging respect for the process.

Even at healthy companies, layoffs are usually a fact of life. Finding ways to get past your discomfort will help you in your career.

killjoy2012
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by killjoy2012 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:12 pm

OP - It sounds like we work at the same company, and I'm honestly wondering since we have a major presence in your city!

Your #1 and #2 choices are your best bet. The TLDR version is that you're an "at will" employee, and while it sucks, the reality is that if the environment is that toxic, it's best to just leave on your terms. That's easier said than done sometimes based on job level, comp package, the economy, etc. But I personally wouldn't trod along naively thinking that everything will suddenly be wonderful "tomorrow" where you're at.

As someone else said, while you may want to WFH to get some separation, that's likely to put you on the next wave of layoffs. I would continue your normal op model, maybe even doing small things that would seem to indicate being more dedicated (e.g. come in a bit earlier, stay later, etc.). In the mean time, start looking for your next role outside the company. Be very careful when "removing personal files" -- many large companies have sophisticated monitoring in place watching all of that data movement. If they are truly personal files (HR items, reviews, etc.) - no problem. But don't even think of copying code, or other company work products to some USB device or webmail. Otherwise, you may find yourself in world of hurt when it comes time to separate from the company.

In terms of tech, I think it's great you want to learn some new/additional things. My thoughts would be to focus a bit - your list includes front end tech, backend, IaaS, etc. Pick one and focus. And no, I wouldn't look for a second side job etc... rather put that effort into development/learning outside of work that would make you more appealing during the next job interview.

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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:36 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum.
timboktoo wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:40 pm
I am a software engineer at a company that has recently had a reorganization. My boss, his boss and his boss were all laid off or forcefully repositioned. Some of my coworkers were let go. My coworkers and I are all very upset. This appears to be a cost-cutting initiative, even though the company is growing strong still. Many of the people who were let go were the best employees we had. They brought considerable value to the company.

Going to this job in the flesh has become unbearable. The atmosphere has become toxic to me. I am trying to decide what to do about it. My intuition has decided on the following course, but I wanted to run my decision by the community here, in addition to my friends and mentors, before executing on it.

My gut right now is telling me to continue to work for this company, but to do so from home. My salary is high and hard to match locally. Disconnecting myself from the building should help me avoid the toxicity of the environment...
Go with your gut feeling and continue to work for this company. If you haven't been laid off yet, I'd say your skills are highly valued and the new management considers you worthwhile to keep on.

You don't change jobs to solve a culture problem. If you don't like what you do and see no room for change, then leave. Otherwise, stay and work through the current environment. Eventually, things will settle down and the toxic environment will no longer be a concern.

As long as you continue to like what you do, do everything possible to stay.

Working remotely will be seen in a negative light and will reduce your stature among your peers.

Have you considered talking to your new manager and expressed your concerns? He/she is new and may not even be aware of what's going on. If you bring this topic up discretely and state your concerns factually, you may be surprised at what can happen.

Don't blame anyone, just say the environment is disruptive and you can't get your work done. Can you please help me out?

It's the job of your manager to support you (and vice versa). The last thing a manger needs to hear is that someone is leaving and they didn't know about it. Let him/her work with you to figure this out. You'll come out with a much better relationship which can only help in the long term.

(Don't say you want to leave - that would be bad.)

By all means, purchase a laptop for home use. I'm surprised you don't have one already. Have you considered volunteering your time to contribute to one of the many thousands of open source projects?

You'll sharpen your skills and get connected with the developers. It's a great way to forget your frustrations at work and focus on meaningful work that helps people. (Like phpBB - what runs this forum.)
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

1nv3s70r
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by 1nv3s70r » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:52 pm

Yes, definitely don't quit your job without having another in hand. The good news is that good software engineers are very much in demand, so it should not be too hard to find a different job you enjoy (and likely with much better comp, if you haven't moved in years).

Given what you're describing you need to make finding a new job your top priority. Get your skills up to date quickly - if you are working primarily with Ruby/Rails, and don't have experience with newer frameworks, build up at least the basic knowledge. Get some personal projects up on github with the new stacks that you may be able to showcase.

Best of luck!
I am Boglehead, hear my investments roar

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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Amphian » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:31 pm

I'm another software engineer who was laid off recently (but at a different location, so probably a different company). Over my career, I've seen periodic layoffs to get rid of a bunch people that they don't want to fire, layoffs because of mergers, layoffs when a particular function of the company is being eliminated, etc., but my last layoff sounds a bit like yours - everyone good let go and the cheapest person on each team kept to "keep the lights on" without any thought as to what's going to happen when that doesn't work anymore. Yours is the third company I have heard of doing something like this in the last month, where the layoffs don't seem to actually align with the company goals, unless the new goal is "Forget about any other goals, how low can we go on wages?"

If your company is behind the times enough to consider working from home as a negative by default (and there are definitely still dinosaur companies like that out there), you probably don't want to work from home. If they are a more modern company, it shouldn't be an issue, especially if you start with part time at home. This can depend heavily on your boss and your team as to how feasible it is. I worked from home (starting with three days per week and moving to five days per week) for five years and through multiple layoffs until this last one.

If you don't have experience working remotely, I highly recommend getting it with this company if it's feasible, since you are already thinking of leaving. This will let you know if working remote is something you can do well (It's not a good match for everyone.) and help you decide if your option #2 - remote work for a new company - is likely to work out for you. If you like working remote, I would go with #2 if you decide you do want to leave your current company, although maybe working from home for your current company will turn out to suit you well enough that you decide to stay. If remote isn't your cup of tea, I would do #1 and look locally.

The advantage to #3 is that you can use it to force yourself to learn something new - no wondering what would be a good project to use to learn "NewTechX". The downside is it's going to be very stressful having an old job you don't like and a new job where you are trying to learn something ASAP for a new assignment. I would think #1 or #2 is a better option.

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Watty
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Watty » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:31 pm

As others have said insisting on working at home will come across as being sulky and could be a career limiting move.

I retired out of IT so my knowledge may be a bit dated but what I would suggest would be to start looking for a new local job to see what is available right now since you can be selective in accepting a job. Once you see the types of jobs that are actually available that may help you decide what to do and something may pop up that your would not have even thought of.

Be sure to keep in contact with your old bosses. They may find a new management position somewhere else soon and be looking for some good people to hire. It may be considered inappropriate for them to contact you about a job but if you contact them without being solicited that could be entirely different.

It is also a lot easier to find a job while you still have one. If you get laid off or quit then you might be forced to accept a less than ideal job and there can be a stigma like there was a good reason that you were chosen to be the one laid off.

Frankly with as upset as you are then, right or wrong, it sounds like there would be good reason brand you as being difficult to work with to let you go in more house cleaning.

Once you have been out of work for six months you will find it harder to even get interviews.

I would look for a position where you can be valuable with your current skill but also learn new skills working on projects with your new company.

Learning new skills on your own may be possible but until you actually have some real world experience with it I suspect that you will have a hard time finding someone that will hire you to do it.

The problem is that in addition to being able to hire someone with work experience in the new skill a hiring manager may also be able to hire someone else that just went through school and got good grades in classes teaching that subject. Hiring someone that is self taught would be a lot riskier.

The person right out of school will also be willing to work for entry level wages. Even if you are willing to take a pay cut to an entry level salary to get a job few companies will make an offer like that to someone with ten+ experience.

visualguy
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by visualguy » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:54 pm

Watty wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:31 pm
Learning new skills on your own may be possible but until you actually have some real world experience with it I suspect that you will have a hard time finding someone that will hire you to do it.

The problem is that in addition to being able to hire someone with work experience in the new skill a hiring manager may also be able to hire someone else that just went through school and got good grades in classes teaching that subject. Hiring someone that is self taught would be a lot riskier.

The person right out of school will also be willing to work for entry level wages. Even if you are willing to take a pay cut to an entry level salary to get a job few companies will make an offer like that to someone with ten+ experience.
Very true... It's indeed pretty hard to re-invent yourself with significant new software engineering skills and get hired for that as an older engineer. It's typically much easier to get hired based on your existing proven expertise. If that's out of fashion or not in much demand for whatever reason, things do get challenging... It's one of the main reasons careers in this field rarely last much longer than 20 years. Not impossible to keep it going, but you really need to love it and invest a lot in keeping it going, and it seems common to run out of steam for that sometime in the 40s. Some people prolong their careers by switching to product management or some other roles where it isn't so hard to move from one thing to another.

gotester2000
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by gotester2000 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:30 pm

Avoid going into negative spiral - focus on your life,family and work. Avoid reading too many articles on work,finance and life - it distracts you from pursuing happiness.

I would not think too much and focus on my daily routine - the job brings resources for your daily needs - if you get laid off,move to the next one - there is no perfect job and anywhere you go, the same situation exists - learn to adapt.

KeepinItPositive
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by KeepinItPositive » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:43 pm

Keep your head up-- so long as you are with this company, try to focus and continue adding value to them. Don't make it easy for them to cut you next by acting unprofessionally during this difficult time.

Best wishes, I went through a similar thing when the economy tanked and its definitely tough. For me, I kept working hard so I could leave on my time table, not theirs. I found a job a few months later, left on good terms, and got a nice pay raise to boot. I still regret not getting to work longer with my team though, but it helped me better understand the business side of things.

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Watty
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Watty » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:11 am

visualguy wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:54 pm
It's one of the main reasons careers in this field rarely last much longer than 20 years. Not impossible to keep it going, but you really need to love it and invest a lot in keeping it going, and it seems common to run out of steam for that sometime in the 40s. Some people prolong their careers by switching to product management or some other roles where it isn't so hard to move from one thing to another.
I manage to last 35 years mostly in corporate IT as a software developer. I retired out of a large IT department with over a hundred people and the amazing thing was that I was the very first person to voluntary retire out of the IT department.

The company has been around for a long time in one form or another but with mergers and reorganizations the older IT workers had always been pushed out or left on their own.

I was always a hands on techie since I did not have the right personality to go into management and I hated it the few times I tried it. For the last ten years of my career I was doing more support than development and my company and industry specific knowledge was more valuable than my technical skills.

My impression was that after I gave my two weeks notice that I was retiring there were some closed door management meetings with them trying to figure out what sort of retirement lunch and gift was appropriate since this had never happened before.

There had been some other people that retired after getting laid off and getting a severance package and I had been sort of hoping for that but that never happened.

One more thought for the OP. With multiple levels of bosses leaving it might be possible that they did not get totally screwed and kicked out the door. It is also possible that when the management was getting ready to make the changes that they were given the choice of taking a nice severance package or sticking around in a changed roll. They may have gladly taken a severance package. I have seen that happen before where people at the director and VP level manipulated a situation to get an apparently large severance package for themselves in a merger even though it left problems behind.

wdr1
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by wdr1 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:35 am

Watty wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:31 pm
Learning new skills on your own may be possible but until you actually have some real world experience with it I suspect that you will have a hard time finding someone that will hire you to do it.

The problem is that in addition to being able to hire someone with work experience in the new skill a hiring manager may also be able to hire someone else that just went through school and got good grades in classes teaching that subject. Hiring someone that is self taught would be a lot riskier.

The person right out of school will also be willing to work for entry level wages. Even if you are willing to take a pay cut to an entry level salary to get a job few companies will make an offer like that to someone with ten+ experience.
So I **completely** disagree here.

At the outset of your career, you primary value might be a specific technical skill, but over time that's going to be a small part of your skill set.

Languages come & go, as do tech stacks & what not. Things that don't: Design skills. Algorithms. Data structures. How to build scalable systems. Understanding how to test software (including writing software to make it testable). How to prioritize your time. How to work in a team. How to lead a team. How to clarify a vision. How to launch a successful product. How to iterate on a successful product. How to manage up the chain. How to work with non-technical peers. The ability to manage BFS vs DFS as you learn new things. Basic GSD.

If you're someone with 10+ years to the table, you're bringing a lot more to the table than just "I know X."

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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by b.lock » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:37 am

I am a software engineer. My general advice is that learning new technologies to the point where you can speak about them competently during an interview is always a good thing to do. Look at job postings and Dice surveys to see what most employers are looking for.

To management, these layoffs may be a very impersonal and logical thing, and they may even think the engineers will agree with their choices. To engineers, these layoffs seem very personal and like management is out to get them.
timboktoo wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:40 pm
They have sent a clear message to the rest of us that we are not valued for the value we bring. Whatever means they have now for determining who stays and who goes, it is not performance. I am not interested in offering the full extent of my mind to such people. They are not worthy of it. And on top of that, I do not think that they are actually interested in my mind anymore. They seem to want replaceable cogs who do the work that's assigned to them without question. So, I will give them that.
My thoughts after reading your post is that you are taking this personally. I understand that you are upset, but unless you talk to the people that made this decision, you can't possibly know what's going on in their head.

You should consider that management let a lot of people go, but not you, which is good, and there's probably a good reason for that. You should also talk to your boss about how you feel. Maybe you shouldn't mention that you want to work from home in order to learn new skills to get a new job, but you should at least mention that you are heavily invested in the company and the layoffs have left you feeling as though you are not valued.

tony5412
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by tony5412 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:00 am

wdr1 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:35 am
Languages come & go, as do tech stacks & what not. Things that don't: Design skills. Algorithms. Data structures. How to build scalable systems. Understanding how to test software (including writing software to make it testable). How to prioritize your time. How to work in a team. How to lead a team. How to clarify a vision. How to launch a successful product. How to iterate on a successful product. How to manage up the chain. How to work with non-technical peers. The ability to manage BFS vs DFS as you learn new things. Basic GSD.

If you're someone with 10+ years to the table, you're bringing a lot more to the table than just "I know X."
That is true. As long as you have the fundamentals down, you should be able to easily pick up any programming language. However, most employers seem to be more concerned with tools rather than real world results.

tony5412
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by tony5412 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:04 am

Watty wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:11 am
I was always a hands on techie since I did not have the right personality to go into management and I hated it the few times I tried it. For the last ten years of my career I was doing more support than development and my company and industry specific knowledge was more valuable than my technical skills.
Good to see an example of someone who managed to build a long term career in this field without having to go into (or stay in your case) in management. I don't think I would like it either. I wouldn't doubt that one reason most people who are techies become techies is because they don't want to deal with the BS that managers usually deal with.

Shikoku
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Shikoku » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:15 am

Keeping your present job and reading some books such as the following might be a good idea.

Working with Difficult People
https://www.amazon.com/Working-Difficul ... 0143111876

Dealing with People You Can't Stand
https://www.amazon.com/Dealing-People-S ... 0071785728
"I don't worry too much about pointing fingers at the past. I operate on the theory that every saint has a past, every sinner has a future." -- Warren Buffett

gotester2000
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by gotester2000 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:36 am

tony5412 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:04 am
Watty wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:11 am
I was always a hands on techie since I did not have the right personality to go into management and I hated it the few times I tried it. For the last ten years of my career I was doing more support than development and my company and industry specific knowledge was more valuable than my technical skills.
Good to see an example of someone who managed to build a long term career in this field without having to go into (or stay in your case) in management. I don't think I would like it either. I wouldn't doubt that one reason most people who are techies become techies is because they don't want to deal with the BS that managers usually deal with.
I was a core techie who tried management in the end for a while and realized that I cant stand both anymore - difficult to stay self motivated above 40. I realized that management is also a very high stress role - getting results from people was not my cup of tea.
I just wanted a simple work profile in an individual role - money stopped to matter.

gsmith
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by gsmith » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:32 am

A couple points

- You might be able to leverage your skills with their vendors if there's a healthy ecosystem... If you enjoy and know their ERP's API, you might be able to be an easy sell for a recruiter for the same responsibilities without the drama.
- If the company uses outdated tech, the more your specialization in their stack is worth to them, and less to others. (COBOL?)
- Consider publishing articles/answering questions on the message board of vendors.. I've gotten AWESOME job referrals that have changed my career.
- You should only have as much loyalty to a company as their management has in you.
- The best salary jumps in your career are from job-changing.
- There lots of age discrimination in this market due to stereotyping and a desire to not put up with drama as one gets older... Get as much cash as you can get, specialize and start consulting in an area no one else is in.
- Know when to get out. There will be a day when the stress will literally take a increasing toll on you and hold your breath until that day and not look back with regret when it comes.

Good Luck

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Cycle
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Cycle » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:46 am

I've survived 5 or 6 rounds of layoffs in the last ten years. One of those years 50% was layed off, then mgmt hired the same amount back the next year... Total incompetence.

I keep no personal affects at work, besides my engineering alumni coffee mug and a picture of my wife and dog.

I am constantly training on the side in areas I want to improve through Udacity and Coursera. I've found fulfillment outside megacorp through a duplex rennovation and managing that. It's nice to have the income from investments and duplex so our megacorp jobs aren't 100% of income.

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djpeteski
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by djpeteski » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:12 am

Also a software engineer and based on what you said, I would give it a few weeks. Sure learn some new things, but give it a few weeks, and then make a decision.

A company I worked for did this famously a few years back. They hired an outside consulting company, and they laid off everyone who has been in their position less than x amount of time. This meant that those who were newly promoted ("up and comers") were laid off. In a few cases, some people won the highest achievement award, which is a huge accomplishment, were promoted and then laid off a few weeks later. One guy I knew personally bleed the company color was laid off. IMHO if that company was to have one employee, he should have been it. It was a total boondoggle.

From a very Machiavellian point of you it was really good for those that survived. The company realized the error of its ways, a few months later, and were looking for replacements for the laid off superstars. I should point out that this was not a big growth company, so in your case could be greatly exaggerated in your company.

It may be best for you to lean in not draw back. While I understand how much it sucks to lose good friends at work, but could you fill your director spot in a few years? Maybe. Its hard to know which is why I say give it a few weeks.

BTW my opinion on MongoDB is that it is terrible and should never be used in a product. I guess it is good in that one does not have to know SQL, but there is no referential integrity so all you have is a non-normal form DB causing redundancy and inaccurate reporting. Heck just put it in a flat file if that is all you need.

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Watty
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Watty » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:26 am

tony5412 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:00 am
wdr1 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:35 am
Languages come & go, as do tech stacks & what not. Things that don't: Design skills. Algorithms. Data structures. How to build scalable systems. Understanding how to test software (including writing software to make it testable). How to prioritize your time. How to work in a team. How to lead a team. How to clarify a vision. How to launch a successful product. How to iterate on a successful product. How to manage up the chain. How to work with non-technical peers. The ability to manage BFS vs DFS as you learn new things. Basic GSD.

If you're someone with 10+ years to the table, you're bringing a lot more to the table than just "I know X."
That is true. As long as you have the fundamentals down, you should be able to easily pick up any programming language. However, most employers seem to be more concerned with tools rather than real world results.
One big obstacle when looking for a new job is getting past the HR department that may screen applications and resumes to make sure that all the required experience boxes are checked. Of course the best way to get a job is to somehow bypass the HR department but that is not always possible.

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Top99%
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Top99% » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:28 am

I survived an average of one layoff every 2 years over a 33 year career in first software test and later (starting in 2009) cyber security.
Emotionally, I found it helpful to watch war movies / documentaries because they really put things in perspective for me. As for avoiding getting laid off:
1) I tried to skate where the puck was going skills-wise. In other words, try and look down the road and see what skills will be marketable and get them before the masses do. For SW engineering, I strongly believe SDLC (Secure Development Life Cycle) skills will increasingly be in demand. Now is a great time to acquire those. isc2.org and owasp.org are a great place to start.
2) I did my best to be a low maintenance employee and always keep my commitments.
3) Luck is a factor. I would be kidding myself if I didn't acknowledge that. People far more talented than I am have been caught in lay offs I have avoided by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Adapt or perish

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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by an_asker » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:03 am

wdr1 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:35 am
[...]Languages come & go, as do tech stacks & what not. Things that don't: Design skills. Algorithms. Data structures. How to build scalable systems. Understanding how to test software (including writing software to make it testable). How to prioritize your time. How to work in a team. How to lead a team. How to clarify a vision. How to launch a successful product. How to iterate on a successful product. How to manage up the chain. How to work with non-technical peers. The ability to manage BFS vs DFS as you learn new things. Basic GSD.

If you're someone with 10+ years to the table, you're bringing a lot more to the table than just "I know X."
I agree with you. OP's company and many others (including mine) don't.

ColinFCodeChef
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by ColinFCodeChef » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:20 am

Get a new job - this should be the obvious answer, given how unhappy you are.

It is astounding to think that your current job is hard to match, without any more information to support this. It may surprise you to learn that many companies pay top rate, even in LCOL areas. Many tech companies work entirely remote. The amount and type of work in this economy would amaze you - as would the salaries.

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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by bling » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:34 am

timboktoo wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:40 pm
I am a software engineer at a company that has recently had a reorganization. My boss, his boss and his boss were all laid off or forcefully repositioned. Some of my coworkers were let go. My coworkers and I are all very upset. This appears to be a cost-cutting initiative, even though the company is growing strong still. Many of the people who were let go were the best employees we had. They brought considerable value to the company.

...

My gut right now is telling me to continue to work for this company, but to do so from home. My salary is high and hard to match locally.
these two statements are contradictory. if the company is strapped for cash you would be on the list as well. you're probably being paid market rate or even under. go look for a job now to get an understanding of what you're actually worth.

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timboktoo
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by timboktoo » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:42 pm

Thank you all very much for taking the time to give advice. There is much to think about.

- Tim

Nyc10036
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Nyc10036 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:36 pm

an_asker wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:03 am
wdr1 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:35 am
[...]Languages come & go, as do tech stacks & what not. Things that don't: Design skills. Algorithms. Data structures. How to build scalable systems. Understanding how to test software (including writing software to make it testable). How to prioritize your time. How to work in a team. How to lead a team. How to clarify a vision. How to launch a successful product. How to iterate on a successful product. How to manage up the chain. How to work with non-technical peers. The ability to manage BFS vs DFS as you learn new things. Basic GSD.

If you're someone with 10+ years to the table, you're bringing a lot more to the table than just "I know X."
I agree with you. OP's company and many others (including mine) don't.
Amen to that.
All of those skills mentioned aren't easily quantifiable if at all.
Whereas the salary of a 50-year old employee is a number anyone can understand and plug into a spreadsheet.

ColinFCodeChef
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by ColinFCodeChef » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:09 am

Nyc10036 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:36 pm
an_asker wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:03 am
wdr1 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:35 am
[...]Languages come & go, as do tech stacks & what not. Things that don't: Design skills. Algorithms. Data structures....

If you're someone with 10+ years to the table, you're bringing a lot more to the table than just "I know X."
I agree with you. OP's company and many others (including mine) don't.
Amen to that.
All of those skills mentioned aren't easily quantifiable if at all.
Whereas the salary of a 50-year old employee is a number anyone can understand and plug into a spreadsheet.
Companies which don't value the skill set of a seasoned employee are overwhelmingly those which will underpay and undervalue you! This field has opportunities which are unprecedented - if you understand how to network and specialize.

Here is a great article which speaks to many of the (incorrect) assumptions in this thread: https://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/do ... rogrammer/

Nyc10036
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by Nyc10036 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:16 am

ColinFCodeChef wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:09 am
Companies which don't value the skill set of a seasoned employee are overwhelmingly those which will underpay and undervalue you! This field has opportunities which are unprecedented - if you understand how to network and specialize.
Easier said than done.

I kept a personal email address of a co-worker from 2 years.
An email I sent to him went unanswered.
I am guessing that that email is no longer in service.

I suppose you mean LinkedIn?

I always find it interesting that the job seeker is always the one looked down on because they don't know how to "network".
It is their fault that they are not finding a job.

My personal experience is that most employers concerned with $.
And I don't enough people to network into a job.
I have never found a job in 30 years by networking.

I have vast experience, but most employers rather pay mulitple technicians at $15/hour than 1 of me.

ColinFCodeChef
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Re: Seeking career advice - Software Engineer

Post by ColinFCodeChef » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:30 am

Nyc10036 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:16 am
ColinFCodeChef wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:09 am
Companies which don't value the skill set of a seasoned employee are overwhelmingly those which will underpay and undervalue you! This field has opportunities which are unprecedented - if you understand how to network and specialize.
Easier said than done.
....

My personal experience is that employers concerned with $.
And I don't enough people to network into a job.
I have never found a job in 30 years by networking.
One thing that is key in my quote is networking - it isn't just for TCP Packets. If you have a career, there should be more than 1 person who has heard of you. hopefully some of them remember your work favorably. If not, there are meetups, you could join mailing lists in technology which you enjoy personally. A personal brand can be built through blogging or conferences.

The second actionable item is specialization . For example, learning about TensorFlow for Machine Learning in Python and marketing oneself in a niche as "The Expert in Unsupervised Learning algorithm for X". The ability to speak competently about the cutting edge of our field would win some major points with good companies that are not looking specifically for "5 years of X" already on a resume.

It is incredibly shortsighted to focus only on a day job which isn't going to give deliberate practice and in fact could stagnate one's skill set.

Networking and specialization are long term career enhancing traits which pay off down the road. If one is already far into one's career without consciously crafting these, then it will be more difficult.

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