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Ask HN: So I'm being let go
85 points by 404error on Dec 18, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 77 comments
After 10 years at my local newspaper (I'm 30 now) I think I will be facing the chopping block in the coming months. I'm nervous, scared, and somewhat excited.

Nervous because my whole adult life has been spent in between these walls. Scared because I don't have a degree and at 30 I'm competing with younger, new grads. Somewhat excited because it will force me out of my comfort zone.

I got married in June of this year so that adds extra pressure since I am now a provider. Luckily, I dont have any kids, yet, to have to worry about.

I've spend the last decade working with HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and a suite of other tools. I've built banner ads for advertisers, booked online campaigns in various platforms Google DFP, Yahoo APT. I'm a jack of all trades master of none. I've always taken that as an insult rather than a compliment. I hear it as "your mediocre at a bunch of things...not really good at anything."

So HN, what advice do you have for a 30 year old who's about to embark on a new adventure?

The one thing I always tell anyone on the job hunt, which few ever seem to take me up on: Informational Interviews.

These are informal "can I take you out to coffee?" talks with people in your industry to see what they are working on, what is happening with them, what is going on in the industry. Every job I have ever gotten is through informal meetings with people I have met through my network (whether its the current newspaper, your friends, parents, relatives, or other).

At the end of every one I ask: "Is there anyone else you think I should talk to?" and "Do you currently have any opportunities at your company for me?". Rinse repeat.

I guarantee investing in 30 informational interviews will yield huge dividends vs. 30 career fairs, a personal pitch deck, starting a blog, dusting off your resume, or God Forbid: applying to jobs through Linkedin.

Likewise. I'm not 30 but at this point I've cracked through a wall where I'm blessed to be surrounded by a large number of contacts who can give me a job should I ask. As a small addendum to this. It's a two way street. I've made a lot of matches between those looking for the job and those looking for someone to fill the job role. Participated in tech meetups in a supportive role (organising, giving talks), and have met and helped startups and other tech people through feedback and the occasional 'introduction' to someone else. This has all generated a large network of people whom I interact with on a casual basis. We don't look at only getting favours from each other. Instead we've become a group of friends that can grab a coffee at any time and chill out as well.

Downside to that. It was NOT overnight.

So with respect to the OP's question and regarding the informational interview approach, there's one thing I have discovered that surprised me. How many acquaintances I haven't spoken with in years are actually willing to jump in and help me if I open up to them asking for it. Pretty amazing that :)

> Every job I have ever gotten is through informal meetings with people I have met through my network

Same. Maybe not directly from that meeting, but all of the best offers I've received have come through my network around the local startup scene.

Another bit of advice I give is try new platforms before they're popular. For example, it was easy to get noticed as an applicant on AngelList in 2012-2013. If I were for looking for a dev job today, I'd start with Triplebyte or Hired.

On a related note, I don't believe in job fairs, but I find value in niche job boards. Product Hunt has a nice aggregated list of some of the top remote job lists for example: https://www.producthunt.com/e/find-a-remote-job.

(I've had really good luck with LinkedIn.)

I've had good luck with Hacker News FWIW.

Go on ...

I've had good luck with LinkedIn. You get a lot of volume, and the quality is not always great. However, it is easy to sort through it and find good stuff. It isn't a big deal to turn down unappealing offers, right?

Do you hit up recruiters or stakeholders at companies?

> Scared because I don't have a degree and at 30 I'm competing with younger, new grads.

10 years work experience > fresh grad with a degree that has no idea what lies ahead. You know the ins and outs of companies, the kind of people you deal with, you don't throw tantrums, deadlines are deadlines.

> I've built banner ads for advertisers, booked online campaigns in various platforms Google DFP, Yahoo APT.

Yep, experience in different platforms is a huge plus.

> I'm a jack of all trades master of none. I've always taken that as an insult rather than a compliment. I hear it as "your mediocre at a bunch of things...not really good at anything."

I hear it as "I know that much, too much." Being a jack of all trades means you know enough to move around. Your wide range of experience allows you to look for a wider range of jobs. You are more flexible to position change. You are no stranger to being moved across projects, across people, across locations.

> what advice do you have for a 30 year old who's about to embark on a new adventure?

- Read up on the latest trends. Most job interviews will have questions about them (though the job itself may not actually use the latest tech).

- Be sharp, concise and confident in job interviews. I've heard from my co-workers who do the interviews for new candidates. They find resumes good, but they fail candidates because they were terrible at interviews.

- Up the ante. Take up higher positions. You probably make a good project manager with that 10 years around people.

I wouldn't be so optimistic about the "jack of all trades" point. The problem there is that, as a generalist, that's one less leg up you'll have on new grads (who are also usually interviewing for generalist positions).

Someone with ten years' experience shouldn't be applying for the same jack-of-all trades positions as fresh grads. He should be applying for positions where a few years experience keeping a revenue-generating site going is a minimum requirement.

Well there are two possibilities. You can work a job for 10 years but if you learned the duties of the job in 6 months and just went on auto-pilot for the next 9.5 you're gonna be in the same boat as new grads. On the other hand if you learned and advanced in your field over those 10 years, then yes you will be looking for higher level jobs than entry-level code monkey jobs.

I had two "jack of all of all trades, master of none" for a cumulative of 5 years out of college.

Life got considerably better as I started specializing towards a track of Front End Development. There's a huge gulf between being the guy who can write spaghetti JS and CSS to developer but its doable, although it was much easier 6 years ago when left the Jack-Of-All-Trades. I'd suggest picking a part of your skill set if you have extended downtime and trying to level up. Having a broad skillset won't hurt you, but not having anything technical will.

Disclaimer: Twice your age and just getting warmed up.

So I'm being let go

Congratulations. Being let go can sometimes be a badge of honor. Anyone who has never been let go has never pushed the envelope enough.

After 10 years at my local newspaper

Wow, that's way too long for anyone, anywhere. Be glad that this is working out that way for you. It's not the 10 years at one place that's the problem, it's all the other stuff you missed by being in that shelter. Now's your chance to discover cool things you may have missed.

I'm nervous, scared, and somewhat excited.

Change "somewhat" to "very". You should be.

I'm competing with younger, new grads.

No, you're not and you shouldn't think of it that way. There's plenty to go around for everyone.

it will force me out of my comfort zone

Good! That's the best way to grow.

I'm a jack of all trades master of none.

So am I. And it's worked very, very well for me. We have too many specialists and not nearly enough people who can visualize the forest and the trees at the same time. They are the ones who make big things happen.

I've always taken that as an insult rather than a compliment.

Wrong. See above.

So HN, what advice do you have for a 30 year old who's about to embark on a new adventure?

Have fun. Stop worrying. Find something you love and give it a shot. At 30, you're still a baby and you have opportunities that you may not have in 5 or 10 years. This is a blessing in disguise. Treat it that way.

Very, very well said.

>> I'm a jack of all trades master of none. >> I've always taken that as an insult rather than a compliment.

"Specialization is for insects", Heinlein.

I was recently made redundant. I had a 3 month notice period. In that time, I learnt Python and Django and built https://parsemail.org using it. I also set up https://hireme.grepular.com with a list of my skills.

The company who hired me were impressed at my skills list (after they'd questioned me on some of it to make sure I wasn't exagerating). They were also very happy to see a lot of very recent work on Github (parsemail.org). They ended up hiring me for a JavaScript role, even though that was far from the strongest thing on my CV, because they believed I could be effective.

So my recommendation is: Be pro-active. Build and learn stuff over the coming months. It will give you more confidence and stuff to talk about in interviews, and it will make you look good.

Impressive work - but just wanted to say that the FOUC (flash of unstyle content) on your site parsemail is really rough. Cool service though

That happens because I load CSS asynchronously. I'm happy with the trade off.

There are 3 major steps to getting a job (IMO).

1st) Resume + story. Search google for 'Harvard Computer Science Resume' or 'Georgia Tech Computer Science resume' and use their format. There are standard formats that are widely used for top jobs. You then need to get ready for behavioral interviews. This involves getting a minimum of 3-5 PAR stories ready and to think hard about all the stuff you have done over 10 years. Practice them.

2nd) You need to prep for technical interviews. I'm not a coder, but in my field (finance) there is a lot of material available. I know I have seen stuff about technical interviews here.

3rd) Network. Obviously LinkedIn is extremely helpful for locating contacts. Search for past people from the Newspaper, your high school, any groups you are in. For education, I would probably leave it blank rather than putting a high school on there so it doesn't draw attention to you not having a degree.

It will be extremely hard for you to get a job via a career posting. You will need to reach out to friends and ask them for 'advice' and if they know of anyone that you should talk to in their company.

Expect this process to take 4 months. It seems like forever, but it will take a while. That will be fine. Once you have your new gig, you will be in an exciting new industry.

Source: I just got hired by another large company after a search after shutting down my business.

Sorry to be a pain but for #1 could you provide a quick example of these? Googling these appears to return a bunch of results but I can't really see a great deal of consistency.

edit: I found a harvard guide at http://ocs.fas.harvard.edu/files/ocs/files/hes-resume-cover-... but the GA Tech style seems a little more elusive

I gave a few examples, but as long as you use one from a really good school you won't have a problem. If you decide to use a template from word, you will have a bad time. The biggest error I have seen people make is to use a multi-page resume for non-research job in the US. In Europe I think multi-page is more standard (please correct me if I am wrong).

It is time to specialize. You say you're a jack of all trades, but you probably have to spend a bit more time thinking about what are you a master on, because I don't believe you haven't become a master on something after 10 years working in the same place.

You might not be an ace with HTML or CSS. Heck, you might not even be a great coder (I suck at coding!), but you've probably learned very valuable lessons about how a local newspaper works and how your work could add value to them.

Can you remember every time you had an opinion about how to do something and it was shut down by someone else? Do you still think you were right? If yes, that means you think you can do better. What about those ideas you've never shared but still think were great?

Why don't you sell this knowledge to local newspapers? You could start an IT consultancy specialized in the newspapers business. You could sell again your services to the same newspaper that just let you go, plus other newspapers in your region.

This is my advice without knowing much about you. I hope it helps you in any way :)

I've ran some ideas past management in the past but working with people who are 20+ years your senior you kind of get overlooked or pushed to the side. Especially in the Newspaper world.

For the past 5 years the focus has been on the bottom line and if you have to lay off people to reflect a better number then so be it.

It's hard to see this place go down this route when you genuinely believe in the product. Having an informed public is very important but at the end of the day you have to keep the lights on.

So you know the industry, you have ideas that you consider to be very valid and now you even have the time. Maybe you can create a product to fill in some gaps they surely must have?

And if the idea doesn't sell, what about some competition? Maybe following a crowd-funded model? I know I'm just throwing random ideas, but hopefully this will spark a light in you :)

If you're going to post on HN that you're in search of a job, you should probably include a way for interested parties to contact you... because I'm an interested party. :-)

We (OwnLocal; http://ownlocal.com) works through newspapers and other local media companies. Your domain knowledge would be deeply valuable to us.

For what it's worth, none of the stuff you're worried about (too "old", wrong tech, no degree, generalist) really worry me as a hiring manager. We have all those things on our team.

If you're interested, pretty please send me a note -- jason@ownlocal.com.

I wouldn't wait. It's a lot easier to get another job when you have one. When new HR person asks why say looking for better opportunities to expand my skills...don't bad mouth company or puke company drama. Plus if you have stuff in the pipeline you are that much closer to finding something.

"I'm in the news industry." and a bit of a resigned shrug with knowing grin is an adequate explanation. It also, IMHO, makes you look like a responsible person who takes charge when you try to line something up in advance of getting forced out the door.

It's not in me to bad mouth anyone anyway. I will definitely start looking A.S.A.P. I'm lucky because the layoff news isn't going to be disclosed for another couple of weeks so this gives me time to start the job hunt.

If you don't have a severance package, I'd immediately investigate unemployment benefits. If you have a health savings account, it can be used to pay for insurance premiums if you're collecting unemployment. Also, compare the COBRA your employer will offer to health insurance you can get on the healthcare.gov marketplace with subsidies (since you won't have income at that point).

Check out https://www.reddit.com/r/hiring for possible gigs.

Obviously you want to get a new position ASAP but I don't think it's a big deal to have to disclose you were laid off so don't freak out if you can't make something happen in a few short weeks. I don't hold layoffs against applicants, especially when they're coming from an industry like print media that has very well known macro-level problems.

1] Build a capabilities slide deck.

Frame this exercise as what you would prepare if you were given the opportunity to do a 15 minute formal pitch of your capabilities to a room full of potential clients/employers.

Advertising Agencies and Consulting companies often have this as a section of their pitch decks. This is the "generic" part in which they are telling potential clients why they are generally capable and able to handle whatever will come up in the course of the project and they focus on the people and skills that they think make their agency stand-out while also assuring clients that they have all the "table stakes" covered.

The deck will help you with interviews and networking. How do I tell my story succinctly and engagingly?

2] Create an online portfolio website and other mini-sites. Build a portfolio site describing your accomplishments in various projects at your current newspaper job and include URL to relevant page. That portfolio site should also link to 2 or 3 mini-sites that demonstrate various sub-sets of your skills in action.

This is helpful because you can just send someone you are networking with a single URL that lets them explore who you are and what you can do.

3] Map out your skills. For each skill: label, short description, depth of experience, breadth of experience, assessment of your skill level, clear path toward improvement, enjoyment level and local market demand.

What this map will help you to do is decide where to focus your specialization budget, your time, money and intellectual energy. Ideally you would find a skill where you already have a nice breadth and depth of experience, market demand is at least moderately high and that skill has a clear path forward for improvement such as online courses, great books for moving toward expert status. Of the things you have listed, Javascript stands out as the skill that has market demand and a clear path toward expertise on top of your practical experience. It also has the virtue of being demonstrable.

We've got a number of PHP/Drupal roles open at NBCUniversal. http://www.nbcunicareers.com/search-results?search_type=crit...

I've been here for just over a year and it's awesome. Highly recommend applying if you see a job that fits your skillset.

> I've built banner ads for advertisers, booked online campaigns in various platforms Google DFP, Yahoo APT

I don't want to make you feel like shit, but the demand for your skillset (media oriented programming) is declining. The main focuses these days are on JavaScript replacing Flash and mobile development, but apart from that any company in the space is only making money if it is overworking and underpaying its employees (which is easy to do when they are young).

The money in digital media was cheap and easy for a while, but since maybe 2010 more and more people have been trying to get into the space, because the barrier to entry is so low. This has massively driven down rates. If you're a competent programmer outside of media, you can easily pull down 100k+. If you're in the media space, you're working way more hours and pulling down a little bit more than half of that, in my experience.

tl;dr: You need to decide whether you want to stay in the segment of the industry you are in. If you do, you will probably be in this position again in 2-3 years. If you don't, you need to convince someone like me in an interview that you aren't just like every other "WordPress programmer" out there.

Your experience definitely doesn't match mine.

while it's true that media in general is in decline and has a poor wage situation, that's mostly felt on the editorial side. Programmers still seem to be paid quite well, at least in New York. I've never received an offer to work at a media company for less than $100k and have had a few at double that.

I would like to add to what graham1776 said https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10759722. This is great advice about kickstarting your networking. When I did a retrospective on my career, I realized that the various jobs or gigs that I had were directly related to my informally-developed network.

Networking is a bit time-consuming, but it will serve you well in the rest of your career.

The other thing I would say (as one who has gone through this more than one time. The actual number of times is a trade secret) is don't delay the start of the search. For example, if they parted company with you on Friday, start working on it on Monday. And it sounds like you have a jump on it already.

The other thing to keep in mind is to not spend more than say 30 hours a week on a job search. Despite your relatively positive outlook, it will be quite stressful and it is important to break away from the search activity regularly.

Edit: typos

> I've spend the last decade working with HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and a suite of other tools.

I think this is all we need to know. You have 10 years experience in web development. That makes you a Senior Software Developer at pretty much every company I've ever worked. I don't think you have anything to worry about skills-wise. PHP is still in high-demand. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Relax. You are in a fantastic position. You will hopefully even get a salary increase with your next job. The local paper couldn't have been paying much. : )

The only concern might be your location. "Local newspaper" makes me think "rural" or "suburban." If you don't live in a city, that might not be a problem (teleworking jobs abound), but where I live (Northern Virginia) I can quit my job today and have recruiters begging me to start somewhere else tomorrow. So just keep that in mind.

Otherwise, I hope you will find yourself very happy this time next year in a new career and all this worry will just be a fading memory.

My local newspaper is the only paper in my city. Our population is roughly around 100K. Unfortunately living in a community where agriculture is the main source of income technology jobs are scarce. The closest city to me with tech jobs is about 1.25 hours away (Santa Barbara). This might be my short term option, until I can relocate somewhere else.

Thanks for the advice.

Regardless of what happens, trust yourself that you have what it takes to make it.

Spend some time to think about what you'd like to be over the next few years and most importantly, know what you're good at and what you're not so good at. List 10 strengths and 10 weaknesses and include both technical and non-technical skills.

Don't dwell on negative thoughts that tell you that you're not good enough. Sure, people with degrees might have an easier ride to get noticed but it's not impossible for you. Be creative. Make a portfolio. Proactively reach out to prospective employers. Learn something on your own. Take an online course.

People who tell you shit like "you're mediocre at a bunch of things.. not really good at anything" aren't worth listening to. Take it with a grain of salt, learn from it but move on. There are plenty of advantages to being a generalist rather than a specialist. But it really depends on what YOU want to do with your life.

Send your resume / cover letter to as many companies as possible. Probability can be on your side even when the job market isn't.

Know your worth, but also be open to using your pedigree as a stepping stone to positions outside of your expertise. With 10 years of programming experience you can most likely learn enough Ruby in a short period of time to position yourself as a more compelling candidate than a Ruby dev fresh out of code school.

Consider startups. Smaller engineering teams often rely on interdisciplinary roles due to limited resources. Your role as a "jack of all trades, master of nothing" might actually be an asset to early stage companies.

Most importantly, find a healthy way of dealing with stress. Your family is depending you. This is an inherently stressful role to take but don't let stress derail you. Rather, let it motivate you to open this new chapter of you life. You can do it!

I wish you the best of luck with this situation and future endeavors.

I've done what you're doing about five times, and it's always exciting and new. I'm 54 with no degree or formal qualifications of any sort, and am currently responsible for all third-party JavaScript and browser extensions at a strong young company in San Francisco.

Free advice: Unless you are planning to specialize in something PHP-based like Drupal, you may want to de-emphasize PHP in your resume and employment history. Start learning Python right now and double down on your JavaScript, since you'll find it on the back end (Node.js) as well as the front end. And never say you're the master of nothing; there is at least one thing that you're the best in the world at, and you have to say what that is and why they should hire you to do it.

If you are not already completely comfortable with git and GitHub, now would be a fine time to start by contributing to open-source projects or starting your own.

Trust your gut when interviewing; if it feels the place is run a bunch of 22-year-old frat boys out of privileged private universities, it's not going to work out well for you.

One successful approach is to look for a situation where women are thriving in engineering roles. Why? Because much of the extra stuff an older individual contributor without a degree will have to do is the same extra stuff that all women face every day.

I once faced the same situation, albeit with kids and a mortgage. Leverage your development background but get a project management certification and start leading some of those younger grads that will need your guidance. Not only will it offer job security, it could be a rather substantial boost in pay as well. That's the path I followed, prior to becoming an entrepreneur at least - where nothing is ever of any certainty, and, even then, I find myself dealing with it a lot better than I ever thought I would.

Shot gun it, applied to everything that is close to your roles.

I told two people this when they have no experiences or very little and no degree. It doesn't hurt and they all got jobs now. One is working for Raytheon the other is somewhere else in a hospital hitting 6 fig as Oracle DBA with a business degree.

Make a nice resume and put it out to every job and learn from each interview. If you're interviewing a tons of web dev jobs, you will encounter similar questions, so just learn from the ones you fudge up.

Never give up.

I always thought I'm not smart, but I've worked in the startup industry and most of the time I'm surprise how little my peers know. I've only been to one start up that had a very very good programming team and that startup had the money to spend on very decent programmers.

If you're 30 and wanna settle down don't do start up, it's risky as hell and very ton hours. I wouldn't take magic monopoly money of equity and stocks unless you like lotteries. I would go to established company.

I did php for 8+ years and everybody thinks PHP dev is disposable compare to other like RoR. RoR seems to get higher pay and stabler jobs imo.

I hit my 30 now and I'm going back to school for another skill set, data science (math/stat/ml). Startup burnt me out and it wasn't worth it, I got some exotic skills on my resume, Scala, Python, etc.. but once you hit older. You don't want 70-80 hrs a week, and can be let go any moment.

I'm occasionally involved in the hiring process where I work but I don't have a whole lot of advice to give you.

One bit of encouragement: newspapers (including local papers) and the people who produce them are still highly respected. You presumably have good communication skills and understand community. In an interview, if you can convey confidence and pride in your accomplishments there's a good chance you will make a good impression and that's half the battle.

Regardless of what direction you head off, good luck.

My second job was at my local newspaper. Started, I think, when I was 19. I lasted five years. I had html, css, js, and php under my belt at that time too. I was and still am a generalist. I think the current term is Full-Stack Developer though.

You should get more experience with other backend languages. Try Python, Ruby, and something slightly exotic like Rust or Scala or Elixir. If you've been there for ten years you've probably gotten comfortable in your stack and your code. Start reading more code. Push yourself to learn something. Get your github up and churning. Contribute to some OSS projects.

You've got experience with highly dynamic websites. That puts you head and shoulders above people that only have experience building landing pages or small business sites. It's a whole different beast to build something that has to respond to a random bit of content flowing into a page and all that entails. You've worked with some of the most set in their ways people on the planet, journalists at a local newspaper.

I'm 35 now and I've stayed, mostly, in the content space since I started at the paper. That's my niche, rather than focusing on a language or front/backend discipline I focused on content. I've had four jobs since working at the paper and I still remember those days as some of the longest days and most fun I've ever had. I'm now making over three times what I made at the paper when I left too.

You can do this but you're going to have to work for it.

Edit: I don't have a degree either.

I'm a jack of all trades master of none. I've always taken that as an insult rather than a compliment. I hear it as "your mediocre at a bunch of things...not really good at anything.

Take it as a compliment that you've been the undisputed master at One Very Important Thing: understanding your employer's needs and priorities, and doing whatever it takes to make them happy. All that other stuff -- HTML, JS, etc -- is but a means to this end. (And despite all the rantings and ravings by people on this and other sites about the various pros and cons of these tools, most of them are basically expedient hacks, here today, gone tomorrow).

Somewhat excited because it will force me out of my comfort zone.

As you should be. Being forced out of our comfort zones is one of the best ways to start learning new things. Sometimes it's the only way.

I'm sure that years hence, you'll look back at this as a golden opportunity -- that finally gave you the time and space to think about what you really want to do, travel, get that degree, meet that right person, or whatever. And for every employer that sees you as "limiting" yourself by staying at the same gig for 10 years, others will take it as hard evidence of your capacity for loyalty, dedication, and grit -- scarce qualities indeed, in any talent market.

Given the shift in your responsibilities over the years it may be worthwhile to take the effort to put together three or four slightly different resumes, each highlighting a different aspect of one of your prior roles. When submitting a resume select the one that most closely matches the responsibilities outlined in the description. Even if you feel like you're master of none, doesn't mean your resume can't have focus.

This. And even more importantly, a custom cover letter (your email) for jobs where you aren't going through a head hunter.

I know what you are going through! I was let go in the spring and was married in the summer (I am working again).

You need to focus on the excited, adventurous emotions and the confidence it brings, which in turn, will help find you a new job.

If you are not confident (eg. believing jack-of-all-trades is a negative, seeing not having a degree as a barrier, thinking a new grad is a better hire than you) then you might not apply to the jobs you have a chance of getting. The nervousness and lack of confidence will come through in the interviews you do get. Others here have provided tips to help: list at the skills you have, put them in a positive light, practice delivering the message in interview and conversational settings. (We all know how much confidence matters when meeting women, same thing.)

A lot of things you mentioned don't matter: no degree, being 30 (you mentioned that 3 times), recently married, same company 10 years, being a jack-of-all-trades. They don't matter because you can't change these things in the short-term. They nervousness and pressure they provide just are distractions. None of those impact the actions you have to take going forward.

Why "I am now a provider"? You get better odds with 2 people working together towards a common goal http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dink

Plus being in California, you are in the best place on the planet for your skill set.

Knowing several technologies and tools is a good thing. But you really need to pick one to master. It might be PHP web development (or Wordpress plugin development); it might be JavaScript front-end development; or ad campaign management. Something that you get to know very well, and become very efficient in.

People understand the straits newspapers are in, so it shouldn't impact your job search negatively. Still, the advice to look now helps - it's easier to say this is why you are looking - because your company is in hard straights, than if you say you were already let go. Not a game ender though.

I believe we all underestimate our own skills, but there's a lot of folks looking for generalists. I don't believe in "full stack" development quite so much, but there are a lot of people looking for it.

Anyway, 30 is a great age - You're just at the point where you are starting to be very marketable and your experience has built up to a value where you can command a lot more value based on having had the experience of all the things you have done before.

> Scared because I don't have a degree and at 30 I'm competing with younger, new grads.

The degree piece is almost ALWAYS an issue with flunky HR functionaries. Not so much for the Hiring Executive, he's interested in how you can help him move his agenda forward. Target your job search on reaching out directly to senior executives WHO you know how to help.

Incidentally, suggest reading Gitomer's Little Red Book- unconventional applications to approaching your job search> http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/75890.Little_Red_Book_of_...

Not true. Any number of positions that I am looking for management (i.e. the candidate has 5+ years of sw dev experience) specify a BS as a requirement. I read this as the filtering software filters out non-degreed professionals.

As someone that is 37 and hasn't got a degree, I can tell you that most of those requirements are bullshit. Send the CV, get an interview and prove the interviewers that you are capable of taking the responsibility.

And yes, I've been in managerial positions, from team lead all the way up to director of engineering for several multinationals. Most of the positions listed a BS (or even MSc) as requirement.

Its the "flunky HR functionaries" that apply those filters. As recommended by many others, network and bypass them.

At OwnLocal, we like people who understand the news business and have some programming skills.

I'd encourage you to look at our jobs page: http://ownlocal.com/jobs

Wait, so you're a dev, not a reporter?

Where in the world are you? This is an important question.

Yup, I've held multiple titles here, I'm in California.

I started as a Print Graphic Designer, then moved to I.T. Due to more layoffs I then became I.T./ Web Dev. I weathered the storm once again and had my job mutated into I.T. Assistant/ Web Dev/ Digital Campaign Coordinator.

Will they still need someone to do what you do occasionally?

Try to stay on working one or a few days per week or work for them on a contract basis.

It is easier to find a job if you are currently employed so hanging on 1 day per week or as a contractor you could list them as an employer or yourself as a contractor.

If you're interested and have the skills you could try to pick up some of your own clients including your current employer.

Sounds like you have basic skills but will need to spend some time getting to the next level.

If you enjoy web development you could elevate your skills by learning web application development front end with Angular or React back end with Rails or Laravel. If you have a few months till your let go you could make some progress learning new skills.

You won't be an expert or even employable over that time but the sooner you start learning the sooner you will be.

Check with companies in your area and see what skills they are hiring for.

If bringing in the same level of income isn't critical you could take an entry level developer position and start working your way up.

Play around with some of the popular languages and see what you like, what you are interested in.

Good luck.

Enjoy the Holidays, things will work out. You're still young, have a good foundation of skills to build on.

All IT departments now want people with programming skills, and a lot of people who are already in IT don't like programming. I think you will get offers from most IT departments that you interview at.

The degree issue is very stick for some places and not stick for others, but overall I think it is less of an issue than in the last 15 years.

The best thing you did for yourself was learning the HTML, CSS, etc that you did. That is going to get your resume farther, faster, even without a degree. Having been on hiring committees for organizations looking for new copyrighters, etc, there is such a focus on web that it is always a plus to see, even if there are other developers doing the heavy lifting.

I was in the same boat not too long ago. I was 38 with 15 years at a school district job as a systems analyst and programmer. I wasn't laid off or let go but I couldn't do it any more. I couldn't do one more Exchange or VMWare upgrade.

My advice: go hard! Send out your resume. Leaving my cushy job for the unknown has reinvigorated every part of my life: financial, spiritual, marital, parental. It has been easy but it's been very rewarding.

Every industry is fighting over anyone with a tech background. Having experience in multiple areas is more valuable I'd argue. Someone who can manage online campaigns, throw down some html, js should be able to get into pretty much anywhere.

30 isn't old. You have real experience which grads don't have. Go into everything with a positive and learning attitude and you'll do fine.

I went thru a round of something like this, where I had been a developer+copywriter+editor+salesman for en early internet biz.

While I have a degree related to my field, I found that the network I had built up over the years, thru sales and communicating with people while editing and fact checking, was the path to my next bit of employment.

tl;dr: don't forget that 10 years of relationship building!

There are still a ton of small businesses out there that do not even know how to setup their business on google so that they show up in a local search. Their websites are not optimized for mobile, so they get a penalty both from google and from users trying to use their website. These simple things are low hanging fruit you can easily do.

Being a Jack of all trades can be an asset in a startup, specially in your case for a role in marketing/advertising.

Start applying now, it's good to get in the habit and it's been 10 years since you've had to.

Take inventory of your accomplishments, make a massive resume even if you only ever share a portion of it.

It's very easy to let this all crush you like an avalanche, don't let it.

I was let go once from downsizing. I was scared too, but my boss gave me a simple pep talk I've never forgotten:

You are better than you think you are. Do you really think that when you start "X" job, that you will be unable to complete tasks given to you?

For one thing, don't describe yourself as a "jack of all trades" because that is associated with "and master of none" in people's minds.

Instead, describe yourself as a "Swiss army knife".

Congratulations! This will be the best blessing-in-disguise of your lifetime. :)

You have an excellent skillset. I think you'll do great! If you run into any hiccups, feel free to email me (see profile) but I think you should do fine :-).

It sounds like you have the skills to be a good project manager: good communication skills, plus some technical exposure.

Write. A. Book. That has been my backup plan for a decade if all else fails, but ya know what? I really should just shut up and write the book now, while I'm young and healthy. Do it man. Write a book. Throw it up on Amazon. Even if it only your grandmother and mom buys it, you'll still feel great for accomplishing something most people only dream of.

Ive always wanted to write a book too. But about what? In the face of near-existentialist questions about survival and how to provide for your family, I don't know if this is the best way to focus one's time and energy.

create a personal website showcasing your skills

freelance consultant works

Serious Advice:


Freelance (for short term money) & Start talking to media industry specific recruitment consultants(they might charge a fee but with your experience in tech & industry, you might be wanted in a similar outfit)

Current-World-With-Weird-Valuations Advice a.k.a. Just kidding:


STEP 1 -> Get a iOS Dev book.

STEP 2 -> Start a cool spin on a news app.

STEP 3 -> Raise some money at some ridiculous valuation

STEP 4 -> Buy the local newspaper where you got let-go from citing the reason as "strategic acquisition" to the investor.

STEP 5 -> Order a "F U" t-shirt.

STEP 6 -> Buy a paintball gun.

STEP 7 -> Do what Ari Gold did in Entourage when he bought the Agency he was fired from.

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