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Ask HN: Who has been unemployed for more than 6 months?
16 points by py_or_dy 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 6 comments
I'm curious how many people are having trouble getting hired lately?

I mostly voluntarily quit my full time dev job (web based ERP software powered by Perl) last June 2020 after covid cut hours. I figured it would be an easy step to jump from Perl web developer to Django. So I re-wrote my linkedin and resumes to mostly brand me as a 'Django Expert'. I'll admit my experience with it is more limited (compared to Perl offerings), but I have used it off and on for the last 6 years or so and can easily deploy apps using traditional HTML templating or rest based apps on modern javascript via Django rest framework.

Yet after sending out over 80 applications and doing about 60 interviews, I have not gotten any offers. I'm starting to get a bit nervous as savings are getting thin. I don't think anything is wrong with my resume since I normally hear back from 80% of what I apply to. I'm starting to feel that perhaps the python/django market is overly flooded at the moment? Should I perhaps try jumping to a different language like Go where the market isn't so flooded (if that is the case)? I'm honestly shocked I have not had any offers. For the first 6 months, I'll admit I didn't try very hard to be friendly or personable. I felt like just showing I was a good "worker bee" would be good enough during interviews.

Since then I've taken a more scientific approach to interviewing and have tried many different tactics, from being overly friendly or talkative, to talking about a desire to move into management or a desire to not move into management. Emphasized different skills (or lack thereof), etc. And although in some cases I feel like I get along great with the team and my skill set is a direct match, I still end up not getting selected. Only about half the time is salary even discussed, so I'm not being limited by what I am asking for pay. Even worse, if I get feedback, it is always maligned. Just recently one small company said they didn't choose me because they felt I was weak with databases. We had talked in detail about my experience with using postgresql as a data warehouse with 15 billion rows and 5tb of data and having migrated it through various OLAP schemas and dimensional models. To me, it just really feels like no one is actually hiring?! And sadly, job posting in September and October have really fallen flat compared to the last 6 months.

For the most part, I have been using boards like python.org/jobs and the HN hired monthly post. I normally try to stick to small companies since they seem to value actual work skills instead of interview and leet code etiquette. So perhaps I should branch out to bigger companies? I tried for a few weeks to put my resume on dice.com but got slammed by recruiting firms sending me job apps that had nothing to do with my background and I was stupid enough to list my phone number so then I had recruiters calling me trying to sweet talk me into applying anyway because "maybe they'll hire you even though your skills aren't a match". But that just lead to many interviews where I could tell the interviewer was annoyed with me since the req stated python + C# or Java experience and I had neither. I really can't think of a better way to improve myself. I've got about 10 years experience and am getting close to the dreaded 40 year mark. I have noticed a high percentage of jobs seem to want you to have a bunch of AWS experience. I've messed around with EC2 instances but that is about it. Not sure if it is worth it to try to get some AWS certs (I really hate certs) or what?

I think you are facing problems that many other senior candidates are facing in this job market. The number of candidates on the market is at a high, and companies are being extremely picky about who they want to hire. Add to this the fact that expectations of senior candidates have risen, sometimes unrealistically high.

Perl is a dinosaur, and will not get you as many job opportunities as something more recent. But the programming language is hardly the stumbling block. Most shops know that experienced people pick up languages, frameworks etc. easily.

Here are some suggestions: - Building/operating software on AWS is really becoming a basic skill most people are expected to have nowadays. You could get an AWS certification that shows you are serious about building skills in the area.

- Apply to jobs on LinkedIn. You will get a better selection of jobs that are tailored to your needs, and I have found that recruiters respond to LinkedIn applicants a bit more.

- Consider a job with a nonprofit org, such as a university. These places have more legacy software, and are also unable to compete with the open market. You will face a reduction in pay perhaps, but you can get back into a job, where you will have a stronger negotiating position.

- Not having a job somehow makes you less attractive to recruiters and hiring managers. It's bizarre, but go figure. If you interview with the goal of getting hired anywhere and get yourself into a job, you will strengthen your hand considerably.

- Try not to reveal that you are unemployed when you initiate a conversation with a firm.

>Try not to reveal that you are unemployed when you initiate a conversation with a firm.

Agreed. I would add to your list of suggestions in that OP could do some short term contracting.

Whenever OP then choose to engage with recruiters for permanent positions again, they casually broadcast the signal of "I'm in a middle of a contract right now but also exploring options rather than automatically agreeing to extend it".

I just quit a relatively convenient and well paid job as a Java webapp backend consultant, just couldn't do it anymore.

The thing is, there are PLENTY of jobs right now, but most of them are so dumbed down and meaningless that any ignorant fool can perform them, and ignorant fools are cheap to hire and easy to take advantage of.

My current strategy is aiming further down the stack, closer to the hardware, embedded stuff; which hopefully means less ignorant fools to deal with and more interesting problems to solve.

> I'm starting to feel that perhaps the python/django market is overly flooded at the moment

Python is a super popular language for newbies and people converting from less currently in demand languages, and Django is the dominant web framework, so there's probably lots of moderately skilled people with low (for development) salary demands available for Python/Django jobs.

> I have noticed a high percentage of jobs seem to want you to have a bunch of AWS experience. I've messed around with EC2 instances but that is about it.

Yeah, I am guessing a lot want CloudFront/API Gateway/Lambda experience and others. You seem to be looking for a Sr. position where you need either real deep expertise in a component of the stack, or coverage of the whole stack (or a large subset) in use and a good story about ability to pick up the rest and guide architecture and implementation approach choices or somewhat less tech skill and deep experience of the problem domain. If you are going out of the area where you have that depth (Perl on the tech side, ERP on the domain side), you may have to temporarily aim lower until you can build the necessary breadth or domain/tech-specific depth.

That is strange, I have maybe written 10 applications in my whole life (embedded development, µC in C mainly).

I did a "sabbatical" for a year shorty after my first job and then switched to another company. So I guess I was unemployed for more than 6 month technically.

I guess it depends on locality a lot, I mostly wrote applications on my own initiative and didn't use channels like LinkedIn aside from researching contacts.

I wouldn't focus on what stacks you use, just tell them which problems you solve with it. Larger companies have non-tech people in HR and they might think you to be a freak or snake charmer if you mention Python.

Consider taking the initiative on applications and maybe target companies that don't primarily develop software (those offer far better condition in my experience. Maybe not money-wise, but overall).

Some companies are vulnerable to buzz words. If you know Python you could venture into ML. Has high value now, but I think companies might not be too healthy if they focus too much on buzz.

>60 interviews

60 interviews with no offers is a big issue. I know you're looking for reasons but maybe your skill level in Python is not where you think it is and overall you're not aligned with the general market of what a Sr. engineer. skill level should be.

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