I don't get how B follows from A. That structure is basically "I just got laid off, and now I'm not looking to relocate to find a new job, but I am looking for an even better one with more money." I know you don't intend to come off that way, but to the casual reader, you sort of do.
The more interesting post, IMO, would have attempted to mine some insights from the experience. I mean, shit, man, you were hired into what sounds like an awesome job, and then had to leave 6 weeks later. Six weeks! That's a story in and of itself. What has that experience taught you? What has it taught you about the nature of jobs, about the job market, about startups, about the developer's life, about yourself? And how does all of that lead into what you're looking for in a new job?
You're in a very unfortunate situation, and that sucks, and I hope you land an awesome new gig soon. You're a smart and hardworking guy. But we need insights from these sorts of experiences, because they're probably not as uncommon as we might imagine. Your experience could, theoretically, happen to anyone here. So what would you take from it that you feel we need to know?
I don't know why you find points he has laid out as "strange" as well,But I think it is a disservice to yourself as a programmer if you are going to settle for anything else. For example:
1. Can't relocate -> fair enough, it is hard to relocate if you have families. I have one of our smartest programmer working with us remotely.
2.My next job will not be a contract -> It should be self-evident. Contract workers are second class citizens.
3.My next job will stretch me -> Can you argue with this one? Daniel Pink in his book "Drive" argue the very same points.
I can go on, but will stop. And oh good luck Ernie (Your contributions to Rails are much appreciated).
I apologize if my post came off as harsh on Ernie. That wasn't the intent. But the reason I feel B doesn't follow from A is that there's kind of a missing intermediate step. The story I was hoping for was "A: the company went under," "B: Here's what I've learned from the situation," "C: Here's why I need these things from my next job." Instead, we sort of skip that middle section, and we're left without a lot of the wisdom and perspective I'm sure a guy as capable and introspective as Ernie could have given us.
"I don't know why you find points he has laid out as "strange" as well"
I don't find his requirements strange in the least. If anything, they feel perfectly rational. My issue is with the general structure of his post, not the particulars of it. By skipping the "middle step," he risks coming across a in way he probably didn't intend to.
Re: money -- I tried very hard to avoid coming off that way. I am very discriminating in the kinds of jobs I take, and as I've regularly spoken about, it's not about the money. The money description is drawing on past experience. FWIW: I never think I am worth what I'm paid. I'm a classic case of impostor syndrome.
As for the main takeaway, it is that being unemployed will give me, for the first time ever, a clear look at how employable (or not) I am. That is a valuable thing, to me.
Totally fair, and hey, best of luck to you. I'm sorry if I came across as overly harsh.
In general I liked your post; I want to be clear about that. I was just kind of bummed you didn't go into a bit more detail about what funemployment means in perspective. I guess that's my way of saying that you sort of whet my appetite with an interesting subject and a compelling story, but that I wish it had been a bit longer in certain parts.
I'm sure Ernie will be fine; he's talented and hardworking. But this particular scenario was a strange one, and I'd have loved to get more insight into what he felt about it all. I understand if he doesn't feel comfortable disclosing some of the particulars -- but I'd have loved to have seen some deeper/lengthier mining for wisdom.
You don't hear everyday about a guy who gets hired into a new job, then the company closes down 6 weeks into it. That's a fascinating opportunity for insight. I just wish it were explored a bit further before leaping into the "here's what I want from my next job" section. For example: how will what he's learned here apply to what he finds next? What if he gets all of his desired characteristics in the next job, but something similar happens? Etc.
That said, the difference between a 'hot mature' market and a 'hot new' market are starting to become clear to a lot of people. In the 'hot new' version there is demand for anyone who can fill the role, in the 'hot mature' version there is demand for a role at a certain compensation rate. It's the latter that has caught out a lot of people I know, who "grew up" in a company, signing on out of college, working 10, 15, 20 years, and then finding themselves out of work. What has happened is that their salary ratcheted up with annual reviews but the supply of candidates increased dramatically. Their faced with the question of taking a job with a 30% pay cut, or not working. It brings on a whole host of emotions about self worth and future prospects. Engineers, especially software engineers, are becoming somewhat commoditized and that changes a lot of employment dynamics.
This is my story: I moved to the US on March after working on a fast growing an successful European start-up for 4 years. The one where everyone wants to work at: lots of "I want to get out of the shower and code" problems, smart colleagues and excellent compensation.
I took 5 months off to get used to this country, travel and finish some personal projects I had in my mind since long ago. Four weeks ago I started to actively look for a job and dude... I'm shitting in my pants about the idea that I may have to go back to Europe.
I'm allowed to work in the US, I have a decent Github profile and couple of LinkedIn recommendation (if they're useful or not, I don't know). I've lead teams before, I've funded a company right out of college and sold it for a profit two years later. I've applied to ~20 job offers and so far I only got two replies: for one I already dealt with HR and it's been a week since they told me they'll set up an Skype interview with one engineer (Yes, I'll follow up Today on that one). For the other one, they were looking for Java-enterprisey guy and I told them that Java is not something that I can say I'm an expert with, but that I could get up to speed in one or two months at the most. They said they'll call again... in six months.
HNers: I'm looking for your advice here. Do you see something wrong with my approach? What else should I try? Am I just too anxious? Because it seems to me that everyone take forever to answer! I'm really scared, because I left a lot of things behind on the idea that finding a job in New York City would be easy as cake and now I'm facing reality.
I don't have a network that I could leverage here in New York. I'm trying to build one, but that could take more time than the one I could resist before exploding in desperation and handling my resume to companies outside my field of expertise.
In the current job market, that's how it's supposed to be, but I just can't see it. I'll keep trying, I'm just worried that the response rate of the companies I've applied so far is close to 5% only.
Thanks for your advice.
The popular narrative is that there is a shortage of technology talent. This is false. All I have to do to get thousands of resumes is put an ad on Craigslist offering $175,000+ for a computer programmer. I can offer $60,000 and get no one. This is a very reasonable expectation (in that the more I'm willing to pay, the more folks are willing to work for me).
The effect of that, which isn't obvious, is that for "good jobs", the kind you would find that are interesting to you and you add real value too, aren't being chased by unemployed programmers they are being chased by every single programmer who thinks they aren't making enough money in their current job. That is where the thousands of resumes come from, people gainfully employed who are tired of not getting any raises for the last 2 to 5 years. They want more.
So when you apply to a company through the 'fire hose', your resume arrives with a zillion others. Chances are you are in a lottery you don't even know, and the 'scoring' system is something like "College, GPA, open source cred, buzzword matches, Etc." Worse the person doing the initial screening might be an English major who is "good with people" and so they are working in HR and haven't a clue as to what makes one person more or less appropriate for an opening.
When you apply to a company by having someone who knows you and respects you talk to managers who are looking, you aren't in a lottery, your in a select short list of people. People where resume details mean less than the fact that you are considered to be "good" by the person who referred you.
So when you find a job that looks interesting, you contact someone you know at the company and let them know you are interested, then you are doing the contacting but you will get a much much higher response rate.
 Not trying to offend English majors here, one of my daughters is one, it's that if they end up in a tech company and aren't in marketing or the tech pubs group, they are most likely to be in HR.
There are regional differences between what should/shouldn't be included in a resume, like a picture of yourself, your age, your family status and similar things. A resume not tuned for the local market may disqualify from some positions in the hiring manager's mind.
Finding a job in a new city is never easy but a capable programmer has a better chance than most others! Have you tried any visiting any local meetups, conferences or co-working spaces?
In hindsight, I hope you see how this was a terrible idea. For years, there have been article after article about how the only people able to find work are the people that are currently working.
You appear to have chosen to create a 5 month gap in your work history. Can you imagine how this looks to an employer? I instantly think of someone who is lazy and is only willing to put the work in to find a job when they absolutely have to. It makes me think you'll wait until the last minute for everything.
My advice is to find a way to explain what you were doing during those 5 months that doesn't come across so negatively. If you were working on side projects, tell them you were working for "[YourName] Consulting" and thought you'd try your hand at freelance consulting. Then you decided that it wasn't for you.
Best of luck.
That is poor judgement on your part. Your advice is crippling. If one is stuck in a dead-end job, then fun-employment for the purpose of self-improvement or side-projects makes plenty of sense -- as long as one can economically support themselves. You think employer XYZ gives a shit if there is a 6-month unemployed window if my GitHub productivity was "rock star" level with amazing side-projects to show? If the employer doesn't hire me, then that saves me the trouble from working for a stale company.
Who knows how many entrepreneurs wouldn't be where they are today if they took your advice and continued wasting their precious time away at Initech and TPS reports.
Are you by any chance trolling? I am a middling .NET developer with a self-chosen 4 month gap in my work history ("personal projects to grow Python experience") and it took me something around four weeks of not particularly intensive search to get a signed contract in not particularly software-heavy Vancouver.
You'd rather have someone lie about what they do with their time than tell you they do something other than pump out code?
This sort of "you must have a job" selectivity isn't a factor for halfway decent software developers.
It looks like a normal human being who is fairly self-motivated to work on cool projects.
I moved here, it took me 4 months to organize my legal situation in the US. This is, getting a job permit. I knew how long it was going to take in advance, so I decided to take the most out of that time to travel, know the country better and work in "personal projects".
What does "personal projects" mean for a software engineer? In my case was learning and shipping actual products in two new programming languages, participating in a Challenge Post competition, joining every possible NYC meetup and getting to know every possible corner of New York City.
I'm very glad I did that. And I'll do it again.
That said, I found unemployment to be a great time to get fit. It's a rare time where working out for 90 minutes doesn't unduly impact other parts of life.
This can be very easily extended by not looking for rejections. In my mind funemployment involves not looking for a job (or writing posts about what you're looking for in a new job, or thinking about jobs).
I've been employed constantly - literally without a day's break - since I was 14. That's 27 years of continuous employment but I still fear unemployment tremendously.
What is perhaps most surprising is that I have observed that people are often a better employees if they are less afraid of losing their job.
It can't possibly last though, so if you're a developer right now (as is the OP), you'd be doing yourself a disservice not to enjoy it.
It's possible to make money outside a job. It's possible to earn money, save it, and live off it for certain periods, then earn more again later. It's possible to build income-producing assets outside a job. It's possible to learn new skills, etc., outside a job. Some people are overflowing with ideas for projects and some also have the willpower to put their own nose to the grindstone to get them done and ship, so don't need a job to accomplish things. They might only need a job to earn money, especially have a steady paycheck to expect regularly. The opposite of "having a job" is not "doing nothing" or "rotting away" or "being a parasite", etc. Also, some people are just happier with a less externally structured daily life, and with the power to direct their own daily choices. Seeking greater happiness is quite rational. Obviously it's wise to make sure one has the money one needs. But in a high-paying field like software development, and especially if you exercise willpower to keep a lot of your mandatory life costs low, it's quite possible to intentionally have periods of "unemployment" and yet still be in the black financially, and get a hell of a lot of productive stuff done. Often, more productive, because not held back by bureaucracy or legacy systems, and your stuff doesn't have to go into an NDA or back office black hole.
Funemployment. This is why that term is often used.
Commenting from the enterprise programmer perspective, I have seen talented, well-credentialed, strong portfolio-wielding, but lesser-networked hackers spend significant amounts of time (up to a year) on the sideline while seeking work in my region. Hackers should remember that this actually happens.
Build a bit of a cash cushion. Be prepared to invest in yourself (http://www.paulgraham.com/badeconomy.html). If you stay or return to the enterprise world, don't join a "cost center" group.
>> the loss last week of a planned follow-on investment leaves us little time to secure an alternate source of capital
Maybe it's different for you and I hope you do find something like that because there's nothing like it.
But for practical reasons you may consider just doing a job and not expecting to derive happiness and fulfillment from every waking moment of your day.
Update: Not that you can't find happiness and fulfillment from doing a good job and making people happy. ;)