Finding a job

The tech job market is hard right now, and everyone is struggling to find employment. I remembered someone saying that if you have a job right now, you’re as stressed as the person not having a job, because every day, you wake up to go to work, scared of some micro-economic downward adjustment will lead to the termination of your current employment, so you end up looking out for the next place in your part-time; meanwhile, the ones not having a job are also looking for their next place. Everyone’s looking for their next “home” if you want to call your workplace that way.

The job market’s so hard that I can still remember the whole GHC’23 fiasco, with thousands of male job hunters invading a female/non-binary-only recruitment conference. If anything, that showed how desperate we all are at the moment, but more importantly it shows a point of no return where we are so ready to stomp on others foot to get what we want. Getting a job is now a survival game, and GHC’23 wasn’t the only example; the 2023 SHPE Convention — a convention for the Society of Hispanic Engineer — recently just happened, and from what I saw online, it was as if GHC got replayed.

Maybe I’m contrarian, but I don’t think you should be too desperate looking for a job; you should work on things that excites you, be it at your job or not, and make sure your job is great for you. If you think in first principles about what it means to recruit talent and why people recruit talent, you see that you get a job because your employer thinks that you can do something(s) really good that can add tons of value for their organization, be it money, impact, etc… (which is shown through your hard/technical skills) AND that you will be a great teammate (since no one likes working with a robot; shown through your soft skills). When a company hire you, they are purchasing talent, and you’re providing that talent; they had a demand for some talent, and the right person/people are supplying that talent. It’s basic economics: supply and demand, and when you’re supplying this demand, you better make sure it’s worth it so that you’re not underselling. What this all means is that when you are providing your talent to someone else, you need to make sure you’re happy with the price or the stuff they’re paying you with. Many ended up underselling (e.g they work in a position they absolutely hate, or in a team they hate, or build something they find no joy in, or in a workplace that doesn’t align with their values but they bit the bait anyways because they were desperate). I think everyone should value themselves higher, given they also raise the quality of their supply, so that—per supply & demand economics—the demand is higher for them.

So if you’re really loving what you’re working on and what your career is about, that’s good! You just need to get better and better and better at it. However, we just assumed that you love what you do; the problem occurs when you don’t. Back in the 80s, programmers are real: Linux kernel hackers, 10x programmers, professionals coding low-level software that are much harder considering how they learned all of this without Youtube tutorials because there weren’t any; there were just hardcore programming books, and they required a lot of brains to get through. Programers back then were really passionate about what they build and what they do. Nowadays, software engineering has become very popular because of the rise of technology. People associated software engineering salaries with sky-high numbers that are insurmountable for most other professions. For many, that number compelled them to pursue becoming a SWE. If that’s you, reconsider. You won’t be able to do your job well if you only do it for the money. Having your career be doing something you started with no real purpose is to me meaningless and will lead to a fruitless storyline that I personally wouldn’t want to create. Though many will argue that your job is not your life, and other aspects are important. This is true; by no means do your work have to be your end means. If your job is your job and you want to focus on other things to be happy in life, do it. My concern is just if you will enjoy what you do 9-5. At the very least, you should be enjoying it, or else your time would be a waste, and you being unhappy also makes the place that hired you unhappy. But if you want to rise to the top of your field, you wil need to love what you’re doing to stick with it for a long time, so you will have to like it.

At the end of the day, to get jobs, you will need to be a great talent. When you have the skills, you may do whatever you want, but remember that you have to do what you love. Don’t spend time on chasing gold; chase value, and success will follow.