COVID19 has been disruptive to all of our lives. It has forced a lot of people to work from home and/or lose their childcare. Some of us are losing loved ones to this virus. Others are being laid off due to the financial difficulties a lot of companies are experiencing at this time. Some companies have had to put a freeze on hiring and others have had to fold. While these are a few examples of difficulties that people are facing during this pandemic, they don’t even begin to scrape the surface of problems people are experiencing at this time. With this article, I want to discuss the one that has been the most impactful on me personally, interviewing during COVID19.
The impact that COVID19 has had on my job search has been devastating. For some background on me (if you don’t already know), I have been actively interviewing for over a year in search of my first software engineering role. This means I have been on the emotional roller coaster ride of interviewing for a long time now. I have experienced some great highs as well as some pretty low lows.
Let me be honest before COVID19 hit I was already inching towards my breaking point.
Noticing that I was getting close to my breaking point, I set out to improve on what I felt I was weakest at. My goal with doing this was to eliminate the stressors that I had control over in hopes to move further away from that breaking point. Before COVID19 hit, I felt that I was accomplishing this goal and my confidence in my interviewing skills was increasing tremendously.
Eventually, I had the opportunity to work with a startup for a week as a paid trial, an interview of sorts. This was an amazing opportunity for me as I viewed this trial as a win-win situation because it gave me a week of professional experience I didn’t have whether I was extended an offer or not. Luckily enough I was extended my first official software engineering offer after the trial was over. This was the proudest moment of my job search.
Then along came COVID19…
Within a week of COVID19 becoming prevalent and amid contract negotiations, the company reached out to me and let me know they had to put a freeze on hiring. This news came after three hundred and fifty-six days of searching for a job and thirteen days after I received that offer. It was devastating, but I bounced back, as I always do in the face of adversity.
Backing up a tiny bit, before receiving that offer, I had already been interviewing with another company that had the intention of bringing on two new software engineers. When my first offer was rescinded, yes I was devastated (as I just mentioned), but I also felt a sense of relief because this other company felt promising so I shifted my focus to my upcoming technical screen with them.
After completing this amazing technical screen, I felt that I had found the company and the people that would help foster an amazing environment for my professional growth. When I received news that I was among the four final candidates moving on to the final round of interviews, I was ecstatic and also relieved that they weren’t putting a freeze on hiring.
For the final interview, I met with three other employees that I had not previously interviewed with as well as the hiring manager. After meeting and interviewing with each person, I got more and more excited at the prospect of working at this company. By the time I met with the hiring manager I was beaming with excitement, then came the bad news.
She started her portion of the interview by informing me that the company had cut her budget and she could only bring on one engineer. She then told me that two of the other candidates were mid-level engineers, which is always nerve-racking to hear as a junior as I don’t have the same experience they do. While this news sucked, I knew I still stood a pretty good chance considering I was one of four final candidates so I chose to stay positive.
After a few days of doing everything I could to distract myself while waiting to hear back, I got the news that they had chosen to go with a different candidate. With this news, I felt my heart crumble and all hope slide away with it. (To be completely honest here, this is incredibly hard to write about right now, as the feelings are all still very raw.) I had made it one year and eight days into my job search before the thought “I just want to quit” popped into my head. That’s a long time of riding that emotional job search roller coaster before finally feeling the need to get off of it.
To me, the fact that the thought even crossed my mind was more devastating than the rejection itself. I am not one to give up, ever, and I wasn’t going to let myself start now. To keep myself on the ride, I had to take a little bit of time to myself to recharge emotionally, so, after another interview only a few days later, I took two days to myself even though I had the intention of taking the rest of the week.
Moving Forward Despite COVID19
By the third day, I was completing a code challenge that was extended after the aforementioned interview. By the fourth day, I found myself browsing open positions, which struck a sense of panic in me due to the new influx of people searching for roles as well as the decrease of job openings all due to COVID19 layoffs and hiring freezes.
Part of me is happy that I am bouncing back and ready to ride the roller coaster again, but the other is hesitant knowing that there are most likely a few more heartbreaks in my future, whether they be due to COVID19 hiring freezes or other reasons. Either way, I’m going to rise up and keep moving forward knowing that the right fit for me is out there somewhere and I’ll find it eventually.
To anyone who is in the same boat as me right now, I feel for you. You are not alone. I know your struggles and I am here for you. Please feel free to DM me here or on Twitter if you feel you need to talk to someone.
Note: This post's cover image comes to you from an awesome hike I did in Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island, Hawaii.
Top comments (17)
I have not been interviewing for a year. You are incredible.
But I have been interviewing for a few months now and every rejection stings. I have a folder labelled "applied to" in my Gmail and that list is growing way too long. Today I got my first "we wanted to give you the role but we have a hiring freeze" 😭 It was a great role. And even more than that I know that means I have to keep interviewing which just about breaks me too. I'm so sorry you have been doing this for a year. Your posts are always inspiring and I hope the perfect opportunity comes to you soon. If you ever want some one to commiserate with feel free to reach out. ❤️
Ugh. I know how much it sucks to hear that. I’m so sorry. You’re right though, it just means you have to keep interviewing because you’re that much closer to finally getting that offer. ♥️ (ps I’m saying this as much to myself as I am to you lol).
Same to you about reaching out!
Victoria, I'm sorry to hear about your rough journey trying to break into a software development career. All I have to say is that you have the right mindset and drive to make this career choice a success. Don't stop pushing and never stop learning when you land your first full time role.
I can't offer a sure fire way to land a position, but I can offer you my time to review your resume and maybe provide some application advice. I've been a hiring manager for many capacities and would like to share my knowledge of what I look for in a software engineer. Plus I hate to see smart strong minded people not being able to a reach their goals. If you'd like to chat, DM me.
At work my manager has been looking for a new dev for a few months now. We wound up interviewing someone who was working at another agency, and extended an offer to him, which he accepted. Then COVID19 happened and we had no option but to rescind it, leaving him in a position where he'd already given his notice at his current role, but with nowhere to go to.
It's frustrating for us because we needed another dev, and once this crisis is over we'll probably need to start the recruitment process from scratch. But I also feel really bad for him because he's been left in a bad situation through no fault of his own.
Our existing dev team has also been hit - three devs and a project manager have been placed on furlough because we're unlikely to have enough work for them, while the rest of us have accepted a cut in our hours to 80%, with a corresponding drop in pay. I happened to have a big project lined up that will keep me busy well into May, so I was not placed on furlough, but that was pure luck. It's quite likely that many of our peers may also face the prospect of redundancy in the near future.
It took me well over a year to get my first role in 2011, and that was without the spectre of COVID 19 hanging over us all - I can't imagine how bad it must be right now. In the current climate it's extremely hard for even experienced devs to find something new, so don't lose hope. If your situation allows, such as if you're on furlough from a non-dev role, it might be a good opportunity to pick up a new framework or library, or learn something else you've not had the occasion for before.
From the perspective of being outside of tech (without professional experience) there is no shortage of candidates. I feel like the idea that there is demand for web developers is just a myth. It may be that the sector is just completely paranoid about "junior" developers, but there really isn't much of point to wondering about this. From the perspective of someone trying to enter the field, there are only closed doors. This was true before COVID-19.
I gave up last year on trying to find a job (change careers). I decided that I needed to focus on my ongoing hobby projects (diving deeper into the tech stack) and to look for new skills to acquire when planning any new projects. Maybe one of these projects will lead to an offer? At the very least, I won't be riding the rollercoaster any more.
If you truly enjoy building software, I hope this frustration won't impact your motivation. Hang in there.
While I haven't been interviewing for as long as you have, COVID19 has impacted me more or less in the same way as it did to you - from losing my new job due to its financial impact on my company to having offers paused for the same reasons at new companies I interviewed - so I really feel those roller coaster of emotions!
Like some other posters who already have commented, things aren't necessarily easier for those of us with a bit more experience, so the fact you're still motivated to search for over a year just shows how tough you've been. Any companies who eventually deserve to hire you will be lucky to have someone who has such a strong, perseverant character!
Good luck to us! 🥳
I 100% understand this struggle. I actually decided that, instead of a job I’ll freelance and just build my own apps to monetize. It’s not for the faint of heart, I can assure you of that! But, not feeling like my worth is tied to a job application is so freeing to me that the challenge of freelancing is worth it.
The job search can be so, so frustrating at the best of times, I can't imagine how horrible it must be at this time.
I always hit a point where I start applying for part time, filler positions in the middle, and then that usually leads to the position I'm in now where I do marketing and work on the floor in a local small business.
I'm so glad you hopped back on that roller coaster, and hope you have lots of luck coming your way!
I feel your pain... personally I feel that browsing through jobs and applying takes a lot of time away from me, which I could have used to improve my skills. But then... we also have to do it. Before covid I already realize it's pretty tough, after covid it's even more... as laid-off experienced developers will also compete for limited roles, which previously might be reserved for juniors. Every day after a period of binge application I feel guilty I haven't studied... and angry and frustrated there aren't many opportunities for juniors. Sigh*
Thanks for your honesty and your insights in interviewing at this difficult time. You are amazing and I hope that you get a role that you're looking for soon! Fingers crossed for you.
Thank you for sharing this! You are so resilient and positive, some employer is going to be so stoked to snatch you up soon! Keep slayin
I feel you and I really admire your resilience.
Good luck! For the number of openings, it's astonishing how many folks I know continue to have difficulty getting hired after losing previous jobs to outside forces, even prior to the current crisis.
Hi, if working remotely works for you then feel free to apply at Emumba: emumba.com/careers. We are actively hiring nowadays.
Good Luck with your job search.
Stay Blessed :)
Your transparency is courageous and inspiring. Thank you for sharing so much of your experience ♥️
I totally get where you're coming from! Currently feeling overwhelmed by the lack of opportunities and increase in competition in the job market. We can do it!