Looking For A Job In A Crisis

Looking For A Job In A Crisis

Looking for work is always a very trying experience it takes a lot of time and you are basically just repeating yourself over and over again for what feels like an eternity, so what could be worse than looking for work during COVID-19!

I had the unenvious task recently of looking for work, this was brought about by the company I was working for (Hooq Singapore) going into liquidation! Luckily we got a bit of a head start when looking for a job and thankfully because Singtel was the main shareholder they decided to give us our notice period and pay which is great and helped make my situation a little more stable.

All this said however it is never fun to have this hanging over you and of course as soon as I was informed it was going to happen I knew it was time to mad hustle.  This involved updating LinkedIn and my resume in general along with ensuring everything was updated and finally starting to accept the pile of recruiter connection requests on LinkedIn.

As one common interview round would be to build a project I knew now was the optimal time to build out a full stack template that I could easily repurpose to any project. This was how I spent my first weekend after finding out, building a well connection template using React, Redux, Styled-components, TailwindCSS, ExpressJS, MySQL to cover all the bases and this was a pretty great move to do early on as it helped me greatly throughout it also created a pretty solid starting point for my when I want to build new Full Stack TypeScript apps as well.

From day one I devoted most of my time to the job search trying to give myself the best possible way of landing a new job but as the  virus intensified it meant that more and more of my face to face meetings where pushed online and before long it seemed like everything was on either Zoom, Hangouts or Teams with most companies favouring Zoom which has only increased in prominence despite all the controversy surrounding it.

This has of course made things much more difficult I have only had 2 in person interviews this time around despite having a whole host of companies I have talked to with quite a few going through to the final rounds and yet it has all been remote and to me this is quite a disadvantage. I much prefer to meet people in person I believe it makes connecting with them easier and provides just a better environment to show your best self online is a bit challenging at times but you have to make the best of a bad situation.

Although the virus has intensified globally ever since we first got the news I feel I have been in a rather lucky spot being a Frontend focused developer in Singapore as the number of openings, recruiters and companies that have came to me means I only actually applied, myself, to a handful of companies with most finding me and it seems the market is booming. Now of course development is one area that can be done remotely and usually is fairly commonly, so that side makes sense, there are some tech companies that are in huge decline largely in travel and tourism, but others like e-commerce are currently booming and want people in yesterday! As a result you may not be able to find something in certain industries a lot are still growing.

Another fortuitous thing is that Singapore although growing has a tech community that is still lacking numbers, especially from the inherent population, yet Singapore is trying to pull in more startups and new businesses here, as a result there are year round a lot of openings that just don't get filled at all. This is of course great when you are out for work as there is already a set amount of work available and it seems that for any experienced frontend that is magnified as I have been surprised by how many opening have been frontend focused especially with React which has been a big boon to me.

I also do thing in some ways the virus has helped those already on the island as companies can't bring in anyone outside the country yet, this means they will favour those internally even more and I do believe this did help me somewhat.

The last thing that I think also helped factor in to my success with moving forward with finding a new job is that a lot of my former Hooq colleagues banded  together to create and circulate a list with all our names and details which ended up helping quite a lot as I had many recruiters contact me directly from that, which proved how effective it actually was and I wasn't even near the top of the list!

On the other hand however although I made a lot of progress with many companies there was one company I ran into that after passing their first round came back to me and said they were only going to hire Singaporeans now due to pass approvals taking longer. Now from my experience that is not quite accurate but for whatever reason they shifted tack but it did also highlight to me that even though I had a lot of good fortune early on that was likely to swing the other way in due course and it was no time to slow my effort or think I was in a strong position because in this unpredictable time it could easily turn.

This did add to the unease I had it was only one out of the countless other companies I had been working with that came back to me with this but still it was not what I wanted to hear right now. I did know however that eventually my luck would run out and now was not a good time to take my finger off the pulse and I did intensify my efforts. I was always making sure that I had around 5-6 active companies coming around as they dropped I would look and add more to ensure that I would not run out of options. This went on for a few weeks at the height of my job search but as the search went on my energy did drain and interview became just a cycle of forever repeating the same thing over and over, it was very draining.

As developer interviews can be done in a whole host of different ways it is always hard to be ready, sometimes you have a test, that test may be just HackerRank Code or maybe some MCQ or maybe build a React Component; you may get a technical conversational interview talking about the Flux pattern or Closures; you may have some whiteboarding where you are expected to implement a solution to a problem or maybe a component... the broad amount of work you have to try and cover is tiring and pretty tricky because you can only be so prepared for what is to come and it is just tiring for about a month I had at least one interview a day a lot of the time it was many in one day with the peak being 4 in one day and that was no fun.

I am of course very grateful to have such a wide selection of work coming my way it has been very reassuring during this highly unpredictable time and I am glad a lot of the companies I've worked with are pretty awesome actually. It has also been fairly rewarding as I am able to see how far I've came since being at Hooq and I feel my grow is fantastic actually I am further along the journey than I realised before and I think the new job I ended up selecting speak to that as well.

In the end the company I went with is a little know Swedish company called Chinsay who operate in maritime contract digitisation. The role is more full stack but with a slant towards the frontend and they have been pretty awesome the entire process! I am looking forward to start working with them and learning even more from more great people!

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash