My Journey Through Tech's Changing Tides

Every designer and developer faces challenges, but there are ways to turn the tide. Follow a true story that empowers with tips and tactics for weathering the stormy phases of a tech career while anticipating the dawn of brighter days.
November 2023 · 4 mins read · Cover image by Holly Guacamolly

by Connor Patterson

Chapter 1

The Unforeseen Storm

One cool autumn morning, life took an unexpected turn. I opened an email that changed everything. For years, I had been a key part of the tech team at a big company. I felt secure in my role as a full stack developer, but that security was suddenly shattered. The email was clear and to the point: my position was no longer needed.

As I sat there trying to process the news, it became clear why this had happened. The company was changing, moving forward with new technologies that were different from what I knew and used daily. My skills, though solid, were tied to older tech that the company was moving away from — and I hadn't kept up with the latest trends and tools.

Being comfortable and not actively learning had put me at a disadvantage. The tech world moves fast, and not keeping up meant I was left behind. I realized that staying the same in the tech industry is like falling behind, and now I was paying the price for it. It was a tough lesson, but one that lit a fire under me to get back in the game, learn new technologies, and become relevant again in this fast-paced industry.
Chapter 2

Facing the Job Search Challenge

As I continued my foray into the job market, the analogy of a lead funnel became more and more fitting. Imagine pouring your numerous applications in at the top—say, a hundred of them. Statistically, a 2% conversion rate from applications to interviews would yield two opportunities to impress. That's the first narrowing of the funnel.

From those two interviews, advancing further down the funnel, a 10% success rate means that securing just one job offer would be a win. This mathematical perspective forced me to reframe my expectations and strategy—it wasn't just about landing every interview, but about increasing the quality of each application.

To this end, having a fine-tuned resume is imperative in boosting one's conversion rate at each stage of the funnel. A well-crafted resume can be the critical difference between slipping through the cracks and catching the right attention. See how you can improve your CV with ChatGPT that can help you polish and perfect this essential document.

Additionally, the journey requires patience. It's essential to 'just keep going,' as the old adage suggests. The job market often sees a resurgence in the early months of the year—January, February, and March—when companies have new budgets and goals. This can be the season of opportunity for job seekers, and having your refined resume ready can set you apart when the hiring wave picks up.

Remember, the funnel not only signifies the process of selection but also the importance of perseverance. Every application sent, every interview attended, and every opportunity explored is a step closer to your goal, even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment. Keep creating targeted applications, keep networking, and stay focused on your journey. The job search is a marathon, not a sprint, and as you keep at it, you increase your chances of crossing the finish line with a winning offer in hand.
Chapter 3

Echoes from the Hiring Front

Job Search by Miguel Camacho​
Job Search by Miguel Camacho
Job hunters weren't the only ones having a hard time. The people trying to hire also struggled, but from the other side. I chatted with a hiring manager named Alex, and the picture he painted wasn't pretty.

"Post a job, and boom, 500 resumes hit you like a wave," Alex explained. The annoyance was clear in his words. "Most are fake. They come from bots. They aren't from real people."

He told me a story that really opened my eyes. They hired a guy who seemed perfect. But as soon as they gave him the job, weird things started to happen. The guy said he needed time off instantly. Then they found out his ID didn't match up, and his story didn't check out. He said he was in Texas, but did a drug test in Maryland. His college degree? Fake too. Alex and his team were scratching their heads—was this guy pretending to be someone else to get work to others, or was he after their data?

"Yes," Alex said, making it clear, "the market's tough."

This shocked me. I never knew this was what went on behind the scenes. But Alex also gave me some hope. He said that when a real person comes along, someone honest, they stand out a lot. It made me think. Maybe being real and honest was still worth something.
Chapter 4

Igniting the Spark Within

Time marched on, with each day blending into the next, a silent symphony marking the absence of opportunity. It was in those stretches of quiet that I discovered a need to shift gears. True, I had plenty of experience, but to capture attention in this crowded digital landscape, I realized I needed to do more—I needed to showcase my unique spark. It was then that I turned to the very projects I had once set aside, where the embers of innovation still glowed, awaiting my return.

To stoke these embers into a full flame, I crafted a simple strategy that others might find useful to rediscover their drive:

  1. Network, Network, Network: Your resume is your ticket to the game, but your network is what gets you on the field. Engage with professionals in your field through social media, attend webinars, and participate in industry events.

  2. Personalize Your Applications: Don't just send generic applications. Tailor each one to the company and position, highlighting how your skills and experience align with the specific role.

  3. Embrace the Side Project: Use your time between applications to develop a side project. This not only sharpens your skills but also provides a tangible example of your work ethic and passion.

  4. Refine Your Online Presence: Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and reflects your full skill set and experience. Contribute to open-source projects or answer questions on platforms like Stack Overflow to showcase your expertise.

  5. Stay Current and Upskill: Continuously learn and adapt to new tools and technologies that are in demand. Online courses and certifications can bolster your employability.

  6. Practice Interview Skills: It's not just about having the right answers but also about how you communicate them. Practice your interview technique with a friend or mentor, and prepare to articulate your experiences effectively.

  7. Optimize Your Resume: Make sure your resume is ATS-friendly, focusing on keywords that align with the positions you're applying for. Keep it concise, and highlight achievements. You can use free ChatGPT for improving your CV.

With these steps, my enthusiasm was rekindled. I tackled my abandoned projects with newfound energy, pouring my revitalized spirit into creating rich and engaging user experiences. My portfolio transformed from a dry list of past jobs to a vibrant gallery showcasing my evolution as a developer and a designer. The results were no longer just about code; they became stories of my dedication, skill, and a vision that I hoped would resonate with future employers.
Chapter 5

Navigating Forward

As I began to weave the tapestry of my story through my revised side-projects, I stepped into the last chapter—armed with a revived sense of purpose and a portfolio that now narrated my journey with vibrancy and depth. I had traversed the valley of uncertainty and emerged with a clearer vision of the path ahead. Yet, the broader narrative was not mine alone, but one that echoed the experiences of many in the fields of design and development.
No wave is insurmountable, and calm seas are often just over the horizon
Understanding the ebb and flow of the market became my compass. Markets, like the oceans, are in constant motion, a series of waves that rise and fall. The tech industry, with its relentless push towards the future, rides on the crest of innovation followed by troughs of recalibration. It is within these cycles that opportunities are both created and diminished, and where timing can be as crucial as talent.

To those fellow designers and developers navigating their dark stripes, you must remember: no wave is insurmountable, and calm seas are often just over the horizon. As surely as a period of contraction will challenge us, a subsequent expansion can bring a wealth of possibilities. Your 'white stripe' awaits, but it requires perseverance and adaptability to reach it.

Stay strong!
career transformation, tech industry evolution, UX/UI design journey, developer to designer, job market navigation
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