Imagine getting a job offer at a company you love, quitting your current job, meeting your new team, and then...getting an email that your offer has been rescinded just days before you were supposed to start. 😱
While not as common as layoffs, this devastating scenario can play out in a market like we've seen in the past few months in 2022 where companies are scrambling to survive during a market downturn. There's less venture capital money flowing to companies, company valuations have plummeted, and over-hiring during the pandemic and previous years has all culminated in a huge shift in the tech job market.
In our very first episode of the Speak_ Up podcast, we share the stories of two engineers who had their job offers rescinded by crypto giant Coinbase.
Vijay Duraiswamy is a senior engineer who spent over 8 years at Amazon. Before becoming a software engineer, he was a mechanical engineer, which is a career shift we see often in the Speak_ community. Vijay sees the commonality between the two disciplines - energy created through mechanical motion moving from motors to generators relates directly to electricity traveling through wires inside computers. But the appeal of software is that you can get things out the door much faster with less effort, and that impact is well perceived by users and customers. Launching an electrical grid takes multiple years while launching software can happen in just weeks or months.
After a positive interview experience at Coinbase, Vijay landed an enticing offer, which he accepted. He was invited to an offsite in Denver, CO. He bought plane tickets and booked his hotel. He quit his previous job on June 3, readying to start at Coinbase on June 6. That start date rolled around and while he was in the middle of onboarding, an HR representative told him the news that his job offer had been rescinded and he would not be starting his employment with the company. It turned out that an earlier email bearing the bad news had gone to spam.
"I left my previous employer, so I was jobless on Day 1 at Coinbase," shared Vijay.
Vijay's initial reaction to having his offer rescinded was shock, disbelief, and anger. To process the abrupt turn of events, he went for a long walk with his wife to consider the next steps before restarting his job search.
The decision to accept a job at a new company is no trivial decision. Committing to multiple years of employment and partnering to achieve career growth is one of the most impactful life decisions you can make. In Vijay's case, he was deeply committed to this new chapter in his career. He even started investing his own personal money into crypto assets to learn more about the blockchain space (and we know how that outcome played out with the recent crypto crash 😬).
But what caught Vijay really off guard was discovering that being an engineer with many years of high-quality experience did not protect him from having his employment ended. "I thought that as you grow senior in your organization or you are in the base layers of tech, you are a little immune from layoff. I was grossly wrong." Vijay unfortunately learned that job security cannot be taken for granted. Businesses need to make a profit and pursuing that outcome can lead to strategic decisions completely unrelated to any individual's personal performance or potential value to the company.
Vijay has some helpful advice for others facing a layoff or a rescinded offer. "At the end of the day, it is the individual who is getting impacted. I feel it is a personal attack in some ways. It's natural for anyone to feel like that. Give it some time. Think about it in a pragmatic way. We begin to realize that organizations are running for a profit. If their entire existence is at risk, they will have to make this hard decision of laying off [employees]."
Vijay has since landed an exciting new role as a Principal Technical Program Manager (TPM) at Target. Way to go, Vijay! 🙌
Prashun Dey is just getting his start in software engineering after graduating with a CS degree from Stony Brook University in NY. It was a physics simulation coded in Python early in college that turned him on to engineering. During his undergrad, he thought he'd end up doing something more math-centric, like being a quant (Quantitative analyst) on Wall Street. But, the call to work in engineering won out in the end.
Prashun's interview experience with Coinbase went well. It followed a typical tech company hiring process - a resume screening from a large pool of applicants, an online coding assessment, a tech phone screen, and lastly back-to-back, virtual onsite interviews.
Just days before he was scheduled to begin his new role at Coinbase - his first professional, full-time engineering job - Prashun opened his inbox to find an email notifying him that his offer was rescinded. A call from HR followed to talk through the situation and offer support in finding another opportunity.
"It kinda hit out of nowhere because you leave your previous spot to join somewhere else. It sucked," admitted Prashun. "Obviously the first emotion you have is anger or sadness that this is happening out of the blue. You thought you were making this big jump in tech, very early in your career, and then it goes away."
But Prashun bounced back quickly, knowing that, "business is business," and this kind of thing is part of the game in tech. It helped that this outcome wasn't in any way related to his performance. Many others like Prashun and Vijay didn't even get the opportunity to join and show off their skills.
Prashun described it as, "upsetting, but understandable," noting that Coinbase took positive, proactive steps to equip affected candidates with what they needed to tackle the next steps in their careers. That support included access to a talent hub offering job placement support, resume review, interview coaching, and connections through a large, shared professional network to help source job leads.
Prashun also felt that he was facing more favorable circumstances than others in this same situation because he didn't have any work visa concerns and had already warmed up his tech interview skills. "Leetcode grind 24/7!" is his interview prep tip to fellow engineering candidates gearing up for interviews. Tech interviews are different than the actual day-to-day work for any given job, so it's crucial to practice for them. And for talented candidates like Prashun, their inbox is full every day with 10-20 inbound messages from recruiters. Prashun got so overloaded that he was only able to respond to about 10% of those, while interview blocks on his schedule were being snagged.
There's a fun ending to this story with Prashun. He posted in the Speak_ community Discord and our Program Director, Stuart Hahn, leaped into action to assist in finding new job opportunities. A few months earlier, Prashun had already gotten in the door with the hiring team at Amazon through Speak_, so he was able to jump back into the hiring process there and schedule a final interview. Prashun successfully landed a role on the AWS AI team at Amazon! He was so relieved to have landed a great role that he even canceled a few other interviews citing interview burnout. 😅
Prashun's advice to others facing rescinded offers or layoffs is to, "keep your head up." It really is true that when one door closes, another one opens. "You're not really a true believer until it happens to you."
Thank you so much to Vijay and Prashun for hopping on the podcast and sharing their experience with the community!
We'll have more podcast episodes coming soon. We have a backlog of live community events to share with you all on topics like transitioning from individual contributor to engineering manager, demystifying company culture for engineers, and exploring careers in climate tech. And we'll be sharing more candidate experiences to help you rock your tech interviews and find an amazing new job.
If you want to join a community of software engineers working together to get prepared for tech interviews, apply today.