Covid-19 Musings Part 2

This post is part 2 of this series. Part 1 can be found here.

Recently the company I worked for laid off all its employees. Before I go further, I think its worth laying down the context. The company was doing some innovative work in the Fintech SaaS space within Australia/New Zealand and was in various stages between demo to about to sign a contract stage with various companies. However, due the Covid-19 related market downturn — a lot of investors pulled out of final stage funding rounds, resulting in many people losing their jobs. There is more to say on this topic but I will leave that for a future post.

Right after receiving the redundancy notice, I decided to start looking for some other oppurtunities. I am no stranger to job hunting and have had my fair share of interviews throughout my career so far, but it felt like job hunt this time round was going to be a lot harder than I expected. Here are my thoughts on the job market in the past few weeks:

Everyone is in the same boat

…and I mean everyone. Strong, financially viable companies that were on hiring spree just weeks prior to the covid-19 downturn started freezing their roles. I myself had applied at 3 companies with positive pre interview phone chats with two of them and a technical interview scheduled with one. However, no more than a week later, I got an email from one of them stating that the role I was interviewing for had been frozen. I never got any call/email from the other two but looking at their company careers page later, all the roles advertised previously had been taken down — so I can only assume they went through a similar hiring freeze.

Remote interviews are in town and here to stay

Before the downturn, I had never had a video interview before. Although I’m aware that a lot of industries and companies have had a video interview process for a while - I personally never had the chance to be in one.

However, in the past few weeks I have been on almost 2 dozen video chats/interviews/pair programming calls (most of them on Zoom) and it has honestly been a much better experience. To summarise, here are the things I liked about the video calls over in person interviews:

  • No commute, pre covid if I had to interview I had to take time from my day job to commute to the interview, do the interview and then commute back

  • Pre covid-19 doing interviews in a new setting might have been a bit disconcerting but now I could interview in my own home using my own setup and familiar tools (IDEs and all)

  • The last one might probably be just me but I realised I had much nicer interview experiences remotely since I could see how all my interviewers were responding directly (Zoom gallery view ftw 🙌) . Another factor here was that most interviewers went out of their way to make me feel comfortable since doing anything remote automatically forces you to overcompensate for body language and tone.

A big advantage of remote interviews for me personally was that roles or companies that I would have never interviewed for in the past due to their know long interview processes seemed far more manageable this time. Since I didn’t have to go away from my day job to for multiple 3 hour interviews at . I felt like I could manage my time much better between interviews, full time work and side projects.

A big advantage of remote interviews for me personally was that roles or companies that I would have never interviewed for in the past due to their know long interview processes seemed far more manageable this time.

Last but not the least, please do not ignore your mental health in these times.

With all that was going on in the world and my personal and professional life, for a brief time I slowly started losing touch with reality. Some of the things that compunded my dark mental state some weeks back were:

  • Had just signed a lease to move into a new place with my fiancé
  • Got made redundant in the midst of a global crisis
  • Had to look for jobs while companies were pretty much shuttering their doors to new hires

However, I had to remind myself — the world is fucked but could be a lot worse. I know I have a lot to be grateful for and everyday I like to remind myself that I’m one of the lucky ones in these times. I have a loving partner, family that is willing to support me. Friends old and new that reached out to me and offered to help or just chat. And, I happen to live in a country where for all its flaws the government has the capacity and willingness to help its people during this crisis.

Please do not ignore your mental health in these times.

The days when I wasn’t in the right mindset were the days when I had the worst interviews. I was disconnected and not genuine. This was not the energy I’m used to and it changing that was a key decision I took which helped me quite a bit in my job search journey. Some things that helped me tide over my negative thoughts were,

  • Having a journal. I use the Mac app Day One but it could easily be a physical journal if you prefer the analog medium. A quick 5 minute writing at the end of the day is not only cathartic but comes ise use as a handy little mood tracker that I could look back in a years time.
  • Getting into a new passive hobby. For me this was cooking which helped me a great deal in destressing between interview rounds and also made for a well stocked fridge. It’s also something that will keep on giving for a lifetime since my partner and I both love eating.
  • Nurturing relationships. This is harder said than done atleast for me since I’m generally not the type of person that calls first — however, over the past few weeks I have consistently had chess matches with my partner (which I have also consistently lost as well and probably was not that good for my mental health now that I think about it), called friends and family a lot more than I used to, and made conscious genuine effort to reach out to friends outside of work.