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A laid-off tech worker’s odyssey: 5 months, 25 interviews, 100 job applications

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A laid-off tech worker’s odyssey: 5 months, 25 interviews, 100 job applications

At times, Todd Erickson’s tech job search felt more like an odyssey.

But after five months, about 100 job applications and more than two dozen interviews with employers and companies — including a final series of eight interviews that began in December — Erickson accepted a new job as a technical writer at Vantage Data Centers on Feb. 22. It starts on February 28.

“It was a complete emotional roller coaster. False starts and promises. Jobs that didn’t materialize. A lot of waiting and anxiety,” said Erickson, who was laid off in September after six years at his previous employer, Phase Change Software, a software development startup in Golden, Colorado.

Erickson, 56, is a former attorney who started working in the technology sector in 1997. “It was wild,” he said of the job search. “I spent over two months with very little contact from potential employers and recruiters, and then [had] multiple interviews in one week.”

Adding to his challenges was that in his last job, Erickson had what he calls a “do what needs to be done” role and didn’t develop an area of ​​expertise that was particularly “useful in this job market,” he said. he.

After being laid off, Erickson spent his days applying for jobs online, meticulously filling out forms and tailoring resumes for each job. He also ran the household, taking care of his 13-year-old daughter, Grace, as well as two dogs, two cats, a hamster and a hermit crab, while his wife, a retired teacher, pursued a new career.

It felt like “a lot of sitting around and waiting” for his next job, he said.

“I would spend all day filling out applications – several hours for each management application [or] a director-level job — and matching keywords on my resume,” he added.

Complicating matters, he said, a number of LinkedIn job postings appear to be scams. One common scheme encourages job seekers to send $50 to speed up the interview process.

In addition to the stress of the job search, Erickson was dealing with struggling finances and a health problem. He was unemployed and had to take out a personal loan to pay the bills while his wife, Wendy, who retired as a public school teacher in June and has a modest pension, trained to become a hairdresser.

And after being diagnosed with a torn meniscus in November, Erickson had to postpone surgery despite a right knee that swelled to twice the size of the left. His new job’s medical benefits will take effect March 1.

“Healthcare was as important as the new job. We lost our insurance when I was laid off and had to buy it through the Colorado Affordable Care Program,” he said, adding, “It’s nowhere near equivalent to what we had before.”

Erickson is considering a gig for Lyft Inc.


and DoorDash Inc.


as well as contract work before finally taking a break from the job search: A promising third interview with Vantage in January convinced him that a job offer was forthcoming.

The series of obstacles Erickson faced was daunting, but he had been through them before. During the dotcom implosion more than two decades ago, he was laid off and struggled to find work. He went back to practicing law, but he didn’t like it.

This time, Erickson is taking advantage of a bit of good timing after losing his job ahead of a wave of layoffs that left tens of thousands out of work at Amazon.com Inc.


Alphabet Inc



Google, the parent company of Facebook Meta Platforms Inc.


Salesforce Inc.


HP Inc.


Intel Corp.



Microsoft Corp.


and a number of other technology companies.

Before the wave of job cuts that began in late 2022, laid-off tech workers found jobs within months, said Julia Pollack, chief economist at ZipRecruiter Inc.


In October, Pollack said, 79 percent of laid-off tech workers found a new job within three months, and 40 percent found a job less than a month after they started looking.

But by the end of January, the success rate had dropped to 55 percent, Pollack told MarketWatch. “If you get laid off in December and January, that’s the hardest time to find a job,” she said.

These statistics are inconsistent due to the length of severance packages in the tech sector—an average of 16 weeks, compared to a national average of nine weeks—and the plethora of consulting and freelance work available to workers with technical skills.

“The unemployment figures are in a way deceptive. While tech workers enjoy a monthly stipend [packages]they’re in no rush to get a job,” Tim McCarthy, co-CEO of marketGOATS, a platform that helps individual investors find and invest in skilled money managers, told MarketWatch.

But there is another factor at play for many job seekers. Despite the fact that people age 55 and older make up a growing share of all workers — 24 percent in 2019, up from 13 percent in 2000, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey — many of they face ageism in the workplace. This is especially prevalent in the technology industry, even though federal law prohibits discrimination against people 40 and older in hiring or any other aspect of employment.

In a historically strong job market in 2019, one in four job seekers over the age of 55 reported difficulty finding work, and 53 percent reported experiencing age discrimination in the workplace, according to a business survey by ZipRecruiter this past year. Meanwhile, employers were adamant that they preferred younger applicants, even when older applicants had the same ability. They base this preference on perceived concerns about older candidates’ physical health, technical skills, pay requirements and willingness to report to someone younger.

Erickson decided to hide his age during his job search by omitting his college graduation date from his resume and listing only his last three jobs. “Competition is tough going forward,” he said.

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