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Hunter Johnson for Educative

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3 ways to future-proof your tech career in 2023

This article was authored by Educative’s Co-founder and CEO, Fahim ul Haq.

During the 2008 financial crisis, I was an immigrant software engineer at Microsoft with a young family. I vividly remember the unpleasant feelings of instability and discomfort about my future.

Recent headlines about layoffs at big tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Salesforce, Amazon, Stripe, and Zoom bring me back to memories of those challenging times. It is easy to feel powerless when facing such uncertainty.

At the time, I decided to take control by investing in my own development.

I did this by practicing my skills and working to expand my knowledge of new technologies. I set a goal to learn new skills during lunch breaks and in the evenings. This commitment to myself increased my confidence and resilience – and helped me become the best engineer I could be.

This experience inspired me to eventually create Educative, with the mission of helping other developers confidently learn and grow in their careers.

Let me ask you a question: What are you doing today to invest in your future? How are you going to stay motivated and find a sense of purpose during this uncertain time?

3 ways to future-proof your career today

Investing in yourself is critical for acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to stand out in a challenging job market. Perhaps you haven’t been affected yet, but in times like these you need to take whatever steps you can to future-proof yourself.

Companies may be hesitant to hire aggressively in times of economic uncertainty, but they’ll always need people with deep and specialized skills. The hiring market will rebound. The long-term demand for engineers will only grow.

"By far the best investment you can make is in yourself."

Warren Buffett

Of course, you only have limited time, especially if you are actively working. That means you need to prioritize learning the skills that will help you the most in your career.

1. Invest in learning technical skills that will boost your career

First, take some time to reflect on where you are in your career.

What are the most critical skills that you could add to your toolkit that would help you excel today? Then, which technologies should you master in order to stay competitive in your field (or springboard you into a new field)?

Is it a new discipline, like System Design, Machine Learning, or Data Science?

A new programming language like Rust, Ruby, or Go?

New APIs, frameworks, or tech stacks?

Do some research, or maybe even start a course. There are a lot of useful, in-demand skills to learn that could benefit you in your career. But because time is limited, be sure to prioritize the most impactful skills first.

2. Invest in your interviewing skills

Next, it’s never a bad idea to keep your interview skills sharp.

With increased competition for tech jobs, people in my circle (other senior executives, CTOs, and investors) are reporting that interview loops are taking as long as 30 days. Hiring managers aren't rushing to make decisions. They're still carefully considering each suitable candidate, which means your interview really matters.

Dedicate time to preparing for the full engineering interview loop. Depending on your level, this will include:

Preparing for the interview will take you a few weeks at a minimum. Brush up on data structures, algorithms, common coding patterns, and system architecture. With structured interview prep, you will learn to anticipate the types of interview questions asked and develop the muscle memory required to confidently answer them.

That said, merely having the skills and experience for a role isn’t enough to stand out. What really matters is your ability to communicate and demonstrate you have those skills during the interview. Are you ready if someone asked how you would design TinyURL?

If you need to brush up on System Design, check out this free lesson on Design TinyURL from Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers.

3. Invest in your online profile and soft skills

As you start preparing for the interview, make sure you stand out by updating your resume, portfolio, and online profile.

To help our community navigate the current job market, we recently hosted a webinar with seasoned tech recruiters who gave their best advice for getting your foot in the door. (Sign up for a free trial today and you’ll get free access to this exclusive webinar).

Here are their top 5 tips for standing out as a top candidate.

Also feel free to check out the How to land an Engineering Interview in 2023 | Tips from tech recruiters webinar on YouTube.

1. Have a complete LinkedIn profile

Recruiter tools search for keywords throughout your “About” and “Experience” sections of your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you provide complete descriptions of your experience, including any relevant technologies, skills, and tech stacks.

2. Be prepared during the first call

Do some basic research into the role and company, and be able to talk about your most relevant experience.

3. Answer pre-screening questions completely

If they ask any preliminary questions, tailor your answers specific to the role that you are applying for.

4. Describe your leadership contributions

Even if you are not a manager, it's still very important to show where you took initiative, accepted extra ownership, and drove meaningful results.

5. Prepare a pitch

Communication matters. You have a few minutes to make a good first impression, so practice in the mirror or record yourself giving a short, impactful overview of your experience.

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I hope you find this advice helpful. If you are feeling the pressure or have experienced a setback, know that you are not alone — just don’t let it get in the way of long-term success. Set a goal, go after it, and stand above the crowd. With a bit of dedication and focus, you can make the most of any hiring market.

Remember that the team at Educative is here to help. I will be sharing more advice in the coming weeks about how to efficiently and effectively deepen your skillset and prepare for interviews. If you use this adversity as an opportunity to develop new skills and stay competitive, it’s an investment that will pay dividends throughout your career.

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Happy learning!

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What other tips do you have for those looking to take steps to solidify the longevity of their careers? Was this article helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

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