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Reviving career after a break and post multiple rejections!

vinayhegde1990 profile image Vinay Hegde Updated on ・3 min read

Hi Everyone,

Allow me to begin by making an honest statement here because I don't know what else to do.

I'm a Linux Systems Administrator from Mumbai, India with around 4 years of experience. I recently took a break from my career due to personal family reasons.

While I used this time to not only attend to the said personal reasons but also contemplate my next career movie of transitioning into DevOps / Site Reliability Engineering.

With that in mind, I proceeded to learn new skills such as Docker (a vast topic in itself), will be starting shortly with AWS (another big topic) and familiarizing myself with concepts related to the above roles. I usually go one at a time to avoid burnout and so the next step is a development language like Python (targeting a working knowledge of it down the year)

I also created 2 projects, visible here and here so that I could showcase what I learnt and satisfactorily answer an oft-asked question posed by recruiters "How did you utilize your break?"

Now, I do my due diligence on each of the companies before, during and after the interviews by starting off with a customized cover letter, researching thoroughly about the company, answering their questions frankly (including any about my break) and asking them few across their product|service, the role, culture and in general, maintaining a positive decorum throughout the process.

For 8 months, despite passing multiple rounds of interviews, I've been either rejected by lines saying "We need a more experienced candidate aligning with the company needs" or by "You're excellent but not quite the right fit as of now" OR I don't get even an interview OR the worst case - I don't hear back at all.

A quick question I've here is if everyone wants a more seasoned candidate, where should someone moderately experienced as me go? Can't help but dread to think as to what must happen with freshers.

I've also been told that I should learn "technology X,Y or Z" because it's in demand now but I wonder as to what all and how much can an individual grasp by online courses or preparing answers to interview questions by just reading documentation as compared to getting practical exposure on the same.

They stem from the fact with an analogy I'd like to make here

We can take as much driving lessons in a simulated environment as required but until we drive a car in real-world traffic at different times, how do we tackle scenarios like dealing with a car going bust in the middle of the road with 10-15 people raging on you OR when do we take it servicing OR what do we do if our car is in an accident

I could go on with more such examples but I hope my gist is clear.

Isn't a genuine interest in an organization's principles, the potential to contribute in solving actual problems as part of their team and the curiosity to constantly learn and improve (mind-set than skill-set?) that should count?

I should also mention each rejection is adversely affecting me and I sometimes feel very demoralized to the point of thinking "What exactly am I doing wrong?"

Could someone please be so kind as to give me any suggestions, recommendations, advice (on anything you may have to share after reading so far) or even possibly refer me to potential hiring recruiters?

Now I landed most of my interviews for most positions via their company websites but I've also tried many other helpful services that cater to the idea of a career abroad such as

Please Note: I'm available to join immediately and willing to relocate for the right opportunity anywhere across the European Union.

My complete CV/resume can be found here, you can also reach me directly via email or LinkedIn

Any help will be much appreciated! Many, many, many thanks in advance!

Posted on Jun 5 '18 by:

vinayhegde1990 profile

Vinay Hegde

@vinayhegde1990

Site Reliability Engineer with 5+ years of experience. Otherwise an avid artist, reader, cinephile & football fan. Looking forward to connecting with everyone :)

Discussion

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Hi Vinay,

I am totally in your shoes. So I know the feeling and how frustrating it can be at times.

I have a CS background (as a software programmer) but I did work during 10 years at a help desk position. It was a personal decision, the software market wasn't the same 15 years ago too. However I was still active learning programming and doing side project. I founded a non profit organization with some friends and studied creative coding (which has it's own set of challenges).

I had the luck to be able to go back to programming and it did worked quite well. I was utterly motivated, eager to learn and you seem to be on that track too. So I will say keep going, work hard and opportunities will come to you !

Our industry is quite fucked up at times. I have been told several times I was too junior to apply to a position, or not even able to start the interview process because of my non significant experience. I have been rejected too so I know the feeling. On a side note I do work daily with peers that have profiles which would totally satisfy these people criteria. And frankly, I am doing any bad or worse than them, sometimes even better as I am eager to do more.

I don't really know if it helps. It is my story. I hope it gives you hope and keep working hard (that's the only way to succeed). Maybe you just need to work harder on your social profile. A good way for that is to learn things and write about them in blogging platform.

Keep strong you will succeed !

 

Hi anchnk,

Thank you so much for sharing your story comprehensively and the empathy towards my situation. It really helped!

I totally agree with you on so many points you've mentioned, especially the being too junior for a role OR unable to begin interviews OR being declined without even so much of a response.

So the thing is, I'm motivated to work hard as you said but when all you see is rejections day in day out (however nicely they are conveyed), it really leaves me disappointed. I mean, I do tend to move on quickly but scenarios like these make you question everything - the industry, the companies, yourself and so on.

"I had the luck to be able to go back to programming and it did worked quite well. I was utterly motivated, eager to learn and you seem to be on that track too. So I will say keep going, work hard and opportunities will come to you !"

This line gave me some more strength to power through, thank you again!

PS: I do have a blog (tech/non-tech content) which you can read more here and as you suggested, being on dev.to is a step towards more blogging :)

Just out of curiosity, some quick questions:

  • What noble mission is your non profit foundation about?

  • Is re-approaching recruiters via LinkedIn or their work emails (I've been fortunate enough to be in touch with some from whose organizations I was rejected but with a humane approach and I'll write more on this soon) a better idea than applying via their company website listings?

 

I am so happy if sharing my story gave something to you.

That's probably the most valuable thing I have done today.

As a reminder, you are not alone in this situation. It means you can exchange and build up from other experiences with a similar background. A lot of people are coming from different background in the tech industry. And most of them are doing great.

Again, I know the feeling as I have and am in your shoes. Dont' let the bad experiences put yourself down and for each bad one try to stay as positive as you can. You have value and skills, I don't even know you but I am so sure about that. Don't let recruiters you are desesperately looking for a job, show them you know what you are capable of that you are confident

In my opinion, the tech hiring process is not working well nowadays. Talented people are left behind and recruiters are complaining having hard time to find the good fit. It's a bit a jungle, some job offers even put legal requirements as job's advantages and I am not even speaking about startup's sway with free beer and friday parties.

My non profit organization was not as noble as I would like it to be now. It was mainly about knowledge sharing around creative coding and digital arts. Introducing people to art created from coding.

For the approaching question I would keep it via the official road. But if you have contact with these people I would definitively contact them and ask them how you can improve as your are eager to move forward in your career.

I would browse job offers similar to the kind of position you want to apply and see what tech and soft skills you might need to improve to be the perfect fit. Meet people that do have this kind of job and talk with them even through social network (and here is a good place for that I think). I would train myself to interview with blank interview I mean keep active and convince yourself you will succeed and that will happen. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but the day after yes.

There are no such thing such as you are not good enough for or talented enough for ? I don't believe in that.

I could go deep in that topic but that would make a very long comment and that's your story :) Keep it going

Thank you so much for the pep talk!!

When dealing with recruiters, I've always been confident than desperate to illustrate my capability. Its just the putting myself down was something I thought of sharing since someone here may face them now or in the future. For anyone who's going through a similar experience, please feel to reach out to me.

My non profit organization was not as noble as I would like it to be now. It was mainly about knowledge sharing around creative coding and digital arts. Introducing people to art created from coding.
That sounds amazing, how did you come up with the idea? Is there a link where I could see what you've created?

For the approaching question I would keep it via the official road. But if you have contact with these people I would definitively contact them and ask them how you can improve as your are eager to move forward in your career.
For every role that I'm declined via personal email from their HRs, I do ask for feedback towards improvement but only 10-20% revert. I assume that must be the legal requirements you were talking about.

I would browse job offers similar to the kind of position you want to apply and see what tech and soft skills you might need to improve to be the perfect fit. Meet people that do have this kind of job and talk with them even through social network (and here is a good place for that I think). I would train myself to interview with blank interview I mean keep active and convince yourself you will succeed and that will happen. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but the day after yes

  • That's precisely the reason for this blog post :)
  • The interaction with people having those roles is something that I'll get doing right away. I don't have many of them but the ones I know could be of some help here.

Cheers!

 

Since your past experience is all as a sysadmin, you might shift your focus a little bit and look for a sysadmin position with a company poised to make the devops culture shift and catch that wave when it comes. Or just use it to build up more experience and take it someplace else -- the point is to minimize the number of factors you're working against.

 

Hi Dian,

That was a very helpful feedback although your first point is something that I've already tried out during my career. And I believe no time is as good as now to catch the wave :)

However in my experience and opinion, working as a sysadmin again will be a step sideways rather than up because very few companies actually make that culture shift as you said.

Since I've a fair level of experience as an Ops professional, your 2nd point is what exactly I'm trying to do currently - could you please elaborate more on these factors and how do I minimize them?

 

Right now:

  • you're trying to shift your career focus
  • you're trying to return to the software industry after an employment gap

Each of those contributes to making it difficult to land a job. Trying to tackle both at once is harder than taking it one at a time, which is why I recommended the sideways move first. If you luck out and find a company about to make the leap, fantastic; otherwise, you're still collecting a paycheck and (potentially) gaining experience you can use to shop around for a job you're more interested in.

Those are very valid points Dian, thanks for bringing them up!

While I was previously working, I did follow your approach of gaining experience so as to land a job of my interests before taking an abrupt break, unfortunately I didn't have much luck then.

Also, given the uncertainty of this industry - I feel re-trying something similar will leave me back to square one rather than help me proceed.

If you don't mind, could you please share any medium wherein I can connect with you personally to have a quick discussion on this?

I can be reached directly via email.

Again, many thanks for your clear and logical suggestions!

Comments are free but 1:1 career counseling is a job, and I don't have the time or honestly the inclination to take that on. Good luck out there!

No problem, Dian!

I really appreciate you taking time and being inclined in sharing some great advice so far. Good luck to you too!

 

Hey, there are some projects here at IBM that use AWS, maybe you could send them an email. Sorry to hear you are going through that.

 

Hi Mats, thank you for the empathetic suggestion and I will definitely explore IBM's career page.

If you don't mind me asking, since IBM already has Softlayer as a Cloud Platform, could you please share what projects is AWS being used for?