There are plenty of great job opportunities now if you’re a software engineer.
But will that be the case even when the market crashes?
Hard to tell, but a bunch of engineers shared their advice in this Quora thread on how to remain employed in a market crash.
We narrowed it down to the 17 best pieces of advice:
Get experience at a top tier company (startup or big company).
- Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
“Top-tier experience (or education) is always valuable and desirable.” – Chandra Kalle
Don’t stop learning, ever.
“This is the only real thing that can sink your career. We’re blessed to work in the most in-demand field the world has ever seen, but the cost (or benefit if you’re a learning addict like me) is that the career will pass you by faster than any other career in history if you don’t keep learning.” – Tony Erskine
Work in an area where even a mediocre engineer can have stability.
- Flickr Creative Commons/Highland
“Find a comfortable niche in a company with steady revenue stream, be good at a really boring but important technology that 21-year-olds wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole, and hang out and try to make it to 50 and then work as a middle manager.
“There are plenty of mediocre, even terrible software engineers working at older not-sexy companies that have excellent job security because the new college grads have no desire to work there, and the companies actually make money.” – Anonymous
Be reliable and personable.
- iStock/Central IT Alliance
“It’s not about your primary programming language or technology, it’s not about being smarter than everyone else, it’s not about being the world’s best programmer. It’s about being good, being reliable, and being someone who other people want to work with.” – John Miller
Talk to recruiters.
- Thomson Reuters
“If you get a chance, talk to them about their needs, what they’re looking for, criteria for selection, and so on. Many are perfectly willing to talk and not waste time if it’s a bad fit, and will give you insights into their process.” – Shane Ryoo
- Reuters/Regis Duvignau
“Everyone I know who struggled to remain employed during that period assumed that they could survive on skill alone. Skill is important but it won’t land you the jobs you want. It might keep you employed at a place you hate, but it won’t open new avenues. You need to have that skill and interview well.” – Anthony Corbelli
Work in a recession-proof industry.
- Matt Sullivan/Reuters
“Now if you work in an industry where revenue is monthly from solid recession-proof companies who still need your services during economic downturns, you survive.
“Think of these industries like banking, defense contracting, and insurance. They aren’t as sexy as startups, but they aren’t shutting down when the VC money dries. So boo all you want, but working for non-VC-backed company is the best way to not end up jobless when market crashes.” – Jason Yan
Sometimes, not having a high salary helps.
“From my experience from wading through the last market crash and being one that got axed, I observed that the people whom they kept were the ones they could justify paying salary to.
“That means anybody who’s at the bottom, the new hires would go; and the ones at the top, the most expensive ones would also go.
“Who were left? The middle-level employees who had been there for a considerable time, enough to understand the system and were able to shoulder the task which fell on them when their colleagues were let go, and didn’t cost much in term of salary.” – Chris Prakoso
Show true dedication.
- Shane Snow
“Look at this stack of books and ask yourself if you’ve done the same. This, in addition to coding, being a parent, being a husband, as well as performing live music, planning shows, and the other things I enjoy doing… become the asset and you have nothing to worry about.” – Ryan Rentfro
Build a specialty.
- NeilsPhotography / Flickr
“Make sure to always specialize deeply as it creates unique value for you as an employee. It maximally differentiates you in the job market place. This will have to be done repeatedly with new skillsets as the demand for skillsets change over time.” – Jeff Ronne
Keep good relationships.
- Michael Dodge / Stringer / Getty Images
“The best job offers by far come from personal references, which consist of past coworkers and managers. By always performing well is past jobs, one is placed on the shortlist in the minds of one’s previous coworkers.” – Jeff Ronne
Build a personal brand outside your company.
“Participate in open-source projects, showcase your code on github, start a blog, write on Quora, anything that intersects your engineering interests and online reputation. Whatever you pick, aim to be within the top 25% of the people within that category.” – Chandra Kalle
Don’t just build; invent.
- Flickr/Tony Alter
“One way to survive, and further reach the ‘poachable’ level you mentioned in your question, is to use your skills to invent rather than just build them. Then you also gain the option of being your own boss instead of an ‘irreplaceable’ employee. A much better paid option.” – Alex Rogachevsky
Diversify your skill set.
“So, one criteria for a resilient career would be one that is able to sustain a shift across industry. If you’re making highly specialized medical device software and that industry hits a big regulatory setback, you’re in for some difficulty. On this topic, I would say: Diversify your skill set.” – Justin Abrahms
Constantly improve your skills.
“It’s not a matter of specific languages or tools. It’s a matter of skill level. Pick any of the popular tech stacks. Constantly improve your skills in your chosen stack. Also improve your soft skills (listening, working well with others, etc).” – Adam Leffert
Have an active GitHub profile.
- Matt Weinberger/Business Insider
“Fiddle around with things, write your own libs, make a mess 🙂 Most of companies are looking at this.” – Janis Miezitis
Or, just don’t worry — the software industry will never crash!
“I don’t think software industry will ever crash. We live in such a world of technology where everything is depends on software programming… Software industry will never go out of scope. We will, and we have to develop, programs that help people and make life easy.” – Naitik Chandak