1. 27

I got a startup job out of college and immediately realized I hated it. 3 of their best engineers quit one-after-the-other right after I joined. I knew it was gonna suck, but I decided to stick it out to get the holy “year of experience” ASAP.

I was planning on quitting immediately once I hit my year but I was so used to going against what my needs were that I stayed. I told my manager that I didn’t enjoy the work and suggested ways for it to improve, and told him I would probably quit soon if the couldn’t be met, as an act of good faith. I took time off to go to a conference and the day I got back they fired me. I guess they thought I was interviewing at other places and wanted to fire me before I hopped so it wouldn’t look bad on them. In retrospect, they started peppering “performance” issues throughout my stay there to cover their ass. Lot of manipulation and lying. It was just overall a shitty place to work. I naively gave them the benefit of the doubt and they abused it.

I’m just wondering what I should do now. I am so burned out and now I have nothing but a black mark on my resume, I wasted a year of my life. I had requiters from FB/Uber/Google/etc contacting me but they will probably reference check, notice I got fired and pass.

I don’t really know what to do now. I was planning on taking a long break to recover from this shitty job but now it seems like I gotta get another job asap. :/

  1.  

  2. 32

    First up: chin up, you’re doing great. Please understand that you aren’t the first person to get fired, and most of us have been there and it’s not the end of the world.

    If you’re worried about references, understand that most companies won’t do anything beyond confirming your employment dates. This is for liability as well as bridge-burning reasons: it turns out that technology is a small world, and that the person you badmouth today can be commercially viable decision maker somewhere else tomorrow.

    Get your TripleByte/Leetcoder/whatever profile in order. Talk to those recruiters. You got this.

    1. 5

      First up: chin up, you’re doing great. Please understand that you aren’t the first person to get fired, and most of us have been there and it’s not the end of the world.

      Can’t emphasize this enough. When you’re the one in the soup it FEELS awful, but when you recover (and you will!) and get some distance, you’ll realize it’s just a small blip in the overall upward trend of your career.

      1. 4

        Get your TripleByte/Leetcoder/whatever profile in order. Talk to those recruiters. You got this.

        I don’t want to right now. I’m burned out.

        1. 9

          take a break if you can then. if you have the ability, then take a month or two. there’s nothing wrong with that.

          1. 1

            Month or two? Psh, I’m thinking like half a year

            1. 1

              thats fine if you have the funds.

              1. 1

                Okay. Thanks.

        2. 3

          TripleByte

          Is there anything like TripleByte but for the UK? I passed their little online quiz without any trouble and it said I could do well in their interview, but I also don’t really want to work in the US any time soon, with the culture as it is and all…

          1. 2

            toptal.com do cover the UK - not sure how they compare to TripleByte.

        3. 20

          Look. You’ve learnt some good lessons here. Being let go isn’t as big a deal, especially at your level (just getting started).

          I won’t repeat what others have said here, but one thing to take away is there’s no ‘good faith’. As much as you may like your manager, you never say things like I’m planning on quitting if xxx. The managers incentives are not aligned with yours (it sounds like, especially at this place). So once you signal intent to ‘maybe’ quit, it has nothing to do with you possibly interviewing at other places. Their goal is not to be caught out if you follow through. So they have to act to replace you, otherwise it becomes their problem if you do quit. I don’t think

          I guess they thought I was interviewing at other places and wanted to fire me before I hopped so it wouldn’t look bad on them.

          has anything to do with anything - there’s no ‘them looking bad’ in this scenario - people moving from place to place is normal, especially in tech. So stay positive, and start applying.

          1. 4

            You’ve learnt some good lessons here. Being let go isn’t as big a deal, especially at your level (just getting started).

            This. You can’t expect that your first job will be a good fit. In fact, for most people a “first job” is just a “first job” and nothing more.

          2. 7

            I don’t really know what to do now. I was planning on taking a long break to recover from this shitty job but now it seems like I gotta get another job asap. :/

            If you can afford it, don’t. Take a few months off. I was burnt out at my last job. I finally decided (in retrospect far later than I should have) to just quit with no plan. I took 3 months off and it was the single best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health. Having time to get bored rekindled the curiosity that I had slowly lost as I fell into burnout.

            1. 7

              In retrospect, they started peppering “performance” issues throughout my stay there to cover their ass.

              Are you sure there weren’t actual performance problems? It sounds like you had already determined the outcome long ago—the place sucked, working there is going to suck, and I am only doing it for 1 year and moving on. These (probably) aren’t motivating the best in you.

              I’d take a step back and consider what you will actually enjoy doing, and talk to companies that have a better track record of providing mentoring/ resources for those early in their career. Try lots of things, do breadth first exploration of everything in the company you end up at, and work your way to a spot where you’ll actively be engaged and doing your best work, then focus on depth.

              Getting fired isn’t a big deal in the end, but it’s best not to assume you didn’t do anything to deserve it—maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not.

              1. 6

                Are you sure there weren’t actual performance problems?

                Yeah you’re right I was overly emotional when writing that. I hated the way the team was managed:

                • no autonomy
                • constant viewing of my screen
                • interrupted randomly throughout the day
                • pile tech debt on top of tech debt (while not even acknowledging there’s tech debt in the first place)

                I was resentful of the style of programming I was subjected to. My manager is VERY good with people and is “good enough” at programming to get by and manipulate people to do what he wanted. I think he was leveraging the tech debt in such a way so that he is always the “best” on the team, basically fill everyone else’s heads with bullshit while he gets the easy/impactful stuff and looks smart. He was at his desk only 1-2hr every day but managed to pull “most” of the weight. During our 1-on-1s I noticed he had a lot of gaps in his knowledge and didn’t seem to really care for the craft.

                …That being said I think he’s a genius and I learned a fuckton about management/people, but my god….. I am burned out from programming.

                There was another team that I think I would have been a much better fit for (tech lead actually gave a shit about programming and gave people autonomy) but unfortunately I did not take the initiative to switch over.

                Thanks for seeing through my bs. Explaining this will be tricky

              2. 5

                If, at the end of your life, you end up only wasting a single year of your life, that would be pretty good.

                If you can code, there is a very good chance there is someone out there ready to hire you for that, regardless of your past experience.

                1. 5

                  I had requiters from FB/Uber/Google/etc contacting me but they will probably reference check, notice I got fired and pass.

                  Why a recruiter should pass on you just because you got fired?

                  Genuine question, I’ve never heard of such behavior from recruiters.

                  1. 12

                    There is no way a recruiter will pass on you. They work on commission. As a software developer recruiters can be very pushy and annoying when they are looking for candidates… The flip side of that is they are probably equally pushy with the employers. From my experience, they will do anything and everything to get you hired… After all, if you get hired, they get paid - My last recruiter even managed to get me a salary bump above what I was asking for. We’ve all worked in shitty companies like the one you were at. Everyone can relate. I’ve interviewed loads of people and when someone says they were fired, if the interview went well, the most thought you give it is “Oh. That went well. I wonder why they were fired? They seem like a good fit. It’s a ‘yes’ from me”… We hired someone who got fired from his last company because he insisted “you all code like retarded monkies” 😂 Now, that should raise some alarm bells, but he ended up being one of our best developers and an absolutely great guy to work with! 😂

                    1. 4

                      Also, looking at all the positive responses in here it should be clear to see that if you explain your situation, in the same way, it will probably be met with the same response by future employers… If not, then you probably don’t want to work for them. It would probably be the same kind of company

                    2. 2

                      No I mean, once the company gets to the reference check stage, realizes I got fired, I imagine they’d bin me. Too much of a liability right?

                      1. 11

                        Why would you think that? I’ve interviewed for jobs as a professional multiple times in different cities, and interviewed dozens of people for jobs at companies I’ve worked for. Nobody has ever cared about the circumstances of how you left your last job. It’s good to be prepared to explain it in a professional way (“We realized that I was not a good fit for the position because X”), but it shouldn’t be a big deal.

                        1. 8

                          Not at all.

                          First, most hiring managers are human and mature enough to understand that people get fired for bullshit reasons all the time. I’m not going to claim it won’t weigh on their decision, but it absolutely won’t be a dealbreaker. (And ask yourself if you really want to work under someone with so little sympathy they can’t understand an unjustified termination.)

                          Second, if they don’t find out until the end of the hiring decision, then as long as you haven’t been outright lying to them about the circumstances of your departure (“everything was great, I was just looking for something new”), they’ve already made a decision and invested a bunch of time and energy into you. They’re unlikely to drop you at that point just for having been fired from your last job.

                          (You should feel free, by the way, not to talk about why you left in detail. Say something like “it was difficult and not amicable and I’d rather not discuss it”—all of which is clearly true—and recruiters and interviewers should have the tact to drop it.)

                          As a final bit of advice, since you’re clearly very burnt on tech employment right now, you should take as much time as you can afford to recover and recenter. Pushing harder into burnout is counterproductive. Instead, travel; expand your hobbies; work on personal projects; whatever. People making hiring decisions will also be experienced enough to have dealt with burnout (and again: do you want to work under someone who doesn’t?). I think even just a few days will help you calm and get a more objective view of your circumstances.

                          1. 5

                            Bear in mind - you get to supply your references. It’s completely normal to provide, for instance, the address of a senior engineer who you had a good relationship with rather than the manager with whom you didn’t. It’s basically not done—to go around asking people for references if you didn’t offer them.

                            1. 3

                              Others have said it in more convincing prose, but I want to chime in with similar:
                              You lose at 100% of the opportunities you don’t pursue.

                              It is a pithy quip but has a kernel of truth.
                              Don’t defeat yourself before you’ve even begun.

                              An added anecdote: I have had to fire a solid engineer before, but due to the specifics of the circumstances, I would have been happy to provide a recommendation for a future position if he had requested it.

                              1. 3

                                If a company will make a decision of not hiring you based only on your previous employer’s point of view, then I’d say it’s a shitty place to work in as well.

                                1. 2

                                  You’re not a liability just because you got fired IMHO.

                                  Even if you got fired because of some burned production server, I believe that if the team you’re interviewing with thinks you could be a good match for the job, they would hire you anyway.

                                  1. 1

                                    It’s very unlikely. A company can’t say they’ve fired you. In most US states, company can only tell people start/end dates and if they’d rehire. You’re previous company isn’t listed as a reference right (and if they are, remove references entirely from your resume. They shouldn’t be there at all).

                                    Recruiters just call a ton of people, cast wide nets. It’s not uncommon for them not to call you back, or call you back three months later, or call you for jobs in cities and countries you no longer work in …. seriously fuck recruiters.

                                    But again, seriously, just plough through recruiters. Give them your time, answer their questions, always request the name of the client, hang up on them if they don’t tell you , don’t give them references (I tell them I’ll give them to the client after and interview, and the client can share them with the recruiter if they want)… don’t let them get you down.

                                2. 6

                                  I’ve been fired three times. It sucks but you move on. Life happens, all we can do is make it work for us.

                                  1. 3

                                    That’s a lousy story but I’m glad as ever to see people here being thoughtful and even constructively critical of it. Lessons that take a year to learn aren’t often fun but they also aren’t often a waste of time. (5-year or 10-year lessons…probably not so much?)

                                    Take a break. And remember, if you go work for one of the big companies it may take a while to get through the pipeline anyway…so starting with them now isn’t the worst idea. They’ll also be fine with you pushing out your start date if you need.

                                    You’ll have to get in order what happened – apg was right to ask. Some things you’ll have to own, and it’ll be to your credit if you can talk about them. (E.g. “I shouldn’t have let my feelings about X get in the way of doing Y”). Luckily, the plain story is enough – you got burned out in the job, told your manager you needed help to fix it, and the day after coming back from your first holiday in probably a long time, they let you go.

                                    Similarly, meech was right to say there are right and wrong ways to bring up issues with your manager (ultimata never work out, but also, some managers will work things out with you and others, for good reasons or bad, will cut bait…it takes more intuition than you were likely to have to tell which, even when it can be told at all). There’s a lesson in that, and once you’re able to be magnanimous about it all it’s OK to share. You’ll probably feel hurt about it for a while yet, though. However you feel, it’s best to stick with the facts, and to paint neither you nor your former employer in a bad light.

                                    Last, never use people you don’t trust for references – better choices in this case include some senior engineer you worked with, someone who used the software you wrote, or someone you interned with before finishing school.

                                    1. 3

                                      I mean you’ve had one job, which already puts you ahead. Getting fired can be explained straightforwardly as you and the company not aligning in values, or the direction the work you were doing was going, or a combination of both.

                                      1. 3

                                        I am so burned out and now I have nothing but a black mark on my resume,

                                        I don’t think that it’s a black mark, but if you really think so, omit the whole job from your resume (even if it means starting from zero) from half of the job applications you send out and see if there’s any difference.

                                        1. 2

                                          I was fired from my first two full-time jobs as a programmer, and I remember wondering if this meant I was permanently unemployable. In hindsight both of those firings were blessings in disguise, although it took me a few years to see it. You can always truthfully say you left the company if someone asks you about it.

                                          What I ended up doing between my firing and my next job was moving back home for a few months, attending a batch at the Recurse Center (best twelve weeks of my life), and then looking for a job for a few more months. I haven’t been fired from either of the jobs I’ve had since then, but I’ve accepted that it could happen and it wouldn’t be the end of the world, just like it wasn’t in the past.

                                          1. 2

                                            I told my manager that I didn’t enjoy the work and suggested ways for it to improve, and told him I would probably quit soon if the couldn’t be met, as an act of good faith.

                                            Honestly, this was probably the nail in the coffin. Instead of being a good manager and discussing with you how to make your life at the company easier, he likely ratted you out to his superior and got the ball rolling to fire you. I don’t buy the “interview” argument.

                                            This is all to say that you’re much better off not working at the company. If I were you, I’d contact the three previous developers and asked why they left the company. You may have dodged a bullet.

                                            1. 1

                                              I think it’s important to take time to grieve and feel shitty about it before throwing your hat back into the ring, if you have the funds to do so. If you rush into your next offer you’re going to find another misfit that puts you at risk of being fired again.

                                              Your startup sounds eerily similar to a startup experience I had—they even had us install software that monitors what window we had open so they could tell exactly how many hours you worked and what websites you were on. It was normal to work from 8am to 8pm Monday through Sunday.

                                              Try working for a bigger company not named Amazon. You might find the work/life balance better there and more suitable to your style.

                                              1. 1

                                                Calling it a waste it a bit rough, presumably you got paid and presumably you did other things in your life during that time period. Good luck getting a new job, I’m sure it isn’t as bad as you think it is.

                                                1. 1

                                                  just claim you quit for the reasons you were planning on quitting

                                                  1. 5

                                                    Strong disagree – please don’t lie on your resume or during your interview.

                                                  2. 0

                                                    don’t worry, if you want career advice, I’d be glad to help for free, first read: https://maxyazhbin.solutions/crushing-interview/, then feel free to email me with your resume: myazhbin@gmail.com

                                                    1. 0

                                                      Hey,

                                                      I read your post and created a post of a recent event that occurred outlining the shit many companies do (in this case Harmony.one), don’t feel bad, because that doesn’t help your career. Keep building. https://maxyazhbin.solutions/why-i-would-not-accept-an-offer-from-harmony.one-even-if-they-made-it/

                                                      Thanks, Max Yazhbin