My thoughts of life and code

Be prepared for your next job

Tony Xu


This is a presentation shared in DBL retreat. I posted content here for everyone to take a look.

Thanks for reading this blog. In this blog I want to share my personal experience on changing my job and some of my thinking that might be helpful for you. I’ll keep this blog in high level, and will not talk about job seeking skills, etc.

I will talk about:

  • ✅ My first time changing job
  • ✅ Have a goal in mind
  • ✅ Keep moving
  • ✅ Career evolving

I will not talk about:

  • ❌ How to write good resume
  • ❌ How to prepare technical interview
  • ❌ How to get referral
  • ❌ How to use LinkedIn efficiently

Part 1: My experience changing job

I joined a start-up, Moxtra, as a software engineer after graduation from University of Missouri. Some of you might know I joined LinkedIn last month. When I look back and think about how I managed to do that, I summarize those into two key concepts that I had in mind:

  1. Always have a goal in mind
  2. Keep moving

Part 2: Always have a goal in mind

It’s said that when you clearly know what you want, you will be more likely to get good result. My goal is really simple, I want to build great product and work in great company. It’s deep in my mind ever since my childhood. This goal drives me all the way to the United States, to the silicon valley.

To be honest, working in companies like Facebook/Google/LinkedIn has always been my goal. With that in mind, I become more proactive toward work subjects and gradually acquired skills that later proves to be critical in helping me get a job from those companies.

Part 3: Keep moving

Changing job every couple years used to look bad on resume, but it’s not anymore, so don’t worry about it. Stick to a job for a long time means that you are totally dependent on that job, and never got a chance to develop the skill of getting a better job quickly. In the tech sector, very few people last in a job more than three or five years. You have to be prepared, mentally, financially, and skill wise to keep changing jobs every couple years.

There are also other reasons you should move forward, when you feel you are repeating yourself everyday, or the work you are doing doesn’t make you feel confident in finding next job. Most important reason, you can easily get 30% to 50% salary promotion after you change job. If you want to make more money, you should think about it.

Part 4: Career evolving

There is one more topic I want to talk about, which is career evolving. People have different goal and interest in different phases of life. You might want to try different jobs in your entire life, most importantly, you simply can’t do the same job in your whole life. It’s been a hot topic recently among tech companies that people is worrying about their job security when we turn 4050. I’m worrying about it as well, wondering if I’m going be a software engineer forever and how can I compete with younger people in their 20s or 30s. This is not a new topic though but people do have lots of anxiety. Personally I have no answer yet for those questions, but I do found some possible options that I might be considering for the next step:

  • Being a senior/staff software engineer
    • Keep exploring new technologies
    • Become expert in existing technologies
  • Being an engineering manager
    • Become expert in technology
    • Pay attention to people management skill (hiring, leading, respectful)
    • Process, strategy, communication
  • Being a project manager
    • Demonstrate management skill in project, business, product, users, people
    • The more you can manage, the better chance you will land in project manager

If I’m lucky enough to get over above challenges, I’ll probably be looking at director positions or starting my own business. Who knows? So, think about how your career might evolve and prepare for that.

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