• Vishwanath Eswarakrishnan joined Meta after being laid off from Cruise in December.
  • His second layoff occurred following a Cruise robotaxi accident in San Francisco.
  • Focusing on being a good engineer and what he could control helped him land a job within a month.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Vishwanath Eswarakrishnan, a software engineer who joined Meta's Menlo Park, California office in March 2024. It has been edited for length and clarity. Business Insider has verified his employment history.

I have been laid off twice, both during crucial times in my personal life.

Two years into my software engineering career, I was impacted by a reduction in force at a data infrastructure company. I was laid off on March 1 and had 30 days to find another job that would sponsor a work visa.

I managed to get an offer from Oracle, and the company suggested I work from another country until they could sponsor my H-1B in a year. But it wasn't an option for me — I was about to get engaged to my now-wife and needed something secure.

I got another offer from a data storage startup days before my stay in the US expired. I worked there for close to five years and moved to eBay in 2020 and then to Cruise in 2022.

My second layoff came in December last year after a Cruise robotaxi was involved in a pedestrian accident in San Francisco. (The company laid off 24% of its workforce.)

I was up for a promotion, and the team was preparing my new package. But I was let go from Cruise, and I got the news one day before my wife had our second child. There were complications, and my job was the last thing on my mind.

Once things started settling, I updated my LinkedIn to reflect "Open to work" and started receiving messages from recruiters.

Here are three things I did before my layoff and two steps I took after that helped me land a software engineer role at Meta within a month.

1. Maintaining relationships with recruiters

I never intended to be polite to the recruiters who reached out to me while I was employed just so they could help with jobs down the line. But, I always responded to their reach outs on LinkedIn and replied that I'm not looking for a role right now, and asked them to keep in touch. Being responsive and staying connected may have helped the fact that recruiters for AirBnB, Meta, Uber, and Snowflake reached out with opportunities right after my layoff and limited the companies that I had to apply to myself.

2. Focusing on being a good engineer

Throughout my career, I made it a priority to ask questions and not do my job like a mechanical task. Asking why things work, and why things are done the way they are made me a better engineer, and made it much easier for me to answer both technical and leadership questions at interviews even though my schedule was packed to the brim.

I was also able to reach out to an ex-manager from my time at eBay who moved to Meta and ask him to refer me, because he remembered me and was happy to vouch for my work.

3. Domain variety

Even after my first layoff, I never tested the market every few years to gauge my worth. Switching companies was always a last resort, and I only moved when I felt like I had exhausted my learning or when I no longer saw a work-life balance fit.

I asked for internal transfers and joined growing companies where I could hone various domains. I moved from security to core infrastructure and then to infrastructure for running simulations, which made me a good fit for many different openings and increased the chances of recruiters approaching me.

4. Not stressing over the big picture

One mindset that helped me stay calm during the process was focusing on what I could control, which was preparation for the interviews. Thinking about the thousands of other tech workers who have been let go would only have been demoralizing. Whenever thoughts of the layoff crossed my mind, I stopped thinking about it and focused on practicing my coding and system-design interviews.

5. Organizing

Eswarakrishnan's January calendar of interviews Foto: Vishwanath Eswarakrishnan

Having a calendar where I noted all my interviews, along with the names of the recruiters, was a lifesaver during that time period. Jotting down all my appointments helped me plan each day, especially since I gave a few interviews at the hospital during doctor visits for my newborn.

Writing down the names of the people I was interviewing with gave me context and jogged my memory about what had been discussed with the company or the hiring manager before.

Do you work in tech or management consulting and have a story to share about your career journey? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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