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What does "X years experience" mean?

Layne Lund
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 06, 2001
Posts: 3061
This has confused me for a while now. What does "1 year experience" really mean? I ask because I have been programming for over 10 years now, first in Basic, then C++, and now Java. I also have dabbled in a few other programming languages, primarily for college course-work. However, my programming experience is primarily as a hobby hacker (by the REAL meaning of hacker). I finally have a degree in Computer Science as of May 2005, but it seems that when I put "10 years experience in C++", people get the wrong idea. When I do get an interview, they are surprised that I am a recent college graduate. So how do I accurately measure my "years of experience"? Are there any general guidelines you can suggest? Or perhaps from the other direction, what does "3-5 years experience" mean? What exactly do hiring managers expect from "1 year of experience"?

Layne
[ January 27, 2006: Message edited by: Layne Lund ]

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Homer Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 311
When I do get an interview, they are surprised that I am a recent college graduate.

Could you elaborate on this?

I suppose experience is in the eyes of the beholder. IMO, they would like you to be working in an environment as close to their environment as possible for the last three to five years. They would like you to be coming from a direct competitor or a related industry.

IMO, work that does not match what they are exactly doing is not relevant experience. Sometimes a person with C++ experience can make the jump to Java. Now I would expect that BASIC would be seen as totally irrelevant. IMO, it depends on how much need the hiring manager has to make something happen and how hard the hiring manager has at finding people.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
The answer.... it depends on what they mean (and aren't explicitly telling you).

Sometimes they want overall experience. This means actual work experience, and not personal projects. Making a web site for your uncle while you're in HS probably doesn't count.

If they're asking about years of experience with a language, they may or may not count programming as a student.

If they're talking about years of programming in general it's possibly (but unlikely) they're counting school. They probably aren't counting summer jobs, and may count discounted jobs during the semester.

In general when they say they want "X years of experience" they probably mean commercially used, i.e. in the workplace.

--Mark
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18545
    
  40

I agree... it depends...

IMHO, if X=1, then maybe school work or summer jobs are okay. But if X=10, it may be bad if more than one year is not actual work experience.

Henry


Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
Layne Lund
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 06, 2001
Posts: 3061
Thank you for all the comments. I have had summer jobs and worked on personal projects of my own, but don't have any experience in a full-time permanent position. So from most of the comments, it sounds like I should say that I have zero experience. However, if I say that, then I think I have little chance of even being considered for any programming positions. Given all of this, how do I accurately reflect my skills in my resume and at the same time maximize the chances of getting hired for an entry level position?

Layne
Jesus Angeles
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 26, 2005
Posts: 2049
Any system that you did, that is not for yourself (e.g. tutorial, personal purposes), that are verifiable (e.g. you can provide contact info of the company who tasked you to do it), then I would consider that an experience, put it in my resume, and add it to my count of my experience months/years.
Layne Lund
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 06, 2001
Posts: 3061
Originally posted by Jesus Angeles:
Any system that you did, that is not for yourself (e.g. tutorial, personal purposes), that are verifiable (e.g. you can provide contact info of the company who tasked you to do it), then I would consider that an experience, put it in my resume, and add it to my count of my experience months/years.


Unfortunately that is very minimal (less than a year, all together). Perhaps I am just looking at the wrong types of jobs. Nearly everything I have found in my job searching has asked for 3-5 years experience (or more). So how do I find entry level positions to apply for?

Layne
[ January 27, 2006: Message edited by: Layne Lund ]
Vikas Kaushik
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 13, 2001
Posts: 46

However, if I say that, then I think I have little chance of even being considered for any programming positions. Given all of this, how do I accurately reflect my skills in my resume and at the same time maximize the chances of getting hired for an entry level position?


Layne:

First of all, congratulations for having 10 years of experience before finally getting the computer science degree. This is really extraordinary stuff and be happy and confident about that. Although you have already received valuable answers from many senior ranchers yet I would like to tell you a couple of things which I think can be valuable to you.

�If we talk about the industry, they consider the work experience after your education (first degree) or consequent full time degree(s). If after first degree you are doing the others as part time or through distance education and working simultaneously the work experience would be counted.
�I would advise you to write down all your work which you have done in a sequential order, as your accomplishment so far. You will definitely be treated separate and valuable than other candidates of your education. Moreover think and try really hard to pitch up for a position where they give value to your accomplishments so far. If I would be at your place, I won�t have been joining any company where my experience has not been counted.

There are opportunities and many startups need people like you. Remember, it is the experience which ultimately matters. I do not know how intensive your work experience is but still I am sure it would add a lot of value to your career ahead.

Good Luck!!


Vikas Kaushik
http://www.techaheadcorp.com
Geoffrey Chu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 25, 2004
Posts: 70
Hi Layne,

Why not creating a Software Portfolio ? You can attach it to your resume (as a link to a site or as a hard-copy document). I am not sure if they will look at it, but that will give you some advantage over new applicants. Specially in tiebreaks.

You can create a website with all the different projects you did, mention the languages and concepts used (design diagrams will be great). Don't forget to include snapshots of the programs. Since Companies might not even look at it, create a PDF or Word document and attach it to your resume (always make your resume short).

Good luck,

Geoffrey


Geoffrey Chu<br />----------------------<br />- SCEA<br />- IBM UML OOAD<br />- SCJP 1.4
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Layne,

I started programming hwne I was 12. Most of what I did in HS and college was not relevant to real world software development. Even most of my summer jobs, and the summer jobs of many (but certainly not all) students I've seen are not that relevant; e.g. they are small independent projects where the employer doesn't expect much work and the student doesn't get much interaction with others.

On the plus side, you're no different than any other student, so I wouldn't be so concerned. Most positions you'll find online are not for recent college grads. College grads are typically hired through the Career Services offices on campus. Have you tried yours?

I would recommend you highlight projects you've worked on and have a project section to your resume. That might make it stand out a bit from every other college resume, most of which tend to look alike.

--Mark
Layne Lund
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 06, 2001
Posts: 3061
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
On the plus side, you're no different than any other student, so I wouldn't be so concerned. Most positions you'll find online are not for recent college grads. College grads are typically hired through the Career Services offices on campus. Have you tried yours?


The people at Career Services know me quite well. They are very helpful in critiquing my resume and cover letters, but in my experience, they haven't been very helpful in finding jobs to apply for.

Layne
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Layne Lund:

The people at Career Services know me quite well. They are very helpful in critiquing my resume and cover letters, but in my experience, they haven't been very helpful in finding jobs to apply for.


I've never heard of any school where they help you find jobs to which to apply. They are usualy just their in an advisory capacity. But surely they do on campus recruiting; are you doing that? Are you going to career fairs? Are you going to career fairs at other local schools? How many alumni from your school have you contacted regarding jobs?

--Mark
Layne Lund
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 06, 2001
Posts: 3061
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:


I've never heard of any school where they help you find jobs to which to apply. They are usualy just their in an advisory capacity. But surely they do on campus recruiting; are you doing that? Are you going to career fairs? Are you going to career fairs at other local schools? How many alumni from your school have you contacted regarding jobs?

--Mark


Their on campus recruiting doesn't seem to be very good in my opinion. Maybe I just don't know how to use their services very well. I've been to several career fairs. In fact, I had an interview during the last one, but That was mainly because I happened to already have a phone interview with them and they happened to have a rep up here for the career fair. I have stayed in contact with several of my classmates. There hasn't been a lot of success there because they have all moved out of state and I am looking for a job in the state.

Well, this is getting way off track of my original question. My main intent was to get suggestions on how to make my resume accurately reflect my experience so that I don't continue to disappointed by jobs and interviews where I certainly don't fit. Many of the comments here have helped. Thanks a lot for your time to give feedback.

Layne
Homer Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 311
When you say they are suprised you are a new college grad, I'm hearing they don't like you because you are not 23ish. Do you see any of this phenom?
Layne Lund
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 06, 2001
Posts: 3061
Well, the one experience I have in mind was a phone interview, so they couldn't tell right off that I'm not 23ish. This phone interview was close to graduation (I can't remember if it was before or after) and when I mentioned my graduation date, the interviewer asked something like "So how do you have 10 years experience with C++?" Even during an in-person interview, I don't think that has been an issue. Of course, most people seem to think I am younger than I really am. I guess I should take advantage of that as long as I can

Layne
Sagar
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 14
In INDIA only full time job with a software company is considered as real experience..not even free lance!!


Sagar
Vikranth Gujjar.
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 27, 2002
Posts: 6
X yrs experience means that you have repeated 1 year of experience X times,
in most cases.

Regards,
Vikranth
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41147
    
  45
Hello Sagar and Vikranth G.-

On your way in you may have missed that JavaRanch has a policy on display names, and yours does not comply with it - please adjust it accordingly, which you can do right here. Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter.


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Layne Lund
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 06, 2001
Posts: 3061
Originally posted by Vikranth G.:
X yrs experience means that you have repeated 1 year of experience X times,
in most cases.

Regards,
Vikranth


That still doesn't answer my question. What IS 1 year of experience? What kinds of things do you do in that year that constitute a year of experience? If you read my original message, you will see that I have been programming in C++ for 10 years. However, that doesn't seem to count as 10 years of experience because it has been all academic and personal projects.

Layne
[ February 22, 2006: Message edited by: Layne Lund ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
If you want a simple defination (meaning one where there are undboutedly lots of expcetions). I would postulate: 1 year of experience means spending 1 year working full time on a commercial software project. Here "commercial" means something that is sold for money or used internally by a company that has revenue.

--Mark
Vasu Reddy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 13, 2005
Posts: 32
Hi,

from 1 year experience person one can not expect any thing. if you have 1 year experience means the companies consider that you know about companies working environment and more over you know formalities in project development (i.e, like weekly review meetings,.....).

But in freshers case the first 6 months will go for learning all those things.

Above all are from my personal point of view.

best,
 
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