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How to prevent "lack experience in corporate setting"?

K. Tsang
Bartender

Joined: Sep 13, 2007
Posts: 2409
    
    7

Hi all, I'm living in Hong Kong and want to get a java related job. I've been learning and doing java "personally" for about a year. During this time, have done a trading website (with EJB/servlet/JSP etc) for some java course I took. Currently I'm doing the SCJD cert. The problem is I feel is that when companies interview me, they say "your previous experience isn't java related ...."

My background is:
* Over 5 years of experience in system implementation and software engineering at various multi-national companies
* Awareness of how technology impacts and integrates with business
* Sun Certified Java Programmer
* Led functional team in departmental design and implementation of IBM AS/400 message consolidation utility, improving data center operation efficiency by at least 25%
* Developed trading website using Java technology
* Developed several websites using PHP
* Implemented data warehouses and performed extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) for 3 banking applications using SAS System
* Led functional teams in departmental design and implementation of application backup and recovery strategy to better utilize resources, saving thousands of dollars and increasing backup success rate by at least 30%
* Planned data center migration process for systems and applications with managers and operators
* Proposed server performance improvement program to managers and engineers maximizing resources through automation and administration scripts
* Led migration of network infrastructure from Windows NT 4.x to Windows 2000 in Shanghai, linking up several branches' networks
* Supported over 100 systems and 20 applications worldwide especially Asia Pacific running IBM AS/400
* Administered and migrated IBM Lotus Domino Servers running IBM AS/400 across Asia Pacific
* Recovered TrendMicro virus checking software ScanMail deficiencies on IBM Lotus Domino Servers
* Ensured systems' availability and planned systems' recovery procedures


Most of my experience in development had been PHP or legacy language (eg IBM AS/400). What recommendations are there in order to promote to companies that I'm a suitable candidate even without much java experience in the corporate setting.

Any feedback is appreciate. Thanks.

K. Tsang JavaRanch SCJP5 SCJD/OCM-JD OCPJP7 OCPWCD5
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
In order to effectively promote your "professional" experience, you might want to stop attempting to promote you "personal" activities as "professional" experience. Basically, you have zero "professional" experience using the Java language.

There is a difference between what you have been "paid" to do and what you do in your free time.

It looks like you need to focus more on effectively presenting you PHP and IBM programming experience rather than trying to pass yourself as a Java programmer.

Without the job details, e.g. name of company and time period, your experience looks questionable and you present a risk.

Good luck!
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38788
    
  23
Looks like a thread which would sit better on the Jobs Discussion forum. Moving.
K. Tsang
Bartender

Joined: Sep 13, 2007
Posts: 2409
    
    7

Thanks James for your comments. In fact I do need to start some where in order to do Java professionally. If I can't get in how possibly can I get Java experience.

Yes I can promote my PHP and IBM programming skills but then I will be back in what I used to do. Since most big corps usually use either Java or .NET so if I keep on doing PHP say I would be in my little niche, cutting off from the main stream.

Now if I promote myself as a fresh grad getting Java jobs, that would be a problem too because I have like 5+ years of experience and my pay would drop significantly.

Hope you see my situtation. There is indeed a last resort ... I can totally forget the programming/IT industry and change field.
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
Thank you. I understand your situation. Personally, the first four years of my professional programming experience was with a language called OmniMark. I loved every minute of it. Eventually, other tools become available as you learn to use them and there is a need.

Your statement about "big corps" using Java or .NET is not accurate. The majority of business applications in the world are written in a COBOL version. Java and .NET take up only about 20-25% of this pie.

You will have more available opportunities in software programming if you learn to program in COBOL.

Either way, with a good inteviewer and a good company, you should be able to convey that you have the "programming skills" required, and that Java syntax is simply a trivial detail. My only suggestion is to try not to emphasize your non-professional Java learning experiences on your written resume.

Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18828
    
  40

In order to effectively promote your "professional" experience, you might want to stop attempting to promote you "personal" activities as "professional" experience. Basically, you have zero "professional" experience using the Java language.


I am not completely sure if I agree with this... I think that most of us (with decades of experience, and struggling to figure out what gets dropped off of our resume, because it doesn't fit in two pages anymore) forget that we were newbies once (and struggled to figure out how to fill the first page of the resume).

I agree that "non-professional" work doesn't really count. But I would rather see that, than a really short resume. At least, with the "non-professional" listings, we have a starting point for discussions during the interview.

IMHO, as long as the work is not passed as "professional" work, during the interview, I have no issues with it.

Henry


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

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
An individual claiming "Over 5 years of experience in system implementation and software engineering at various multi-national companies" can't really be considered a "newbie."

"non-professional" activities on this person's resume shouldn't really be there, in my opinion. Looks strange and untrustworthy to me ...
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18828
    
  40

James Clark wrote:An individual claiming "Over 5 years of experience in system implementation and software engineering at various multi-national companies" can't really be considered a "newbie."

"non-professional" activities on this person's resume shouldn't really be there, in my opinion. Looks strange and untrustworthy to me ...



hmmmmm...... okay...... I'll agree....

If the candidate is considering replacing professional experience with non-professional experience on the resume, then it is not a good idea.

On the other hand (which from the original post is unlikely), if the five years of experience, is one big project (that is mostly maintenance), and can be summed up in one paragraph, then IMHO, adding some non-professional experience as a filler shouldn't be a problem.

Henry
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30512
    
150

James Clark wrote:"non-professional" activities on this person's resume shouldn't really be there, in my opinion. Looks strange and untrustworthy to me ...

JavaRanch is on my resume. It doesn't replace paid employment - it's in a small section on the bottom. Needless to say I don't think it is strange to put. (I have 6.5 years of experience plus jobs while in college.) If presented as non-work, what's the harm? It shows that he is interested in Java and does it in his free time.

Henry Wong wrote:If the candidate is considering replacing professional experience with non-professional experience on the resume, then it is not a good idea.

On the other hand (which from the original post is unlikely), if the five years of experience, is one big project (that is mostly maintenance), and can be summed up in one paragraph, then IMHO, adding some non-professional experience as a filler shouldn't be a problem.

And yet there is somewhere in the middle.

I think we all agree putting the SCJP on the resume is appropriate. College students put down about Java courses. Most people put about grad school if they attended. I'm just not seeing the distinction between "personal" experience and education. Presuming it is not presented as professional experience of course because that would be a lie.


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Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Without seeing an actual resume it's hard to know what information is being given and how.

Most people hiring tend to think very narrowly, I won't hire you to do X unless I've seen evidence you've already done X. In an economy like this, it's ever worse.

That said, try to leverage what you do have. One approach is to find a company with AS400 systems looking to switch to Java, where you can leverage your AS400 skills.

Another is to promote the fact that you have IT experience. Certain aspects, requirements, testing, documentation, working with others, estimating, etc. apply no matter what technology is being used. The question in the mind of the hiring manager is, "he knows IT, but does he also really know Java or has he just read a book." I would maybe put a separate section on the resume emphasizing Java work, including links to a portfolio online where they can see what you've written in Java and/or view the source code. Fundamentally you want to make the person viewing your resume do as little work as possible to be convinced that you do indeed know Java. (Even so, it's still some extra work for the hiring manager and in this market he may still make the easier choice of someone who has it more clearly on his or her resume.)

--Mark
K. Tsang
Bartender

Joined: Sep 13, 2007
Posts: 2409
    
    7

Thanks for all your comments. I have AS/400 and PHP skills and want to switch to Java. And I've been talking to those recruitment agencies and they mention looking for jobs in PHP with Java exposure is a good idea. Or like Mark said AS/400 moving to Java.

The amount of Java knowledge I have is yet to determine without real experience. Cos whatever I'm been doing in my free time may be limited. For example I may decide not to use Struts framework for my personal project why? Maybe I'm lazy or don't bother to change code bla bla bla.

And by stating I have SCJP may help but up to how "hands-on" am I is their question. Thats why I'm currently doing SCJD. yes its not J2EE but I see that I can demonstrate hands-on skills and able to meet requirements accordingly.

What do you guys think?
arulk pillai
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
Mark Herschberg wrote:
One approach is to find a company with AS400 systems looking to switch to Java, where you can leverage your AS400 skills.


Good point Mark.

Mark Herschberg wrote:
Certain aspects, requirements, testing, documentation, working with others, estimating, etc. apply no matter what technology is being used.


Yes, you can mention your transferable skills to promote you as a well-rounded professional.


In my view, getting a foot in the door is always the hardest. Even if it is an entry level position, once you are in there, you can work smarter and prove yourself to be a great contributor within 6months to 1 year. This will enable you to fast-track your career in your chosen field.


good luck.




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