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I'm an unemployed programmer and nobody seems to want to hire me

David Sanz
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 28, 2010
Posts: 6
Hello Fellows, instead of searching for a job as I should be doing, I decided to stop by this forum and share my story with anyone willing to listen. I recently lost my programming job at a software company that dealt with medical records. Right now it seems that I am pretty much unemployable, because the programming language that we used at that company was one of those proprietary languages that are common in the medical records industry but useless outside of that industry. You would think that I have some transferable skills, but the companies I have e-mailed my resume to have not bothered replying and the headhunters I have talked to have told me that most companies looking for programmers are looking for people with work experience using programming languages like Java, C++ and so on. I have Java programming experience from my days as a college student, but I haven't played with that language in almost 5 years. The same headhunters told me that going back to school to take courses in those programming languages, in order to hone my skills and have an extra line to write on my resume, would be useless, because companies are looking for people with actual work experience using those languages. I also inquired about QA positions, the same positions that I would have dismissed as being beneath me during my college years, and was told that employers are looking for people with QA experience, which I don't have. I really don't know what to do. Can someone please give me some advice? I am not looking for a fancy job or a hefty salary, since I am not in the position to ask for those things; I'm just looking for a job that's related or somewhat related to what I did at my previous job or the subject I studied in college (math). Should I try to complete a computer science program at the local community college? Should I forget about computers and concentrate on obtaining a job related to mathematics, perhaps in the financial or insurance industry? Should I study to become a nurse, accountant, etc? Please don't tell me that I should drive a truck or do construction work. While I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who make a living doing honest -but ugly- jobs, I really don't want to end up doing manual labor, though I realize that I will have no choice if I can't find a job "appropriate" for a person with my background and experience. Please advice.
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30392
    
150

David,
Welcome to CodeRanch!

Some companies care that you know how to program; others care what language. Not sure how the medical language fits into the first group. Is it a "real" language? Is it a DSL (domain specific language) for business folks? I think not, but someone reading your resume won't know this.

It's hard to compete on the Java/C++ front though because a lot of people competing for those jobs do have actual work experience. What about learning something a little more specialized? Like iPhone or Android development. Or a scripting language. Or something else. What do smaller employers in your area look for? Can you work on open source or topcoder type projects to gain some experience. (It may not be work experience, but it is better than a course.)


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Jigar Naik
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 12, 2006
Posts: 755
I am not having that much experience to advice you on your career. Probably Jenne is right.

Whatever happens "NEVER STOP TRYING".


Jigar Naik


David Sanz
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 28, 2010
Posts: 6
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:David,
Welcome to CodeRanch!

Some companies care that you know how to program; others care what language. Not sure how the medical language fits into the first group. Is it a "real" language? Is it a DSL (domain specific language) for business folks? I think not, but someone reading your resume won't know this.


It's a derivative of mumps. Most people in the software industry haven't heard of either language.

It's hard to compete on the Java/C++ front though because a lot of people competing for those jobs do have actual work experience. What about learning something a little more specialized? Like iPhone or Android development.


I suppose I could go that route. It means going to a community college or technical institute, right?

Or a scripting language. Or something else. What do smaller employers in your area look for?


I don't know. I don't know the market that well.

Can you work on open source or topcoder type projects to gain some experience. (It may not be work experience, but it is better than a course.)


I suppose I could work on some open source project and hope that I can convince a prospective employer that my involvement in that project amounts to legitimate work experience. But I would rather have a job so I can pay the bills, Maybe I should forget about Java and concentrate on a job where I am expected to perform a specific task day in and day out? Do you think learning CAD would help me find a job?
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30392
    
150

David Sanz wrote:
It's hard to compete on the Java/C++ front though because a lot of people competing for those jobs do have actual work experience. What about learning something a little more specialized? Like iPhone or Android development.


I suppose I could go that route. It means going to a community college or technical institute, right?

Depends on how you learn. You could get some good books and practice a lot on your own.

David Sanz wrote:
Or a scripting language. Or something else. What do smaller employers in your area look for?


I don't know. I don't know the market that well.

You can learn about it by looking at job listings for your area.

David Sanz wrote:
Can you work on open source or topcoder type projects to gain some experience. (It may not be work experience, but it is better than a course.)


I suppose I could work on some open source project and hope that I can convince a prospective employer that my involvement in that project amounts to legitimate work experience. But I would rather have a job so I can pay the bills, Maybe I should forget about Java and concentrate on a job where I am expected to perform a specific task day in and day out? Do you think learning CAD would help me find a job?

It's to do in parallel. Get a job to pay the bills and learn the skills for what you want to do next outside of work. I don't know what the market is like for CAD.
Sachin Dere
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 14, 2003
Posts: 80
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
David Sanz wrote:
It's hard to compete on the Java/C++ front though because a lot of people competing for those jobs do have actual work experience. What about learning something a little more specialized? Like iPhone or Android development.


I suppose I could go that route. It means going to a community college or technical institute, right?

Depends on how you learn. You could get some good books and practice a lot on your own.

David Sanz wrote:
Or a scripting language. Or something else. What do smaller employers in your area look for?


I don't know. I don't know the market that well.

You can learn about it by looking at job listings for your area.

David Sanz wrote:
Can you work on open source or topcoder type projects to gain some experience. (It may not be work experience, but it is better than a course.)


I suppose I could work on some open source project and hope that I can convince a prospective employer that my involvement in that project amounts to legitimate work experience. But I would rather have a job so I can pay the bills, Maybe I should forget about Java and concentrate on a job where I am expected to perform a specific task day in and day out? Do you think learning CAD would help me find a job?

It's to do in parallel. Get a job to pay the bills and learn the skills for what you want to do next outside of work. I don't know what the market is like for CAD.


I guess you are in a catch22 Situation. I would suggest start Coding/working on Sample Projects in Java asap and keep looking for Jobs. I am sure you will get something sooner or later.Or better Still tell them you dont mind working for lesser Pay Package until you prove yourself
frank davis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:David,
It's hard to compete on the Java/C++ front though because a lot of people competing for those jobs do have actual work experience. What about learning something a little more specialized?


Specialized fields could still be competitive with more experienced people, but newer fields that are growing fast will always not have enough experienced people. The assembly programming field is specialized, but with old timer experienced people you'd have to compete with. As example mentioned before, with Android and IPhone, no one has many years experience. Which platform has the biggest potential to grow fastest? Which one is already relatively more crowded? Web 2.0 programming means many different things, but all of them are relatively new and all with great potential for more growth.

Bottom line is that in a "new" area, you and everyone else gets a relatively "fresh start". Generally, your prior programming experience will help learn other programming languages/paradigms more quickly. Short term may be rocky...until the new area grows.

Could new health care laws spur demand to revamp existing medical softcare records and billing systems? Maybe your domain knowledge still gives you the edge, maybe converting MUMPS system to the new X system makes you invaluable? ( I did strictly conversion type programming for many years in banking industry with several companies). Things are up in the air still with health care regulations, but that could turn around and spur lots of demand in software adjustments...
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
David, In terms of CAD-based engineering, this would be very beneficial and is a solid skill to have. You will also have less headaches and fewer competitors in the job searching market.

Good luck!
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11256
    
  16

Have you tried other health-care companies? I work for one, and we ALWAYS have open positions (I know of two development positions open right now). Sure, they may say they want C/C++ experience (or whatever), but often their happy when someone who sort of knows the business comes in.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Mihai Lihatchi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 28, 2005
Posts: 138

To the OP.
It took me 2 months to get a PHP/Perl/SQL/Java coding job when I finished the University where I had coded a lot of Java and C/C++.
The first professional working code was in PHP and in PERL so I can't say I did not have to downshift a bit and to demand less from my 1st job.
So you need a basic coding job which means a "junior" Java developer or even PHP job should help you for now.
Don't be afraid to jump back in the Java world when and if you need to (I did and it was fine).
Also remember that being a good software engineer means more than just Java ,it means having problem solving skills and business understanding skills.
I believe once you know a language like C/C++ very well and you have the other qualities you can learn Java in a few months and be good at it.
So tell the prospective employers : I will need 3-4 months to get up to speed wth Java but I will be able to be productive after them , in return I am willing to work for a lower pay. Most employers I know appreciate somebody who is fair about their skills and willing to improve (and asking a lower salary is just the cherry on the topping).
Good luck !


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David Sanz
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 28, 2010
Posts: 6
fred rosenberger wrote:Have you tried other health-care companies? I work for one, and we ALWAYS have open positions (I know of two development positions open right now). Sure, they may say they want C/C++ experience (or whatever), but often their happy when someone who sort of knows the business comes in.


Fred, if I am not mistaken company names can't be discussed on this forum. Would you mind if I send you a private message?


PS: Thanks to all of you for your suggestions.
Rajan Chinna
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 01, 2004
Posts: 320
With your domain knowledge you may want to consider BA (Business Analyst) position and then slowly move towards QA or development side.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11256
    
  16

David Sanz wrote:Fred, if I am not mistaken company names can't be discussed on this forum. Would you mind if I send you a private message?
PS: Thanks to all of you for your suggestions.


I don't have any specific companies in mind. I honestly have no idea where you are located - it could be New York, Mumbai, Perth, Moscow, Tian Jin...

So no, I don't have any specifics for you. Try hospitals - especially if there are any conglomerates. In St. Louis (where I am), there are two or three organizations, each running 4-15 hospitals (I'm at one on the 15 side). Our IT department is 600 people. Any large, independent hospital would also need to have an IS team, although they may not do programming.

I have a friend who works for a major insurance company here in town. There are also medical groups and a major snail-mail prescription company here in town.

Are there any large medical office buildings in your town? Maybe they have (or need) a dedicated IS person (again, probably not programming).
 
 
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