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I am not a Java programmer but I've been unemployed for a year.

Jon Brown

Joined: Oct 20, 2011
Posts: 1
I know that since I'm not into Java I shouldn't be posting here, but I came to this site many years ago (back in the day when I was doing java in college) and I remember that I received useful advice. Anyway, since this topic is meant to discuss anything but java, here goes nothing:

Late 20's. East Coast, near major city. For four years worked as a programmer using one of those pre-C programming languages that are pretty much useless nowadays. Then I lost my job. A year ago. I've been unemployed ever since. I couldn't find a job similar to the one I had and since I hated the type of programming I was doing, I figured I might as well learn something else. I enrolled in an course at a local school. I enjoy what I am doing. I enjoy learning current technology and c sharp reminds me a lot of java . But even entry level and junior level .net web development positions require relevant experience. I thought that my experience was somewhat relevant (programming is programming) but, consistent with what I suspected, an adviser over at the school told me that it's unlikely I'll get one of those jobs just yet and that I should be targeting different positions. I think I understand, since companies can easily hire a laid off .net developer with many years of experience and pay him what they would have paid a person like me.

The bottom line is that I don't like the position I'm in right now. I don't have relevant .net experience. I am competing against more experienced laid off programmers willing to take an entry level salary. I have a one year unemployment gap on my resume which is hard to explain. I have to explain other things. I am not even a computer science major.

so I am spending many hours every day learning as much .net as I can but it's not possible for me not to wonder if I am wasting my time pursuing a job that I am never going to get. and it's not like i haven't been applying. I've been mailing out approximately 10 resumes a week. maybeone1 person gets back and I'm rarely invited to interviews. only a handful of in-person interviews in one year.

what do I do?

I guess I could forget about programming (maybe I'm not good enough to cut it as a programmer, let alone a developer) and learn accounting or something along those lines (not that I would like any of those jobs) but then I suppose that I would run into the same obstacles: no experience. unemployment gaps. competition with experienced laid off people.

again, what do I do?
Campbell Ritchie

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 46337
Welcome (back) to the Ranch

Why are you so pessimistic about the gap in experience? Lots of people lose jobs. You need to provide a good explanation for losing the job. Also, a good explanation of what you were doing in the meanwhile, eg learning C#, which does look like somebody else’s version of Java™! Have you done anything else? Have you programmed anything for friends, open-source, something for a local charity?
Daniel Doboseru
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 26, 2011
Posts: 57
First of all, without sounding poethic, "Don't lose your hope!". Keep studying, and someday, you'll run into an interview, where CV doesn't count too much, but the result to the technical test they give you, and if you prove yourself worthy, they will hire you no doubt. For instance, me, if I had a software company, I wouldn't be interested so much in CVs or prior experience, but in the results of my challenges.
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
Studying technology, preparing for certification tests, etc. may increase your understanding of "technology." This does not automatically increase your ability to get a job or get called for an interview.

Hiring is more about making a personal connection with the employer rather than your ability to write actual working code.

I suggest that you broaden your scope in terms of what type of positions you will seek. You should widen your basket. Take a real estate course and get licensed by the state you live in for example. Look for local associations and local events where you can meet real individuals in conversational settings.
Henry Wong

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 20517

Daniel Doboseru wrote:For instance, me, if I had a software company, I wouldn't be interested so much in CVs or prior experience, but in the results of my challenges.

Keep in mind that early rounds are not technical. These days, there are a ridiculous amount of submissions per position, that recruiters, HR, and even first line hiring managers don't have the luxury to test every candidate. They have no choice but to give the 10 second look, and make the decision on whether to interview or not. And unforunately, with only 10 seconds, this is what happens.

Sometimes it may be a good idea to submit to more obscure positions. Not only may there be less submissions, but those submissions may all have non-relevant experiences.


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

Joined: Sep 26, 2011
Posts: 57
^Not necessarely, for example I could put them into a room with 20 computer, and give them a task, for 30 minutes, so they can prove their skills. But of course, as you said, this is not always faesable, and then the sad true comes into scene: good coders that can really prove worthy may remain unemployed...
Randall Twede
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 4351

do like me. move into a tent, drink lots of beer, and program for fun.

Visit my download page
chris webster

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 2288

Hi Jon.

I'm not a Java programmer either - there is life outside the JVM after all! Sorry to hear about your situation - as a 40-something database developer (in the UK) I've had some very long spells out of work myself in recent years, so I know how dispiriting it can be. Like you, I have found it can be hard to break into a new area when you don't have enough "relevant" experience. As you know, "relevance" here is subjective: most recruiters know nothing about IT and don't understand that several years' commercial experience as a programmer in another language may be a better guide to somebody's skills than 6 months of Java or C# straight out of college. But if they don't see the right buzzwords on your application, they will toss it and move on to the next one.

So maybe one thing you can do is get the right buzzwords on there - get some certification in your target technologies, or look at picking up some extra business skills alongside your IT skills. Also think about what skills are really most marketable. For example, there may be a lot of Java jobs in your area, but there may also be a lot of people with those skills. Would it be better for you to look at picking up some niche skills that are less widely available, especially if there is some relevant business area where you already have some experience? If all else fails and you can afford it, you might even think about going back to college and getting some new qualifications.

As for experience, are you in a position to work for free for a few months? If so, try and find some local employer or organisation who could use your skills as a kind of "intern" for a spell, while also giving you a chance to pick up some more "relevant" skills for your next job, even if these skills are outside your current target area. Or see if there are any open source projects you could get involved with. This might help boost your skills, make the gap in your working history look better (after all, nobody needs to know you were working for free), provide some recent "employer's" references, and perhaps most importantly it will boost your own confidence. It is very easy when you're out of work to feel like you are a failure and that nobody will ever employ you again. But you have several years' commercial experience, you have already shown that you are motivated enough to pick up new skills, so you just need to find a way to get past the door and into a position where you can demonstrate those qualities to a potential employer.

Also, if you have a friendly employment agency or a local university careers office, try and get them to advise you on how to present your skills and experience and how to target potential employers. And take any opportunity you can to network e.g. join your local user groups or professional organisations where you might hear about all the jobs that are never formally advertised. You never know when somebody might have a new job requirement and remember that guy Jon they met at last week's Java user group meeting.

Anyway, best of luck with your job search - hope things turn around for you soon.


No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
Mary Chellapa
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 26, 2011
Posts: 93
Hey Jon,

Here is my little advice, make yourself technically sound, add the buzzwords in your resume as
. Knowledge of C#
. Hands on Experience in blah blah

and for the duration of your unemployment... write a project that you would have done( for the purpose of learning the language )

This will get you past the HR and recruiters who are not technically very savvy and look for those keywords mostly.

Once you are submitted for the inteview.. be honest ( you are not lying in resume anyway) and tell the interviewer that this project you did ... while you were laid off ... to learn new thing and keep in touch with technology.
Like the other menbers have said, you can give a good reason for getting laid off... and show yourself as a worthy hire....interviewers understand...

Karl Barek

Joined: Mar 03, 2012
Posts: 28
I suggest you create a online portfolio/interactive resume of sorts. Web develop is a highly desirable skill. Create it in .NET. You could use bootstrap and there's quite a bit of quality templates for it out on the web. Then start creating small projects and showcase them on there. Throw the source code up on github and link to it from your site.
Henry Wong

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 20517

Please pay attention to the date. This topic is over 2 years old -- and the OP never posted on the ranch again. I think that it is safe to say that the OP is no longer monitoring this topic.

I agree. Here's the link:
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