When experience doesn't count!

tl;dnr: Believe in yourself; focus on past accomplishments!

My last project ended abruptly at the end of 2020. It had an interesting 7.5 year run. Maybe one day I will blog about it, but not just yet!

I'm in the market for a new role and I'm experienced, really experienced. However, this is the first time in my career that I actually need to find a new job, but with the abundance available, how hard can it be? Finding a new role should be easy, right?

Not so fast <blink>:-)</blink>!

How could I have gone so wrong?

I have 27 years of professional IT experience. 23yrs in web development alone and have worked with C# since 2001! I was there for all three browser wars and even thought blink was cool ... for a time. I've specialized in Microsoft's technical offerings, but delved in others along the way as needed.

From writing web pages to architecting & designing line-of-business solutions; SOAP web services to Azure deployments; CVS to SourceSafe to git ... I've worked with many (albeit related) tools & frameworks learning each industry segment along the way.

And now ... I can't even get past the technical screenings or interview when I'm fortunate! Of course it is my fault ... I'm not technically interviewing well. I think I spent too many years on the other side of the table.

As a hiring manager, I typically hired teammates for what I believed was their potential. Of course I asked technical questions as they had to write code, but I chose to invest in the person. Sometimes, even though they didn't "score" as highly as another, I still gave them an opportunity. My working assumption was that any technical issue could be sorted with on-boarding, code reviews, or a bit of training.

Ask me about the things I've developed, lead, or designed and I can talk about those in detail at length. But I've never really "text-booked" interviewed well. As Scott Hanselman discussed teaching styles years back ... I've mostly relied on "glass back" programming until I needed to be "metal up".

I know how to use the technical stack to build applications, I don't know when the C# GC runs. Ask me the difference between .NET Core's DI service lifetimes, I'll be close but mixed up the transient and scoped definitions. Rookie mistake ... but that is what Google is for, right?

I'm not sitting idly by mind you, besides re-defining my role search, I'm working on relevant topics. Improving my CV & LinkedIn profile, online "course" work, virtual seminars, studying reference projects, building my own experimental application framework (more on that at another time); etc.

Are these helping? Or am I just punting the issue down the road? I needed a bit of advice and reached out to DBK, a former manager and professional friend. He suggested the following:

  • Don't fight reality
  • Answer technical questions accurately within my own experiences
  • Focus positively on the things I want to do

This may be obvious to most, but again, this is the first time I've actually needed to look for a new job. I probably didn't start this process in the most efficient way possible. I need to really hunker down and be more selective with jobs referred and make sure all the stars align! I will succeed, and I will be successful. I always have been, nothing should change that now!

Remember that experience I mentioned earlier. I am confident in my abilities and have a proven track record. Many positions that I've been "recruited for" are just not within my experience zone. I can't change my past, and it does not serve a greater purpose to keep chasing the next best thing I haven't done, so re-focus on the things I have!

Final thoughts on roles outside my experience zone ... I'm confident I would do well in those positions, but I would need a hiring manager to take a bit of a chance. In the spirit of ABBA ... " Take A Chance On Me "! Tunes aside, in all reality I just need an opportunity to prove myself! Either in the same types of positions I've been filling, or in one that takes me to new heights.

This whole process is still new to me! What advice would you give?

Note: I realize the issues mentioned here are specific to my actual life circumstances and I probably have deliberately left out a few important details. Oh yeah, please be constructive. This is one of the first blog posts I've ever actually put out there!

Space Aardvark's photo

I got blasted by my first couple of technical evaluations when I started looking for a job again. They were so bad that I started thinking, "am I dumb now?" :D

I "fixed" it by doing three things:

  1. I spent regular time on sites like codewars.com to "get my mind in the game."
  2. I decided exactly which technologies I wanted to work on, and I focused my efforts in those areas.
  3. I created some GitHub projects that demonstrated my knowledge and tackled some small yet challenging problems. I also made sure to have some fun.

I showed off those GitHub projects during the interview process for my new job. Turns out I'm not so dumb. Well, mostly.

Ren's photo

Hi Alon,

Our company, based in London, is looking for an experienced developer (remote work possible). Please have a look at the job description, you might like it: axiomhq.com/careers