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I am a junior IT person and I am a bit short on experience and I am diploma graduate so which makes me lack knowledge in the eyes of the human resource department.

so what I do is I read technical books like AJAX, SOA, RUBY and stuff like that. Now is it alright if I put that on my resume as a skill of mine without the expensive, somewhat unnecessary, almost boring formal education with them certificates to prove your knowledge?

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Make sure you can do the job when they ask you to do one of the thing that you have read but never had hands-on practice. –  nhahtdh May 29 '12 at 11:12
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Reading is good. Doing is better. I can read any number of books about brain surgery. That won't make be a brain surgeon. Try to participate to open source projects involving the technology you read about. –  David Brabant May 29 '12 at 11:13
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as long as you can answer the interviewer question and do the work if assigned later –  Tech Jerk May 30 '12 at 7:11
    
If you put a skill on your resume and you are not able to back it up with actual practical solutions you are going to get caught on any decent technical interview (at least I have caught a lot of people doing that, which I personally consider dishonest). Books are great as starting points, but they don't provide actual experience, there are lots of issues you will have to face in practice that reading books don't solve. –  Chepech May 30 '12 at 13:34
    
I hate when people down vote without providing any feedback at all, I consider this a perfectly valid question... –  Chepech May 30 '12 at 13:36
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6 Answers

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The real answer is that it depends on a number of factors like what role you're going after and how technical as whole your potential employers are. IT guy for a small business in a non-technical field? Tell them anything and as long as you're motivated, you'll pick it up as you go along. Software engineer for a large tech firm or a very tech-centric startup? You'll have to have some hands-on experience.

That being said, it's so ridiculously easy to get hands-on experience with this stuff, just go out and play. Personally, I think forget the certs and get your hands dirty with some open source toys. Create your own projects. You'll know when you reach a point of confidence with a given tech and it won't feel sketchy to put in on your resume, formal training or not.

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yeah, thanks man. i'll remember this suggestion. but how did you started your career? –  simon May 29 '12 at 12:30
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I have a degree in computer engineering but it was tough at first having graduated at the end of 2000. I started at the IT desk of a small non-tech business, which was boring and frustrating at times, but it gave me time to mess with personal projects, often using tech of my choice. It ended up being a blank slate on which to write the experience I needed for my next job into my resume. Also, the importance of connections can't be overstated. Go to tech meetups, blog about the books you're reading, find people in the industry and make friends. –  silijon May 29 '12 at 19:31
    
hey man, this really is some good advice. if I had some money I'd give it to you (but I'm broke). Anyway, thanks for this nice comment man, appreciate it. –  simon May 29 '12 at 23:18
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What exactly does "tell them anything" mean? –  user1249 May 30 '12 at 8:47
    
I don't mean to be flip when I say "tell them anything". You should obviously always tell truth. However I've worked at companies where someone would be in serious trouble if they didn't walk in the door with at least a degree's worth of experience and I've worked at companies where I had more IT knowledge than the rest of the staff combined just by virtue of being under the age of 40. There's a world of difference and you should feel more confident about saying you have specific knowledge (even if it's just reading the O'Reilly book) when interviewing at the latter. –  silijon May 30 '12 at 10:42
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It's really simple.

If you have degree X in field Y, put on your resume that you have degree X in field Y. If you can code in ruby, put on your resume that you can code in ruby.

Always tell the truth on your resume, don't make them have too high expectations of you. That would end up in getting to do too difficult things.

I suggest you spend an hour or so practicing something from the books you read. That will give you a better view on your actual skills in what you've been reading.

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+1 for Always tell the truth on your resume. I worked alongside a careers advisor for a year (as his IT support guy) and the big thing he told his clients was "NEVER, under any circumstances, use unsubstantiated superlatives. Always provide some proof, or a link to some proof. And NEVER lie on a CV (resume), you will ALWAYS be found out" –  Jamie Taylor May 30 '12 at 8:17
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Software development is not an assembly line job. It's a job where one must be able to work independently, without supervision, and be trusted to solve real-world problems. It's important to keep in mind that your future employers are looking to fill a gap in their organization, and they need someone they can trust.

Let's say you've only read about AJAX but never actually programmed your browser to make an actual, real HTTP request to a server. When your interviewer asks you to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being excellent) on your knowledge of AJAX, HTML, and JavaScript and you say 8, what is he or she going to think when you fail to actually code an example? Will that person trust you?

It's not about the lie necessarily or the exaggeration that makes that person wary. The scary thing about those candidates is that they actually might not be lying! They might actually believe they know more than they really do, and that's a scary thing when a lot of money's on the line.

In my experience, in this situation, it may be best to play it safe. Instead of rating yourself an 8 in AJAX, rate yourself a 2, and when they ask you to code an example, blow them out of the water with all of the practicing you've been doing ;)

This should tell the employer that you're careful, you realize that there is still a lot to learn, you're not some young, cocky hothead who is going to waltz in there and crash the server, or decide to use an Applet to build the next big web application. Instead, he/she should hopefully view you as someone who may not have the skills now, but after 6 to 12 months of mentorship in a professional setting, he/she will picture you as a star player on the team.

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Depends on what level you are applying. I would not expect a junior developer to be able to work fully independently without supervision. –  user1249 May 30 '12 at 8:57
    
@ThorbjørnRavnAndersen - Okay, fair enough. But you definitely don't need an overseer walking up and down rows of desks looking over that person's shoulder either, and ultimately, that person will need to make decisions on his or her own and make some mistakes. We just want to limit the scope of those mistakes and prevent them from becoming catastrophic disasters ;) –  jmort253 May 30 '12 at 10:32
    
hey man, thanks for the suggestion. you got the word right. "cocky" but nothing to prove or be humble and blow them away. (won't work though if the interviewer is not really interested on what you show, but how you talk your way in it) –  simon May 30 '12 at 12:44
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@simon - It definitely depends on the interviewer. Hopefully you're walking into an organization that wants to invest in your potential more than they admire your ability to manipulate them. ;) Good luck! –  jmort253 May 30 '12 at 19:30
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You can put anything you like on your resume. Your problem will be in getting a prospective employer to believe that you actually have the skills that you have listed, because if you are very new, your employment experience will not likely cover all of the things you ever read about. Even more important is that you may have read about the technologies, however if you can't prove an aptitude in those technologies, you'll miss out on a hire. Worse will be that some potential employers might at best see your CV as padded with stuff you read about without putting it into practice, and at worse think you've lied about the actual skills that you have an aptitude in. In some of the worst cases, I have seen graduates with all of the right things in their CV's who were sent packing after little more than a month because they did not show the abilities or knowledge that they claimed to have posessed.

My advice is to always begin with complete honesty, and if it were me I'd only list skills that I have experienced, even if only in the classroom or on side projects. If you have no experience you need to develop the experience, either with an open source project which you can use to show off your coding prowess, or through some form of experience generating employment, and you won't get the latter if you pretend to be something that you are not. Where you have only been able to read about technologies, use that to your advantage. Learn to sell yourself as a graduate with a voracious appetite for learning, and use the books you have read as discussion points that will show you command a good understanding of the subject matter in lieu of actual experience, and expect to find a relatively low-paying starter job with prospects for advancement and learning as you go. It really is better though if you can describe projects you have worked on, and how you went about solving difficult problems, how you dealt with failures, and possibly how you might have applied your new book learning to some of those situations.

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hey man, thanks for the suggestion. really appreciate it. i guess i better start thinking of my own project then to play with. –  simon May 30 '12 at 12:46
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I'd certainly not claim you know those technologies because you don't know those technologies. If you'd been on a training course for a particular tech, you still wouldn't claim you knew that technology.

However, stating that you have read about X or have been trained in Y is something that you would want to put on your resume; it shows that you aren't experienced in those skills but that you are off the bottom rung, so to speak. Furthermore, explaining that you have an interest in reading about different technologies shows an inquiring mind... it won't do you any harm at all.

The issue is that employers are usually wanting experience rather than knowledge of syntax or familiarity of keywords and terms. Learning syntax is fairly easy; learning how to tackle real-world problems using a particular technology is more important. The more time you have spent something, the more likely you will have discovered some of it's strengths and weaknesses.

And as others have said, there is nothing to stop you playing with these technologies already. If you can't think of a real-world problem to solve, contrive one. You'll learn more by doing than by reading, and you'll also have something demonstrable to employers.

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yeah, thanks for the suggestion man. as soon as I get to finish reading the answers I'll start coding straight away. –  simon May 30 '12 at 12:55
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If I watch ever football game for a year I am still not a good player. The worst thing you can do is say that you have expirience in, for example, AJAX and then fail to complete the simplest of tasks. This can have a lot of negative effects later on. You need to write a lot of code to be able to say you have expirience with something. You can say that you are familiar with a certain technology or have read a few books about it but you can't say that you have expirience with it...

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