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I was told by a HR department that freelancing experience is not considered as professional experience.

What could be the reason?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Jimmy Hoffa, mattnz, MichaelT, GlenH7, Corbin March Aug 28 '13 at 4:50

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

the only way to find out is to ask HR what is the reason. One can not expect strangers at Internet to read their mind – gnat Jun 28 '12 at 11:00
Call it freelancing, and you get nothing. Call it consulting, and.... – Wonko the Sane Jun 28 '12 at 13:19
Never underestimate the possibility that the person who told you that is simply an ass. There are a lot of incompetents in HR just like any other field. Look at it this way, now you know you wouldn't have wanted to work there anyway. – HLGEM Jun 28 '12 at 20:48
up vote 9 down vote accepted

It is a little broad to say freelancing doesn't count as professional experience, though I can see where they're coming from.

As a freelancer it is unlikely you've been exposed quite as much to team environments - and you can't learn to work in a team well without working in a team, which is probably a necessity for many software companies. Aside from the teamwork aspect, you won't have had the chance to learn from colleagues, any education you take as a freelancer is self-taught - unless you've taken formal education or courses.

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Another difference is that as an employed developer at a company you will most likely be responsible for maintaining the code you write (sometimes forever, or at least until EOL.) While as a freelancer you will more often be hired to solve some specific problem, and leave the maintenance to the regular developers (or the next freelancer coming along.)

There's a lot to be learned from cursing your former self for the quick hacks that seemed sensible at the time but cause maintenance headaches later on.

But there's no clear rule that this is the case. I've been working with freelancers that has been a joy to work with, and struggled with employed programmers that have no interest in creating maintainable code.

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There is a huge difference in the way you learn: all by yourself or with the aid of others amongst which might be extremely experienced programmers that can give you the kind of advice that is not easy to gather simply by visiting forums like this.

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Based on this description the times I was the only developer on the project would not count as professional experience. – mhoran_psprep Jun 28 '12 at 14:38
@mhoran_psprep those are your words, and probably the HR department's, but not mine. I never claimed the statement is true, I only indicated why someone might think it is. So don't downvote me for things I do not write :] – stijn Jun 28 '12 at 15:10

In most cases, top professional developers do a contract work. Unfortunately, freelance programming is NOT considered to be good, because most work has poor final results.

In your case, you may present good examples of your work and claim your experience on a project that you have accomplished.

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"because most work has poor final results"? Based on what? According to the Software Engineering Institute at CMU, most software projects run long, over budget, and fail to meet expectations. Perhaps recruiters should assume full time employees do a worse job, since they typically run most projects. – SnoopDougieDoug Jun 28 '12 at 19:10
let me clarify, i did NOT say that freelancer programmers are bad. Over budget and failed projects are not blames of developers. – Yusubov Jun 28 '12 at 19:29

Through the day I provide automated performance testing consultancy for corporations, this contains a lot of development work and in agile shops I sit with the developers, put my code into the same source control systems, have the same sort of responsibilities etc. I'm also a hobbyist programmer who does a bit of freelance work on the side.

The freelance work is nothing at all like the sort of job you'd do in a dev shop, where a third of your time is spent working with dev-cycle specific processes and other bullshit rather than writing and testing code. I'm a good hacker and have had exposure to this sort of environment many times, but if I were to take a programming job I'd have to go in as a junior simply because I'm lacking in hands-on experience on a corporate dev team.

So they want someone with that experience who is also a good programmer. You don't get the same sort of experience working freelance, you're the manager of a small business which writes software for people; you don't have corporate development lifecycle and processes down.

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