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I am looking for advice, hopefully from people more experienced that me. I am going to start applying for junior positions for .net development in the summer. At the moment the only thing on my CV is a project I have done for Windows Phone 7 called sprout sms. It allows the user to send webtext as provided by Irish Operators. The app is doing well and is top ten in my local marketplace (Ireland).

By trade I am a salesman and that is the extent of most of my employment. I haven't been to college and due to financial commitments I would not be able to go down the road of full time education.

I have kept up to date with various .net related tech in a junior capacity and am looking to now change careers. What I am look to see is what stands out on a juniors CV. My lack of education stands against me so I am looking to offset this with practical experience. I am open to all suggestions and from the end of this month I am free to pursue "notches" which will make my CV stand out.

So in short if you where hiring a Junior, what would you like to see that would make you take a second look or request an interview?

NOTE: I do fear this is a subjective subject, rather than debate what is the best items to have on a Juniors CV I would like to concentrate on what info you would give to a junior who is looking to apply for a job this year. Thanks to all that respond.

EDIT: Thanks for all the responses, I would give all the answers a green tick if I could. I awarded the tick based on what I felt I got out of the answer but all are tick worthy. I have upvoted all of the responses that have given good info too. If you feel you can add more to this question / answer it would be very much appreciated.

EDIT 2: I just wanted to let everyone know that using the advice given here and some persistence I got my first dev role. The take away? Personal projects or help on other projects matter a lot, be able to talk, defend and concede when discussing them.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Mar 14 '11 at 22:17

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by gnat, Jalayn, GlenH7, Martijn Pieters, MichaelT May 30 '13 at 3:17

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I'm afraid migrating hasn't helped - your question is too localised for Programmers's as well as being off topic for Stack Overflow. –  ChrisF Mar 14 '11 at 22:19
Somehow related to: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/54506/… –  karlphillip Mar 14 '11 at 22:36
Although not an answer to your question, I'd say stay away from big companies - it's difficult to people with unusual backgrounds to get through the HR filter due to the amount of submitted resumes, most of the time. Try smaller companies. They might give you a chance to talk and expose why you're interested and what you've done until now. Stress this on your cover letter. Always write a cover letter. –  Vitor Mar 15 '11 at 10:52
@Joel, it is always called a CV in the UK –  Ian Mar 15 '11 at 12:10
@Joel @Ian Yup that is correct, in both the UK and Ireland we tend to use CV interchangeably. We don't use resume at all although you are correct, what I would be submitting would be a resume as opposed to a CV if I were stateside. –  DeanMc Mar 15 '11 at 14:00

6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Experience and projects.

As partner of a (very) small software firm I had to get fairly selective sometimes. One of the main concerns I would have with someone in your situation are:

  • Do you really know how to sling some code or not? Can you show me?
  • Are you specialized in one or two technologies but working on something new?
  • Worried you might be 'too green'.

If a candidate can talk fluently about a few projects that have some relevance to the position I become more at ease about being 'green'. Have a portfolio with multiple demos of your work. This I cannot stress enough.

Personally, I have always had better results working with self-taught programmers, but at the same time I've had the worst results imaginable. It all depends on which breed you get, charlatan or street genius. I've been gung-ho and excited over one, but I'll pass up the chance sometimes if I think the person is just putting on a good show and they're self-taught.

Current tech mixed with solid tech is a good sign on the resume in my opinion.

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This is essentially how my interview with a small dev house went and using this advice I got the job, thanks :) –  DeanMc Jun 10 '11 at 11:13
Good to hear, congrats! :D –  Garet Claborn Jun 10 '11 at 15:17

Any kind of Open Source contribution, including Stackoverflow account. Seriously!

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As in to a big project? Also does putting you SO or SE account on your CV really help? I would have that HR wouldn't know what SE is/ –  DeanMc Mar 14 '11 at 22:47
As in ANY project, big or small. I don't think there's a single software development soul out there that had never ended up in stackoverflow one way or another. If you put it there, the interviewer will certainly be curious about it. SO is a community for/by software developers. I believe mentioning SO is a good thing since it clearly shows that you are interested in getting better at software development. –  karlphillip Mar 14 '11 at 22:55
I agree to both of these. I've met a few business owners that know about SO yet absolutely nothing about ANY aspect of computing. Caring about Open Source software is a big plus. You come across involved, intelligent and a humanitarian all at once :) If your interviewer is ever a little tech savy, both of these will help. +1 –  Garet Claborn Mar 15 '11 at 2:31
@DeanMC: Don't worry about what HR knows/doesn't know. They are only concerned with making sure your resume matches the job description at hand. They will have keywords and requirements that they are looking for. Once your resume passes these first items, it is passed to the manager looking to hire. That person will be the one that the SO/SE reference will impact because he/she will have direct experience with the position in question. –  Joel Etherton Mar 15 '11 at 11:38

It doest work like that…

You need to stand out for the job you are applying for. It has nothing to do with Sr. or Jr. You need to tailor your resume to the job you are looking for.

If it’s a Jr level position that just means that the requirements are different. But you still must meet those requirements to be considers. Search the job boards, see what the jobs you want (or feel qualified for) are looking for and adjust (emphasize don’t lie) your resume to match.

Lastly, your salesman background is a HUGE plus. You need to stress that in terms of strong Communication and presentation skills.

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The easiest way for a junior to stand out is to be able to give the company an opportunity to easily see that you are excited by the job and that you will work hard.

The easiest way to do that is to get something into the public domain - work on your SO reputation, build a website for a local school/charity/whatever, work on an open source project, set up a LinkedIn account to show your prior career progression and so on. Companies are always interested in how you've arrived at their door and you may find that switching careers will give you inter-personal skills that will really make a difference.

So build up a public profile and use it to demonstrate that you will work hard.

Good luck!

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You may want to put emphasis on your sales background, I can see places wanting to hire a programmer who can also work with the sales team.

Good luck!

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what stands out most are humility and proper language skills. Don't try to make yourself look like a world expert on anything and everything (that's one for you, resume stuffers with a highschool diploma and 500 "certifications"), and double check your spelling and grammar.

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