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I built an entire website from scratch in 10 days which looks and feels professional with the site being unique. The site has features like logging in, sending activation emails, tag/content search (lucence.net), syntax highlighting (prettify) and a diff (one of the js diffs), markup for comments all on this site and autocomplete in a textbox (remember, 10 days). I wrote that I have 5+ years of C# experience (I could lie and say more, but smart employers will know it's only 8 years old and 1.1 is very different from what we use now).

I had employers REPEATEDLY say they are looking for someone who has more C# experience... wtf.

Maybe they don't read my CV, maybe they don't believe it or ignore me because I am not yet a graduate. I laughed when I first read Steve Yegge The Five Essential Phone Screen Questions as I knew all of that (although i still never used graph datastruct nor know much about it).

I'm pretty sure, competency-wise, I can do the job. I am also positive that no one noticed I have markup, a diff, auto-complete nor email activation/forget password (I offer a test user account). So maybe my site/example work isn't impressive because you don't realize what is in it.

In short, I don't think they read my CV or notice my site. How do I impress employers?

PS: The problem is that I don't get to the interview. I had one and ruined it by speaking too technical to the PM because I was nervous. The other 25+ jobs either didn't contact me or were kind enough to send a rejection email.

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If the spelling is anything like the heading, they wont be impressed. Spell check before submitting the CV –  Simon Mar 16 '11 at 6:46
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Please start capitalising your 'I's too - it's infuriating to read (and psychologically a sign of low self-confidence) –  ChrisAnnODell Mar 16 '11 at 11:48
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You say that you are not yet a graduate - are you looking for a full time job for when you do graduate? As such, does this mean you're looking for your first programming job? If this is the case, then your 5 years experience are not the same as 5 years in an actual job, working in a team with other people, day in and day out, with timescales, legacy code, dull projects, etc... I'm afraid there's not much you can do about that, but it's possible that someone reading your CV may feel 'lied to' about your 5 years and begin to mistrust the rest of your CV... –  ChrisAnnODell Mar 16 '11 at 11:57
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@Simon: Upvoted, but you obeyed the Internet law that predicts every spelling / grammar nitpick will have one spelling / grammar error. –  Andrew Grimm Mar 16 '11 at 12:36
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Edited your post for grammar and spelling. "i" should be capitalized. Contractions need an apostrophe (') or to be split into two words. Spell out words like "because". Employers expect graduates and potential employees to be able to do these things without thinking about them. –  Zoot Mar 16 '11 at 14:17

9 Answers 9

I'll tell you why you're not getting interviews:

Maybe they don't read my CV, maybe they dont believe it or ignore me because i am not yet a graduate.

Most companies have an HR department with a checklist of requirements that any resume/CV should have before proceeding to the next level. Sometimes the requirement is 4-year degree or equivalent, but these days there are so many people who already have the 4-year degree that equivalence is no longer relevant.

Until you complete your degree, you can expect to continue getting rejection notices and having your CV ignored entirely on a fairly regular basis. If you want to be competitive in the job market, you must complete a degree. Companies are not interested in why you do not have one or why you think you are capable without one. They want you to have one - end of story.

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You must impress them during the interview

Your CV must attract them enough to get the interview

There are numerous answers here on how to build an attractive CV. One page, lot of facts (including your participation here), no picture of you, etc.

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I believe the consensus on "participation here" was that you might want to tone that down a bit (naturally except for Jon Skeet) –  user1249 Mar 16 '11 at 6:51
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He is 8K on SO. That's great. –  user2567 Mar 16 '11 at 8:21
    
@Pierre 303 - 8k primarily from questions not from answers. People check that too. I'm more interested in someone who answers more questions than he asks and asks good questions. –  Joel Etherton Mar 16 '11 at 13:20
    
@Joel Etherton: it makes sense –  user2567 Mar 16 '11 at 14:37
    
No picture?? What if Brad Pitt's son is a developer? :) –  David Conde Apr 14 '11 at 16:58

Usually, it's HR who process your applications. They won't be bothered with your site. On other hand, if it's IT people processing your application, it's a good chance you're being evaluated by someone who knows his business. You'll have a higher chance of success with these types of companies. They will know what you are worth. I would recommend working hard to get to these companies rather than worrying on how to get every company to notice you. Work hard to participate in more open source initiatives. It makes you more visible to companies that have technical people in their hiring team.

And good luck.

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otoh if IT people process a resume that contains as much bragging as OPs post, they're either going to be extremely sceptical if they call him in for an interview or they're going to toss it as just another dreamer with far too much of an ego. –  jwenting Mar 16 '11 at 9:24

No matter how long you've been programming C# (or any language), if nobody paid you for it, then (sadly) it usually doesn't count. I was rejected countless times for jobs requiring "3 years C++ experience" when I was doing my after-college job search. I did the simple math: "Let's see, I'm 21 now, I started learning C++ when I was 16, so that makes 5 years experience. Awesome." Wrong. It's the catch-22 of getting hired after college. You can't get a job without real experience, but you can't get real experience without a job.

My advice is twofold:

  • Seek out jobs that explicitly mention "college graduate" or "entry-level." If you're as good as you say, then you'll prove your worth to them in no time.
  • See if you can get yourself into StackOverflow Careers. I have the impression that the companies hiring through that site are much more in tune with software development than your average HR department.
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The exception to this would be either volunteer or open-source work. Depending on how well you worked on those projects, some may be willing to count that as experience. –  Zoot Mar 16 '11 at 14:53

Don't sound so entitled. Blatting out some sort of basic website isn't that cool.

  • Your project sounds like you cobbled some libraries together. Well, that doesn't say much besides you can glue libraries together (not hard). The most impressive personal project I know is the one a buddy has worked on - a home-written OS kernel for x86.

  • You have not graduated. That means you either (1) get ahead by sheer skills, or (2) get an internship. (1) is a statistical anomaly.

  • Five years of C# experience. Cool, I guess. Do you know all the language? What about other languages? I have always thought that C# was unspeakably easy to write simple stuff in. Can't speak for others, but you might try learning Nemerle or F# to impress me (choosing .net languages here).

Go talk to your campus career office for resume help. They'll probably be able to pick apart major issues.

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Isn't "gluing libraries together" how you make business value, rather than re-inventing the wheel? And while making your own OS kernel may be a challenge, my reaction would be more like "You couldn't think of anything more original and interesting to do?" –  Andrew Grimm Mar 18 '11 at 14:10
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@Andrew: Like a website, huh? –  Paul Nathan Mar 18 '11 at 15:01
  • Link your SO profile on your website and all relevant Online professional achievements .
  • Approach IT managers department heads through professional networking sites making sure you maintain updated profile linked to most of your online work.
  • Working to improve your CV is a continuous process throughout your career and its definitely worthwhile investment of time
  • Direct your efforts in such a way to get to approach technical hiring managers bypassing any HR that do not fully understand or care about your technical prowess
  • have you tried http://careers.stackoverflow.com/ ?
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Sending your CV to the HR department is often a crap shoot, they have a huge pile of the things and the chances that yours is going to be the one they look at is kind of small. What you want to do is network.

Go to local user groups and meet people, better yet give a talk on something you are interested in (Make sure its an amazing talk) someone there will notice. Or write for an online magazine, many of them are looking for writers most of the time. The point is you want the programmers to notice you.

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I could share some career advice. I apologize if it comes off as cynical or sleazy, but these strategies have worked for me.
All the Best,

Freelance 'this breaks the cycle of not having the experience'
Your website sounds awesome, maybe you can make one for an actual business.
Saying you worked freelance is a way to show your skills in job history. Either it was or was not freelance, I'll leave that up to you.

Don't be a 'college boy'
Use your confidence and focus on your accomplishments. No excuses about your degree. If you act like a student you'll be treated like one.

New Technologies
New programming languages and frameworks open doors. It helps when you're competing against candidates with more experience.

Key words
If you list the key words within the IDE or career path, the phone will ring off the hook. Recruiters love it. You have to be able to talk about every supporting language within a given framework.

Listen and understand
I've know people with Aspergers to do unusually well at interviews, because they don't talk too much. It's not easy to interview someone, an it's more distracting if the recruit keeps talking. Talking too much can blow a deal.

I hope this helps. If you can do the job, you'll have no problem.

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It is easier to impress them by stating "what have you done" instead of "what you know". For example, you could write up all the projects you have done and a short description of each. It's a lot better to convince them about your ability rather than writing "I know C++, Python, and Erlang".

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