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I have been programming in the same Object Oriented Programming language for many years (Windows-based). The problem is this particular language is not very popular, and not one of the hottest ones in demand in job postings and such.

Should I be worried? Would a Java employer understand that I'm a programmer and can pick up any language in a matter of a week or two, or would they be under the impression that since I haven't programmed in their specific language professionally, then I'm just not qualified?

PS. As far as learning, I do play around with different technologies at home. But at work, I'm pretty much stuck with the same language.

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Potential employer is not likely going to believe you. You must bring proofs - relevant entry in your CV and ability to demonstrate your language skill during interview. –  MaR May 31 '11 at 18:15
Just curious, which Windows based OOP language that is not popular? All I have heard of is VC++(.NET), VB(.NET) and C#. –  yasouser May 31 '11 at 19:20
I hope "this particular language" is not PowerScript (PowerBuilder). –  Bernard May 31 '11 at 20:03
Delphi has plenty of parallels with other languages - it is not a huge leap over to WinForms in C#, IMO. –  JBRWilkinson May 31 '11 at 20:44

5 Answers 5

Do some side work in other programming languages, have it up on Github. Do this over a period of time, it will build proof that you have experience in that. Also a blog about your side projects will only help complete the picture.

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This is what I did, with most of my paid work having been in Delphi. –  Frank Shearar May 31 '11 at 17:40
@ Frank: Did it help you Get a job of equal Seniority outside of Delphi? –  Morons May 31 '11 at 18:07

Make certain you have a strong understanding of programming concepts and data structures.Learn how/when to apply them. Be articulate and show confidence in what you know. If you are applying for a job in a specific language then read up on that language. Learn the basics of that language and be able to discuss that language in regards to the programming concepts that you know. Don't be afraid to tell a prospective interviewer that you don't know the answer. If you don't know how to answer a question, be able to answer with what you would do in your home language and be prepared to let the interviewer know where you might look to find the answer, in the companies language of choice. Code examples are great but anyone can cut and paste code. Prove strong command of programming concepts. Not all companies will pay you to learn the language with OJT. So make an effort before the interview to have basic skills down (look at programming problems from text books and on the web and solve them for yourself). Most employers want someone who can think on their feet and also show a motivation for what the company does.

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Career suicide? Not completely, but it does mean that if you have to go through a first-level filter in HR, they may not know/care enough to see beyond the surface he-has-5-checkboxes type of analysis. The hiring manager might be able to do that, but most HR departments won't.

As far as learning a new language, I'll point out that in many cases picking up the syntax isn't that hard, but then you have to get familiar with all of the libraries and that can take a good deal longer.

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Completely agree on the "learning a new language" part. When people actually say "learn a language", they are meaning "learn a environnment", that's the tricky part. –  Nemeth May 31 '11 at 21:38

Well you must certainly dedicate a lot of time learning new skills as well as programming languages. I would summarize some examples that would relate to what you have pointed out with sticking with one programming languages, but remember, the particular issue you have pointed out would be different for different problem domains.

  1. Long time ago, when there was no internet, people used to do programming say, in C or Assembly, but with the boom of the internet, these languages no longer suited the domain and thus people built new programming languages that suited the internet.
  2. C/C++ software would not be easily scalable, people would prefer other languages such as Java or C#, there you might hit a dead end if you don't have the specific knowledge.
  3. If were to be a Java programmer, you would still be able to survive as cross platform development is still hot, but frameworks like QT that is based on C/C++, say, would take over Java in some time, rendering Java programmers to work on legacy code, new comers who know a bit of Java and QT might get hired just to translate legacy code to newer standards.
  4. But in terms of hardware programming, Assembly, C and likes might live very very long despite changing hardware, in such a case, you would need not change your programming language, rather improve your hardware knowledge.

So, really depends on what your domain of programming is and a result you would adjust yourself.

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In the US at least this can eventually lead to career suicide, or something close at least. The problem is so much hiring is done via recruiters and recruiters don't seem to know or much care about what your actual abilities are, but they have a punch list of alphabet soup that is their gold standard. Required to the point where I have had more than a couple of what I would say at least considered themselves as spotlessly ethical recruiters tell me that I was exactly what their client was looking for. I just needed to "refocus" my resume because I had "omitted a couple of my specific skills" that the client would be looking for specifically. 8-O

So it depends maybe, but in the US, yes the day could eventually come where if you just cannot deliver the expected alphabet soup, you could be looking at the soup line. Bad puns.

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