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How can I tell which job requirements matter in software offerings?
How can I overcome “years of experience” requirements when applying to positions?

I've come late to coding, been doing it under 2 years and trying really hard to gain ground in my own time and at work.

However, I've found a position via StackOverFlow that gives me quite a strong emotional charge when I consider it. It's exciting, complicated and matches a second, deeper obsession with Neuroscience that I have and had before I ever coded.

My dilemma is they appear to need someone with much higher math knowledge and data analysis than I can offer just yet. In two years, I've gone from nothing to understanding why I'd want to mix functional and OOP code, fair fluency in VB and enough understanding to mix F# with R and slot the lot into a simple WPF project. So I'm confident I can learn what I need, fairly quickly. However, I'm on the fence as to whether I should chance applying.

I don't need a different job - this particular role has just seemed to spark something off that makes me want - perhaps - to tilt at windmills a bit and go for something that is way beyond what I've done. Meaning, I think, that I don't want to waste their time I guess. I don't think my CV is sufficient to get me past any gatekeepers; though I think I can give a far better interview than I can CV.

Should I still apply to a job even if I don't have the requested amount of experience?

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marked as duplicate by gnat, enderland, Jim, ReallyTiredOfThisGame, bethlakshmi Jan 18 '13 at 21:27

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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Welcome to The Workplace. This site is a Q&A Site that is different from many internet forums in that we have standards for both our questions and answers. One of them is that questions must have an actual problem to face and not just be soliciting opinions. However I think there are a few questions already on the site that could be of help to you. I urge you to read the FAQ and continue to join us here at The Workplace. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Jan 18 '13 at 14:12
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Your question looks like a full-featured cover letter. It shows both your experience (including a fair list of any possible gaps) and your attitude. Go ahead and send them the link. Good luck! :) –  bytebuster Jan 18 '13 at 14:18
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3 Answers 3

up vote 19 down vote accepted

You won't know if you are qualified unless you apply.

From what you say you seem to be in a position where even if you get rejected there would be no consequence - you are in a current job and will not be losing it by simply applying elsewhere.

In other words - what have you got to lose? Nothing. What have you got to gain? An exciting job in a field that you are highly interested in.

So - apply. The worst that could happen is that they say no. You can ask for feedback, and if you are lucky they will tell you exactly what you are lacking in - this can give you a chance to work on that side and apply to them again at a later date (even if they are not actively looking at the time).

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@Richard - Perhaps this will give you some perspective: hanselman.com/blog/ImAPhonyAreYou.aspx –  Oded Jan 18 '13 at 14:19
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all I can say, if you saw the reaction that article sparked as I read it-you might have been shocked.... anyway, thank you. I've heard of Hanselman before now and did'nt expect to read what I just read. So, thank you. A LOT. And I'm very very glad I posted here. –  Richard Jan 18 '13 at 14:45
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And sometimes even if you aren;t qualified yet, they may havea a differnt position opening up that isn't being advertised yet that you would qualifiy for. We have hired people for a new position when they applied for a different position that we didn't think they were qualified for. Sometimes just getting people to know of your existance helps. –  HLGEM Jan 18 '13 at 15:14
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And... don't overlook enthusiasm. Certainly skills and experience matter, but 1 candidate with true enthusiasm and enough skills to get by can be the biggest win in some cases - you won't know until you get farther in the interview process if this happens to be one of them. –  bethlakshmi Jan 18 '13 at 21:10

If your goal is to try to get that job, then (as others have said) go ahead and apply. The first resume screen is effectively free; when I screen resumes I don't remember the ones I rejected unless there was something astonishingly noteworthy about them. "Doesn't have enough experience" isn't astonishingly noteworthy; that happens all the time. So you aren't harming your future chances at that point.

If you proceed to the next step, where you actually have a conversation, it's important to be very clear about what you can do now and why you think you can do this job (despite the written requirements). If anyone in the process (phone screener, hiring manager, other interviewers) has reason to believe you're faking it, that will not only doom your application but will be a black mark against you. Interviewers remember candidates who tried to pull something like that, and we compare notes with colleagues.

But all that said, there is another option you might not be considering yet: if the field or company is exciting but you don't fit that particular job, it does no harm and can do quite a bit of good to contact them and ask about other positions. Emphasize that you're excited by (whatever you're excited about) and would love to work with the team and grow into that kind of role later. (Wordsmith this, of course.) I've gotten two jobs by doing something like that. In one case I was proposing a related job, which they hadn't yet realized they needed. (For example, a software team with no QA has a gap. Are they ready to fill it? How about with you?) In the other case the role was ill-defined; I aced some criteria and totally lacked others, but it sure looked to me like they needed two different people. After the interview they agreed with that assessment and I became one of them.

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Well there are two parts to this I guess.

Should you apply?

Absolutely, you have nothing to lose by doing so and the worst that can happen is your CV ends up in a bin somewhere, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You are obviously enthusiastic and what you need to do is try and get that across to the first point of contact, i.e. the person reading your CV, however that won't be the appropriate place to do that so you need to include a covering letter which gets this across in the best way possible.

Will you get the job and can you cope?

This will be the hard part, I have been in software development for 15 years or so and have found moving between different languages not much of a problem, however I think you may struggle with the math knowledge, that's not really something you can pick up as easily in my opinion. With code you can look at snippets and work out how it differs from what you already know and translate but with the math you either know or don't.

Good luck with it and hopefully your enthusiasm will get you the job.

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