I a very lazy learner. I learn things only if I can relate to them through a hands-on opportunity, which is then a very fast process and I always excel in anything and everything I get my hands on, as long as it is something that I like to do. However, being a lazy/tactile, hands-on learner, I am not good at reading theoretical books as I lack patience with anything non-practical that doesn't yield almost instant results that I can relate to.

I am embarking on yet another job search and all the jobs I like seem to requre X number of years of experience in certain technologies I aspire to but do not have qualification backing. My compensation is already at a Senior Developer level and I cannot afford to earn less in a job that would make up for a learning curve (I have a mortgage to pay for). I had the same problem in the previous job search, where none of the jobs I could get based on being able to answer interview questions appealed to me and I kept failing to get the jobs I did like as I lacked experience. So it was a lose-lose situation, I ended up habing to take a job I could get but I am very unhappy in it.

Essentially, I need to find somebody who will be willing to take a risk in giving me a job for which I am currently not qualified (as I am utterly uninterested in the ones I can successfully interview for, despite the money) and then probe me for some time to see if I am getting the hang of it. I have tried to offer companies to work for free for two weeks with no strings attached so that I can demonstrate them my general intelligence and aptitude for learning to no avail -- they couldn't do it for legal reasons. I am also working on a couple of personal GitHub projects utilizing desired technologies but, due to some other personal projects, have not had time to focus on as of late. However, while I do love programming, I prefer not doing it in my free time as I have other interests/hobbies (such as sports, gym, yoga, extreme sports, building/construction, interior design, in most of which I do excel to various degrees -- I consider myself a Renaissance man). My impression is that I am up against a competition of very focused nerd-types who do nothing but program on and off work but I consider myself downright smarter than them in a universal regard -- but not smart enough to devise a strategy how to sell myself on the basis of that (as I am not a people person or the fratboy used car salesman type, instead an INTP) and not roto learned book knowledge.

So, I want to upgrade my career, earn the same or more money, and overcome the deficiencies in my resume that are due to not being given the right opportunity in the past for the said reasons precisely. Essentially, I am looking for guidelines how to convince somebody to hire me into a position for which I have no or little related book knowledge, emphasizing that I am a brilliant and creative individual (with technology) once I get the basic idea of what I am working with and can produce amazing outcomes. Unfortunally, most interviewers I come across are terribly unimaginative and ask questions from the far depths of 1000 page books on EJB and similar (which I have no patience to read) and ask me to list the methods in java.lang.Object (what moron came up with that question?) rather than asking more general programming concepts (like how does Quicksort work or how do you implement a search engine of your own etc.) or open-book/Google programming assignments. I find that they are searching for robots that have roto learned amazing amounts of book material (like developers from certain countries that are trained into that mode in school) and can mostly follow instructions but seldom think on their own or devise their own solution based on recently acquired expertise thanks to their adaptability (again applies to the category enclosed in the previous parentheses).

Please note I am not "ranting" but giving you a very honest picture of myself in the position I am in vs. the circumstances in order to come up with a strategy as the current strategy doesn't seem to work. The last bolded block is the question/request, the previous one reflects what I have tried to do already.

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    thanks. i agree that it is pretty close to this existing question, which has many good answers. you have my blessing to close it.
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:04
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    A suggestion - consider it took you 771 words to effectively say, "I consider myself incredibly intelligent but don't know how to show this to interviewers who only want to see skills I don't have." Perhaps you do not communicate your superior intellect in interviews very concisely or clearly, either...
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:07
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    Don't tell them you're smart. Demonstrate how smart you are. And, seriously, don't ever say that you can't do a job you don't want to do.
    – pdr
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:34
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    Also, please don't propogate the myth that outgoing == extroverted. Introverts are very capable of being outgoing. giftedkids.about.com/od/glossary/g/introvert.htm
    – pdr
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:37
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    The more languages/technologies you know, the more ways you have to think. Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 13:18

4 Answers 4


First, it's not them, it's you. Learn to communicate more efficiently. You might be the most intelligent person and best programmer ever but if you don't communicate well, no one (including interviewers) will know. In fact they will probably find you arrogant and obnoxious.

I am looking for guidelines how to convince somebody to hire me into a position for which I have no or little related book knowledge, emphasizing that I am a brilliant and creative individual (with technology) once I get the basic idea of what I am working with and can produce amazing outcomes

If you are this guy you should have a wonderful list of examples for how you've done this over the last 10 years. Sounds like you should find your examples so you can communicate to interviewers of your brilliance when they ask the questions these are naturally answers to.

If this is really hard to do, consider whether or not your above statements are actually true.

Second, find better companies to interview at. There are plenty of companies out there who don't play trivia games with software developers they interview but rather ask concept/problem solving questions.

  • i do have examples. i have provided many solutions using my lateral thinking inclinations where other bookworm developers couldn't (or were adamant not to) get outside their routine comfort zone. but, like i said before, all i run into is these, like you call them, trivia type of employers
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:32
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    Some free advice: as an engineer/software person myself, your comment here just immediately got translated to, "I'm hard to work with, think I'm better than everyone else, and will be insufferable if my ideas aren't accepted as Truth - I cannot believe these fools I have to work with got jobs."
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:40
  • i am not likely to learn to communicate better any time soon, it is my personality/communication type. it will change but on its own. as i need a job soon, i need to devise a strategy (like a sales pitch that i can learn and rehearse) that will alleviate the other communication issues i have
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:48
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    Some more free advice: What I just heard you say is "someone should give me what I want, because I am completely incapable or unwilling to take the steps necessary to earn it." Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 23:38

I am embarking on yet another job search and all the jobs I like seem to requre X number of years of experience in certain technologies I aspire to but do not have qualification backing.

Which means you will not be hired.

Frankly, it's not that hard to learn new technologies in this day and age. If you need to have hands-on stuff for learning, then make an open source project. That still won't convince many people, but "I want to learn it, but haven't yet" isn't going to fly with anyone.

I'm not going to take your word that you're capable but unmotivated - it costs too much if I'm wrong. And really, if you can't get motivated to do a little bit of work to learn things you want to learn, how are you going to get motivated to do the gruntwork the job will require of you?

  • learning new technologies is not the same as having X num of years of experience doing them
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 1:37
  • "how are you going to get motivated to do the gruntwork the job will require of you?" by having the hands on opportunity to do it
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 1:39
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    @amphibient - absolutely, but you're not going to get years of experience. If I interview you for technology N, I expect you to be able to talk about it intelligently in the interview. You will not be able to do that if you haven't used it. You have everything you need to have hands on opportunity to do things. If you do not take that opportunity, I have to assume that you aren't really interested, or have some major character flaw that makes you unemployable.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 1:49
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    @amphibient - every single skilled programmer I know - even ones with good, fulfilling jobs - code after hours. The pace of the programming world requires it, but beyond that good programmers like coding. They like learning new things. If you don't want to be a skilled programmer; if you don't like coding; if you don't like learning new things, that's fine - but I don't want to work with you.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 2:48
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    @amphibent - and you seem like someone who wants something without working for it, and will make any excuse possible rather than accepting responsibility. I have enough interests. Spending one or two Saturday mornings a month playing around with some new technology isn't exactly prohibitive to my social life, hockey league, college classes, or family. Again, it's fine if you want to work to live - but understand that your competition manages to learn at least a little bit, while balancing their off-time. Perhaps applying for a job that is 80-90% what you already know and a little new wouldwork
    – Telastyn
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 11:49

If you always excel at the actual task at hand, I assume that means that you have a long list of former coworkers, managers, etc. that would enthusiastically recommend you. If that's the case, you probably need to reach out to that network to help you find opportunities and, more importantly, to recommend you for those opportunities. If you've demonstrated exceptional results in the past, there should be people out there in companies that you'd like to work for that would be equally excited to work with you. A hiring manager that has been told by a developer she works with on a daily basis that he personally vouches for the fact that you'll deliver amazing code is far more likely to take a risk on an unqualified candidate than is a hiring manager that is looking at a resume from a candidate that came from a random job posting.

  • the problem is that my career has been in decline for several years as i started getting only gigs which i didn't like. so most of my really good references or colleagues that i care about are from 5-10 years ago, which then looks old to some people
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 21:24
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    @amphibient - So for the past 5-10 years, are you saying that you haven't been excelling at work because you haven't liked the job? frankly, that would be much more concerning to a hiring manager than the fact that you don't know the particular technology. Yes, it's great when you like your job but every job has elements that are unpleasant (that's why it's a job). Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 21:33
  • let's say that fun jobs ended about 2 yrs ago and everything i've done since was uninteresting because i was unable to go through interviews, which since has had the domino effect. i am TERRIBLE at talking about things i DO KNOW how to do -- i couldn't sell a pain killer to a dying patient, yet i am always very good at doing things. i am just not very good at convincing people. i am very introverted and lack empathy to relate to other people (which makes me a bad salesperson)
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 21:37
  • but yes, it is true that i cannot excel at something unless i really like it. however, there are a lot of technologies that i do like (most FOSS, love all Apache etc.) so it's not like i am being extremely picky. essentially, i want my next job to involve Java + lots of Apache projects because i consider that to be a very fungible path, meaning i can find the next job easy after the last one ends.
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 21:44
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    Learning to excel at things you don't like is a skill, as is good communication. You've been lucky in the past that you actually did find jobs where you were able to succeed without putting in the work to develop these important skills. They are absolutely critical in senior developers, for a lot of reasons. Perhaps you're failing interviews for a different reason than the one you think. Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 23:42

I'd probably suggest a couple of different options:

  1. Following on Justin's answer, look at those you did work well and see if they could get you into a place temporarily. The idea here would be that you'd be brought in as a the hired gun for a project and then able to move on to the next thing since I'd imagine staying in a place too long would backfire.

  2. Networking and rather than going through HR departments, consider other ways to find opportunities and do contract work instead of full-time employment. The idea here being that you could gain some expertise while doing the contract somewhere. Granted this is possibly a bit tricky as well as requiring that you know some people that could use your skills in a non-conventional way yet still pay well, that would be the other solution I could see coming from this. While you may not want to program all the time in your off hours, if you spent a couple of days a month participating within the coder community around you that may help in finding places to explore.

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