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I'm in last year of a Bachelor's Computer Science course, and I have strong knowledge in a variety of languages, albeit mainly Java, Python and JavaScript.

I also have an industral placement under my belt, having worked for an international IT consultancy for a year as a junior dev. Main languages were again Java and JavaScript.

A job I've been looking at requires 2 years of C# experience, amongst other things. My C# is not the greatest, having only done a single uni module on it, albeit from what I know it's fairly similar to Java, and I know I could teach myself up on it fairly easily, but it will be no professional experience.

My question boils down to: should I apply to this company knowing that my experience may not be adequate, or should I go work elsewhere, doing personal projects in the mean time, and then job hop? Is there any big disadvantage to applying without initial experience, as in, could it hinder a future application?

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    Possible duplicate of Mentioning a lack of experience - is this a hazard? – gnat Feb 1 '18 at 6:43
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    In my experience, it's less of a problem in larger companies (long onboarding process, gradual increase of workload), but for small companies, it lack of experience will be more noticeable. – pmf Feb 1 '18 at 7:34
  • If you have the skills, but lack experience go for it. You cannot fake the skills. – Mister Positive Feb 1 '18 at 12:04
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In most job postings, hiring managers will put lots of requirements but you don't have to check off every box. For instance, I was just looking at listings for positions I'm familiar with at my company. Many of the main requirements were pulled from different tasks that people all across my team do (managing contractors, working on videos, editing content). Only a few people in the department have experience with all of these things. As an applicant, if you had all of that experience, you'd very likely be a top contender. But if you lacked in some areas, they might be lenient if you can demonstrate that you'll be able to adapt to the role.

I also feel that if you're confident that you CAN adapt to the role, you shouldn't worry too much about applying. Just be clear, up front, about what you know and why you feel capable of picking up the slack quickly (the cover letter is a good place to start; then, follow up with more details in the interview). If they have a problem with your lack of experience, they'll make that decision and you'll find a different job. When I applied for my current job, I had maybe 70% of the requirements, and none of the experience they wanted. They still gave me a shot though, and I went in to the interview prepared to show them why I was still a fit.

  • Great answer, I would insist on the fact that you should of course not pretend (or let people think) that you have the experience. There's a good chance the interviewer might be willing to hire someone only meeting part of the requirements, but being hired for something you don't know and hope to discreetly learn before anyone notices is a very bad idea. – Kerkyra Feb 1 '18 at 9:52
  • Great point. I didn't mean to imply that at all. Always be honest. I've updated my answer to more clearly state my intent. – DukeSilver Feb 1 '18 at 14:38
  • I would upvote a second time if I could ;) – Kerkyra Feb 1 '18 at 15:58
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Yes. Apply. The most they can do is say no. If your soft skills are good this can make up a lack of experience in a certain technology.

Many time I've found the job requirements are written by human resources and do not correspond to reality. There was a company in my town who was hiring .NET developers back in 2002-2003. They were looking for 5+ years of experience with .NET when the framework had only been available for less than a year at the time. I was able to ask the hiring manager about this and the response was "HR insists on 5 years because of the salary for the position". I got the job because of other skills and were able to gain the C# skills.

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Is there any big disadvantage to applying without initial experience

Yes, most companies want someone to hit the ground at least walking if not running, which is why they ask for experience. So if you start falling to pieces over the work it will be bad for your professional reputation.

However if you have the self confidence to pull it off and put in the hard work then apply. The worst that can happen is you get turned down. If you get the job, make sure they don't regret it and build your career.

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    I meant in case that they do reject me. Like, could a rejection at the hiring stage impact future applications at the same company? – Mox Feb 1 '18 at 3:59
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    Unlikely to make an impact on future applications. There is nothing wrong with applying and getting turned down. Happened to many people I would assume. Certainly got turned down from several jobs myself – Kilisi Feb 1 '18 at 4:03
  • @Mox If you find out that they really want 2 years of experience, so you come back to them two years from now when you have that experience, it's unlikely that they'll be keeping track of who applied two years ago, let alone reject based on that. – Acccumulation Feb 1 '18 at 21:59
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You absolutely keep applying to jobs, even if you don't have exactly what they are looking for. You want to get your foot in the door with a company willing to take a little risk. Impress them with your soft-skills, and your will to learn, not necessarily your skill.

I feel your pain, when I started out my development career 17 years ago, I was in a major city, and nobody wanted to talk to me without experience. It was really a Catch-22 situation, I need experience to land a job, but nobody wanted to hire me to get such experience. I had a CS degree from a major university and two internships on my resume where I had done development work. These weren't landing much unfortunately.

I think working out of a major metropolitan area makes this more difficult, there is just SO much competition. I eventually had to take a job outside the city about 50 miles in a small town. They were desperate for someone because no one wanted to move out there, and I was desperate, because I really needed a job!

Fast-forward 17 years, I'm back in town, and have plenty of development experience across a number of technologies. I recently took a new job, and can command top dollar for my experience. It does get better, so hang in there!

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