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I have been doing freelance development work for almost 4 years now. I started in college (graduated with a business administration degree, never taken a CS class, got into programming as a hobby and enjoyed the work more than what my business degree offered me) and continued to do freelance work after I graduated in 2017. Although I have been doing freelance work for 4 years now, all of the projects I have done are for small mom and pop businesses that usually consist of building a basic website or building trading indicators and expert advisors for retail forex traders.

Because of this, I would consider myself my a junior developer as I have never worked on a really large project with multiple developers, it’s always been just me, hacking things together till the client is happy, using whatever language or framework the client wants.

Am I right to consider myself a junior developer?

I constantly have recruiters contacting me pitching me mid-sr level jobs and the technical interviews for these positions crush me. I even tell the recruiters that I don’t consider myself at that level, but they say I should still give it a shot so I do. I figure the interview experience will help me down the road.

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    It would probably be better if you separate #2 and #3 into separate questions, so answers can be more focused and thus typically higher quality (as for #1, the cut-off between junior / mid / senior is very much opinion-based, although many seniors would have trouble with many technical interviews based on their day-to-day work alone, since the necessary skills are different - you should prepare specifically for interviews). – Dukeling Aug 19 '18 at 21:45
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    I guess the practical advice I would have is only work with recruiters that value your time and seem to have reasonable idea of where to place you. But for really junior positions, it may not be worth it for a good recruiter to expend effort on your behalf. – Chan-Ho Suh Aug 19 '18 at 22:38
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    Transitioning from freelance/consulting to a full-time position in a development team (with more specialised roles) can be challenging. The biggest challenges are: recruitment methodology (technical tests, as you are a self-learner and not a "book" programmer, self-taught, etc), your solution/consulting/advisory approach vs "manager says code, you say how many lines", plus the view that freelancers are somehow less capable or less "serious". Not all doom and gloom but some tricky waters to navigate. PS Starting part-time is I think suitable to evaluate the current and future companies. – SaltySub2 Aug 20 '18 at 3:06
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    "using whatever language or framework the client wants" - Once you start choosing the language for your clients, that would be a good indication that you are no longer a junior. Good luck with your career. – Sandra K Aug 20 '18 at 15:18
  • recruiters contacting me pitching me mid-sr level which is why I prefer to check positions myself. The majority of recruiters are not qualified for the work they do. I was once offered a "developer position" (no further details) and in the company interview I discovered it was for a SW Architect(!) position - with all of my 3 years of work experience at that point :) Needless to say, the interview was short and confused. – Juha Untinen Aug 22 '18 at 4:53
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Am I right to consider myself a junior developer?

Probably - while you have been earning money from your freelancing, it sounds like you have not yet worked as part of a team. And you also mention that you are stumbling on the technical questions at the interviews for the higher level positions.

They wanted me to go full time, but they are only offering an extremely low rate. Like the absolute bottom end of the lowest possible rates. I told them I would do part time so they could see how much value I provide, and will be happy to transition to full-time if they agree to pay me a higher rate.

Unless you had more freelance work in the pipeline to fill up the hours you're not working for your new employer, you should have taken the full-time position.

Again, you have some experience - but, again, you haven't worked in teams, and you may have gaps in your skills. You could just as easily have said "hey, I'd like to come to work with you full-time, but would like to ask that you review my value in 3 or 6 months time". 6 months would probably be better.

I should seek a better paying position somewhere else, and if I get it, go back to the company I am working part-time for and tell them, “I have been contacted by another company who is willing to pay me x, if you are willing to match that, I am happy to turn them down and go full time here.”

The reality is - the company you have just started at will very likely just let you go if you walk in and say that. For one thing - companies pay what they think they should pay - not necessarily what other companies may pay. For another, you will have introduced the thought that "hey, if we match him now - what's to stop him coming back in 3 months or so with another 'job offer' and ask us to match that again?". If the company you're at is a good company, they will hopefully see your value and increase your pay accordingly without the need for you to present what is essentially 'pay me more or I'll go somewhere else'.

Should I put this position on my resume even though I literally just started? Will this look weird/odd to employers to see I just started but am looking for a new job already?

You probably should if you are serious about moving on so soon. It may stand out to some employers as odd, but it may also show that you now have experience with teams. Getting a reference from your current employer might be difficult, though.

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    "companies pay what they think they should pay" or what they can get away with. If you don't ask for more, you won't get; and it's not unreasonable at all during a contract change to renegotiate. Sure, they need to be prepared to lose the contract, but that's ok as they've another offer. – UKMonkey Aug 20 '18 at 12:33
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Am I right to consider myself a junior developer?

You're right to consider yourself whatever. If you honestly don't think you're at the mid - senior level, then you're not, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Being honest about where you stand will then allow you to move towards whatever goals you have in mind and faster then otherwise.

I constantly have recruiters contacting me pitching me mid-sr level jobs

Recruiters contact me all the time for IT work, even though my resume clearly says I do programming. I wouldn't doubt you will continue to get contacted for roles that don't match your experience.

and the technical interviews for these positions crush me.

They will, but this will pass. Just focus on getting a good starting position where you can work on real systems and learn as much as you can. You can learn a lot in 6 months. At the right place, this could translate to not being a junior anymore.

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Am I right to consider myself a junior developer?

Yes. Most places, if not all would consider you a junior developer simply because you haven't worked in a company for at least few years gaining experience from higher-up developers. This isn't a bad thing though. Some companies will see you as an opportunity to mold you into the kind of developer they would like you to be (such as specialise in a particular piece of software or in a coding language).

I constantly have recruiters contacting me pitching me mid-sr level jobs and the technical interviews for these positions crush me

Recruiters want their fee. Most (not all) don't care who they get as long as they can successfully fill a role. They'll send mass emails out to people to try and get a pool of candidates because they only need one successful person out of a group of ten, or thirty.

I even tell the recruiters that I don’t consider myself at that level, but they say I should still give it a shot so I do

Refer to my point above. Again, they want to get a pool of candidates together to pitch to the client company. If you do attend these companies, worst case scenario is you don't get the job. But you will get some interview experience which goes a long way in the IT business.

I figure the interview experience will help me down the road

Exactly. Pick and choose what you really feel like will get you good experience. You might find yourself sitting in a room for a senior role wondering what the hell you're doing there, but it also means that you network with prospective managers that may want to hire you in the future.

Pick your fights (interviews/opportunities) wisely. Some are pointless and a waste of time, but networking (relationships) is crucial in IT so don't just pass up the opportunity straight away.

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No, 4 years in the industry doesn't make you a junior developer. It doesn't make you a senior either. Nor are you a good candidate for a code shop that can hit the ground running (imho).

Based on your experience and post it sounds like you like to hack away at stuff till it works, there's a TON of positions in software development that are like that. Anything outside of an IT centric industry (ecomm, telecom, code shops) have no obligation to follow standards or spin up enterprise architectures, yet they still need employees.

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