I found it very frustrating to notice in my job search that pretty much all the positions are either looking for senior developers with +3-4 years experience or (much more rarely) completely entry-level people / fresh graduates.

I'm neither. I can definitely generate more value to the company than a fresh graduate, having been exposed to a number of different technologies and having had some experience operating in a corporate setting. On the other hand I'm confident I can pick up new technologies quickly but I'm not able to offer deep expertise in any particular useful specialism, as my work up to this point had been rather broad / on proprietary platforms.

And so, in general, is it better to apply for graduate schemes / entry level positions and then hope they will see my added value or is it better to apply for senior positions and underwhelm slightly with the hope of being offered a lower-seniority position?

5 Answers 5


I would go for entry level, if you add value you should progress quickly and impress while learning. If you aim too high and land a job you're not going to be good at you will get a bad reputation or mediocre one.

It's always better to start strong so you can build and keep momentum.


Junior. Because you ARE a junior. Juniors, broadly speaking, are people with roughly anything under 3 years experience. That's just how it is in the broadest, most generalized terms. That's not to say you'll stay there. But in the broadest terms you're a junior. Get the job, impress, and get promoted. If you're providing the value you claim you can, you'll be promoted very quickly. Also, it keeps expectations in check and allows you room to grow into the company. On top of that, broad knowledge is essentially what junior developers have. They can do a lot of things on a shallow surface level. Depending on the organization, tech stack and whatever unknown unknown, you may want to be cautious. It's very easy to get in over your head. I say take junior, impress and move up.


Apply for whichever jobs strike you as more interesting. Some employers will have a literal hard requirement for years worked, others use it only as a guide - often with soft language, i.e. it'll say "3+ years experience or equivalent." Some in both of those categories would include your grad studies as experience, so it's a wash.

Regardless, you should recognize that the application is only getting your foot in the door. It's the first step. Regardless of which positions you apply for, be ready to answer questions about your history:

  • Why did you work for 1.5 years and then go back to school?
  • Why are you now dropping out, prior to completing your program?

It's impossible to answer your question without knowing what your skills are, where you worked and what positions you are considering.

To give you an example, if you spent 1.5 years at Google and are now applying for a job in the same field at a small local startup, go for a senior role (provided you learnt something of course).

If you spent 1.5 years at a local startup but are now applying for a job at Google, go for a junior position.

The decision to apply for a junior or senior position should also depend on

  • your ability to learn quickly and
  • your ability to sell yourself. To give you an example, during my last job search I was offered several senior positions in a field I'd never worked in since people treated my previous job experience as somehow related.

It depends. But you should A) take inventory for your skills, B) match it to the requirements of the jobs you are shooting for, and C) continue applying as long as you fulfil around 70% of the requirements. If you have less than required experience, you will need to either demonstrate proficiency, or find a hiring manager who will open a more junior role for you.

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