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My main job for the last 4 years has been as a "developer" maintaining an install of a large enterprise Classic ASP web application provided by a third party. This was my first web developer job.

Any tips on positioning this job on my resume? Obviously the technologies are not going to be what anyone is looking for, but I work hard :) so I need to make it count for something.

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    For non technical people: Classic ASP is a largely obsolete platform. – yannis May 16 '12 at 6:29
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If the technology is not "sexy" enough, try to explore other aspects of the application you maintained.

  • Was it business critical?

  • What type of value did it, and by extension you, deliver to the company?

  • Did you do anything beyond "developer" (like effort estimations, requirements analysis, technical project management, architecture etc etc)?

  • Were there any aspects of the application or the maintenance process that was significantly improved by you?

  • Did you interact with other stakeholders?

And so on. There are many more aspects of software than the mere technology. Also, don't try to hide the fact that it was a legacy system. The vast majority of software work is maintaining legacy systems of varying degrees of "antiqueness".

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You may have trouble getting through resume screens and picky HR drones, but fortunately this only seems to be an issue with large employers who are more concerned with filtering out resumes than looking for the perfect developer. Small employers and software shops simply tend to be more open to people with varying bakgrounds.

If you can demonstrate on your resume that you had a number of responsibilities, took leadership or ownership, have the ability to quickly pick up new domain knowledge then these are all things that shine through what you are working on specifically. Furthermore if the legacy technologies and poorly written software that you maintain are such that you can identify everything wrong with them and how newer technologies improve upon or help prevent these pitfalls then you are better than most.

I would want to work with such a person described above over a poor developer that does not grasp these concepts but has direct experience working in newer technologies.

  • That's great to hear. Thanks for this answer. I wonder if I could even sell it as "picking up" asp/vbscript since there hasn't exactly been any new writing on the subject in 10 years? Not so much just the language but the nuances of a large application using this tech. – Don Zacharias May 16 '12 at 14:11
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Let's look at this from another angle:

  • What skills did you use or gain in maintaining this application? Did you troubleshoot issues, develop customer service skills, prioritize what to fix, communicate with the vendor regularly, or something else? What were common tasks that you gained proficiency in as a result of this experience? Were there any project management lessons you learned from this position? What methodologies were used around the maintenance,e.g. did you use any ITIL processes or formal development methodologies like Agile or Waterfall?

  • Did you learn Classic ASP on this job? Did you find any scalability, reliability, or other -ability issues with this in your time maintaining the installation?

  • When you say a large install, could you quantify that to some degree: How many servers, how much traffic was handled? Did you have to configure IIS in any way? Did you ever have tickets go to Microsoft or another software vendor to assist you in issues with this application?

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