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As of June 2020, I've accumulated about three years of working experience in web development. It involves both frontend and backend, as well as a rather small subset of programming languages, frameworks and technologies in general.

Currently I'm looking for a job; my communication skills are not necessarily great, so my best bet for the purpose are LinkedIn's Job section, and other specialized job boards.

These, however, frequently require programming languages, frameworks, or other stack I'm not familiar with; sometimes I tried them but not in a professional environment, sometimes I never even touched upon them.

My default attitude for a very long time has been that I apply them anyway, because I have the ability to learn them quickly - and I think years of professional work can also be a proof for it for an outsider.

My experience, however, is that the ratio of refusal or even ghosting is excruciatingly high. I'm about to realize I actually should provide something that shows that I can do it.

How should I handle these situations?

  • Maybe I simply shouldn't apply to jobs I'm inexperienced for? I feel like a waste of my true potential; as if I don't have to prove I can develop for the web in any language I get.
  • Should I talk about it during the application process? That is, stating I can prepare for some test questions, given enough time, or something like that. I'm not sure large-profile employers would accept it, however.
  • Or I just simply have to prepare extensively before applying for a position? Personal projects written with specified stack, showing it in a portfolio, things like that? I'm not sure if I have the capacity for that in every stack I'm missing out on.
  • Why not take some time and contribute to open source projects of those frameworks, publicly and openly proving your ability to learn quickly and productively? – Tymoteusz Paul Jun 22 at 18:20
  • @TymoteuszPaul mostly lack of time, but honestly? You're right otherwise, time is the less of the concerns of the aforementioned issues I'm facing. – Zoltán Schmidt Jun 22 at 18:34
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For some roles, it may be that they've got time for you to learn the language and whatever else - these are the roles you want to apply for. For other roles, it may be that they need someone to contribute right now and there's just no time for someone to come in who can't be productive from Day 1. There's obviously a range of possibilities between those two extremes, and it also depends on how "similar" the languages are. If you're trying to transition from (say) a React role to a Vue one, that's a lot less worrying to me as a hiring manager than transitioning from a React role to an embedded C++ development role - the latter is going to need someone really special to convince me.

While you may not like it, the only way to find out the difference between those roles is to talk to someone, ideally the hiring manager, but if not then the recruiter. Don't rely on text communication, get on the phone and talk to people.

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I would advise against building skills specifically for an opening that you don't have a particular "in" for. Job application is time consuming enough without adding that complexity. Refusal or non-reply rates are very high for almost everyone, don't take that as a specific piece of feedback on you.

In your resume you can include a rating for each listed skill. For skills that you haven't used in a professional environment, listing them with "(novice)" beside is fine. That outlines that you have some understanding of the concepts but are not using them at a professional level yet. This should really help with your own discomfort.

Also be aware that job listings are sometimes wish lists, that not every skill listed is necessarily a core skill to the job. If you have a related skill or some experience that may be good enough for the position.

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I am right now in the process of changing completely position, from a 3 year experience as a low-level programmer to a completely high level tool developer, and from my experience I would say:

  • try to polish your resume so that you show any experience with other technologies or stack you have, take off some dust from university projects is you need to, they are not so far off as to not count.
  • if you don't have any, try making some. Small projects, even if unfinished, unpolished or just proof of concept, might not show that you can use a certain tech stack, but surely show your willingness to learn and your effort to do so
  • try to focus your interviews on other aspects that might advantage you. Have you worked in a big, worldwide team with colleagues across the globe working on the same project? good, it might be that you will still do the same in your new position. Did you apply because you like the company? Good, more enthusiasm will show that you will put more effort into overcoming the difficulties or relearning new things.
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