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I'm having a really difficult time trying to land a software developer role, mostly due to my complex work history. I'm in Melbourne, Australia. I'll try to summarise it below as best I can:

  • Finished my Computer Science degree in early 2011

  • Late 2011 to early 2017: Software developer at a company where I was mainly working on Java web applications for a major telco.

  • Early 2017: Quit my job to pursue self-employment in an unrelated field (a secondary passion of mine)

  • Mid 2017: Stopped working due to an existing chronic illness getting worse.

  • Mid 2017 to Early 2020: Not working due to illness.

  • Early 2020 – present: Some upskilling, applying for jobs but otherwise unemployed.

I'm in a really difficult position because my resume doesn't technically reflect the reality of my skills. My upskilling has had to cover numerous areas because of different job requirements and my existing skills aren't anywhere near as strong as they were.

I've tried applying for junior/graduate roles but understandably that hasn't worked because I'm not a graduate.

I've progressed to a coding challenge at a few companies but I've never been able to complete them because my skills still aren't up to scratch. It seems that just upskilling doesn't seem to give me the right skills/mindset to conquer them.

As an alternative solution I've thought about applying for roles in other areas of IT such as support but companies still want prior experience and I also have a severe stutter which would make a support role very difficult.

I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice/tips on possible next steps at this stage? I can continue upskilling but it seems like it isn't very worthwhile at this point.

Thanks all.

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  • Where are you located? – Matthew Gaiser Jan 29 at 6:18
  • @MatthewGaiser Apologies, I should have mentioned I'm in Melbourne, Australia. – Michael Dimitriadis Jan 29 at 6:21
  • What exactly did you do for "upskilling"? – Helena Jan 29 at 11:04
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    Are you finding that the coding challenges in general are algorithm based (e.g. improve this time complexity) or task based (e.g. write an app that does XYZ) because they are a different set of skills (it sounds like you have/have had both in your education/experience) and it may be worth bearing in mind before you get to your next one. – fey Jan 29 at 16:28
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    @MichaelDimitriadis great, then that's a little easier to practice and prepare yourself for, as lal's answer details – fey Feb 2 at 10:40
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You have around 7 years experience in Java web development and a 3 year gap after that. You need to improve your skills.

I recommend the following to get you back on track,

  • Make a list of technologies you want to improve.
  • Make a dummy project which can make use of all the technologies you need so that by the time you complete the project you will have brushed up your experience with them.
  • Read, browse and watch videos in the subjects you lack or want to improve. There are lots of free online courses you can try.
  • Be ready to get out of your comfort zone. Don't cling to old/outdated technologies.
  • Learn whatever you can about cloud services, micro services and containers. It's the future. (I recommend AWS, Learn one well and you will see others are similar (Azure & GCP). Stick to the free tier and be careful about paid features and auto scaling, it can suck your credit card dry before you know it)
  • Optional : After all the above try some freelance projects matching your skillset.
  • Start applying for new jobs once you are confident. And don't expect to get the first job you try.
  • Pro tip: Always remember what you failed to answer and look it up right after the interview. Always remember what coding challenges you failed and do the same challenges at home. Learn from your failure.
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    This is a good list. As a side suggestion, consider making the dummy project a real project that's pro bono — e.g. making a website or a simple app for a local charity or community group that you're involved in (so long as you can still use the tech you want to brush up in). Sometimes it's easier to gather motivation when other people are getting excited about what you're creating and hopefully there's no pressure as you're working for free & anything is better than what they currently have. You also have a more interesting tale for the interview on 'launching a site' and gathering reqs, etc. – anotherdave Jan 29 at 16:10

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