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I'm looking at moving from one software development sub-field to another. A lot of the relevant job ads want expertise with a particular language and a particular set of related tools.

I'm confident that my prior experience in similar but not identical languages/tools will allow me to get up to speed quickly. That is, if I was to start working on an existing project using those tools, I believe that I would be able to meaningfully contribute with more or less the same ramp up period anyone would have when starting work on a meaningfully sized project they haven't seen before.

I'm not sure that the hiring managers would have the same impression of how my previous experience with similar languages/tools have prepared me for this type of work. So, my current plan is to create a small side project, using the expected languages/tools, to demonstrate, (and improve) my proficiency. (This would be while continuing with my current paid work.)

My question is, since I think there's a chance that a hiring manager might count my previous experience with the same weight I do, should I apply to some of these jobs now, before the side project is in a state that makes sense to show?

I've read other posts suggesting that it is not completely taboo to re-apply to the same job after some time has passed. But I'm still left wondering if re-applying is something one should plan to do, or if it would be better to wait until later, given that one is not sure how one's experience would be viewed.

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  • Apply now! If the company is any good, they'll test you on the fundamentals anyway. Tech stacks change all the time. It's completely normal. Worst case scenario is that you have to wait another 6 months to a year before you can apply again. Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 2:33

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Always apply for the jobs you want right away.

It is the hiring team's job to decided if you qualify, don't eliminate yourself!

Software development is so desperate for talent right now. Most reasonable hiring managers would take a chance on a candidate that shows a lot of capability in adjacent fields.

Highlight your past work wherever it relates. Also put an emphasis on your learning techniques as a way to alleviate any questions about your ramp up time.

There's no better way to learn a new set of skills than getting paid to produce results. Get your applications in and find a company that will pay you to learn!

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  • pizoelectric sounds right. I once called a potential employer on spec and because I mentioned one obscure theorem, he almost begged me to go for interview the next day; any knowledge of that theorem was rare as hens' teeth. At the same time as an employer, I'd be dubious about any candidate's confidence that non-identical experience would get anyone up to speed quickly, let alone in more-or-less the ramp-up period anyone would have on a new project. Is that what you mean, being unsure hiring managers would have the same impression of your previous experience? Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 16:26

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