•Does the fact these are "freelance" jobs detract in a meaningful way
to startup employers somehow I do not see?
They shouldn't but it depends on how you sell it. Ultimately, the company is going to be looking for the candidate they feel fits the best. Freelance work is likely going to be what will fit the best for their organization since they will not have a lot of developers. At the same time though they will need someone strong who can be versatile and do several different duties quickly.
Essentially, you have to turn your lack of 'professional' experience into a plus for the company. At start ups especially you will be expected to own a project, since you have freelance experience, your used to owning a project. So find a way to display those skills.
•Is there a better way I can help myself get across the level of
professionalism and competence I would bring to the table to my next
prospective employer? Is it just my presentation?
It is always in the presentation. Your a developer but now you need to be a salesman and you have to sale yourself. It might be a difficult sale but prepare yourself, study up about resumes (And especially how to score very high on software scanners) and try and get at least a face to face interview. This is where you can either shine or fail.
•Is it just the market stigma that's quantity over quality, that no
matter the depth a project has it'll still get overshadowed by
multiple lesser projects in terms of candidate "experience" in the
eyes of the employer?
In my experiences it is the absolute opposite. A single project can make or break your career. But if no one understands the complexities of the project than it doesn't matter. If you have a 'flagship' project create a high-level overview of it and then bullet point some of the specs. This gives you the opportunity to both work in the keywords that are required for the software scanner while explaining to the company that you know what you are doing. Also by giving a high level explanation it explains to the recruiter (Usually a non-technical person) that you, for example, have used a database and the technical details explains to the technical person that you know Oracle for example.
- FreeLance work should be looked upon in high regard by a start-up if you sell it to them correctly
It is ALWAYS the presentation. Remember the order of hiring:
a) Software screener
b) HR Rep
c) Person who actually knows anything about your position (hopefully)
Start with the software screener and get past that, get past the HR Rep and then worry about the people who actually know what they are doing.
I think it's just you. While some companies are rigid about experience the majority of IT companies respect talent and experiences. The issue is you have to establish that these experiences that you have is quality experience.
Thanks for the interest Paul, it IS establishing that professionalism
of the experience I have I'm trying to get the finer details of hence
the question. I have 1 or 2 "flagship" projects described like your
suggestion in my resume but HOW would YOU up-sell it if it was yours?
My current train of thought is to embellish these with app feature
videos, nice portfolio highlights, hell maybe a nice blog write up or
something. Being the hire'er what would be the way to get across these
details to sell my experience to you?
Well it's not selling your experience to me. It's about selling it to the general public. On your resume, list accomplishments. Detail the specifications and use Google AdWords to assist with keywords that are being searched in your local area for the job position you want.
The next step is to list the different types of frameworks and technology used in order to achieve your goals. Show what you have experience with. Resumes are typically directed at an HR rep at the larger firms and they will just be looking for specific words, make sure that you have those words.
Compile a list of notes of your experiences, how they were used and when. This will help keep things fresh in your mind for the potential phone interview. It is important that you ACE the phone interview so having access to the information is vital.
Compile a list of strengths you possess and create a list of questions to ask the interviewer based on your strengths. A sample question would be I have experience with full stack development, how would your company utilize these skills?. This reinforces your resume and allows you to ask questions based on your strengths. The Q&A section of the interview is where you make or break getting the job (I have several posts here regarding how to perform this portion).
After all of that, it comes down to your personality. The most important thing is to make them remember you.