I want to build up my resume, being able to claim more marketable experience, but my current position at work does not afford me the opportunities to move in the direction that I'm interested in. While my own home time can be used to learn and broaden my knowledge of different subjects, what can I claim in terms of experience that would be respected in a job interview? How does personal experience stand up against on the job experience in the IT industry?
You're not a "full time" programmer, and you want to be. The answer is quite simple - GitHub.
You need to do the following things.
- Upload your own code up there. Doesn't matter if it's not brilliant.
- Commit bug fixes to your own code.
- Fork other people's code - submit patches to them.
- Write documentation / submit issues / help out with other people's code.
What you're showing to a prospective recruiter is:
- I know how to use Git!
- I have proficiency in the following programming languages.
- I can submit good bug reports.
- Look how I have developed over the last X months.
Writing on a CV / Resume "I know Java" doesn't mean anything. You need to demonstrate your skills - show, don't tell.
Often was constitutes relevant experience is that which others can also speak of: experience where you have a manager who can give a reference. As much as possible, you want to get the experience from a job, because that is what other hiring managers consider relevant.
Experience outside of a job can be a bonus, and certainly will help. But if it is only gained outside of a job, you are competing with people with job experience, who have experience that a hiring manager can relate to.
Therefore, as much as possible, look for opportunities within your company. At the same time, look for jobs outside your company that look like they are relevant to what you want to do, and apply for them. Best case is if one of them hire you. Next best case is you still have a job and are getting more experience, even if it is not quite what you want.