I have been perusing job adverts but many say nothing about the desired level of experience apart from the tech stack they're looking for.

What does junior and entry level mean in terms of skill requirements and experience?

If their only requirement is knowledge of particular technologies without mention of years of experience, how can I tell if this is suitable for me and what I need to learn?

  • 2
    Hi squarlson and welcome to The Workplace! Unfortunately, the "What should I do" type of questions like this are off topic here and likely to be put on hold/closed. I recommend that you edit your question to be more widely applicable so that it can avoid closure and attract some good answers. – Ian Holstead Aug 2 '14 at 0:54
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    is that better? – squarlson Aug 2 '14 at 11:35
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    @squarlson I edited this to focus on your core question about junior level experience. The "years of experience" part is very well covered here but the other half of this question is great! Thanks for being willing to edit your question to be more clear and welcome! – enderland Aug 2 '14 at 12:47
  • This is so variable and dependant un industry the expectations for a junior doctor vs a trainee hairdresser are so wide – Pepone Aug 2 '14 at 13:34
  • My question specifically refers to front end web development, but this is not as clear after editing – squarlson Aug 2 '14 at 13:40

To me, "junior" implies anything from just graduated to less than 3 years. When I put out an add for a junior dev, I expect I'll have to "untrain" them before building them back up. The only thing I really want is that they've at least worked a little bit with the tech stack and have the ability to learn fast.

This contrasts with when I put out an ad for a Senior Dev. In those cases I expect full competency on the tech stack we're working with along with knowledge of how to solve the common corner cases.

What you should be applying for are jobs that list the skills you have. Even if they say "2 years" or whatever. Sometimes the hiring manager just throws a number out there because HR is asking for it. So it's best to let them decide if your work history is good enough for an interview.

If you don't apply then you aren't giving them the option to consider you... and you'll certainly not get the job.

  • When you put the ads do you also specify what kind of experience level you are looking for, or do you just assume people know what you just described when you say "Senior" – Brandin Aug 3 '14 at 11:50
  • @Brandin: Depends on what I'm looking for. For example, a SQL guy: 10+. A Dev: 5+ When reviewing a resume for a sr dev, I'm looking for at least 3 large projects (1 yr+) and multiple smaller ones (< 6 months). I don't consider someone to be Senior if they have 8 years experience on exactly 1 project; it's just not the same as seeing something from start to finish. – NotMe Aug 4 '14 at 18:13

I'm not huge on the labels. I think calling someone a junior or a senior is a good way to falsely categorize the office and weight opinions where they need not be weighted. There can also be some flaring of egos for no good reason. Having said that, there are plenty of places who use the junior/senior tags well but not all of them do. We recently got a 'Senior Project Analyst', the qualifications? 23 years seniority, most of which was spent elsewhere. He hates the label too but this is what the company gave him. Absent from my email signature is the demarcation despite having spent over 5 years in supply chain related software development and going on 9 with the company so far.

I recently listened to a hanselminutes podcast, that had a ton of information in it about what you're asking. I would give it a listen.

Ideally, the J/S titles should denote levels of experience but as the industry changes, by the day if you're in the Javascript framework land the equation gets a bit hazy. Perhaps the best summary I can think of is a senior has made more mistakes than a junior (and learned from them). If you're fresh out of school doing a ton of work in open source and you get hired as junior under a 'senior' who's spent his career in non open source does the distinction really count when working on an open source project? There's some fundamental overlap sure, but the things I would look to a senior for...nuance and somewhat esoteric about a subject just wouldn't be there would it?

I would say look carefully at the qualifications being asked for in the posting. If you can speak and work effectively through them just apply. The company knows what it's looking for and if you don't cut it for them with 0 years or 10 years they'll let you know.

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