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I've been looking for a way to get into programming for about a year now. I have about 2 years experience with scripting and programming at home and have been working for an 'IT' company for nearly 2 years. I say IT company loosely. They are an IT company but literally anybody could do the job.

My trouble is finding a job without any professional experience (I'm sure most people can relate to this). I've had several interviews this year for help desk roles and devops roles all with the same outcome, "you are good but we need someone with more professional experience". I'm about to apply for a junior software engineering role but want to do things a little differently. I am rubbish at lying and far too honest when it comes to interviews. But I feel like I am needing to lie about my current job to include the things I do at home.

I know I can do the jobs I'm applying for, but with no relevant education or proper experience I'm finding it impossible to prove I can do what they need me to do. I recently set up a website which I'm using as a platform to present my work and what I'm doing. I've not really had a chance to show it off to any potential employers yet though.

I will definitely work in software development one day and I have no doubts about that because I am so determined. I just want to know if its OK to lie to take a short-cut.

In short my question is. What is your view on lying about what you do at work in an interview as long as you know you are capable of doing it.

I've also been looking at going back into education for something computer science related. I already have a degree in Structural Engineering so it's not a decision I want to take lightly considering I'd have to fund it myself, but if it was going to get me a job then I would definitely think it would be worth while.

P.S. references aren't a problem for me.

  • "Should I lie to get a job?" is not the same as "will I be caught about lying for a job?". There are other implications in the former question that are not covered by simply pointing out that the lie is likely to be discovered and result in termination. Even bearing that in mind, it probably worked out well enough for this guy who made millions off his lie before it was discovered. This should be re-opened, and allow answers to focus on issues other than "you'll eventually be caught and fired." – HopelessN00b Sep 4 '14 at 16:16
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    I say IT company loosely. They are an IT company but literally anybody could do the job. - Based on this statement I don't understand. If they say they are an IT company, and you say on an application that you worked for an IT company, how is this lying?? Obviously you are looking to improve your experience (to do more interesting tasks, for example) as motivation for the positions you are applying for. I just don't see why you think this is lying. – Brandin Sep 4 '14 at 17:28
  • My role within the company is to do hardware repairs and some desk side support all focused around microsoft products. The jobs I am looking for are all focused around Linux based operating systems. Most of the stuff I do/learn at home is Linux. There is no way of using Linux in my current job (I have asked several times). Yet in order to get a job I want I need professional experience. It's a catch 22 so I was considering lying and saying the things I have done in my own time, I have also done at work. – reknawsub Sep 4 '14 at 17:45
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    Then I don't understand the problem of representing your job as it is. Where does lying even have an advantage. You say your current experience and role, and also point out your other skills like Linux support or whatever – Brandin Sep 4 '14 at 19:48
  • Presenting my job how it is isn't currently working for me. That was why I was considering a little embellishment. – reknawsub Sep 5 '14 at 11:44
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Being dishonest to a future employer is a horrible idea. You said it yourself that you have no work experience. So, you can't say for sure that you are able to complete the tasks because you have never done them in a corporate environment.

My suggestion to you is to become an active member of influential communities. Join a JavaScript user group, become a Microsoft MVP, go to conferences about programming, etc. All of these things will allow you to establish connections to a programming profession. Participating in these communities shows that you are an active member of the community and employers want those people. Showing up to an interview and telling the prospective employer about how you gave a talk on continuous integration will tell them loads about you. It's not work experience, but it definitely related.

The other thing you can do is create your own personal projects and implement them. You need to treat those projects the same way you would at work. By that I mean you should create a project plan, architecture documents, go through the decision process of what frameworks to use, create stories, testing, use some project management software (e.g. Trello) etc. Your basically simulating the experience you would get in the real world. You can also volunteer your services to local charity groups. I'm sure they would be happy to let you improve or maintain their website.

What I'm attempting to say here is that there are a lot of alternatives to being dishonest about your work experience. I suggest you explore them before choosing the alternative.

  • Thanks for the tips. I don't want to have to be dishonest I've just been getting a bit desperate recently to get a decent job. After reading through all the responses though I've realised it'll do more harm than good. Plus I am a rubbish liar. – reknawsub Sep 4 '14 at 16:18
  • Do you really need to get a job as a programmer? I'm currently working as a technology consultant and a lot of the work I do doesn't directly involve writing code. I have my own projects on the side that allow me to channel my inner code monkey. You might find that the same works for you. – Cameron McKay Sep 4 '14 at 16:27
  • On the flipside, I find programming for a job kills the coding spirit faster than anything else - so if you ever still want to code for yourself... – Weckar E. Feb 27 '17 at 10:47
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What is your view on lying about what you do at work in an interview as long as you know you are capable of doing it.

Getting caught lying will almost assuredly get you fired.

It's also a sure way to destroy your career reputation.

Personal projects are not the same as work experience.

I've had several interviews this year for help desk roles and devops roles all with the same outcome, "you are good but we need someone with more professional experience".

Here's what you need to do.

  1. Don't lie
  2. Talk about why your personal projects and knowledge are equivalent of work experience you don't have
  3. If you can't, then it's not equivalent
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    In my personal experience personal projects work very well to develop technical skills because you're free to experiment and dig deeply into technical details, but for other skills like estimating how much work something is or communicating with customers or people in a different role need professional experience. – CodesInChaos May 30 '15 at 19:51
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It won't take that much effort for a company to establish that you have lied. Particularly if, as you say, a probing question in an interview will cause you any visible discomfort; it's not exactly rocket science to predict that your recent employment history will come up. If you are lucky, you'll be kicked straight out of the interview at that point. Dishonesty is a far, far bigger red flag than any technical shortcomings.

If you're unlucky, you'll keep the lie going long enough get the job and then be summarily fired when exposed. And that will be even harder to explain away in future.

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I would say that what you want to do is probably never acceptable under any circumstance and punishes both your potential employers and other legitimate candidates for the position for your own failure to be honest.

I personally cannot imagine a moral system under which that would be considered in any way not reprehensible.

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Short answer : DON'T

It's really common for hiring companies to check with your previous employers. If they do, they'll find out you lied. You could also be exposed if anyone in the company you're applying for knows someone in your previous company. And I could probably write a 10 pages list of other ways this could go wrong.

If they find out you lied before you get hired, they'll cancel the whole process. Then two things can happen : either you're lucky, and you're only busted for this precise company. Or you're not and they know people, making it incredibly hard for you to ever get a job in this field. No matter how good you are, nobody likes a liar.

But let's assume they don't check and you get the job. How much would you like to work knowing that any minute you can get instantly fired with the potential consequences I already stated? Personaly this would drive me crazy. if you're an honest guy and not a good liar as you stated, I bet it will be the same for you.

The website is a pretty good idea. Stick with it, and be honnest

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It's up to you whether you want to lie. However, as a trained engineer, I go by the Engineer's Oath, which suits me just fine and gives me an excuse to ram the truth without the lubricant of tact :) I kind of find it sad that a fellow engineer would lie. If you can't find a way to get in, rake your brains and find a way to get in. Or snatch someone and rake THEIR brains :) Eventually, you'll find a way, by hook or by crook - Just make sure that "crook" doesn't involve lying. I may be awfully, royally conceited, but I think of myself as too smart - actually, I am too dumb but whatever, it works - and too tough to lie. I am something that not too many people on the face of the Earth are: an engineer. You have too much to lose by lying. Anyway, how good are you at lying? With my short-term memory issues, if I were to lie, I'd be one of the most pathetic liars on the planet. It's the worst feeling when you are caught lying and people actually pat you on the head and feel sorry for you that you lied :)

Go to meetups, build up your github. Pester someone for an internship. Go back to school for an MS in CS. Whatever it takes. I'll do anything to be a senior software engineer - in my case, "anything" means consulting and studying 12 to 16 hours a day :)

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Don't lie.

Hiding uncomfortable truth is one thing, making things up is something very different.

I think you might be underestimating your experience. It doesn't matter how well the company you worked at was doing, what matters is what you did there; reflect on the experience that you gained there, not the failures of others.

You say that you've done a few projects before, are they available online? List them on your CV, mentioned the the projects that you've done and describe briefly what they do.

You're mistaken if think that not having a degree in computer science is going to be a deal-breaker (not all computer scientist are programmers, and vice-versa, but of-course it helps you to gain the fundamental understanding), having a university degree in the first place shows that you're determined. Being determined and being able to gain experience on your own should be more than enough for you to get started in junior positions.

Don't lie. Share what you've actually done, it might not seem much to you but it's more than what most people begin with.

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