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I'm in the process of job hunting for something entry level programmer/IT related and I haven't had any luck for a few months now. I had one offer presented via LinkedIn because my skill set happened to fit the contract offered, but since then when applying I've noticed the myriad of programming concepts/languages out of my scope. I fit some qualifications but not all, and this is something that has been baffling me.

I would like to make some projects to bolster my portfolio, but I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the choices. What I mean is I would like to mess around with some RSA encryption or make a few data models, but then I feel as if I'm fortifying skills for one job skill set and completely closing the doors on say a LAMP stack or mobile development job. I'm here looking for insight from recruiters or experienced workforce members on what they look for when they are considering low level employees. If I focus on something unrelated to the job description, does that disqualify me from applying to those jobs even if I have, say, 60% of the qualifications?

For the record I have an AS in computer science and have taken higher level courses on my own time (proglang, rdbms, basic crypto, basic datasci, taking architecture now and planning on compiler theory), but had to discontinue the pursuit of a bachelor's due to financial reasons. I have a small portfolio with 2 private projects and I really want to get started on expanding it so I can at least show people physical progress. I really just need any job so I can pay off loans and I'd really like it to be field-related. If anyone could offer me more insight to the job process from the recruiter's perspective or a more efficient way to spend my time on projects that'd be great. Thanks a bunch!

closed as off-topic by IDrinkandIKnowThings, Garrison Neely, jcmeloni, Jim G., Roger Mar 18 '15 at 12:21

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – IDrinkandIKnowThings, Garrison Neely, jcmeloni, Roger
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    Associates degrees, IMO, aren't worth the paper they're printed on in computer science. Finish the bachelor's degree. – Brian Feb 23 '15 at 16:57
  • I plan on it later down the road, but I have no money to keep going. – Joey Feb 24 '15 at 9:46
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There's no such thing as one set of skills closing the door on another. If given infinite time, you could ostensibly absorb infinite knowledge. The issue therefore is time: you seem to be looking for a job sooner, rather than later. In this case I would advise you to strengthen your set of skills by making contributions to open source software in your chosen environment. Your work will be peer reviewed by the person who handles your pull request and when you apply at a prospective employer, telling them you have gained experience in their field by working on open source project X is very unlikely to hurt you.

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"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice" - Rush

Apply for the jobs. The first step of getting the job is getting the interview. You will never know if you are disqualified from a position if you never apply for it.

As for your skills.. what is your desired skillset? What do you want to be when you grow up? See @Cronax's answer as well.

Opportunities can present themselves in a company to switch technologies. I have seen a co-worker start off as a database developer and wind up as an iOS / objective C programmer.

Get your foot in the door somewhere. Be grateful for your first opportunity. But never stop being a student of the game. If you start off as an xyz developer, but abc is fascinating... get a book and read it. Do the homework problems and hone your skills.

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