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Job offers are asking for n years of experience. I'm currently finishing my master's degree at university and asking myself how to determine "my n".

I started coding in my mid-teens and have had a job as a software developer (more or less) since 2011. The first jobs were less than a half-time job, as I was just a school kid, but I sometimes worked on and finished projects (websites for customers) all by myself. I also used to code in my free time, and bring this knowledge to my workplace and even introduced a new framework, that is now used there.

Since starting to study at university I had on and off-times with working as a developer, but at this moment I have a half time job in a software development team. I feel like I can keep up with the skills of the more experienced (by years) colleagues. Most of them don't have a degree and judging from talks with my principal, about infrastructure planning, I seem to have more insights and understanding on broader topics, than my co-developers.

I read the answer to this question to get more insights about my situation.

I think the two factors that matter for determining experience in this case are

  1. Obviously the hours/days working paid (Σ years in job * (working hours per week / full-time week hours))
  2. The time since I started coding: Technology passes by and I have seen and learned more than someone with equal work hours, whostarted later than me.

How do I weigh and quantify these factors? Should I just put (1) on my CV? How would I explain and justify this kind of experience in an interview?

  • let's jsut assume n years in software development in general, it's not limited down to one language – Strernd Jun 3 '17 at 21:42
  • "Job offers are asking for n years of experience..." - If you think you have what they need, just apply and hopefully you'll be able to explain your exact experience in an interview. No one needs your exact formula used to determine your "n". However, don't inflate your professional experience. The fact that you're bright and motivated is a plus, but does not imply more experience. – Brandin Jun 6 '17 at 5:26
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I was in a similar position when graduating from my MS, with lots of internships and part-time work but no full-time, long-term work. I did not put any "years of experience" on my resume, only listed the various jobs (which were clearly marked as internships or overlapping with degree studies). For technologies, separate into two or three categories like "Expert at..." and "Familiar with..." -- that's what they really want to know, after all.

Occasionally an online application forced me to input "years experience with [technology]". In those cases, I simply put how many years since I started using it. If someone asked (rarely), I'd explain I started coding at a young age. Again, the rest of my application clearly indicated I was a new grad, so it's safe to assume the interviewer will understand.

If you're talking about things like "Job requirements: N yrs experience", sometimes companies "convert" advanced degrees into years experience, typically average length of the degree. (This is usually indicated on the job posting, but you don't have anything to lose by asking.) For part-time work while pursuing a degree I should think you're qualified enough to count that time as whole years of experience.

Keep in mind that maturity, not just knowledge, is a factor in "years of experience". So if you are applying to a more advanced position, expect to field questions regarding that. Prepare some concrete examples to talk about, like times you made decisions with long-term impact, or how you managed a difficult teammate.

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I've never heard of the idea of explicitly answering the "N years of X" question. Usually, that's answered by the CV in which you list your part-time jobs with start and end dates. Finished projects count for a lot! Bonus points if you can link to the websites and/or present testimonials by happy customers.

It's not clear how much of your experience consists of private projects, but absolutely list them too. However, if nothing was published or hosted on github etc. that might not count for much. I usually summarize my projects in a single bullet point.

Use the cover letter to expound the skills you earned during the projects, both when it comes to coding and soft skills.

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Bro. You're overthinking this. Let's say that you're looking for a web development position that involves databases (MySql, SQL Server, Oracle). No one assumes that you've spent 365 contiguous days writing queries to qualify "1 Year" on a questionnaire, because that's not a general expectation in a web development position.

If you've used Technology XYZ intermittently between 2011 and 2017, it's just fine to say, "6 Years". If you need to qualify it later, do that. But don't rack your brain with all that stuff you put in your post, because no one (seriously!) is going to do an full-scale audit to make you prove it. Your obligation is that if anyone asks, you need to be able to speak credibly on the experience that you have. It may be enough, and it may not. Lighten up.

  • Some valid points but the tone is a bit condescending. – Brandin Jun 6 '17 at 7:38
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Put your number of years down as physical years worked and then list in the job part where you describe it as part time with the hours worked there. Then underneath the job part list all the experience which included learned things during the duration of employment in the part time category.

When on an interview you can explain the expertise is both knowledge growth as well as practical application which should suffice to answer questions. They can quiz you or test you for the knowledge parts and would have an understanding based on the years/hours where the experience part plays in.

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    Personally I would view this as a candidate attempting to be deceptive and dishonest on purpose. Somebody applying for a job and claiming to have some number of years experience, where that experience is highly fragmented raises some huge red flags. Better not to mention any specific number at all and just describe each project separately, being clear that they are part-time (and using start/end dates instead). A recruiter can read about the projects rather than feeling like he or she is being fed a misleading number such as 'N' years. – Ben Cottrell Jun 4 '17 at 18:43
  • @BenCottrell ok, how else do you explain x physical years on earth with a part time job? You can't say you only worked 1.5 years between 2010-2013 when you were technically employed for 3 years part time. I consider somebody saying they worked 1.5 years because it was part time a lie as it was 3 years part time. Not sure what reality you live in where x years of work is shortened just cause it wasn't considered full time work. Do you also add years if you work 50-60 hour weeks so that you have more than you were employed for? – mutt Jun 5 '17 at 4:06
  • As per my comment above, I'd consider it to be better just not to mention any number at all and describe each project and/or workplace separately using dates, describing their role on the project, which features they delivered, which technology they used, etc. Using a number of years/months to describe fragmented part-time experience is rather meaningless and possibly deceptive/misleading in this case. – Ben Cottrell Jun 5 '17 at 9:49
  • If you list the dates you don't have to include a year count. E.g. Job A Jan 2008 - Dec 2012, Job B Jan 2013 - Dec 2016, etc. That format is fairly standard. "Years of experience" is just something people say on job listings "we're looking for someone with 5 years experience in SQL, etc." – Brandin Jun 6 '17 at 7:43

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