So, it's no secret that it's a considerable amount more difficult to get a role as a software engineer when you're fresh out of college vs a few years of experience.

I don't know that I am exactly entry level, I've built a lot of production quality sites doing freelance and contract work (typically building sites for businesses in a short timeframe: e.g 3-4 months) for about a year or so after doing comp sci in college and I've done contractual node.js and php instructing(online)/tutoring. But I don't have the backing of saying "I've worked at x company for three years" and I am finding it difficult to actually get an offer (the only long term experience I have is 3 years of math tutoring for in college)

I often get interviews and can solve coding challenges if I make it to that stage. However, often I have the interviewer or employer tell me that they are looking for someone whose not a junior developer or with someone with a few years of experience.

I feel as if my contract/freelance, teaching and college work is getting dismissed immediately because it's not a full time long term/3 years of experience role. How can I illustrate myself to receive competitive offers, without having 3+ years of experience.

Summary: I don't necessarily consider myself entry level because I've coded for years and have had production quality sites, but I'm not illustrating this well enough to employers because they still consider me to not have enough experience.

  • I don't believe these are duplicate questions, the o.p in that post asked a very broad question and gave a single anecdote based in opinion that was not a solution to my question. His question was roughly "how to overcome years of experience requirement, when not having much experience", mine is closer to "how can I illustrate my past experiences so they are not invalidated" Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 21:24
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  • "more difficult to get a role as a software engineer when you're fresh out of college vs a few years of experience" I don't agree.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 11:50
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    See also: Communicating professionalism of freelance programming on a resume
    – David K
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 12:17
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    "I'm not exactly a junior/entry level developer" it occurs to me that the OP is, exactly a junior/entry level developer. That's a good thing, and the OP should be able to get a great position.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:37

3 Answers 3


If you've been doing it for years as a freelance developer, then create a cool company name to go by and put it on your resume as "Owner / lead developer." After all, you were the one sourcing clients, meeting with stakeholders, and ensuring the stuff got done. It definitely applies, and gets the point across.

Look, anyone can get a degree and show up to a cubicle. Running a successful small business is hard. This is definitely something you want to showcase to a potential employer.

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    Yes, his experience as freelancer should be on his resume, ideally with a brief summary of projects he did, how long they took and what technologies he used. However, I strongly disagree with using a made-up company. Why would you do that if freelancing is perfectly acceptable? Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 9:49
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    The OP has not been doing it for years, it sounds like. It sounds like the OP simply has "one year's experience contracting".
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 11:57
  • While there's no need to "make up a company name" :) exactly as cors says, serious contracting is probably more highly considered, as a rule than just putting in time at a company.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 12:02
  • @Fattie indeed, reading the original question the first thing that came to mind was "this guy has a way overinflated opinion of his own skills and experience". Were I a hiring manager and read between that between the lines of his resume and/or cover letter I'd bin the application instantly, with the standard "thank you for your interest in our company, we will get back to you if we have need for someone with your skills in the future".
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 12:25
  • right, well, I would just say that, OP seems to think that the 3 years experience in a totally unrelated field, is relevant. Unfortunately it's just not, it's totally irrelevant and should not even be mentioned. It sounds like the guy has "12 months experience contracting", which is fine and should secure OP a junior role where the need is for someone with, well, 12 months experience contracting.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 12:39

It's probably not the work you're doing, but the stature of the businesses you're doing the work for. If you've done most of your work for mom-and-pop businesses, AND it's freelance, AND most especially if you didn't work in the office, it doesn't lend itself as credible if you worked on-site for a easily researchable company.

You might look into certifications (even online) to prove your value.

  • precisely. "mom and pop" work counts for nothing.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 11:58

It seems to me that, quite simply, you have about one year's experience actual programming computers, ie, being paid to program computers.

Is this correct?

(Please note that "math tutoring", or any other non-programming jobs, unfortunately are irrelevant: better to not even mention it when job-seeking.)

Employers prefer if anything contract work over fulltime work. Contracting is tougher, makes you learn more, and makes you work harder. (That's assuming it's real, fully-paid professional contract work.)

If you like, edit your question, and state exactly (in months) exactly how many months of paid programming experience you have.

I feel as if my contract/freelance, teaching and college work is getting dismissed...

You are mixing-up two separate issues.

"College work" is irrelevant, nobody cares about it. And your completely unrelated career ("teaching") is also of course irrelevant to your programming career.

So this leaves you with X months of "paid programming experience". (It looks like X is about 12 to 18, correct?)

Again - the fact that your 12-18 months of experience is contracting is a positive.

It sounds like basically you're a ...

"skilled developer, just starting out, with 18 months experience on difficult highly professional projects."

and what about something like this ...

"skilled developer, just starting out, with 18 months experience on difficult highly professional projects, for the world's biggest brands. My skills are particularly deep regarding x, y and z due to the extremely challenging a, b c projects."

That's precisely how you should present yourself! Sounds pretty positive when you put it that way.

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