I have a very broad IT skillset and I would say that I am very good at what I do. When it comes to a technology that I have not used I just learn it by messing with it, Googling it, or by consulting the documentation. I've been looking at DICE lately and the requirements are very specific:

 "X years working with VMWare"
 "Y years working as a senior Windows Administrator supporting Exchange"
 "Z years working with INSERT_BRAND_NAME NAS technologies"

Formally for the past few years I've worked as a Linux admin, mostly in the web sector. I have touched Windows a few times (adding users\fixing GP\installing software) at my jobs however I am mostly a Linux admin.

I have been using Windows for 10+ years. I have recovered from all kinds of corruption and nastiness. I know how to set up AD. I have set up mock environments with replication. Windows is very "point and click". Most Linux concepts about things such as DNS apply to Windows.

Same goes with virtualization. I have not touched VMWare day in and day out specifically for Y years however I have worked with other software in the web sector. I know about partitioning resources. I use VMWare at home and can spin up a VM with my eyes closed. ESXi is very good software as well. It is all point and click and can be learned in an hour. If you don't know something, Google does.

I feel however as the HR powers that be are rejecting my resume because I don't have things like documented Windows experience. All they know is the requirements say "Y years Windows experience" and this guy has few Windows "projects" so trash.

I want to do something else other than Linux but I feel pigeonholed by my resume. How can I deal with this?

  • What do you mean by "documented" experience? As far as I know, there is no IT Body of Knowledge Institute that hands out documents to people on the anniversary of their solely professional use of Microsoft Windows Server 2008. In other words, be liberal with your years of experience. It is unverifiable so liars will always look better than honest people and if you are as good as you think you are then a quick 10 minute technical interview should verify that you know what you are doing. Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 20:30
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    Thanks. My resume format is "education", "professional experience", "certifications". The professional experience section consists of my previous jobs with bullets about relevant projects. Since my jobs are mainly Linux admin jobs with few Windows projects I have no way of showing "X years of Windows experience". What I'm asking is how can I show these things since I have no recent projects to back it up although I have been doing advanced things for Windows on my own and as you said I can easily pass an interview about these topics. Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


Job requirements as used for resume screening are always going to be imperfect. There have been some popular questions here on this topic, that I recommend reading, such as How can I overcome "years of experience" requirements when applying to positions?.

However rough of an approximation they provide, though, you are not going to get too far by placing the blame on the recruiter's side. Which means that you need to do something about it. I think that anything you can do will fall into one of three areas:

  1. Improve perceptions without lying (improve your resume).
  2. Improve your skills.
  3. Adjust your expectations.

Improve perceptions

There are an enormous amount of resources on this very site, as well as across the web, about how to tailor a resume to a specific skill set. Instead of writing as who you have been, rewrite it with a focus on the skills that have prepared you for who you want to be.

Remember; integrity is of high importance in the job search process. Make sure you can back up what you say. It may not be "as good" as you wish it was, but that is where parts #2 and #3 come in.

Improve your skills

There may be limited accomplishments you can achieve on your own due to the nature of the skill you are looking to add, but I'm sure there are several concrete things you can do. Here are a few ideas.

  • Get Microsoft certified
  • Run your own Windows Server, including mail, for personal use.
  • Participate in MS/Windows/Exchange help forums until you are good enough to be giving the answers. This will teach you what you do not know, which may be key to #3.

Adjust your expectations

First the good news. I think you will find from reading around here and other places that "X years working with [technology]" does not mean that you need to use it day-in and day-out. This number should be completely justifiable by your experience (my own opinion, but I'm not an ops recruiter).

But here's the finer detail: The second bullet point does not use the word with, and it's not about a technology. It is a job title and it uses the word as. Sometimes, a company wants someone who's done that job before and there's no way around it. You may be out of luck unless you have an MS skill list a mile long. I suspect it's much more difficult to get around the "Y years work as [job title]. This is an objective filter that they want or they wouldn't have listed it.

Why? Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? It is an effect of individuals with less skill tend to perceive themselves at a much higher level than they really are. In any deep skill set, there are levels and levels of details that define what expertise in that skill really is. Individuals without years of experience acting as a problem-solver in that role cannot perceive these layers of difficulty.

See also:

The latter link also includes this fantastic chart illustrating this effect:

enter image description here

Don't take this too harshly; it sounds like you have great skills in related areas and enough skill to certainly get you started in a new area, maybe to do do so without a significant learning curve. But, with that said, here are a couple statements you said that may hinder your progress, by keeping you from seeing what you still can learn:

  • Most Linux concepts about things such as DNS apply to Windows.
  • Windows is very "point and click".
  • It is all point and click and can be learned in an hour.

Most likely you have the skills to burn through these things and get up to speed quickly. However, don't discount the layers of complexity that you haven't even been exposed to yet.


Here's the most important point. If you want to change tracks, expect to take a couple steps back. Don't let your expertise in one field to fool you into thinking you are already an expert in another; instead, let it inform your learning in the new area and give you a head start.

You're more likely to succeed if you avoid arrogance. Realize what you have yet to learn, and while you tweak your perceived ability to recruiters, start acquiring the skill you need to really impress in the interview room.

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    I do like "worts performers" :)
    – AakashM
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 11:26
  • I cannot add you enough points for mentioning Dunning-Kruger effect. This is one of cognitive biases which should be better known. I even mentioned it (and being aware of it) in my last interview :-) One of the metrics I read somewhere is: if you follow few blogs of experts in your area, you are in top 10% of your niche. Commented May 6, 2014 at 23:55

In order to list a year of experience, it does not necessarily have to be a solid year of full-time deep-dive intimacy with that technology. State the number of years you have been working with a particular technology, and limit the scope in your description. For example:

2 years VMWare occasional installation/support.

Your resume must get you an interview. After that you will have the opportunity explain all of your experience. Never lie. Always listen with focus and care.

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