Join 3,442 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How do I move to a new technology stack after 4 years of .NET?
April 1, 2014 7:00 PM   Subscribe

I have been working as a .NET developer for the last 4 years. I would like to change technology stacks. How do I find job openings that are language-agnostic?

I graduated with a BS in math almost 4 years ago and have since been working as a .NET developer. While I think C#, ASP.NET MVC and SQL Server are all fantastic, I would like to do something other than Windows and web development.

I always see interviewers on Hacker News, StackExchange, etc repeating variations of "We don't care about a candidate's experience in a certain language. We care that they know how to program." However, in reality, it seems like most job postings are indeed looking for very specific experience. So how do I find these interviewers? Other than Google, Facebook, and hedge funds, are there certain types of companies to look for? What's the best way to approach a job hunt? How would I even get my resume passed HR?

I feel comfortable in Python, have done a small project in Objective-C, and would have no problem picking up any modern language and its conventions. So what do I need to do to?

For the purposes of this question, let's assume I'm in a big city with a very good market for developers.
posted by alligatorman to Work & Money (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
- Look for postings that say "no recruiters, please." These are often postings by hiring managers or dev leads that actually can evaluate a resume, not just keywords.

- Postings that ask that you know how to do specific things beyond just knowing languages (e.g. write web services, use a test-driven approach to development, work within an MVVM architecture, do raster-based graphics drawing) are a good target. If you can demonstrate you've worked on the class of problems they're talking about, it's not as big a deal what stack you used to do it.

That said, between two candidates that "know how to program," the candidate that knows the stack has the edge. So, it might be worth it to build small projects demonstrating your polyglot abilities so they don't have to take your word for it that you can adapt.
posted by ignignokt at 7:49 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


In addition to small projects, shops that use Open Source often consider it a plus if you've contributed to the open source projects they use. (If you're interested in those opportunities).

If you're interested in mobile apps, have something to show, so either more objective C or get comfortable with Java and Dalvik. Having an app in either store (even a free one) that was a nontrivial app would give you a leg up on mobile devs who don't.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:37 PM on April 1


I wouldn't take the job postings literally, personally. If they're a java shop and want a senior developer it wouldn't be too surprising for them to write 5+ years java on the ad, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't take somebody with minimal java and 5+ years of C#*. So for something like that I'd just go ahead and apply. If you're concerned about having the keyword on there, go ahead and do a project in java and then stick it in your list of languages.

*Talking about non-contract positions -- for a short-term job they're going to want someone who can hit the ground running.

Now, you're going to be better off if you've got at least some the skills they're looking for, but those can be domain knowledge or environment or database or whatever, not just language. So if you want to make a jump, your best bet for now is probably a java web shop, and if you want to go to (I dunno) a python on linux place later, you'll be better-positioned to do it from there.
posted by inkyz at 8:46 PM on April 1



I always see interviewers on Hacker News, StackExchange, etc repeating variations of "We don't care about a candidate's experience in a certain language. We care that they know how to program." However, in reality, it seems like most job postings are indeed looking for very specific experience. So how do I find these interviewers? Other than Google, Facebook, and hedge funds, are there certain types of companies to look for? What's the best way to approach a job hunt? How would I even get my resume passed HR?
Big companies end up with that crude HR filter because they get so, so many unqualified candidates (and I mean WILDLY unqualified – like, people who have never written a program before) that it becomes impossible to treat every resume that comes in as a special snowflake. So if you want to work for a big company, you'll probably have to do a little work first. If you're a .Net developer and you want to put Python on your resume without lying, invent a reason to use Python at your current job. Maybe write a log file parser or a testing tool. Whatever it is, you don't have to sit around waiting for someone to give you the opportunity to write Python. You can either engineer an excuse to use it at work, or you can start an open source project. In addition to getting past the HR filter without lying, you're showing the new Python company that you are already proactively training yourself to be ready when you start there. Then start practicing your story for when you get into the interview. You want to be able to say, "I'm experienced with this stack, but my experience would easily extend to this other stack. Look, here's something I built."
posted by deathpanels at 4:54 AM on April 2


The people I've known who were best at changing technologies worked up proficiency on their own time. If you want to program in, sat, Python, then do a project for yourself in Python. It doesn't have to be anything new. A port of something you did years ago can be fine, but try to find something that exploits the target language's special features.

IMHO, you are going to have more success picking your new tools first, rather than picking the employer first.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:31 AM on April 2


Smallish consultancy shops tend to like more agnostic developers since we all have to cover many bases.

However, as you say, most job postings by these sorts of companies (which are the ones posting on the job boards you mention) hire because a specific longer-term project or client is beyond their existing capacity so you will see a lot of the technology-specific stuff. I think what you really want is to look for that sort of company hiring for a .NET competency and ask about the opportunity to expand to other stacks. Emphasize that you love software development as a profession and figuring things out. Talk about experiences where you needed to dig into things on your own to find answers that weren't spoonfed to you by standard documentationor by colleagues/superiors. I personally love hearing about really off the wall bugs you squashed by combining research, inspiration and determination.
posted by rocketpup at 6:47 AM on April 2


Networking and informally connecting with the communities around the things you want to work with will probably be more effective than firing off applications in response to ads.

That would also mean you have to get away from thinking about what you don't want to do (.NET, web development) and explore what specifically it is that you do want to do and where you could do it.
posted by philipy at 11:00 AM on April 2


« Older Interested in yoga after heari...   |  You may remember me from THIS ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments