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Old 16.05.2017, 21:52
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software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

Hello! I am a member of this forum for a long time but with this topic I preferred to stay incognito for now.


Currently I am working as senior embedded developer but I cannot stand the situation in my job. I would really like to switch back to Java or C# development which I did last time full-time eight years ago. Do you think it is possible to get such job with a strong motivation letter? How would you approach it? Were you ever in hiring process and you accepted a developer like me - was there anything in particular which convinced you? I can agree to take some junior position, paying about 90k, having just the opportunity to really work on some development in that technologies in order to enhance my learning and get up to senior standard after a year or so. Should I apply for junior or senior positions? Is my financial expectation realistic?


About my motivation, the company I work for went agile about two years ago. I am not against agile but it is impossible to have the same release cycle in embedded as in Java development. There are huge problems nowadays because the management wants to have very short release cycles, new versions are delivered every month to the customers, serious bugs bounce back and blame game is rolling on. The company is constantly looking for agile coaches because those who join realise the nonsense of the expectations and leave at earliest possibility. Unfortunately as long as they are doing their job they try very much which means constant impact on my job. I find the situation very stressful but I managed somehow until last week when my shield definitely shattered. I was walking past slightly open door of one conference room and I overheard huge complaints about me, that I am impossible to manage, that I am so die-hard to work with, that I am exaggerating consequences () of simple changes so I have bad influence on the team because they believe my arguments as I am very long in the team, yada yada. Well, I cannot stand the job and I believe I'm gonna loose it anyway sooner or later.

This is a second time. I had to leave my previous job also because of 'going agile'. As I said I am not against agile. I liked it when I was working in Java because the expectations were realistic. Somehow 'silly' people nowadays believe in the utopia that it is all about the methodology, agile process is an answer how to develop, test and deliver fast no matter of the technology and associated difficulty with the domain.

Well I am capable of doing difficult engineering things so I took the low level job just because it was paying almost twice than my previous Java development position. However that was true for my home country. Now I am in Switzerland and as far as I can see there is no difference in salary whether you are programming low level or high level domain so I would love to put an end to the problems, happily join the agile development world as it is nowadays everywhere but as Java or C# developer. Modern, high level C++ project also could be nice but I think that the best would be to go to the ultimately easiest languages.

Again, I'm going to switch the domain, any real-life hint on how to approach it here in Switzerland would be really nice! Thanks!
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Old 16.05.2017, 22:01
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

Apply. Be honest. Propose them to start with the salary they want, but in 3 or 6 months, if you "learn" java/c# and are productive (which, with your experience should be no problem), you get the salary you want. Get it in writing.
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Old 16.05.2017, 22:35
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

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Apply. Be honest. Propose them to start with the salary they want, but in 3 or 6 months, if you "learn" java/c# and are productive (which, with your experience should be no problem), you get the salary you want. Get it in writing.
This is an interesting idea, yes. I have to tackle it somehow. If I agree to whatever salary at the start which will change to agreed x salary from say 6th month onward written and signed in contract I may still risk some doggy employer which would just use me for half a year only but such risk is very low here in Switzerland I hope.
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Old 16.05.2017, 23:13
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

Do not sell yourself short, I switched from Java to Scala and in the process got more money. Yes not the same scenario I know but an experienced person who already has Java knowledge should still be very much employable with no more than 15% paycut. You already have 8 years of Java experience, why are you treating yourself like someone who has 0?

You can offer them a 6 month probation period to remove any risk on their side, with small notice period if they let you go. But I wouldn't go further.

Most importantly, do not go after big roles like banks and finance. Go at a startup or a small company, it will be way easier to land a job there for 1-2 years to build your Java profile up again and then move on to a well paid job again.

P.S It would really count a lot if you got the Java certifications in the meanwhile. Not only because you'd remember a ton but also because it would be a tangible proof on your CV that you still have it. You might go for the SCJP and if you're really motivated for the more advanced Java EE stuff

https://education.oracle.com/pls/web...e?p_cat_id=264
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Old 16.05.2017, 23:51
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

I was working full time as Java developer 8 years ago. I was in that position for 3 years. Before I worked in a project involving C# and C++, all high level code.

I'm not a Java expert now but I just need to brush my skills - well I can bet that even a C++ developer who never programmed in Java can be re-train to it completely in 6 months.
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Old 17.05.2017, 07:36
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

Also consider contract work. You could do it your current area, or a new domain - if you think you can present well enough that you can do it. Contract work can be a delight after a stressful permanent job - so long as you're in work! It might give you breathing space. Furthermore, as an external, you just do what you're asked, and don't care so much about whether the project managers are living in a fantasy land.

Switching domains is possible. The trick is to ensure that your CV is tilted towards your ability in the new domain. Don't forget that while language experience matters, of more importance are the generic programming skills. My son recently switched from python and java to c#. He didn't have any difficulty. And his employer knew he had no c#, but were impressed with this coding skills in the other languages.
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Old 17.05.2017, 09:58
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

Well, no practical hints

When was hiring, in embedded domain, I never stick to the 'must have' rule. Of course I was more willing to accept those who were good and had recent experience in the desired technology but I was also leaning to accept those who are good and have motivation to go into the desired direction. In fact I was applying a strong filter on those who had a few years long recent direct experience in that domain as with common sense if you are working in that domain so long you have to learn unless you are not capable to learn it well.

However here in Switzerland there is so many unfitted applications that I stopped to care about them unless someone wrote a clear motivation letter. In the beginning I even interviewed four seaming web developers only to discover that they did not really care about the embedded job. They came to 'sell' themselves, convince me that the company must be in need for a web developer.

That's from my experience in embedded domain. Hope that helps someone looking for going into that direction.

In business applications, high level technologies, the number of incoming applications may be even higher so I wandered what is the approach hiring people take for those who switch domains. The number of not ideal applications must be a way higher there so what is the thing that makes people stop waiting for the ideal one but hire the current applicant?
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Old 17.05.2017, 10:16
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

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Well, no practical hints
Ok, I'll keep it short:
- don't apply for junior positions. In my experience is it near impossible to "climb the ladder" quickly without switching jobs again. Aim for senior positions if you are senior.
- In my company do developers go through a technical assessment. So it does not matter how long ago some things are if you ace those tests. You need to focus on getting an interview and into those tests. HR is the first barrier and there I'd keep it simple: They have no idea what embedded even means. "I have x years of programming experience including y years of C#" does the job - you don't need to stretch the fact that you do have the experience but it is some time ago...
- In my experience does nobody ever read motivational letters. I typically just get the CV from our HR. So I think you need to write your CV with a bit of prose explaining your motivation.
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Old 17.05.2017, 11:49
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

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Well, no practical hints
Really? I see plenty.

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...The number of not ideal applications must be a way higher there so what is the thing that makes people stop waiting for the ideal one but hire the current applicant?
Non-stupid hiring policies.
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Old 17.05.2017, 14:43
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

All right, instead of lurking here for some miracle solution I should spent time reading something useful for that goal and keep trying.

You know but talking about it, even incognito, was a stress relief I don't have to jump into immediate action.
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Old 17.05.2017, 14:46
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

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I should spent time reading something useful for that goal and keep trying.
Why don't you just send some applications and watch what happens?
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Old 19.05.2017, 19:21
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

Get a certificate (i.e. MS Professional Expert in C# programming). Swiss companies love em and they show that you know your stuff. Otherwise talk to marketing and convince them that your company desperately needs a web based service tool and that your the man to get it going and done.
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Old 11.06.2017, 11:32
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

Hi englishforum family
Since 1st of June I'm working as a contractor, Java developer/architect for a Bank in Zurich. It's doable
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Old 11.06.2017, 12:29
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

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I'm not a Java expert now but I just need to brush my skills - well I can bet that even a C++ developer who never programmed in Java can be re-train to it completely in 6 months.
Should be no problem at all for a good C++ dev. I first programmed in Java in 1996 having come from C++ and Objective-C. It felt so easy and productive - like a driving an open-top sports car compared with a truck.
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Old 11.06.2017, 15:13
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Re: software developer wants to switch domain, any hints?

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Hi englishforum family
Since 1st of June I'm working as a contractor, Java developer/architect for a Bank in Zurich. It's doable

Good for you. Congratulations.

I didn't see the original thread, but if you have spare time, you can always go to stackoverflow and the related sites and give advice to users.

Or you can start correcting bugs in open source projects.

That also helps to build credibility and prospective employers can get some sort of assurance that you're not a total idiot and have some people-skills.
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