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How to switch tech stack to land a job?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

The context: I am looking for a startup to join and realized that most of the opportunities are with NodeJS and TypeScript.

I've been working mostly with .NET for quite some time but JS/TS are not new to me. In fact, TS is written by Microsoft and probably because of that, the syntax is very close to C#. So, I don't see big issue here. But NodeJS is a different world. I have some professional experience with it but don't know it deeply.

I understand if you are a good SWE the stack doesn't matter that much. But we are talking about finding a job here. I will have to convince the interviewer I can do it. And the questions will go for sure deeply about Node env. My motto is if the interview is tough, there is a higher chance that there will be more talented people than usual. But tough interview will make it even more impossible to me.

What are the opportunities?

  1. Learning it for few months myself? I am sure will help me to understand it better but it's not like having years of experience with Node.
  2. Applying for non-senior positions, sacrificing the payment but learning? I am not sure this is possible actually.

Or smth else?

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Discussion

(6 comments)
  • 4
    Profile picture
    Startup Engineer
    a year ago

    From the perspective of a Senior Fullstack Engineer who mostly writes TypeScript:

    On paper, it's very hard to be convinced that a developer can become productive and add value in a short amount of time with a language and ecosystem they haven't worked in. You'll mostly be compared to other applicants who have some kind of past work experience with JS, TS, or nodejs.

    But people in tech are pretty smart and talented, so there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to hiring. The standout applicant who doesn't fit the job description would be someone who's motivated, curious, and—most importantly—can fill a gap or be a person who can grow to fill the gaps in the organization.

    I can also tell you my pet peeve though... When applicants are asking for too much and offering very little in return. I am in the camp that believes the purpose of employment is to generate more revenue for the company—and not creating social impact, using it for career progression, or to play with new technology. Those are the side effects of helping a company meet its mandates.

  • 0
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    a year ago

    Thank you for your answer!

    On paper, it's very hard to be convinced that a developer can become productive and add value in a short amount of time with a language and ecosystem they haven't worked in. You'll mostly be compared to other applicants who have some kind of past work experience with JS, TS, or nodejs

    Yes, that's what I thought too... What gives me hope is that this is only part of the work. There are also non-technical part and even technical like system design, architectures, cloud, web, etc. Would you look for that as well or you rather not be interested if there are significant technical gaps in the core stack?

    But people in tech are pretty smart and talented, so there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to hiring. The standout applicant who doesn't fit the job description would be someone who's motivated, curious, and—most importantly—can fill a gap or be a person who can grow to fill the gaps in the organization

    Have you ever interviewed and hired a candidate based on that only? Candidate who had gaps in the tech you are working with? Isn't it too risky? Could you please show me examples of how you recoginze motivation, curiosity and ability to fill gaps in a candidate?

    I can also tell you my pet peeve though... When applicants are asking for too much and offering very little in return. I am in the camp that believes the purpose of employment is to generate more revenue for the company—and not creating social impact, using it for career progression, or to play with new technology. Those are the side effects of helping a company meet its mandates.

    Agree 100%. Just to be sure there is no ambiquity in my second 2 point. I meant I don't think it's possible that a company will hire someone on more junior position than he was lately because of gaps. I rather believe it won't hire the candidate at all. It's not about the money here.

  • 1
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    Startup Engineer
    a year ago

    Yes, that's what I thought too... What gives me hope is that this is only part of the work. There are also non-technical part and even technical like system design, architectures, cloud, web, etc. Would you look for that as well or you rather not be interested if there are significant technical gaps in the core stack?

    I think any candidate who is excited about the non-technical parts is one step ahead of the competition. Talking about the ways you and others can grow as software engineers is a huge signal that this person will be an asset to a team. People who can communicate really well in both written and verbal forms is a big positive and that's basically the behavioral portion of our interviewing process. If you can communicate technical stuff to me on a topic I have no expertise in (like building a datalake or designing an infra stack), I would put that over you not knowing a specific language or framework (like JS, React, or NestJS).

    Have you ever interviewed and hired a candidate based on that only? Candidate who had gaps in the tech you are working with? Isn't it too risky? Could you please show me examples of how you recoginze motivation, curiosity and ability to fill gaps in a candidate?

    I am probably not qualified to say that I specifically hired anyone but I have been part of hiring committees as a second-stage interviewer. I don't think we've ever hired anyone without the prerequisite skills outlined in the job posting. This is because we usually have a direct need. They also usually get screened out or dismissed at an early stage... But speaking from the candidate's side, I do believe a lot of people are hired in an opportunistic way, where the candidate is too good to pass up because of how they present their motivation, curiosity, and ability.

  • 1
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    a year ago

    Thank you Michael, this helped me to understand what are my next steps.

  • 6
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    If you're looking for a startup, the actual tactical knowledge is extremely important. Unlike Big Tech where engineers are more tech-agnostic and don't code as much, startup engineers actually need to build a lot.

    I have 2 strategies you can try here:

    1. Find opportunities to work with this tech at your current job - This is generally done with a team switch. Some spicier ways of accomplishing this are proposing that new features are done with Node.js and TypeScript or doing a migration of existing code. All of these are much easier said than done though.
    2. Do side projects - This one's my favorite as it's more fun, completely under your control, and great for startups. Node.js and TypeScript are very popular and excellent technologies, so it's very side project friendly with mountains of excellent resources. If you want to pursue this path, I highly recommend watching this video and the attached resources in its description.

    For context, I'm not pulling #2 out of thin air, this is literally how I made my career. In 2015, I was hired by Course Hero (a 50-person startup at the time) to be their 1st Android engineer and tech lead. I did this with 0 professional Android experience. A big reason I got hired was because I had built multiple Android apps for fun on the side at this point with several getting 10,000+ users.

    Best of luck on the job search!

  • 1
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    a year ago

    Thank you Alex, I'll need luck for sure!

    It looks like you bring the experience you didn't have yourself! It looks like my only option, I will focus on that.