Thursday, December 14, 2006

Convincing Prospective Employers that your Delphi skills are relevent to C# / VB / .Net

So you know Delphi and find yourself in the job queue again. The Delphi job postings are much less than last time you were looking, and some of them are for converting to .Net. How do you go about crosstraining to .Net, and convincing prospective bosses that your skills are transferrable ?
  1. One answer lies above; look for jobs involving converting Delphi projects to C# (or Java, if that interests you). They'll value your Delphi skills and pay you to learn another language.
  2. Look into certification. There is a whole industry around training towards MCSD and MCAD, both at home with books, or via training courses. In my experience, books are a far more effective and much cheaper way to learn anything substantial.
  3. Provide a Delphi to C# comparison with your resume.
  4. At least start working towards MCSD, and say that you are in interviews and in your resume. That sounds like you are serious and approaching this crosstraining in a professional manner. Also, I would guess that whether you are 10% or 80% towards finishing would make little difference to many employers.
  5. Start a real world project eg. get involved in an open source project, or build an ASP.Net website. I started this with and was impressed with their SQL Server package features and price, but can't speak for the quality of their service as I haven't launched my site yet. Again, mention this in your resume and in interviews.
  6. A website project (more than a Windows Forms project) is particularly impressive as they can very easily try it out and see that you're capable of creating something real.
  7. Read books about resume writing eg. "What Colour is Your Parachute" is the classic. Spend days on your resume. A day spent on it could equal a month worth of waiting for job ads to appear, waiting for them to get back to you etc.
  8. Research companies you would like to work for. Microsoft provides a listing of "Partners" on its website, which is a pretty complete list of .Net shops in your area. Get a directory of your local "technology park" or precinct. Look for government innovation development programs, and the list of companies that may provide.
  9. Don't just wait for job ads to appear. Print out your resume, dress up, and approach them. My theory here is that when job ads are written, critieria is decided upon based on their ideal employee with phrases such as "12 months .Net experience". Immediately you are behind with your measley 2 weeks of .Net experience. When are face to face with them in their office however, you are a real person and they can judge your character, enthusiasm etc and may even make a position for you that didn't previously exist. They may not have time to go through with the hassle of advertising when really they need you, or they may be just about to advertise. I did this for about 4 days and got one 4 week C# contract followed by a job offer, 1 call encouraging me to apply for a new position and one email asking me if I was still looking for work, 4 weeks later. This was after 3 months of answering job ads with little response. By the way, my new job still came from answering an ad.
  10. Keep all job ads that interest you, even ads for the wrong job but the right sort of company. They may be worth approaching later, and may contain important info such as the name of a manager to call. Having someone to ask for is an easy way to get past a difficult receptionist. Also, if you were the second best candidate this time, you might get the job next time. Resist the urge to resent that they didn't choose you.
  11. Companies using Delphi, past and present are still your friend. They will be easy to convince that your Delphi skills are valuable, even if they no longer use it. My 4 week C# contract was with a previosly Delphi based company, and my current boss has done some serious Turbo Pascal work in the past.
Good luck !

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