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Mid-30s, spent the last few years learning PHP and JS, looking to move into web app development

 
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Hi folks,

I'm 36, pushing 37. The majority of my career ended up being spent self-employed in a couple of developing countries providing IT & AV services of various stripes to SMBs and individuals; around 2.5 years ago I ended up getting asked to do some web dev work (simple HTML & CSS stuff, which I'd done years before), which led to me digging into PHP. Found out I enjoyed it, carried on coding, and started learning JS at the same time.

I returned to the UK a couple of years ago, and being dissattisfied with the jobs available (I was a sound engineer before I left, that's what I started doing again) I took last year off to teach myself full-time. I'm now hoping what I've learned will be enough to potentially get a job with a proper dev outift, but both my age and my commercial inexperience are a worry.

Circumstance meant I ended up making a fairly complex component for the Joomla CMS (in hindsight maybe not the best choice) - this, combined with finally switching from Notepad++ to a proper IDE meant I got my head around the stack and how to debug properly, learned proper coding conventions and associated use of DocBlocks, started using GIT, dependency managers and build tools, and ultimately making a few pull requests on GitHub to fix some issues in Joomla core. I also now have a (fairly small) portfolio containing samples of PHP, JS, Bash scripts and even a Lua program. Around 3 months back I started using Symfony, although I'm nowhere near as comfortable with it. I'm confident using JS, but ultimately prefer PHP; I also much prefer backend work to frontend.

So, there's the quick background. My questions are thus:

1) Does a relatively old fart like me stand a hope in hell of getting employed by anybody? I've done freelance work for too long, I'd much prefer working in a collaborative enviornment, but I'm guessing most companies want fresh-faced uni grads.
2) If so, what are some good ways to maximise my chances (I appreciate this is an exceedingly broad question)?
3) Standard CVs are usually recommended to be 2 pages max. Programmer's CVs I've found online list technologies they're familiar with, so I've done the same. This, combined with a very brief objective stating why I want to transition careers takes up pretty much a whole page, with my work history and education taking up another two. Are programmer CVs longer than usual, or should I be doing some hefty trimming?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Chris
 
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Chris Broderbund wrote:. . . I'm 36, pushing 37. . . . old fart like me

Old fart, indeed. You are just about out of your cradle

. . . Standard CVs are usually recommended to be 2 pages max. . . . should I be doing some hefty trimming?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Chris

Not certain, but you probably should trim that CV a lot.

And welcome to the Ranch
 
Chris Broderbund
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Old fart, indeed. You are just about out of your cradle


Your words are greatly encouraging; wish I felt like it though...  

Campbell Ritchie wrote:Not certain, but you probably should trim that CV a lot.


Thought that may well be the case.

Just trimmed my employment from prior to 2009 (which I'd kept in purely because it was the last work I'd done in the UK before leaving), and stripped all the bullet points from the mostly irrelevant job I did for the first year I was back leaving only the descriptive paragraph. I'm now a bullet point or two away from a two-pager...

My Technical skills section is broken into FE, BE and General; it takes up just over half a page on its own, split into two columns. Most requirements I've seen listed are fairly simple, so I'm probably over-compensating. Is stating I can use stuff like Composer/NPM/Webpack/SASS/Babel/whatever on a CV a bit silly?

Campbell Ritchie wrote:And welcome to the Ranch



Thanks for the kind welcome and the reply!  
 
Campbell Ritchie
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That's a pleasure. A lot of people move into computing jobs much older than new graduate age.
 
Chris Broderbund
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Along with the fact I enjoy doing it, reading up and seeing that that appeared to be the case was the motivation for discounting last year to improve my abilities and make a proper go of it.

Of course now it's hit crunch time and I need to start applying I'm totally bricking it.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Apart from applying, be sure to have something you have written to show potential employers. You might do well to post something small and let's see what it looks like.

I am sure other people will have things helpful to say, too.
 
Chris Broderbund
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I've got a few things on GitHub, one of which is a huge Joomla component that uses both PHP and pure JS to add entirely new functionality - it's what I taught myself to code 'properly' with. Another is a Joomla package to create a temporary demo user so prospective employers can click on a button on my website and get automatically logged in to the Joomla admin backend so they can see it in action for themselves. They're effectively my main showcase, but the nature of them means they take a bit of effort to spin up - for anyonymity's sake I'm a little reticent to link to either my site or my GitHub profile; I'm no doubt being needlessly paranoid.

I'm currently working on a curtain fabric estimator using Symfony though - if I don't face too many interruptions I may have it done in the next day or so, and that'd fit the bill nicely. Probably won't open-source that just yet, however, as it's more fully-featured than all the commercially available ones so could potentially be a small, yet welcome, source of revenue while I'm job-hunting.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Sounds good
 
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