You too can get a job as a developer!

If you have the right education and experience working on a platform a handful of people have heard of, that is. How do you close the skills gap on a moving target?

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Online courses are easier to vet. A nonprofit aggregator known as Coursera partners with 33 well-known public and private universities to deliver free online learning across a broad range of subjects, with (at this moment) 66 computer science courses, including Python and Scala courses. Despite Andrew's critique, it's obvious that certain universities lead the way in various areas of computer science, and the fact that many now provide free education online is a beautiful thing. Adam Fletcher, a Google site reliability engineer who writes a blog called the Simple Logic, recently took at shot at assembling a four-year curriculum based on Coursera's offerings. It caused quite a stir on Reddit.

Nonprofits also offer ways to gain experience. One of my favorites is Code for America, which gives young developers the chance to help improve the way city governments work using Web technology. Dubbed "a Peace Corps for geeks," Code for America offers participants a living-wage stipend, health care, and expenses-paid travel to their assigned city.

But even excellent education and experience doesn't guarantee you a job at the company of your choice. In part, that's because employers' expectations have a tendency to lean toward the unrealistic. As InfoWorld contributor Martin Heller once told me, "Two years after Java came out, I saw job postings asking for five years experience as a Java programmer."

I think a bigger reason developer jobs go begging, though, is that today's job requirements are frequently quite specific, asking for everything from expertise in Web app performance optimization to special knowledge of Android "Jelly Bean" to fluency in the Node.js platform.

That specificity reflects today's explosion of new technologies and opportunities, beginning with wild world of mobile app dev. Not to mention big data and the demand for R programmers and developers with Hadoop skills. Plus, all the popular cloud services with rich APIs that demand programmers who know how to exploit them. And how many developers can claim to know their way around all the new NoSQL database choices?

Such multiplicity and high demand leave us back where we started: How can we bridge the gap between what companies need and what would-be developers can learn how to do?

Aside from pleading for education to be cheaper, faster, and more current -- or advising people to buy a book or take an online course and teach themselves -- I have no idea what the answer is. But I'd love to figure out a way for InfoWorld to play a part in it, because the needs of both job seekers and employers are great. Feel free to use the comments section below to offer your ideas.

This article, "You too can get a job as a developer!," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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