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The Best Thing for Your Resume

dbanty profile image Dylan Anthony ・1 min read

As someone who is actively reading a lot of resumes, I feel the need to share this piece of advice: contribute to open source and put it on your resume. Why? Contributing shows things that degrees, bootcamps, and even work experience can’t.

  1. You can write code. Sure the other things on your resume imply this but having code you’ve written available on your GitHub account for employers to see proves it.

  2. You can read code. This is a much harder skill and extremely important to employers- it means training you will be much easier.

  3. You can collaborate with others. Not only will your code be available for employers to see but so will your interactions with others in the form of issues.

  4. You can use Git. This probably isn’t important to every employer but it’s definitely important to some.

  5. You’re passionate. Let’s face it, no one contributes to open source who isn’t interested in the topic.

There are a lot of things you can do to show these things to potential employers, but I find open source contribution to be the strongest among them. It also has the added benefit of being the right thing to do for our community. So get out there and contribute! Speaking from experience it can be a bit rocky to start, but it’s well worth it. You can start by checking out listings on this site!

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Dylan Anthony

@dbanty

Backend Dev obsessed with security

Discussion

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A large amount of the development community isn't in a position to spend time outside of work to contribute to open source software, and honestly they shouldn't need to do so in order to get a job as a developer!

I spend quite a large amount of time in my role on hiring. Reviewing resumes, interviewing, etc. We've stopped looking at github profiles completely, and we've even had HR any mention of online social profiles (github included). We've not found any decrease in the quality of our hires.

I'm not saying don't contribute to open source if you can. I'm not saying don't put your GH profile on your resume. However, I hope anyone reading this in a position of authority over the hiring process in their company realises that people in a position to follow the advice in the post are privileged, and many highly competent developers aren't in as privileged a position.

 

A great example of a different perspective, thank you. For mostly my own benefit, but hopefully other readers as well, could you explain some of the reasons people can’t contribute to open source? Is this mostly about time constraints (e.g. working several jobs, raising kids) or some sort of strict contract? Or is there something else entirely I’m overlooking?

The primary purpose of my post was actually to try and help people improve their resumes without access to some more traditional sources of experience. Specifically people who are unable to get a college degree. Too many positions I see posted require a bachelors degree and X years of professional experience. Both of those things, from my perspective, are less accessible than open source contribution.

 

Thanks for the reply! I'm mostly referring to those with time constraints, yes. Folks working multiple jobs, or raising children - but I also know devs who are carers for disabled parents, or have limited access to a computer/internet from home. I also know plenty of folks that simply have other hobbies outside of coding, and don't want to come home after 8 hours of work to do more work.

I absolutely agree that open source is a great way to demonstrate skills for those who don't have degrees or experience. I'm highly critical of job ads that require bachelors degrees, or junior positions that require X years experience, so I completely agree with you!

The other thing I will mention is that there is also an inherent amount of bias that comes with looking at open source contributions. Women and PoC are much more likely to fall into one of the categories in my first paragraph above than men are!

As I said, I don't want to discourage those who can contribute to open source from doing so! I just think that as an industry we should equally focus on trying to change the inherently biased requirements that have lead to our industry being so inaccessible to those who don't come from privileged backgrounds.

Thank you again for your insight! This sort of discussion is the thing I love most about this site. To round out this train of thought, do you have any suggestions related to the rest of the process post- resume review? Any specific dos/don’ts for things like coding assessments, phone screening, or the actual interview itself?

Sure! I'll probably do a proper write up of my thoughts in a post later on, but basically:

Resume review - We have HR remove as much personal information as they can before we see a resume. Name, social links, etc. We focus on the previous experience of the candidate. Community involvement is a plus (e.g. mentoring, speaking at meetups or conferences, etc), but we focus as much as we can on whether we believe the candidate has some experience relevant to the position.

Phone screen - We do a short 45 min phone screen that is mostly focussed on cultural questions, and how they think about software engineering and the work they do. Some example questions:

  • How do ensure quality in the software you create?
  • What do you look for in a code review?
  • Tell us your experience with working with diverse teams, including teams with different genders, nationalities, neurodiversities, ability , race etc…
  • Tell me about a team experience you found rewarding?

We have very few technical questions in the phone interview, outside some basic sanity questions such as:

  • You’ve been paged, your app is throwing 500 error what steps do you take to resolve this?
  • How would you architect a basic web application?
  • What happens when you type in google.com to your browser?

After the phone interview we provide the candidate with a short (2 hour) technical test. We emphasise to the candidate that we do not want them to spend more than 2 hours on it. We also book the face-to-face interview at the same time. The technical test is not a gate, but rather provides us with insight into the way they think, and a point of discussion for the face-to-face interview.

Face-to-face interview - A large amount of this interview is based on discussions around the technical test, followed by some more generic cultural and technical questions. We will never ask a candidate to write code on a whiteboard.

Excellent info, I'd definitely be interested in a full post about how you go about finding candidates. Thanks again!

 

I can say the bad thing about my resume. Mentioning open source contribution without checking it's existence. Last week, I applied for a job, Proudly mentioning 2 of open source projects on which I used to be primary maintainer up until about last 18 months.

One of which was fedy(fedora utils). I was maintainer from 2013-2018 after satya handed the project to me and 2 other guys. A new guy came in 2017 and started talking on workflow and other technical buzz word like docker, CI, automation. He Changed the policy of org that only he can merge on master, saying we are not working professionally enough. He removed the repo which we used for deployment citing all will be handled with travis and automatically. Then he got busy, Stopped replying on telegram, didn't gave us our own access back. Everytime we tried, he would just say make time in weekend to setup automation.

So what happened was that we couldn't do any release after fedora 27, We moved on to other projects, and since I used to directly work on that repo, I didn't have any copy on my own profile with my own contributions. So when employers last week went to github, They couldn't find the repo, They managed to find few repos, but none of them had any of my history. And since that new guy had deleted the org, Github now does not show any contribution I had between those years.

I didn't get job, But more importantly, I lost a good reputation. One of the interviewer actually asked me why I faked my contributions, when I have so much to show for. I tried to explain but alas.....

 

I’m sorry you had such a crumby experience. Hopefully someone else can benefit from your story. Maybe the advice is if you want to call out specific contributions on a resume to keep a fork of the project in your own GitHub account. This could make it easier for people to find your work too.

 

Yes, Everything is an education. I didn't knew that github would delete all the data from individuals too. My graph of year 2014-15 is completely white and nothing to prove otherwise. I contacted Rohit, but even his repo don't have any of my contributions. He was aware that org has been deleted because he lost a lot of personal scripts too. And that new guy is inactive on github now. Fedy was very popular application on fedora. We were very proud to be connected with it.

I am not currently contributing to anything big, But from now on I will always maintain my separate fork, and be more proactive on displaying credit of my work.

 

There's no mention of contributing on my resume now, only did a couple small ones, but might as well add them. For me it's a bit two different worlds through. Where with Java I'm just using it to her the work done. While for Rust and Clojure I make small contributions.

 

I think the skills transcend language. If you’re capable in one language it’s usually easy enough to apply those same skills to another. Very much personal opinion but I’d pick a strong developer from Java without question and assume they can learn Python.

 

That's true. It's also very much depending on who's reading the resume what's relevant or not. My, maybe naive, thought on this matter is that anybody that's interested in such things probably looks me up on github, rather than reading it in a resume.

Absolutely true, as long as you link your GitHub on your resume! If you have a lot of contributions though it may be worth directing the employer to ones that are more relevant or impressive.

If I made contributions to a significant project on a regular basis I'd put it explicitely on the resume, but if it's just a few contributions here and there a link to your github is definitely enough imho.

it may be worth directing the employer to ones that are more relevant or impressive.

You can "pin" some repositories on your github page so they always appear first and on your github profile. Everyone should take the time to do it when looking for a job.

Also maybe go through your old pet projects that never went anywhere, have 0 tests and don't reflect your current skills and make them private.

Great tips, thank you!

 

Nice article.

My top tips:
spell check + spell technology/languages correctly.

A CV is the employer filter and a first impressions. I can be forgiving if the experience is good but its still frustrating to see.

I had one week that had "phython" in 5 places.
...Face palm moment..

 

Great Advice! Thanks

 

💯 on open source contributions! This is extremely important, even if it's just contributing to documentation.