re: Should a lack of side projects raise flags in an interview? VIEW POST


So, I'm of two minds on this. On one hand, I've gotten older and value family/personal time much more. On the other hand, I still really enjoy hacking away on something in my spare time.

As mentioned, if you're a junior developer you need to show that you have the practical skills (limited though they may be) to perform the job. If you don't have any professional experience and no personal (or school) projects to show you've grasped the basics, I consider that a big red flag.

For seasoned developers, I don't think personal projects are AS important. But I think personal projects also show that a seasoned developer is working to keep their skills fresh and learn new things. That said, if they've worked as a developer for a high-profile project, that's just as good as having side projects in my mind. At some point in life, a person's priorities shifts. They're less about working on passion projects and more about maintaining professional skills.


That priorities shift is understandable (I've gone through it with family and children), but even if I don't get to do as much as before, I would be able to speak about old projects. That's why I found it a bit strange. These were people with 3-5 years experience and nothing personal to show. No side project, no github, no codepen...


Maybe it's a generational thing or I'm simply getting old, but I felt a bit like this meme :P

Skinner meme: am I out of touch?

Heh, totally stealing that GIF. I know of at least four recent events where it would have been useful. 😂🤣


If an applicant says they have 3 -5 years of experience but have nothing to show for it, I would be suspicious too.

I'm not sure I would consider not having Github, Codepen, etc as a red flag. It's possible they used some internal VCS. And I'll admit I've never used Codepen myself.

But having no personal projects to show seems a little unforgivable to me. How is an employer supposed to gauge your suitability for the job if you have nothing to prove your level of experience? Even if your code is crap, at least the employer knows what to retrain you on.


I've heard people who work in government or corporate environments often can't publish or sometimes even talk about what they've worked on.

All the more reason to have a personal portfolio. Just like an artist needs a portfolio to show potential employers, so too a programmer should have a portfolio of work to show their level of proficiency.

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