Saturday, July 19, 2014

Use GitHub as Your Professional Portfolio

I've been doing quite a bit of candidate interviewing for the "Ruby Engineer - Remote" position we would like to fill. Our thought-out process starts with filtering out applicants based on their resume, their cover letter and their digital portfolio (website, blog or GitHub profile). I am surprised how many people have a GitHub account with no activity at all. I think that's wrong.

I took a look at my own GitHub profile. The activity looks pretty nice when I include the private projects.

However, when I looked at it as a non-authenticated user, the picture is not so stellar.

I would be happy to see candidates with as much public activity as I have. Do I contribute to open source software? Sometimes, not as often as I'd like. Then how do I have this much activity? Simple: I practice and I push everything I can to GitHub.

I want to advertise what languages I am playing with, what tools and frameworks I've been looking at. When I read books I create a quick and simple repository, I practice the examples by writing a failing test against them and when I reach the end of a chapter I commit and push the code to GitHub.

My GitHub profile is my own professional practicing-learning diary. I've recently started to look into Erlang and Clojure. Am I any good at these languages? No, or not yet! As I read books, learn new things and practice I'll sure get better. Last fall I looked at Erlang, and in November I switched to Clojure. By January I worked on the fizz-buzz kata and I got as far as playing with a Tic-Tac-Toe game in Clojure. Then I started to focus on my own gem, LightService and these days I am back at looking at Clojure.

As a professional, you've been learning a new language, you've been toying with the latest JavaScript MVC frameworks, why don't you broadcast that information? Don't let it sit on your computer! More and more companies will check your GitHub activity as you try to find a new job. They would be happy to see you're curious, you've been learning and you care about your own professional future.

Do yourself a favor and push as much of your learning to GitHub as possible. People - like me - looking at your profile there will jump on candidates who are "radiating that information". And it does not have to be GitHub, it can be BitBucket or anything else.

Just make sure whatever you do, it gets out there!