GitHub is the new online portfolio. Here's how to stand out.
GitHub is the portfolio website of choice for developers- and recruiters are crawling all over it to find you.
40 million developers and 2.1 million businesses use Github for projects. And recruiters have taken note - nowadays you can't interview with a large company without a strong referral or a stellar Github, preferably both.
Does that mean you should put in a ton of effort? Not necessarily. Your GitHub is not the main decision factor in any interview, but having a polished profile helps get you in the door. Here's how to create one.
Your GitHub says a ton about your caliber. At a high level, employers are looking for...
At the very minimum, do some housekeeping before you share the link anywhere. If your GH looks like a graveyard of unfinished projects, has poor documentation, or no organization, you will raise a ton of red flags.
When tidying up your GH, focus on the things recruiters and hiring managers look for. Here are a few:
A good hiring manager will pick a few files and scan through them. They also look for basic principles like: Do you follow language conventions? Do your comments make sense? You get the idea.
And my personal pet peeve - If your project contains unmodified git forks, remove them. It’s extra bulk that adds nothing to your profile and makes it more difficult to evaluate your work.
TLDR: Write like someone is reading!
The second most active user of GitHub in the world - this man is a legend.
Your bio is probably the only section recruiters actually read- the rest is left for hiring managers.
However, it's more common to be discovered by another software developer on GitHub. Maybe they noticed you're active on an open source project, contributed to their project, or just came up on search as one of the 5 people in Nebraska who are into Gatsby. So if you're optimizing for connecting with folks over shared work, it's ok if your username is "PrincessUnicornPancake" with an avatar of a cute cat...as long as your work speaks for itself.
In the end, it's all about knowing your audience. GitHub isn't LinkedIn. No one expects you to be in a suited up photo, but don't make it hard for people to find and connect with you- that will cost you job opportunities in the long run.
Do this before you include your GitHub in your resume when you apply. If you don't have a lot of projects in the same technology they use, you might shoot yourself in the foot. Pick other work samples instead or case studies you've worked on, if you can. Stackshare has a great tool for this.
Check out the profiles of other people who work for the companies you're applying for. It really helps to have that extra intel. If you feel confident about your projects, reaching out can never hurt. Say something casual like:
"Hey- I'm thinking of applying to Stripe, what do do you think about my GH?"
Yes, it's really that simple. Create a resource a lot of people will use. Start by thinking about what would be useful to you. Maybe it's contributing to an open source project or maybe it's building a tool to track coronavirus spread in your community. Stay relevant and consider collaborating by licensing your work.
Make a few cool images to visualize your project and make it more relatable. To be clear, I'm not saying "go crazy and pick the optimal color scheme", but a little bit of visual design (especially UI design if you're working on a tool) won't hurt if you're into front-end development.
Let's wrap up with a specific example for you to draw ideas and inspiration from.
If you see others you like, let us know and we will add their portfolio site here for the benefit of everyone in the community.
I like this portfolio- I actually stumbled onto it while researching this article for you. Here's a link to a project he built about how to make a portfolio, which I found ironic. It's very well documented and what I'd expect to see in terms of quality as a hiring manager.
What's your favorite portfolio example?
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