When you’re a software engineer, the resume is a tricky beast. A resume can describe the technologies you’ve worked with, but can’t say what you were able to do with them.
For example, saying: “Used Selenium for record/playback” is very different from “Maintained the Selenium Web driver for <fill in the blank language>.” Also, a resume can’t tell a hiring manager how well-structured your code is, or how scalable your designs are.
Like many of the hiring managers I know, I tend to use the resume to look at places you’ve worked and the kinds of projects you’ve been on, but not for technical skills. For technical skills, I’ll either do a phone screen or an interview. And that’s a very inefficient process — both for the hiring manager and the candidate.
Surely there must be a better way!
Alternative Resume, Coding Portfolio
If your job is about producing software, the number one thing I need to know about you is how you produce software, preferably in an environment like the one I’m going to put you in.
Additionally, I need to know you can write code well, understand how to work on a team, use source control, and that you can design and maintain code you haven’t written. I need to know what your coding habits and whether they’re compatible with my team. In other words, I want to see your work. That’s your true resume.
So why not make me a resume with your actual work in it? Designers have their portfolios with examples of the work they’ve done. Why not engineers, too?
On your resume, provide your Github username so I can see the projects you work with and how you work with them. Then go to a hackfest or a user-group meeting and show me what you can do. Contribute to an open-source project, so I can see how you work with a team and whether you can handle having your code reviewed. That’s a resume that lets me evaluate your technical skills. That’s a resume that will get you a phone call, at least from me.
I have a standing rule with HR at one client where I recruit: If the resume includes a Github account or a link to a technical portfolio, I receive it — regardless of what the automated screening says. I don’t think I’m the only one with that kind of arrangement.
How do you show off your technical skills?