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Discussion on: How to have a professional online appearance

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

TBH, as someone who has been interviewing and hiring a lot recently - most of these things make little difference at all. For me, the CV is what will get you in the door for a first interview - and if that goes well it generally depends on how well you do on code challenges and a live coding exercise.

GitHub or GitLab can also be quite useful/revealing too - providing they're not obviously curated to make you look good.

Things that make zero difference to me whatsoever when hiring:

  • Educational background
  • Portfolio website
  • Email signature (really?)
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robskrob profile image
Rob Jewell • Edited

Jon, your perspective here is very interesting. I always assumed that a Portfolio website would be valuable. Take for instance this job posting. In particular there is this part of the application which appears to be very important:
"Please share 2 projects that best represent your capabilities, interests, and leadership, and that demonstrate deep technical expertise in at least one platform, language, or domain."

If an applicant did not have a portfolio, then how could they possibly share any projects with a potential employers?

Also, is not a portfolio project a good opportunity for a developer to demonstrate a potential skill to an employer? Could not a portfolio project give a developer the opportunity to say, "Hey this part of the code base I am proud of because XYZ reasons. However this part of the code base I am not in love with for ABC reasons, and I would improve this parts in EFG ways."

Of course they could potentially show off a project, app, or website that they got paid to do. However chances are that the code they wrote to make the paid project is in a private repository, making it difficult to "show" ones work.

I guess for me the fact that an engineer has a portfolio is of course significantly more important than a "portfolio site" which could equate to a shiny meaningless glimmer of work.

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nheindev profile image
Noah Hein

While they may not be a huge impact, I'm sure they are appreciated. It's not as if he's saying if you lack an email signature that you won't be hired. However, it does make your email exchanges look more professional. Doubly so if you are planning to freelance at all. You would also be the first person that I've ever heard of not caring about a portfolio piece. I haven't had an employer and I've only done client work. That being said, I have spoken to enough recruiters to know that if there isn't a portfolio website attached to the resume, I am not going to be considered.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

Interesting - are these recruiters in recruitment companies?

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nheindev profile image
Noah Hein

All of the ones that I've spoken to are the typical staffing solutions companies yes. I don't have experience in in-house recruiters.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

In my experience recruitment companies are best avoided (by both candidates and employers) - they're generally clueless about tech and have little idea what makes a good developer. Most candidates they send are usually not great.

Best way to get good candidates is through more direct channels

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jkettmann profile image
Johannes Kettmann

Thanks Jon for this comment. I thought the same while reading this article. Many of these tips will just lead to a lot of wasted time imo.

A good resume is very important depending on how you approach job applications. But please don't go down the "creative" road. Stick to a standard template to make it easy to scan for hiring managers. They will just take a few seconds to find the information they're looking for. Focusing on a special design will cost you a lot of time and probably some job opportunities.

Here's a great list of simple things to create an outstanding developer resume.

Second, the portfolio website is probably the biggest time sink for many developers. Especially when it is approached the way it is described here with custom design and so on. And mostly it doesn't have a big effect. At least if you don't have a really cool portfolio which must people don't. I never had a portfolio website myself and i know a lot of devs who have great careers and never had one either.

You can find my take on developer portfolio websites and why you shouldn't waste your time on them here.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy • Edited

Agree - 'creative' CVs are annoying and can be a turn-off. Also, similar to what you mentioned... most of the best devs I know do not have portfolio sites

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jackrkelly profile image
Jack Kelly Author

Thanks for the comment Johannes, I definitely think that creative resumes can be annoying. This article is simply based on what has worked for me so far, but who knows. Maybe a regular resume would’ve worked better for me. As a self-taught developer I have felt as if I needed to stand out.

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jkettmann profile image
Johannes Kettmann

Don't get me wrong. It's a huge accomplishment from your side to be able to get this far. Especially as a self-taught developer :) So kudos to you. What would be interesting is how you approached the job hunt. How did you reach out to employers in the first place?

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jackrkelly profile image
Jack Kelly Author

Thanks! I initially took the spray and pray approach but that was clearly not the solution at all. I then started to apply to local companies that actually aligned with what I did and found much better luck. I just applied on LinkedIn primarily.

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jkettmann profile image
Johannes Kettmann

Oh that's very interesting. Did you reach out companies with open positions or did you just apply to companies that seemed like a good fit? Thanks a lot for the insights btw

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jackrkelly profile image
Jack Kelly Author

Yea I just applied to software engineering positions that had a similar tech stack to what I am comfortable with/interested in. I just used LinkedIn jobs primarily and applied from there.

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jackrkelly profile image
Jack Kelly Author

Thanks for the input, Jon! These are very small things that I have done recently, and I have been getting a lot of interviews. This was simply my advice and I appreciate yours. You may be in a small percent of interviewers and I'd love to interview with people like you haha. So many interviews care a significant amount about education and decide not to move forward with me and other candidates solely on that fact alone.

I don't understand why a portfolio website wouldn't affect your impression of a possible candidate for you. Unless you're explicitly hiring back-end engineers or something that has no relation to design/UI. If I was hiring front-end engineers I would definitely expect that they had a portfolio site to showcase their work.

The email signature section was a small one and the definition isn't a big deal. Just figured I'd add that in as a small touch.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy • Edited

A portfolio site, whilst pretty, gives no real indication of how skilful and competent someone is. It's carefully curated to show the developer at their purported best - you get no real idea of how long any of the sample work took, whether it was copy pasted from somewhere else, etc.

It gives an idea of the final results, but no real idea how they got to those results - which is what is going to be important when they're doing work for you.

I want to get a good idea of HOW they build stuff, their thought processes and methods - warts and all... a glossy promo simply doesn't give you that