Forget the Resume

If you’re a programmer, you can look for a job the old fashion way by putting together a resume, sending it out to different companies, and hoping for the best. Then again, you might as well buy a lottery ticket and hope for the best.

A resume just lists your accomplishments, but everyone has a resume and everyone can doctor their resume up to make it look like they know what they’re doing. Rather than worry about your resume, what you really need to do is demonstrate your competence and skills rather than just boasting about it through a fancy printed resume.

The best way to demonstrate your skills is through volunteering. Volunteer to create or modify a web site for a charity. Then if a company ants to know what your web development skills might look like, all you have to do is point them to the charity web site. What’s more impressive? A resume telling someone how good your web development skills might be, or an actual web site showing people how good your web development skills might be?

Given a choice between action or boasting, action wins out every time. Another way to demonstrate your programming expertise is to contribute to an open source project. It could be something as ambitions as Linux or something much smaller, but whatever it is, make sure it the site documents your contributions. Now if you apply for a job as a programmer, you can direct people to view your documented contributions to an open source project.

Again, what looks more impressive? A resume claiming you have programming skills in a particular language and field, or actual contributions to an open source project that demonstrates your programming skills in a particular language and field?

If you’re a programmer, you can’t afford to be just another face in the crowd. Instead, you have to get creative and make sure your talent is not only readily apparent, but beyond question to anyone who investigates your background.

There’s still no guarantee that you’ll get a job by contributing to an open source project or volunteering to do programming work for a charity, but a simple one-page resume doesn’t guarantee a job either. Combine a resume with actual work experience as a volunteer and you’ll increase your chances of attracting attention and getting a job that uses your programming skills to the utmost.

May 27th, 2015 by
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