Career Advancement

Developers: Show off your work!

While those in more traditional roles can rely on LinkedIn and traditional resumes to advertise their experience and showcase themselves for potential new work, programmers and developers more often use demonstrative (and honestly, fun) ways to show their competencies and potential.  In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best ways to show your work, not just to engage in reflection about what you’ve learned and how far you’ve come, but to effectively engage those who might be interested in someone just like yourself and what you know.

A website

This is the most obvious but perhaps one of the most effective ways developers can engage with those interested in working with them.  It’s a chance for you to show your personality as well.  Here are three sites that we particularly liked:

  • Jack Tomaszewski.  Jack features many things on his site that we would recommend to those who haven’t yet built a website to showcase their work.
    • He has a headshot and a “my skills and offer” page which reads like a narrative version of his resume, including programming languages he is proficient in.
    • He has a chronologically-arranged portfolio page which features a screen capture of projects he has worked on next to a summary of what the goals of the project were.  There’s also a list of the technologies involved in bringing it to life.  If you click “read more” you can get even deeper with many screenshots of various relevant parts of the project.
    • He’s got a way to contact him by email and via relevant social media.
  • Adham Hannaway.  Adham has the features of Jack’s website, but has taken a more design-focused route (not surprising since UI is a significant portion of his work).
    • He also has media citations featuring him and his work.
    • He has a professional blog (though it hasn’t been updated in a while)
  • Rafael Caferati.  Rafael’s site is the most minimalist in design of the ones we’ve talked about, but has a really fun component.
    • The site lands on what is his “about me” page which then provides links to his blog, portfolio page, contact information, as well as a link to awards he won for design.
    • Those four lines load quickly but artfully, then a “destroy this webpage” button appears.
    • You are then given instructions and a timer in which you can, Galaga-style, destroy the text and appearance of the site, and compete against yourself and others on a leaderboard.

All of these developers are providing great insights into who they are personally and professionally.  One thing that  can really distinguish you from the crowd is a storytelling component for the portfolio pages that shares your thoughts on how the project developed and what challenges you ran into, as Adham did for a recent project he did for Qantas.  The story is clean, well-told, and chock-full of visuals to elucidate his points.

The Gary Vee option

Gary Vaynerchuk has spent years transforming from the “guy who drinks wine on YouTube” to be a major influencer, investor, and head of a media and marketing firm.  One of his favorite themes is to “document, document, document.”  In addition to (or in lieu of) traditional blogging, as we saw on the websites above, he advocates for a strong presence on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and the like, regardless of your profession.  He thinks that content is king and by giving away great content generously, you’ll find an ever increasing pool of opportunities.  We found two developers (though there are many more) with YouTube channels who are offering great content.

  • Daniel Schiffman of The Coding Train.  Daniel will strike viewers as the cool younger college professor with functional sensibility.  In this “how to create a twitter bot” video he goes from whiteboard conceptualization to actual real-time coding in order to help his audience to accomplish the goal of creating a bot that will post on your behalf to twitter.  He’s passionate, engaged, articulate, and doesn’t take himself too seriously (which you’ll see if you check out his cheesy channel trailer).
  • Mattias Petter Johansson of Fun Fun Function.  list 2.  MPJ (as he calls himself) used to work at Spotify and has a theater background so his videos tend to be more produced.  You can see his style in the “least readable hello world ever” in which his three window (coding screen, real time update, and shot of himself) style is on display (also check out 4:35-4:55 for a few laughs)

Both of these developers have Patreon pages attached to their work so they have monetized something originally oriented just around sharing value (something that Gary Vee touts as one possible result of just giving without counting the cost), thus adding an additional income stream to their regular development work, as well as giving an outlet to their creative energies that helps others.

Showing what you know

Helping others is at the heart of a final way we think developers can show their work.

Stack Overflow: a site is focused on questions and answers.  You can ask specific questions about problems that you are running into in your developing and programming and find answers from the community.  Questions themselves get voted on (as to coherence and relevance) and then answers are voted up or down, earning the answers reputation and badges in the process.  Should you want more expansive (or more philosophical) questions and answers, Quora is also a great place to contribute and learn.

Github: a well-known community for developers.  You can fork an existing project (take what has already been done and start working on your own version).  If you really like what you’ve done on your fork, you can create a pull request so that the original authors can see your work and decide whether to accept it into the original project.  Throughout the process there’s a social networking component to allow discussion of everything that is going on.

A final word

We’ve been talking a lot about showcasing and sharing, but we haven’t been using the term “settle” because the very nature of development and programming implies constant improvement and progress.  Moore’s Law is just as true in this space (perhaps more) than in other fields of tech and in five years half of what you know will be obsolete.  While it’s ideal to have a website, some kind of channel where you can teach, and a presence on sites where you can share your knowledge, even just one of these can help you stand out and snag that next project (having a presence on Vocaworks wouldn’t hurt either!).


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Stephen writes about startups, hiring and career issues for VocaWorks.