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I've been hunting around the job market for a little bit now and I've been shocked by some of the things I'm seeing. Software developers who make themselves more "known" online are getting far more career opportunities and far better positions than people competing against them who are not as well "known" online. After doing some reading on the subject I realized that I actually shouldn't be so shocked by this. We are living in the most fast-paced era of mankind and employers want to be able to learn as much as they can about a potential employee before they hire them. The easier we as software developers make it for us to be found the better our chances of landing that dream job become. In some cases, employers are even finding us in favor of traditionally choosing to let us apply to them.

So what are some of the best ways for me as a software developer to increase my online presence? I already hang around stack exchange sites such as programmers and stack overflow increasing my rep whenever I can. I maintain many open source projects as both a committer and project owner on Google Code and Github. I have a Twitter account, a website, and a blog. What else can I do to give myself a bigger online presence?

Additionally, are there any good do's and don'ts for handling your web presence? Bashing your employer is an obvious don't but I'm interested in everything from the most basic to the most subtle suggestions to give myself a more appealing online presence.

Thank you very much in advance for your time.

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When you say researched people, how many people are you talking about having reviewed? –  blunders Mar 6 '11 at 3:24
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I never used the term "research" in any of my revisions of this question. However, I do know two people personally who have been offered career opportunities based on their web presence. I know another several who used their web presence successfully as part of their resumes to get jobs. I've also read a great editorial on this here: is.gd/ZJs102 . –  Rob S. Mar 6 '11 at 3:36
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8 Answers

up vote 23 down vote accepted

One of the tricks I've heard is to have a very thorough website, and hand out business cards instead of resumes (eg. The resume is on your website anyway).

The psychology goes like this:

Resume says "I need a job". Business Card + impressive professional website says: "I am someone, and you should come to me."

This goes especially for freelancing, contracting, and running your own consulting business - but it won't hurt even if you're just looking for a normal permanent job. There is a certain aura of being a senior professional that comes along with that approach, where standard job application methods (eg Handing out resumes, applying on job sites, "walking the pavement", etc) just make you look like one of the average nobody masses.

I'm taking a sabbatical at the moment, but will be looking for work again in a few months time. I'll try the above and see how it flies. :)

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"I'll try the above and see how it flies." I avoided putting this in my question but a friend of mine was contacted for a position simply because the company recruiter googled for android developers in a niche genre of apps and his website came up. Another friend of mine is being flown to North Carolina this Monday for a "final round" interview with Microsoft for a Software Consulting position after he showed them via the preliminary phone interview how he regularly answers questions about using Microsoft software on forums. It's really surprised me how big an influence web presence can have! –  Rob S. Mar 6 '11 at 3:01
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+1 for Business Card + impressive professional website says: "I am someone, and you should come to me". –  Mudassir Mar 7 '11 at 4:59
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Linkedin also has a large presence.

I also don't think that companies are employing people just because they look reputable online. Most of the poaching and head-hunting is done from interacting with the potential employee (e.g. if that particular person is working at a competing company and they appear to be valuable from meetings or presentations given, then they will often be invited to interview with the poaching company.

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It's not necessarily "looking reputable" that I've found is getting people jobs. Anyone can easily look reputable. It's showing that you're well connected, demonstrating that you know how to perform the work in the position you are applying for, and ultimately just having a large online influence that seems to be getting people jobs. In my personal experience lately I've seen companies (particularly startups) especially interested in people with >500 Twitter followers or facebook friends and interested in seeing you successfully display your abilities as a software developer on the web. –  Rob S. Mar 6 '11 at 2:38
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@Rob: Yes, that's fair enough. I guess we're more inclined to work for different companies. –  Jonathan Khoo Mar 6 '11 at 2:45
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Having a technical blog. My employer read through my blog via the URL I included in my Resume. Heck, I'm pretty sure all of my interviews, the interviewers have read my blog.

In my personal opinion, technical blog is THE best way to increase your online present.

It shows your continuous learning, it shows your ethics, your thinking, etc... Heck the dude that made stackexchange have a blog, ashwood? Or whatever. I love his blog.

Hehe, I have one too.

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But the probably depends on ones ability in writing an interesting and high quality blog. Not every good programmer is an equally erudite essayist. –  hotpaw2 Mar 6 '11 at 5:04
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@hotpaw As long as you can sting English together meaningfully so that I don't have to try to work out what you are trying to say then I'd say you're fine. Tech blogs are nice to write in that they don't need a very firm grasp of English, the technical content is what people come to read not the fascinating prose. –  Matthew Scharley Mar 6 '11 at 21:44
    
I would say have a website instead of a blog. You can show your portfolio through your account on sf or github, explain whatever you like about an aspect of programming, presentations. Just not necessarily a blog; blog format. Whatever works for you to show who you are and what you do. (don't look at my profile yet, working on that myself :) ) –  Jubbat Mar 19 '12 at 1:17
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Sites like Linkedin and Emurse are both good for getting hits on websearches, but that is only the first step to getting a good interview based on your online presence. Basically, it may get an HR person to look at your résumé, but there are many more steps afterwards.

Typically, when a résumé hits my desk (after HR and management has looked at it, I often get pegged to do technical portions of interviews), I will look for whatever writing a person has online. Ideally, it will be published works (papers, theses, articles, &c.), but more ephemeral writing like blogs and twitter posts count too. I'm not necessarily looking for the technical content at that time, but how well the candidate writes. Given that communication is a vital skill in software engineering, demonstrating that skill online can be beneficial. Though conversely, that means you do need to be careful about tpyos.

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Tpyos make me smil :) –  Alison Mar 6 '11 at 10:14
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LinkedIn has served me well as a way of remember connections. My son pointed me to about.me, I really like it as a one stop shop for most things I'm interested in. Mine can be found at http://about.me/wolfmurphy.

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Another point to consider is what is used for your website and blog. For example, if you claim to be a PHP developer but have a Classic ASP personal site that may come across poorly as some may expect your site to be in your specialty. Similarly for what software is behind your blog and how well connected are you to other blogs and aggregate sites like reddit or ITToolbox.

Participating in local user groups would be another idea to consider here. While this may not be as global as other ideas, it may be advantageous on the job front.

Another line of thought here is the question of how hard is it for employers to find you. If you have a lot of connections then it may not be that much work for a company to know your name whereas other people may prefer to hide among the shadows. Past experience or university credentials can also be important here.

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LinkedIn is a must-have these days. It's easy to maintain at the basic level (list your jobs, connect with former and present co-workers, and maybe even get a few recommendations), so I don't think there are good excuses not to have it.

Twitter is good if your Twitter page shows that you learn and actively look for information relevant to your professional development by following the knowledgeable people of your profession. If you only use Twitter as a chat tool, that is actually a turn-off.

As for blogs, I don't know! I know many people who are pretty good, but haven't updated their blog in a long time.

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Contribute to open source software and be able to point out in specifics what contributions you were responsible for producing. That is, as long as your contract allows you to contribute to open source materials which are not in direct competition with your current or prospective employers. I can think of several companies who work with open source programs who are actively looking within the ranks of their contributors to hire.

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