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I will soon begin the process of applying for entry level programming positions. As of now I have no professional coding experience, so all I have to show is some personal projects and code samples to show what I am capable of. How do I present such things as code samples, my specific work on collaborative projects, personal projects, etc, to a prospective employer? Something like a digital business card? a web link on the resume to a page where it is all laid out? links to individual project pages?

Basically, is there a preferred method for listing or displaying what I have done aside from just a few lines on a resume describing it?

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5 Answers 5

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Put your personal projects up on either Github or Bitbucket. If your collaborative projects are academic and nobody objects, include those as well (obviously giving credit where credit is due), noting sections that you've contributed to specifically using @author tags in your function/class comments. Make sure that there's a README in your project root to give an overview of what the package is and what it does.

Include a link to your Github/Bitbucket profile in your application (whatever format it's in). Now, not only does your prospective employer get easy access to your source (can download your entire project, collaborative or not and grep through source to find @author tags in your collaborative projects), but it shows that you're up on current version control technology.

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This is fast becoming the expected procedure. I've had multiple recruiters contact me solely based on my github profile. –  Rein Henrichs May 10 '11 at 23:37
    
I've never heard of github or bitbucket... until now. Thanks. –  Cape Cod Gunny May 13 '11 at 0:07

Github/CodePlex/whatever. Get your code out there, document a bit of it, write some tests, and put your best food forward. If an entry level developer handed me their resume and gave me their name on Github I would prepare the interview by first looking at the code and then perhaps asking some questions as it pertained to their personal projects. Why did you use this pattern here, why did you make these decisions there, how did you decide to use this or that.

Having code available first gives the interviewer some basis of understanding of your skill level, and allows them to ask conversational questions during the interview as it pertains to your interests (I hope your personal projects are your interests...)

There are several resume builders out there for code repositories. For Github it's resume.github.com - give it a try!

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I'll tell you this straight: if I'm looking for any level of programmer, I am not wasting time reading every single applicant's code samples. That takes a lot of time and, if I do it and like your code but then don't like you then I've wasted that time. It's much quicker to figure out if you're going to fit than to figure out if you're any good, so I will do that first.

However, for a final interview, I want to see your code desperately (or at least for one of the seniors to see it). I've already decided I like you by then. I need to know how good you are before we decide we're going to make you an offer and how much it will be. Then I'll be asking to see it, you don't need to convince me.

So the question is, "how do you make yourself stand out at the CV stage?", how do you get me to interview you in the first place? As a senior, there are a whole bunch of things you can put in your CV to explain your career path, but as a graduate there aren't.

So you should put your qualifications up there at the top, front and centre. If I'm looking for a graduate then this is what I want to know about first (I would say the opposite of a senior, put them at the back, if they're impressive enough to bother). If I'm relatively impressed by that then I'll read the rest of the CV. In there, a summary of personal projects you've worked on is good.

No code, just what and why, most importantly what problem were you trying to solve. A proven ability to translate problem to solution is invaluable. Also a list of your technology stack. If you're using source control, unit tests and maybe a CI server on personal projects then you're going to get my attention.

Edit: Also links. If you have active web sites or applications, link me to them in your CV. I can't resist clicking, though I won't copy/paste a URL. I won't spend long there, but it's possible to get my attention on the first page. Particularly if you have a blog and any of the subject titles touch on issues that I have recently run into then I'll notice that and look a bit deeper, and if you make sense then I'll remember you when I'm looking back at who to interview.

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+1 for describing when code samples are typically useful in the interview process. –  Dave DuPlantis May 11 '11 at 13:30
    
+1 This is very good advice, and very useful information, however it wasn't oriented as well towards what my question asked (more how to present data to a prospective employer). I still appreciate the answer. –  MaQleod May 18 '11 at 2:33
    
@MaQleod - I'm sorry, I just read your question again and I think I completely misread it first time. You were asking how to present it when wanted, rather than how to present it in such a way that it gets noticed? If I'd read it that way, I would have said "however they want it; personally, I offer plenty of choice - everything from email to dropbox to github." –  pdr May 18 '11 at 11:33

First things first: a recruiter should be really interested in such personal projects.

What I would suggest is to put it on a website, and to add a link in your application letter or even resume. So the recruiter will not get the impression you try to force him to look at it.

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Just describe it.

If they want more details they'll ask for them, at which time it would be appropriate to send more information.

Consider it this way: a hiring manager is going to get many different resumes. Depending on the company, yours will first go to HR. The HR person is going to look for certain keywords. Based on those they will forward the app to the hiring manager (usually by printing it out).

The hiring manager is going to flip through them looking, again, for certain keywords. If (s)he sees them they'll let the HR person know to delve deeper.

At which point you will either get a phone or in-person interview scheduled.

At no point will anyone have actually read most of your application. The primary reason is that the people who would understand it quite frankly don't have the time nor the inclination. And the people who do have the time (HR) won't understand. Further, multi-page applications (especially for a entry level job) is a bad thing.

So, make sure the resume clear and concise. Make sure you use the appropriate words for the job you are trying to get; and other than that, look good and speak clearly when you do get the in-person.

Finally, realize that the people in question are going to receive a LOT of applications while trying to fill this position. They are going to talk to many different candidates. At the end of the day, presentation is what will separate you from the others.

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