Recently, I made a comment on twitter about how I think developers can make it easier for employers to recruit them. It sparked a little discussion which has been hard to summarise in 140 characters, so here's a short blog post to try to clarify my point.

What I said

The comment was sparked by my activity of looking to recruit a Senior Front End Engineer at R/GA. These thoughts are my personal opinions, and don't reflect the hiring policy of my employer, something, something, scary legal disclaimer etc.

Dear jobbing web developers, I urge you to have a site of your own. A portfolio page, links to github & projects makes it easier to hire you

@philhawksworth, 12th Nov 2013

What was my point?

I'm trying to find talented, engaged, and experienced developers to join the team. One of the qualities I look for is a passion for the web and a demonstration that the you've engaged with it.

This doesn't have to be in the form of public and available web sites. Usually people who work in the Web industry also participate in it and so have activity available to see. Be that code on Github, opinions and discussion on Twitter, photos on Flickr, or whatever happens on Google+ (insert, "stays on Google+" joke here).

This does not mean that shareable URLs and a footprint of activity on the web is in any way a formal requirement for landing a job at R/GA or in any team that I happen to be involved in putting together.

But it can help me figure out that we should talk. A resumé alone, doesn't always do that.

What was the debate?

After posting that tweet, Norm, whose opinion I respect, quickly replied with:

@philhawksworth Really? I never needed those when working at Yahoo and built a VERY sizeable team of world-class devs.

@cackhanded, 13th Nov 2013

...and some discussion ensued.

Norm suggested that requiring any kind of online profile significantly limits the talent pool that you might recruit from. As he observed, "selecting only people who had an online profile would exclude some of the best I’ve ever worked with".

And I quite agree. As I say, this is not a prerequisite for a job. My problem though is simply this.

Resumés usually suck.

They just suck. Especially if they have been 'sanitised' by an intermediary recruiting consultancy who has tried to summarise it for you or make it conform to their standard format (which often happens).

In this industry, you often find resumés which are made up of a lot of snazzy technology buzzwords. A well-crafted summary of your experience which shows evidence of engagement, passion, and skill is tough to create, and rare to see.

I included having an active Github profile as a positive thing in my tweet. Simply put, it's a convenient place to see development activity, and being familiar with Git and Github is advantageous. I was not suggesting that candidates must show that they contribute to open source projects. Github is more than that.

Norm responded specifically to that, with an interesting article:

@philhawksworth @rossbruniges @larister More on not needing a Github profile:

@cackhanded, 13th Nov 2013

To which I reply: I do not consider contributing to an open source project, or having a Github profile as a prerequisite for landing a job. Perhaps I should just restate my advice without that pesky 140 character constraint.

My advice to web development candidates

Dear front-end web developers who are seeking freelance or permanent employment. Landing a good job demands that you find a way to stand out from all the other candidates. Luckily you are good at what you do and have a platform to show it. May I suggest that you make it easier for people like me, who see lots and lots of resumés, to recruit you, by:

If you can't do any of that, I'll do my best to get enough information from your resumé to determine that we should talk. But without something to see on the Web, you'll be making me work harder to figure out how awesome you are than that other person who's online resumé let me see what I needed without spending lots of time in Microsoft Word.

Love, hugs, and good luck.