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I am a coder and running into a problem:

If you are a designer you can show visual designs, a graphic designer can have a paper portfolio.

Could a developer have a portfolio of code? Code might not mean much to an recruiter who has too little coding experience to evaluate the skill in the code, but if I can't show the code, what can I do?

closed as too broad by NotMe, Jim G., Michael Grubey, Garrison Neely, jcmeloni Dec 16 '14 at 12:14

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    give github a whirl. – bharal Dec 8 '14 at 12:06
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    if you downvote please give an explanation. Seems a legit question to me. – Andrew Welch Dec 8 '14 at 12:13
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    It's not a recruiter who will be reviewing your code portfolio. It's the technical expert who will appreciate any resource that helps determine capability. – Joel Etherton Dec 8 '14 at 13:41
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    Alongside GitHub, look into Codepen. It's what a lot of profession front end developers use to showcase/play around with. It supports most of the latest and greatest. There is also JSbin and a few others. – Mark C. Dec 8 '14 at 18:14
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    I include a link to my StackOverflow account on my CV, it's a good concise way to see the types of problems that you experience and can solve. It also shows how you deal with issues and interact with others. – Godwin Dec 8 '14 at 18:28
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In my case, I'm not even allowed to show my code, because it belongs to my company, so that's not an option at all for me. However, the following could be:

Indicate your years experience
This does not necessarily say something about your coding skills, but it does say something about management, decision making skills, ability to work with other people, etcetera.

Show the projects you've worked on, and your role in them
You can show some of the projects you've participated in and say what your role was in those projects. You might not be able to show the code, but you can explain that "I did this like this, so that it's futureproof" or "I did some research and found that method X, which I implemented, was the best for the case".
This does not show actual code, but it does show a bit of your train of thought.

Talk about your skills
I like speed in websites, so I could make a section on my approaches to achieving that. You can think of two or three things you are good at, and then use that to start a paragraph ( like this one ;) ) about something that you know a fair amount about. Don't forget to add examples (e.g. "speed: check out the speed of the flow in example.com").

Sharing code you've made (but isn't yours)
We all have that piece of code, shining in its brilliance, that we'd like to share. You MUST ask your employer*, otherwise it might result in nasty nasty situations.
An option to make it less 'stealable' is to take a screenshot of it and post that, or only show it upon request.

Don't forget, you don't have to show everything, just some smart/good functions should do.

* "Even if you're self employed, the code may not necessarily belong to you - e.g. if you're contracting/consulting." - Jon Story

Certificates or diplomas
If you have any, obviously, add them. This, again, might not really reflect your actual code, but it does help paint a picture of your overall skillset.

  • good points. For many it is an option to showcase their code though. – Andrew Welch Dec 8 '14 at 12:40
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    Another thing to remember is that even if you're self-employed, the code may not necessarily belong to you - eg if you're contracting/consulting. Otherwise these alternatives can be quite good – Jon Story Dec 8 '14 at 13:06
  • Didn't think of that, added it in case someone doesnt read comments :) – Martijn Dec 8 '14 at 13:17
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    +1 - I've suffered more than once from the internet being transient, and examples of my work going poof as the company changes, or the work being under NDA and utterly un-showoff-able – yochannah Dec 8 '14 at 20:48
  • Typically when i talk about a skill, next question is. Can we see code or example of that thing, to which the answer is, no i don't have as a company policy, which put them off. – cookieMonster May 4 '17 at 10:20
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They can, but the way to do it depends on what you have available.

Some options

  1. A blog, outlining technical challenges and how you've overcome then (doubles up as proof of documentation, problem solving, gives you a resource for when you come across the same problem again AND helps others)
  2. Open source. Either contribute to a project or release a small utility/program etc for free: put the source up on Github or similar and you can talk about it as "Other experience" in your CV, or simply provide it as a reference in it's own right
  3. Non-open source, but do the same as the above and provide the source on request or included with applications etc

My preferred would be a combination of 1 and 2... make an application and document the build in a blog, and then later start adding other articles with issues you find elsewhere or while maintaining it. This will give you a single set of source code to show your coding ability (+ ability to document and organise code), along with proof of your ability to plan, project manage and problem solve.

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    +1 for Github. I've had a few applicants do that and it is a nice way to take a look at what they've actually produced. – Eric Dec 8 '14 at 17:16
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    I also find it's a nice way to see HOW they work - less vital than the end result, sure, but it can be a nice indicator of thought processes and whether they plan well or just throw things together and tidy it up later. – Jon Story Dec 8 '14 at 17:26
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Could a developer have a portfolio of code? Code might not mean much to an recruiter who has too little coding experience to evaluate the skill in the code, but if I can't show the code, what can I do?

This is a good question. Because all of this stuff is essentially, “invisible” so explaining what you do and what you have done is quite difficult. My experience in coding and systems administration is deep, my resume is solid, and I have code examples but the actual interview process where this gets explained still becomes stressful due to the fact that initial conversations are often with non-techs who become confused quite quickly when hearing about this stuff.

What I have found to be helpful is having GitHub public repositories for projects. The projects do not necessary have to be connected to a job directly, but perhaps you have coded a library or tool for a task you had and you posted that tool generically to your GitHub account so others can benefit from that work.

That said recruiters might not have the ability to assess you coding skills by looking at code, so you still need to create some “high level” narrative of your work. Such as, “Worked on this website and created a JSON API which enabled this site to be used in new, creative ways by staff and contractors…” And then that could dovetail to code examples in your repository.

But another good tool is the tool we are using right now: Stack Exchange. If you build up your reputation and have some solid activity on the site it’s valuable to share that with a recruiter who might pass that info onto the actual techs you would be working with. You might be nervous about exposing the casual tone of many interactions one has on this site to a potential recruiter, but the reality is unless you a complete jerk, modern tech-savvy recruiters completely understand that forums are forums.

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