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A lot of jobs I have been applying to have a section in the form specifically for a link to your Github account. I think this is a good idea, do some coding, put it on Github, so prospective employers can see. The trouble is, sometimes I find what I'm coding is too small and not meaningful and just looks silly putting on displays.

A specific example. One job requires knowledge of Bash scripting. I spent a week practicing bash scripting but can't really think of a good project I can do in Bash. I then realized Bash scripting isn't really intended for large projects. Should I put something small on Github anyways, as proof I know it, or would it look silly?

Am I going about using Github for employment purposes, the wrong way?

EDIT: none of the answers so far address the question, which is "should you showcase even small scripts, if the job posting mentions the language?". This job posting listed bash as a "nice to have", not "required" and I had used it in the passed though never put any to Github. I guess I didn't add this in the first place as I thought it was obvious the primary focus of a job wouldn't be bash scripting.

1

NO, don't bother.

For your specific case, and because it is shell scripting, the probability is that this company simply requires you to be able to open a shell script and search for log files.

I see "shell/bash/unix nice to have" on a lot of the contracts I take, I can traverse a unix system and open files in vi - and that's about it. That's all that I need to do.

Now, that said, showing you can make some sort of script that can traverse a log file of some sort - there are probably example log files out there, or heck just take the logging from some program with debug on - and output something readable will look good. But given that probably few people on the team really know bash anyway, the chances of anyone reading it and being impressed are low.

Also, while everybody else is saying how hard shell scripting is, I honestly think you could cram it in a week and become pretty proficient with it. It's not hard, it's just boring.

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A specific example. One job requires knowledge of Bash scripting. I spent a week practicing bash scripting but can't really think of a good project I can do in Bash. I then realized Bash scripting isn't really intended for large projects. Should I put something small on Github anyways, as proof I know it, or would it look silly?

Am I going about using Github for employment purposes, the wrong way?

Yes. When they are saying they expect knowledge of Bash: that doesn't mean that they expect a person cram for a week, and only then realize that Bash is a scripting language and then want to find a way to fake experience with a single trivial upload.

Using a technology/language for a week isn't knowledge. They expect that when they ask you basic and intermediate questions you can provide reasonable answers. They expect that when you talk about your previous jobs/projects it is clear that you did use Bash.

Don't feel bad if you don't have a GitHub account. Many people can't put their best code on GitHub because the code is owned by their employer or their customer.

4

When I interview candidates, I always ask for Github projects. Why? That's because I'd have better insight of what the candidate can do without asking them for a stressful stupid coding test.

If your job requires bash script, that doesn't mean you must have an open source project for bash. You just need to build a portfolio of open-source projects you have done. Build something you love, do it good. Try to start a community for your project.

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Adding to the existing answers - which already provide good advice - I think you need to be careful to show off code in which you have limited experience; are you sure your code is correct, bug-free, and works in all cases (like, say, with spaces in filenames?)

Especially with something like shell scripting you need to be careful, as truly learning it well requires weekly dark incantations, animal sacrifice, and a pilgrimage to a holy mountain where obscure and occult rituals will be performed.

There are so many things you can do wrong with shell scripts that even after 15 years I have trouble remembering them all. In fact, for many common operations there are far more ways to do it wrong than correct!

Chances are that any knowledgeable shell scripter will not be particularly impressed by your shell scripts, simply because it's such a tricky language to learn.

So if you publish something in bash - which you don't need to as the other answers pointed out - then consider making it clear, in the job application or project's README, that this constitutes only a few week's worth of experience, and it is mostly an exercise to learn the language. That will at least communicate that you're simply a beginner lacking in experience, rather than a bad programmer.


Also consider that for many - though far from all! - jobs stuff like "shell scripting" is added as a little "extra". Would be nice, but few companies are going to fail an applicant because of lack of experience with it (same with stuff like "git" or "aws experience").

Of course, it doesn't apply to all jobs; you'll need to be the judge if it does in your case!

  • Yes, bash was in the "extra" category and wouldn't be the primary focus of the job. So to confirm, you recommend adding a simple bash script to github but include a note that it's intentionally simple?? – NewOnTheBlock May 3 '17 at 23:42
  • If you decide to publish it, I would add such a note, yes @NewOnTheBlock. As the other answers already mentioned, publishing this in the first place probably isn't really required. You may be better off publishing something in tech you're more familiar with. But use your own judgement :-) – Martin Tournoij May 3 '17 at 23:50

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