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I'm not applying for jobs where programming is the primary function, but some of these jobs have listed certain programming languages as preferred skills. I am familiar with the basics of these languages, but I'm wondering if it would be wise to make a GitHub account to showcase that. I don't want employers to raise their expectations when they see the link to a GitHub account, only to be disappointed when they only find simple code.

  • Start a github repo now, after all you have to start somewhere, and getting in the habit of recording your work is a good idea. That being said, don't put the link on your resume until you have generated some unique content on there. And no, I'm afraid that answers to questions you found in a book does not qualify as original content. – Stephan Branczyk May 7 '17 at 4:54
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I would think that basic coding skills would be expected if the job has a coding aspect to it. If you post a github account that show minimal knowledge of the skill. IE: homework level stuff, or a "Hello World" app I would avoid showing a potential employer said gitub url.

That being said, If you think your GitHub has some good content and is worth showing off then be prepared to dive deep into what its doing and how. Not being able to answer question quickly about something you made might be the end of the interview. Likewise being able to explain your program in great detail without having to check your notes is a huge plus from a hiring standpoint. It shows you know what you are doing.

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I don't what employers to raise their expectations when they see the link to a GitHub account, only to be disappointed when they only find simple code.

Your application is the time to draw employer's attention to the things you want them to focus on. It sounds like this would be covered by just stating a familiarity with git and the languages on the resume.

The worst case is, as you suggest, someone navigates there and wonders why you linked to it in the first place.

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Yes if you have the good enough code to show. Unfortunately, most of the code we have often falls into three categories:

  • It is written for a company at work. Now way we could show a single line of such a code, no single statement, not a single semicolon.
  • It is my ancient student work, full of fundamental design errors I would never repeat again, and its coding style was good enough 15 years ago when used to be different conventions.
  • Some very simple project that does not actually impress.

Many developers do not actually have much to show, apart some who worked on various open source projects.

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Well, I can tell you that I definitely prefer candidates that show me examples of their code. If a candidate does not have a code sample, I assume the worst. Nowadays, standards are such that virtually anybody with any talent at all has a public code repository.

If your primary job is not programming, then presumably the company will take that it into account when they evaluate your code.

At the end of the day, it is probably better to have bad code than no code, at least in my book. If I see somebody with bad code, at least I know that they wrote it. Better to have a bad coder who actually writes code, than somebody with great code that is plagiarized from somebody else. Believe it or not, I have to quiz people carefully about their code to make sure they actually wrote it. Half the time, their code is plagiarized and I ask them a question about it and they can't answer the question because they didn't actually write the code.

  • This is actually not true at all. I know very few people who have time outside of work hours to do any significant work, at least enough to impress anyone. I have never had a job, or known of one, which would be ok with me posting their code to a public site or taking copies of it to an interview. In fact, I've know some place that ask to see code as a test, if you show them your past employers proprietary code, you may very well show other people their code and use that as a way to feel out people why don't feel they can trust. – bluegreen May 9 '17 at 13:29
  • @bluegreen In our last round of hiring I reviewed 200 resumes. Of those, we invited 6 to interviews. My guess is that you would have been in the other 194. The fact that you "know very few" talented people is irrelevant. Sure, there are huge numbers of mediocre programmers with no public code base. We don't hire people like that.. – Socrates May 9 '17 at 13:41
  • Socrates It seems to me it has nothing to do with talent, you don't want people with families, hobbies, and non-development based interests. Nothing wrong with that, but I prefer well rounded people. I was like that when I first started out of school, I did open source projects, I wrote things on my own, but as life moved on, I developed other priorities. Doesn't make me any less talented at my job. Talented != Obsessive. Just my opinion, people have different viewpoints, I have no interest in arguing over it. – bluegreen May 9 '17 at 14:19

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