Here's what 4 companies really look for on your GitHub profile

by Andreas Rekdal
May 8, 2018

GitHub is a useful tool for collaborating on projects, but it’s also a place where you can show off your coding prowess to would-be employers. So how do you ensure you put your best foot forward? We asked four fast-growing Chicago tech companies to weigh in.

 

captech chicago tech company
image via captech

CapTech is a national consulting firm that partners with companies to create and operate custom software and other digital products. In looking at the GitHub profiles of prospective team members, senior talent acquisition lead Dan Gaspari looks for active users whose projects show off a creative side.

 

What do you look for in an applicant’s GitHub profile?

It’s great to see someone who has a profile at all, but what I’m really looking for is activity. Engineers with a lot of activity on their profiles show me how involved they are as developers. I’m also interested to see how many followers they have, because a surplus is often a good indication of their role as a thought leader.

 

What is the coolest project you've come across on a candidate's GitHub profile?

I’ve seen so many great projects on GitHub that it’s difficult to single one out. But the ones that always stick with me are the cool concepts that you wouldn’t typically see on a resume — personal projects where creativity is on display.

 

What should candidates avoid sharing on their profiles?

Even though GitHub isn’t necessarily a primary resource for job hunters, as with any social site, I’d follow the same best practices you should be applying to Facebook or Twitter. Avoid any offensive content or things that are too personal.

 

raise chicago tech company
image via raise

Raise is a digital payments technology provider and the operator of a discounted gift card marketplace used by nearly 450 brands across the country. To VP of engineering Mike Arwine, a beefy GitHub profile is not the end-all-be-all for successful candidates. But he still has a pointer or two for would-be Raise engineers.

 

What do you look for in an applicant’s GitHub profile?

An amazing GitHub profile could land you an interview, but the lack of an amazing profile doesn’t mean you’re not a great programmer. I’ve worked with some extremely talented software engineers over the years that did not have a big online presence. Outside of work, some hold interests other than programming. Cognitive diversity on your engineering team found through the exploration of other interests is just as important as a myriad of code repositories.

If you are inclined to use your Github profile to speak to your abilities, these tips might help you catch someone’s eye: Be a polyglot and show your interest in a few different languages. Write code that is readable, well-formatted, well-tested, well-documented and that displays a pragmatic approach via the commit history. Contribute to open source projects to show that you want to give back and can play well with others. Be sure to complete some projects.

 

What is the coolest project you've come across on a candidate's GitHub profile?

The first one that comes to mind is one that contained all the code from their Advent of Code solutions. Their attempt to use a different language for nearly every submission is what made it stand out.

 

What should candidates avoid sharing on their profiles?

Know your audience. Be mindful of anything that might give pause to the companies where you’re trying to land your next job. At the same time, be true to yourself and let this be a filter for companies where you might not be a good fit.

 

reviewtrackers chicago tech company
image via reviewtrackers

ReviewTrackers makes software used by companies to manage online reputations, solicit user feedback and power Q&A sections on their websites. In scoping out an applicant’s GitHub page, VP of engineering Nate Reynolds looks for signs that the developer is staying current with emerging tech trends.

 

What do you look for in an applicant’s GitHub profile?

I like to see recent work in modern or new languages and frameworks. This shows that the candidate is making a conscious effort to stay up to speed with new tech.

 

What is the coolest project you've come across on a candidate's GitHub profile?

A senior engineer on my team, Yohei Kanehara, built a web app to query against Spotify's recommendation endpoint. You submit a mix of artists, songs and genres and the app will create a playlist for you. You can check it out here.

 

What should candidates avoid sharing on their profiles?

Other companies' coding challenges. Also, commits with environment variables included.

 

mac & mia chicago tech company
image via mac & mia

Mac & Mia is a curated shopping service that helps busy parents pick up clothes for their children without spending the day at the mall. Software engineer Alex Kahn said he likes to see GitHub projects that show off a developer’s interests. But don’t fret if your profile is lean: Kahn said he recognizes that not everyone spends their free time programming.

 

What do you look for in an applicant’s GitHub profile?

We like to see experiments and small projects that demonstrate the range of interests a person has, and whether they contribute to open source projects. We don't weigh GitHub profiles too heavily, however, because not every project is hosted there and not everyone codes as a hobby.

 

What is the coolest project you've come across on a candidate's GitHub profile?

We've seen code examples from talks, a personal app for tracking and resolving disputes, and civic tech applications in use around Chicago.

 

What should candidates avoid sharing on their profiles?

I don't think we want to make GitHub a resume. GitHub should remain an imperfect window into a person's personal laboratory or collaboration space. We don't want people to feel like they can't express themselves because we want to see who they are and if they fit our values of diversity and growth.

 

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