Online portfolios considered harmful


I’ve seen some software developer job descriptions require applications to submit an “online portfolio.”. I.e., don’t bother applying unless you maintain a GitHub or Bitbucket project that demonstrates your coding skills.

This has been common for some time for front-end developers. For them, it means showcasing sites or applications they’ve designed in past jobs. That’s fine. But this new trend asks for software developers to maintain a FOSS project as a way of demonstrating their coding skills and enthusiasm. This is stupid beyond belief.

It used to be sufficient to do great things at work, be a great team player, and work really hard. This is not enough for some companies, who expect you to also work on non-trivial coding projects in your personal time.

I’m not a “5:01 Developer,” but I’m also not one-dimensional. I get into work and punch on the afterburners and don’t stop until I leave. Good grief, it should be OK to go home and do something else. If you want to create and lead a FOSS project in your spare time, that’s super! But to make it an application requirement is 12 miles north of Insane, Alaska.

In the ’00s, our industry went through a phase where every other job description asked for applicants with a “passion” for their job. It became an inside joke in my circle — “How’re things going at work?” “Awesome, I’m passionate about my job.” It was utter bullshit and nonsense. I have passion for women, dogs, BMWs, and Arts & Crafts architecture. Give me a break with the passion for work. This was (and still is) just a smoke screen to ask the ignorant and uninformed to kill themselves for a company that would never return the favor. If you’ve been around in the business long enough, you’ve seen this all before.

Work hard? Sure. Excel, do great things? Sure. Enjoy your job, have fun, enjoy learning new technologies? Sure. Work extra when necessary? Sure. Give 120% on the job? Sure. Be a robot and kill yourself? No.

When I hire, I want someone who’s wicked smart (ideally, way smarter than me), high-energy, can-do, positive, and fun to work with. If they go home and work on their sailboat, that’s awesome. In fact I prefer that to hiring a coding drone.

2 comments
  1. Rob said:

    Please hire me 🙂

  2. Stevie Wonders said:

    Yep, this is indeed crazy. As a newbie developer, bought some of the earliest PCs (remember Amiga?), thinking I would do fun projects on the side. But after coding my ass off all day, never got around to doing much of that. Enjoy software development, but not 24/7. I did some rudimentary games during my first job, but soon found plenty of other interests. The thousands of hours of uncompensated overtime I put in the last 35 years was passion enough.

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