arielcamus

@arielcamus

The Software Developer’s Guide to Building an Online Reputation

“Concert audience lifting up their hands and phones as a band performs in yellow floodlights” by Nainoa Shizuru on Unsplash

In the past, I have written about how important networking can be for your chances of finding a job as a software developer. In fact, up to 80% of the jobs are filled through networking.

This is especially true for developers looking for remote jobs since their options are much more limited (although growing). The reason I know this is because I run an online training program for remote software developers, and I’ve been helping our students hack their way to get their first remote job for a while now. I know how hard it can be.

We normally ask our students to contribute to open source to engage with communities and companies with distributed teams and workflows. We also ask them to engage with those companies and their employees on Twitter. For those who have the opportunity, we also recommend them attending to conferences like Running Remote, where distributed teams gather to talk about remote work once a year.

However, if you show up at any of those online or offline places, and you have very little to show about your work, chances are that you will have a hard time networking effectively.

When you meet someone new, chances are that they will go to Google and search your name. What do people find, right now, when they search your name on Google?

First impressions are important, and they make people want to start a conversation with you.

Here is a checklist of the things you should be working on if you want to build an online reputation as a software developer and make a great first impression.

Personal portfolio

You need a personal website to show a curated version of your work. Resumes are ok, but most people won’t even take the time to read it. On top of that, you have complete freedom on the style of your portfolio. You should take advantage of that.

Make sure you have a personal domain and a professionally-looking portfolio. If frontend web development is not your strength, use a service like Squarespace to quickly build something that looks great.

Most importantly, you need to curate what you show in your portfolio. Don’t put there everything you do, just those things that will help you build a reputation: great-looking frontend projects, complex or popular Github repos, Youtube videos of presentations, etc.

Articles

This is something that most people ignore and it’s such an easy win! Everyone can write, and you don’t need to be Shakespeare to write something interesting. Medium is a great place to start. Just pick a technical topic that you like and write about something you have recently learned. It can be something really short sharing some tips, or a long piece with a lot of technical details.

In any case, make sure you submit your articles to technical publications such as FreeCodeCamp, Hackernoon or Codeburst. If they accept your submissions, your content will be exposed to thousands of readers and get a lot of claps. Those articles normally show up in search results and help you build an online reputation. And you should definitely share all you write on your portfolio and social accounts.

LinkedIn

Talking about social profiles, this is an easy one. LinkedIn profiles usually rank very high on search results. Make sure yours is always up to date, and that it shows the most important things you have worked on.

Use a professional picture and take the time to write short descriptions about the work you have done. Share your articles on LinkedIn and in your profile, and try to get endorsements in the topics that are relevant to your job search.

Twitter

Contrary to LinkedIn, Twitter is not an easy one. Not everyone likes or has the capacity to attract thousands of followers and engage with them. If you decide that Twitter is something you want to take advantage of, make sure you update it often, share interesting content that is relevant to your area of expertise, and write a relevant bio that links to your portfolio.

Stack Overflow

You can’t do everything, and maybe this can be an alternative to Twitter. Some people really enjoy helping others by answer questions on Stack Overflow, and its reputation system can help potential employers show that you know about certain topics and that you are not just a great developer, but also someone that will positively impact on the rest of the team.

You can’t answer to every single question, so pick a niche. You want to show that you know about specific things that you want to be hired for. Focus on that. Also, try to start as early as possible. Stack Overflow content stays there forever, helping every single person that ends up in that page, and every time you help someone, you get a positive recognition that helps you grow your reputation. The sooner you start, the more reputation you can accumulate.

Open Source

Getting started with open source is really easy! You just need to pick one open source project that you like, set up a local development environment, and find a very simple first PR to help with, even if it’s just improving the documentation of the project. Once your first PR is merged, you can start looking for more complex things to help with.

What’s great about open source is that it not only helps you build a reputation and show your work and your passion for what you do, but it also helps you connect with the people behind those projects, which can led to a lot of great job opportunities.

GitHub

Everyone will want to take a look at your GitHub profile. Hopefully, you can been contributing to open source, working on side projects and even using GitHub in your previous job, and that will be reflected in your activity graph.

However, activity is not enough, you also need to show the quality of your work. Something that a lot of people ignore is the importance of writing great README files. They can make the difference between a potential employer looking at your code and leaving because she doesn’t understand what that is, or someone seeing the scope, stack, test and deployment process, etc. of your project and understanding that you take your work seriously.

Conferences

Every conference has a period where they accept proposals for talks. You should always submit yours, even if you think you will get rejected. There are a lot of conferences happening all the time, and if you can just give a few talks, that will help a lot to build a reputation.

While you work on getting your talk proposals accepted, you can start by looking at local meetups and organizations like RailsGirls where you can offer your help as a mentor. It might not be the same as giving a talk, but showing that you are already helping others will give you extra points in the reputation game.

There is no single answer to building an online reputation, but I hope this checklist gives you a good overview of the different things you should be thinking about. If you have other suggestions, please leave a comment and I will add it to the checklist.

This article was first published on Transformify’s blog on April 20, 2018.

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