Get Serious: do prefer GitHub to LinkedIn!The topic pops up often in my discussions with my colleagues and friends: when it comes down to judge the professional level of a third person, the LinkedIn page seems the first and only place to start from.
That’s wrong in my opinion!
I don’t have any problem with LinkedIn, except that it works on a curriculum vitae mode, while Github and alike (e.g., GitLab) work on portfolio mode. Ok, wait, this sounds wrong too: LinkedIn and GitHub were designed for very different matters, and therefore they do work in different ways. But in the following I’m assuming you want to discover the capabilities, skills and professional level of an IT person without actually speaking to him (that is, before a mandatory talk). Also, in this article, when I refer to GitHub I also mean GitLab and other services alike (SourceForge, BitBucket, you name one).
The Curriculum Vitae ProblemIn a curriculum vitae you are almost free to write down whatever you want. You can sell yourself as a very addicted to a technology while you have used only once to patch an application you haven’t written! Nevertheless, the curriculum vitae model is the foundation of how we present to the world. Let’s do an example that rules them all: academic curriculum. You often introduce yourself by specifying your degree, your masters, PhD, and stuff like that.
I do have a PhD. That’s does not mean I’m a smart man, it does not mean it was easy for me to get the PhD, or that I was an execellent university student. It just means I’ve completed my PhD course with success, and that’s all. It does not mean I’m better than a non PhD guy, or that I’m better than a guy with a PhD in other subject.
Think about that.
The curriculum vitae model just lists your past successes! It does not list any failure, it does not list how many time you had to rewrite the code to solve a bug, or how many hours you had to study on your own to understand a particular topic. It is a summary of your successes, nothing else.
LinkedIn works the same: it lists what you believe are your positive credits (and after all, nobody wants to list her negative credits!).
The Portfolio ModelOn Github (and alike) you publish your work, what you are actually doing and, most notably, how you evolved as a programmer, designer, developer and how you interact with others. From this point of view, this is a huge amount of history about yourself and you growing up.
You don’t lie on GitHub! If a subject required you 500 patches to get it implemeted well, your evaluator will see. Is this bad? I don’t think so, because what your evaluators are effectively getting is that you know how to implement it now, so to some extent you are automatically certified to have a particular knowledge or skill. I do believe this is much more important than stating it on your curriculum, and I do believe to the extent that I often put a sentence like “go get and check on the net for my skills”.
The portfolio model is, in my opinion, a much more winning approach to let your evaluators to evaluate you ahead of time. Now, if the evaluation is bad, it simply means you are not the right person for the job, and you are saving yourself a big embarassment. If the evaluation is prositive, it simply means you could be the person for the job, now you have to talk to your employeer-to-be for finding if that is true.
The Open Source LieA lot of developers nowdays tend to put statements like “Open Source developer” in their curriculum vitae. That could be a fake advertisement, as well as an out-of-date sentence, as well as a true one. How to prove it? Again, the curriculum vitae model cannot prove it, you have to show a portfolio, and most notably you have to show metrics about how much you did open source development.
I know a lot of ex-colleague that claim to be open source developers without having a concrete activity since a while. Again, the portfolio can show you that information.