• Evidence of passion

    Fri 16 April 2010

    There’s no substitute for passion in a coder. All the other traits of a great coder spring from their passion – curiosity, work ethic, desire to know more, desire to do a great job. Passion drives the beginning coder through their career to become a master of the craft of software development.

    The vast majority of software developers don’t convey their passion in their resume. Instead they tend to stick to the same old resume formula: name, address, university qualifications, a technology skills matrix, and a timeline of work history. Resumes that follow this formula are plain vanilla - they don’t grab the attention of the reader, and they risk being dropped into the “no thanks” pile by the whoever reads them.

    So how to grab the attention of the reader and shake them so hard that they immediately pick up the phone to do a phone interview?

    The answer is to show evidence of passion.

    The resume needs to make it clear that there is more to this person than their home address, university degree and that they have been willing to go to work for an employer every day. The resume needs to communicate that this software developer has personal feelings about computers and software technology, that software development is something that they enjoy, that they think about, that gets them up in the morning, that motivates them, that inspires them, that gives them a sense of exploration and excitement and that it's more than just the course that they did because mum and dad wanted them to get off the couch and go to university. The resume needs to show that software development is something that this person chooses to do and chooses to think about.

    So here’s the evidence for passion – if you’re assessing job applicants then this is what you should be looking for, and if you’re looking for a job and doing any of these things then your resume should communicate it:

    • Evidence: Spends lots of personal time at home reading software development related books, blogs and websites
    • Evidence: Spends lots of personal time at home writing code and developing personal software projects
    • Evidence: Has made substantial contributions to open source projects
    • Evidence: Has created their own software product which is available for download on the web
    • Evidence: Has written articles for online publications/magazines
    • Evidence: Coding since childhood/high school
    • Evidence: Participates in programming competitions
    • Evidence: Writes a blog
    • Evidence: Has an account on StackOverflow which shows a history of participation

    Of course not all of the things listed above are needed to show that someone is passionate about software development. Even one or two of these points of evidence is enough to show that passion (although more is better of course).

    There are software developers who claim to have passion but there’s no evidence they can show. “I’ve been busy. I’ve been studying. I’ve had other things to do!”. Sorry, there’s no faking it. The things listed above are the evidence of passion, and if there's no evidence, then there’s no passion. Anyone who is passionate about software development but has a resume without evidence of passion needs to start writing.

    They key thing recruiters and employers are looking for (or should be looking for) is people who are passionate about software development. The more evidence there is of passion, the greater the chance the software developer has converted that passion into detailed knowledge, practice, expertise, software craftsmanship skills and other characteristics of a great coder.

    Passion by itself isn’t enough however, it’s just the start point. Once passion is established, the software developer then needs to show they really know their stuff, but that's another story.....


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