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Want to Upgrade Your Career? Try Joining Open Source Projects

IT professionals are more than the sum of their technical skills. Face-to-face, good interview techniques help employers see that reality. Yet the full scope of candidates’ interpersonal skills often get overlooked in a resume’s formulaic language. That is, unless job seekers provide concrete examples. We find that joining open source projects, for example, does more than pass the time: they make resumes even more persuasive to businesses.

In addition to giving technical professionals an opportunity to engage with the larger IT community, open source projects are actually a robust resume builder. Here is how they are used to appeal to employers and what you need to know before using them for your elevator pitch.

What Open Source Projects Add to Your Resume

Job-relevant, extra-curricular activities always look good on a resume. Joining open source projects portrays IT professionals in a very flattering light, showing that their value extends beyond strong technical chops. Here are just a few of the qualities businesses discern from candidates based on these types of contributions:

  • Driven – Active involvement in the GitHub community or completing CodeTriage notifications shows a passion for development, QA, and other tech-related tasks. Businesses want employees willing to explore new technologies and hunt down new challenges. Involvement in open source projects conveys that clearly.
  • Adaptable – Though a portion of open source work builds upon existing subject matter expertise, there is also a good deal of adaptation happening in these new environments. For example, even if developers know Go or Rust programming languages, they are being exposed to new syntax and environments as either evolves with user contributions. Adaptability is almost a given for anyone who continually contributes to evolving open source work.
  • Collaborative – The nature of an open source project is building upon what others have done. The code you share and build upon in GitHub shows an ability to take critiques and effectively refine the work of others. Plus, even small companies need tech professionals who can collaborate without conflict.

Contributions to an open source project look good, but projects tailored to the specific position are even better. Always start by exploring the repositories in your GitHub account to find compatible work. If a job requires deep knowledge of pure Python and an aptitude with testing practices, the open source projects you include ought to prove that.

Including links to open source projects or your GitHub profile in a resume gives hiring managers and recruiters an opportunity to dig deeper. More companies are using GitHub and open source contributions as a way to get a 360-degree view of a potential candidate. That way, they can move fast and hire you with a clear conscience.

How Open Source Projects Open Doors

Beyond expanding your resume, open source projects are often networking goldmines. In most cases, the contributors writing code for a given project will be widespread. For those IT professionals looking for a new job, the contacts available by joining open source projects open up doors that might otherwise remain closed.

There are two main career-changing ways to connect with opportunities through open source projects:

  • Networking with Peers – Unlike traditional methods, GitHub or open source forums are almost effortless ways to network. Conversations have been initiated already and a savvy job seeker just needs to direct conversations. Learning about the other person on a personal and professional level makes asking about job opportunities natural. No one will even bat an eye.
  • Attracting Recruiters – A growing number of recruiters are turning to GitHub and other open source platforms as part of their recruiting process. Examples of a candidate’s talent and working habits are plain to see. Plus, recruiters are able to view a candidate’s interests and strengths before recommending a role. That way, job seekers are not having irrelevant positions thrown at them.

Active participation in open source platforms builds your connections and even expands your reputation. Repositories that are highly rated and embraced by users speak volumes about what you can do.

Joining Open Source Projects That Suit Your Brand

Though there are serious career benefits to joining open source projects, the choice of which to pursue is not an arbitrary one. The types of projects you participate in openly advertise your interests and strengths. Moreover, they imply where you intend to take your career. That is why those looking to use open source projects as a resume builder need to keep their long-term strategy front of mind.

The types of job opportunities available to IT professionals can be expanded considerably by the way repositories and contributions are delivered. Evaluate your career goals, review the hottest industry trends, and select projects that maximize your talents in ways that will draw attention. In the long run, your career path will be under your control.


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