A frustrating part of my education was a need to show my work.  I always wanted to get to the answer, and showing work slowed me down.  However, work examples are an important part of our application process for a job or project.  Potential employers can learn a lot from the deliverables we have produced.  Therefore, we must present that content in a way that is easy to read and promotes our personal brand


Show Off Your Skills

The first thing to consider in building portfolio material is what you want to say.  There is a story around your career, so own that narrative.  Select complex problems solved and the technologies you enjoy to craft that story.  We produce a lot of content in our jobs, so trim down your portfolio to the best of it.  It goes without saying that you can skip the work you were not happy with.  There is no need to hide the fact that you made mistakes.  On the other hand, you can avoid leading with those mistakes.  Own it, do not flaunt it.

Show Your Ability To Follow Processes

An area of work that we often fail to display is our ability to follow standards and processes.  It is ok (and maybe helpful) to include things like a typical status report or personal design document. Do not forget to include some unit tests you have written.  These items may not be “sexy,” but they do show you to be a professional developer that knows how to create software.

Generated Code and Frameworks

Less is often more with work examples.  Do no provide thousands or millions of lines of code just to show off big projects.  This concern includes generated and framework code that often appears in open source projects.  Focus on what you have done, not the work you built on or source code that was generated for you.  That extra code is just more to sift through even when you provide proper attribution to the author.

Episode Challenge: Take a look at your personal GitHub account and review how it looks to the public. If you do not have a public account then create one and start on your personal repository.

Read more about advancing your career.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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