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How to use GitHub for job seekers

Updated in 2023

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now industry mentor at Pathrise. I have worked with hundreds of software engineers to help them land their dream jobs in tech. Check out my article on how to use GitHub for job seekers.

When applying for software engineering positions, it is best to assume that the addition of your GitHub link should be required, even if it does not have a red asterisk. GitHub profiles for software engineers, and even data scientists, should be considered as important as a strong resume and LinkedIn.

GitHub profiles show recruiters and hiring managers your past work visually and technically. As great as your resume and LinkedIn statements are, nothing beats giving them the ability to see what you have done and how you did it. 

When recruiters and hiring managers look at your GitHub, they get a chance to see what you have done on your own. This is especially beneficial for new grads applying to their first software engineering roles. It highlights the work you have done in class and on projects and shows them that you have experience. Similarly, bootcamp grads can showcase the work they did in the program and on their own through their GitHub profile. This emphasize the impact they can bring to new companies.

Your GitHub account should have a photo and a brief description of yourself. This gives viewers a sense of who you are before even looking at the rest of your profile. GitHub is more casual than LinkedIn, so feel free to have a little fun with your photo and bio. Include your location, email address (it will only be visible to others with GitHub accounts), and your personal website, if you have one, to round out your information. Here is a good example of a bio from Lindsey Smith’s GitHub profile.

Next, add projects to your GitHub profile so recruiters and hiring managers can see the work you have done. When you are adding projects, make sure you include a description and a ReadMe file. This gives them an understanding of the project goals, the work that went into it, and the results, if you have them. This file is really important because they will likely not have too much time to spend combing through your code. Instead, it gives them the gist. Here is an example of a well-written ReadMe file from a project.

GitHub keeps track when you contribute to projects. This can be helpful for recruiters and hiring managers to see that you work on projects steadily and that you are committed to the craft. In addition, a lot of the projects you will contribute to on GitHub are open source. That means you the chance to show how you work with others. Writing clean commit messages helps you keep track of your work. It also helps others who are working on the same projects because it explained why you did what you did. Hiring managers like to see this. Check out Scott Moss’ contributions for the year. You should aim for a goal of, at least, a weekly minimum commits and consistent 2-4 week streaks.

You can also make use of the job board within GitHub. Here, you can search by type of role (ex: software engineer) or language (ex: Javascript) as well as location. They also have jobs outside of the US and remote positions.

With the above tips and guidance, you should have a clear understanding of how to utilize GitHub for job seekers. 

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and young professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. Our fellows have seen responses to their job applications triple during their time in the program.

If you want to work with any of our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with your GitHub profile, cold emails, or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today.

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Brian Wong

Brian Wong is an experienced senior software engineer and has worked at top bay area startups and organizations. In his free time, Brian works with Pathrise SWE fellows to help them land their dream job and learn insider tips on how to ace technical interviews.

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