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COMMENT: How to stand out in a web developer crowd

With the number of developers expected to grow by 45 per cent by 2019, how can you stand out from the crowd? Webfolio cofounder Creeshla Doherty offers some must-know advice


BIO: Creeshla Doherty – Cofounder of Webfolio

Developers, programmers and software engineers are titles that are often interchangeable, but ultimately they are the backbone of innovation in an increasingly technology- driven world.

The software industry is one of the fastest growing markets, so it isn’t surprising that the number of developers continues to grow. A recent study has found that there are 18.2 million software developers worldwide, rising to 26.4 million by 2019 with a 45 per cent increase. Leading the way with the largest number of developers is the US with around 3.6 million. However, due to its growing youthful population, India is set to overtake the US with an estimated 5.2 million developers by 2018.

The increase in the number of developers has led to a greater competition for roles, and employers are using various methods to effectively screen candidates. In comparison to most other industries, sourcing developers involves a completely different approach. For tech companies looking for new hires, the CV has almost become just a formality as many have discovered that simply relying on work history is not as important as being able to see a candidate’s actual work. For software developers, the main bulk of their work is coding, therefore providing companies or recruiters with code samples is now a vital component of the job-application process.

“For tech companies looking for new hires, the CV has almost become just a formality as many have discovered that simply relying on work history is not as important as being able to see a candidate’s actual work”

Employers tend to find the majority of these code samples by searching through a candidate’s GitHub account. GitHub has seen exponential growth in recent years with a community of over 11 million users. Due to its popular and widespread use among developers, it is fast becoming a hub for companies to discover talent and is a good basic indicator as to whether a candidate would be suitable or not. These companies and recruiters tend to look for developers who have been active within the GitHub community and have built a solid GitHub presence by contributing to various open-source projects.

Although competition is rife, there are a number of ways that can increase your chances of landing a dream role, even if you do not have extensive work experience or a programming-related degree.Today in the tech world the digital portfolio is starting to overtake the traditional CV as it can display information in more detail and in a more interactive way. This enables companies and recruiters to gain a better all-round picture of a particular candidate. Therefore it is important that the digital portfolio or personal website is kept up to date and contains enough relevant content.

Constant learning is also essential and adding new skills or languages to your portfolio will help you to stay relevant in the rapidly changing digital world. Participating in coding competitions and creating side projects is a great way to gain deeper knowledge of a language, as well as expand your skill set. Side projects show versatility and can be regarded just as highly as work experience as it shows your interests and that you have the drive and determination to complete a project of your own volition.
Building an online presence is key whether that is through social media or an active blog. Another way to get noticed by prospective employers is to partake in discussions on forums or other developer communities such as Stack Overflow or SitePoint. Again, it is very beneficial to be active on GitHub as this can put you at a better advantage in the application process and it is also a great way for new developers to get a foot in the door.

As it became apparent that potential employers were asking for examples of code, my cofounder and I felt that there wasn’t really anything out there that would provide a simple way to present code. GitHub is useful for getting a glimpse of a developer’s coding skills but it is not often a true reflection of their work. Therefore we decided to create Webfolio, which would then allow developers to describe and tailor code snippets to each specific job application. This is particularly useful for code contained within private repositories. Code snippets can then be easily shared with potential employers, thereby helping the developer to stand out and adding something extra to their CV.