Interviewing: A developer should have a portfolio

I recently started interviewing for some contract positions, one a Software Developer in Test position and one a Senior Software Developer position. I am deeply surprised by the candidates complete lack of having an online presence. As I thought more about this, I realized that we have reached a point of maturity in the Software Developer roles that portfolios are now expected. I expected every candidate to have an active account on some open source source control repository, i.e. GitHub, and have a portfolio of code there.


When it is time to interview for a position as a developer, you should have a portfolio. The days of coding on a whiteboard should be over. Instead, an interviewer should be able to easily see your code and what you have or haven’t done.

There shouldn’t be a question about whether you can write code. Instead, the question should be: Based on the code we can see this individual has written, can they be a good fit for our team?

Proprietary code

Your portfolio cannot include proprietary code. End of discussion. If you are a developer and you can’t find code that isn’t proprietary to put into your portfolio, then what are you doing?

Open Source/Non-proprietary code

Even when working with proprietary code, there are many pieces of code that are so ubiquitous that they probably should be part of the .NET framework. You may use this code in every project you work on. Such as common string extensions in C#, or a more complete string check in javascript that checks if a string is undefined, null, empty, or whitespace.

Even better is if your code is not just stored, but it is available to be used, such as with NuGet, npm, Maven, or other code or library packaging tool. This shows that you not only have a portfolio, but you aren’t going to waste your hours rewriting code you have already written.

Where to keep your portfolio

I used to have mine on SourceForge but have since switched to GitHub. Visual Studio online is another option. Where you store your portfolio of your work does not matter as much as the fact that you do store it.

GitHub is where I chose. But you can easily Google for GitHub competitors if you want it to be elsewhere.

Brand your portfolio

My internet handle is Rhyous. Every piece of code I write that is part of my portfolio (Non-proprietary or not for someone else’s open source project) is now branded with Rhyous. Some of my older code may not be, but my new code is. For example, all my namespaces in C# now start with Rhyous. That makes it very easy to differentiate projects I have forked vs projects that I have developed.

What your portfolio must show

It must show:

  • You have skills as a developer.
  • SOLID principals.
  • An understanding of the importance of Unit Tests.
  • You refuse to waste time writing the same code twice.**
  • You can work on projects with other developers.
  • You bring more than just your skill set, you bring your ready-made building blocks.

** I find this to be so very important!

My Portfolio

My portfolio shows my skills as a developer. My code uses SOLID principals. Much of my code is Unit Tested.

I don’t like to write the same code twice. I for one, will never have to write a CSV parser in C# again as I have a good quality one: Rhyous.EasyCsv. Parsing arguments? I’ll never write an argument parser again because I have Rhyous.SimpleArgs. I will never have to write many of my string extensions again as I can easily grab them for any C# project from my Rhyous.StringLibrary NuGet package. Tired of using TryGetValue to get values from your dictionary? Try Rhyous.Collections and use the NullSafe dictionary, which still uses the TryGetValue but moves it inside the indexer so you don’t have to worry about it.

What a lack of portfolio shows

It has never clicked for you. What I mean by “It” is the idea of code reuse. The idea of object-oriented programming. The idea of standing on the shoulders of giants. The simple idea of using building blocks as a kid and make things from building blocks.

Go out and make your portfolio and fill it with building blocks so every time you build something new, you can build on foundation building blocks that are SOLID and just get better.

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