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How To List FOSS Experience On Your Resume 103

maximus1 writes "If you're selling skills gained in an open source project, you have additional opportunities to shine, say experts in this ITWorld article. But what is the best way to explain your FOSS experience? 'Someone stands out because of how they talk about the project, says Zack Grossbart, author of The One Minute Commute. His advice is to describe the project and discuss your contributions in detail: 'If you were a committer, what did you do to earn that status? What features did you work on? Did you design new areas, or just implement predefined functions? Did you lead meetings? Define new architecture? Set the project direction?' If the FOSS experience is part of your background but not a shining beacon or job equivalent, it's common to list it under 'other experience.' Andy Lester, author of Land The Tech Job You Love, says: 'Think of each project as a freelance job that you've worked on. Just as different freelance gigs have varying sizes and scopes, so too does each project to which you contribute. The key is to not lump all your projects under one "open source work" heading.' Good examples are worth a thousand words. Grossbart offers up his resume as a sound but not perfect example (PDF) that includes open source experience. (His article on how to format your resume might also be of interest.)"
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How To List FOSS Experience On Your Resume

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  • Open source. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gudeldar ( 705128 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @08:28PM (#29781047)
    Why not just show them what you did?
  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @08:46PM (#29781125)
    I have not had a 1 page resume in 20 years. I seem to make all the automated HR filters too... I just wonder if that is connected? :)

    A friend and I were co-workers in a company that went bust. We had almost the same job and almost the same experience. We both applied at the same company, and I got a call back and a job. He never got a call back. My new boss asked if I knew anyone else. I said, "Uh, Yes?" and told him about my friend. He never saw the resume. I got it for him and he hired my friend as well. HR was pissed at him for at least 2 years. :) He is still there, and I have long since left. HR is worthless...
  • Is not "worry about the content, not the presentation" the mantra around here? If we are supposed to follow that for the web-pages we produce, why should the resumes be different?

    One's resume should be in XML [], from which various other formats can be produced automatically (and consistently)...

  • Make a portfolio (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wrook ( 134116 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @09:01PM (#29781185) Homepage

    Make a portfolio of open source work you've done. Go in and extract code that you've written. Annotate it explaining what problem you were solving and why you chose the design you did, etc. Keep each section fairly short (a few hundred lines of code) and write an overall document linking up the various code excerpts, creating a narrative for them to follow. If you have planning/design documentation, etc feel free to show excerpts of that too. Even emails from mailing lists where you defused a potentially difficult situation is good. Finally, provide links to all the original projects that you've contributed to so they can see your contribution first hand.

    After you have organized all that, put it up on a web page somewhere and put a link on your resume. Burn a few business card sized CDs and hand them out at interviews. Make sure to bring a few to each interview. I've found they are popular.

    This has gotten me more than one job. I used to maintain my portfolio continuously on my web page, but I'm teaching now and have let it lapse. However, it's sometimes useful even outside the job searching venue.

  • by bangthegong ( 1190059 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @09:21PM (#29781267)

    Aside for the formatting of skill lists and stuff, its pretty good, which means one thing, in my opinion: he is another victim of the "YOUR RESUME MUST BE ONE PAGE REGARDLESS OF YOUR EXPERIENCE!!!!!111!" school of thought.

    The one page resume rule: hurting professionals everywhere since....well, ever.

    if i had mod points i'd mod this +1 Insightful also. I've had an increasingly-long resume as I have moved up in my career. It started out as one of those "fit it in one page" jobs which makes sense when you are starting your career. People who have no experience, should not have a long resume. But if you've had any sort of career (which this Grossbart fellow seems to have had) it's right and proper to give adequate space to explaining what you did in these jobs, and highlighting your successes over that time. Most importantly, don't assume anyone is going to actually "read" your resume. Bullet points let the reader skim quickly, which is what most people do. Grossbart's resume has a lot of words about his decade+ at Novell, but even reading it, it isn't clear what he actually accomplished as an individual.

  • Re:Open source. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Saturday October 17, 2009 @09:42PM (#29781379)

    elevate the resume line from 'releasing free code as a hobby' to "research" work

    And it's exactly this kind of thing that makes honest resumés look like shit.

    OTOH, if the software in question is good enough, you don't need to lie. "I have 14 lines of code in the Linux kernel" is more impressive than "coded an OS from scratch".

  • Re:"Meetings"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sergiodj ( 1489747 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @10:37PM (#29781561)
    Some FOSS projects (especially those sponsored by a company, like Red Hat's Archer project) have regular meetings via phone calls in order to discuss the status of the activities, decide about new features, etc. As a positive side effect, it makes the developers interact more with each other and create a stronger connection between them.
  • by Matrix14 ( 135171 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:43PM (#29781779)

    This is why you should have a separate resume (which, as word, means "summary", i.e., of your CV) and CV. Your CV can be multiple pages or one one long HTML page or whatever. Make your resume one page and put a URL for where your CV can be found on the web.

  • by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:45PM (#29781785)

    He's actually a pretty good example of everything you shouldn't do with your Resume.

    There's a lot to be said for being concise in your resume, and the first page is the one which gets the most attention. The problem is that this doesn't mean you should cram everything you have onto one page, since one unreadable page is worse than 20 you can actually parse properly.

    The reason for a one page resume is that your resume will appear in a gigantic stack of other resumes. If you're really lucky it might be being looked at by someone who actually understands the field, but that person is likely to be busy. They're not going to spend an hour carefully reading each resume, they're going to try to cull that gigantic pile down to a short list as quickly as possible. I can honestly say that, as someone who has been asked for a technical opinion on resumes for the area this guy works in, I'd have binned it because there would almost certainly have been someone(possibly someone with far less experience) whose resume showed me that experience in a more meaningful manner.

    This is all a bit sad since I happen to have worked with a lot of the stuff he's apparently actually written, and they're not my favorite examples of the product line, they were well coded and not particularly buggy or difficult to work with. The guy has a lot of years of very solid experience, but he has no idea how to actually apply for a job. This isn't all that surprising since from the looks of his resume, he started off as a consultant, got hired onto one of the firms he was consulting with, which then got bought by Novell, and he hasn't actually gone job hunting in more than a decade. Depending on his age(and whether there's any additional experience he's left off), he may have only ever actually gone job hunting once in his entire life

  • I think most hiring managers will read past the first page... assuming that they didn't get 100 resumes in response to a single job ad. But in a lot of companies, HR people exist to eliminate candidates more than they work to find the right ones. So they perform a kind of triage, looking for the reasons to dump your resume immediately (which I wrote about at Javaworld in How to Make HR Dump A Programmer's Resume [] and they are attracted by some strangely shiny things like keywords What HR Professionals Look For in a Programmer's Resume []).

    Mostly, the idea is to get past the HR department and get to the hiring manager -- the person to whom you'd report, ideally. But if she has a stack of 100 resumes to fill an open position, you need to capture her attention immediately and shout I have the background you need. That's among the reasons that it's a good idea to include FOSS experience [], which is what I wrote in the first part of that blog post.

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