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I am wondering about this and since I have this mentioned on my Resume, do you think companies have heard about StackOverflow.com and recognize it as a means for programmers to help other programmers?

I am job hunting at the moment and am worried about putting this in. Would they think I am a time-waster? Or is it just only U.S companies that recognize it and treat that as something worth hearing about when looking through resumes?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 17 '09 at 11:19

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By now they have :) –  H.B. Aug 29 '12 at 20:52
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8 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Are you proud of your contributions to SO? Do you think they would show you in a favourable light? If so, I see no harm in including a link to your user profile. Companies can then choose to look at what you've written or not. They may do so even if they hadn't previously heard of SO.

Personally I think Workshop Alex's answer is excessively negative. If I were hiring, I'd love to see evidence that a potential employee was passionate about computing - blogging about development, answering questions accurately and with good communication skills etc are all positive things.

I would far rather see someone who showed an interest in computing outside work than someone who was going to come in, do the job but be bored by it, and then go home with no thought of trying to improve themselves.

Yes, there may well be a lot of information about you online. It all comes down to whether you're sensible with your online persona, and whether you're proud of who you are. If your online information is reflective of your real self, why would you not want the company to see that? If you think they wouldn't want to hire you if they really knew what you were like, do you think you'd actually have an enjoyable time at that company anyway? Trying to live up to a false impression for 40 hours a week isn't much fun.

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@Jon Skeet: Thanks for your answer - I know Workshop Alex's answer is not exactly +ive. My trouble is am too passionate about computing, programming and blogging, not too mention SO and its associated sites...but as for online information - I havent the least interest in facebook or any of that...now that kind of site is time-wasting as they're more interested in sharing personal stuff, rather than keeping themselves interested in their careers outside of work....I know that's controversial and induce flames.... –  t0mm13b Dec 17 '09 at 12:24
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So are you proud of what you've done on your blog and SO? Do you believe they show you in a positive light? If so, why not share that with potential employers? –  Jon Skeet Dec 17 '09 at 12:32
    
Excessively negative, yes. It's the worst-case scenario which could haunt you for a very, very long time. Still, people who are well-behaved online have nothing to fear. But a single picture of you on your Facebook page, smoking pot or drinking a lot of beer could do a lot of damage, which no amount of good reviews online could compensate. It's useful to search yourself online, and see what you discover about yourself. :-) –  Wim ten Brink Dec 17 '09 at 13:12
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@Jon Skeet: Yes I am proud of it and treat that as an investment into keeping ahead of myself..and keeping myself and my career interested. –  t0mm13b Dec 17 '09 at 13:16
    
Of course, it helps if your name is very generic. John Smith can do a lot more bad stuff online that Jon Skeet. The name Smith is too generic to be noticed easily. The more common your name is, the better you can hide your misbehaviors online. ;-) Still, over 230.000 hits on Google for Jon Skeet. Either you're very popular or your name is still very common. –  Wim ten Brink Dec 17 '09 at 13:17
    
@Workshop Alex: Jon Skeet certainly isn't a common name. Note that if you search for "Jon Skeet" with the quotes, you get only ~67000 hits. Given that I've written a book (which has been pirated a fair amount) and many SO and newsgroup posts etc, I think it's fair to reckon that most of those hits are genuinely about me. –  Jon Skeet Dec 17 '09 at 14:01
    
@Jon Skeet, you even are co-author of a second book so yes, most links are probably about you. Interestingly, when looking for "Jon Skeet" in quotes plus the word "porn" then you will get 784 hits. (785 once Google crawled this post.) I don't think you're a porn star, but still... :-) With other keywords, I find a relation with a church at "26 School Road" somewhere plus your Faith blog. I won't mention more out of respect for your privacy but having an online presence can give away a lot of information. Especially when you have an uncommon name. (All in 10 minutes of searching!) –  Wim ten Brink Dec 17 '09 at 15:25
    
Btw, I know you're proud of your Faith! You have nothing to hide. :-) Even though I'm agnostic, you have my respect. But you could imagine that employers with different religious views might decide to pick someone else. Then again, employers with similar views might embrace you. –  Wim ten Brink Dec 17 '09 at 15:33
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@Workshop Alex: If an employer is going to be intolerant of my views, why would I want to work there in the first place? In fact, wouldn't I prefer them to be put off by who I am earlier rather than later? –  Jon Skeet Dec 17 '09 at 15:43
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@Jon, you're totally right! But it doesn't have to be the employer who needs to be intolerant. It's the person who will organize your job interview who might be intolerant. Especially with larger companies. Once hired, you might never deal with that person ever again, but if he's the one who kicks you out. –  Wim ten Brink Dec 17 '09 at 16:22
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@Workshop Alex: Then again, what if the person who organizes the job interview is intolerant of people who aren't on facebook? What if they only consider people with blogs? I think the net gain of putting your knowledge and passion on display is far greater than these "what if" scenarios. –  Jon Skeet Dec 17 '09 at 17:17
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The problem with social networks is that employers can use them to find any kind of information about you. This isn't true for the USA but for any country where they have a lot of IT-wise employers. HR people won't look for such information themselves but might ask a more tech-wise employee to do some additional support.

If you provide a link to your SO account and this site, they could check out your account and measure your activities online. With a reputation barely over 1500 where others are over 20.000 you won't look like a big expert. They will also look at all the questions you've asked (not many in your case) and all the answers you've provided. They will look at your writing style and especially focus on answers that you've given that received negative reputation.

And then the Q closed on SO and was moved here, so if they only see SO, they will see a closed question plus a link to here, where they might find more about you. From here, they can continue to look at SuperUser and the other related site, plus do some googling on the information you've provided in your profile. A simple Google search reveals a Twitter account with your profile name. From there, your blog can be found. Doing a second search on the URL of your blog reveals post (from you) at tbits. And by following the links and tips provided by your posts, they could find quite a lot of information about you online.

So, did you ever post pictures of yourself online doing something illegal? Posted stories about you confessing something bad? Do you spend a lot of time online, even when you should have been working? These things will all look bad. Assuming you're employed right now, I could try to use Google to discover how active you've been online. I could use this to determine if you were browsing and posting messages instead of working!

If you don't tell them about your SO account and when the link between your profile name and real name is is hard to make then your online activities might appear to be real low. You could of course register for SO with a different name, gain some reputation and then use that new profile to post. Then again, if you haven't done absolutely nothing wrong online, it could be helpful.

Two years ago, my employer asked me to find some information about a soon-to-be new employee. His name was reasonably unique online but I didn't find anything interesting so he didn't use his name online. (He probably did use a nickname but it wasn't linked to his real name.) This was good, because it also meant that customers would not find much information about our employees. However, I did discover that he also was an amateur freestyle fighter, having fought several matches. He never mentioned this "hobby" of his and I noted that he might turn up one day bruised or wounded when one of his matches would go wrong. A bad risk situation, but my employer did hire him as a temporary employee.

In your case? I've seen a lot of blog activity so they might consider you a time-waster. Your reputation at SO isn't very high so I would not do this. At least, I wouldn't do this...

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@Workshop Alex: Thanks for your answer - deeply insightful answer! I enjoy helping other people to solve their programming problems, sure downvotes will occur but that does not neccessarily mean that my answers are poor or that I've misunderstood. To be honest, I am a techie orientated guy who has nothing to hide online and with my blog, I was thinking, its to show that I'm actively keeping myself ahead of the game and gaining knowledge. But my problem is, in Ireland, it is relatively unheard of! –  t0mm13b Dec 17 '09 at 12:05
    
With nothing to hide, you could take the risk. However, when they look at the downvotes you've received, they could wonder about your skills. Your name generates 43 hits on Google, so it's reasonable unique and in most cases very related to you. And they'll probably find your LinkedIn page too, with any references to friends, former colleagues and former employers whom they might try to contact. Which reminds me, are you really willing to work for FREE on projects? ;-) Your linkedIn account says so. :-) –  Wim ten Brink Dec 17 '09 at 13:08
    
@Workshop Alex: It's something that I have posted at the time when the economy in Ireland was very poor and was willing to do it voluntarily for 1 month maximum, in order to help a company and to open doors for myself professionally, my intentions may be good but for others they may see that as weak. –  t0mm13b Dec 17 '09 at 13:19
    
@tommieb75, so you might want to remove that from your linkedin account. :-) I did find your account in 5 minutes using the name "tommieb75" so any possible employers will find it too. Keep in mind that Google and other sites are crawling the web, storing sites inside archives so anything you have posted might return back on the Internet. –  Wim ten Brink Dec 17 '09 at 13:59
    
@Workshop Alex: I have nothing to hide... –  t0mm13b Dec 17 '09 at 14:06
    
@tommieb75, very good! In that case, feel free to advertise with your SO profile. You should be safe. –  Wim ten Brink Dec 17 '09 at 15:00
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What do you have to lose? It's like preprocessor flags. If the compiler knows about them, it's an added bonus to your code (faster, parallelized, whatever). If not, they are ignored.

So, if a company has heard of stackoverflow, it's more likely you'll want to go work for them. If not, they'll ignore you, and life will continue compiling as before.

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@lorenzog: That is an excellent and concise answer! :) Thanks! –  t0mm13b Dec 17 '09 at 12:05
    
+1 for geekiness –  perbert Dec 17 '09 at 21:09
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Your resume should serve two purposes. It should get through the HR filter (meaning it should match the stated qualifications), and it should stand out to the hiring manager. The HR department is unlikely to know of any professional forums, or care. To them, it's like a comment.

Particularly nowadays, a hiring manager is likely to have too many resumes to interview everybody, so you want yours to be different somehow. At this point, professional affiliations are generally good. I'd say StackOverflow is unlikely to be a bad point, and could be a good one.

If you think your StackOverflow account is likely to impress people positively, go for it.

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Maybe not HR people, who generally are not programmers... But some "hardcore" developpers in those companies might have heard about it -- and you might meet one of them for an interview, one day or another ;-)

(Most of us, programmers who come on SO and answer questions, do actually work in some companies out there ^^ )


After... Time waster or not ?

I wouldn't say "I'm spending lots on time answering questions on some website", but I'd rather say something alonog the lines of "I'm helping other programmers, and learn some stuff doing it -- and it allows me practice my english, too" -- but that's a matter of formulation.

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Here I'm the only SO user, as far as I can tell. –  Јοеу Dec 17 '09 at 11:18
    
@Johannes : so am I where I work ; but I'm in France, which doesn't help about that ;; and I still like when I'm in an interview and the interviewee says "I'm helping people on the net" -- I like it even more when I find that by myself googling their name. –  Pascal MARTIN Dec 17 '09 at 11:20
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I would link your badge in blog or homepage if you are proud of your contribution to the site, or want to publicise the site for Jeff & Joel. But quoting it on a CV or in an interview would look a bit strange in my view, on a par with "I answer a lot of questions on the ASP.NET forum". Unless this is a genuine selling point of course, which for example an MVP it is and also part of why the title is there - although the MVP badge tells that story for you anyway.

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@Chris: Thanks for your answer, I may not have any MVP nor MCSE's as they are out of my league as I cannot afford them...so instead I use this as a 'badge of honour' to show that I have the knowledge in the hope to give an edge - I am quite comfortable with it and have that on my blog also so I shouldn't be feeling uncomfortable about sharing/disclosing it because I like to contribute - which IMHO is akin to sharing which is an important thing to have in a job when working as a team....You understand? It shows I am a willing competent guy who knows whats going on... –  t0mm13b Dec 17 '09 at 15:34
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Being an MVP doesn't cost any money - it's an award given my Microsoft, not a certification. –  Jon Skeet Dec 17 '09 at 17:18
    
"My Microsoft" oops :P @Tommie I think you meant MCP, but if you can't afford that training it can't hurt and shows your contribution to the community of your languages/technologies. Of course you may be interviewed at a company that doesn't care about being involved with the community. –  Chris S Dec 18 '09 at 11:17
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Even if programmers have, HR/recruiters sure haven't.

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I know that bar 2 people, the company that I work with hasn't.

I personally would be hesitant to list a website that is essentially just an online forum. I think the negative impression to those that haven't heard of it would outweigh the positive of those that have (when taking into account ratios of those in each category.) To me, it just gives the unprofessional feel.

Of course, if you make the interview, maybe that is the place to mention it.

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