If you want the Web to help you earn a living during tough times, you’d better be giving something back. [This is part of the Tough Times series.]
When I’m Hiring · What happens is, you get resumés with cover letters, and if those are vaguely coherent and show any sign of understanding what it is you’re looking for, you go online and search the Web for those people.
At this point, two bad things can happen. First, it turns out they’re Nazi pedophiles. Second, you don’t find anything. Which means, they don’t have a blog and don’t post pictures and don’t post movies and don’t participate in mailing lists or social networks and don’t contribute to open source. There are plausible excuses, for example having worked for the NSA or Apple. But not too many.
At the end of the day, the Web is what we all make it. And if I’m Web-centric if you don’t care enough to help make it better, why on earth would I want to hire you?
So if you have untold stories or unsung songs or unseen video or unused expertise, bloody well get it online already.
For Developers · I have a very specific recommendation for people who know code: Get involved in an open-source project. It’s not that hard. There are a lot of them out there, and there isn’t one of them that that’s not talent-hungry.
I’ll be specific: Get involved in an open-source project that produces something you actually use yourself. Because you’re going to have something of a feel for that project’s values, and you’re going to avoid whole classes of stupid proposals that would as a side-effect screw up the user experience.
It can be a little bit intimidating getting into in an open-source project, particularly a large high-visibility one. Fortunately, the well-run ones tend to have a “How to get involved” write-up somewhere with good, specific advice. You don’t have to contribute major new features to get started; in fact, the opposite is true, major new features generally won’t get a serious look unless they come from people who’ve already been involved for a while. So, start with baby steps. Report a bug. Better yet, report a bug with a simple but complete test case. Better yet, report the bug, include the test case, and include a patch that you think fixes it, and a test case that exercises your patch.
For Everybody · Let’s return to the situation of the person who’s out to hire and comes up negative on a Web search for a candidate. Maybe, when business is roaring and people are scarce, I have to go ahead and give that person a try. But when times are tough, no way.