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Sending work samples with resume?

Is it appropriate (helpful) to send samples of your work with your resume and cover letter.  I don't have a lot of experience, so I thought it may help persuade the company to grant me an interview.  Anyway, I thought it couldn't hurt?  Any thoughts?

Monday, March 31, 2003

Im not very experienced in this area; I have been to like
5 interviews all in all. I think its a good idea to keep the resume and cover letter that you send in to a minimum, becuase if you send in alot of stuff on paper the guy in charge of interviews will not read it all anyway.

If you send in several papers, that is overwhelming and will not get read. It can be a good idea to set up a web site and include a link to your previous work that you want to show.

If its not web-related work, you can still show it off, with screen shots and if possible references to where it is used; along the lines of "I did this for Unnamed Inc. blah blah".
The real references should go on your resume ofcourse.

I try to keep my resume to 1 page, and 1 page cover letter.

Good luck,

Monday, March 31, 2003

The problem with such a question is that there's no agreement as to what is "correct".  At my college for our technical writing courses, the different professors teach different things!  One says be consise, the other says be elaborate.  Your grade depends on how well your writing matches up to the professor.

I think the same is true of interviewing.  I can't find two interviewing "professionals" that agree on what you should include.

Obviously, if the position is Entry Level Fry Cook, your programming work isn't going to help you at all.  However, if the position is Senior COM Specialist, it might be worth mentioning that is available (perhaps via download and not on a CD).

In the interviewing I've done, I've included my front page resume, and an additional page about me.  Most people say not to do such, but I did it for a few reasons:

1)  If the interviewer is interested, it's there
2)  If they're not, it's on a separate page they never have to look at
3)  Most others will not do it, so immediately I stand out in the crowd.  Standing out can be the most beneficial.

So I would say do it, but make it so they don't have to look at it if they don't want to.

Monday, March 31, 2003

It depends on the non-disclosure form you've signed with previous employers.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, March 31, 2003

for starters, you can show work samples only if previous employers do not mind.

Your prospective employer might think you will do the same after you leave his/her company. So think twice before you do something like this.

OTOH: if the stuff you worked on are personal projects do include a refernce(a link) to in your resume.

Try various combinations to see which gets you an interview.

Good Luck.

Prakash S
Monday, March 31, 2003

Only in very specific fields.

For instance games, multimedia, or web expect a "demo reel".

Banking, finance, insurance, etc. would be confused and worried about liability.

I would wait to be asked.

Anonymous Coward
Monday, March 31, 2003

Another poster suggested not sending too much with the initial resume/cover letter. I think this sounds like a good idea.

I've taken to bringing a CD with some of my most recent projects (all OSS, touching various technologies, no liability/disclosure issues) to the interview (since I'm talking about said projects). I think it's helped (although I haven't landed a job yet, so who am I to talk?) 8-}

Mike Swieton
Monday, March 31, 2003

Interviewing is much more of a dialog than most people would have you believe. and college "career services" would make you think that companies just want a pile of resumes to wade through when just the opposite is true.

If you claim specific programming knowledge and are able to showcase it in a way the employer can understand, by all means you should consider including it.  However some companies which use HR as a clearinghouse would not appreciate being sent a stack of paper or a CD and therefore you should call and ask. 

Open up a dialog with the company, inquire if they would find that material useful at this point in the process (you may even want to profess your reason for wanting to include it - that you are a better programmer than your years (or lack of them) would otherwise lead them to believe. 

At worst they can say no, at best you have opened up a dialog and set yourself apart by doing so.  Best of luck.

Monday, March 31, 2003

My resume includes URLs of software projects I've worked on.  That lets people review those projects on their own.

Brent P. Newhall
Monday, March 31, 2003

When interviewing canditates, I'm really less concerned (at least, in the initial interview) at seeing their programs. I welcome anything they may bring, but I hire based on personality, skill and intelligence. Lack of any of these and it's a no hire.

If someone brings a sample of their work, I prefer screenshots to CDs, since I don't need to DO anything to see what they've produced.

Tim Sullivan
Monday, March 31, 2003

BTW, a URL with screenshots is the best on the resume is the best, imo.

Tim Sullivan
Monday, March 31, 2003

"but I hire based on personality, skill and intelligence. Lack of any of these and it's a no hire"

How do you judge a persons personality?  Or what do you look for?

Monday, March 31, 2003

Thanks for the advice guys.  The approach I used was to e-mail my resume and cover letter with my sample as a small (6k) attachment.  I also stated in the cover letter that I had provided a sample if they desired to look at it.  (The quality of work can't really can't be judged from a screen shot, otherwise I would have created a small website.)  Guess I'll see how it goes and maybe create the website anyway. 

The problem with interviews is that no two are exactly alike and all the advice in the world isn't gonna help.  It just has to be a 'hit it off' with the interviewers and get lucky type situation (to get the job) as I don't believe interviewers are completely neutral.

Monday, March 31, 2003

I think that success in interviewing has much more to do with the intangibles such as whether the interviewers like you, than it does with specific demonstration of capability to do the work. Unfortunately, people interview for people they like, and generally confuse non threatening similarity with competency.

I've had one constructive result arise out of a demonstration. I showed a product (a desktop application) that I had developed for one client to a new prospect (I asked - past client didn't care.)

This clinched the deal to do new development work for the prospect. This was 1997, and I still work with that client. But the advantage in doing this in this one situation was that the owner codes and dictates technical approaches.

In a more hierarchical situation (which is almost all companies)  - a demo or source code is a really lousy idea for developers. At worst it will be seen as a distraction, *unless* the hiring authority is technical and won't be threatened by the work you show them. I've found that most managers will greet even a a demo of a user interface as irrelevant geektalk. Most hiring decisions are made by people that get confused when you say something like "it's a screen saver."

So, you should spend the effort instead on personal presentation and feeling out the company's business needs and their  hierarchy of management.

Bored Bystander
Monday, March 31, 2003

I had two reactions to this set of posts. First: in the few times I've had to read resumes and interview people, one of the most annoying traits was the big resume. They'd go right in the round file. Unfair? You bet. It's also unfair for people to do zero research on the job they're applying for, or send me resumes or cover letters with grammar errors, run-on sentences, disjointed bullet lists and hugely boring writing.

So I think sending code, even screenshots, along with the resume would be dumb. Write up something that makes me *want* to see the code. If I think you've got good experience, I'll ask you to email me a useful module or explain the inner workings of a subsection. And if you've got your resume online, along with links to open source projects you've worked on, or annotated code references where I can do some research on my own time, so much the better.

Second, some of the later comments reminded me of a Malcolm Gladwell article about interviewing from a couple years ago.[1] It dovetails nicely with Joel's observation (from the Guerrilla guide, I think) that he doesn't want to know anything about the person he's going to interview, but it also shows how murky the whole interviewing process is.


Chris Winters
Monday, March 31, 2003


this is a really good article. Thanks,

Prakash S
Monday, March 31, 2003

> How do you judge a persons personality?  Or what do you look for? <

I try to find someone who I think will fit in with the rest of the staff. We're all somewhat... stranger than advertised... so it's important that whoever we hire will fit in with this corporate culture. This is entirely subjective, and is more a gut feeling than anything specific. However, I'm more likely to hire someone who laughs at my jokes and (even better) throws one back at me.

I really, truly believe what Joel said in one of his articles: it's better to turn down someone who is good than to hire someone who isn't.

At the end of the day, I'm not interesting in hiring people who are boring, humourless, or distant. I want dynamic, fun, exciting people.

Tim Sullivan
Tuesday, April 1, 2003

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