If you’re a developer stuck working on some older or proprietary technology, or maybe employed at a company that hasn’t yet embraced modern software development methods, you should be very concerned about your future employability. Today’s job market offers very few opportunities for job-changers to come up to speed with new technologies on the job. VP’s of Engineering and Software Directors tend to be mostly interested in hiring candidates who already proficient on Day One.
Clearly, you need to get into a different kind of company as soon as possible in order to start gaining more marketable experience. However, if you start putting your resume out there, you will rapidly discover a Catch-22: the cutting-edge, dynamic technology companies you want to work for aren’t so interested in your background. What can you do?
Perhaps you’re thinking in terms of getting a certification, taking a class, or even going back to get another degree. While these efforts certainly can’t hurt, in our experience, they really don’t provide very much return for the investment of time and money. Hiring managers don’t usually place a big emphasis on this type of “add-on” to a candidate’s background.
There’s a much better idea. Getting some experience contributing to one of the many open source software projects that exist is something that anyone can do, outside of work, for little or no cost. Building some solid extra-curricular open source experience is, in my opinion, the single most effective way you can strengthen your resume and get more hiring managers interested in interviewing you. You can go at your own pace, as your schedule allows, and soon you’ll be able to put some real-world hands-on experience on your resume that will dramatically improve your chances.