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LinkedIn, GitHub, and Personal Websites

The same principles for collecting signal from resumes apply to LinkedIn profiles, if the profiles are sufficiently filled in.

caution An incomplete or out-of-date LinkedIn profile presents a challenge. It’s common for people with significant experience to have a minimalistic profile.* As a recruiter or hiring manager, you may want to ask a candidate if their LinkedIn is current . At the same, demanding that they update it before entering your process can create unnecessary friction. It’s wise to be flexible.

With an ever-growing number of engineers contributing to open source, GitHub profiles and GitHub contributions have become a potentially powerful complement (or even a partial replacement) to LinkedIn profiles. Looking at someone’s code output in the form of an open-source project or GitHub repo can work well at the top of the funnel, if the candidate has produced a large volume of code—effort on the candidate’s part is small (they just have to show you where to look), and signal is high. (Later on, you may ask the candidate to dive deeper with you on one or two projects, as part of a past work sample interview.)

While GitHub stars and published code are powerful signals, it’s worth remembering that most engineers don’t have meaningful projects they can publish. A notable exception is students or other nontraditional candidates who deliberately publish projects on GitHub.

If an engineer has built a personal website or online resume it can be helpful to look at the site itself, both for links to projects and as a demonstration of frontend design or engineering, as appropriate.

Cover Letters

Cover letters (and whether to include them when you’re a candidate or consider them when you’re an employer) have historically been a bit of a contentious topic, mostly because of the purported time they take reviewers to read. As a recruiter or hiring manager, you’ll be able to tell quickly if it’s a generic, copy-pasted form letter. If it is, the letter can’t tell you much. But if it’s not, then it’s absolutely worth reading—the candidate just gave you a huge window into who they are and how they communicate, in a way that a resume cannot. If the letter reads like a thoughtful, passionate human wrote it, then wise hiring teams will seriously consider talking to the candidate. This holds true even if you’d be on the fence just judging from their resume alone.

The converse doesn’t always hold true, however. If a candidate looks competent but isn’t over the moon about your company yet and hasn’t gone out of their way to show their enthusiasm, that’s not a reason to reject them. If you feel strongly that they’d be great in the position, it’s best to let them know you want to talk—you’ll have plenty of chances to sell them later.

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