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The best devs I know dont have portfolio pieces. They tend to work on problems that the people employing them pay a lot of money to prevent being public.

So for me portfolios are for junior devs & graduate students looking to leave academia. Therefore, I look for things that are uncommon in those environments, engineering over theory, documentation & tests over novelty.

Note: if I were hiring for a researcher the above would not be true.

This is refreshing to hear. I've been a successful developer for years working for a few different clients but don't have this portfolio of things I've done after work.

What I do have is a bunch of great reviews from my managers in the past years. Do those carry any weight in an interview?

See my other answer to the subthreads. I could go on and on about software hiring as its something I've spent a fair amount of time testing and thinking about. But in a limited answer:

- If I had a good work sample based proxy for hiring, I'd use that and basically nothing else.

- But that never happens, so what I (and most places I've encountered) actually use is network based hiring. So a bunch of great reviews from your managers is awesome for hiring assuming I know them. If I don't its basically a crap shoot, but I view it as much more valuable than some half baked collection of github repos proving to me you've done the the first couple chapters of several hot "how to" books.

Just curious, how do you consider maintainers of popular open source projects? I broadly agree with your thinking here, but I'm wondering if you consider an open source project part of a "portfolio" if it's mature software.

Sorry just seeing this question. Without getting into a giant rant about software hiring, there are things I think should be and things I think are.

In a should be case you'd have a hiring pipeline that had a good objective work sample proxy for the work you were trying to do and you'd judge blind other than that.

In the real world, I've found what actually happens is network based hiring. I hire the people I already know are good. After that, its mostly a crap shoot but I'd take popular open source contributors over other candidates all things being equal (though by the time you've contributed to a popular open source project you are dramatically past the bar for hiring outside of the "network" tract).

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