Beefy Boxes and Bandwidth Generously Provided by pair Networks
No such thing as a small change

How do you show off your work to prospective clients?

by punch_card_don (Curate)
on May 11, 2009 at 19:35 UTC ( #763321=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

punch_card_don has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

Mucho Gusto Monks,

So you've built up this massive repertoire of Perl projects, not to mention some pretty advanced and complex front ends to interface to them. And you're thinking it's time to look for new business or greener pastures.

Just one problem - everything you've done the last 5 years is confidential, proprietary, hidden behind password access systems and strictly off-limits for dog and pony shows. And this isn't the kind of stuff you can easily create your own sanitized demo site for, unless you'v got two months availabe with nothing else to do.

Besides, even if you did do that, what'll you show? A web page with some form fields, fill them in, hit enter, get a confirmation page. Big woop. Zero indication of the gymnastics going on that retrieved the initial page population data, vetted the new input, cross-referenced with other data, re-formatted it, and stored it.

And of course showing the source code would be a contractual no-no.

"Hi, Don super Perl programmer offering his services."

"So, what ya done, Don?"

"Oh, marvellous, wonderous things."

"Excellent, show me one."

"Uh, well, you see...."

What do others do?

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
  • Comment on How do you show off your work to prospective clients?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: How do you show off your work to prospective clients?
by afoken (Canon) on May 11, 2009 at 20:04 UTC

    I don't. My job application e-mail contains a file titled "project experience" (well, actually it's called "Projekterfahrungen", because I currently search a new job in Germany). In that file, I describe each (larger) project I've ever worked on. Something like this:

    Blinking Box is the new and enhanced Enterprise class control panel of BigCompany. It features buttons, more buttons, and even colored buttons. And it has nice blinking lights.

    My tasks:

    • Port from a rotten piece of Fortran to Perl
    • Polish buttons and rewire lights
    • Set up version control using Subversion
    • Documentation
    • Whip and spank the trainees

    Blinking Box today:

    • Lights more shiny than ever before
    • Custom buttons for each client
    • Best selling product of BigCompany

    During the interview, I explain a little more of the details, and how the projects were implemented. And of course, I can always tell them that I wrote the initial Unicode patch for DBD::ODBC. Unfortunately, that's all I could publish from my paid work so far, and it's hard to explain to a full-time interviewer without software developing experience.


    Today I will gladly share my knowledge and experience, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so". ;-)
      "Yes!!! "x1000

      You could also head over to and pick up a free website template and make some simple mind-blower web-based doohickey on a website that doesn't look half bad.

      While you're at it, release some good code that YOU OWN on CPAN and link to it from your homepage.

      Create a blog and write a few entries about something that interests you - programming related or not. Something that would show up favorably when your prospective employer Googles your name.

      Create a LinkedIn profile and take 20 minutes to seek-n-find-n-connect previous co-workers who might also be on LinkedIn. More associates & recommendations are better.

      Contribute to some kind of "cool" project. For example, Kamaitachi is a Perl-based Flash Media Server that provides the ability to interact with webcams via a web server. It could use some new features, tests and/or documentation. There are a thousand projects out there just waiting for something in your position to take a day or two to really make a difference and gain some accolades in the process.

      P.S. - Good luck on the job hunt!

        In many locations, including much of the USA, by default any code that a professional programmer writes belongs to the employer even if that code is written on personal time on a personal machine. Furthermore in such legal jurisdictions it is standard boiler plate for employment contracts to reaffirm that all such software is owned by your employer, and not you.

        Given this, arranging to actually own some of the code you wrote is not always easy.

Re: How do you show off your work to prospective clients?
by jettero (Monsignor) on May 11, 2009 at 19:44 UTC
    I interviewed a few top internet companies (where I didn't get hired...) and I learned that they had downloaded my CPAN stuff to examine. They had meetings about it.

    My advice would be to do a little hobby programming to show off your style and skill. Put that on CPAN.

    Even if it's not of the same scope and caliber of your closed source work, it will give them an idea. Most likely you will have learned things, in a generalized sense, that you can share with others -- who might then benefit from your showing off.


      Yes uploading to CPAN helps I can assure you that, but it must be worthy to upload IMHO. Being served from does not transform crappy code into some beauty. And one can always use the public repositories (GitHub, BitBucket, LaunchPad, SourceForge, etc.) to serve code and have some sort of portfolio page.
Re: How do you show off your work to prospective clients?
by Your Mother (Archbishop) on May 11, 2009 at 19:55 UTC

    That is difficult. How about-

    • Get those who have seen the proprietary stuff to recommend you on LinkedIn; target the recommendations to what you can't show. Coworkers/managers who liked your work may endorse/sign anything you present so don't be shy about paraphrasing what you want in a recommendation (if you're sure it will be well received).
    • Write white-paper-ish treatments of what you've done; discuss the problem space, approaches, related tools, and technologies; making sure not to cross disclosure lines. This will not show code but demonstrate your understanding and ability to self-manage. Brevity and clarity make this kind of tech reading enjoyable for the widest audience.
Re: How do you show off your work to prospective clients?
by talexb (Canon) on May 12, 2009 at 03:29 UTC


    Excellent question -- instead of being able to show them code, I talk enthusiastically (that doesn't need much prompting) about the cool thing that I did -- or one of them -- the challenge involved, my derivation of the solution, some tinkering, and the eventual, gorgeous and complicated solution.

    In my case, it was a mod_perl request handler that communicated over a named pipe to a daemon that would spawn off child processes to run a piece of proprietary code to generate page images. After some idle time, the idle children (sound familiar?) would get terminated.

    While I couldn't show the code that did all this (for reasons such as you've just described), I was able to talk about how I used IPC::Run to do part of this, and how a watched display of ps axf would show a tree of processes expanding and contracting as the daemon process got busy, then idled off.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

    Amusing footnote: As it happens, I know 'Don' from University, and we played in a band together after that, so it's pretty funny for me to use that name for him. :)
      > "Amusing footnote: As it happens, I know 'Don' from University, and we played in a band together after that..."

      And only modesty has kept me from using that as the opening line in my cover letters - "I knew talexb back when..." - far more impressive than any of my code. :-)

Re: How do you show off your work to prospective clients?
by ELISHEVA (Prior) on May 12, 2009 at 15:33 UTC

    I'd start with asking "what do you need done?". Focus on the client rather than yourself. More than anything else potential clients and employers want to know that you understand their goals, are enthusiastic about helping them reach them, and will do what it takes to make it happen.

    Once you know what they want, you will also be in a much better position to reassure the potential client that you can contribute to the project. If this is a coding project, you can write a targeted bit of code that shows you have the skills they are concerned about and can apply them to some small part of their problem. That is much easier than a demo website or CPAN module aimed at any-potential-customer-in-the-whole-wide-world.

    You will also be in a much better position to decide if a code sample is even needed. For example, if you want a design or project management role on your next project, the client will most likely be far more concerned about how you scope a project. They will want to know whether or not you can identify the time and resources needed to complete it and make a cogent case to support your conclusions. If you are looking for a job as technical lead, explaining how you approach coding standards and a sample that illustrates you can practice what you preach may be more important than showing off the cool stuff you did on your last project. If the primary concern is algorithm development, your problem solving skills can be demonstrated in many ways.

    Finally, these days development is often a team sport. The way you demonstrate your ability to communicate and work with others during the interview may be far more important to the hiring decision than any code sample you could leave behind, no matter how amazing.

    Best, beth

Re: How do you show off your work to prospective clients?
by morgon (Priest) on May 12, 2009 at 00:19 UTC
    I think it depends a lot on what you want to do.

    If you want to get hired by a top company (Google and the like) I guess you should do non-trivial open source contributions to make an impression

    If you just want to do contracting you don't normally need a lot of code-exhibits - you need to be able to sell yourself in an interview situation and then communication skills are just as important as technical skills (but the people that interview you probably are more desperate to find someone then you are finding a project).

Log In?

What's my password?
Create A New User
Node Status?
node history
Node Type: perlquestion [id://763321]
Approved by zwon
Front-paged by Arunbear
and the web crawler heard nothing...

How do I use this? | Other CB clients
Other Users?
Others drinking their drinks and smoking their pipes about the Monastery: (4)
As of 2021-05-06 13:49 GMT
Find Nodes?
    Voting Booth?
    Perl 7 will be out ...

    Results (75 votes). Check out past polls.