Want to get a programming job? The most important thing during the interview process is not a resume; it’s the code you’ve written.
I’ve been conducting interviews for a handful of companies including thoughtbot and a handful of our clients. The first thing I do to gauge a developer isn’t look on his resume for where he went to school or his previous employment, and I definitely don’t look to see what languages or technologies in which he says he’s proficient. I look for code. I look for Ruby gems he’s authored, a Github account, contributions to open-source, or a development blog.
Mind you, the code could be sub-par, the gems completely unuseful to me, or the blog posts written for beginners, but that’s besides the point. All of these are ways that demonstrate passion. If a developer really cares about his craft and really loves programming, no matter what sort of social obligations he has, he will write code outside of a job or outside of school. If he contributes to open-source software, it not only means that he probably uses what he’s contributing to, but he’s also aware of shortfalls of the tool and wants to improve it. Passion - that’s what I look for when I’m looking to hire someone.
Obviously code quality, programming practices, personality, and a slew of other aspects come into play when hiring developers, but having publicly-available code is about the simplest litmus test I do. Without that, I’ll typically not even consider the developer.