I was approached by a recruiter on LinkedIn the other day with yet another unsolicited job offer. I get these every week, and usually I just ignore them. This one stood out to me, however, due to the way the candidate profile was described. This guy was unironically looking for a "rockstar developer" who "lives and breathes code," maintains an "active GitHub profile," and spends a lot of time on reddit and hackernews.
I don't see how any of this combines to create a good engineer, but whatever. I guess this recruiter must not have done his research before approaching me, because if he'd taken a look at my GitHub profile, this is what he would have seen:
Behold the field in which I grow my commits. Lay thine eyes upon it, and thou shalt see that it is barren.
I've seen this idea floating around a few times: that as a software developer, it's important to have a GitHub profile. That it's important to have some code that you've written in the open for potential employers to see. To contribute to open source projects to showcase your ability to work in a team and add value. To tinker with new technologies and frameworks, and to have a portfolio of hobby projects to show how passionate you are about code. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, the bottom line is always the same: that people who do these things make for better developers than people that don't.
This idea annoys me to no end and I think it's absolutely toxic to entertain it. Software development seems to be one of the only professions in the world where it's not good enough to simply be good at your job. Instead, you have to love what you do so much that you spend a good part of your spare time on it, too. Why? Do we expect a similar "passion" from accountants, laboratory analysts, or warehouse managers? No, we don't. Why developers get singled out like this, I'm not sure. I think it might have something to do with how software development blurs the line between hobby and profession for a lot of people, but that's just my own speculation.
Look, I don't know how we ended up here, but I do have an answer to the question "why don't you have an active GitHub profile?", and it's this:
That's my contribution graph for the code I write at my job. And that's why I don't have a very active GitHub profile. Because when I get home after doing all of that, the last thing I want is to write even more code. I do like this stuff, but it's not the only thing in my life.