Why You Should Include Open Source Work in Your Portfolio

Very recently, one of our product architects posted a job opening on our site to find an additional engineer to add to our growing team (in a remote provider capacity). He received inquiries from a number of interested freelance provider candidates and then proceeded to interview to find the top provider for the team.

He found all of the freelance provider profile information helpful, and reviewed feedback scores, requested specific online tests, and looked for personalized cover letters of individuals that seemed truly motivated to take on the job.

Once he had narrowed the list down to just a few freelance provider candidates, he researched their work history in more detail, finally selecting a particular candidate in India largely based on an example of his work.

The work wasn't that of a web developer, so he couldn’t review a portfolio of websites. It also wasn't code sample that could be shared, because of the provider's proprietary freelance client obligations. What it ultimately came down for my co-worker in his freelance selection process was reviewing prior work on open-source projects.

Why should you care about open-source work?

1) It’s completely open. You can review the exact code, revisions, and comments made by the individual freelance contributor.

2) It shows motivation. Open-source work doesn’t pay, so if a provider has dedicated some of their personal freelance time to contribute to an open-source project, it demonstrates a high-level of personal motivation.

3) It demonstrates knowledge of relevant technology. For almost any small tech company these days, open-source technology is critical to business operations. It’s important for any engineers to be familiar with a good number of open-source tools.

So, if you are a freelance provider looking to build a robust online profile, consider finding an interesting open-source project and contributing in whatever way you can. You will always be able to share this work with anyone to demonstrate your performance. Head on over to SourceForge and figure out how you can contribute.


Daryl writes/blogs for oDesk, the marketplace for online workteams. oDesk offers the best business model for both buyers and providers with a unique approach that guarantees that an hour paid is an hour worked, while also guaranteeing that an hour worked is an hour paid.

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