Open source as job experience?

Let’s say you’ve contributed to a specific open source project for one or two years. Could you list that on a resume or CV as job experience? Would an employer consider that?

I would definitely not list it as a work experience. I put it in my resume, but in a different section.


What section would you list under?

Depends on the resume. I think I had a section called something like “Open Source and Volunteer Work”.

ETA: I found my resume.

My sections are education, work experience, volunteer & open source, non-technical experience.


How would you recommend building a resume for a developer who’s contributed to lots of open source project but has zero job experience?

If you’ve never had a job, I would not include a “work experience” section.

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That’s allowed? I didn’t think I could do that. Is their a guide on writing a resume for developers with no experience in an actual job?

Sure. Why not? You’re probably going to have to fill out some application form which will have a section for previous employment that you’ll have to go through, but if you don’t have any previous employment then there’s nothing to put in there.

I have no idea. I’m sure that there are are guides or advice articles for writing a resume for a first job. There’s no reason why a general guide wouldn’t apply to a hopeful developer.

I never really thought about that - I just assumed it was required - then again you have to start somewhere and that seems like it’ll be the hardest part.

Would you mind linking me to guides/advice you agree with?

Also thanks for the time and advice you’ve provided in this thread :slight_smile:

It’s been almost 15 years since I was applying for my first job, so I don’t have any first-time-resume guides on hand.

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I understand, thanks anyways :slight_smile:

Have you considered contacting some local businesses and offer your services on the cheap side, just to get some actual paying clients. You could actually set up your own website consulting business as a sole proprietor and join your local chamber of commerce to get more exposure. Then you could list your business as a job you have had for X number of years as a web developer. You could do this for 6-12 months to get real world job experience which will attract jobs where you work as an employee instead as an independent contractor.

You might find after working for yourself and making some cash, you might not care if you work for a normal company. Working for yourself has some great benefits also.


I don’t want to spam / solicit businesses. That might actually violate some of my local laws.

I think what @RandellDawson is saying is “face to face” communication, networking (i.e. joining the chamber of commerce, etc.), getting recommendations, referrals from other people.

NOT email spamming. Nobody has closed a deal and gotten a client from a spam email sent out. (to my knowledge)

Another idea: Co-locate, rent a desk at a business incubator center. Hang out there with your laptop, make friends with the other people/startups there, hand out business cards, let others around you know you’re a web developer, show off your work. Some of these startups may invite you to join them, or hire you to work part-time, or full-time, or on contract/per-project basis.

Sometimes, all you need is just that FIRST client… do a good job with them, and referrals (or repeat business) will come your way. You get to pick the kind of projects you want to work on! (as opposed to an employee-employer relationship where you do the job whether you like it or not.)

Many businesses in my area have “no soliciting” signs on them.

I as a student cannot afford to rent a desk. I do however attend a few developer meetups every month so I’m at least networking with those in the industry.

Nobody mentioned “soliciting” or “spamming” except you.
Besides, it’s tacky and bad form to do that.

The gist of what we’re saying is go hang out where potential clients hang out.

If all you’re after is job experience, offer pro-bono services to organizations/churches in your area.

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I think so and an employer would absolutely consider that.

I wouldn’t obsess to much about it - there are some general guidelines about writing your resume (which include “must have” sections), but most of the time it boils down to presenting to potential employer information about your work that will be relevant to him (so even in the work experienc section you would strip down less relatable skills!).

In your case - simply create a section “technical experience” and list all your contributions and times with detailed information about how much time you dedicated to it.

The main concern would be that because it’s open source you were doing that in your spare time hence less then 40h/week (so indicating how much would be important, even though sometimes times != work done…).