Simple as the title suggests. I'm about to start looking at jobs again, but I really want to see what I can do with open source first. I'm not sure if it's worth my time...

What I want to know is, of you who are employers, when you see "open source experience" on a CV, on a scale of 1 to 10 lets say, how impressive does this look?

Clearly this depends on the project, and speaking of which, do you ever go and scope out the project, see what contribution the person has made, code quality, position, size of the community, and so on...?

13 accepted

If you contribute to a project (your own or others) in your spare time that can be impressive as it shows someone is passionate about development.

If you work at a company whose business model involves open source (say Mozilla) then it's no different to a person who works at company Foo.

So open source experience by itself means little, it's all about context. If someone's resume contains things like this I definitely make a point of checking it out but, whether I find it impressive will depend on their role, the project, how committed they were and so on.


I wouldn't want to see "open source experience." I'd want to see which projects you'd worked on - so I could look at them and see what you'd contributed. That would show me what your code is really like. So yes, I'd definitely check all that out.


Yes it does. It's very impressive, to see that you are willing to publish your code in the open and for it to be judged by others and accepted/modified. On the 1 to 10 scale id say high 6-7 or more based on the project.


Try it this way: "Does programming experience look impressive on a resume?"

Answer: it depends, doesn't it?

Getting involved in anything will look better than nothing but "open source experience" is a wide as "closed source". Tell me how you worked on a team the built fundamental internet infrastructure, or a new language with hundreds of thousands of users, or an application or library that loads of people actually use ... I'll be interested! Mention that you and some guy put a half-finished, half-specified project on sourceforge that looks a lot like a dozen similar half-baked projects? Not so much.

So if you really want to beef up a resume with this look for a project with good crossover to what you do, one that is active and has a real user base and some coders you can learn from, then dive in and get your hands dirty. Or scratch an itch of your own and put it out there to get critiqued and improved but if you do this, follow through.


In my opinion, involvement in an open source project denotes the following:

  • interest for greater things than monetary profit
  • interest for teamwork, the extreme kind, where communication between team members is really difficult
  • ability and willingness to assess and understand code written by others
  • ability and willingness to produce code that can be understood by others
  • willingness to have your ideas and your code put to the test and commented by others

I'd definitely consider it a good experience and a major plus. But maybe that's just me..


I conduct a lot of tech interviews at our work, and open source projects impress me in the sense that the person is clearly passionate about software development, which I consider important.

The other benefit is that I can go online and see examples of their work, see coding style etc. The nature of the project doesn't matter so much, but the nature of the contribution to it does.

Final "impressiveness" score: 8


Short answer is:

It's impressive because it's rare


Saying "I do open source" wouldn't impress me at all. Saying "I'm one of the main developers on <major FOSS project>, and here are some of the features that I've implemented recently" might.


It's impressive for the following reasons:

  1. Shows that you're passionate enough about software and coding to devote your own personal time to it. Too many people are in this business for a paycheck and nothing more.
  2. Shows that you're competent enough to write and submit code for public consumption and review.
  3. (Corollary to 2) Gives me as an interviewer a code sample to look at and evaluate.

These two reasons alone are a big differentiator. So, on your importance scale, maybe a 7-8? 9-10 if you're contributing to a big-time OSS project like the Linux kernel or Apache.

Also, what Jon Skeet said, I'd definitely want to see more than just "OSS experience", I'd want specifics.


You might want to see this thread I made before I began my current job:


Not quite the same question, but it will help you with your CV.



It looks good to me and makes this resume stand out. For people just out of college participating in an open source project may be the only way to get first job.