The Complete Guide to Putting GitHub on Your Resume

An increasingly common element in software engineering resumes is a GitHub profile. Here's when and how to include one on your resume.

a month ago   •   7 min read

By Resume Worded Editorial Team

Software engineering is one of the fastest growing career industries in the job market today. There are hundreds of hungry developers in the job market looking to snatch up high-paying, rewarding jobs. And a ton more resumes that hiring managers need to go through.

An increasingly common element in software engineering resumes is a GitHub profile — and you might be wondering whether to include one, or how to include it into your resume. That's what we'll cover in this article.

What is GitHub?

GitHub is an open source community serving as an online portfolio that helps developers manage, track, and make changes to their code.

Since it's an online public portfolio, it's usually a great place to showcase projects you've worked on, languages you know, and your commitment to software engineering. Similarly, for recruiters, GitHub's also a great place for them to get a sense of whether or not you have the right skills for the role.

Should you include your GitHub profile on your resume?

Short answer: It's optional.

It's not a requirement, and if you don't have a GitHub profile — or it's not very impressive — you don't need to include it. It's totally optional.

Here's a quick checklist to help you decide whether to include a GitHub profile:

  1. Do you have something you are proud to show off on your GitHub profile? Have you contributed to some popular open source projects, or using programming languages or skills that are specifically required for the job you're applying to?
  2. Is your GitHub profile active? Is it clear that you've been actively developing? Do not link to an empty/inactive GitHub profile. This does more harm than good since it shows you're not actually an active developer.
  3. Do your projects on your GitHub profile show your experience? If you're new to programming or you have poor code visible, you should leave it off.

If you answered yes to the questions above, you absolutely should include a link to your GitHub profile since it will strengthen your overall candidacy.

Including a strong GitHub profile lets hiring managers see your commitment to software development, explore your projects, and see interesting projects you've contributed to. This will help set you apart from other engineers who either have a poor GitHub profile.

Great — so you've decided that you want to list your GitHub profile onto your resume. Let's go through how to do that.

You have two options.

  • Link to specific projects on GitHub in your resume
  • Link to your entire GitHub profile

Let's go through each of them.

If you have a particularly impressive project that's on GitHub, you should create a Projects section on your resume, and link to it directly when describing the project. This is typically a good idea if you have projects on GitHub that you either coded independently, or in a small team — so that hiring managers can see your particular involvement. Let's see an example:

How to link to a specific project on your GitHub profile
How to link to a specific project on your GitHub profile

Or alternatively, here's a text version if you'd like a template to copy into your own resume:

Developer (Your role in the project) - Jan 2021
Resume Worded (Employer Name)
Github Link: https://github.com/resumeworded
- Technologies used: Python, React.js, Redux, Node.js, PostgreSQL
- Designed and implemented movie recommendation engine ....
- Bullet point...

This is a great way to highlight a specific project you developed, plus gives recruiters a quick overview of what they should expect (in terms of programming languages, and description) when they click into your Github profile. Always remember to include into your resume specific hard skills and keywords that are relevant to the job you apply to — this will help you get past Applicant Tracking Systems.

Here's another example of how to adding a link to a specific GitHub project onto your resume:

How to add a link to your GitHub profile into your resume
How to add a link to your GitHub profile into your resume

If you go for this option, make sure the project you're linking to is:

  • Public — make sure hiring managers can access and see your code and activity!
  • Not confidential — on the flip side, don't make any projects public that are confidential or you don't have permission for. This could be work projects you've worked on.  

The other option is to link to your entire GitHub profile. This is an excellent option to use too, particularly if:

  • You have a lot of active projects on your GitHub profile.
  • You want to show hiring managers your contributions to open-source projects.
  • You're not using a Projects section, and you don't want to highlight a specific GitHub project.
  • You want to show hiring managers your breadth of experience, particularly across many programming languages and projects.

For this option, add a link to your GitHub profile at the very top of your resume where it can easily be seen by recruiters and employers. This section, the header, is typically reserved for portfolios, LInkedIn profiles, and professional websites - making it the perfect real estate for displaying your coding talent and GitHub profile.

Example of linking to your GitHub profile at the top of your resume
Example of linking to your GitHub profile at the top of your resume

Steps to ensure your GitHub profile is in order

Before you link your Github and send it out to recruiters, make sure you’re putting your best foot forward on your profile. Let's go through a few ways you can do that.

Clean up your Github before for prospective employers

So, how do you know when your GitHub is ready to be included in your resume? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How is my code quality? Is the naming appropriate, is the code easy to read? Does it follow best practices?
  • Does the project have unit or integration tests? If so, is the recruiter or hiring manager aware of this?
  • What larger open source projects have you contributed to? Are my pull requests easy to find?
  • Do I have a repository with a large number of stars and lots of repositories? How do I respond to issues in pull requests? Are my collaboration skills being well displayed?

Remember, things like followers, number of repositories, and other statistics that have little to do with code quality are not as important to feature on your GitHub profile.

Optimize your resume with Score My Resume

While your GitHub profile is important, your experiences, skills and keywords — and how you present them — are way more important at getting you an interview.

When you describe your resume's bullet points and projects, are they effective at conveying what you accomplished? Are you sure you've covered all red flags a recruiter might have?

An easy place to make sure your resume is effective is to upload it to Score My Resume — the platform scans your resume for common issues like impact or style, and instantly gives you suggestions on how to improve it. It's free — so get started here.

Create a README for your profile, and your projects

For your overall GitHub profile, create a README which summarizes all that a hiring manager should know about you, and directing them to your best work.

To create a README,  create a repo with the same name as your username, and simply initialize with a README - this will also be useful for including relevant videos or screenshots.  Here's an example of simple README that tells hiring managers about your core skill sets, programming languages and projects:

How to add a README to your GitHub profile
An example on adding a README to your GitHub profile

For your most important projects, you should also make sure you include a README too — this shows hiring managers your ability to document and maintain code, a skill that they expect software engineers to have.

Proper READMEs on your main projects will provide valuable context for what your project does, which code is the most relevant, and how to run and test the code. If it’s a web application project, add a link. Sometimes, a clear description of what your code aims to achieve is more important than the code itself. Need examples? Grab some inspiration for other developer READMEs in creating yours from lists like this and this.

Pin and feature your most important projects on GitHub

Make sure your pinned and featured projects are a reflection of your best work, and pick and choose which projects to feature based upon what’s relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Pin up to six of your best repositories on your profile, as these are likely the only projects recruiters will look at. Add a clear, concise description of each project as well.

If you have some projects on your GitHub profile that are old or don't have activity, you don't need to worry about them being on your profile as long as you make sure not to pin them.

But before you start firing applications out to employers, follow these guidelines to make sure your resume is an optimal length.

Resume example for a software engineer

If you'd like some context of how your resume might look like, here's a sample resume from a software engineer. This person could link to their GitHub profile in the header. You can get this template, along with several templates that are compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems.

An example of a senior software engineer’s resume with a link to GitHub
An example of a senior software engineer’s resume with a link to GitHub

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