In a post, Joel Spolsky mentioned that 5 digit Stack Overflow reputation can help you to earn a job paying $100k+. How much of that is real?

Would anyone like to share their success in getting a high paid job by virtue of their reputations on Stack Exchange sites?

I read somewhere that, a person got an interview offer from Google because a recruiter found his Stack Overflow reputation to be impressive. Anyone else with similar stories?

  • 23
    That's anecdotal evidence as user8149 has also demonstrated. If there isn't statistical evidence or actual case studies, it isn't reliable.
    – Gio Borje
    Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 18:21
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    I would upvote this 1000x if I could. Was thinking exactely the same :-). Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 19:39
  • 113
    $100K in NYC is $25K in Chattanooga, TN. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 2:08
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    If I were in position to hire, then I would like to read someone's questions and answers on SO, but would still need a face check and an interview. Salary is determined by many factors.
    – Job
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 3:42
  • 29
    I'm going to go out on a very secure limb and say in my personal experience, yes. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 7:44

33 Answers 33



the real answer: spend a few months earning a five digit Stack Overflow reputation, and you'll be getting job offers in the $100K+ range without an interview.

There is no reason why a high reputation (or "score") on any site will get you a job at all. I have pointed this out before, you are more likely to get a job by maintaining open source projects, writing proficiently, leaving good impressions, and making personal connections within the community.

Are these people good programers? Undoubtedly yes! Does that mean they are a good fit for your team? Absolutely not. Calling these people "superstars" may be completely correct, but that doesn't make them perfect. 1

What determines if you are a good fit? Interviews and connections. You can't replace meeting people face to face with a number.

Having a high reputation can't hurt, but it isn't a magic bullet.

1: In no way do I mean to imply these people are bad programmers, I mean to emphasize the inability to instantly and wholly judge someone based on a number.

  • 109
    Well-written questions and answers on StackOverflow is quite indicative of your communication skills, though.
    – user1249
    Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 18:19
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    @Josh I agree BUT there may be an indirect connection between reputation on a site like StackOverflow and job offerings. My line of thought is that if you can score 10000+ points by giving meaningful answers, you probably have a considerable amount of knowledge about some technology / topic. Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 18:21
  • 2
    @Thorb: Correct. I tend to take my answers and expand on them in my blog time permitting. I get far more inquiries from that then all the SO / SE sites put together.
    – Josh K
    Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 18:30
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    I hope it doesn't. I've seen some really stupid questions asked repeatedly by people with high reputations and stupid answers by others. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 5:32
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    @christian.p: Cause / effect - do you get offered a job because you have 10000+ points, or because you're good at what you do and spent some time sharing that information on a website?
    – cthulhu
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 8:21


Come on, seriously: look at the first page or two of Stack Overflow users. Pick anyone at random. Look at three or four of the highly voted answers they wrote. If you've ever hired a programmer in your life, it's obvious those people are all some of the best programmers you could ever hire.

Then keep going deeper and deeper. Scroll to page 5. Edit the URL and go right to page 100 where they have reputations in the 3000 range. Look at everyone. With the very rare exception of someone who got a lot of points for a silly answer, these are all obvious superstar programmers... the kind that most teams would kill for.

Will this actually get them jobs? Ultimately, we're betting it will. You'll have to find a company where there are actual technical people making hiring decisions, not resume-reading-monkey-recruiters. And you may have to find a city to live in where there are a lot of good programming jobs: if you really, really don't want to leave Roswell, New Mexico, you'll be limited to a vanishingly small number of telecommuting jobs. But if you're in the top, say, 5000 Stack Overflow users, and you can work in Silicon Valley, New York, Seattle, Boston, Austin, Research Triangle, London, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Sydney, Beijing, or Tel Aviv, I would be extremely surprised if you aren't in high demand and earning in the top 10 percentile.

  • 197
    "But Joel, who wants to hire someone who spends their whole day on Stack Overflow?" Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 3:39
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    Spending your day on Stack Overflow implies that you are underemployed. These people spending their whole day on Stack Overflow would love to have a better, more interesting job. They're the perfect candidates. We hire them all the time (at Stack Overflow) and they stop earning reputation once we give them useful important work instead of the drivel their previous employer had them working on. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 3:40
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    My 5-digit rep at the time I interviewed must not have been high enough for Fog Creek. I believe I was even on page 3 at the time. My point being, you have to admit you wouldn't hire every 10K+ Stack Overflow user, or I missed the part in my rejection email where I got the $100K offer. (I'm intentionally antagonizing you, I hope we're still friends :) Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 3:54
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    The question isn't "Are these great programmers" the question is "How does SO rank influence pay and employability". I think that how much reputation you have on StackOverflow is not an employability grade. That's what careers is for. Having a high reputation can't hurt, but it isn't a magic bullet.
    – Josh K
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 4:12
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    I'm exhibit A. Was ranked #5 at one point thanks in part to poor work environment where I ended spending way too much time on SO. All that effort actually helped get me fired, but not before I'd earned an MS MVP award and found a new job that better uses my skills (was planning to put in my 2 weeks notice a week later, but I think they got wind of the new gig first.) Since then, I just don't seem to have near as much time for SO. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 4:35

It's not a case of direct causation. That is, having a high reputation does not lead to a high-paying job. Being intelligent, articulate, passionate and knowledgable lead to a high-paying job. It's just that those qualities also lead to a (generally) higher reputation on Stack Overflow as well. So you shouldn't be aiming for a high reputation score. You should be aiming to be intelligent, articulate, passionate and knowledgeable.

A higher reputation will just be a bonus.

Edit: I just found the post where Joel says that. He's saying he would hire someone with a 5 digit reputation on Stack Overflow, not that you'd be able to get any $100k+ job with a 5 digit reputation. Also, he's not saying that he wouldn't look at the actual content of your profile, so if you've just posted hundreds of junk questions in the hopes of artificially raising your score, it's not going to help you. Basically, he's using your reputation score as an indication of those qualities I mentioned above.

  • +1 for referencing the actual post, and also highlighting the fact that there is not a direct causal link it is a strong correlation at best
    – Gary
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 10:54
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    It's important to note that Joel saying he'd hire someone also is completely orthogonal to whether other employers have any idea what StackOverflow is, or why a number on that site should matter to them.
    – Kzqai
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 0:21
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    Correlation isn't Causation. I agree if you've manage to earn a high reputation, it's probably a sign that you are knowledgeable about the topics you've replied to and thus likely to earn more in a position you know a lot about.
    – JKirchartz
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 13:12
  • @JKirchartz: Yep, that's what I'm trying to say... you managed to get it in one sentence :-) Commented Nov 24, 2010 at 0:46
  • Right. People who are skilled, knowledgeable, and communicate well will probably have a high rating on SO (if they spend time to write answers there).
    – Mark C
    Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 1:27

Gaming the System?

Someone should do a study of whether having high rep on SO begets higher rep on SO. That is, once someone reaches critical mass of, say, over 20K rep, do their answers tend to attract more upvotes than other equally valid answers? Anecdotally speaking, I have noticed that low-ranked members will garner 1 or 2 points for answers that will garner higher-rep people (often answering later) 5 or 10 points. And I'm talking about answers that are qualitatively no different. Success begets success.

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    I've noticed that as well. And I recall Jon Skeet remarking on it in the comments to an answer he posted. Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 2:40
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    +1. This has become a trend on SO, where silliest answers of people with high-rep are upvoted 'just for the sake'. Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 17:51
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    Another thing to consider is how the "trendiness" of topics influences points awarded. Questions generate a flurry of activity/views when first posted, but this tails off sharply after the first 24-48 hours. You can post an outstanding answer to a question that has been "played out" and it may never get voted up because people tend not to read that far down the page...
    – evadeflow
    Commented Nov 24, 2010 at 19:23
  • @evadeflow That spans in to the main issue with gaining experience on stack exchange sites, particularly SO. The fact that the board is effectively "camped" by a lot of hardened posters. It actually hinders answer quality as people race to be the first to post. It is exceptionally common for people to post a one-liner answer, or as near as possible and then edit it in to a full post quickly. Just to secure pole-position.
    – Orbling
    Commented Nov 28, 2010 at 12:08
  • @Orbling, why would that inherently be a issue? Answering is basically problem solving. If one can succinctly give the seed of the solution in a sentence, why not post it immediately? Even taking rep into account, people on average only upvote good answers, be them short or long. Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 23:03

I have a 5 digit SO reputation, and my salary is barely half of what you mention.

Obviously a good SO reputation doesn't guarantee anything, but even though most recruiters don't even know what SO is, surely it's worth mentioning it in one's CV. It's substantial, after all, unlike all kinds of official-looking certifications from two-day courses etc.

On the other hand: while Joel has a point, your activity on Q/A sites isn't really supposed to define your salary in any way. It may be a proof of some proficiency and enthusiasm, but the recruiting company is interested in what you're going to do for them if they recruit you, not in your abilities to answer programming questions. So by all means, consider SO reputation as a part of your professional credibility, but don't expect it to be something huge.

  • 19
    Right reputation, wrong country...
    – user1249
    Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 19:52
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    Rep on SO depends on a lot of things, like how long you've been on SO, what time zone you live in, how many questions you answer, how skilled you are at providing an answer quickly, and how much other people agree with your answers. It might be an interesting number, but it deserves circumspection. Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 20:17
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    @Mike and what kind of questions you answer. Interested in languages like Prolog, Smalltalk, Common Lisp? Good like with getting a big score. Quick off the mark on SQL? Well, time it right and you'll get lots of points off really silly questions. Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 21:01
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    The learning benefit is waaay more important than the "reputation benefit", IMO. In fact, there are people in SO's >10k league who don't use their real names nor even include any contact information. They seem to want to avoid personal reputation. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 9:54
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    @Gary: When I look at my SO answers' votes, the top 20 answers are totally subjective, non-technical answers. My best-rated purely technical answer has got 8 votes. It's quite understandable that subjective questions get more votes because they attract wider audience. The more specific, difficult, technical questions you ask (or answer), the fewer are the people who even understand what you're talking about -> no votes. It definitely should be discussed in meta (I bet it has already been), but personally I'm not that interested in that number, so let's see if someone else... Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 11:56

There are a couple of factors:

  1. The type of personality that does well on social web sites (let's be bluntly rude and generalise that as the "pontificating, likes to hear self talk, theoretically-obsessed, anorak type") is by absolutely no means necessarily the type of personality who does well leading and/or working with a group of human beings (let's be bluntly rude and generalise that as the "smooching, glad-handling, compromising, deal-maker type").

As a broad rule, businesses are looking for the latter, not the former.

This is both very sad (I mean sad for us pontificators) and very true.

An interesting point: think of your actual BOSS, the person who has to handle all your problems all day, make you feel at least OK about yourself, balance everyone's renumeration, try to keep enough money coming in to your department so that all of you can feed your children while you fondle memory algorithms, deal with the chumps upstairs in management so you don't have to, and so on. Would you really give a flying crap if that poor person has any connection, whatsoever, to some chat website? Of course the answer is no, you just want your boss to be good at to pulling off all that juggling.

  1. Talk about "superstars" (let's be bluntly rude again) is a little star-struck. You're a superstar if you're so clever you've made millions (or at least the odd hundred thousand) because you're so clever. Oh, by the way, to do, that as well as being so clever, you have to as an incidental matter be utterly A+ rated at memory management and tricky algorithms. If you're looking at only the latter incidental part, i.e., being utterly A+ rated at memory management and tricky algorithms, then sadly --- horribly ---- unfaily ---- bitterly ---- how can the world be so miserable? ---- you're "just" someone who's utterly A+ rated at memory management and tricky algorithms.

(OK, for all this bitterness and sadness, there is the exception of the extremely small number of purely extremely technical, really research, type ways to make money - in those cases sure, the only thing that matters is your various research breakthroughs, perhaps as a humorous side issue your amazing score on grouptheoryoverflow, and so on. But there are so few such jobs it's probably not really in the spirit of the question "getting a job in the real world." And - bitterly - they don't pay that much.)

  1. The question further is emphasising "high paying" jobs. (We'll ignore the issue of whether $100,000 p/a is high paying or not, since Bernanke's hyperinflation makes it hard to keep up with such numbers.) It's probably sadly even more true that the kind of realistic bitterness outlined in this answer, is more and more and more true if you are talking about not merely "a job" (where you are expected to do something specific that you will be told to do, provide a cog in the process), but A Real Job (where you are expected to positively generate massive amounts of money for the company somehow or other as a matter of course, day in and day out)

It's hard to keep up with current salaries everywhere; it could be that "$100,000 !" fits in to the "rare purely proufoundly technical" job I mention in the aside just above.

However, the spirit of the question in some sense seems to be - to paraphrase and simplify - do top jobs have anything much to do with specifically purely technical, mathematical, expertise?

Sadly the answer there is pretty much definitively no.

It's more the "smooching, glad-handling, compromising, deal-maker type" - or, if you prefer to be bitter in another direction - the "big picture, ideas driven and generating and follow-through type" - that can - simply - generate enough money that some business can afford to give the person that much money.

Don't forget - to say you want to "earn" some fabulous salary, what you're essentially saying is you can generate jobs. How so? If you're making 200k somewhere, you're a horse that is carrying a number (10? 25?) normal "do a job" employees on your back. You have to be a producer.

It is, sadly, difficult to see how some essentially test of excellence of technical knowledge (SO chat web site) can help with that.

Steve Jobs said it all - good engineers (he said) are not merely worth 10 or 20 ordinary engineers, they are worth some 100s of ordinary engineers ... they can generate that much product, stuff, free monthly cashflow, for the company. I think that's more what Jobs would think of as one of his superstars. It's difficult to see how purely the technical aspect (a necessity) can bring that.

If that's the sense of the question in terms of "big jobs," then that's probably the answer.

  • 6
    +1 For the vitriol and stating the truth that capability and intellect are not necessarily linked with high status or salary in the modern world. If I could give +10, I would.
    – Orbling
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 13:53

I personally turned a sizable Stack Overflow rep and a higher (relative to the site) Hacker News reputation into a job, though I do not make $100K/year (which as a number matters more depending on the location of the job). SO and HN gave me a 'body of work' that showed off that I was passionate about my work, able to relate to others, demonstrate some level of technical competence, understand people's problems and clearly communicate solutions. And since the job is as a Developer Evangelist, these are all highly-desirable skills for that position.

I tweeted the other day that the perfect resume would be your Stack Overflow profile and your GitHub profile plus some other social interaction history like Hacker News or Twitter.

P.S. If this sounds like you, we're hiring.

  • Just looked at your project. Awesome!!!
    – back2dos
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 12:56
  • 2
    right project, wrong country (sob)
    – user1249
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 21:19
  • I disagree with your "perfect resume" idea - I think it's focused on a very small part of a very large domain. As humans we tend to associate with people who mirror ourselves - so if you've spent time building a profile on Stack Overflow, Hacker News etc you may eventually forget that there is a world of people out there who have never even heard of those. Some of those people are the best programmers you'll ever meet. I have to confess I've never heard of Hacker News. Having said that, I do take your point.
    – TrojanName
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:03
  • I just realized that you could troll for candidates here! DOH! If you have an SO rep > 100 and professional experience in cross platform client (C++/boost/qt or Flex) or server( JBOSS, E2C, PhP, cloud servers) applications, then we are hiring! Sorry, but even a seven digit rep will still require an interview. ;) Commented Sep 15, 2011 at 21:39

Having something to point at is certainly a good way to demonstrate a general competency in an area - that it is something you actually know about (and can articulate helpfully), rather than just some blank labels copied onto your CV - "XML, Ajax, JSON" isn't nearly as convincing as something someone can look at. It also opens up various potential discussion topics, etc., so having a findable (typically via google against your name) public persona is certainly never a bad thing. Unless the only thing on your public persona is garbage...

Speaking more personally, my presence on Stack Overflow very certainly helped me get my current job - I now work for... Stack Overflow! However, I have been approached a number of times by people seeing my posts; in relation to employment, consultancy, and tech-article opportunities. I was also contacted by a Google recruiter who (when introducing themselves) directly cited my Stack Overflow posts (by this time I was already working for Stack Overflow, so I thanked them for their consideration, but I didn't choose to interview).

Of course, getting a public persona out there can also be done in a range of other ways; blogging, hobby-projects, public-speaking (user-groups), etc. So how about another reason to use Stack Overflow:

I learn something every single day...

...either by spending a minute-or-two researching an answer, or just by reading the other replies to an interesting post. The questions can be equally interesting, especially when introducing unexpected behaviour*. And learning is never a bad thing.

Still not enough?

Then consider this. We have unicorns! That should be enough for anyone.

*=for example, just this morning I found out that Visual Studio with the debugging host-process enabled processes attributes on the entry-point (AKA Main()) differently to the core CLR execution.

  • Marc, I don't think you've emphasized the unicorns enough: Stack Overflow NYC world headquarters!! :) Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 17:32
  • @Ahmad - to be honest, I don't think the unicorn saw what was coming. It got ugly. It put up a defence, though - the beating-stick broke before we hit unicorn blood (true story). Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 20:17
  • Totally unrelated - does anyone else think Marc looks like New Zealand cricket captain Daniel Vettori google.com/images?q=daniel+vettori&biw=1024&bih=582 - at least from your profile image
    – JoseK
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 3:24
  • @Jose - ask yourself this: have you ever seen us in the same room?; eh? eh? If not... how do you know I don't dabble in both? Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 6:10
  • Well, cos your blog/SO profile shows you've been coding at the same time I'm watching Dan on TV ;)
    – JoseK
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 6:17

I hate to break it to you but...

High SO rep != great programmer

Actually, many of them are. However, there are some users that are on the site so much, answering so many questions but their average score per answer is very low yet that still have a 5 digit rep due to their high activity.

If there's enough data there, an interviewer could possibly read answers to gleen insights into their approaches to solving problems but to go on straight score would make a company look downright silly.

  • In addition, users earn reputation by asking questions as well. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 20:23
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    what's wrong with asking questions? a good question is at least as insightful as a good answer! Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 20:58
  • good answers in niche areas tend to have low scores.
    – user1249
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 11:22
  • I tend to agree. If I were hiring someone into a developer support position at a big place like Microsoft or Apple I would certainly greatly value a high SO rep. Clearly the high SO posters will be excellent teachers and developer supporters. On the other hand, it's certainly the case that many great programmers don't have any SO rep at all. If hiring an actual developer an high SO rep is a 'nice to have', I see little evidence that SO rep strongly correlates to actual development talent. Commented Sep 15, 2011 at 21:24

Consider what it takes to get a good Stack Overflow rating...

  • intelligence
  • knowledge
  • experience
  • good language skills
  • immense amounts of "free" time

Now take the last point there, people who have very high reputations here take a great deal of time to answer the questions of the masses. Now whilst hugely thankful for such benevolent people, this implies one of the following.

  1. They are unemployed
  2. They are self-employed and have a lot of "free" time
  3. They are employed and spend all their personal time sitting at a screen (for example, "in want of a life")
  4. They are employed and waste working hours answering non-business questions.

All but number three are reasons for a prospective employer not to take you on, and the third makes you wonder if they are ideal for spending all day with.

Anyhow, my boss is watching my screen a bit so I had better stop this post, before I have to use my Stack Overflow reputation to get me a new job...

  • 2
    I don't think this is entirely true. For instance, i have a long commute and sometimes I answer questions on the bus. I also sometimes answer a few questions on the weekend before going out. I answer a few questions at lunch during work and I do admit sometimes even during work hours. However SO has also helped me learn things I needed for work, so it works itself out. I think you are just generalizing here.
    – Stan R.
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 17:46
  • @Stan Well given my last sentence on my post, I assumed that the tongue-in-cheek nature of it would stand out. I myself regularly use SO during work hours as a repository of useful answers to questions. Giving something back is only fair, not that my boss would agree. As for your example uses, I think they would come under 3 and 4 and yes, generalising.
    – Orbling
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 18:35
  • @Stan I think that could easily qualifies as "personal time". You could be talking to someone, or reading a book (technical or even a novel) ;-)
    – Khelben
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 19:30
  • i chuckled at your last sentence, but I didn't know if the whole post was tongue-in-cheek. I guess work has really dulled my sense of humor.. :D
    – Stan R.
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 19:38
  • Well there was humour there, but also the serious point that a hefty rating could be viewed negatively by a prospective employer as time wasting. Also some employers, bad ones as a rule, frown on giving help to other companies, anything the coders do is "mine all mine", etc. My boss's favourite question regarding my work is "Is it all proprietary? I own it all right?" :-| I imagine he will be visited by 3 ghosts this Christmas Eve.
    – Orbling
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 20:15

My current job pays me about $54k a year for 25h a week, most of which I work from home. Plus working as a game developer was kind of a childhood dream, that has now come true (although I sometimes think of moving on to something more "meaningful"). So I suppose my job is arguably equivalent to or even better than the average $100k+ jobs you get as a developer.

On my application I added a section "participation in online communities", wherein I listed SO (and a few smaller german forums). I don't have a superbly high score, but among ActionScript 3 developers I am very well placed.

The references I had were not really outstanding. Mostly the stupid kind of stuff you do as a Flash Developer to get money for sites you'd never visit yourself. But upon arrival to the interview I immediatly sensed, that I had a very high standing from the start. I have personally accounted this to my SO activity.

Getting a high rep on SO means, that you are eager to exchange thoughts, that you are knowledgeable enough to solve the problems your peers pose you (real problems from they actually encounter in every day life), and that you are able to communicate your ideas. These are key abilities for good developers. Thus one can say, people who have a high rep on SO have those abilities. The reputation is given to you by independent developers, not by some comittees or someone vaguely in touch with the subject. I think a high rep on SO is a much better measure than good grades (which appearently are still consider a criterium by some employers).

That being said, I'd never hire someone just because they have a high SO rep. But let's say a person with a high rep will have a head start while trying to convince me they're good. Appearently my current employer reasons similarly.



I’ve got (for want of a better term) job “invitations” via email which explicitly mention my Stack Overflow profile, from companies that boast a 12/12 score on the Joel Test and which honestly seem like extremely cool work environments.

And I know that the same has happened to several other people.

But …

I don’t believe for a second that I (or any of the other people) would score a job without an interview. Like most others here, I think that Stack Overflow may help you to get exposure on the web. But that’s all. It merely gets your name out. It shows that you’re active and motivated but not whether you’re qualified.

  • 1
    Don't you think it's because your unicorn is red?
    – user2567
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 16:37
  • @Konrad almost anybody can get high rep if they put enough effort in it. I'd guess you got those job offers because your answers are very good (although the rep probably helped). But I doubt that someone who has 50k rep would automatically get job offers if he'd only given many mediocre answers (those do get rep after all). Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 20:55
  • "Job offers" aren't the same thing as Job Offers (i.e. Sign on the line and come in on Monday). Lets be clear about the difference here... Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 12:05
  • @Paul: I’m not sure what you mean. But I did make it clear that your SO reputation will not guarantee you a job, contrary to what Joel said. Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 12:36
  • @Konrad: (At least in the US) when I say that a company made me a job offer, I mean that they officially offered me a precise salary and position in the company. Usually this means that I've already interviewed, signed the NDA, passed the background and references check, etc. What I typically get via email are job inquiries - they want to know if I'm interested in going further with their company. They may be very serious about that, but they're not job offers until the choice about whether or not I work for the company is entirely up to me. Commented Nov 24, 2010 at 19:00

If you're looking for a good paying job, my recommendations are as follows:

  1. Love what you do and be passionate about it.
  2. Educate yourself, don't fools others - Most people neglect the fundamentals and jump into the advance stuff thinking it'll make them look smart. All tall buildings are built upon a stable foundation.
  3. Know your worth - Don't accept a job only because the employeer said they want to hire you. It's a two way street. What are they offering you long term? Is there growth? Does the work appeal to you?
  4. Good pay is subjective, so know what you're willing to accept and settle for nothing less.
  5. Build a reputation! Speak at conferences, Write articles, commit to Open Source projects

Don't be lazy. Just because someone will Google your name up and find out you answered a million questions on stackexchange.com that it makes you any way qualified for more money. Any code monkey can use Google to answer a question. Problem solving, strong technical knowledge, good personal skills, etc. make the world of difference when it comes to money.

I'm not perfect. Just perfect enough to know I'm good, but I'm not sure how good.

  • +1 Pretty good I'd say. A wise man knows that he knows nothing, etc. Entirely valid and important points.
    – Orbling
    Commented Nov 28, 2010 at 12:10

If you spend time getting 5-digit reputation on Stack Overflow then you probably know what you're doing. That, more than any numerical value, is what get you the jobs.


Beyond landing a job, Stack Overflow can be of great benefit for independent developers and consultants. By demonstrating knowledge in a specific area, along with the ability to communicate what you know, you can become very attractive to someone looking for a consultant in that area.

I've been contacted on several occasions by individuals and companies who were looking to hire me as a contractor, based solely on an answer or two that I had left on Stack Overflow. I don't have the time to consult, so I can't say what those opportunities would have been worth. A couple of them sounded interesting, though.

However, I've received a greater number of these requests from the non-Stack-Overflow content that I've put out there like my course, the open source projects I've worked on, and the guides that I've published on my blog. All of this public information can help to identify you as an expert in an area. Think of how many people use the phrase "he wrote the book on that" when speaking about an authority on a subject.

Overall, I look at Stack Overflow as a way of keeping my skills sharp, while at the same time giving back for all of the help I've received from others over the years. I take time that I would have wasted on blogs, etc. and channel it here. If it benefits my career, that's a great side effect.


Maybe Joel's implicitly offering a job to anyone with a 5-digit reputation? On a more serious note, some employers do follow sites like this, and also open source projects and mailing lists. I was contacted by a firm about a job opportunity a few years ago based on a recommendation from someone I worked on an open source project with. Having a reputation for being knowledgeable and helpful surely has to count for something.


It may be of benefit as a decider I'd say. Like MS certifications

It'd never be the sole reason to employ someone.

It might be a reason to not employ someone if they spend many hours a day here...

  • 3
    @Pierre 303: I can get a job on my good looks alone :-)
    – gbn
    Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 20:17
  • 1
    Except for the cases where MS certs hurt you. I know several technical people hiring in non-MS shops who specifically tell HR not to forward anything with many of those. It tends to be a sign that you didn't have enough fires to put out at your real job. Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 12:09
  • 1
    @Paul McMillan: I wouldn't expect MS Certs to help in a non MS shop :-)
    – gbn
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 19:30
  • 1
    @gbn: but many people don't realize that they can actively detract. Commented Nov 24, 2010 at 18:46
  • 1
    @Paul McMillan, @Orbling: Any muppet who sports MS certs for a non-MS job deserves what they get. Ditto some Oracle certified bod pitching for a SQL Server role... MS Certs was an example of course in case you're wondering
    – gbn
    Commented Nov 29, 2010 at 19:40

Yes. Maybe less so now, but more so in the future. I'm gainfully employed, but I have had 4 google interviews, and all the front line HR people asked me questions that they could only have learned if they googled me and my contributions in other sites (perhaps the thing that hurts stackexchange is the alias - rather than a direct name response). It's only a matter of time before they make the leap to asking for aliases on sites like stack exchange.

  • Were the HR guys trying to know if you are active in forums, such as these? Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 10:06

I've gotten job offers before solely based on participation in online forums. The way I see it, it doesn't automatically get you hired, but it can be a way to get noticed.

However, I've been at my first and only job for exactly 6 years today, and am not planning to jump ship. Therefore, I don't participate in online forums to pad my resume. I do it to help people and to check whether I really am as clever as I think I am ;)

I don't think participation in stackoverflow is a particularly efficient way to get an "in" with prospective employers. I can think of lots of better ways to make myself more "marketable", if I wanted to do that. If marketability is your motivation to be here, you might as well not bother.


I Sure Wish

Yeah... I really do. Having almost a five figure SO-rating, in my geographical area, nobody really cares and finding a new job is quite a daunting task still.

It all boils down to your contact network and experience.


The head of computer science at my university insisted that my high grades would open doors. That only seemed to be the case at the university itself. In fact, some employers I interviewed with considered my grades to be somewhat low, because my school had lower 'grade targets' than the university local to that company.

Stack Overflow reputation demonstrably helps your chances in getting a career with Stack Overflow. Beyond that, it really depends on the company.


A nice opportunity, your skills and (hopefully) a good recruiter will get you the job. Reputation in SO (or others) is as likely to help you as to fire back at you. There's many ego wars going on in here...


When I start my own company in the next 1-2 years, high reputation score in stackoverflow will be the 1st criteria for me to hire developers. I hope when that time comes, stackoverflow still serving the humanity.


A high SO score can get your foot in the door at plenty of jobs. But it's always the interview that makes or breaks you. If you're bad at interviewing (like me), then a high SO score will get you the interview but not the job.


Common sense, team play and people skills are as much important as technical skills. It's better to have a decent score overall.

Dealing with 'Hi Tech' bosses with low score in other skills is a nightmare.

  • Does a high SO score not imply a certain level of common sense, team play, and people skills though? Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 20:31
  • Maybe a bit of good of common sense :)
    – A G
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 20:36
  • 2
    +1 For actually mentioning soft skills. The rarest skill set available in programmers it seems to me, and the most desired by employers often!
    – Orbling
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 0:35
  • 1
    +1 for "Dealing with 'Hi Tech' bosses with low score in other skills is a nightmare."
    – Armand
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 8:57
  • If you put common sense on your CV, I'd throw it in the trash.
    – JeffO
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 0:37

If I was to hire, I would rather see how the person performs in the interview.

  • 24
    I would rather see how the person performs in the job :)
    – user2567
    Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 18:36
  • @Pierre 303 That's why you should make candidates do the job during the interview.
    – Rob Sobers
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 4:31
  • @Pierre : How would you know that before an interview ? References ?
    – Geek
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 5:39
  • @Geek: I was just enforcing what you said
    – user2567
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 8:58
  • @Geek: You don't know that before an interview and as a rule you do not know it after the interview. I always set an exam, and never take people on without a trial in the job first. We give them two weeks, post interview/exam if good, see what they are made of, then up that to 3 months if they are good. If we still want them after that, then we give them a job offer.
    – Orbling
    Commented Nov 28, 2010 at 16:48

Probably not. Look at it from a different perspective:

  1. How many 5-digit SO users are looking/willing to accept another job for "only" 100K?
  2. What percentage of people looking to fill 100K jobs have ever heard of SO and if so would use it as a criteria for hiring?

Some day they may be able to make the connection between SO scores and their job & CV posting site.

Maybe another question would be, would you consider SO scores for hiring?


This reminds me of Drake's equation in astronomy. It is an equation that is suppose to give a statistical hint of the number of civilizations in the universe. It is a waste of time actually because it assumes that involved parameters are independent while they are clearly not.

I have four children and a good job. Maybe that is the key to the good job?

  • Yes, some posters already mentioned that there is no direct correlation, although the observation maybe true. Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 14:32
  • @Gunner: Yes you are right. I the correlation in the question might be positive though - which is probably not the case in my question. Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 21:48

Speaking as someone who spends way to much time at SO:

If I'm looking to hire someone, their reputation on SO is not going to be a consideration. At all. Their rep on SO is going to tell me nothing about their work habits or their suitability to the job. For that, I'm going to look at their documented work experience and any products they have for review (web sites, open source projects, etc.) as well as their performance in an interview or series of interviews.

SO is a great resource, but not for screening potential hires.

  • Aren't questions and answers on SO some kind of documented work experience or knowledge of potential candidates?
    – Gan
    Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 8:54
  • Not necessarily. You can have intimate knowledge of a particular language or technology and still be a crap developer, or a pain in the ass to work with. SO isn't a professional organization on the order of the IEEE or ACM.
    – John Bode
    Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 12:18

A good SO flow is just one of the signals that will get you noticed (amongst others such as a high gpa, open-source contributions, certifications, etc). Most probably it will just get you the interview. After that, its all upto your performance during the 5-6 hour onsite interview and coding solutions on the whiteboard to complex algorithm problems (atleast at the top tech companies). While SO does discuss algorithms and data structures, there is no guarantee that every SO user with a 5 digit score knows or would do well in a high-pressure whiteboard coding interview.

  • Also being a technical genius doesn't guarantee you are a great developer. I've seen many of them being thrown out of the company because they were unable to work in teams.
    – user2567
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 11:17

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