A question with absolutely no relevance to myself:

How would a programmer with a stellar SO reputation (like 30k+) market his or herself to poential employers/investors who have never heard of SO? In other words, how can one describe SO in a few sentences that will make a high reputation sound impressive at an interview?

  • 5
    This has been asked on SO a few times. Do we really need to duplicate them here?
    – TheLQ
    Commented Oct 6, 2010 at 17:19
  • 1
    Headhunters often scope out the top few pages of rank for talent they're interested in. I think cletus received an offer from google once, for example.
    – Incognito
    Commented Oct 6, 2010 at 18:12
  • If you really want to "sell" your SO reputation, just put a bounty on the interviewer. ^^
    – gablin
    Commented Oct 16, 2010 at 9:24
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    Did you earn most of your reputation during working hours? If yes, I would rather not talk about this to the interviewer.
    – Marek
    Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 12:08
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    @Marek: It can go the other way. Joel Spolsky for example thinks the opposite. Basically that spending all day on SO and getting a high reputation probably means that the person is a great programmer, but working in a crappy job (check out the comment thread of that post). programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/20407/… Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 8:37

11 Answers 11


In an interview, you wait for the right question. Something about "how do you keep current with technology today", or possibly "would you describe yourself as active in the developer community" (a question you are much more likely to be asked if it says "active in the developer community" on your resume) and then you say something about SO and how it's "a question and answer site where other users award you reputation points for good answers and good questions" and then give your score in really round numbers and then translate into English like "which puts me in the top 1% of users on the site. I'm happy to be recognized as helpful in the technologies I use a lot."

On your resume, you could simply include your SO handle in the contact section, along with your Twitter handle and link to your blog, assuming they're technically relevant. People who recognize it will go check your rep. People who've never heard of it won't learn anything from a simple sentence on the resume.


If you have 30K+ reputation on SO and the employer doesn't even know what StackOverflow is, I think you shouldn't be really interested in working for that employer.

In the case of investors, I don't think any are going to be interested in your SO reputation (even if they know it)...

  • 5
    True for employers, not necessarily true for investors...
    – Ami
    Commented Oct 6, 2010 at 17:15
  • You're absolutely right, editing my answer
    – Khelben
    Commented Oct 6, 2010 at 17:17
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    Investors might actually worry about it -- it may mean you're spending a lot of time not working. ;-) Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 6:45
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    If I were an investor, I would prefer someone with a high reputation. Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 16:30
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    Only developers will know about SO. There are many examples of where your direct employer would not be knowledgeable about SO. Most of those opportunities I would say are BETTER than working in a strict dev company
    – Zach Smith
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 18:05

Your reputation doesn't make you a guru. It just means you spend a lot of time here and tend to post helpful stuff. Particularly in the early days of SO, you could get a massive reputation spike just for posting a funny cartoon or joke.

Your reputation could come with a negative: What if the employer decides that a high reputation means you'll spend all day posting instead of working?

  • 24
    Then it's the wrong place to work anyway. Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 16:20
  • 12
    Maybe ask Jon Skeet how he does it?
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 2:31
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    and tend to post helpful stuff that alone is very good. Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 16:26
  • Speaking as one of the top 300 on StackOverflow, I still say reputation doesn't make you a guru. In my case, 2/3 of my reputation comes from one single answer to a common question.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 17:30

Don't sell your reputation, this is only remarkable in the community but meaningless outside of it...

The best you coiuld do is to include a reference to your list of answers in your CV.

  • could you give an example of how to add this reference /citation? Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 2:44
  • @David: Tell them to look up your user name, or provide an URL? Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 13:16
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    I wouldn't say that it is meaningless outside of the community, it just depends on who you are talking to. Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 5:52
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    @EdS: It is meaningless as they don't know how the reputation works, so if you talk to someone outside the community they will have no idea what having 1k, 5k, 10k or 50k means. Or that it means that you stick to something they give you instead of that you are an expert in something. Or see it the other way around: They would consider that you lost a lot of time om farming reputation which was better spent on getting a certificate or studying something that enriches your skills; and I don't think that trying to defend your community reputation instead of yourself would be a good thing to do... Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 8:40
  • It's probably just me, but I feel that I learned much more by trying to get some reputation than in attending some lectures... Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 16:28

Frankly, I'd be nervous about mentioning a 30K rep during a job interview, because it is blatantly clear you don't get a rep that high by only answering questions outside of work hours. While some employers may be cool with that, I wouldn't count on it unless you had some indication they were SO addicts themselves.

  • 5
    Frankly, I'd be far more nervous about hiding the truth.
    – back2dos
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 21:19
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    Also you're getting answers from SO that will help their projects along....its simply not possible to not need to look things up
    – billy.bob
    Commented Oct 14, 2010 at 18:24
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    Looking things up doesn't get you a 30K rep. You pretty much have to answering a LOT of questions. Note: I didn't say I'd be nervous about them knowing I use SO, even that I use it regularly. Just that using it to get a rep that high means spending a LOT of time answering questions.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Oct 14, 2010 at 21:24

I include my SO profile directly on my resume and consider it to be just as important as the education. It gives the employer a way to look into how you communicate and what your current level of knowledge is.

If you're interviewing for a really good company, likely you will be interviewed by your future peers. Depending on the type of job, if your future peers don't know what stackoverflow is there is probably a problem with that company and you probably don't want to work there.

Also I wouldn't say that I had X rep, instead I would say that I am within the top 0.01% of SO users, or whatever that number is, and that I am ranked at the top of technology X, Y, and Z which is what you are looking for.


Dunno about 30K+. I only got 8.6K but I'm overall 2nd place for the language I got hired for, which actually was one of the things that got me my current job. I put it in my CV in the section "participation in relevant online communities".

  • 3
    I'd like to hear more about how it "was one of the things that got [you your] current job." What did your boss say about it? Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 0:34

No, you can't. Please don't. We despise you.

Seriously, I think posting well-thought, well-organized answers to non-trivial questions qualifies as a way to practice technical communication, as is careful reading of other people's great writings on SO.

Depending on the position you are interviewing for, technical communication may be an important and marketable skill, especially if the position is not entry-level. In this case, you should be able to demonstrate your writing and verbal skills without directly mentioning SO.

  • 2
    I can only agree, If an interviewee mentioned something like this I'd only question his maturity
    – Homde
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 9:30

I would only mention it if one of the people interviewing me was a developer, and the opportunity presented itself.

I would avoid mentioning it at all to the management / administration type people. Even if they knew what it was they'd think that you had acquired such a high reputation score at the expense of getting things done. I know that's not fair, and that the whole thing has to have people CONTRIBUTING as well as CONSUMING, but all other things being equal it could be a detriment.


Your reputation should speak for itself.


Is your reputation on StackOverflow going to help the company make money?

Is your reputation on StackOverflow something that will let the manager get projects done faster?

There are exactly two things that programming managers care about, and that's making the company money, and by extension, getting stuff done faster. If your "skill" doesn't specifically support that, then it's not a skill, and nobody cares.

  • 6
    -1: It will affect the company in the same way your education, open source contributions or job history does: it's a potential indication of your knowledge, ability and dedication/interest for your profession. Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 20:55

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