19
$\begingroup$

This is a followup to my answer here. As I wrote there, I've seen this question pop up several times in my time here, and I wanted to launch a slightly broader discussion about the benefits of listing your own Stack Exchange activity on your CV / résumé, or other professional websites such as LinkedIn. If you do it, why? If not, why not? If you're in charge of hiring, would you be interested in seeing it, or not?

This topic has been discussed before, e.g. at The Workplace (1, 2), and there is some general advice there. Also, Stack Overflow has been linking developers to careers for a while now. However, I'm interested to hear about responses and factors that pertain more specifically to the field of chemistry, as well as to Chemistry SE (for obvious reasons, we can't compare ourselves with Stack Overflow). I think many younger students especially will find the discussion useful.

Finally, I want to make clear that I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. Every person will no doubt have different considerations in their own situations. So, please feel free to share your own takes: this discussion is meant to be completely open-ended!

$\endgroup$
1
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I was waiting for this post :). As an addendum, I saw Geoff Hutchinson's comment here where he said that Chem.SE has sometimes been listed on graduate applications of chemistry. If that's suitable, then maybe we can come up with expanding such listings on a general professional resume, and other websites such as LinkedIn. $\endgroup$ – Yusuf Hasan Jan 13 at 14:44
9
$\begingroup$

I think having your involvement with Chem.SE on your CV/résumé as well as LinkedIn is a great idea.

While I do not have it listed on my LinkedIn profile - I haven't actively worked in the field for quite some time - there's nothing to lose by including it there and elsewhere. I will note that I do custom-tailor my résumé (as should we all) for specific jobs, and have included Chem.SE under "Interests" in those cases where I was looking for a role that was chemistry-related.

Employers like to key on certain things. I've been in numerous roles where I was part of the hiring process, and you never know what differentiates you from other applicants or catches someone's eye. Where you went to school, sports, you name it - it all counts.

Finally, I think it shows initiative and could easily be regarded as volunteering as well.

$\endgroup$
9
$\begingroup$

I have no intention of putting any flavor of SE on my resume. However, that should have little weight here because I (1) have no intention of looking for another job outside my current organization before I retire, and (2) have more job-related things then I need to more than adequately fill space. So personally I'm not going to put Chemistry SE on my resume (heck, I may never update my resume period).

I regularly hire technical people, looking for technologists and scientists, so I do look at a lot of resumes. I can't claim to ever have seen an SE site mentioned on any of them. I'm really not sure how I would react to seeing it on somebody else's resume (Chemistry SE, Physics SE, whatever). I come here for a bit of fun, a break from real work, and a chance to dig a bit into something to explain it to somebody else. It is nice when somebody votes an answer of mine up, but I've had most of my enjoyment in putting the answer together in the first place. But I know that what I do here has little to do with what I do at work, from a depth of understanding point of view. My contributions here have no bearing on whether I can do my job or not.

Furthermore, you don't have to be an expert to contribute excellent answers. One of the recent issues with the moderator agreement (see Diamonds are not forever for some others) is it has led to the removal of diamond moderator status from under-age users. These users were long time, respected members of an SE site. I also recall at least one case of an excellent contributor on Physics who was a teenager in high school. So being on, contributing to, and having a high reputation on Chemistry SE is not necessarily an indicator of the deep technical expertise that I am looking for.

But, lets suppose I saw Chemistry SE on a resume. Would they include their user name, if it is not obvious? If not obvious who the user was from their name, what could I do to verify their claim? Should I even try verify their claim? What if someone claims to be @orthocresol - do I just have to believe them? Perhaps they are an excellent member in good standing, but then we are back to the paragraph above - what does that mean to their ability to perform the job I've posted. And if they are not in such good standing (poor track record on questions/answers, a bad attitude) but have an otherwise good resume, what do I do then?

In the end, for me and my hiring, putting Chemistry SE on your resume is likely a waste of space. If you are a student or very early in your career and have nothing else to use a line on, perhaps add it. But that space is better spent on giving me a good reason applicable to the job posting (the required and desired attributes) to not move on to the next resume.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Interesting take. If you don't have anything else to write there, show them what you have written on Chem.SE :) $\endgroup$ – user79161 Jan 17 at 11:20
7
$\begingroup$

I recently prepared my portfolio for a promotion. I did not have a reference to StackExchange Chemistry in my CV but I mentioned it in my collection of public writing without peer-review, together with some links to sample posts. My main goal was to show engagement with Chemistry outside of the university, in the spirit of public service; of course, that opens it up for hunting down mistakes you made in your posts (which were written without peer-review before posting them but sometimes lots of review afterwards, depending how many people happen to read it). Another reason to put it in is (and I might have made this statement elsewhere) because StackExchange Chemistry is a treasure-trove for common misconception; these are good to know for teachers or textbook writers (and multiple-choice exam writers, I suppose).

$\endgroup$
6
$\begingroup$

First and foremost: whatever I do on Stack Exchange is my spare time. As such, the only section of my CV where I would consider writing anything about it is way at the bottom in the other interests section.

I tend to vary that section slightly depending on the job I am applying for. In some cases, some of my hobbies and interests are slightly more relevant than in others so I might swap them out. (I always have more to write than fits in that small space so it is really a question of prioritising.) However, I also always try to balance stuff that could be marginally relevant with stuff that bears almost no relevance at all, just to show that there’s more to me than the optimised robot. Thus, contributions to a chemistry site on the internet would not be all too likely to make the cut – after all, chemistry is already 90 % of the CV!

I also like to keep that section as general as possible. So instead of putting Chemistry.SE specifically, I might be slightly more inclined to write Stack Exchange in general and give a brief sample of sites I contribute to. However, that would immediately put me in a bit of a pinch as Politics.SE is my number 4 site by reputation which is probably not the best representation one would give one’s potential future employer (there are numerous other hobbies that I tend never to mention for that reason precisely), even though I consider my posts there to be reasonable, evidence-based and low-partisan.

All things considered, there are very few scenarios where I would consider it a reasonable idea. It’s not that I want to hide my answers – I think they are fine and if a future employer wants to Google their way through I’m sure they’ll find me and we can have a nice chat about it during the interview – I just can’t really imagine in what context it would fit.

$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

I have listed my moderator activity as “volunteer experience”. So it is on a similar level as “fundraising volunteer”, “meal server”, or “mentor”, which are the corresponding examples given by Linkedin.

enter image description here

I don’t think that any activity on a Stack Exchange site should be mentioned in one of the professional sections of a cv, since we are not paid and what we do here doesn’t officially qualify us for anything.

$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

I was going to write a longer answer, but I think it has fairly similar points to Jon Custer's answer, so will leave it slightly shorter. I personally do leave in a line about my Chem.SE activity in my CV. I don't think it hurts, as long as your contributions are reasonably decent (obviously, don't write low-quality stuff and then flaunt it). I'd like to believe that mine are decent enough, although you can always point it out if I'm being delusional :-)

However, it is near the bottom of my CV (under "other interests"), and I never really expect people to follow up on it. I think the bottom line is to not ascribe too much importance to Chem.SE participation, or make it seem as if you do. I think it is a nice touch, but your "proper" real-life profile should take up far more space. For me, a PhD student (as of the time of writing), that means things like my academic achievements, paper(s), conference presentations, as well as the code that I write. I think these are more important and reliable signs of technical ability, and therefore should be emphasised accordingly. Likewise, I have a reasonable amount of in-person teaching experience, so I don't really need my SE profile to demonstrate this.

TL;DR If you aren't pressed for space, it probably won't hurt to put it in, but don't expect too much (or indeed anything) from it.

$\endgroup$
2
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This is only tangentially related, but I also want to debunk the idea that high reputation necessarily implies technical ability, or that lots of upvotes necessarily implies correctness or insightfulness. It is generally not true. The only foolproof way to judge technical ability from someone's SE profile is to actually read their questions and/or answers. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Jan 18 at 13:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Fun fact: in my last job application that actually ended in an interview, the interviewers decided to ask me specifically about one of my interests way down at the bottom (but probably because one of the interviewers’ wife works in that field) :D $\endgroup$ – Jan Jan 26 at 13:57
4
$\begingroup$

As an academic, part of my annual evaluation is for University and Public Service, and I get rated more highly if my service reach is national or global. I consider my Stack Exchange activity to be a public service that has a global impact, so I regularly include a single line on my CV toward the end:

  • Chemistry Stack Exchange member since 2012, answered 509 questions, earned 272 badges and 39,233 reputation; estimated reaction ~6.4 million 4; in the top 0.25 percentile of all users.

I also list other stack exchange sites where I have amasses some significant reputation, like Stack Overflow (where I am more active now). I do not list the sites where I have only asked or answered a few questions.

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .