Photo by Francesco Sgroi.

Coding the traditional “Hello World!” statement is the first direct impression we have of new programming languages. Amongst the team here at mirRoR, we remember generating “Hello World!” with Basic, PASCAL, PHP, Perl, ColdFusion, Python, C++, Java, and of course, Ruby. You probably remember your own “Hello World!” experiences and what you thought of the new language after that first simple program. It got us thinking about first impressions and their importance — particularly when you’re looking for a new job.

What’s your “Hello World!”? That is, when people first meet you, or type your name into Google/Facebook/Twitter, what is their first impression of you? And is it a proper reflection of who you are?

Ruby developers in particular tend to have very well-established online identities via personal websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Github, etc. If you’re looking for a new Rails job, you should be aware that prospective employers will be checking up on many of your online identities. Sometimes applications even require your twitter username so that the hiring manager can get an advanced look at what interests you and if you might be a good fit culturally.

Ideally, your resume would list many of these online accounts for easy and quick referencing. Or, your personal website would include links to these sites. We love when we come across a Ruby guy or gal who has a website with all those good links. Right away, it’s easy to tell that this person is well-connected and involved in the Ruby community. And our first impression of you? Definitely a good one.

Setting a first impression in person or over the phone is also important to consider. Do you sound tired, awkward, or unenthused on the phone? Probably not the first impression you were going for! First impressions in person are the most charged of all — did you show up on time? Are you dressed appropriately? How do you carry yourself? How do you listen and speak? All of these things may seem like tiny details but we’ve absolutely seen them be make or break factors when it comes to landing a new Ruby gig.

If you haven’t thought about it in a while, touch up all of your online identities and maybe even include them in your resume or on your website/blog. You can bet that, either way, employers will be checking up on you there. For phone interviews and in-person interviews, control your first impression by thinking about how you want the company to see you (friendly? honest? respectful? enthusiastic? hard-working?) and find ways to communicate these traits to your prospective employer.

But most importantly, be yourself. Trying to be someone you’re not looks a bit more like “Hello…world?” when what you’re really going for is that solid, simple, “Hello World!”