In 1997, Alex Rosen was applying for a job at a small startup company. The company was looking for developers to work in a brand new language called Java. He had a strong programming background and a good job history, but he wanted to show companies a little bit more.
Before he interviewed with the startup, Alex created a simple Java applet for doing drag-and-drop image manipulation called AlexWarp. He demonstrated the tool by letting users warp a picture of Bill Gates. This may seem like a simple example, but it showed a deep understanding of the Java 2D libraries at a time when Java was still a brand new language. This simple example made Alex’s skills tangible.
Alex created this application without the specific purpose of looking for a job and he hadn’t even heard of the startup when he did it. The company found Alex because of this applet. They were searching for “Java applet” and found it on their own. At that time writing Java applets was enough specialization to make Alex stand out. The company first heard Alex’s name because of the application.
They didn’t hire a “senior software engineer,” they hired Alex Rosen, the guy who made that Bill Gates thing. It branded him and made him easy to talk about. And they hired him because of it.
Always be thinking of new ways to let people know about you. Build your brand by becoming involved in more projects. Open source is a good place to start.