Huan Truong

Notes from a developer


Personal job referring

Occasionally, I get job referrals requests from friends and aspiring students. I am writing this post as a general guideline for those wishing to get a personal referral from me. This page reflects my policies and experiences, not my employer's. I hope this guide will save you time and awkwardness when you ask me for a personal referral.

As a rule of thumb, the recruiter will ask me if I can personally vouch for the applicant. I'm going to try my best to answer yes to the question if I have any reason to. So:

  1. Are you looking for a Software Engineering job? If you are not, I can't write too much about you personally, it means your chance doesn't generally improve compared to just applying it straight on their website. Additionally, I am unable to evaluate works in the field of Machine Learning and Data Analyst.

  2. Answering "yes" to any of the following questions will improve your chance of getting a personal referral email from me:

a. Do your projects have anything in common with what I do (System software, Linux)? Have we collaborated before?

b. Do you have experience working on collaborative software projects or companies?

c. Do you work on an important project that is critically received by the software community?

d. Do you have a presence online, an interesting portfolio, or peer-reviewed research papers?

If your answer is "no," especially when you're a student, please don't be discouraged. You should go ahead and contribute to a Libre software project to improve your resume!

Some good target projects in embedded Linux are OpenWRT and buildroot. If you can port OpenWRT and buildroot to a new device, or if you can write or port a package for them, please go ahead and submit a patch to them. Other than that, I'd think any work on any emulator or niche projects (such as Rockbox or Tasmota) is highly impressive. As a tip, you should look for an open-source project that is not too big but not the work of a single person. Thus, something "too hard" such as the Linux kernel or GCC, and something "too big" such as Android the OS, are generally things you'd want to avoid when starting out.

I have several projects – one of which is showmewebcam – and they welcome patches.

Next steps

  1. Shorter resumes are better. Please keep your resume in 2 pages or less, do not send your 10-page CV.

  2. Please use the company's website. Please don't use LinkedIn job postings.

  3. Send me the email that includes the URLs of all job postings you're planning to apply. I am personally much less active on LinkedIn and Facebook.

At the end of the day, I hope you the best of luck. I hope this post does not come to you as arrogant, I'm describing a process that is "less fun" for me to you. I hope you have fun at work like I do. I hope that you will be my co-worker, and better yet, my boss, one day.


Here are some of the most common questions that I have received over the years:

  1. Don't you get a bonus when referring me? I do, according to the new rules (But that doesn't mean that I will refer everyone to chase the bonus).

  2. What if I don't hear anything back? That means you're not selected. Please don't be discouraged because SV companies are very selective. They have thousands of applicants per day. It's highly likely that they missed you. I have failed many times before.

  3. How did you get hired? I got hired because of a popular open-source project I started. Other than that, the interviewing process was normal, I had to go through multiple stages of interview with standard SWE questions.

  4. Interns ok? Generally, yes.

Here are some of the more awkward questions, but I think worth mentioning:

  1. I am a Ph.D. student/Postdoc. I am not going to pursue academia. Is it a problem? There are no problems with that. However, you have to be willing to accept that you'll do something different and you will do the job that your employer wants you to do. I don't know about ML/AI, but for general Engineering positions, it's unlikely you'll be hired to continue your doctoral research.

  2. I am working on X, a highly valuable technology. Please let me know how to approach your boss/CEO. I have no expertise to tell whether your claims are credible. I am a software engineer and not a manager. Please find another way to contact the person.