How Can I Incorporate Personal Projects into My Resume?

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Pratik from Spark Institute asks:

“I am making an app on my own time. How can I talk about side projects that are relevant to my career on my resume?”

Thanks for your question, Pratik.  Think of your job search as your own personal sales and marketing campaign.  You are the product so you need to know all of the features, values, and benefits you can offer to a prospective employer.  You are connecting with people through your search, especially prospective employers and decision makers to highlight your value proposition (what you can do for them) detailing how you can solve their problems.  Also, you will selling your value to the hiring manager as this is the person who has the power to hire you.

To support your employment campaign, you need a great personal marketing document, better known as your resume.  It needs to be the best it can possibly be to build your case that you are a candidate worthy of an interview.

If your app project is helping you build skills and experience related to the type of work you aspire to do in the future, then you should definitely add it to your resume.

Detailed below are some suggestions on how you can incorporate your app project in your resume to enhance the document’s value and help you get better results (and more interviews).

Highlight Your New Skills

This app project is helping you build (or strengthen) your professional skills.  If you are targeting employment with company that hire coders, designers, UI/UX experts, and others for their apps, then these skills are important to document on your resume.  The skills are the “keywords” that employers are looking for in candidates for their position.  For example, if the targeted job is calling for a candidate that has skills A, B, C, D, E, and you possess those skills, then you’ll want to highlight these relevant skills.  Remember, employers are evaluating a resume to determine if a candidate is worthy of an interview.

The goal of the resume is to help you land more interviews.  You’ll want to make it easy for the prospective employer to determine that you have what they desire, especially the relevant skills. It will be even more powerful if you can validate the skills in the experience section.

Use “Good Content Formula” to Highlight Project Details and Results

Use a bulleted format for the job details so it is easy to read.  Also, the details for the bullets need to incorporate the “good content formula”, which is:  strong action verb + task (what you did) + result (what did the work result in? what performance improvements resulted?).  You’ll want to highlight what your impact was within the role.  Did you help improve the company’s performance measures?  If so, by how much?

Below are some specific examples:

Example 1: Tutored 8th grade student in geometry using teacher curriculum, which resulted in student grade improving from C to B+ during school year.

Example 2:  Increased sales revenues by 25% ($150k) year over year by aggressively re-establishing contact with dormant accounts.

Example 3:  Delivered excellent customer service to over 600 store guests weekly converting 50% to sales with a weekly revenue impact of $15k.

Include App Project in Experience, Project, or Related Experience Section

Your app project work needs to be included in your resume.  However, this experience can be placed in a few different areas depending primarily on the other jobs, internships, and work experience you have already acquired.  If you have limited work history, then you could include this similar to a job entry in your experience section.  You can provide the details including job title, company name (if applicable), location, dates of the project, and the details using the good content formula as detailed in the previous section.

If you have a few jobs and/or internships in your experience section, you could place this information in either a “Key Projects” or “Related Experience” section.  It really is your choice in terms of what you feel will best highlight the skills, experience, and successes you’ve earned while working on the project.  There is no wrong place to put this information.

Contact Your Career Center for a Resume Review

Most colleges and universities offer career preparation services to current students at no additional cost.  Simply put, students and alumni should leverage their career center as it is a valuable resource.  College career centers are staffed with knowledgeable, skilled, and credentialed professionals who can provide assistance in a variety of areas including resume review, interview skills training, job search strategy, and more.  Your university’s career center can likely provide some further insight into your question beyond the suggestions I’ve offered to you within this post.  In addition to assisting you with your resume, your career center will likely have a job site exclusively for current students and recent alumni featuring jobs and internships posted with the institution. Set up an appointment soon.

Putting It All Together

The work you are doing on your app on your time is helping you gain new skills and relevant experience.  It may not be with an employer or for a paycheck at the moment, but it can be documented within your resume to showcase these skills and experience.  Make sure to highlight some of your milestone successes and outcomes in the details in whichever section you feel is best for it.

Continue the great work on your app.  I’ll be on the lookout for it in the App Store soon!  You’ve got this, Pratik!

Good luck and best wishes!

Here’s to your success,

Bob Nealon



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About the Author

Robert Nealon

For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career. Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional. He is an active member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Center for Credentialing and Education, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and National Career Development Association. Connect with Bob via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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