Yes, You Need Programming Projects in your Resume

caelinsutch profile image caelinsutch ・5 min read

Programming projects are not only a great way to hone your development skills and make something cool, but can also be a great addition to your resume. In this guide, we’ll talk about how programming projects can help your career take off as a developer.

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Why Projects are Important

Put yourself in an interviewer’s shoes. Chances are, you’re one of many applications to this job with very similar skills. The interviewer is tired and has limited time and energy to spend on each person. They probably won’t even review your resume or social profiles before an interview.

An interviewer’s job is to pick the right person for a job, someone they know is highly skilled and can perform the necessary job activities. The most obvious way that you can prove to an interviewer that you’re qualified is with a resume full of well developed projects.

When I’ve interviewed people, projects tend to be the deciding factor in who our team wants to bring on. Project show passion for ones craft, and can give our team real code to review.

Finished projects are also drastically different than courses or college classes, they have a considerably higher standard pf completion, and can compose of many different parts, showing breadth and depth of experience.

Personal projects can show skill, motivation, passion to learn new things, resolve to finish a large project, and provide something interesting to discuss during the interview.

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What skill should you use in your personal programming projects?

You should be programming something related to your intended career field. If you’re a front-end developer, programming something with frameworks you’re familiar with, like React. If you’re a Python programming who wants to have a career in AI development, focus on libraries like Tensorflow or PyTorch.

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When’s the optimum time to work on programming projects?

When learning any new skill, there’s a certain amount of experimentation that’s required, something that can only really happen in a relaxed setting. If you’re rushing to develop a large project to show your interviewer in three days, it’s probably not going to turn out well.

Taking time out of your day when you’re not pressured to work on projects may not benefit you immediately, but always will in the long term.

This also gives you the opportunity to develop larger applications, ones that go beyond a simple tutorial or two and show real depth of knowledge.

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Qualities of a Great Coding Project

You want your resume to stand out in the pile, so your resume should be full of projects that are unique. Your projects should show a relevant skill, be fully complete/functional, be a relatively complex application, and demonstrate knowledge.

Your Project should Relate to You!

Your project should show skills that directly relate to your intended job or career. You should also highlight these skills. For example, if you’re applying for a job that requires knowledge of TypeScript, be sure to mention that your project was built entirely in TypeScript. Mention what features or skills you learned from the project.

Note that this doesn’t have to be exactly the same skill, for example, nginx and Apache are closely related enough (both web servers), that they would show experience with web servers as a whole.

Fully Functional

This is a big one. Your project should be a polished piece of work, fully complete, well documented, and presentable. Having a large resume of unfinished projects shows a lack of commitment and focus. By completing a project, it shows that you can stick through difficult tasks and come out on top.

Yes, I get that software is never done, but software does get deployed. Your base requirements for that piece of software should be fully complete. For example, your weather app should show the weather, or your website available on the internet.

I love it when I see programmers that have the grit to stick through an entire project. Nothings ever as easy as it seems, and you’ll always run into a problem that seems insurmountable when tackling large projects. You need to show that you can take on these challenges.

Relatively Complex

This is a big one. Your application shouldn’t be something so easy you can complete in a day, or a week. That doesn’t show any real skill, it just shows you can follow a tutorial online. Building something unique and complex, something that shows that you can stick to something for weeks at a time, and developing something larger than a simple Todo app.

This will also make the project interesting and increase learning value for yourself as a programmer. More complex applications have their own unique set of problems that you’ll never run into if you only program one day projects.

Demonstrate Knowledge

Make sure what you’re building something that shows off a depth of knowledge. Building a large software app that can be deployed to the real world shows a whole new level of knowledge beyond a simple locally deployed application. It shows that you can realistically develop a product that can be released to market.

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Key Tips for Programming Projects

It can be easy to over complicate or over engineer an application when working solo. Remember that your goal is to develop and deploy an application. Make something that you know you can complete without burning out. The best thing to do is start with something small and expandable.

Small applications can give you the momentum needed to work your way into larger ones. Developing and deploying something small is better than nothing.

If your project is expandable, you can continuously add features as you learn new things, making a small todo app into a massive mobile framework with tags, assignments, due dates, and more. You should always have a healthy backlog of potential features that can improve the value of your application.

By starting small and expandable, you can break down what can seem like a mountain of code into smaller tasks that can be completed on a weekend. With persistence and grit, you’ll end up with something big, beautiful, and attractive to interviewers.


Following these key tips for projects will instantly make your resume appealing to interviewers. Interested in some fun starter projects? Follow my newsletter to keep in touch and get more updates delivered to your inbox!

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