How To Write a Project Centered Resume

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30 years ago, when I graduated from college, we were taught to write the 1-page resume that was written in chronological order starting with your most recent job and going backwards.  But do you think that when you’re applying for a job, at say, Thunderbolt online casino, that is still the best approach, especially in the tech industry?

30 years ago, you had to worry about making sure that your resume was good enough to pass the 1 minute quick review by your Human Resources person before your resume would be put before the hiring boss (the person who would actually make the decision to hire or not hire you).

Then, the headhunters came along.  Instead of just passing the Human Resources person, you had to pass a headhunter.  But this person was working off commission.  Most of the time, these were sales people, who were looking to see if your words match the words on the job description, but in most cases, this person had zero understanding of what these words meant. 

Your resume says that you have 5+ years of Unix experience, but your resume is placed in the trash, because the job is looking for 5+ years of Linux experience.  You know that Linux and Unix are the same thing, and the hiring manager knows that Unix and Linux are the same thing, but the headhunter (who is actually just a sales person) does not understand that the two are the same thing.

After that, we have search engines.  So it is not just a person, who knows nothing about the industry trying to match keywords that they have zero understanding of. Now it is a computer (with zero thoughts and zero feelings) making these judgements. 

Everything is a check box.  You do not have a BS degree in Systems Administration, your resume gets put in the trash.  Does the computer want to know that 30 years ago there were no BS degrees in system administration?  No.  Does the computer care that you have 30 years experience in systems administration and can teach others about the topic?  No.  Because a computer can only think as far as a programmer tells the computer to think.

Now, add on top of that, Zoom, Social Media, Blogs, etc.  You get the picture.  Writing a resume in 2020 is not as simple as it once was.  Some parts of the process are better and some parts are worse.  So how do you position yourself to create  the best resume possible under the current hiring conditions?

My recommendations … a project based resume.

What is a project based resume?

Instead of writing your resume based on companies, the resume is written based on projects.

Here are the major components of each item in the resume:

  1. Title of each project should be on a single line.
  2. Second line is the duration of the project.
  3. Third line is technologies used and/or software used.  List the tools used into 2 or three columns.
  4. Fourth section is a brief paragraph about what the project entailed and what you did to contribute to the project.  Add any information that you think a new employer would find important.  This section can either be in a paragraph format or a bullet point format.

Here is an example of all four section put together:

Updated thewebsite.com (TheWebsite Inc.), Web Developer

Duration: 30 days

Technologies Used: HTML5/CSS3, PHP, Java

  • Redesigned thewebsite’s website to accompany branding relaunch
  • Converted Flash-based navigation to HTML5 standard
  • Optimized all screens on the website
  • Developed mobile, tablet, large desktop, and medium desktop versions using responsive web design.

Or the project can be presented as a paragraph format:

TheWebsite Inc, Washington, DC (2015): Used HTML5/CSS3, PHP, and Java to rebuild thewebsite.com for brand relaunch. Optimized all screens on the thewebsite.com for large and medium desktops, tablets, and phones.  Used responsive web design. Converted Flash navigation into HTML5.

Both formats are acceptable for a project based resume.  Adding the duration is good if you have done a lot of small projects.  The second format is good if your projects were longer in duration.  

Why use a project based resume?

When a manager is looking for somebody who can write code in C/C++ vs. Php, they want to know how long have you used C/C++ vs. Php.  They don’t really care how long you worked for a specific company.  They want to know how long you worked with a specific skill.  This is the main difference between applying for a project vs. applying for a full time position at a specific company.

They will scan the first couple of projects you listed, add up the days / months / years you have worked with a specific skill, and then decide if you have enough experience in the skills they are looking for.  

What about all of the rest of the projects you have worked on?  Your Level 2 Resume

That is where, what I would call, your level 2 resume comes in.  30 years ago, a person only had one resume.  It was the traditional chronological order resume that was supposed to be limited to 1 page if you had less than 5 years of experience and at most 2 pages for more experienced employers.

But with the internet, you are no longer bound by that restriction.  Yes, you still need to follow that restriction for the level 1 resume, but you don’t have to follow that rule for your level 2 resume.

After your level 1 resume has passed the search engines, the headhunter, the human  resource manager, and hiring manager, your hiring manager is left still with a pile of resumes that he or she is trying to decide if they should call the person for either an online, telephone, or in person interview.

One way the hiring manager can eliminate resumes is through a social media search, but is that really what you would want a future employer to base hiring or not hiring you?  Do you think a marketing expert leaves a social media search up to chance?  No way.  They are too smart for that.

You should be too.  Does it make you feel like your a commodity being bought and sold?  It some ways, it unfortunately is.  But, you can still control the story.  How?  By creating your level 2 resume.

Your level 2 resume is anything and everything that you want to throw out there to convince somebody that they want to pick up that phone and call you to hire you.  Maybe it is a small project.  Maybe it is a fulltime job.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is getting them to do the “call to action”, as marketing people like to say.

Does your level 2 resume have to look like a resume?

No.  Your Level 2 resume does not have to look like a resume.  It can be a blog.  It can be a website.  It can  be a YouTube Channel.  It can be an electronic portfolio.  Some people create these even on LinkedIn and Facebook, but keep in mind, when you post things on LinkedIn and Facebook, they are no longer “yours”.  Plus, you are bound by the format that these websites want you to follow.  

But at the end of the day, it is you advertising you, so you need to do whatever you think is best to show off you.

What about with the Coronavirus “break”?

Companies are going to rehire employees, but some may not want to go back to the way things were.  Maybe you will return to your old job doing it the same way.  Maybe you will return to your old job, with a new perspective.  Maybe you will decide to work a different position in the same company.  Or the same job with a different company.  

While others may choose to do a complete career change.  Whatever path you choose to take, try out a project based resume as either your Level 1 resume, your Level 2 resume, or both.

Summary

Change is inevitable, but not all change is bad.  When things start to reopen around you, take some time to people watch.  Are businesses exactly the way that you remember them?  Are people acting the same way as you remember them acting?  

With the recent history, businesses are changing, but then, so have you.

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About Annabel Johnson

Part time gamer, reviewer and blogger. Full time geek and tech expert!

View all posts by Annabel Johnson

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