I’ve done a few projects off my own back to try to be taken seriously. Which of these should I be putting on my resume?”
The Projects section will be more or less important for you depending on your circumstance. If you have some (or lots of) relevant work experience to showcase your skills / impact then listing a lot of independent projects is less critical. If however, you’re light on formal work experience, showcasing your proactivity - and technical proof-points - via Project work is hugely helpful (and frankly, a necessity!). You can also use this section to include other non-work proof-points of your expertise such as publications and/or presentations which demonstrate a reasonable (or better!) level of comfort with a given language, technique, tool etc.
So, with that said, what should you include?
Any Project (Presentation, Publication) which involved you using skills mentioned on the Job Posting - in the following priority order
- One where you received an award / recognition
- One where you generated the idea independently (i.e., you weren’t relying on Kaggle or equivalent for the idea). Importantly, within this category, projects where you had to work end-to-end data munging through to analysis/model-building to results/conclusions are better than when the data is ready to go (cleaned) from the outset as you can showcase a more holistic skill-set / approach
- One which was part of your coursework and/or specified competition project
You can also detail Projects (Presentations, Publications) that don’t feature skills in the Job Posting if they demonstrate
- A major accomplishment and/or
- An ability to learn a new skill quickly (as this can help give comfort that even if you don’t know all the key skills the Hiring Manager is looking for that you have a track record of picking up new ones rapidly)
Note: If you have done a lot of Kaggle competitions and performed decently, you should put a link to your Kaggle profile at the end of the Projects section with a quick comment on the range of competitions / your performance, as this will be a further good proof-point of your competence level.
If you don’t have significant (or any) work experience, you’ll likely want to include 3 independent Projects outlined in detail (see the related post for how to describe the Project itself). If you do have the Work Experience, then you’re best off focusing time (and resume space!) there, and only including your most impactful / interesting personal project in this Section.
How to take action now!
List out the (non-work) Projects you’ve completed and for each jot down
- The skills it helps demonstrate (languages, stats techniques, software packages etc.).
- Whether it was independently generated idea or a competition (pre-defined) idea
- Whether you worked it end-to-end, or just a partial process