Careers Resume Technical Experience

Without a doubt, the Technical Projects section is one of the most important parts of your resume (in fact this section will take up about ⅔ of your resume!). Interviewers will read this section carefully to gauge your skill set and determine how you'll be able to contribute to the team. In any hiring situation, interviewers want to know that you actually can do the job.

But don't be nervous, it's also the place where you get to show off the projects you've built and display your technical chops.

What Technical People Care About

In the land of technology, objectivity trumps subjectivity and specificity reigns supreme. That is to say, technical folk value specific contributions to a project and how those contributions played their part in the overall system.

When you describe your work, you always want to pinpoint what technologies you used and why.

For software engineering students:

  • Did you design/build the front end of your app? What technologies did you use? Likely HTML, CSS, and jQuery.
  • Did you write all the API functionality using Ruby on Rails and the MVC pattern?
  • Maybe you designed the database schema and coded all the DB logic. Did you use ActiveRecord and SQLite? Postgres?
  • Did you make use of interesting/complex Gems? PG, Nokogiri, and OAuth are typical fan favorites.
  • What unique/impressive features or functionalities of the app do these technologies enable?

For data science students:

  • What was the size of the dataset used in the project?
  • Did you collect data using API calls and web-scraping?
  • Did you clean/manipulate data with Python for analysis?
  • Did you train a wide range of shallow- and deep-learning models? Which ones?
  • Did you build a web dashboard, using Dash and Flask, to display data visualizations and patterns?
  • What unique/impressive features or functionalities of the project do these technologies enable?

Highlighting technology details like above applies to both solo and group projects. If you collaborated with others, make sure you have a clear understanding of all components of the project, including the features your partners built, what technologies they chose, and why. You’ll need to know this when it comes time to interview.

Structure

In your Technical Projects section, the first thing you'll want to mention is the name of your project and a concise one-line summary of it. This is the sell, so don't be afraid to spice it up a little.

Examples of One Line Project Summaries

Here are some noteworthy examples of one-line project summaries from Flatiron grads:

Solar System A virtual reality app for astrophiles to explore the solar system in VR

GlossGenius An automated personal assistant software product for beauty professionals

‘Fake News’ Classifier Supervised classification algorithm to identify deliberately misleading news articles, achieving 94% testing accuracy

Pitcher Injuries Predicted whether Major League Baseball pitchers will suffer injuries based on prior year performance

Descriptive Bullets for Projects

Take a few minutes and reflect on the last application you built. Ask yourself the questions posed earlier:

  • Why did you build what you built?
  • What problem did it solve?
  • What technologies did you use?

Now, in your first resume draft, adapt this information to the Technical Projects section for each of the projects you built or were involved in building. You'll review this section with your coach. It can also be helpful to have a technical peer, mentor, or friend review the technical section of your resume to ensure your bullet points are articulated in the best way possible.

Next, you'll want to describe your (and your teammates’) contributions. Here, you'll typically include 3-5 bullet points discussing the what & why.

Each bullet point follows a general pattern, with the following components:

Action Verb + Task + Result

Action Verb = Past/Present Tense Task = What did you do? What did you build? Include the technologies you used to build the app/website. Result = Go beyond telling what you did and describe how and why you did it?

  • What did you accomplish?
  • What was the result/impact of your project/work?
  • What was the purpose?

NOTE: The specific purpose component is a critical component of each bullet, especially given that each of your projects was created to serve a unique purpose and audience/end user. In turn, your bullets should look unique from each other. Even if you used similar technologies or frameworks across different projects, each project has its own features and functionalities. Take the opportunity to use each bullet to both own and educate the reader on the unique aspects of each project that they should know about, at a glance. Avoid having several bullets across various projects with vague and/or the exact same wording. Instead, 'paint a picture' of exactly what specific functionality a technology enables in a project, unique to that project.

Students have told us that optimizing their project bullets this way helps them feel more confident in talking about what they built and WHY they utilized certain technologies/methods...which will help you build your technical communication skills in general!

Here is an example of a (software engineering) project that utilizes the concepts outlined above:

  • Utilized Spotify and Songkick API’s to pull and parse data on upcoming concerts in NYC based on user favorites.
  • Implemented user interface employing React and Redux with Semantic-React for styling.
  • Scraped Yelp API to provide attraction information for city locations.
  • Utilized JSON Web Tokens and localStorage to store encrypted user information client-side.

Here is an example of a (data science) project that does the same:

  • Conducted natural language (NLP) processing with NLTK to tokenize and vectorize 25,000 articles from news outlets
  • Extracted various sentiment metrics using TextBlob and Vader to refine machine learning algorithm and identify trends
  • Employed Naïve Bayes Classifier and Logistic Regression to model probability of article reliability

Notice that above we leave the subjective language at the door. Nothing like:

  • Implemented beautiful user interface employing React and Redux with Semantic-React for styling.
  • Scraped Yelp API very quickly to provide attraction information for city locations.

Instead, there are no adorning adjectives or qualifiers here. We don’t want opinions; just the facts on how you built each project. That's what counts.

GitHub Link(s) and Video Demo

In addition, you will want to include hyperlinks to your GitHub that show the actual code written/data analysis performed for this project, as well as, a video demo (for sofware engineering students) to show project functionality.

Creating a Strong Project Video Demo

Think of your video demo as a tour guide to your project. While your GitHub displays the code and logic behind a project, a video demo showcases what exactly your code enables, and that you can write executable code (which employers want to see). It is also a great way to highlight unique features or functionalities of your app that might not be obvious just by reading your resume or viewing your GitHub.

A great video demo:

  • Is one to two minutes long maximum
  • Shows what an actual user would see as they use the app, in real time
  • Includes audio narration that accompanies your on-screen actions
  • Is an opportunity to communicate your thought process and the care that went into building the app
  • Is a great way to express your personality and passion for code

A video demo should not be more than two minutes long or require sign up, login, or the expectation that the visitor will figure out how the app works on their own. Recruiters and employers are very busy people with little time to spare. Anything that requires extra steps and effort is a turn-off and can quickly extinguish their interest. Make it easy for them to see you as a no-brainer hire!

Many students mention that they like using Quicktime (for Mac) or YouTube’s screencast functionality to create their video demo, after which you can upload it as an ‘unlisted’ video to YouTube.

TIP: While building your projects always be mindful of their visual elements, as that is the first aspect/impression that an employer will have of your capabilities as a developer. If a project functions well but is visually sloppy or not pleasing to the eye, this will quickly negate your candidacy. Especially if you will be pursuing front-end or UI/UX roles, the design and aesthetic elements of your projects will be key, and will also enable you to distinguish yourself from other candidates

End Result: A Complete Technical Project

If you put it all together, you'll end up with something like this:

Spot Show - [GitHub FrontEnd] | [GitHub BackEnd] | [Demo] A live concert discovery tool for any artist you follow or listen to on Spotify

  • Developed a Rails API backend with endpoints for artists, venues and events.
  • Utilized Spotify and Songkick API’s to pull and parse data on upcoming concerts in NYC based on user favorites.
  • Implemented user interface employing React and Redux with Semantic-React for styling.
  • Scraped Yelp API to provide attraction information for city locations.
  • Utilized JSON Web Tokens and localStorage to store encrypted user information client-side.

And that's it folks.

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