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Over the past year, I had been gradually working on a project to set up a locally-hosted bug tracker for use within the company. It was essentially complete within a few months, but finishing touches depended on several managers (including the head of the company) who ignored and dragged their heels whenever asked.

Last week the head of the company killed the project, citing time spent on maintenance. Instead we are to start looking at other, cloud-based solutions, and research of this was given to one of the other managers. (It was very apparent that the only reason the cloud-based solution was considered at all was that this other manager was far more pressing about a bug tracker than I could be.)

I have been considering looking for another job for a while (this is but one of many reasons), and it's time I polish up my resume.

This project taught me a lot of how these systems work, as well as many of the tools used to do so. It was by far the most educational experience at the company. Regardless of how it ended, the skills I learned from it I will try to list prominently on my resume.

However, if I put this project on my resume, an interviewer is likely to ask what value I added to my prior employer with that project. And technically I wasn't able to add any. The head of the company always saw the project as a waste, so it never got off the ground.

I want to provide an example of the skills I've acquired, and the project was very nearly successful. Can I put this project on my resume (or even mention it in an interview) without putting myself in the awkward position of having to try to justify a killed project?

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    Yes, of course. Many projects get killed. Mar 11, 2023 at 1:44

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What folks care about is what you, personally, did and achieved while working on the project, what skills and meta-skills and soft skills that demonstrated, and so on. Many projects fail, or are determined to be less important than something else and as shelved semi-permanently. It's more fun to work on something that got released, and may be more fun to talk about, but experience is accumulated, and demonstrated, either way.

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Absolutely. I've seen many CV's listing failed projects and even projects that never got off the ground.

The important bit is what you did in the project. There's no difference from working on a still incomplete project where your tasks are done.

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  • @JoeStrazzere sure, so you don't mention it was a failure or shelved. I know people with 30 year careers full of failed projects. Very impressive CV's if you don't know the projects were all a mess and the money went missing.
    – Kilisi
    Mar 11, 2023 at 11:20
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Why would you not justify the failed project:

I put a lot of work into it and I think it was what the company really needed, but the project was stalled time and again by company politics and finally scrapped and handed over to another department for vague reasons. This pointless waste of my good work was one reason I am looking for a new job, one where my work is actually used to further the company goals, not just as a gambling chip for inter-department politics. I learned a lot about [X, Y, Z] over the course of the project though, if you are interested, I will explain the details.

Two birds with one stone. Because "why do you want to leave your old company" is going to come up anyway. And in my experience, a valid, truthful answer to that question is way better than a vague "I want to explore new opportunities" that is basically the cookie cutter sentence from the book titled "I screwed up at my old company, but still need a job elsewhere, what do I say to cover it up?".

The truth is good enough. So use it.

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  • Well, I would not. I'd rather hire someone telling me the truth, then one of the many candidates that don't actually tell me why they are leaving the old company. I have been in such companies, I can 100% relate. And I have been hired after telling a very similar story. So, our experiences may vary there, but I can tell you first hand that this has a chance. Obviously I cannot know who you will meet, maybe they want to be hired by you, then another strategy might be better.
    – nvoigt
    Mar 11, 2023 at 11:14

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